Michelle Tea: Is Quentin "Donorsexual"?

Apparently I missed an issue of Newsweek -- as I tend to -- about the new trend in sperm donation: ladies just scrounging it up for free, much as I am mooching off Quentin.
Publish date:
February 2, 2012
issues, insemination, sperm donors, donorsexual, fake trend stories

"For discussion," Quentin’s email read. "I am having an identity crisis!"

Then, a link to a Daily Beast video that claimed "to investigate the "seedy underworld of sperm donors." Hmmmm, someone is being PUNNY! Apparently I missed an issue of Newsweek -- as I tend to -- about the new trend in sperm donation: ladies just scrounging it up for free, much as I am mooching off Quentin.

"How to get pregnant fast, cheap and in public." In PUBLIC? Well, yeah -- the dude who wrote the story, Tony Doukopil, goes on to explain that some of these sperm hand-offs happen in a STARBUCKS! (His article is called ‘The Coffee Shop Baby).Whoa, don’t mix up those cups or you’ll end up trying to knock yourself up with a latte! Is this an Onion article or what?

The segment introduces a new sexual deviant who sounds suspiciously like a wild piece of hype: a "donorsexual," a man "whose sexual whose sexual activity is exclusively donating sperm." Um . . . really?

The tone takes a turn for the rational, as Tony explains that a his two-year-old runs with a crowd that is likely to have ‘two mommies’ and that this getting-sperm-from-a-guy is "a known option in the lesbian world.

Is there a name for that jumpy, agitated feeling one gets when they hear the particulars of their oft-ignored subculture being mined for "news’"in mainstream media? I think I first felt it when I saw the Afterschool Special ‘The Day My Kid Turned Punk," back in the 80s. ‘

"Using a known donor who’s free -- who’s 'donorsexual' -- cuts down on thousands of dollars of expenses you get at a bank," Tony explains.

"So this is just a response to the recession? We’re just gonna go . . . with Tony down the street, because these tests are too…" The newsguy makes hand gestures that somehow allude to the wild expense of sperm testing.

And sperm testing IS expensive -- it’s $1,500 for every try, unless you get your donor to jerk off for two weeks and let the sperm bank freeze it. But when that runs out, it’s time for another $1,500 test. Not to mention, someone tells me, a psychological exam that they don’t give to your husband or boyfriend, no matter how batshit crazy he may be for wanting to have a baby with you.

Back to this annoying little clip. Why -- why is it annoying? Maybe it just is weird to hear your present LIFESTYLE smugly hashed over by a trio of smirking people with successful, high-profile media careers.

"It’s a response to inadequate health care," Tony bravely asserts, winning me over for a moment. If only he wasn’t trying to spin the sperm donors as "donorsexual," insinuating a prurient, pathological edge to it, he would be OK.

But why make these guys sound like pervs? They can’t help it if donating sperm involves having an orgasm. Jeez! The newslady -- whose odd manner I will refrain from elaborating on because I AM A FEMINIST -- offers a "horrifying" anecdote about a man at a sperm bank fathering so many children there is now an increased risk of incest in the world. This sounds slightly hysterical and not like an actual problem.

I mean, the true horror of incest, to me, is the lack of consent, the abuse, betrayal, etc. If you fall in love with some hot person and further research reveals you to be half-siblings, well, how special! I’m being flip here but I’m also SERIOUS. Who cares?

I know there is an increased risk of birth defects if you procreate, but OBVIOUSLY you can just find a nice, donorsexual gentleman and continue your special family tradition of insemination. Let’s worry about REAL things people, like trans rights and decriminalizing prostitution!

"I can’t unfurrow my brow at all this," says the newslady -- "Because it’s all so wonderful, but it’s so CONFUSING! Can you just talk a little bit about the psychology of the donorsexual, why men are drawn to this?"

"To the exclusion of other sex, is my big question," interjects the newsguy.

The writer tries to play down the hype he created. "There are a few ‘star donors’ who are donorsexual," he concedes, but the rest of the guys just want to have a lot of kids.

"It’s a primal thing," the newslady nods. The newsguy brings up the case of a 36-year-old virgin "donorsexual," asking if his virgin status should disqualify him, on a psychological basis; the writer defends his high-tech job and the fact that he drinks "fertility shakes" with almonds, blueberries and flax seeds. Fertility shakes! I got to get Quentin some of those!

"Donorsexual. So creepy," the newsguy sums it up.

"And yet-- " The newslady flings up her arms whimsically.

Ugh. OK, so the clip failed to reveal the existence of men who donate sperm as a sexual fetish. There is no such thing as a "donorsexual." But this is hot stuff right now. The FDA cracked down on a California guy who was offering his sperm for free via a web site and has fathered 14 kids so far. So . . . a lady could go and have SEXUAL INTERCOURSE with the guy and get pregnant. But he can’t hand her a baggie of his sperm.

What is she wanted to use it for a facial? Doesn’t sperm make a great facial or was that just something 12-year-olds say to gross each other out? Like, how is this stuff really enforceable, and why do I suspect it has something to do with women having agency over their bodies -- and, of course, capitalism?

Sperm banks cost BANK. If I had to pay cash money for the sperm graciously given to me by dear Quentin thus far, I’m not certain but I think it would have cost me $21,000. That is a low estimate. Thanks, Quentin! No, like, really -- thank you!

Elsewhere in pop culture’s current obsession with sperm donors: ABC news interviews a lady who spent $60,000 on sperm bank miscarriages before finding it for free online and THEN dating the donor; my friend Vinnie asks me if I caught Diane Sawyer interviewing a woman about finding her donor online, and someone else hips me to a "Bored to Death" plot in which two people hook up only to find out they are both spawn of the same donorsexual dude. Horrors!

What does it all mean? That more lezes and single ladies are having babies than ever before? That the culture is squeamish about babies that don’t come from man-woman humping, or if they do come from man-woman humping it’s super out-there if the woman humps a stranger to get knocked up? Duh, yeah, I guess it means all of this, and that our culture thinks women are weird, especially sexual women and especially, especially lesbians.

Look -- I’ve enlightened you to sexism in our culture! You’re welcome. God, I’m exhausted! And we never even answered the question -- Is Quentin donorsexual? He IS between boyfriends right now, and the sessions in my tawdry kitchen are his main activity. I guess he would maybe be donorsexual, if donorsexual was real, but it’s not.

This all makes me want to share the story of my old friend Nathanial, who is in his 60s and was a big activist back in the day. You name it, he fought it. He was a Communist who did outreach into African-American neighborhoods, trying to recruit comrades. He formed and joined health food co-ops and political organizations that still stand today. He tried hard to be gay so as not to sexualize women. And, at the order -- not the request, but the order -- of some radical dykes, he and other men were required to jerk off into a jar and hand it over to a courier dyke who combined ALL the seed of ALL the bullied, guilty men, and used it to inseminate a gangload of wimmin who would never be burdened with knowing who the father was.

Lest you think these men were not actually "required" to do this, consider the immense power lesbians held over men in certain political subcultures of decades past. Admittedly, it was a VERY SMALL subculture, but if you were trying to be THE BEST MAN EVER and provide reparations for decades of global misogyny, you’re not going to be the guy who DOESN’T give the lesbian his sperm.

OK, I’m so over this! Next Week: Magical Butch Fertility Dances! Not Butoh -- Butch!