Wow. Getting close! Tonight I give you a movement from my expanding play, The Feminazi Cycle. At this point, I think I’m over 5 hours in run time; I’ll probably cut it into pieces so it could be played in parts, but at this point, I haven’t made the division yet. A little background on the play, for those who were not following last year. There are five characters, known as Feminazi, Woman, Man 1, Man 2, and White Knight. They take on different personas for each scene - in this play, movements - and move through time telling the story of women. Sometimes Woman will be an ally to Feminazi, other times an adversary. White Knight is always an ally, but is capable of being completely oblivious at times and not being a very good ally. The reason I named her Feminazi was to point out the ridiculous nature of such a name for a woman who is inherently reasonable and only wants to have the right to do what she wants and is capable of doing. Sometimes, in some movements, she succeeds.
This movement is currently movement 17, but not necessarily finally 17 since new movements slip into the time scale wherever they fit, and later written movements may fit in before what is already there. I was struggling to write this story for several years. Getting the idea of making it part of the continually swelling Feminazi cycle gave me the ability to get it written. The impetus was seeing too many plays where the idea of surrogacy was presented as some sort of beautiful thing that some middle class woman did for her middle class friend, when the reality is much worse. Often the women are poor, and need the money. Feminazi comes out better than many of them do because she has a support system that can help her out, but it still isn’t a particularly healthy or desirable situation for a woman. So I wanted to tell the story more…realistically. I now present for you: Feminazi has a baby.
FEMINAZI HAS A BABY
SETTING: A kitchen, neat and well kept, but poor, with furniture that is second (or third) hand.
AT RISE: FEMINAZI and WHITE KNIGHT are seated at breakfast.
FEMINAZI: I don’t like it.
WHITE KNIGHT: I really don’t like it. But…I don’t know, we do need the money.
FEMINAZI: She’s so…prissy. And condescending. You know, the type that believes firmly that she is not a snob, and so her contempt comes across as caring? Only not?
WHITE KNIGHT: What’s he like?
FEMINAZI: He rules her with an iron hand. She doesn’t work outside the home, because he doesn’t like women to work. She has a college degree, but doesn’t use it, because he doesn’t, and she can’t be smarter than him.
WHITE KNIGHT: And you couldn’t afford a college degree, which you would have used. What a waste.
FEMINAZI: He’s…cold. Detached. Sure of his own success, and his own superiority.
WHITE KNIGHT: You don’t really want to have a baby for them, do you? I mean, what kind of life would the child have?
FEMINAZI: It would be his…
WHITE KNIGHT: And hers?
FEMINAZI: She has no viable eggs. I would provide the egg…and the uterus.
WHITE KNIGHT: So you would really be the mother. I didn’t know that.
FEMINAZI: Does that bother you, Knight? I mean, it will be clinical…they’ll do the fertilization in a Petri dish, or so I’m told. I won’t need to…spend any time with him.
WHITE KNIGHT: I know. But it just…knowing it is your child sort of changes the equation, doesn’t it?
FEMINAZI: I don’t think so. It’s still…we can’t afford not to. You know that.
WHITE KNIGHT: I’ve failed you, haven’t I? All those promises…just marry me, and we’ll be great.
FEMINAZI: And we are great. But…we do need the money.
WHITE KNIGHT: I suppose…we’ll have to….but I don’t have to like it, do I?
FEMINAZI: No, you don’t have to like it. I don’t even have to like it. Just think of it as…a job. A job I do in my spare time.
WHITE KNIGHT: Spare time, hah! This job demands all your time.
FEMINAZI: It’ll be okay. You’ll see.
(Fade. Lights up on kitchen, some months later. FEMINAZI is now visibly pregnant. WOMAN is seated at table, having a cup of coffee. FEMINAZI is serving her coffee and cookies. )
WOMAN: I just love being pregnant. Don’t you?
FEMINAZI: Not really. It’s…sort of a pain.
WOMAN: I can’t wait for our baby to be born. I’ve already made arrangements…I’m going to be in the delivery room with you. I’m going to be lying on the table during delivery. I’m going to be attended by a doctor, just like you. That way I can experience the whole thing.
FEMINAZI: Not the whole thing. You won’t have a grapefruit thrust out through your…
WOMAN: What was that, dear? You’re mumbling.
FEMINAZI: Nothing. Just…reminding myself I need to get coffee at the grocery store.
WOMAN: You’re not drinking coffee, are you? I thought we talked about that.
FEMINAZI: I have three children. I brought them all into the world floating in a sea of coffee, and they are all very healthy. You have nothing to worry about.
WOMAN: But I was reading in the paper just the other day…
FEMINAZI: Look, this may be your baby, but it is my body, and I will not be told what to do with my own body.
WOMAN: My dear, we own your body for now.
FEMINAZI: No, you are only renting it. And in a rental contract, the landlord gets to set the rules.
WOMAN: You’re not going to be difficult, are you? I know your sort often doesn’t understand the need for…
FEMINAZI: My sort? Just exactly what is…my…sort?
WOMAN: You know, disadvantaged. You haven’t had the chance to learn, to develop, and grasp the import of scientific knowledge.
FEMINAZI: I assure you, I am fully aware of the science of childbearing. I studied it quite closely when I was pregnant the first time, and have kept up with the new information. Besides, I am a nurse’s aide, and in an obstetrics ward. I think I can handle this.
WOMAN: But I wouldn’t want my baby to be, like, you know, slow or something.
FEMINAZI: Oh, don’t worry, she has your husband’s DNA. I am sure that will totally counteract any negative influences I might contribute.
WOMAN: You’re right, of course. I forgot about that. Well, I guess I need to be going. I have a lot of shopping to do before I go home. I need to get things for the nursery, you know. Mobiles…educational toys…a crib…I’ll stop by again tomorrow.
FEMINAZI: I wish you wouldn’t stop by everyday.
WOMAN: I need to make sure everything’s fine, you know. Is he…kicking…yet?
FEMINAZI: Oh, yes, kicking hard. But listen, when you stop by, it means I have to change my work shift, and that gives me fewer hours. I can’t afford for you to stop by every morning.
WOMAN: You’re working? I thought we told you to quit.
FEMINAZI: I can’t quit. I need the money, and besides, working doesn’t hurt the baby. Women do it all the time.
WOMAN: They do? How…interesting. I can’t imagine working while I was pregnant.
FEMINAZI: Can you imagine working at all?
WOMAN: What was that? I didn’t hear.
FEMINAZI: Nothing. I just…look, I have to leave or I’ll be late for work. Just…let yourself out, okay? And make sure the door shuts completely behind you. I’ve already set the lock.
(FEMINAZI exits. WOMAN remains, opening cupboards and cabinets, the refrigerator and the oven. She tut tuts over a few food items, and slips them into her bag to take away, including the coffee. WOMAN exits. Fade.)
(Later. FEMINAZI and WHITE KNIGHT are in the kitchen.)
WHITE KNIGHT: That does it. We’re ending this. I can’t believe she took my coffee…our coffee…the chocolate bars for Tri’s birthday party…who does she think she is?
FEMINAZI: She thinks she is the mother of the child. I guess, legally, she is right.
WHITE KNIGHT: She can’t be the legal mother of a child you are carrying. You have more right to that child than she does.
FEMINAZI: She’s paying us, remember?
WHITE KNIGHT: Yeah, well the down payment wasn’t enough to cover much, and I have my doubts we’ll see the final payment. Besides, this isn’t about money. This is about dignity…your dignity, my dignity…
FEMINAZI: How dignified is it to be unable to get our daughter the health care she needs?
WHITE KNIGHT: I feel like a failure…what sort of father…what sort of husband…am I?
FEMINAZI: The best sort…the sort that loves your wife and family.
WHITE KNIGHT: And can’t support them. I have to lean on my wife.
FEMINAZI: There’s no failure in having a wife who works.
WHITE KNIGHT: It isn’t your work. I love that you work in a job where you can find satisfaction. I don’t even mind that you make more than me. It’s…this. Having a baby for another woman, a woman you barely know and don’t like…and having her tell you how to walk, how to dress, how to sleep, how to eat…
FEMINAZI: She wants me to quit my job.
WHITE KNIGHT: What?
FEMINAZI: She believes work is bad for a pregnant woman.
WHITE KNIGHT: And what do you want to do? I mean, if that’s what you want…we’ll find a way. But they’ll have to give you a stipend.
FEMINAZI: I’m fine with working. I want to keep working. I told her no.
WHITE KNIGHT: Good for you.
(A knock. WHITE KNIGHT exits and returns with WOMAN, MAN 1, and MAN 2.)
WOMAN: Hello, darlings, we’ve dropped by to check on everyone, see how your darling family is doing.
MAN 1: And to look after our investment.
WHITE KNIGHT: What? Your investment?
MAN 2: Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Knight? I’m Mr. Man, and I represent Mr. and Mrs. Man as clients.
WHITE KNIGHT: Are you…related?
MAN 1: Mr. Man is my brother. He will take good care of our needs.
FEMINAZI: Come in, sit. Would you like…milk? I’m afraid I’m…out of…coffee.
MAN 1: Hell, no. I’ll leave the milk for the little one. We aren’t here to eat and drink. We’re here on business.
MAN 2: I have some documents in my possession that my clients would appreciate having you look over and sign.
WHITE KNIGHT: Documents? What sort of…documents?
MAN 2: They are in reference to the contract you have with my clients. There are some codicils they would like to have you approve.
WHITE KNIGHT: Codicils? You mean, you’re trying to change the arrangement? Now that it’s too late for my wife to do anything about it?
MAN 1: We want your wife to start taking proper care of my son.
FEMINAZI: I assure you, I am taking proper care of your child. I have done this before, I know what I’m doing.
MAN 2: You have previous experience as a surrogate? I understood this was your first time.
FEMINAZI: I have previous experience being a mother.
WOMAN: Yes, dear, of course you have. That’s one reason we selected you. Your children are…lovely. And so well behaved.
MAN 1: We insist that you begin a more appropriate diet. Here, these are things that my wife found in your cupboard…and your refrigerator…these are not appropriate foods for a pregnant woman.
WHITE KNIGHT: My coffee!
MAN 1: I’m sorry, sir, I cannot give that back to you. Your wife. She drinks coffee, right?
WHITE KNIGHT: Yes. And she will continue to decide if she drinks coffee or not.
MAN 1: She will not drink coffee while in my employ. And she must quit her job. It is not fit for a pregnant woman to work.
WHITE KNIGHT: Are you planning to replace her income? Because I assure you, without it, my wife not only won’t be drinking coffee, we will not be able to eat at all. Starvation has never been a healthy choice for a pregnant woman.
MAN 2: My client has already made the financial arrangements, and we do not propose altering them at this time. You will receive your final payment upon delivery of the product.
FEMINAZI: Product? This is a child, not a machine.
MAN 2: I understand that, ma’am, but that is standard language for a contract. We do not have contracts for the buying and selling of persons.
WHITE KNIGHT: Are you suggesting that this activity is…illegal? We understood it was perfectly legal, and now…
MAN 2: I am saying nothing of the sort, merely that the standard contract applies and that is the language.
MAN 1: If you do not agree to these conditions, I am afraid I will have to insist that you move into our home where my wife will tend to your menus and your activities, to ensure that you do nothing to harm my son.
FEMINAZI: You’re sure it’s a son?
MAN 1: That was the agreement with the clinic. I was assured I would have a son.
FEMINAZI: What if…what if it turned out to be a daughter?
MAN 1: A daughter? I do not want a daughter. I need a son to bear my name and continue my line.
WHITE KNIGHT: What about…love?
WOMAN: Oh, yes, I love the child deeply. I am so crazy about the kid, I can barely sleep at night thinking about it. I don’t care if it’s a girl or a boy, I love him, or her, the same.
MAN 1: Forgive my wife, she gets emotional. That’s the problem with women, eh, Mr. Knight?
WHITE KNIGHT: I’m sure I wouldn’t know. I find emotions to have immense value.
MAN 2: The documents…we must get them signed. I need to get back to my office.
MAN 1: Right. Just sign here, and we can go.
FEMINAZI: I’m sorry, there is no way I can sign this.
WOMAN: Why not?
FEMINAZI: This clause…it says that I must quit my job. I can’t do that.
WOMAN: You can get another job after the baby’s born, dear. It’s not that big a deal.
FEMINAZI: And this…I must refrain from coffee, pickles, walnuts…this list is longer than the list of things in my cupboard. And the list of what I must eat…even if I wanted to change my eating habits, or felt it was necessary, I can’t afford this stuff. Arugula? Asparagus? Those are too expensive.
MAN 1: None of this is negotiable.
FEMINAZI: And I am to stay away from anyone who has a sneeze, a fever, or a runny nose? I have three children. How am I supposed to do that?
WOMAN: Oh, that’s easy. You can send your kids to the country. It’ll be good for them. Lots of stimulation, and so healthy.
WHITE KNIGHT: People do not just up and send their kids to the country. That takes money, too.
MAN 1: Ship ‘em to their grandmother.
WHITE KNIGHT: My mother is dead.
FEMINAZI: And my mother has no room for children. She lives in a studio apartment.
MAN 1: You people. Your sort is just so…unreasonable. I’ll have to call the police, have you moved to my place.
MAN 2: Uh…you know, the police are not going to do that.
MAN 1: I have a contract.
MAN 2: A contract which they have not violated. There is no law that says they have to sign the changes.
MAN 1: If she were my wife…
MAN 2: If she were your wife…you still couldn’t force her to give up coffee. She’d still have rights.
WOMAN: But…we paid!
MAN 2: Listen to me, closely. You did not buy a slave. You purchased the use of a woman’s body, which is of questionable legality already. The fact that it is your child does give you some rights, but you do not have absolute rights. She is the mother, after all.
WOMAN: But…it’s my child. I’m the mother.
MAN 2: I’m afraid not. Not until after the child is born and you formally adopt him…or her.
MAN 1: Him.
MAN 1: What?
FEMINAZI: The child…is a girl. The ultrasound last week verified that.
MAN 1: Are you sure? They promised…
FEMINAZI: Some things are not subject to 100% guarantee.
MAN 1: If it’s a girl, I don’t want it…come on, Woman.
(The following is carried on simultaneously, in two different parts of the stage.)
WHITE KNIGHT: Feminazi, we’ve got a problem…we can’t afford another child.
WOMAN: But…I want it!
MAN 1: It’s not yours…it’s mine…and hers. And she can keep it…for all the good it will do her.
FEMINAZI: I know…but…what can I do? It’s going to arrive soon.
MAN 2: Really? You’d give up your own child just because it’s a girl?
MAN 1: I was expecting a son.
MAN 2: The contract does not say son, it says child.
WHITE KNIGHT: Do you want to keep the child? We can find a way, if that’s what you want.
FEMINAZI: I’m…I’m afraid I’m learning to…love her.
WOMAN: I’m sure you’ll learn to love her…please, Man, let’s take the girl. We can…have a son later.
MAN 1: But…my oldest…
WHITE KNIGHT: I…well, I could love her, too, I imagine…after all, she’s part you…and I love you more than I can say.
FEMINAZI: You’re such a romantic.
MAN 2: So, what do I do? You want me to tear up the contract?
MAN 1: I’m…thinking.
WOMAN: Please…I want this so bad…
WHITE KNIGHT: We can manage…I can get a third job…
MAN 1: Damn it, Woman, when you look like that, how can I refuse you?
FEMINAZI: No, you work too hard already.
MAN 1: If I give it up…will I have to…pay child support?
MAN 2: If you break the contract…they can demand satisfaction.
WHITE KNIGHT: We can’t do it on what we make now.
MAN 1: So I would have to pay either way?
MAN 2: Unless you get her to break the contract.
FEMINAZI: We could…ask for child support.
WHITE KNIGHT: I don’t want anything from him.
MAN 1: That’s brilliant.
WOMAN: No! it’s my baby, and I want it!
(Every head turns.)
WOMAN: No one move! I will be heard!
MAN 1: Woman, what are you saying?
WOMAN: The child…will come to us. We will pay the contracted money. She will deliver the little girl, and turn her over to us, like agreed. And you…you will love the child. And you will treat her well, not like she’s some sort of…trophy. She’ll go to the finest schools, have the best education money can buy, and she’ll be happy, damn it, if I have to disembowel you to make it happen!
MAN 2: Careful. Don’t say anything that can be used against you later….
MAN 1: Hey, who’s brother are you? Help me, not her.
MAN 2: As your attorney, I recommend…you go through with the original contact, no alterations, and…take your wife out to dinner…and go to therapy! I’m out of here.
(MAN 2 follows up his ultimatum by leaving.)
WHITE KNIGHT: Well? What should we do?
FEMINAZI: What else can we do? We can continue as planned. But…I do want the right to visit my child. If you like, I can be…Aunt Feminazi, from the poor side of the family.
MAN 1: I don’t want my child around riff raff.
WOMAN: What? No, you listen. This woman is her…mother…sort of…and I do want her to be Auntie. I’ll get her a better dress, so we don’t need to be…ashamed…when she comes to visit.
MAN 1: But…
WOMAN: No buts. You’ll listen to me for once.
MAN 1: How could I not? I love you, you know that…when have I ever told you no?
WOMAN: You want a list?
(MAN 1 and WOMAN exit.)
WHITE KNIGHT: Hey wait! My coffee!
(WHITE KNIGHT exits, and returns with the coffee.)
WHITE KNIGHT: Got it. Now back to normal…if that’s possible.
FEMINAZI: There was one good thing that came out of all this.
WHITE KNIGHT: The money?
FEMINAZI: Besides that…I’ll bet that’s the first time she’s ever stood up to him about anything.
END OF MOVEMENT