Dear Taslima Nasreen, Priyanka Chopra Jonas choosing surrogacy isn't a question mark on her motherhood

Taslima Nasreen's opinion that women who do not bear their own children cannot feel like a true mother would be laughable were it not so alarmingly reflective of a section of society that believes women must use their wombs to their full utility or get out of the rat race.

Subhash K Jha January 24, 2022 11:21:14 IST
Dear Taslima Nasreen, Priyanka Chopra Jonas choosing surrogacy isn't a question mark on her motherhood

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Respected Taslima Nasreen ji,

I do admire your pluck and gumption. As a woman from a closed hijab-clad society, you have made your voice heard across the globe with your assertive, fearless take on feminism often defined by a society that is traditionally sanctioned to be gender-biased.

But your new chime-bomb just a day after Priyanka Chopra Jonas announced her surrogate motherhood, smacks  of arrogance and an ill-conceived neurosis about the sanctity of the womb.

You said, and I quote, “How do those mothers feel when they get their readymade babies through surrogacy? Do they have the same feelings for the babies like the mothers who give birth to the babies? Surrogacy is possible because there are poor women. Rich people always want the existence of poverty in the society for their own interests. If you badly need to raise a child, adopt a homeless one. Children must inherit your traits... it is just a selfish narcissistic ego.."

In my humble opinion, your views on surrogacy suck. Where and how did you come to these primeval stone-age  conclusions on women who choose to have their babies through hired wombs?

You want to know how these women feel about their ‘readymade’ babies? They feel fine, absolutely fine. There is  no lack of maternal feelings for their children just because their children did not emerge from their vaginas.

I wonder if you know this, Taslima ji: Very often, babies are surrogated after every attempt to conceive has failed.  Even a glib massy film like Mimi, which I enjoyed, got that right. Maybe you should watch some films on surrogacy — I can send you a  list — there are some remarkable films on the theme, like Lekh Tandon’s Doosri Dulhan, Spanish film The Daughter, the Belgian film Melody… or try The  Handmaid’s Tale for a better understanding of what surrogacy means to parenthood.

Decades ago in 1970, Barbara Hershey had played a surrogate mother in The Babymaker. She was accused of  promoting vile values. I can see that not much has changed since then.

Your opinion that women who do not bear their own children cannot feel like a true mother would be laughable were it not so alarmingly reflective of a section of society that believes women must use their wombs to their full utility or get out of the rat race.

For your kind information, Taslima ji, there are many wonderful women in the Indian entertainment industry  with children born of surrogacy. Sunny Leone has three children: two are born from surrogacy, and one, a  daughter, is adopted. Leone and her husband Daniel Weber are among the most exemplary parents I have come  across.

My friend Karan Johar’s life revolves around his twins Roohi and Yash, born from a surrogate mother. He makes  a better parent than this other superstar actress whose own womb-conceived children are being raised by nannies while she spends her time posting earth-shattering details of her meals and outings on Instagram.

Weirdly, your revelatory remarks on surrogacy make no mention of men; gay couples or single gay men who choose to have a child from a hired womb. I cannot mention their names here because of the prejudices that still govern our society regarding homosexuality. The same prejudices define your disdainful attitude towards surrogate motherhood.

Why is it a problem for you if some women (and men) choose to rent wombs for their babies? If readymade ideologies are acceptable, why not readymade babies?

Sincerely yours

Subhash K Jha

Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.

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