What does pregnancy mean when it does not lead to the birth of a child? Through personal experience via graphic novel and with a corresponding philosophical analysis, The Pregnancy ≠ Childbearing Project narrates and assesses the alternative values possible in miscarriage, a.k.a., the failed pregnancy. Having shared in both experiences – miscarriage and childbirth – solidarity among women must be possible. All pregnancies lead to a kind of ‘emptying out’ – a loss – whether wanted or unwanted, with or without a child.
Often, after miscarriage, people say, ‘just try again.’ What then for the work of grief? How do you get over what you cannot get over? The kind of loss in the experience of miscarriage is not socially or culturally recognized as a kind of death. The Pregnancy ≠ Childbearing Project seeks solidarity among women who have known pregnancy independent of the politics and rhetoric of pro-life discourse, and in doing so, holds the pro-life agenda accountable for the silencing of women, arguing that alienates them from each other and their own experiences.
Introduction to The Pregnancy ≠ Childbearing Project / Acknowledgements / Part One: Miscarriage or Abortion? (Or, #shoutingmyabortion in a graphic novel) / Part Two: An Interlude on Philosophical Allegory / Part Three: A Phenomenological Reading of Miscarriage / Part Four: Griefwork: How do you get over what you cannot get over? / Work Cited / Index
Jennifer Scuro has a B.F.A. in Painting and Sculpture from St. John’s University, a MA in Philosophy from Boston College and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The New School for Social Research. She is Associate Professor of Philosophy and former Chair of the Philosophy & Religious Studies Department at The College of New Rochelle in New York. She continues to work on her art while teaching undergraduate courses in global and applied Ethics, Feminist Theory, and Environmental Studies. She wrote the final chapter, “Theory Can Heal,” for the anthology Why Race and Gender Still Matter (Yount et al., Pickering & Chatto, 2014). Her most recent research is in Disability Studies and her book Addressing Ableism: Philosophical Meditations through Disability Studies is forthcoming with Lexington Press
[Scuro] is wonderfully unapologetic in pushing disciplinary boundaries in graphic novel form. This stylistic boldness is, in my opinion, one of the best features of this book--making it a potentially rejuvenating read (despite the difficulty of the topic) for both teachers and students of philosophy. . . In addition to being of interest to philosophers working in the areas of bioethics, phenomenology, and feminist philosophy, this book could work well in an undergraduate bioethics course, given the ways in which it provokes questions, discussion, debate, and understanding. . . In sum, although Scuro's methodology is boundary-pushing and likely to strike some as controversial, I consider The Pregnancy [does-not-equal] Childbearing Project to be an important, challenging, and urgently needed philosophical work.
Philosophy has largely ignored the phenomenon of miscarriage, perhaps due to its bodily, conceptual, and political messiness. Scuro’s contribution is welcome precisely because it refuses to sanitize or clean up that mess, opting instead for a compelling approach that includes visual representation, personal narrative, phenomenological analysis, and social commentary. In seeking to disentangle pregnancy from its teleological framework, Scuro puts the bodily experience of pregnancy, situated inevitably and precariously within neoliberalism, front and center.
In this important book, Jennifer Scuro’s lived experience presents a challenge to common ideas and assumptions about motherhood, femininity, and antiabortion politics, as well as to the familiar content and form of philosophy. It is centered on an intensely personal, 176-page graphic novel that details the vivid aspects of Scuro’s own miscarriage. Her experience serves as a philosophical allegory, challenging neoliberal and ableist assumptions that presume normalcy, expect results, and promise the false freedom of choice.
Philosophers are likely to wonder why Scuro chose the unconventional medium of the graphic novel to convey her experience. The narrative flow for the events’ unfolding is essential, as are the images. The graphic novel allows us to see things from Scuro’s perspective, even as they are blurred by time and sometimes deliberately lacking in detail. […] These aspects and more make the form of the graphic novel an excellent choice.