nothing to do with class and race, why do you ask?

i’m driven out of complacency by this incredible new york times magazine article about surrogacy. i’m not particularly fond of the whole idea to begin with, but i thought, hey, maybe the times will have something interesting to say. hmpf.

let’s just start with the photograph at the top. do i really need to deconstruct an image of a white woman in a pink top and skirt holding a baby with a brown woman in a nurse’s uniform standing at attention in front of a columned porch? i mean, it’s so blatant it could be satire.

come to think of it, the whole piece – if it didn’t smack so much of complete self-indulgence – could be satire. of course it’s all about the computer why she just happens to feel so comfortable with cathy, her gestational surrogate:

And her computer-generated essay indicated, among other things, a certain level of competence. This gleaned morsel of information made me glad: she must live in a house with a computer and know how to use it. In our conference call with Cathy and her husband, Mick — the vice president of marketing for a credit union — we felt immediately comfortable.

unlike, you know, all those poor incompetent women who don’t own computers and aren’t married to credit union executives.

and let’s count up the costs: 12 ivf treatments at $8000/pop plus $4000 in medication = $144,000. then $25K for the surrogate. and i assume all her travel and medical expenses, so let’s just round up and say they spent $200,000 getting an infant that shared their genes. i hope it was worth it.

to think i was sick to my stomach about obama’s “unprecedented” capping of donations at $50,000 per person. i’m all about ritual (i am a sociologist after all) but really.

UPDATE: she’s on the brian lehrer show right now, and boy is she making my blood boil. it turns out that that photo is totally not representative of how she lives her life, just because she happens to live in Southampton and her baby nurse which lots of people have happens to come from Trinidad. And also, she couldn’t adopt because she was too old and because private adoptions actually would have cost more, and those are what people do when they want to have a baby that, you know, looks something like them. silly me. oh, and, she totally doesn’t understand why people are upset about the class issue, because actually cathy is like the same class as she is even though she needs to clean up her porch, which is why it totally wasn’t awkward to pay cathy $25,000 to bear her child – it’s not like she was poor.

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4 Comments on “nothing to do with class and race, why do you ask?”

  1. janna Says:

    Nicely done – The article is even more tremendously frustrating on class than the NYT usually is. The cover of the paper copy magazine is also very interesting – the surrogate is there in baggy pants and a shirt, clothes that, next to the little black dress the other woman is wearing, set up two competing visions of class, sexuality and femininity. That, and the posture of the baby maid – the rigidity, the uniform – makes the protestations that there are no class or race dynamics here just super extra precious.

  2. auderey Says:

    i was really like, ok, maybe she just didn’t think about these things before she published. but hearing her on the radio defending herself was too much. also thanks for commenting.


  3. Wow. So this is really how people feel? Really?

    Ok, the article set surrogacy back like a decade. She had preconceived notions, she did inflect the article with too much superiority, and the photos (who on EARTH let those pass by the editor’s desk??!!) were extremely distasteful, but do you honestly feel that us surrogates are poor??

    I’m not. And I’ve been a surrogate mother twice. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

    So I guess what I am saying, is be mad at the article, not surrogacy.

  4. auderey Says:

    hi – thanks for commenting! you’re right, i’m totally mad at the article, and i didn’t mean to say or imply that all surrogates are poor. i have to say, though, that in general i’m not a fan of surrogacy, although that opinion doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the nyt article or with race and class inequality. i appreciate hearing from you!


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