Bad, pathetic and greedy women: Expressions of surrogate motherhood stigma in a Russian online forum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Gestational surrogacy, in which the surrogate mother is not biologically related to the child she is carrying, is the most common type of surrogacy today. Although technologically well-developed and legal in many countries, it is stigmatized socially because it provokes and even contradicts basic traditional concepts of family, motherhood, and gender roles. The present study examines the types and expressions of the surrogacy stigma in Russia, applying a dual-pathway stigma model to a qualitative content analysis of 15,602 posts on a Russian-language online forum for surrogate mothers. Our findings reveal that the women’s choice to become surrogate mothers initiated a social process in which these women experienced four types of stigma: Bad mothers, bad wives, pathetic losers, and greedy women. Surrogate mothers described the experience and internalization of stigma as threatening their social roles in the traditional family and financial realm alike. Our study places surrogacy stigma in the context of the post-Soviet financial and social climate as experienced and expressed by participants. Furthermore, understandings of the essence of perceived surrogacy stigma may help professionals develop a more nuanced and accurate approach for psychological and social care and may lead to increased accuracy in media, law, and political representation of members of this vulnerable group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-484
Number of pages11
JournalSex Roles
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Gender
  • Online communities
  • Online self-help group
  • Post-soviet society
  • Reproductive technologies
  • Social support
  • Stigma
  • Surrogacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Bad, pathetic and greedy women: Expressions of surrogate motherhood stigma in a Russian online forum'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this