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Feminism: chat

Sperm donation - a feminist victory?

13 replies

OhHolyJesus · 24/12/2021 09:43

Article below.

"But just as demand skyrocketed, donations fell, and in the resulting shortage, women turned instead to unregulated Facebook groups with names like "Sperm Donation USA." The New York Timeses, The Atlanticic, and Esquirere^_ all ran features on this growing underground world of sperm philanthropy...

It opens up procreative possibilities not only for couples struggling with infertility, but also for women who, for whatever reason, aren't in a committed relationship, as well as lesbian and gay couples.
In other words, sperm donation is supposed to liberate people from traditional gender roles. But the recent spotlight on informal donation practices suggests it often does exactly the opposite."

It ends with this

"Arguably the most famous of these estranged-patriarchs-in-the-making is Ari Nagel, who has fathered nearly 100 children through word-of-mouth sperm donation. Nagel is a strange figure who stays in loose contact with many of the women he's impregnated, as well as with their children. Per Esquire's sweeping profile, the women are friendly with each other, referring to each other's children as nieces and nephews and to themselves as "Ari's baby mamas."

Sort of like a harem you could say...

OP posts:

BlueSeaGlass · 25/12/2021 23:02

I'm not sure that sperm donation is "supposed to liberate people from traditional gender roles". That's surely not how it started?
As someone looking into being a single mother "by choice" I'm well aware of the strange combination of doing something non-traditional, whilst at the same time very traditional, ie. wanting to raise children. Frankly I'd rather raise them equally with a male parent but decent men are thin on the ground and the alternative is never having children.
It's complicated... I don't think sperm donation is a feminist victory, but then I don't think it was ever meant to be. It's more a symptom of the lack of decent fathers around, in the case of single women. And in the case of lesbian couples, biological reality!

I'm really not on board with the awful arrangements described in the article though. Either a man should be a father with the responsibilities that entails, or be the sperm donor, not this halfway thing.


logsonlogsoff · 27/12/2021 12:16

One man gathering that many children in a town or region can really cause issues. It’s why clinics limit the use of sperm to a certain number of families.
I know people who have gone down the route of finding donors on FB or websites, and it’s an absolute minefield.


CheeseMmmm · 28/12/2021 02:00

I couldn't read first link, this is from that piece? Other two couldn't see mentioned although admittedly skimmed them and searched for 'gender'!

'n other words, sperm donation is supposed to liberate people from traditional gender roles. But the recent spotlight on informal donation practices suggests it often does exactly the opposite."'

I haven't heard that said before. I'm going to Google.

The old school see if anyone know well, would be prepared to hand over, turkey baster type situation seems to be out the picture I think?

Sperm donation in that quote is about the current situation esp in usa- capitalist industry, focus on profit, sperm is commodity, market forces etc.

That's interesting in itself.


Blinkinname · 28/12/2021 02:12

'Procreative possibilities ' - another one like surrogacy that is all about what an adult wants with little thought about impact on child. Not sure it's a feminist victory at all... Ethically morally quite murky and I haven't quite formed a solid opinion on it yet - but yes, parent/adult centred, not child focussed. No one is entitled to a child


CheeseMmmm · 28/12/2021 02:34

Google not helpful. Certainly didn't get results around feminist views, now or in part, about liberation etc.

From my POV as lifelong feminist with underlying approach that meets radical feminism. But I don't label myself as any sort really.

This statement I just think is wrong.

'sperm donation is supposed to liberate people from traditional gender roles.'

No it's not. When sperm banks started it was generally get couples who couldn't conceive due to the man, to do with semen.

Also lesbian couples started to use them more in time, Google says. And single women (I'm dubious that this is particularly common in UK but will Google).

The reason for sperm banks was to impregnate women who hadn't sperm at hand and didn't want to ask mates, shag randoms etc.

Plenty het couples where does breaking gender roles come in there?

That statement is imo conjured from God knows where. As doesn't actually make sense given who uses donor sperm, it's not a general feminist view I've heard or read (obv may have been argued by a feminist here or there but not a definite wide feminist thing).



CheeseMmmm · 28/12/2021 02:42

And my further thoughts are-

When it comes to feminism and women and reproduction, the priority focus is and has been-

For all women, (girls as well but saying women as when girls need many extra considerations too long for this post)-

  • Contraception of types suitable for various situations MAP etc available and accessible
  • Abortion available and accessible


  • Women globally able to choose when and who to have sex with. IE no child marriage, forced marriage, rape etc etc


CheeseMmmm · 28/12/2021 03:09

Then, for me there's a massive gaping hole in the proposition that 'sperm donation is supposed to liberate people from traditional gender roles.'

Where to start?

We're talking patriarchy, global. Deeply embedded, fundamental attitudes around men, women and babies. Essentially globally (just in case there's a tiny village somewhere who thinks differently).

Deep seated, society-wide attitudes that are largely unchanged for millennia. So deep they go usually unnoticed, that's how it is.

Add to that, again pretty much globally. Societies operate via structures, hierarchies, mechanisms etc that were created by men, for men. And the foundations are so deep, the structures so solid, the hierarchies norms etc so normal that well that's how it is.

And it drives pretty much everything.

Liberate people from traditional gender roles.
So men who donate are liberated to
-pass their DNA on without having to find a woman who wants to have a baby with him, or even a ONS that he legs it from.
-not be involved in the Pg any problems scares etc

  • not to ever see, look after etc baby

-not have to support financially emotionally etc
  • ...

Sounds pretty good for the men who like that idea!

Women are liberated to (thinking single women not couples here)
  • do the Pg birth new baby etc without partner supporting
  • pay for all care etc, do emotional support etc
  • have the fun of being a single mother in society that.. well ours isn't pleasant.
  • if tell donor sperm double the fun. People wanting arguments

-sort out all practicalities
  • and all the other social, practical, judgemental rubbish from society still entrenched patriarchy

Liberation from gender roles?

Where woman does Pg birth looks after baby child etc
And man delivers sperm that's it?

That's gender role to the max, surely!

CheeseMmmm · 28/12/2021 03:14

Oh and lol he is paid for his effort

And she pays often £££ to access a tube of spunk



BlueSeaGlass · 28/12/2021 09:47


Oh and lol he is paid for his effort

And she pays often £££ to access a tube of spunk


The cost of sperm through a proper clinic is grating, when sperm is discarded all over the place all the time..!

Thinking about the supposed feminist victory of it, the only thing I can think of is that a woman is able to have a child without having to look after a useless manchild at the same time. Or partner up with someone awful.

But in general, as you say, it never set out to be nor has been claimed as a feminist victory. I don't know how widespread the idea of sperm donation as feminist is - has it randomly been attributed to us because it involves reproduction? Or is it just the writer in this instance that has decided it's supposed to be feminist?

As someone who's a feminist and considering using donor sperm, I abhor the idea of a half-hearted father, or someone who likes the idea of loads of children without doing any of the work. Hence would only use a pure donor, not anyone with these ideas of watching the kids grow up from a distance and reuniting in future etc. (Child knowing biological roots is a bit different.) Also hate the idea of parenting with a gay couple (I've had the offer!) where I'd been viewed/used a bit like a surrogate. Ugh.

CheeseMmmm · 28/12/2021 22:55

I think the writer probably made it up, or heard a random say it, and it was useful to give reason for their article.


CheeseMmmm · 28/12/2021 22:56

And- yes!

Semen is hardly short on supply!

Plenty of women find its been gifted no cost onto their coat when they get off the tube, for example.


KimikosNightmare · 31/12/2021 13:20

That sounds like an absolute nightmare scenario- particularly the idea that the parties can contract out of any future obligations. Maybe you can under US laws but you can't in UK unless authorised by divorce, adoption, properly regulated donor arrangements.

One point you would need to consider is inheritance. Under Scots Law for example, if a child conceived in this situation predeceased their parents without having children themselves and without having made a will then their estate is divided equally between their parents or surviving parent and their siblings.

This would mean that if mother dies first and say there are 3 other siblings the sperm donor would get half and the 3 siblings would get 1/6th each. That would not apply obviously to a sperm donation obtained via official channels but so far as unofficial channels the law doesn't care how absent or involved the father was in the child's life.


OhHolyJesus · 06/01/2022 14:32

Returning to share this podcast series which I think is fascinating. The presenter appears to be changing her perspective as she delves deeper into the implications, particularly the online Facebook groups and safety for women.

I'm not sure she has a feminist perspective as such but is interesting that the people who run the Facebook groups appear to be mostly men.

Male Order with Aleks Krotoski:

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