Parenthood, altruism, and the market: a critique of essentialist constructions of women’s nature in commercial surrogacy
Keywords:commercial surrogacy, reproduction, family, commodification, altruism, gender equality
Commercial surrogacy has become an increasingly popular path to parenthood around the world. Yet, critics have raised concerns about the practice’s implications for gender inequality. This paper critically assesses commercial surrogacy’s reliance on, and reinforcement of, common narratives about women’s natural disposition to sacrifice themselves for others. These narratives have historically served to justify disadvantages for women as workers, both within and outside the household. Their presence in commercial surrogacy agreements suggests that, even if we can characterise commercial surrogacy as an alternative (as opposed to traditional) method for family formation, the same social stereotypes that have historically entrenched women’s inequality in traditional families are still highly relevant for the practice’s functioning.
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