THE FARM by Joanne Ramos

In order to somehow announce the publication of reviews of one of the most controversial (but also the most beautiful) books that I am sure I will read this year, I asked you a few questions on line.

I would like to tell you how you answered within the first hour of posting the question. I asked you if you would ever bring out a pregnancy for someone else (their embryo, your uterus); of the 200 responses, 150 were: “Never.”

Maybe Jane, it is a new beginning.

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos

I asked you for how much money would you consider carrying out a pregnancy for someone else; of the 150 responses, 140 read: “There is no money for which I would share my pregnancy with other people.” Several of you wrote in the message that if you were to do this, you would do it pro bono, and only to people you know and love.

I also asked you if you could ever think of your own uterus as a rental organ; out of 180 answers, 160 were: “No”.

I also asked you if you would do this for me, to know that my child really wants brothers or sisters, and that I, for medical reasons, cannot safely carry another pregnancy on my own and, unwilling to risk the child’s life, I want to pay someone to give birth to my child? Of the 110 responses in the first hour, 50 read “Maybe, I don’t know, a difficult question” and 54 read “No, God has his reasons why this is so, it should be accepted”.

I would like to thank once again all those who answered, but also all those who did not, but thought about these questions.

I have to admit that I was expecting this kind of response trend; not because I think I live in a very conservative community (although that is also true), but because I know that this is a very new, very complex, very difficult, and very “flammable” topic. The questions themselves are so shocking, that I’m sure at first they provoke very clear automatic reactions and that thinking about them disorients.

Because in America you only have to know how to make money. Money buys everything else.

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos

I who am absolutely FOR (and always will be) all forms of female autonomy over our own bodies find myself in the Wonderful Forest of Unanswered Questions when I think about this topic and all its ramifications.

That is why I am overjoyed that Joanne Ramos wrote this book (and she herself says that she wrote it as an exploration of her own feelings and attitudes on this topic) and I am glad to see how much attention she attracts every day. I think the author wrote on her Instagram profile that the book had already been declared a national bestseller, less than a month after it was published.

Let’s see briefly what happens in this book; I will try to tell you as little as possible, and yet enough to try to interest you if by some miracle I have not succeeded so far.

As if being a good girl and being strong willed were in conflict.

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos

Jane is an immigrant to the United States; with many other women and men of different ages she escaped from the severe poverty and hopelessness of her village in the Philippines. In her new country, life is hard for her; she is the mother of only a few months old baby from whose father, the bully, she escaped. She lives in a room she shares with several other people, sharing with them cramped living space, but also cramped existential opportunities – it’s hard to find a job, even harder a well-paid job, and even if she found it, who would take care of her baby?

Good jobs offered to women like Jane are mostly babysitting wealthy mothers. Women like Jane leave their children to take care of other people’s children all day. Sounds absurd, but what to do? Caring for your child all day, and starving with him? And children grow up…

Jane will be given an unusual opportunity. Golden Oaks is a large, lavish and luxurious clinic that, after extensive assessments and examinations, employs women who will carry a pregnancy for some other couples who cannot or do not want to do it alone. The environment is extremely healthy and comfortable, medical and any other care is top notch, and the cash benefits received by surrogate mothers at the clinic are staggeringly high.

And suddenly she is exhausted. And sad. A sadness so vast she feels like she is drowning in it… Because nothing is going to change.

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos

Jane will soon find herself – and the reader with her – in a world she could not have imagined to exist, experience things she never thought she would experience, meet people who will make her reconsider all her beliefs and prejudices, and discover that she is betraying and exploits lurk just on the side from which she least expected them. I repeat, the reader will go through all this together with Jane, and it is in this – in this intense program of self-examination – that lies the beauty and importance of this book.

The book, as I read it, persistently surprised and delighted me, and for days after I finished it it still haunts me, and any additional reflection on what Joanne Ramos did continues to amaze me.

With this book she opened up so many important topics; and as it opens, at least 5 new topics seem to fall out of it, and each of them opens and questions continue to fall out of it…

One of the things that sobered me up quite a bit was the issue of poverty, that is, the moment when it made me realize that there is a big difference between what the author calls the “American type of poverty” that still hides many privileges and choices that someone living in real, deep poverty ”does not and cannot have. For those of us who have never been in contact with such a level of poverty, it is sometimes difficult to understand the decisions of those for whom it is the only reality they know.

Mae’s never understood why people—privileged people especially, like Reagan and Katie—insist that there’s something shameful in desiring money. No immigrant ever apologized for wanting a nicer life.

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos

This brings me back to the question I asked you on Instagram – for how much would you give birth to THEIR child? Of the twenty, thirty-one hundred and fifty thousand euros offered, the largest number of answers was “There is no amount of money…”

Maybe you just weren’t poor enough to give a different answer to this question? I know it sounds rude, but it’s something Joanne Ramos wanted us to see…

Another thing that thrilled me was how the author toyed with our prejudices and expectations towards the people involved in the “baby business” in this book. Someone who heads such a clinic is certainly a greedy, selfish and cold person whose unbridled appetites for a comfortable life will force him to take advantage of the most vulnerable, the weakest, the most unprotected! But… BUT… You will know this “but” for yourself if you read this book. You might be surprised to meet someone in someone you were willing to hate who might inspire you.

On the other hand, Joanne Ramos will show that even in the population of those we see as the most vulnerable, weakest and most vulnerable in this scheme there are all sorts of people.

I tell you, whatever your opinion on this topic now (very liberal or very conservative), this book will make you reconsider your newly formed views that until yesterday – whatever until yesterday, until just now! – you didn’t even have one; to answer questions that no one has asked you so far.

A smart, well-written and so NECESSARY and IMPORTANT book, especially in the context of today’s current controversies related to women’s right to decide completely autonomously about their own body, about their own uterus. Because THAT topic has hundreds of its own subtopics that one rarely thinks about. Until, lets say, they get this phenomenal book…

Sometimes a person has no choice but hard choices

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos

I read somewhere that this book is being compared to Margaret Atwood’s “Maid’s Tale.” I wouldn’t agree that they are sisters; they may be dealing with the same topic but not sending the same message. But what the book “The Farm” is about could easily become “The Maid’s Story” if we are not careful…

The fact is that modern medicine has opened and will continue to open numerous doors when it comes to human reproduction, whether we like it or not. It is simply the course of science.

We as a society that wants a maximally ethical world, will feel the need to draw boundaries. But WHO will draw the boundaries and WHERE exactly will they draw when it comes to this topic? There’s a lot of money at stake when it comes to this topic, trust me. And where big money revolves, there are people who have power. Will those who will finally draw the boundaries of the ethical on this issue respect and preserve the rights of women to dispose of their own bodies? Who knows?

Well, that’s exactly WHY we need to read this book, we need to think about this topic, we need to be present when the boundaries are drawn.

If this means that we will all have to go through an awkward and painful process of rethinking our romantic ideas about pregnancy and childbirth and motherhood and “ownership” of the baby and the uterus, so be it – we need to grow up, and fast.

You should not raise them to be too tender, like little lambs. Small lambs, soft lambs—they make the best meat; they are always devoured.

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s