Because We Want to Think Gamete Providers are Being Generous, Not Making Money

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Over at Role Reboot, there is a sweet essay by writer Allison Barrett Carter, “To the Donor Who Made Me an Aunt.” The essay is written in the form of a letter to the man who provided the sperm necessary for the author’s sister and the sister’s wife to have a baby. Here is an excerpt:

I am learning how this brave new world works, and I still have questions, but this I know: My letter to you will never be sent. We will never have a conversation about why you made the decision you did. I won’t hear you explain why you walked into a clinic to donate your sperm.

I can speculate, of course. The writer in me has spent the past year concocting brilliant narratives about you. Our society assumes the only reason a man would part with his DNA for complete strangers is for money.

But I like to believe differently. Donor, I made a different story for you.

I imagine a piece of you knew that out there, in the big world, two women had grown up desperately trying to please others and to conform. They struggled with their families, against their families, and with their own hearts to be “normal.” They wanted their lives to be what was presented to them, what Hollywood lauded, and certainly what their churches pushed.

The full essay is available here.

I was struck by the author’s line that “Our society assumes the only reason a man would part with his DNA for complete strangers is for money.” I think that is an accurate descriptive statement of cultural assumptions about male gamete providers (as opposed to female gamete providers, around whom there is a narrative of altruism).  This essay invites the reader to consider male motivation in the context of a family that clearly loves its most recent addition!

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