We were talking about egg donation in my sociology class the other day. Knowing that egg and sperm donor ads tend to target college-age women and men, I decided to look it up. Unfortunately, what I found was problematic. Before I go on, let me preface this with the acknowledgement that, for some who have limited options and are looking to make money quickly, egg donation may be appealing. Egg and sperm banks, as well as surrogate pregnancy, also allows prospective parents who may not be able to reproduce on their own (for example, single women or men, same-sex couples, or those who are infertile, etc.) more ways to have a child if they so desire.
However, when I looked up the requirements to becoming an egg donor in one Austin fertility clinic, it had very strict criteria for donors to meet. Requirements like never having tested positive for AIDS or HIV seem to make sense, since those have been known transmit from “mother” to fetus, but requiring donors of a certain height to be within a thirty pound weight limit seems like absurd body-policing. How could a few extra pounds possibly affect egg retrieval?
The answer, I think, is that the reason for these rules has nothing to do with health or the procedure. It has to do with society’s absurd beauty standards. People above a certain weight range are seen as unattractive and having lesser value. Therefore, their eggs are of lesser value. The video below even says, “If you are tall, attractive, and smart, you have a better shot [at becoming a donor].”
Especially when young women have such a hard time accepting their bodies, being bombarded with media messages saying they must be “skinny” and “pretty,” I think this kind of unnecessary weight-policing can only make things worse.
When I compared the egg donation process to sperm donation, I found a disturbing difference. While there was similar body-policing, saying that sperm donors had to be “at least 5 ft, eleven inches tall,” (which says a lot about sexist double-standards in what makes men and women desirable) this video also mentioned that potential donors will probably “receive a questionnaire that asks about [their] sexual preferences…”
It seems like sperm banks and fertility clinics, may be trying to weed out “gay genes.” The reason, I think, sperm donors are asked about their sexual preferences and not egg donors is because men who deviate from the norm of heterosexist, patriarchal masculinity cause a homophobic society more anxiety than women who deviate from heterosexist femininity, because they take women less seriously as people in the first place.
In conclusion, the egg and sperm donor facilities should revise their donor selection processes to become more body-positive, feminist, and queer-positive.