Infertility is a difficult and often sensitive issue for many couples but especially so for women, given the long cultural tradition of conflating ‘correct’ femininity with maternity. In this schema, childless women are often pathologized or repudiated and represented as having somehow failed. The recent proliferation of advertising from reproductive technology companies, such as the above and similar others, which have been reported popping up on women’s Instagram feeds, taps into this narrative of individual failure, as does the move by companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google to offer oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) to female employes. These examples clearly access a postfeminist rhetoric of choice that suggests that today's modern young women have benefited from the impact of second-wave feminism and can, indeed, 'have it all' - provided, of course, that they make the right types of culturally-condoned choices, culminating in, what the above ad refers to as, "the ultimate event - having a baby."
While social egg freezing has been heralded in some quarters as an empowering opportunity for career focused or single women, such discourses tend to occlude the fact that it is not only financially expensive but also unlikely to eventuate in a successful pregnancy and birth. Statistics from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) show the success of clinical pregnancies from egg freezing to be between 4.5-12% in women under the age of 30, a figure which steadily declines as women age. Furthermore, the ethical implications (the commercialization of female reproduction; the potential for employers to exercise coercive, subtle pressures; the continued social and cultural valorizing of motherhood) often remain unarticulated and uninterrogated. Thus the traces of neoliberalism can be seen in advertising by egg freezing companies that present reproductive technologies as an individualized ‘solution’ to overcoming or preventing infertility. This process, however, problematically reinforces a culturally sanctioned, idealized maternal femininity which is based on the pernicious myth that today’s women can ‘have it all.' Indeed, there is little space here to imagine a life without children. Instead, infertility itself is troublingly also constructed as a 'choice' via the suggestion that it is something that modern women can avoid through organisation and careful planning (what the Extend Fertility advertisement refers to as "taking control of their life and their future"). As a result, in this schema, blame can be apportioned to the infertile individual woman, who is haunted now not only by her own loss and grief, but also the spectre of failure.