In Mother Jones, feminist writer Alissa Quart looks at the new spate of pregnancy comedies (Juno, Knocked Up, Then She Found Me, Baby Mama), which she dubs the “Fertility Film.” Like me, she finds these movies “conservative at heart”:
[T]hese films recast the “pro-choice” narrative of feminists’ personal and political past as a different, less politically dangerous sort of pro-choice story—a woman’s right to choose from a smorgasbord of late fertility options. Once, in the recent age of “Murphy Brown” having a baby as a single woman was the most rebellious and politically radical thing our heroine could ever do. Now becoming a single mom onscreen makes a film heroine more conventional.
I also found interesting Quart’s analysis of the men–“stunted inseminators” all–in these films. Her description fits well with the “sour feminism” James Bowman identifies in Juno, in which men are depicted as perpetual adolescents unable to come to grips with adult responsibilities. For the pregnancy comedy, the truly agonizing question is not whether to keep the baby, but whether to keep the man. As Quart writes:
All of these films end with a love object, a baby that is superior in the eyes of many women than a man would be. In these films, the baby represents eternity and the possibility of absolute devotion. It’s a relationship that, unlike romantic love or marriage, female viewers are thought to believe in without sarcasm.
As they say, read the whole thing.