Thursday, October 28

Surrogacy as a story

October begins. I read authors. Specifically, a reading that catches me and demands of me as a book has not done for a long time. A novel, a style, that doesn’t let you read diagonally: “SymGest workers hid that there were gorillas that suffered incurable depression after childbirth. Sadness led them to erratic or violent attitudes; they howled, hit the windows, walked in circles for hours … (…). Their maintenance became impossible. and they stopped being productive subjects, so it was necessary to sacrifice them “. I find myself portrayed in the fragment. Portrayed as a mammal that has just given birth and sometimes walks in circles, overwhelmed by becoming a non-productive subject but only reproductive, for which there seems to be no social recognition, neither from the symbolic nor from the material. And it shocks me to see myself drawn on a gorilla. In an exploded gorilla.

The book that hooks me has apelike pity on the cover. Its titled Who is blameless and it is the third novel by Gema Nieto. It is surprising to offer us a dystopia with so many recognizable traces of our own world, as the writer Alana Portero said in her presentation last Friday at the Mary Read bookstore (Madrid). A fiction where everything becomes sinisterly familiar. Such a feasible world where reproductive freedom is bought à la carte in a perfected industry that has found the solution to the ethical problem of surrogacy. Eureka! We have it! To be substituted by females of another species. What can go wrong? And this is just the triggering incident for a huge social outbreak. Sofía Castañón also reminded us in the presentation how a false urgency was created in Parliament not so long ago to legislate on what is called there, hemicycle so many times also sinister, surrogacy. The stories can alter the agendas and targets of violence depending on who makes them. In Gema Nieto’s world construction, the reproductive transaction is called secondary gestation. Once again, fiction surpasses reality. Because as Noelia Adánez says (and I swear to you that I already cut with the name dropping), is a text that gives us credibility, which is what we are most in need of lately in the political field. And who says political, says literary.

A book that has challenged me as a mother who has traveled and knows well all the contradictions of those white buildings of the reproductive clinics that the novel has as its setting; but also as a reader interested in fictions that address motherhood from any front, like all those novels in whose tradition this is inscribed: feminist speculative fiction novels with a focus on the reproductive issue and the social organization that these speculative realities provoke. I don’t know if we have the time or mental space to read good novels in the midst of the latest reactive volleys of feminism, but we deserve it. We need to stop the powerful hum that eats our days, start reading and, incidentally, rest. We need novels like these, I think, uncomfortable, disturbing novels. We need novels that make the effort to name our world in order to understand and question it. Take time out and bow down with this fictional pity.

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