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Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man's Most Precious Fluid (Intersections: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Genders and Sexualities)

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Sperm Counts

By Michael Ortiz - July 23, 2007

Whatever you might call it, wherever it might spill, and whatever you think you might know about it, sperm is used to not only reproduce human bodies, but also to reproduce ideology. In this "Gospel of Sperm" if you will, Lisa Jean Moore goes above and beyond conventional understandings of sperm by taking an in depth, detailed sociological look behind the sperm scenes.

Ultimately, sperm has become defined and presented in accordance to its masculine originators. From the names we give it(soldiers, troops, little guys) to the actions we assign to it(seek, swim, penetrate), sperm takes on the gender that its male producers associate themselves with, thus turning sperm as we know it into a cultural substance rather than just a biological one. Eventually, men come to partially define themselves according to the vitality and potency of their sperm. Hence, men and their semen become codependent masculinities, each helping to define the other.

By investigating the... read more

Racing Tadpoles

By Jacquelyn Rollins "scholar in training" - October 5, 2007

My most memorable conception of sperm comes from "Look who's talking" where the opening scene shows the sperm competing with each other to push their way into the egg. Apparently, there are many more meanings of sperm, and this book goes beyond the single minded understanding of man's most precious fluid.

"Sperm Counts" delves into every conceivable crevice to describe the ways in which sperm has been used to validate patriarchy and conversely how it can be an enemy to the very thing it legitimizes (by proving identity in crime scenes). American culture rooted in Puritanical values views sperm as a strictly biological substance, while Moore looks at it through a sociological and feminist lens: What do children's books about reproduction teach? What norms, values and prescriptions are passed on and learned through the ways sperm are introduced to young ones? How has the commodification of sperm separated men from the embodiment of masculinity in sperm? How has... read more

Skewed

By Gary D. Casper - October 17, 2007

The author, while dubbing sperm man's most precious fluid, seems to have little use for men themselves. In fact, she seems to look forward to the day when there will be no further use for them. I suspect she would be quite content were gallons of semen put into storage, thereby assuring future generations while dispensing with the need for men completely. Her experience working at sperm banks seems to have skewed her point of view so totally that she exaggerates the importance of such services in the grand scheme of things. In addition, she seems convinced that the risks of HIV infection have made semen a toxic fluid for most people despite the evidence that tens of millions of couples somehow don't share this view and continue to reproduce the old fashioned way. Perhaps if she had spent less time interviewing prostitutes, porn stars, and fellow academics in the "gender studies" community and had spent even a little time speaking with ordinary men instead, she would have come away... read more

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