When Women Are the Means of Production, on Orphan Black

In the second season finale of Orphan Black, the best show you're tired of being told is the best show you're not watching, another game-changing dimension was added to the complex cabal behind the scenes of these women's lives. But maybe the best twist was how the show managed to deepen its brilliant gender politics, while preserving and maintaining what makes the show so special on that front in the first place.

Guys (sorry dudes, just saying, no offense, I love you) ultimately baby-making is sort of a girl thing. Sure, male DNA is required, but the bulk of the child-producing apparatus is female. Women are the means of reproduction.

So who controls the means of reproduction? In Orphan Black the government, private industry and international cabals are hovering in a slow-motion jump ball for control over cloning, while we root forever for the individual. We love that Sarah defies them. We want to see Sarah stay in control of herself, Sarah who has had a child and has also chosen not to have a child.

(What political theory does that even express? Anarchy? Radical Libertarianism? Anarchy? Guys are you all libertarians? I don't get that vibe from the comments.)

Sarah can only be defeated–can only be controlled–when her kid is in jeopardy. Children are a life sentence to the unimaginable fear you'll lose them. Children mean happiness. Children mean sacrifice. These are all themes women hovering around the murky window of their own fertility are considering constantly and which Orphan Black has refracted so successfully especially in the aspect of Rachel and Sarah.

When Women Are the Means of Production, on Orphan Black

Up until now the whole series has thematically hovered around the female mons pubis like a saggy g-strap: Cosima dying from uterine fibroids, the threat that Sara will have her ovary removed, the magic all-powerful healing powers of "natural child" Kira's bone marrow, Rachel on the edge of madness because she couldn't have kids, the treatment of Sarah Manning like a stolen 3D printer because she could.

So what does the end reveal that the government is churning out successful male clones MEAN?

If the government can just churn out males, what point is the female clones' fertility, or the female clones themselves? Are the means of reproduction now redundant? Is that the weird looming Sci-Fi fear behind Orphan Black, that science will one day displace women because why would dudes put up with us if they could make their own babies? That would end the birth control bullshit debates at least.

But then again, why would the government worry about satisfying it's electorate if it could just produce it's own people?

Dudes, level with me: if you could fuck a flesh-covered basketball hooked up to a bubbling beaker, and 6 months later a super-soldier baby would come out, is that the ideal? Seems a little lonely to me. Ladies are funny in ways guys just aren't. Y'all would miss our pop songs too.

STILL: Is Orphan Black about the sub-conscious need of the modern female to prove her worth outside of child bearing so that she's free to choose if and when she'll have a child?

Is it about a fear of the kind of the long, hamfisted arm of government bureaucracy getting dragged into birth control by an uptight electorate who aren't exactly having the baby themselves?

I don't know. All I know is that Helena CAN DANCE.

[Images and video via BBC America]

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