IVF as lottery or investment: contesting metaphors in discourses of infertility

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This paper reports an aspect of a poststructural feminist study in which I explored the discursive formations within which women for whom in vitro fertilisation (IVF) was unsuccessful constitute themselves. In my exploration I draw on data from interviews with women who discontinued infertility treatment, print media material and infertility self-help books. Specifically, I highlight a metaphor of lottery in discourses of infertility, arguing that it is hegemonic and showing how when women are situated as gamblers, the metaphor is instrumental in polarising them into ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ in relation to the subjectivity of motherhood. I further deconstruct these subjectivities, showing how ‘winners’ are valorised and ‘losers’ are pathologised. But importantly, I show how infertile women who are not mothers resisted locating themselves as ‘losers’ in a metaphor of lottery and instead situated themselves in a contesting metaphor of investment as diligent ‘workers’ and as active agents in choosing the best employment of their bodily and monetary resources. This paper therefore amplifies the marginalised perspective of infertile women who are not mothers.

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