I found a major theme in the book "My Year of Meats" to be infertility. The OED defines infertile as: "not fertile; unfruitful, unproductive, barren, sterile." The two women in this book both deal with infertility, but in opposite cycles, it seems. Akiko goes from healthy and able to bear children, to infertile, and then back to being healthy, with a baby growing inside her. Jane however, goes from infertile to being pregnant and then her baby dies because her cervix is damaged and she is unable to bear children. Fertility is very important to both women and cultures. As women in any culture, we are expected to produce offspring, and continue the family line. We are the life-givers. We are glorified because we can reproduce. Glorified, but we hold no real power. To be infertile seems to take women a step down on the ladder of importance within society; we lose the little power we had.
Interestingly enough, in Akiko and John's case, Akiko's inability to conceive made her sex appeal decrease. John wouldn't even bother having sex until she started menstruating. However, in American culture, when having sex is equated with making a baby, most men are turned off or scared away. Perhaps this is due to the image of an American woman straying away from the typical housewife who stays home to raise the children. Perhaps it is simply because unmarried men want sex with no repercussions, while many married men want to reproduce.
Jane divorced her first husband, Emil, because they found out that she was infertile, and they had desperately wanted children. It seems the didn't marry for love, they married to reproduce. Because Jane wasn't able to, they went their separate ways. That is odd to me. I would never marry someone because I think we would have fabulous children. The first thing in a marriage should be love. I think it is fitting that when Jane finds love, she is somehow able to conceive, but when she pushes her lover, Sloan, away, she loses her baby.
Akiko has the same kind of experience. When she is infertile, it is when she is married to John, who she does not love. It's almost as though she values her gift of being able to bear children, and doesn't want to share it with her husband, so she removes the possibility of becoming pregnant. When she finally makes the decision to leave him is when she becomes pregnant.
If I were infertile, I would adopt, perhaps because it has been bred into me to want children, to want to be a caregiver. Then again, perhaps I would want children no matter what kind of society I was brought up in. I feel like discovering infertility would create some feelings of worthlessness. What good is it to be a woman if you cannot produce offspring? (I mean that as a rhetorical question.) That is our unique property, our key to womanhood.
Random note- A friend of mine once told me, (he was probably high), that I "exude fertility." He then proceeded to ask if I would bear his 8 children, which just made me laugh like none other, but I was oddly pleased by such an unusual compliment.