The last few months have seen an explosion of sperm-buying coverage from the New York Times. A few weeks ago, I read about three women who had passed around sperm: each, soon after receiving the vials, had met the perfect man and had a perfect (natural) child, then passed it to another single friend who wanted a kid but didn't have a man. They wrote a book, summarized by the Times thusly: "Three would-be mothers, some “lucky” sperm and — voilà! — three happy families, with all of the pregnancies happening the old-fashioned way."
Next, there's an op-ed piece about how the children born of donated sperm grow to be conflicted and depressed about the circumstances of their conception.
The first of the two articles declares that "the book has surfaced at a time when donor sperm is having a cultural moment," citing forthcoming movies from Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Aniston, along with what I can only hope is a more dignified movie starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. And I feel like it is, except that nearly all of that moment is made up of cutesiness: sassy thirty-something is too picky with guys, sassily takes it upon herself to have a baby, only to-- irony!-- meet the perfect guy, interrupting her "Back Up Plan." Because donated sperm is not the primary plan.
The op-ed piece introduces the topic jovially.
"You can shop for gametes the way you’d go shopping for a house or a car — buying ova from an Ivy League undergraduate, or sperm from a 6-foot-8, athletic, blue-eyed Dane."
I went to e-mail my friend Sarah the article about shopping for gametes and found in the Captcha below "platypi" and the name of my ex-boyfriend. The New York Times seems determined to remind me that there's an ideal "old-fashioned way" to create a child, and there's a kooky comedy or family breakdown ahead for those of us not following it. You can get the free-spirit, pony-tailed, RV-living donor dad introducing himself, or a redneck, and probably your child is traumatized or betrayed. You're setting yourself up for a shitstorm-- and you could've avoided it if only you were married to a person of the opposite sex.
When I was in eighth grade, our English class did a debate unit, and I was pro-gay-marriage. One of the girls on the "con" team used, as an argument against the validity of gay relationships, a statistic about how some percent of gay men have had anal sex. I won't pretend I was hip to the missionary-style alternatives, so that kind of freaked me out, but I responded that a lot of straight people did dirty, unpalatable things in the bedroom, and no one was splitting them up.
Straight people can ruin their kids, too. If I can do it with a man, I should be allowed to do it with a woman, too.