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The Elusive EmbryoHow Women and Men Approach New Reproductive Technologies$
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Gay Becker

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780520224308

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520224308.001.0001

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Decisions about Donors

Decisions about Donors

(p.133) Chapter 8 Decisions about Donors
The Elusive Embryo

Gay Becker

University of California Press

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

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