Deposit insurance

There is natural selection, and there is this:

I learned that only 1 to 2% of men who offer to donate to sperm banks are accepted as donors, and of those that are accepted, some donors are much popular among the donees than others.

Women who use sperm banks are looking to make a perfect baby: Handsome and brilliant. Talented and charming. Loving and kind. A match one might only dream of finding in the flesh.

“Donee,” apparently, is not some twentieth-century portmanteau construction intended to be the obvious opposite number to “donor”: Merriam-Webster traces it back to 1523.

“Many women see this as another way to give their child a head start in life,” says Lori Andrews, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law who has studied the sperm bank industry, of the high stakes of sperm selection.

And increasingly, say the banks, women want proof of perfection before buying a dream donor’s sperm. They ask for SAT scores and personality test results.

Actual men meeting their standards, one assumes, are few and far between. And according to legend, women spurn them anyway: better someone who can sweep you off your feet than someone who’ll happily sweep out the garage.

Furthermore, I’m not entirely sure the selection criteria exercised by the banks will be optimal. In 2011, Cryos International, a major worldwide sperm bank, began rejecting redheads as donors, claiming a surfeit thereof.

And are SAT scores actually available anymore?


  1. fillyjonk »

    30 June 2014 · 4:28 pm

    I’m thinking a lot of those “desirable” traits are AT LEAST as influenced by nurture as by nature. I wonder if those women looking to make the “perfect” baby have taken parenting classes, or are otherwise making efforts to be the “perfect” parent.

    Loving and kind, especially. I suspect that’s MOSTLY nurture. Possibly also brilliant and talented. Looks are probably the one thing more influenced by genes but as my mom sometimes said, “pretty is as pretty does” and I feel like the last thing this world needs are more physically beautiful – personality ugly people.

  2. CGHill »

    30 June 2014 · 5:20 pm

    I feel like the last thing this world needs are more physically beautiful – personality ugly people.

    Personality surgery is out of the question for most people, especially if they want it covered by their insurance.

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