Holy Hormones Journal: First we are sex-trafficked and then we are reduced to the sum of our body parts. Excellent article by feminist writer Julie Bindle. Welcome to the new marketplace where are brains are lobotomized, breasts cut off, ovaries and uteri taken out – and plastic surgery for our vaginas. If there is anything left it is sold.
The Selling of Subordination: How the Female Body Is Reduced to Products
By Julie Bindel
Sep 15, 2016
Women’s hair, breast milk, wombs and orifices are for rent or sale around the world. It is the intersection between capitalism and patriarchy. Those campaigning to abolish the sex trade are highlighting the links between all forms of the body trade and are beginning to organize against it. The shocking fact is that in many countries, the brokering, buying and selling of bits of human females are perfectly legal. Welcome to the marketplace built on women’s oppression, disposability, desperation and despair.
As a feminist writer and campaigner against male violence toward women and girls, I am deeply troubled by the increasing normalization of the commodification of the female body. While organizing against the sex trade over the past two decades, I have come across related forms of commercial exploitation of women and girls, such as surrogacy, egg removal and the sale of breast milk and hair.
In a series of articles, I will report from Romania, Ukraine, Israel, California, the U.S. and Greece on this grotesque marketplace to expose the brokers who profit from these so-called products and services and the people who create the demand for women’s body parts. I will speak to the sellers, buyers and those who advertise these products and consider the effects on the girls and women who are being exploited.
The babies born of desperate, abused women are also peddled on the open market. During a trip to Hungary this fall I will report from a village where one of the most notorious baby farmers—where babies are sold to those looking for quick and easy adoptions—presented his commercial business as altruistic rather than criminal and inhumane.
There are now thousands of clinics offering to outsource every aspect of fertilization, pregnancy and childbirth. In this neoliberal marketplace, it takes several businesses to build a family.
In Gujarat, India, in 2015, I spoke to Labh, a waiter in my hotel, who told me that he had just sold 20 inches of his daughter’s hair to a man who comes every few weeks to buy the flowing locks of girls and women who need money. In India and many other countries where hair traders seek their prey, girls are stigmatized and often punished for having short hair. Despite this, many fathers sell their locks to supplement the family income.
Labh tells me this is not the case in Chennai, where by Hindu custom women pray at the temple while their hair is shaved as a sacrifice to the gods. I ask what happens to the hair. “It is sent to auctions, and then sent to America and Europe,” Labh says.