Tracking an Author: Margaret Talbot

Margaret Talbot hasn’t published anything new recently—so I decided to dive into her older work. I knew that she contributed to the Atlantic before she started publishing in the New Yorker in 2003. The first piece I looked at was “Jack and Jill” an era of consumer eugenics has begun. The article centered around an infertility clinic in Fairfax, Virginia whose technology allowed consumers to choose the sex of their baby. A reason for this is the prevention of  X or Y linked genetic diseases. However, a more popular reason is for social reasons—to choose the gender the family considers to be ideal for its goals. The institute only engages in family balancing, meaning that it only allows parents to choose the sex if they have one or more kids of one gender and want to have a child of the other gender. This is to ameliorate and balance gender discrimination in countries that prefer male-children and often abort female pregnancies. Talbot argues that these procedures go beyond gender discrimination and are a gateway to picking embryos of “superior stock.” This article diverges from her later work in many ways—it is less descriptive and more informative, and its tone is less conversational and accessible. However, this could be due to the nature of the article form. This seems to be a theme of these articles, which all focus on less politically-charged concepts. In her earlier works, she even does a review of a movie—something I doubt the later Talbot publishes.

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