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Commodifying the Female Body: Outsourcing Surrogacy in a Global Market

  • Author(s): Baumhofer, Emma
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 3.0 license
Abstract

Commodification of the human body and its services is frequently contested. However, certain forms of bodily commodification are treated differently than others and raise fundamental questions about ethics, class, race and gender, to name a few. What commonly goes unacknowledged, however, is that human bodies are already commodified on a daily basis in a myriad of ways. Not only do medical professionals routinely commodify the bodies of their patients, but many others, such as models, athletes, news casters and dancers also rely on their bodies, and the way their bodies look and function, to earn an income. What differentiates certain forms of bodily commodification, specifically of the female body, from other accepted forms? This paper explores commodification of the female body through the burgeoning trend of international surrogacy as well as the symbolic importance of non-market rhetoric when referencing accepted forms of commodification of the body. I am specifically studying the ways in which international surrogacy is portrayed and perceived in the media and the broader implications this has on western culture’s acceptance of and promotion of surrogacy in the context of outsourcing gestational services to female bodies in developing countries.

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