Friday, September 28, 2012

Your Sperm is Not Sacred

Since today is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion I thought I'd flesh out some ideas that were brought up in a workshop I went to today.

One of the other people at the workshop brought up (to argue against it that is) the frequently used "men's rights" argument for father's rights with respect to pregnancy. Since I was the only male in attendance they asked me what my thoughts were on the issue. I basically said that biologically speaking, in terms of reproduction, males are effectively parasites. By this I mean that from a purely 'energy and resources' frame of reference the sperm donor puts nothing into reproduction and the pregnancy-bearer does all the work. Males produce millions of sperm, each costing extremely few resources. On the other hand, females produce relatively few eggs and a considerable amount more resources are invested into this process.

On top of this, it is the female who has to carry the pregnancy, pouring a huge amount of energy and resources into growing that egg. So let's look at that argument again. I think it's an absolutely stupid argument that I would not normally entertain, but I'll poke some holes in it just this once. For simplicity, let's say it took half a day to produce the sperm (it doesn't, it's much less). Compare that to 9 months of pregnancy, and you end up with the man's claim to rights over the pregnancy being 540x weaker than the mother. It's even worse than that when you take into account the total energy expenditure. Once you factor in things that are much harder to quantify and work into a calculation like quality of day-to-day life, hormonal effects of the pregnancy, bodily autonomy and the stress and pain of actually giving birth (among a plethora of other things) I think we'd be in the ballpark of over a trillion-to-one.

What I'm trying to say basically is that people who want to claim paternal rights over a pregnancy can go fuck themselves. Your sperm is not sacred. The existence of a fertilised egg that has half its genetic material coming from your balls doesn't mean shit. Until the day that womb transplants are available to you, when you can get a womb transplanted and carry the pregnancy yourself, please, check your privilege in at the door and shove your paternalistic views up your ass.


  1. While I understand the reasoning behind your argument, I don't believe the issue of fathers rights is about claiming rights over pregnancy, I think it is more important to realise that men have no choice in the matter with regards to the biological mechanism in which their children are brought into the world.

    Although I quite agree than many men push the controlling (and often religiously motivated) issue and women do have a total right to have control of their own bodies,I am unsure as to if you are just saying that men have no rights to the pregnancy, or to the child at all even after birth?

    By the way, I really enjoy your blog, being a kiwi atheist myself :)

    1. The idea that I'm arguing against in this post is the one where a man complains that he doesn't get a say as to whether the embryo/fetus is aborted or not. Once it's born I think it's more appropriate to talk in terms of responsibilities rather than rights anyway. That's an entirely different issue though. This post was only about the bodily and reproductive autonomy of women and the paternalistic assholes who try to take that away.

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