Freezing the Future: Oocyte Cryopreservation in Northern California

Allyn Benintendi : Anthropology

Mentor: Laurie Wilkie, Anthropology

In 2012, the experimental label was lifted from the social freezing and banking of oocytes (oocyte cryopreservation or egg freezing), an intense procedure allowing postponement of motherhood. Two years later, major Silicon Valley based tech companies introduced egg freezing in benefits packages — an addition mirroring mounting pressure in tech to hire women and the perception of motherhood as an untimely career interruption. How are women negotiating the vital promise of egg freezing, their sovereignty, the physical complications and social, moral, ethical, and political implications of the procedure? How does this change how they engage materially with their reproductive bodies? In exploring the vastly disquieting, empowering and life-changing implications of fertility preservation, Allyn is doing ethnography of egg freezing, exploring how technology is infiltrating our conceptualization of the self, the body and motherhood.