In keeping with my current practice of only posting frivolously, I think many of you may be amused by a blogfriend's take on the Akin "legitimate rape" flap. From Brando:
“As a woman, I have excellent WHORDAR,” said former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-UH). “You don’t go on television, whip out a pair of words like ‘legitimate rape,’ and then say, ‘Ooh, I was just trying to have a platonic pro-life dialog, I wasn’t trying to get everyone all hot and bothered.’ He was being a family values whore.”
If a woman wants to have a baby without a man, she just needs to secure sperm (fresh or frozen) from a donor (living or dead). The only technology the self-impregnating woman needs is a straw or turkey baster, and the basic technique hasn’t changed much since Talmudic scholars debated the religious implications of insemination without sex in the fifth century. If all the men on earth died tonight, the species could continue on frozen sperm. If the women disappear, it’s extinction.
While the article strikes up a nominally progressive tone, I'm not exactly sure what to think about this genre. It's quite popular. But the truth is, women have been raising children without men since forever, even under highly patriarchal circumstances. Men were never not mostly superfluous to the physical process of human reproduction. Now, hypothetically, we have moved from a situation from where a community needs access to only one human male (obviously, in the milking cage, humanely fed, watered, and exercised of course) to one where the community needs zero. Et bien?
Of course, there are all kinds of interesting things to discuss about the sex and gender arrangement in humanity's future, the most interesting of which, in my opinion, certainly do relate to how we connect social and biological parenthood. But this specific question---the insemination issue---seems to me to be the least interesting of them. Well,
at least until deBeauxOs starts distributing the milking cages insofar as it hardly appears that, despite everything, women want to abolish the male sex.
In the meantime, let's go off an enjoy some more sci-fi gender dystopias...
UPDATE: Somehow I never actually got to the actual point of what I wanted to say, because I kind of got distracted by shiny things, which happens all the time.
Well, the point is that there is a real and valid anxiety here worth discussing, but this sort of article has the general effect of misdirecting it. Technological and social change has allowed (some) women to change their status and role, more or less consciously. For obvious reasons, this means that the male role has been destabilized, more or less unconsciously. This has been experienced by much of the male population, more or less, as anything from a mild and pleasant surprise to a full-blown, apoplexy-inducing existential crisis.
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that for the foreseeable and perhaps even unforeseeable future, a large chunk of the male population are going to be biological parents, a large chunk will be social parents, and there will be a large overlap between these two groups. In which case, there are interesting things to discuss about what that is going to look like, because it probably won't look exactly like the 1950s something-topia and historical anomaly.
But this genre of articles that focuses on reifying the mathematical consequences of male gamete hyper-production is about the only thing you'll see in mainstream media on the subject on any regular basis. And immediately is the whole discussion short-circuited to trite clichés about gender stereotypes.
And to close off this long "update" and reward you for your patience, I will now proceed to present you with the DJ vision of the male role in society: