Julie Bindel interviews Kajsa Ekis Ekman, author and journalist
Kajsa Ekis Ekman- My name is Kajsa Ekis Ekman, I’m a Swedish author and my book is called Being and Being Bought: Prostitution, Surrogacy and the Split Self.
Julie Bindel: Why do you think prostitution and surrogacy have so much in common?
KEK: They are both industries that exploit the female body in different ways, one for sex and the other for reproduction, industries where the female body is reduced to a commodity that is bought and sold. They are also industries that, if you want to get theoretical about it, are at the exact intersection with patriarchy and capitalism. In patriarchy women exist for men, and in capitalism the poor exist for the rich. So if you combine the two of these, you get prostitution and surrogacy.
JB: Have you ever been accused of being anti gay, because there are so many rich gay male couples now renting wombs?
KEK: The biggest group that uses surrogacy are not gay men, but the slogan nowadays is that ‘this is the way to create the modern family. But some will say that if you are against surrogacy, because gay couples cannot have children, that you are against them having kids. But I’m against it for what is does to women and children, not for who uses it. I don’t care who is using the services, but I care about who is being used
JB: Some people say that if a woman wishes to do it in a non commercial way, say as a favour, then that is ok. What is your view on this?
KEK: That is the one argument I cannot understand, because the logic behind that says, the less you pay, the less you exploit that person. It suggests that if you pay a lot of money for surrogacy, you are exploiting that person but if you pay one euro say, or pay nothing then you are not exploiting them. I think it’s the total opposite. Of course, if we’re going to have surrogacy people have to be paid! Your going to do it for nine months, you might die, you might become infertile, you are still going to miss your child whether you get paid for it or not. But I think the whole problem with surrogacy isn’t that the woman is paid, it is that her child, she is carrying, does not belong to her, and that means that while she is pregnant her body does not belong to herself. According to the contract, the right to decide about hormone treatment or abortion, becomes very complex because she is not carrying her own child. This is totally against women’s autonomy.
JB: As feminists who are campaigning to end surrogacy, what do we need to do now, what are our most important tasks?
KEK: We need to target parliaments, our own parliaments, the EU parliament and get into the decision making. We are facing big lobbyists, not just the buyers but the big agencies that are trying to get into Europe that are really trying to get into this, having seminars trying to get promote this as the new way to have a family, outsourcing the whole thing, saying you don’t have to have your own baby, someone else can carry it for you. Who are we, we are just freelance feminists who are trying to say what we think. We need to put this at the top of the feminist agenda. I always think it is weird when feminists say ‘oh I’m against someone grabbing my ass on a train, but I’m not against somebody taking my baby.’ Where is the perspective? The class perspective as well- some of the feminists would be the ones buying children through surrogacy. They would think ‘I’m getting the advantage here, I am not the one being exploited.’ We need to have solidarity with all the women in the world who are being used by this industry.