"Our Baby, Her Womb" by Arlie Russell Hochschild
One. What is a typical surrogate mom situation?
A woman hits about 40 because she's worked during that time, she has a lot of financial resources, and she realizes she's too old to bear a child, so she seeks a younger, less financially endowed woman.
The dynamic of power is someone with money buying someone's body and that body belongs to a someone of modest financial means.
An aside: Just like the documentary we saw on temporary work, whenever we're short on financial resources we find ourselves vulnerable to sacrificing our bodies to survive.
I'd rather be a surrogate mother than work in a chicken farm.
The total cost is $80,000, and this includes psychological evaluations. However, in India, the total cost is $10,000.
Two. What are the typical steps at attempting pregnancy?
First, the husband and wife have a doctor implant their embryo in a surrogate's womb.
If step one doesn't work, step two is combining the husband's sperm with a surrogate's egg (a donor egg) and implanting into another surrogate's womb.
In the case of Dr. Patel, she increases the chances of success by implanting "about five embryos at at time, aborting fetuses if they numbered more than two."
Three. What common abuses exist in the surrogate market?
See this essay about surrogacy and child abuse.
See this essay about allegations of an unfit father.
Four. What are some ways people might defend surrogacy?
Surrogacy provides a moral solution if safeguards are met. However, one may counter-argue that the legal safeguards are too vulnerable to be upheld.
Surrogacy is evil, but in poor countries it can be the lesser of two evils where families otherwise would make no income. Some may counter-argue that the monetary benefits are short-term and are cancelled by the long-term harm done to the surrogate mother who is often forced into surrogacy by her father.
Surrogacy is sometimes done by a loving family member, a sister, a cousin, for two examples, and the final result is joy for all concerned. Some may counter-argue that these cases are the exception, not the rule, and we shouldn't make policies based on rare occurrences.
Five. What are some unanticipated complications from surrogacy?
See OC Register.
Essay Assignment Option
In the context of “Our Baby, Her Womb,” support, defend, or complicate the argument that surrogate motherhood is a moral abomination.
A close examination of the surrogate motherhood industry reveals it to be a moral abomination evidenced by _______________, ________________, _______________, and ___________________.
Thesis That Defends Surrogacy
With the right regulations, surrogate motherhood can be a viable alternative for couples who depend on this method as way of becoming parents. We're not going to stop the business, so we should regulate it. We shouldn't deprive couples of free choice. In the free market, the transaction can be mutually beneficial.
Thesis That Condemns Surrogacy
Aspiring parents tempted by the promises of surrogacy, do not be deceived. Technology is not a Fairy God Mother who grants us our procreation wishes. Money is not a ticket to gratify our prenatal dreams. Neither technology nor money can cure the moral and legal woes that make surrogate motherhood a deal with the devil worthy of abolishment. That surrogacy must be abolished is evident when we examine _______________, __________________, ___________________, and __________________.
Another Thesis That Condemns Surrogacy
While I want to be fair and acknowledge that there are some instances of healthy surrogate births, the overwhelming evidence shows huge opportunities for abuse for all parties involved. My research shows that children of surrogates suffer from high degrees of depression, surrogate mothers want the child and create a legal nightmare for the family, surrogate mothers and their children alike are treated like commodities, many surrogate children, deemed undesirable, are abandoned, and worst of all, situations bringing up abortion can present a legal tangle, pedophiles traffic these surrogate children around the world with near impunity.
Summarize the pros and cons in your introduction: 250 words.
Thesis: 150 words.
Four supporting paragraphs 150 each 600 and 400 for 1,000 subtotal.
Two counterargument-rebuttal paragraphs: 300 words. 1,300 total.
Conclusion, a restatement of your thesis: 100-200 words: 1,400-1,500 word total.
Grammar: Dangling Modifiers
Rewrite the following sentences to correct the dangling modifiers:
1. Larded with greasy fries, the waiter served me a burnt steak.
2. Mr. McMahon returned her essay with a wide grin.
3. To finish by the 4 P.M. deadline, the computer keyboard blazed with the student's fast typing fingers.
4. Chocolate frosted with caramel sauce, John devoured the cupcakes.
5. Tapping the desk with his fingers, the school clock's hands moved too slowly before recess.
6. Showering the onion rings with garlic salt, his sodium count spiked.
7. The girl walked her poodle in high heels.
8. Struggling with the tight jeans, the fabric ripped and made an embarrassing sound.
9. Turning off the bedroom lights, the long, hard day finally came to an end.
10. Piled high above the wash machine, I decided I had better do a load of laundry.
11. Standing on the hotel balcony, the ocean view was stunning.
12. Running across the floor, the rug slipped and I collapsed.
13. Writing anxiously, the essay looked littered with errors.
14. Mortified by my loss to my opponents, my baseball uniform sagged.
15. Hungry after a day of football, the stack of peanut butter sandwiches on the table quickly disappeared.
According to Andrea A. Lunsford in The St. Martin’s Handbook, Eight Edition, there are 20 writing errors that merit “The Top 20.”
One. Wrong word: Confusing one word for another.
Here's a list of wrong word usage.
A full-bodied red wine compliments the Pasta Pomodoro.
Compliment is a to say something nice about someone. "You look nice in that pumpkin polo shirt. Very nice pumpkin accents."
Complement is to complete or match well with something. "This full-bodied red wine complements the spaghetti."
The BMW salesman excepted my counteroffer of 55K for the sports sedan.
The word should be accepted.
Kryptonite effects Superman in such a way that he loses his powers.
Effect is a noun. Affect is a verb, so it should be the following:
Kryptonite affects Superman in a such a way that he loses his powers.
Confusing their and there
There superpowers were compromised by the Gamma rays.
We need to use the possessive plural pronoun their.
Two. Missing comma after an introductory phrase or clause
Terrified of slimy foods, Robert hid behind the restaurant’s dumpster.
In spite of my aversion to rollercoasters, I attended the carnival with my family.
Three. Incomplete documentation
Noted dietician and nutritionist Mike Manderlin observes that, “Dieting is a mental illness.”
It should read:
Noted dietician and nutritionist Mike Manderlin observes that, “Dieting is a mental illness” (277).
Four. Vague Pronoun Reference
Focusing on the pecs during your Monday-Wednesday-Friday workouts is a way of giving you more time to work on your quads and glutes and specializing on the way they’re used in different exercises.
Before Jennifer screamed at Brittany, she came to the conclusion that she was justified in stealing her boyfriend.
Five. Spelling (including homonyms, words that have same spelling but different meanings)
No one came forward to bare witness to the crime.
No one came forward to bear witness to the crime.
Every where we went, we saw fast food restaurants.
Everywhere we went, we saw fast food restaurants.
Love is a disease. It’s sickness derives from its power to intoxicate and create capricious, short-term infatuation.
Its sickness derives from its power to intoxicate and create capricious, short-term infatuation.
Six. Mechanical error with a quotation
In his best-selling book Love Is a Virus from Outer Space, noted psychologist Michael M. Manderlin asserts that, “Falling in love is a form of madness for which there is no cure”.
In his best selling book Love Is a Virus from Outer Space, noted psychologist Michael M. Manderlin asserts that, “Falling in love is a form of madness for which there is no cure.”
In his best selling book Love Is a Virus from Outer Space, noted psychologist Michael M. Manderlin asserts that, “Falling in love is a form of madness for which there is no cure” (18).
“It forever stuns me that people make life decisions based on something as fickle and capricious as love”, Michael Manderlin writes (22).
“It forever stuns me that people make life decisions based on something as fickle and capricious as love,” Michael Manderlin writes (22).
Seven. Unnecessary comma
I need to workout when at home, and while taking vacations.
You do however use a comma if the comma is between two independent clauses:
I need to workout at home, and when I go on vacations, I bring my yoga mat to hotels.
I need to workout every day, because I’m addicted to the exercise-induced dopamine.
You do however use a comma after a dependent clause beginning with because:
Because I’m addicted to exercise-induced dopamine, I need to workout everyday.
Peaches, that are green, taste hideous.
The above is an example of an independent clause with a essential information or restrictive information. Not all peaches taste hideous, only green ones. The meaning of the entire sentence needs the dependent clause so there are no commas.
However, if the clause is additional information, the clause is called nonessential or nonrestrictive, and we do use commas:
Peaches, which are on sale at Whole Foods, are my favorite fruit.
Eight. Unnecessary or missing capitalization
Some Traditional Chinese Medicines containing Ephedraremain legal.
We only use capital letters for proper nouns, proper adjectives, first words of sentences, important words in titles, along with certain words indicating directions and family relationships.
Nine. Missing word
The site foreman discriminated women and promoted men with less experience.
The site foreman discriminated against women and promoted men with less experience.
Chris’ behavior becomes bizarre that his family asks for help.
Chris’ behavior becomes so bizarre that his family asks for help.
Ten. Faulty sentence structure
The information which high school athletes are presented with mainly includes information on what credits needed to graduate and thinking about the college which athletes are trying to play for, and apply.
A sentence that starts out with one kind of structure and then changes to another kind can confuse readers. Make sure that each sentence contains a subject and a verb, that subjects and predicates make sense together, and that comparisons have clear meanings. When you join elements (such as subjects or verb phrases) with a coordinating conjunction, make sure that the elements have parallel structures.
The reason I prefer yoga at home to the gym is because I prefer privacy.
I prefer yoga at home to the gym because of privacy.
11. Missing Comma with a Nonrestrictive Element
Marina who was the president of the club was the first to speak.
The clause who was the president of the club does not affect the basic meaning of the sentence: Marina was the first to speak.
A nonrestrictive element gives information not essential to the basic meaning of the sentence. Use commas to set off a nonrestrictive element.
12. Unnecessary Shift in Verb Tense
Priya was watching the great blue heron. Then she slips and falls into the swamp.
Verbs that shift from one tense to another with no clear reason can confuse readers.
13. Missing Comma in a Compound Sentence
Meredith waited for Samir and her sister grew impatient.
Without the comma, a reader may think at first that Meredith waited for both Samir and her sister.
A compound sentence consists of two or more parts that could each stand alone as a sentence. When the parts are joined by a coordinating conjunction, use a comma before the conjunction to indicate a pause between the two thoughts.
14. Unnecessary or Missing Apostrophe (including its/it's)
Overambitious parents can be very harmful to a childs well-being.
The car is lying on it's side in the ditch. Its a white 2004 Passat.
To make a noun possessive, add either an apostrophe and an s (Ed's book) or an apostrophe alone (the boys' gym). Do not use an apostrophe in the possessive pronouns ours, yours, and hers. Useits to mean belong to it; use it's only when you mean it is or it has.
15. Fused (run-on) sentence
Klee's paintings seem simple, they are very sophisticated.
She doubted the value of medication she decided to try it once.
A fused sentence (also called a run-on) joins clauses that could each stand alone as a sentence with no punctuation or words to link them. Fused sentences must be either divided into separate sentences or joined by adding words or punctuation.
16. Comma Splice
I was strongly attracted to her, she was beautiful and funny.
We hated the meat loaf, the cafeteria served it every Friday.
A comma splice occurs when only a comma separates clauses that could each stand alone as a sentence. To correct a comma splice, you can insert a semicolon or period, connect the clauses with a word such as and or because, or restructure the sentence.
17. Lack of pronoun/antecedent agreement
Every student must provide their own uniform.
Pronouns must agree with their antecedents in gender (male or female) and in number (singular or plural). Many indefinite pronouns, such as everyone and each, are always singular. When a singular antecedent can refer to a man or woman, either rewrite the sentence to make the antecedent plural or to eliminate the pronoun, or use his or her, he or she, and so on. When antecedents are joined by or or nor, the pronoun must agree with the closer antecedent. A collection noun such as team can be either singular or plural, depending on whether the members are seen as a group or individuals.
18. Poorly Integrated Quotation
A 1970s study of what makes food appetizing "Once it became apparent that the steak was actually blue and the fries were green, some people became ill" (Schlosser 565).
In a 1970s study about what makes food appetizing, we read, "Once it became apparent that the steak was actually blue and the fries were green, some people became ill" (Schlosser 565).
"Dumpster diving has serious drawbacks as a way of life" (Eighner 383). Finding edible food is especially tricky.
"Dumpster diving has serious drawbacks as a way of life," we read in Eighner's book (383). One of the drawbacks is that finding food can be especially difficult.
Quotations should fit smoothly into the surrounding sentence structure. They should be linked clearly to the writing around them (usually with a signal phrase) rather than dropped abruptly into the writing.
19. Missing or Unnecessary Hyphen
This paper looks at fictional and real life examples.
A compound adjective modifying a noun that follows it requires a hyphen.
The buyers want to fix-up the house and resell it.
A two-word verb should not be hyphenated. A compound adjective that appears before a noun needs a hyphen. However, be careful not to hyphenate two-word verbs or word groups that serve as subject complements.
20. Sentence Fragment
Marie Antoinette spent huge sums of money on herself and her favorites. And helped to bring on the French Revolution.
No complete verb
The aluminum boat sitting on its trailer.
Beginning with a subordinating word
We returned to the drugstore. Where we waited for our buddies.
A sentence fragment is part of a sentence that is written as if it were a complete sentence. Reading your draft out loud, backwards, sentence by sentence, will help you spot sentence fragments.
“Unspeakable Conversations” by Harriet McBryde Johnson
One. How does Johnson effectively get our attention in her essay’s introduction?
“He insists he doesn’t want to kill me.”
This is very generous coming from the world's most prestigious philosopher, a man who believes in euthanasia, the "mercy killing" of people with certain handicaps similar to HBs.
Two. What kind of hubris (excessive pride) and arrogance inform Singer’s philosophy to kill deformed babies?
He seems to know that the “suffering” disabled babies go through, and the parents’ suffering, justifies killing them.
Imagine the pride it requires to "know" the following:
How happy one can or cannot be.
How much suffering one has to suffer and if suffering for a parent can reach such a level that this suffering justifies the killing of a child.
Imagine how subjective notions of happiness and suffering are.
Imagine how ill equipped a philosopher is to make any kind of objective measure of happiness or suffering.
Is there were a definitive suffering scale, and even if there were, would such a scale justify the killing of certain kinds of babies?
Additionally, Singer argues that “individuals with cognitive impairments so severe that he doesn’t consider them persons” should not live.
How does such a philosopher become a moral paradigm, the author of definitive books on charity, kindness to animals, and ethics.
Again, how do we definitively measure such perceived impairments, and even if such a measurement were available, could we justify this practice of killing people?
Singer's "Worse Off" Theory:
For Singer, a disabled baby is “worse off” than a healthy baby so the disabled baby should be killed. But what does it mean to say someone is “worse off”? What about a healthy baby who as a toddler proves that he is a sociopath who tortures cats and dogs? He gets to live?
At another point of debate, Singer says healthy children can have fun at the beach but disabled children cannot and therefore they should be put to death.
Does this make sense? “You, child, are unable to have fun. Now die.”
I’m less shocked by the stupidity and evil of the argument (because there will always be madmen spewing made theories) than by the fact that Singer is a venerated philosopher who is a hired professor at Princeton.
Three. How does HBJ's appearance present challenges, some of which are for her insufferable?
People assume she needs pity.
They assume her life is horrible.
They assume she is in immense pain.
They assume she needs to be treated like a child or patronized like a slow person.
They don’t see her. They see stereotypes based on her appearance.
There is a depth to HBJ's character that defies Singer's definition of her as being somehow less than human.
His abstract philosophy fails in the face of specific instances.
Philosophy is too often the application of a general principle to a specific.
In life, a one-size-fits-all philosophical theory falls flat on its face.
Lexicon of Terms Pertinent to Peter Singer’s Moral Philosophy.
One. Utilitarianism, the philosophy that we should sacrifice the individual for the greater good of the collective whole.
Two. “quality of life” argument: human life is only valuable if a certain “quality” can be achieved; otherwise life is better off destroyed.
Three. “normal children”: They can achieve a “quality of life” and should take priority over “abnormal children” who should be euthanized.
Four. “infants are replaceable”: we should replace abnormal infants with normal ones for the “greater good.” The moral imperative is that we are reducing suffering and adding more productive citizens to society as opposed to citizens who put a burden on society.
Five. Eugenicist, one who defends the idea that we should select what humans are desirable based on genetics and which ones should be replaced, that is euthanized, for the betterment of society. The eugenicist also develops the criteria for making these choices.
Six. Peter Singer's nebulous definition of “personhood.” The ability to imagine the future. What does that mean?
Seven. Intrinsic value of human life, called the sanctity of life vs. conditional value of human life based on “quality of life.”
Eight. Apologist for eugenics. An apologist takes controversial or unpopular ideas and makes them appealing by defending their validity and showing why those views are correct.
Nine. Peter Singer is an advocate for genetic re-engineering.
Ten. Market-driven and peer-pressure-driven forces for genetic re-engineering. The result will be a loss of diversity. Most women will like Salma Hayek and Beyonce while most men will look like Will Smith and Brad Pitt. See the New Eugenics.
Peter Singer’s Major Arguments
One. Peter Singer’s quality of life argument for infanticide:
His stated reason, rather, is that such children have diminished prospects of eventually enjoying an adequate "quality of life," in his words, and to allow them to live would take away resources from what Singer calls "normal" children. He therefore advocates killing "disabled" infants, if the parents so choose, and replacing them with "normal" ones. The terminology of "replacement" is Singer's own; his philosophy "treats infants as replaceable", in his words (Practical Ethics p. 186).
Why, then, does Singer argue that infants born with this condition can justly be killed? Because they are "abnormal" and do not have "good prospects" (Rethinking p. 214).
This notion of "prospects" runs like a mantra through Singer's discussion of Down syndrome children: "the future prospects of life may be so bleak" (211), "the prospects are clouded" (213), and so forth. But what sort of prospects does he have in mind? On p. 213 of Rethinking he lists several activities which a person with Down syndrome will supposedly never be capable of: "to play the guitar, to develop an appreciation of science fiction, to learn a foreign language, to chat with us about the latest Woody Allen movie, or to be a respectable athlete, basketball player or tennis player."
This list reads like a parody of bourgeois myths of achievement, success, and respectability. To Singer, however, these are legitimate reasons for killing a newborn. After all, if you can't do your own financial planning, why should you be allowed to live?
Two. Peter Singer’s utilitarian argument for infanticide:
What counts as a "severe disability" for Singer? He intentionally leaves the term vague to allow for a broad range of parental discretion, but he has discussed a number of specific examples, both hypothetical as well as actual cases.
The conditions he has explicitly named as sufficient justification for active infanticide include Down syndrome, spina bifida, and hemophilia. Here is Singer's reasoning on the latter condition, taken from his popular textbook Practical Ethics (P. 186): "Suppose a woman planning to have two children has one normal child, then gives birth to a haemophiliac child. The burden of caring for that child may make it impossible for her to cope with a third child; but if the disabled child were to die, she would have another. . . . When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed. The loss of happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second. Therefore, if killing the hemophiliac infant has no adverse effect on others, it would, according to the total view, be right to kill him."
Three. Peter Singer’s definition of a “person” or someone who is worthy of the label “personhood”:
a conscious being, a creature who has the capacity to imagine the future. This definition can apply to humans, animals, and creatures. A “person” should not be killed, but a human baby suffering severe retardation or some other handicap is not a “person.”
Four. Utilitarian Slippery Slope:
If we agree that we should aim for the greatest good for the greatest amount of people and that handicapped people burden the “greatest good,” at what point do we stop at defining who constitutes a “burden”? Smokers, the obese, criminals, the handicapped, the autistic? Where do we stop?
Five. Peter Singer’s “Worse Off” Argument:
Disability makes a person worse off and therefore that person should be killed. And Peter Singer is comfortable judging who’s “worse off” and who’s not, a very subjective condition. See page 97 and page 106 top.
Six. Peter Singer’s Eugenicist Position:
The eugenicist position endorses selection according to desirable and undesirable genetic traits, and favors the elimination of the latter. Singer's argument sorts people into two categories, "normal" and "abnormal", and declares the ostensibly abnormal ones fair game at birth. He doesn't even bother to try to provide "objective" grounds on which to classify some human physical or mental conditions as "defective" (a term he used in earlier editions of Practical Ethics) and contrast them with "healthy" ones. Instead he simply welcomes whatever arbitrary social norms happen to prevail, thus turning his argument into a vehicle for prejudice. But of course there is no perfect, flawless version of the human form against which putatively "inferior" specimens could be measured.
Seven. Harriet McBryde Johnson’s quality of life argument:
Studies show that the public underestimates the quality of life for most handicapped people based on stereotypes.
In the context of “Unspeakable Conversations,” defend, refute, or complicate Peter Singer’s position that there are moral grounds for infanticide or “mercy killings.”
Paragraph 1: In a page, explain Peter Singer’s philosophy and the methods he uses to defend it. 250 words.
Paragraph 2: Develop a thesis paragraph that defends or refutes Singer. 150 words.
Paragraphs 3-7 are your supporting paragraphs. 750 words; 1,150 subtotal.
Paragraphs 8 and 9: Counterargument-rebuttal paragraphs: 300 words. 1,450 words.
Paragraph 10: Conclusion: 100 words. 1,550 total.
You must use a Works Cited page that has no fewer than 3 sources.
Refutation of Peter Singer: Thesis One:
While Singer’s argument for infanticide is consistent with his utilitarian worldview, his position collapses under the close eye of scrutiny in which we detect huge holes or flaws in his reasoning. These flaws include __________________________, ___________________________, ____________________________, and __________________________.
Refutation of Peter Singer: Thesis Two:
If we accept Peter Singer's utilitarian argument as a just rationale for infanticide, then we are paving the way for genetic re-engineering as a tool to create a Super Baby that all parents will be forced to breed. This forced breeding of the Super Baby will result from ______________________, __________________________, ______________________, and ____________________________________.
Defense of Peter Singer: Thesis Three:
McMahon has treated Peter Singer’s infanticide argument with gross unfairness. While McMahon is correct that Singer needs to tidy up some of his vague definitions, Singer’s general argument can be ethically defended as actually helping the human race when we consider _________________________, _______________________, ___________________________, and _______________________________.
Some Salient Titles
Must I Conform to Peter Singer's Definition of Happiness So I Can Live?
Be Happy Singer's Way . . . Or Die
Let Go of the Stale Past and Become New and Improved, Peter Singer Style
We Limit Ourselves By Dismissing Peter Singer So Quickly
McMahon Commentary on “Unspeakable Conversations”
Peter Singer’s theories of “selective infanticide” insulate him from the reality of flesh and blood:
His theories are abstractions and as he percolates his ideas behind the university walls, he loses touch with reality. Specifically, Singer does not see the human face of “disability” and this human face is Harriet McBryde Johnson. According to Singer’s theory of eugenics, HBJ’s parents had the right to kill her since someone with her disabilities could not lead a “quality of life” and as such she doesn’t deserve the title of “person.” Nor does she possess, to use Singer’s term, “personhood.”
To the contrary, HMJ has a lot of richness in her life that defies the stereotypes too many people have about people with disabilities. Part of HMJ’s gifted life is her intellect, which allows her to see the “bone-chilling” theories of Peter Singer for what they are: monstrous. For example, Singer believes in “selective infanticide” under the guise of “preference utilitarianism” (96), which states that disabled babies are disposable and that is preferable to replace them with healthy babies who have a better change for a flourishing existence.
One of the horrifying qualities of Peter Singer is that during his debate with HMJ he remains affable, lucid, and logical. We can infer that Singer has succumbed to his abstractions so fully that he has lost his humanity and his sanity. He is clearly an congenial monster, polite on the outside, roiling with his murder doctrine on the inside.
One of the striking inadequacies of Singer’s theory, we read on page 97, is his belief that someone like HMJ is “worse off” (106) as he projects condescending pity for the disabled based on his ignorance and stereotypical beliefs (104).
Blue Book Exam
Addressing the movie Get Out, or the Debra Dickerson essay, "The Great White Way," or the Arlie Russell Hochschild essay, "Our Baby, Her Womb," develop a thesis that connects privilege, entitlement, and moral bankruptcy. Support your thesis with four paragraphs. In your fifth paragraph, your conclusion, restate your thesis in more emotional form to achieve pathos.