Decisions about Donors

Gay Becker

in The Elusive Embryo

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780520224308
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925243 | DOI:
Decisions about Donors

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This chapter explores how gendered interests are central to the new reproductive technologies. The use of donors illustrates how new reproductive technologies are ideologically shaped by gender interests and how gendered patterns of power and authority are reproduced through those technologies and the policies that surround them. Everything germane to donor usage is invariably linked to gender-specific assumptions and expectations about what is considered natural. Of all the disruptions to bodily order that are posed by infertility treatment, the intimation that the sperm or egg is faulty is the most acute. These are cultural icons of gender and fertility, symbols that epitomize cultural ideals of manhood and womanhood. When these symbols are challenged, bodily knowledge is assaulted. The proposal that a couple use an egg or sperm donor strikes at the cultural meanings women and men attach to gender. The question arises of how to enact gender when one of the key functions of biological reproduction is being enacted for a person by someone else.

Keywords: reproductive technologies; donors; gender-specific assumptions; cultural ideals of manhood; gendered patterns

Chapter.  9807 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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