An incisive polemic on the surrogacy industry and the feminist movement to ban it.
Philadelphia-based translator, geographer, and queer feminist Lewis persuasively calls for “more surrogacy,” “more mutual aid,” and an “open-source, fully collaborative gestation.” Through an unapologetically queer, anti-capitalist lens, the author investigates the landscape of commercial surrogacy, a “reproductive meritocracy” where wealthy people are empowered to use reproductive technology that is materially and moralistically off-limits to others. The industry’s well-documented abuses, as well as the race and class dynamics that animate them, make it easy to anticipate feminist protest. Sadly, writes Lewis, “the surrogacy-critical among us must be almost as wary of the forces ranged against commercial surrogacy as we are wary of those profiting from it.” The author is both sardonic and perceptive in her deconstruction of anti-surrogacy feminism’s paternalistic, colonial, and transphobic logic. Noting profound connections to the “sex worker-exclusionary feminism” that clamors for rescue over rights, Lewis argues that “carceral solutions to the ‘problem’ of informal economies” ultimately obscure a more important question: “why is it assumed that one should be more against surrogacy than against other risky jobs”? If exploitation is the issue, how is work under capitalism itself implicated? The author’s proposal is as philosophical as it is pragmatic: Rather than surrogacy as we know it, we need a full surrogacy that “counteract[s] the exclusivity and supremacy of ‘biological’ parents in children’s lives” and uplifts the ingenuity of “polyparental abundance.” Lewis, an affluent white woman who has “never gestated nor worked as a surrogate,” takes care to acknowledge numerous black, native, and queer theorists/activists whose intellectual and revolutionary labor deeply informs her work. Some readers may balk at the author’s wry tone and breakneck pacing, but this explosive treatise is well worth the effort.
Intellectually demanding and irresistibly agitational, Lewis’ compact debut may very well convince readers to “[seize] the means of reproduction” alongside her.