No Sperm Needed

No Sperm Needed Karim Nayernia, has succeeded in using artificially produced sperm to fertilise mouse eggs. Melanie Phillips

Sorry to tell you, men, but you are shortly to be declared redundant, superfluous to the requirements of the human race, written out of the reproductive script. Cheerio and please close the door behind you on your way out of history.

In my view, Melanie Phillips has got this wrong in a number of areas.

1. It is women who will lose out the most as 'breeding' technologies develop further; quite simply, because it is through their reproductive capabilities that women are, indeed, 'superior' to men. However, once these capabilities have been taken over by various medical technologies such as artificial wombs - which will happen - the relative importance of women both to society and to men will diminish very significantly; e.g. see Are Women Becoming Redundant?

2. How would a child feel about the fact that one or both of his parents was merely a cluster of randomly selected cells grown artificially in a laboratory? How would he feel, indeed, to know that his parent was a discarded human embryo?

Well, I suspect that people would soon get used to the idea that they had no biological parents. I am not suggesting that there is no special attachment to one's own biological parents. Of course, there is. But this attachment is only partly related to biology. Most of this attachment derives from many long years of familiarity, care-giving behaviour and the intensity of the interactions that took place in that time.

Perhaps we will gradually let go of the biological part of the attachment to our 'parents' in much the same way that we had to let go of the jungle, and all those lovely green trees.

Yes, something will be missing - but there will be plenty to be gained!

For example, the ability to manipulate genes in order to protect people from succumbing to various disabilities and diseases will bring numerous rewards to people. And so the pressures that will be brought to bear on the medical profession to engage in such procedures will be huge and irresistible; e.g. see my very short piece entitled We will soon be modifying our children genetically.

And, of course, the more genes that we manipulate, the less will parents be related biologically to their offspring. And so, bit by bit, this relationship will begin to disappear.

3. The truth is that having a mother and father is essential to our sense of identity. That’s why family disintegration is so harmful to children and why the stampede to produce and bring up children without a biological father around — through artificial insemination by donor, IVF or sperm banks — spells disaster for the future.

Of course, I agree with the notion that children need two parents - preferably one male and one female. And the statistics demonstrating the enormous negative consequences of fatherlessness - both for individuals and for society - can no longer be disputed.

However, I am not convinced at all by the notion that the biological relationship between parents and their children is of such crucial significance when it comes to the negative consequences. My guess is that the importance of biology - by those who do the research - is confounded with many other variables - such as the 'perceived authority' of the parents; both in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of the children.

I am not suggesting that biology is not significant, but my belief is that it is - and that it is increasingly going to be - of far less significance than is currently thought to be the case.

Oversimplifying, for my less able readers - of which there are many! - I suspect that the poor outcomes for children who do not have fathers in their homes is not so much that there is a lack of biology but, rather, a lack of authority.

Of course, for those of us who were brought up by our own biological parents, we cannot imagine being brought up by anyone else. But I suspect that the same is true for those who were brought up by parents to whom they were not genetically related - all other things being equal.

4. ... in their book The Ethics Of Human Cloning, the American thinkers James Q. Wilson and Leon Kass wrote: ‘Only sexual animals can seek and find complementary others with whom to pursue a goal that transcends their own existence.’ In other words, sexual reproduction produces the sense of generosity and concern for others on which our human society is

Well, of course, this might be true but, once again, I suspect that this is a somewhat overblown claim. For example, I do not believe that people need to reproduce in order to feel concern for others. One only has to think of Mother Theresa and many other religious people (men mostly!) who seem to have had their hearts very much in the right places despite the fact that they never reproduced.

My guess, for what it is worth, is that dealing with children - rather than reproducing them - is what is far more likely to help to engender in people the sense of generosity and concern for others on which our human society is built.

Indeed, in my view, it is precisely because so many people are completely alienated from children - while others have precious little to do with them - largely thanks to the feminists, the NSPCC etc - that the beneficial effects of their humanising presence has been somewhat diminished in recent times.

(I can feel a most magnificent pontification coming upon me, but I shall refrain.)

Interestingly - for me, anyway - I had a very long conversation - in fact, stretching over a couple of days - with a veteran UK men's activist (of some 20 years) about a month ago. I will not divulge his name because he might not wish to be publicly associated with me - and who can blame him?

And I pontificated most eloquently about the way in which I saw the future unfolding; artificial wombs, increased longevity and health, jiggering the gender ratio, the spread of information, the downfall of the more powerful, the absolute death of traditional marriage, etc etc and, in a nutshell, while, just for the sake of argument, he accepted my most magnificent points of view, he saw no solution other than making the fathers the custodians of 'their' children - no matter how such children were produced, and no matter who it was who footed the bills for their youngster years.

Anything else will produce societal chaos, is what he said, more or less.

Well, I took him down all the pathways that I could think of in order to counter his point of view, but I ended up with the awful feeling that he might, indeed, be right!

However, my own view was that women will increasingly become tied to 'their' children and that men will increasingly opt out of the whole business of seeing any children as 'theirs'. And this, in fact, will not be much different - emotionally speaking - from what used to happen in the past.

"Destroy the family and you destroy society" – Lenin


At 15 July, 2006 04:26, Blogger Lepidopterist said...

Hoorah for artificial wombs!

Maybe artificial women will come after that - an updated model of the present-day prototype. I can see it coming... maybe I will even live long enough to see a brighter future!!

At 15 July, 2006 13:03, Blogger Mercurior said...

there are people out there, who for personal reasons, whatever theu may be, have decided the world would be a worse place if they had kids. some of the childfree which is gaining power slowly, are teachers, and from every possible area of expertise, we dislike badly behaved kids, mostly single mothers, with multiple fathers for the kids. these kids are brought up to be entitlement minded and dont care about anyone else. just what they can get, with the girls it creates the things that the mens rights argue about, equality.

we like well behaved kids, but they are rarer all the time, due to the very breakdown of the family structure, and the breeding without a father shame that occurs.

we beleive that, people should have rights over their own reproduction, but not to use abortion as birth control, birth control frees a lot of people men included from unintended pregnancies (oops as we call them).. so in a lot of ways the mens rights movement has meshed with the childfree movement, but these women who want a kid as an easy way out, will have them and expect men to pay up.

thats the real problem, childfree women, are able to work with their partners and a lot of the childfree do work for charities, i work for an old peoples charity, others work for pets charities. we give back. unlike these selfish mothers

At 18 October, 2006 06:45, Blogger NYMOM said...


Dream on...

Men are going to go to the expense and trouble of having a kid via an artificial womb.

Right now in the US few men (gay or straight) even do single parent adoptions, although they have had the right for years. Most single parents are women, whether through adoptions, sperm donation/egg donations, even surrogate motherhood.

So you are kidding yourself if you think the average man wants children that badly that he's going to use an artificial womb to have any. Actually many men now don't want to bother with kids, they have sex and accidentally trip into fatherhood because a woman gets pregnant.

But continue on with your delusions...

At 18 October, 2006 11:12, Blogger angryharry said...

1. Men do not "accidentally trip into fatherhood because a woman gets pregnant."

Here in the west, women **choose** to have children.

2. As you implied, many women look after children who are not theirs. They will do the same with those developed in artifical wombs.

At 26 March, 2007 06:29, Anonymous Ze german said...

"Sorry to tell you, men, but you are shortly to be declared redundant, superfluous to the requirements of the human race, written out of the reproductive script. "

Hahahaha.... I want to see the revolts, public demonstrations, when there are no men left to pay taxes, child support, vaginamoney (TL), and all the heavy taxation used to "help" the single moms, the dropouts, the women will have to be paid by women....

Wonder what will they think then, when sitting in the office 60+ hours because the collegue has her 5th paid maternity leave in the last ten years...

Nobody can tell me women will take that lightly...

Men unnecessary....

They will see our worth when we have pulled ourselves from the "supporting" market into the "casual free sex" market.


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