“Made in U.S.A,” J. T. McIntosh, 1953

“Made in U.S.A,” J. T. McIntosh, 1953 – Roderick and Allison Liffcom are the perfect couple—until Roderick learns that Allison’s an android. He sues for divorce and she contests, arguing that now that androids have full equality, she was under no obligation to reveal her android status before the marriage. She accuses him of prejudice, but he claims not to be caught up in “race hatred,” as he’s a psychologist.  His only concern is continuing the family line, which she cannot fulfill.  But she refuses to give him the divorce and they go to court. The case captures the attention of the nation, both human and android, and the media stake out the courthouse.

An android expert (and android) explains that androids were originally intended to be laborers.  But now they serve the psychological function of giving humanity a challenge and inspiring it to reproduce; androids, in contrast, are infertile and can only be manufactured.  He also establishes that androids are identified by fingerprints, the lack of an umbilical cord, and the stamp of “Made in the USA.”

While Allison submits to identification and confirms that she’s an android, she produces her own expert, who contends that androids can and have had children. Roderick is persuaded.  Renewed, he urges Allison to use her time on the stand to testify before the nation about her experiences as an android. She tells of being born to the crèche and getting adopted at age nine.  Her young life is a string of alienated and fearful incidents, in particular a near rape by a gang of human boys, who for the first time made her feel like an inferior. Then, being kicked off the girl’s tennis team, but not before being jumped by the girls in the locker room. Then she joined an ad agency, and she was paid a human rate, but she never was given credit for her work. Later, she joined a drama club, and they gave her good parts but made her change in a separate changing room. There were scores of such incidents, Allison testifies, multiplied over time. Then, she met Roderick.

At that point, Roderick stops the trial and confirms that he’s dropping the suit.  He now believes that androids are sterile only due to their psychology; they believe no android can reproduce, so they develop a neurosis that they cannot. But more than this, they know if androids can reproduce, they’ll be a threat to humans and they wouldn’t be allowed to exist. Only Allison’s love for him gave her the nerve to overcome this and bring in a human doctor to confront the obvious: Androids are having children in secret. He points out: The human race can’t die out, because the children of humans and androids can’t be android, can they?

Comments: Read in Connoisseur’s SF.  Themes of race, gender, love, reproduction, robots, labor, slaves, identity, rape, epistemology, the other, psychology.  Allison’s psychology, her robot/android (manufactured?) “femininity,” is also interesting: She looks at her beautiful body, reflects on her sterility: “What was the use of all the appearance, all the mechanism of sex, without its one real function?” At points, Allison’s esteem seems to come from her beauty.  She’s strong as steel and intelligent but also a bit kittenish to attract him.  Compare with C. L. Moore’s “No Woman Born.” 

This story is mentioned in “Does science fiction–yes, science fiction–suggest futures for news?” by Loren Ghiglione. “Two reporters for Twenty-four Hours–Anona Grier, human, and Walter Hallsmith, android–cover the historic trial with the intention of ensuring fair coverage between them.”

Author: Wikipedia: “J. T. McIntosh (14 February 1925 – 2008) was a pseudonym used by Scottish writer and journalist James Murdoch MacGregor.”


About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, automata/robots, class/labor/"work", difference/tolerance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, gender, interior/exterior, international, law, love/family/children, natural/artificial, race/civil rights, sex/reproduction/sterility, simulacra, the body, the Other, theatre/performance. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Made in U.S.A,” J. T. McIntosh, 1953

  1. Bob Pollack says:

    The title of this story is actually “Made in USA,” without the “the.” This three-word stamp was very common on US-produced items in the 1950’s when the story was written, so it was an important detail of the story to have androids stamped with exactly the same mark as radios or refrigerators.

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