• shewho

    are a valuable commodity.

  • kmiriam

    Surrogacy raises the question of the meaning of feminism. Is feminism a politics based on a disembodied notion of individual choice where individual women are seen as “owners” of their bodies? Is the body a thing to own, and with it “contents”/commodities like fetuses and babies? This sounds a lot like a very patriarchal very capitalist notion of what a woman is.
    I agree with Katz-Rothman that a woman carrying the fetus is the *mother* of that fetus, albeit the biological mother–but insofar as she is carrying the fetus, it is part of her.
    The fact that it is primarily women in economic need who are surrogates is not a parenthetical point–The issue overlaps with prostitution: Women who are not in economic need, and/or are not in situations that have created a mind/body dissociation (like abuse in the case of prostitution), are overwhelmingly unlikely to act as “surrogates”.
    Isn’t feminism about challenging the notion of woman’s body as a thing separate from the User-mind “controlling” that body? Isn’t it about challenging the notion of “woman-as-womb”–as carrier of fetuses, of sperm?
    Inserting motherhood into a relation of commercial exchange is chilling to say the least, and does not occur in the abstract–as if separable from pre-existing relations of power, domination, exploitation.

  • crowepps

    Inserting motherhood into a relation of commercial exchange is chilling to say the least, and does not occur in the abstract–as if separable from pre-existing relations of power, domination, exploitation.

    The power, domination and exploitation are also present, however, when the woman is encouraged to do exactly the same thing for FREE, as in ‘don’t have that abortion because there are couples who want to adopt’.

     

    Even though it’s ‘traditional’, holding motherhood entirely separate from commercial exchange and coopting the woman’s body and time without compensation is equally chilling.

  • kmiriam

    Right, the two ways of controlling motherhood/women are on a continuum and/or are coordinated. Critiquing this new mode of exploitation helps to sharpen rather than cancel out critiques of other forms as in “encouraging” women to stay pregnant and give up for adoption.
    The point isn’t to “separate” motherhood from commercial exchange but to connect surrogacy which re-enforces the notion of woman-as-vessel with other forms of coerced or induced pregnancy–and/or with coerced sterilization.
    There is also a context of coercion in which women get pregnant to begin with–from abstinence ed, to lack of funding and education about contraception, to outright use of sexual force by men (see the report on these pages about the UC study re reproductive coercion). So one question is- will paying to be coerced solve the problem of coercion (or inducement) or re-enforce and exacerbate it?

  • cmarie

    The Steinem/Freidan ’87 quote says it all.  Sad that all these years later such exploitation continues.

  • wildthing

    I think surrogacy is an extremely important and compassionate act with value and a woman should be free to do as she wishes with judgement and benefit financially.

  • epicurienne

    I think the whole idea of surrogacy is nuts.

    As others have pointed out, it opens the door to more exploitation of women, especially lower-income women.  It reinforces the idea that a woman’s only value is the contents of her uterus.

    Perhaps the affluent people who want children so badly could adopt.  Why on earth is it so important to have your own DNA replicants?  Unless you’re the heir to a throne, why does it matter?  Rich yuppies need to get over themselves and accept that maybe they can’t have every single thing they want.

  • marcy-darnovsky

    Miriam Perez writes that “in the fight against legalized commercial surrogacy, conservatives and anti-surrogacy feminists make unusual bedfellows.”

    It is equally the case that “in the fight to normalize commercial surrogacy, free-market libertarians and pro-surrogacy feminists make unusual bedfellows.”

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