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Radical feminism and sperm donation

(94 Posts)
klinghoffer Fri 02-Oct-20 14:19:42

Hello everyone!
I've namechanged, but been on here a while. I'm not a mum, but I am a woman who feels I'm now ready for children.
I've had awful experiences with men in relationships (not just romantic relationship, but family relations and friendships). I won't go into detail here, but it's really made me not want to have a relationship with another man again.
I want to have a baby, and for the past 3 years I've been thinking sperm donation would be my best option.
I'm also a radical feminist, but I'm wondering if this is the best way to go? I'd have to take a lot of time off of work, and financially I wouldn't be as stable as if I were to have a partner etc., but I would have support from my parents and my sister.
Are there any radical feminists who could give me some pointers as to whether they think I'm doing right by myself and my future child by not having a man involved?
Thanks in advance!

OP’s posts: |
BovaryX Fri 02-Oct-20 14:23:00

Can you define 'radical' in terms of your beliefs?

klinghoffer Fri 02-Oct-20 14:27:34

Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that calls for a radical recording of society in which the patriarchal society is eliminated in all social and economic contexts, while recognising that women's experiences are also affected by other social divisions such as in race, class and sexual orientation.
My feeling is that by raising a child on my own, I'm exposing myself and my child to perhaps not being as financially stable as if I were to have a partner to help out. I'd have to take time out of work, perhaps even cut my hours in order to take care of the baby, or stop working in general.
I don't know if this fits in with my belief and I'm wondering if any other feminists, especially radical feminists would be able to give me pros and cons.
Sometimes I think I'd be doing the best thing and then other times I feel I'd be setting them up for a fail.

OP’s posts: |
notyourhandmaid Fri 02-Oct-20 14:43:48

I don't know if this fits in with my belief

It's your belief. You get to decide.

OhHolyJesus Fri 02-Oct-20 14:50:41

I don't think you would be setting yourself up to 'fail' a child by being a single mother at conception but I struggle with all 'donor' gametes as I think a child can struggle in life if they don't know their roots. I come at this as not necessarily radical feminism but more, as I see it, from the child's perspective as the child may be less likely to feel 'complete' but I realise not all children who are donor conceived feel this way.

I am strongly anti surrogacy and I struggle with donor conception as I've watched and read enough to question it as a method of having a baby.

I recommend a stroll onto the donor conception board for more on this, it might help you decide how you feel, and also this video and others on the same channel.

https://youtu.be/O4JdPSK79uI

I admit I have a double standard as egg 'donation' is far more invasive and dangerous health-wise than speed donation, but regardless of who gave what to who you should investigate the legal aspects, consider how you feel about half-siblings existing (now or in the future) and if you could consider other avenues.

The financial issue is one aspect which you are right to worry about. It is beyond unfortunate that even as single parents women are already worse off due to biology.

Without revealing too much are you in a secure job and one that has good may leave and one you would likely return to?

Mollscroll Fri 02-Oct-20 14:53:59

I'm a feminist (I didn't realise I was radical but since I don't think men can become women it turns out I am). I have two donor conceived children. My feminism didn't particularly feature in my decision but my life experience did - no partner and no prospect of one. I was also confident in my ability to raise children alone (grew up in a successful single parent family) and I was financially secure.

I suppose becoming a mother has made me even more feminist because I'm that much more aware of what women do and how our biology is exploited. But I don't view it as a factor in my original decision other than that it informed my belief that I could do it because I believed in my own competence and strength.

I do think though that I underestimated the impact of the lack of a father on my children from an identity perspective. I don't think that was my feminism at work - I think it was a lack of awareness of what that would feel like for them and also the way we all have of compensating for my own experiences and being less aware of other factors. My father left us and I reassured myself that, even if they didn't have a father, they would never feel the pain of being left. I omitted the pain of not knowing.

They can find out some ID information in a few years and they will do - but of course there's no guarantee of a relationship or even contact. They get ID facts and that's all.

Long story short, I would leave your feminism out of it. Do you think you can do a good job?

Blezz Fri 02-Oct-20 14:56:56

I think having a baby is compatible with radical feminism. The differerence between men and women is after all driven by this big difference in reproductive behaviour, so becoming a mother does give you insight into the structural problems faced by women. Whether it helps you address those problems is another matter though.

Whether to become a single mother seems more like a practical question than a philosophical one. It's not only the father you would be missing out on but all his family who would be the children's relatives. But the parenting relationship can be intense. It's not something you'd want to do in a dodgy relationship, so I don't know. I suppose it depends on the kind of person you are and your situation. There's also a lot of luck in terms of what your children are like.

klinghoffer Fri 02-Oct-20 15:07:38

notyourhandmaid I don't agree. I don't think radical feminism supports choice feminism. I think choice feminism has caused a lot of the mess we are in at the moment.

OP’s posts: |
klinghoffer Fri 02-Oct-20 15:09:47

Thanks all, lots to consider. I've been doing a lot of research, but every time I feel I'm sure it would be the best way for me I panic and start doubting myself.
Appreciate all the feedback!

OP’s posts: |
OhHolyJesus Fri 02-Oct-20 16:17:25

It is a fascinating area to explore OP, do you say choice feminism as a sort of pick and mix version 3rd wave feminism?

I can only offer one example of a family friend who had a sperm donor to conceive her daughter as she had failed relationships, was getting older and didn't want to adopt. She relied heavily on her mother at first and returned to work as a teacher and gets some support with free childcare. I know she struggles financially but she owns her own home, her mother is now caring for her father and her sister has her own family to care for so it's very full on.

There is a strong element of independence to being a single mum but all the responsibility too.

I'm interested in hearing more on your perspective, only as I haven't really thought about it in the context of feminism that much before.

Navillerax Fri 02-Oct-20 16:50:06

From a radical feminist perspective, a child is most successfully brought up via a strong familial group (not only blood relatives, but friends etc). In a perfect radical feminist world, a child would be raised in a commune, alongside other children, with each adult person raising the child contributing something different to its emotional, physical and intellectual needs. Its parentage would be meaningless - it would be the group of people caring for the child who would help shape the child's future.

Obviously, that's difficult to do, so you just recreate the best environment you can. Often children growing up without knowing a parent feel a part of themselves is 'missing' because society places such emphasis on a child's entire person being half of each of its parent. Mum and Dad = baby. That might be true in a biological sense, but who the child decides to be is down to its upbringing, the environment it is exposed to, the people and ideas it is exposed to, etc. I never knew my father, and personally do not care who he is. My ancestry to me is meaningless (although I understand not everyone feels this way).

I think the very fact that you are asking this question, that you wish to stand by your beliefs and what you think is right, even if that means sacrificing something that may make you happy, shows a strength that not many people have to be honest. As long as you utilise that strength and integrity into raising your child (and expose them to different environments, situations, ideas, interests and people), encourage their individuality and quite obviously, love them, I don't think choosing to have a child this way contradicts radical feminist thinking.

Good luck!

klinghoffer Fri 02-Oct-20 20:04:22

OhHolyJesus yeah, I think choice feminism is thinking absolutely every choice a woman makes is empowering etc., when often times the repercussions of her choices affect women who are perhaps lower down the class structure. Hope that makes sense it's been a long week and English isn't my first language!

Thanks to everyone for sharing your views, I'm going to have a big think over the weekend.

OP’s posts: |
klinghoffer Fri 02-Oct-20 20:04:44

Navillerax

From a radical feminist perspective, a child is most successfully brought up via a strong familial group (not only blood relatives, but friends etc). In a perfect radical feminist world, a child would be raised in a commune, alongside other children, with each adult person raising the child contributing something different to its emotional, physical and intellectual needs. Its parentage would be meaningless - it would be the group of people caring for the child who would help shape the child's future.

Obviously, that's difficult to do, so you just recreate the best environment you can. Often children growing up without knowing a parent feel a part of themselves is 'missing' because society places such emphasis on a child's entire person being half of each of its parent. Mum and Dad = baby. That might be true in a biological sense, but who the child decides to be is down to its upbringing, the environment it is exposed to, the people and ideas it is exposed to, etc. I never knew my father, and personally do not care who he is. My ancestry to me is meaningless (although I understand not everyone feels this way).

I think the very fact that you are asking this question, that you wish to stand by your beliefs and what you think is right, even if that means sacrificing something that may make you happy, shows a strength that not many people have to be honest. As long as you utilise that strength and integrity into raising your child (and expose them to different environments, situations, ideas, interests and people), encourage their individuality and quite obviously, love them, I don't think choosing to have a child this way contradicts radical feminist thinking.

Good luck!


Thanks for this response! Very helpful!

OP’s posts: |
Delphinium20 Fri 02-Oct-20 20:12:23

There's another thing to consider - a child's desire and right to know their father. I see nothing wrong with single motherhood as a choice and you don't need a father to raise a healthy child, but we all want to know our roots and who we come from. I would be concerned about how many other 1/2 siblings your child may have and I'd ask only use non-anonymous donors.

I also know of non- donor conceived people who have found out later in life their father had children with many different mothers and that the father was only legally responsible for some of them and also refused to engage with the others - it brought a sense of unfairness and deep pain to know your father cares more about some siblings than others. This is a risk for any sperm donor that he would have a family of his own and your child would be excluded from them. Read stories from donor conceived children and listen to what they have to say...consider their voices and make choices based on your future child's needs, not your desires.

Ideally, you'd be able to conceive with someone who wasn't a prolific child producer!!!

Cascade220 Fri 02-Oct-20 20:26:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mollyollydolly Fri 02-Oct-20 20:42:18

A friend of mine has taken this path, her baby is due very soon. It was a long hard path too, lots of visits to Spanish fertility clinics, lots of disappointments along the way, and lots of money. She is a strong, capable woman - I do worry about how hard it will be for her with not much support, but it's her choice and she's very happy.
My main concern is from the child's perspective. How they will feel as they grow up and there is no father figure for them or sense of where they came from. How you explain it to them, imagine it would be quite difficult to come to terms with for a child.

DidoLamenting Fri 02-Oct-20 20:47:46

How are you going to cope if your baby is a boy?

Blezz Fri 02-Oct-20 21:26:20

In a perfect radical feminist world, a child would be raised in a commune, alongside other children, with each adult person raising the child contributing something different to its emotional, physical and intellectual needs. Its parentage would be meaningless - it would be the group of people caring for the child who would help shape the child's future.

I know Germaine Greer carried on about having children raised in an Italian farmhouse in The Female Eunuch. Her kids would live with a "local family" who would "work the house and garden". Germaine and her friends would pop in and out as suited them, and it would be so much better than the nuclear family with a stressed, overworked mother. I mean, who wouldn't rather have household staff in Italy or anywhere? But it's not exactly a universal solution.

Then there was Shulamith Firestone. I haven't actually read her books but I know she was all about separating women from the burdens of pregnancy and motherhood again, not a mother. Nor were Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon or Valerie Solanos. Perhaps they were childless on principle, which makes sense. It also means they were inexperienced about the realities of raising children. Alice Walker had a daughter, but I don't think she has ever advocated for parentless communes. Nor did Adrienne Rich.

I like to think of myself as a radical feminist, but the commune idea is terrible. A recipe for neglect and abuse of children. Luckily, parents don't do that anyway. But that's the other weakness of the idea, it does not take into account the way people actually behave. Although making sure that all mothers have access to social and community support would be an obviously good thing.

Mollscroll Fri 02-Oct-20 22:12:25

I like to think of myself as a radical feminist, but the commune idea is terrible. A recipe for neglect and abuse of children. Luckily, parents don't do that anyway. But that's the other weakness of the idea, it does not take into account the way people actually behave. Although making sure that all mothers have access to social and community support would be an obviously good thing

Agree with this. My family set up is actually quite - I don’t know - old fashioned ? Apart from the obvious. I don’t want to live in a commune and I reacted with quite a bit of hostility to a woman we bumped into by accident when we got caught up in a Pride March. She tried to grab my 9 year old son to give him ‘Mum hugs’ in her words. I felt quite angry at her presumption - I’m his mum and I didn’t want her and her lack of boundaries anywhere near him.

SapphosRock Fri 02-Oct-20 22:37:12

I consider myself to be a radical feminist and have two donor conceived children 🤷‍♀️

I have no moral issue with sperm donation. I don't think a male father figure is essential for a child's wellbeing. Surrogacy is different because a woman's body is used, (more often than not to the advantage of a man).

Women are likely to suffer physically and emotionally from surrogacy while sperm donors are not. There's also the issues of breastfeeding etc that the child misses out on.

Billi77 Fri 02-Oct-20 22:48:10

OP would you consider a known donor?

klinghoffer Sat 03-Oct-20 00:22:31

You're all giving me lots to consider, thank you!

If I went down the known donor route, would he have parental rights?

OP’s posts: |
Navillerax Sat 03-Oct-20 00:28:03

Blezz

*In a perfect radical feminist world, a child would be raised in a commune, alongside other children, with each adult person raising the child contributing something different to its emotional, physical and intellectual needs. Its parentage would be meaningless - it would be the group of people caring for the child who would help shape the child's future.*

I know Germaine Greer carried on about having children raised in an Italian farmhouse in The Female Eunuch. Her kids would live with a "local family" who would "work the house and garden". Germaine and her friends would pop in and out as suited them, and it would be so much better than the nuclear family with a stressed, overworked mother. I mean, who wouldn't rather have household staff in Italy or anywhere? But it's not exactly a universal solution.

Then there was Shulamith Firestone. I haven't actually read her books but I know she was all about separating women from the burdens of pregnancy and motherhood again, not a mother. Nor were Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon or Valerie Solanos. Perhaps they were childless on principle, which makes sense. It also means they were inexperienced about the realities of raising children. Alice Walker had a daughter, but I don't think she has ever advocated for parentless communes. Nor did Adrienne Rich.

I like to think of myself as a radical feminist, but the commune idea is terrible. A recipe for neglect and abuse of children. Luckily, parents don't do that anyway. But that's the other weakness of the idea, it does not take into account the way people actually behave. Although making sure that all mothers have access to social and community support would be an obviously good thing.

Yes, obviously it would consist of a complete upheaval of society... which would be great, but unfortunately it's unlikely to happen. So you just have to take inspiration from the theory and apply it in a manner you feel is right. I'm not a particular fan of Greer (from the bits and pieces I have read), but from that anecdote it sounds like an abuse of class power... which of course might happen, unless, like I said... an upheaval... I just mentioned the commune idea as a kind of idealist scenario, rather than one I think the OP should follow (unless they really would like to have a crack at it)

To be fair, nuclear families are also often a recipe for neglect and abuse of children. Which is why the destruction of them is often so important to certain strands of radical feminism. Nuclear families are often so contained, so private, that abuse is hidden, conformity is king and thinking outside the hive mind of the family is forbidden. Obviously extreme examples, but fractions of these still flow through nuclear family dynamics. But the complete opposite, where everything is public - and yes, boundaries loosened - also obviously has massive problems. I agree that community support is paramont.

I personally love Firestone and The Dialectic of Sex is a great read if you get the chance.

Not sure if these musings are helpful to the OP, sorry! Not really a direct answer to your question

SodaPerson Sat 03-Oct-20 00:34:59

As long as you can cope by yourself financially (without state benefits), mentally and physically; then you're fine.

Kimchii Sat 03-Oct-20 00:55:05

Interesting question.
Ive been a single mother for 11 years.
My son spends time with his dad and they have a good relationship but his financial contribution has been minimal and my career and earning potential has suffered massively because I'm the primary carer for our son.
I wasnt a feminist when my son was born, i was a young, idealistic, romantic idiot.
I wouldn't swap my son for one million pounds. But I do wish i had made better choices.
Lots of men, even married ones, dont live up to their financial responsibilities where children are concerned.
So there are no guarantees there, even if you think you've found a decent one.
More of a concern for me would be the child knowing where they come from and their sense of identity.
You can create a family and support network around you, with practical help for you and mentors for your child.
Is that the same or as good as knowing your father?

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