Who Matters? Gender Politics in an Infertility Crisis

It’s no secret that women would play a crucial role in repopulating the earth in the event of an apocalypse, but by making women infertile in the world portrayed in Children of Men, the answer to “who’s bodies matter” could be quite different. In movies like 28 Days Later, women are seen as factories, not as human beings. Selena and Hannah’s physical bodies are more important to the cause than them as individuals. The ability to bear children puts these women in a position of power over men, and in this scenario, they (who are seemingly the only women survivors) are ultimately more important in repopulating the earth. However, what happens when women no longer have the ability to bear children?

The most powerful scene in this movie for me is when Kee walks out of the refugee camp with her baby in her arms and Theo at her back. The crossfire ceases as they walk through the line of soldiers, and going from fives minutes of gunfire and explosions to almost complete silence emphasizes the significance of the moment. The contrast in lighting between inside the camp and outside is quite stark, representing the movement from the dark reality of infertility to new hope in Kee’s child. Her bright clothing also starkly contrasts the soldiers’ uniforms and even Theo’s dark sweatshirt and pants.

There is also a sort of eye matching happening as they walk out of the building. Both Kee and the soldiers are shown at the same angle, but as she walks through the crowd, some soldiers get down on their knees, putting her and her child in a position of reverence and power. This particular scene shows the great authority that comes along with motherhood and to me emphasizes the importance of women in repopulating the earth in a crisis. Unlike Selena and Hannah’s situation, Kee is shown respect at this moment. She is not looked at as a factory, but as a human being.

Unfortunately for majority of the women in this movie, they are not able to have children and cannot contribute to the cause. However, since there is no possibility of sudden attack like in 28 Days Later, I think it’s hard to pinpoint whose lives matter more. I don’t think women are any less important than before because they are still human beings, and being infertile means they are less likely to be treated the way Selena and Hannah were.

I do think it’s interesting, however, that Kee’s baby was supposed to be used as the symbol for the uprising. The guy in the refugee building insists on it, but when Theo tells him the baby is a girl, his demeanor changes. Why is that? Does his response make a comment on gender politics in leadership positions?

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