Children of Production

Children of Production, a review of Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family by Sophie Lewis, was published online in July 2018 by Real Life magazine.

Embodied labor in the service of making kin may be the most modern form of labor around. Far from being marginal, gestational surrogacy has all the hallmarks of contemporary capitalist production. It is, for one, globally distributed. In many cases, the process of family-making through surrogacy is transnational. In Full Surrogacy Now, we learn about parents from Israel and the U.S. who contract with gestation workers in India. Dispersed clinics and homes are linked together into a virtual factory using modern communications technology. The actual work of gestation is carried out within a largely unregulated cottage industry, making it part of what Donna Haraway has described as “the homework economy”: Homework has comprised forms of capitalist production that are disaggregated from the factory and feminized both culturally and economically while being rendered flexible and still eminently scalable: electronics manufacturing and recycling are late 20th-century examples, or lacework in the 19th century. Gestational surrogacy — “a nine-month, 24/7, piecework commission with a bioethical burden of responsibility attached to it” — represents homework’s current frontier.