Join Sophie Lewis, Sarah Jaffe, and Melissa Gira Grant for a wide-ranging conversation on the oppressive nature of the nuclear family, the contradictions of commercial surrogacy, and what to learn from the struggle for sex worker rights when fighting for the rights of all pregnant people, paid or unpaid.
The surrogacy industry is worth an estimated 1 billion dollars a year, and many of its surrogates work in terrible conditions, while many gestate babies for no pay at all. Should it be illegal to pay someone to gestate a baby for you? Full Surrogacy Now brings a fresh and unique perspective to the debate. Rather than making surrogacy illegal or allowing it to continue as is, Sophie Lewis argues we should be looking to radically transform it. Surrogates should be put front and center, and their rights to the babies they gestate should be expanded to acknowledge that they are more than mere vessels. In doing so we can break down our assumptions that children necessarily belong to those whose genetics they share.
This might sound like a radical proposal but expanding our idea of who children belong to would be a good thing. Taking collective responsibility for children, rather than only caring for the ones we share DNA with, would radically transform notions of kinship. Adopting this expanded concept of surrogacy helps us to see that it always, as the saying goes, takes a village to raise a child.
Sophie Lewis is a theorist, critic and translator living in Philadelphia. She publishes her work – on topics ranging from dating to Donna Haraway – on both scholarly and non-academic platforms including Boston Review, Viewpoint, Signs, Science as Culture, Jacobin, The New Inquiry, Mute, and Salvage Quarterly. Her translations include Communism for Kids by Bini Adamczak (MIT, 2016, with Jacob Blumenfeld), A Brief History of Feminism by Antje Schrupp (MIT, 2017), and Other and Ruleby Sabine Hark and Paula Villa (Verso, forthcoming). A feminist committed to cyborg ecology and queer communism, she is a member of the Out of the Woods collective and an editor at Blind Field: A Journal of Cultural Inquiry.
Sarah Jaffe is a Nation Institute fellow and an independent journalist covering labor, economic justice, social movements, politics, gender, and pop culture. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Salon, the Week, the American Prospect, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and many other publications. She is the co-host, with Michelle Chen, of Dissent magazine’s Belabored podcast, as well as an editorial board member at Dissent and a columnist at New Labor Forum. She is the author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt.
Melissa Gira Grant is a senior staff reporter covering criminal justice at The Appeal and the author of Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work (Verso). She has been a contributing writer at the Village Voice and Pacific Standard, and her work has also appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, BuzzFeed News, the New York Review of Books, and the Nation, among others. Her essays are collected in Best Sex Writing, The Feminist Utopia Project, and Where Freedom Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo.