Recently, someone posted a remark by playwright Harold Pinter on Facebook. It read, “How can you write a happy play? Drama is about conflict and general degrees of perturbation, disarray. I’ve never been able to write a happy play…” I did a thesis on Pinter when I was a graduate student and can testify he never wrote so much has a comic line. And while I admire his work and the innovation he brought to theater, I fail to understand how, as one who must observe life, he could have avoided writing comedy. Pinter is no longer with us, sadly, but if he were, I doubt he’d miss the rich vein of humor that exists today.
Let’s begin with a delusional president who imagines he can build a southern wall to end his immigration worries. Poor man. He’s blind to a social trend that is bound to overflow his barrier. I’m talking about a growth industry exported to America from third world countries where, like everywhere else on the globe, it is now banned. I’m talking about surrogate pregnancies.
Few states in the United States ban “wombs for hire.” With no competition, we have the field to ourselves — which explains why foreign couples from all parts of the planet are flocking here to hatch their babies. (“Made In America,” by Moira Weigel, New Republic, November, 2017, pgs. 33-35.) Of that group, a majority come from China, since recently that nation has lifted its “one child” policy. (Blog 8/9/17)
As a feminist, I’d never quarrel with a female’s right to use her body as she chooses. Nonetheless, I experience a twinge, just as I do about prostitution, when a woman hires out her anatomy for supplemental income. In such transactions, women are usually the losers. As writer Moira Weigel points out, in the case of surrogate babies, the agency that arranges the service collects $100,000. It pays the “mother” $30,000 — a sum calculated to be about $5 an hour for the duration of the pregnancy. (Ibid, pg. 34.)
Despite the inequities, the business is thriving. If Pinter were alive, surely he’d see the humor in our reversal of fortune. Instead of importing orphans from China, as we have done for years, we are exporting surrogate babies back to that country.
How ironic that Trump, who worries about immigration, fails to see that in this exchange, each child born in the U. S. A. becomes a citizen. That benefit hasn’t escaped the Chinese parents. Many of them, while here, arrange for American passports and social security numbers for their new off-spring. Eventually, they hope to ship their children back to attend one of our prestigious universities. (Ibid pg. 35.)
Poor, poor Donald. He frets about our southern border. In the meantime, the Chinese come in through the front door. Would Harold Pinter see the humor? Of course he would.
(Originally published 10/26/17)