After searching, downloading, and listening to every single NPR segment about egg and sperm donation they had, something occurred to me:
Women who use DS to conceive call their donors biological fathers.
Women who use DE to conceive never call their donors biological mothers. Ever.
This made me think about the words “biology,” “genetics,” and “biogenetics” and how this language reflects the reproductive roles of women and men.
To review how men make babies: they have sex (biology) and deposit sperm inside the woman (genetics). That’s it. Their entire biogenetic function is tied to a single act that takes a few minutes. (Yes, boys, I said a few minutes).
For women, it’s different. Women make babies through ovulation (genetic) but also through 9 months of gestation, 12-24 hours of labor, and another year of nursing (biology). So unlike men where the biogenetic experience is singular, women can actually separate out those two parts so that there are unique biological and genetic experiences in the baby-making process.
The implications of reproductive function on the language is the following (yes, it’s another chart).
Again, I just make this shit up as I go along, but I think it sounds good.
Even though I’m convinced of these words’ proper usages, I’ve caught myself mixing them up; I sometimes say that my kid won’t be biologically mine when what I mean is genetic. I know why I slip up: it’s because this whole thing is some crazy sci-fi shit, and it’s not easy to wrap my head around.
The silver lining, though, is that it’ll be confusing for others, and I’ll get to mess with them by introducing conversations about the linguistic implications of reproductive technologies and their effects on popular understandings of biogenetics.
That’ll be fun.