“Labour does you”: Might thinking through pregnancy as work help us radicalise the politics of care?
I’ve never known anyone to disagree with the old saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Yet this general approval of the distributed, collaborative character of the work of parenting does not frequently carry over—for some reason—to the question of making a baby. In my forthcoming book Full Surrogacy Now, I look at the gestational surrogacy industry politically and think speculatively about how to abolish actually-existing pregnancy (both waged and unwaged) as a form of capitalist work. I defend the utopian position that infants don’t belong to anybody but, rather, belong to everybody: they will belong only to themselves, in the phrase of the Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers. Nothing new, then: feminists and queers have mounted uncompromising assaults on the institution of the family for well over a century. However, wherever I’ve presented it, I’ve noticed that this call for family abolition, which I root in the Black-lesbian Marxist-feminist critique of kinship and the gender binary, appears rather contentious. It seems my proposition that the complicatedness of pregnancy itself might be a useful heuristic for complicating the politics of ‘care’ (and replacing kinship with comradeliness is, for some, a tough one to swallow. Why is this? Why, in other words, is a blog-post entitled ‘Gestators of all Genders, Unite!’ or the statement ‘The gender of gestating is ambiguous’ still guaranteed to scandalise not only Angela Nagle, but most cisgender feminists? These are some of the questions I want to persuade you it is important for anti-capitalists to pose.
Read the rest of this piece at The New Socialist, where it was commissioned by the most excellent Josie Moore (@ofthesparrows), who happens to be the author of this piece I found very rewarding, on journalist Andrew O’Hagan’s appalling book-length coverage for the LRB of the mass murder that was Grenfell Tower.