Normalizing Spermand

From their humble beginnings in the 1700s to today, scientific representations of sperm have come a long way. What was once a science based on subjective narratives, sketches, and visual observation only is now a probabilistic system that understands men's fertility based on a wide variety of quantifiable parameters. Now, the parameters of semen analysis have expanded to include volume, pH, viscosity, sperm density, sperm motility, viability, and sperm morphology. The first diagnostic tool to...

Setting The Mood

Since sex is often talked about euphemistically and through metaphors, one common technique in sex ed books is to begin by setting the mood using comparisons with flowers. Flowers, unlike animals, are presented without having to be anthropomorphized. Flowers differ from animals because animals have feelings, and so do humans (and as we'll see, so do sperm cells). Such books work to set the ambience or the context under which reproduction should occur foreplay, if you will. Most important is the...

Overview Of The Book

By beginning with scientific representations of semen, we witness the discovery of sperm and explore this discovery in an arena that has historically been considered a bastion of masculinity. Many of the earliest sperm scientists, themselves mostly men, envisioned semen as the key to reproduction sperm was a cell that embodied a preformed individual. These scientists marveled at the sperm cells' powerful agency and self-contained role in reproduction. However, through the progress of...

Shooting Blanks Or Shooting Banks

Although semen banking threatens actual men with respect to their beliefs about fatherhood and paternal deprivation, semen banking has also facilitated progressive social change. While the liberating potential of semen banking for women cannot be underestimated, fatherhood is being reconstituted. The forces of capitalism and masculinity are encroaching on traditional fatherhood and enabling a myriad of options to be imagined and achieved gay daddies, blended gay families, father-figures that...

Sperm In The Future

Understanding semen in contemporary cultures means we must also account for the inherent instability of masculinity. Due to extreme shifts in cultural values, biotechnological innovation, and economic and geopolitical instability, traditional beliefs and representations of masculinity are now threatened. The preexisting ideal types of men and prevailing expressions of a rugged masculinity are being rendered obsolete or impossible to achieve male breadwinner, father, protector, warrior. During...

Sperm Of Tomorrow

While It's So Amazing comes close to providing a more progressive option that expresses the range of variation of origin stories for children, this book, similar to all the others, still relies on age-old gender-based illustrations of sperm and eggs. More books are needed that depict variations of origin stories featuring adoption, single parenting, sperm donation, assisted reproductive technologies, and blended families. But more than that, an alternative method is needed to separate out the...

Acknowledgments

For a person who thinks of herself as a sprinter and not a long-distance runner, writing this book has been an enormous challenge. I have learned that quick response time and short, intense energy bursts are not the qualities needed for this task, and many individuals have graciously taught me the invaluable skill of endurance. These people have encouraged me throughout the research, writing, and revision so I could cross the finish line. This book benefited from the careful reading of many...

Sneaky And Leaky

Throughout the past 300 years, semen has emerged as one of the most important totems. Semen is imbued with extremely intense social meanings, including birth, death, disease, virility, sex, violence, love, hatred, and genetic heritage. Semen comes from the male body it is constantly produced throughout the lifespan of the man, and it is ejaculated, intentionally and accidentally. It is strong and tenacious. Semen can endure in vaginas and on fabrics. While semen is collectible, it is not easy...

Scientific Production Of Sperm

As discussed in this chapter, many of the earliest sperm scientists, mostly men, envisioned semen as the key to reproduction sperm was believed to be a cell that embodied a preformed individual, the ho-munculus. These scientists marveled at the sperm cells' powerful agency and self-contained role in reproduction. Today, through the progress of technological and scientific innovation and the skillful manipulation of semen, sperm cells become merely raw materials that can be technologically...

We Was Robbed

In children's books, not all sperm are created equal. Embedded in sperm imagery from cartoon books are smiling, competitive, or befuddled sperm talking to one another and presumably the audience. These sperm evaluate themselves and others based on their ability to follow directions, swim quickly, navigate the difficult terrain, and eventually merge with the egg. In children's books, the measure of the better sperm is loosely based on motility, not morphology. From a subset of the sample,...

The Childs World

Children's culture is both a fantastic and a dangerous space to explore how sperm is represented. As historian Henry Jenkins has noted, When we want to prove that something is so basic to human nature that it cannot be changed, we point to its presence in our children.7 Children are often constructed as some form of presocialized creature that exist as biological beings and thus remain unmediated, animalistic, primitive, and na ve. The truth of human nature is often thought to be embodied in...

YvXNuclaus Mitochondria

Sperm cell with parts labeled rendered by Vanessa Haney. head. Further, there cannot be any abnormalities of the neck, midpiece, or tail and no cytoplasmic droplets of more than half of the size of the sperm head. Given this definition of normal shape, a semen sample is considered to have a normal morphology when at least 12 percent of sperm cells are of normal shape (figure 2.2). Intensified efforts to scientifically comprehend human semen appear to be consistent with the...

The Birds And The Bees

In the world of children's books, humans are placed in a biological continuum with flowers, amphibians, and mammals. Many books precede the discussion of human reproduction with an exploration of nature and hence natural relationships. Other species, such as flowers, birds, bees, and dogs are shown as all fitting together a description used in several books as a way to indicate the predetermined way that beings intuit how to reproduce. How Babies Are Made, published in 1968, shows animals in...

The Essence Of Everyman

With the proliferation of movies and videos that glorify the money shot, the sex entertainment industry provides an avenue for men to be spectators in the celebration of unprocessed, carnal, natural semen. Unlike other industries that manage semen, such as scientific laboratories, fertility clinics, and forensics enterprises, male bodily products do not need to be technologically enhanced or scientifically manipulated to be useful or understood. Unlike the workers in these industries, porn...

The Fertility Factor

In the 20th century, many innovations in sperm research have emerged out of scientists' attempts to understand male infertility. Men exposed to both environmental and occupational toxins have reported consistently higher rates of infertility, yet there is no universal agreement as to its cause.13 There has been much debate in the fields of epidemiology, toxicology, and infertility regarding this increasing rate of men's infertility. As male fertility continues to be compromised by what some...

Fluid Tenacity

Despite ongoing changes regarding the access to and means of human reproduction, sperm and semen maintain definitions of tenacity, strength, and supremacy. Much like the fluid of semen itself can leak onto different fabrics and into different bodies, the meanings of semen are able to seep into our consciousness, transmitting the validity of stereotypically conservative views of men and women. For centuries, scientists and scholars have attempted to define, manipulate, and control semen and...

Polyspermous Semen Is Everywhere

The bombardment of images, news stories, and scientific rhetoric about semen can sometimes seem overwhelming. Semen can be represented as engendered, malleable, agentic, emotive, instructive, sacred, profane, entertaining, controversial, empowering, dirty, clean, normal, abnormal, potent, impotent, powerful, incriminating, anthropomorphic, uniform, polymorphic, and deterministic. Even though semen is diversely, even contradictorily, represented in the preceding list of terms, the meanings of...

Honorable Death Kamikaze Sperm

Beyond the arena of reproductive science, other scientific representations of sperm are being constructed. Particularly salient at this historical moment, given the current crisis in masculinity, is the way sperm competition theory is being used to explain and promote certain ideas about human sexuality, relationships, and reproduction. As with fertility science, the projections of behavior, motive, and character flow freely between sperm cells and the men who produce them. New renderings of...

Risk Of The Other Guys Sperm

Semen Retention Drug

While there may be skepticism about the validity of human sperm competition theories, experimental research takes these theories quite seriously. Presuming that human sperm competition exists, studies have been designed to explore the role of human sperm competition in the context of male anatomy, male psychology and behavior, and human reproduction. One such study hypothesized that the human penis may have evolved as a semen displacement device.54 A research team created artificial anatomical...

Big Semen Stain In Your Underwear

Perhaps some of the fascination with these crime shows is because semen does not just leak during violent crimes. It can also leak during furtive, intimate moments that are secretly shared between consenting adults. The at-home infidelity testing industry has capitalized on a growing market of suspicious partners that want to collect physical evidence of infidelity. Reflecting another aspect of the CSI effect, infidelity tests encourage laypeople to draw definitive conclusions in their...