Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Wendy Simonds

Second Advisor

Mindy Stombler

Third Advisor

Dawn Baunach


As medicine, technology, science, and industry coalesce into a hybridized biomedical market, individuals are increasing treated as customers who must pursue health by consuming products and services. It is within this context that clients of donor sperm make their donor selections. Although they make their selections as individual consumers, they are subject to powerful marketing and corporate-sponsored knowledges that promote very specific notions of health, family planning, and the ideal child. Clients of donor sperm, like most aspiring parents, want their children to be happy, healthy, and successful. Given the unique options that are available via the sperm donor market, they select characteristics and traits that will benefit their child in a society that is built upon complex intersecting systems of oppression. In this way, clients of donor sperm attempt to pass on privileges to their children and families, often ensuring that they themselves will maintain their advantaged positions in society. The contemporary sperm banking industry serves as a platform wherein individuals and families attempt to obtain these privileges through the power of purchase. They do so consistently and predictably—adhering to dominant ideologies regarding what people and what bodies are worthy of reproduction. In purchasing a donor, they select traits of power and privilege—constructing families that embody hegemonic values regarding race, health, ability, intellect, success, and family formation.