The Pimping of Pregnancy: Exposing the international commercial surrogacy business

From Julie Bindel, Byline

Birthing a Market, A Study on Commercial Surrogacy (2012) estimates that there are currently 3000 clinics in India offering surrogacy services. Surrogacy is a 2.3 billion dollar industry annually. Around 10,000 foreign couples visit India for reproductive services each year.

Dr Nayna Patel, a frontrunner of the Indian surrogacy movement, heads the Akanksha Infertility Clinic in Gujarat, where more than 600 surrogate babies have been born. Not only does Patel see the industry growing, she is gearing up for it and is building what is being dubbed as the world’s first multi-million dollar ‘baby factory’ in Anand, Gujarat, which will be a one-stop-destination for surrogacy. Patel predicts a 12 percent growth in the sector per year.

Whilst the rich Westerners buying surrogacy services often see the ‘service’ as a human right, many would argue that using poor, brown women as incubators is racist, colonialist, and akin to prostitution.

This reproductive tourism is usually viewed as unproblematic, and almost an act of kindness on behalf of the commissioning parents, because, it is argued, the women who carry the babies have no other way to earn a living.

But in Gujarat, and other poor, rural parts of India, parents of multiple daughters sometimes sell the older ones to trafficking gangs and pimps, who take them to cities to work as surrogates and earn money for their younger sisters’ dowries. Surrogates in India are usually paid under $8,000.

Once working as surrogates, women can be kept in cramped quarters and told when to eat, drink, and sleep. Monitored like prisoners, they may be required to refrain from sex and riding bicycles. Surrogates can also be prevented from using painkillers, even for conditions such as migraine, or required to take medicines like Lupron, estrogen, and progesterone to help achieve pregnancy, all of which can have damaging side effects.

During the ‘pimping of pregnancy’ project I would visit several countries that are known as hot spots in the rent a womb business, such as India, Thailand, and Mexico.

Countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria prohibit all forms of surrogacy. In countries including the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Belgium, surrogacy is allowed where the surrogate mother is not paid, or only paid for reasonable expenses. Paying the mother a fee is prohibited.

Commercial surrogacy is legal in some US states, for example, California, and countries including India, Russia and Ukraine.

In these countries, with vastly different legal systems, I would meet the commissioning parents; brokers; clinicians; surrogate women; and those campaigning to end the commercial trade in wombs. I would ask the question, is outsourcing reproduction another form of bonded labour, and is it widening the gap between rich and poor, the global north and south. Would commercial surrogacy exist at all if it were not for the increasing acceptance of the financial exploitation of the female body?

I would also look at the boom in the sale of breast milk. In the US, new mothers with professional careers are offered work-based ‘lactation rooms’ as incentives to return to work as soon as possible after giving birth. They can make on-line bookings for the purpose-designed pumping chairs in these rooms, where they can ‘comfortably’ plug in and express milk during a work-break. Lactation rooms are coveted as a sign of a caring workplace, with the newly developed ‘Corporate Lactation Policies’ of companies like Goldman Sachs becoming an accepted substitute for maternity leave.

Very poor women are being pimped and coerced into selling their milk, and there are even instances where the women are impregnated in order to produce the milk for sale. I would be looking at how ethical the companies that broker the sales, such as Prolacta, and whether it is aware of the exploitation behind the commercialisation of this product. I would talk to those who buy and sell, and look at the diverse stories behind this new and insidious form of wet nursing.

Please help me raise enough funds to do this research. I would bring you the very best in evidence, and will work hard to access interviews with those involved, in whichever way, in this market. I want to live in a world where it is unacceptable to put a price on a baby, or consider the inside of a woman’s body a saleable entity.

Read more The Byline.

“Maybe what feminism needs is separatism, not inclusion”

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By Jocelyn MacDonald, Feminist Current

In a time where inclusion has become one of feminism’s key priorities, a founding idea has fallen particularly out of favour: separatism. The mere accusation of not being “intersectional” (something that actually is imperative but is mostly misapplied by the same liberals calling for “inclusiveness”) is enough to shutter events, spaces, and organizations that center women. The idea of separatism, even among many feminists, calls to mind the dreaded hairy-pitted second-waver who spells women with a “y,” or those unfuckable dykes, buzz cuts and all (LOL, amirite?). You’ll see prohibitions against separatism any time any group of women tries to organize anything, ever. “This event is for anyone marginalized by patriarchy,” liberals will say. Thank you, but literally everyone is “marginalized” by patriarchy in some way.

Liberal feminists and leftist dudes alike have lost the plot — feminism is separation from a system that keeps women subordinate to men and funnels resources straight off women’s backs into men’s hands. The reason this tactic is cue for a laugh track is because our Patriarchy knows that separatism is a legitimate threat to male supremacy. In fact, it is the first bralatov cocktail lobbed.

If you want the real story, read Marilyn Frye’s pamphlet, “Some Reflections on Separatism and Power.” First published in 1977, it’s only 10 pages long. Since you’re a modern woman, you’re probably reading this on your cell phone in the bathroom, at one of your jobs, so I’ll summarize it for you as directly as possible.

Feminism is separatist

Frye explains that feminism is a philosophy, not for, but against inclusion. The dominant paradigm says, “Men have a right to women’s bodies, to women’s labour. Women are invited to participate in public life to the degree that we, men, decree.” Feminism says, “No. That is not the natural or inevitable order of life on Planet Earth.” We don’t want to come to your capitalist imperialist hegemony party.

Male separatism is status quo — from petty public space (Manspreading on the train! Catcalling!) to the highest halls of power ­(scant representation of women in government and industry). This means that feminist separation is rebellion — women excuse ourselves from “institutions, relationships, roles, and activities which are male-defined, male-dominated, and operating for the benefit of males and the maintenance of male privilege.”

And here’s the really important part: “This separation being initiated or maintained, at will, by women [emphasis original].” It’s not about advocating for an island of lesbians cut off for eternity from half the human race (OK, I wouldn’t turn it down, but I’ll admit it’s not practical), rather, it means we say when the walls go up and for how long, who passes through the gate and who waits outside.

Men are parasites

Maybe the thing that would get Frye in the most trouble today is the assertion that males and females live in a relationship of parasitism. The wisdom of patriarchy says that the female is subordinate to the male because he protects and provides for her. But women have always contributed to our own material support — in fact, in whatever capacity men provide or protect us, it is because the circumstances of patriarchy itself “are designed to make it difficult for women to provide for [our]selves.”

All sorts of studies concerning the happiness of heterosexual marrieds show that the men in these relationships are significantly happier and healthier than unmarrieds, while the reverse is true for women. Women involved with men report greater depression, worse health, and less stability than the men with whom they’re partnered.

It’s super unpopular to say this, since most of us have men in our lives who we like, and who we’d like to call our feminist allies if not also brother, father, husband, pal. The fact is, however, that male privilege makes men thieves of our mental, spiritual, and physical energy, or as some of my favorite sisters like to call it, our gynergy. Sometimes you just need a break, even from the good ones (#NotAllParasites).

Access is power

Frye lays it out thusly:

“Differences of power are always manifested in asymmetrical access… The super-rich have access to almost everybody; almost nobody has access to them. The resources of the employee are available to the boss as the resources of the boss are not to the employee. The parent has unconditional access to the child’s room; the child does not have similar access to the parent’s room… Total power is unconditional access; total powerlessness is being unconditionally accessible. The creation and manipulation of power is constituted of the manipulation and control of access.”

Throughout patriarchal history, men have had virtually unlimited access to women’s bodies. They have engineered and maintained this through marriage, denying access to abortion, and undervaluing women’s labour, among others too numerous to list off. When women cut off that flow of benefits, we begin to assume power, and it drives men bonkers (and too often, murderous).

Definition is power

Under patriarchy, women are defined as beings unable to say no. Whether overly sexual or nurturing and indulgent, “woman” is a person who has boundless capacity for self-sacrifice. In fact, she exists only in relation to a man. Men are the default people, and women are both men’s reflection and their shadow. A woman who separates defies this definition.

In the act of separation, women expand the idea of what females are capable of, what we look like, and who we love. Women come up with new language with which to self-define, but we often can’t change the language of those around us. “Generally,” says Frye, “when renegade women call something one thing and patriarchal loyalists call it another, the loyalists get their way.” But while saying something does not make it so, creating one’s own community makes space for shared language.

“When we take control of sexual access to us, of access to our nurturance and to our reproductive function, access to mothering and sistering, we redefine the word ‘woman.’”

What separatism looks like now

Men, of course, are the master separatists. They refuse to make room for women even in relative trivialities like movies and video games. Just look at what MRAs say about Mad Max: Fury Road and Gamergate.

When women try to separate, to create space for ourselves to think, to relax, to heal, to organize, to learn, all fucking hell breaks loose.

Men terrorize and stalk their wives even once they are in domestic violence shelters. Elliot Rodgers broke into a sorority to kill women because he felt rejected.

In 31 states, rapists can sue for custody of their children. Not even women who have been legally victimized by men are granted separation by the state.

My local lesbian bar, The Wild Rose, is full of straight bros looking to sitesee in Homodelphia. About as many “cis-het” dudes marched in Seattle Dyke March this year as nonbinary/genderqueer/butches/femmes/or otherwise-identifying lesbians.

The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is over. At its peak, it was the largest gathering of dykes and woman-loving-women in our solar system. Think about that for one fucking minute. Think about what it would feel like to come from all over the world, from countries where it’s illegal to be a lesbian, from small towns in the Midwest where you’ve never even seen a woman in Butch regalia (except in your dreams), to come to a place and suddenly see yourself everywhere, and suddenly feel safe to be your authentic self. Now, liberal feminists, MRAs, family-values types, and — hardest of all to swallow — the queer community, delight in its destruction. No matter where you stand on what makes a woman-born-woman, the fact is that the MichFest community struggled in earnest with self-definition (which, one more time for the record, included transwomen). However, women, and especially lesbians, are not allowed to self-define, so we cue up that laugh track again and share some Everyday Meninism articles about how awful and evil Michfest was.

The thing that all separatist spaces have in common is that all of them are at-will spaces for women to retreat to. They all have different reasons for separation. They all define for themselves the separation criteria, i.e. what folks inside should share in common. And in each case, they are threatened and attacked, mostly by men and sometimes by loyalist women.

Arguments against separatism are post-feminist. They pretend our work is done and that men are not responsible for and complicit in the subjugation of women as a class. Not only do they harm women, they also harm those men who would be our allies, because these arguments suggest that men are too fragile to be denied access to women. They suggest that women benefit from a relational identity to men, when really, women are fine as entities unto ourselves. For courageous women, for feminists, what lies in the woods of Michigan, or the halls of the Seven Sisters, or behind whatever wall women have put up, is the opportunity for self-love.

Jocelyn Macdonald is a Seattle-based writer, editor, and podcaster.

UPDATE: U of W retracts policy saying “male” and “female” are offensive

Update: The University of Washington has “corrected” its earlier message to students. See below.

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Original post:
Powerline, a conservative news blog, reports that the University of Washington’s new application for admission requires students to choose from a list of gender identities that does not include “male” and “female.” Why? Because apparently those terms cause “harm or offense” and are “not related to gender identity.”

According to Powerline, students who don’t have gender identity issues are supposed to choose “cisgender,” which “describes someone who feels comfortable with the gender identity and gender expression expectations assigned to them based on their physical sex.”

It appears that some admitted students to the U of W didn’t go by the official glossary, and wrote down the offensive, microaggressive terms “Male” or “Female” in answer to the Gender question on the University’s Facebook page. Which prompted the following email from Paula Shields in the Admissions office:

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UPDATE
 
From: Staff at University of Washington <no-reply@schoolsapp.com>
Date: Fri, Apr 15, 2016 at 3:44 PM
Subject: Announcement: Follow up to Gender Question on Schools App
Follow up to Gender Question on Schools App
Hi, again,
 
Recently, I sent an Announcement, which you may have received as email, about the choice of gender on the Schools App, the UW’s private, online community for admitted students. At this time, I wish to correct a few errors on my part and misconceptions on the part of those who received the message:
 
• The Announcement should not have been sent to students who had not yet joined Schools App. I apologize for the confusion and misunderstanding this error created.
 
• I mistakenly said in that original email that if students had not yet chosen a gender on their profiles, they should choose from the list provided by the UW’s Q Center. In no way are students required or even requested to identify a gender on Schools App. In addition, the list I pointed to is a glossary of terms and is not intended to be used as a list of gender identity options. I should not have directed people to that page.
 
I hope it is understood that my sole purpose in writing was to underline the inclusive values of the UW and to encourage new students to respect and acknowledge the identities of others.
 
Paula
 
By Paula Shields
Admissions Staff

Right now, today, everyone in the world

From pomeranianprivilege

if right now today, every single person in this entire world identified as “non-binary” and used they/them pronouns, guess what?

the same half the population would still be oppressed by the same other half.

it doesn’t matter what men and women “identify” as, women will still be oppressed by men, regardless of what they call themselves.

the oppression of women by men is not an “identity”, it is sex-based.

He’s a tortured genius; I’m a bitch

Very sharp analysis of male emotions from butchcommunist

Contrary to popular opinion, men currently have and have for many years had available to them the option to feel anything they want, and in fact their feelings are often regarded as reason itself.

If a man wants to say he is sad, he can not only say this but he can turn it into a selling point against which to buy social capital, as we know from the Sad Boy phenomenon of men like Drake.

If men want to express anger, if they want to express even violent urges to commit violence against women, they are free to do so, as we know from the popularity of VAW-implicating lyrics in genres from pop punk (all of Fall Out Boy’s early work is about wishing women would die or drown or burn) to rap (Eminem has a very famous song about murdering the mother of his child and burying her body).

If men are emotionally troubled, no matter what inexcusable methods they may use to work through this, they are allowed to portray this however they like, and often not only use this as proof of their goodness and softness as human beings but use it as a reason they should have access to women anytime they like (see friendzone nonsense).

A man with feelings is a tortured genius, no matter how many people he abuses, no matter how cruel he is at his core. A woman with feelings is hysterical, a bitch, mean, a cunt, monstrous in essence.

That’s important.

This excellent piece was created by butchcommunist (thank you!)

Banned: Documentary on transwomen and male-pattern violence

This video has provoked a massive response from the trans lobby. Instead of allowing women to decide for ourselves, or engaging with the issues raised by these case studies, they’re getting women Facebook users banned for posting it.  Watch and share, if you dare.

For more info on setting legal boundaries around those who assault women and girls while identifying as transwomen or transvestites, please support Allison’s Law.

For more case studies of rapists, murderers and child molestors  who identify as transwomen and transvestites, please visit Autogynephilia Truth.

For more about why those who identify as transwomen and transvestites get a sexual thrill from wearing women’s clothes and “passing” as women, please read this piece on transgenderism and fetishism.

 

Pimp City: The prostitution pipeline from Tenancingo to USA

How did the farming town of Tenancingo turn into Pimp City? The short answer is capitalism. When agriculture and industry dried up, the men started selling girls.

From Here and Now, WBUR public radio, Boston MA (June 30 2014)

The White House is making its formal request for additional powers to fast track the deportation of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who have crossed the border illegally. President Obama says the influx is a humanitarian crisis and has ordered an increase in the number of border agents, and wants emergency shelters opened at military bases. We’ll continue to follow that story for you.

But right now we want to hear about another part of the immigration story that doesn’t get much attention and that may not be suitable for some of our younger listeners. It’s about prostitutes being brought to this country from a small city in Mexico, and it’s the subject of a new Fusion documentary called, “Pimp City: A Journey to the Center of the Sex Slave Trade.” Alice Brennan is the program’s producer. She’s with us from NPR West in Culver City, California.

Read the transcript and watch the video.