By Bernie Bell
I watched an episode of ‘Melissa & Joey’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melissa_%26_Joey , the premise of which was that Melissa’s friend was planning to buy sperm from a sperm bank/facility/whatever it is they call them.
She had folders describing the background and physical attributes of the donors, all of which are very appealing. She narrows her choice down to two, then chooses someone who is a Graduate, fit, good looking etc. etc. etc. And then….Melissa realises that this donor, is Joe. When his business crashed and he lost everything, Joe had sold some of his sperm – as he says – to pay the rent.
This realization produces panic. Mel’s friend – having Joe’s baby, bringing the child round to visit – EEEEEEKKKK!
So, Mel is charged with the task of dissuading her friend – but the friend likes Joe, and likes the idea!
All is resolved because it turns out that a couple who want a large family have bought all the ‘Joes’.
The rest of the episode isn’t worth relating – I watch ‘Melissa & Joey’ as brain ease. But later I was thinking …in a real life situation like that, at least those children would all be in one family, still be with their actual siblings. Does that matter, if siblings don’t know they are siblings, because they are from sperm which was donated, then …distributed? Might end up marrying your sister! That aspect of it must be taken into consideration in some way? I presume it is.
What concerns me more is …that slavery was abolished, and buying, selling and owning people is wrong and is now illegal.
But – when someone buys sperm, they are buying potential people.
I’m not talking about when folk can’t have children and their difficulty is resolved by them having procedures which in involve donated sperm, but where the procedure is what’s paid for, not the sperm. Or, in some cases where the procedure is done through the NHS and there is no payment, as they have already paid by paying their taxes. That takes the whole process to a less commercial level.
But buying sperm is a purely commercial transaction – buying sperm is …buying people.
And if someone buys the sperm by choosing from a set of details of the donors backgrounds and attributes, from looking at what amounts to a brochure – do they then expect ‘results’ and feel that they have had a ‘bad deal’ if the potential doctor or lawyer turns out to be a well-meaning ‘failure’?
And do they kind-of feel that they ‘own‘ their children? Many parents appear to think that they ’own’ their children anyway, and many problems can arise from that.
I’ll quote from Khalil Gibran…..
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love, but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday.”
But if the child is ‘bought & paid for’, do the parents have something at the back of their minds which tells them that they do, actually ‘own’ that person?
This all got me wondering about how on earth this state of affairs came about, and how is it now considered to be acceptable for people to buy – people – however much those ‘people’ are at the basic state of genetic material necessary for becoming a person.
If they raise the child with kindness and love, as their own child, though they are not of their blood, that’s admirable, and why shouldn’t they?
But – humans are very complicated, muddled, erratic, impulsive beings and can they/do they really adapt and work with that situation, if they have paid for that child?
They have, in effect, bought their children – and they know it – somewhere inside them – they know it.
You might have noticed how many times I use the word ‘But’ in this piece of writing – that’s because I think there is a very large BUT hanging over the whole process/transaction.
“I want a baby – I’ll go and buy some sperm – some ‘suitable’ sperm though – from someone educated/physically appealing/talented.”
BUT – to me, that smacks of eugenics. It just – does.
Choosing potential parents from brochures is wrong – buying people is wrong.
Adoption – could be an option?
Melissa & Joey isn’t all froth – in another episode Mel, as Councillor-woman, is trying to get two of the local political big-wigs to work together on an issue. They are in her kitchen, sitting at her table. She asks who wants the last piece of lasagne (which, by the way, was made by Joe, not Melissa). They’re immediately on their feet, each demanding the last piece – squabbling like big kids. Politicians?
Mel gives one of them a knife and asks him to cut the last piece of lasagne in two. She then asks the other man to choose his piece, thereby making them work together to produce a fair and equal result.
It was a few seconds long snippet in the programme, but I noticed it and thought – “That’s clever”. Clever action on the part of the character, and clever writing.
I wonder if any of our revered leaders watch Melissa & Joey?