As the Founder of the Sperm Donor Abuse Foundation, I hear women’s narratives of sexual abuse – abuse perpetrated by men cruising unregulated sperm donor websites and Facebook Groups. Women using this cyber route for conception are easy targets and easy victims for predatory men in this highly sexualised and exploitative environment, which is little more than a trade route. The power imbalance – men hold the sperm and women need it – immediately creates the mechanisms for abusive patterns of behaviour. This is an arena where repeat sexual offenders operate and violence against women is completely normalised and condoned. It should come as little surprise therefore that it is commonplace for owners and administrators of sperm donor websites and FB Groups to leap to the defence of abusive men and/or to engage in campaigns to silence women with the courage to speak up about their abusive experiences.
The power imbalance – men hold the sperm and women need it – immediately creates the mechanisms for abusive patterns of behaviour.
As a trading route, there are vested interests in protecting the status quo – vested interests that are deemed worthy to fight for. In that regard, some owners and administrators of sperm donor sites want to protect their reputations and they want to keep the money coming in should they levy joining and usage fees. Then, we have those men who do not want to stop sexually abusing women in the guise of helping them to conceive a child. We also have an increasing number of men who want to continue profiteering financially by selling gametes illegally. And what about those men and women whom passively stand back and turn a blind eye to abusive conduct?
Unless women step forth and speak up to report abusive men – such men will simply move on to select their next victim.
As a woman and also as the Founder of the Sperm Donor Abuse Foundation, I advocate that it is a woman’s choice as to whether she reports her abuser to the police, as there are many critical issues to take into consideration. But herein lies the rub. Unless women step forth and speak up to report abusive men – such men will simply move on to select their next victim. If there is one thing we know about men who commit rape and sexual assault, it is that they have a strong tendency to be repeat offenders. Such men (sex offenders) do not necessarily rape or sexually assault every woman they meet or form an intimate relationship with. Instead, they are selective, carefully choosing their victims.
All too frequently in this cyber world of trading sperm, men launch themselves to defend an online buddy accused of commissioning a sexual offence. Supporters assert that the accused is a ‘great guy,’ or ‘he’d never hurt anyone.’ Supporters go on to argue, that the accused, ‘has donated tons of times and no one else has ever complained.’ Or the argument is raised that the ‘victim is a troublemaker,’ or that ‘she has a bone to pick,’ or ‘she’s crazy,’ or ‘she’s nasty.’ Immediately, the accused man is exonerated and the female victim is vilified and accused of making a false allegation. Why? Because the unregulated online sperm donor community gives rise to a macho sexualised culture, which condones all forms of violence against women, whilst supporting rape and sexual assault as legitimate ways to impregnate women.
Let’s face it, which woman wants to explain to her child/ren that the man who ‘kindly’ helped mummy have a baby was later prosecuted for being a sex offender?
Mothers of children fathered by the accused may vocally step forth too. But their motivations for offering support and defending the accused whilst simultaneously striving to silence the voice of the abused are clearly more personal. Such women are fundamentally striving to protect and preserve the imagery and reputation of their child/ren’s ‘donor’ father. Let’s face it, which woman wants to explain to her child/ren that the man who ‘kindly’ helped mummy have a baby was later prosecuted for being a sex offender? In one fail swoop, such bravery would denounce the ‘donor’ father as good and altruistic and replace this idealised sperm donor image with that of a serious criminal responsible for commission sexual offences upon vulnerable women. Those women whom strive to defend sex offending sperm ‘donors’ in a bid to protect their own children’s sense of identity are guilty of cowardice and they lack any sense of humanitarian or civic duty; not only do they remove vital support for victims, but they similarly allow sex offending ‘sperm donors’ to target other women.
Of course, that is just one factor leading women to protect the accused. Some women who have engaged in AI (artificial insemination) or sexual activity with the accused whilst endeavouring to conceive have either experienced a normal encounter, or should they have been sexually assaulted, they may not have defined the act as such. Let’s face it; accepting that one has been sexually assaulted or raped opens up a can of unpleasant worms. It means that the person we once trusted now needs to be re-framed as a sexual offender. That can be a giant psychological leap in the event of being the victim of a serious crime. It also opens the door as to whether he ought to be reported to the police. Such decisions occur in circumstances few understand – the unregulated world of Internet sperm donation. Let us not forget the issue too of fear and retribution, which at its most basic level can lead women to remain silent, or even prompt some to give the appearance of outwardly supporting the accused.
In time, however, it is hoped that more women will come forth and report sex offenders operating within the cyber sperm donor community. Those women, whom demonstrate such courage and bravery by reporting offences to the police, are taking a decisive step towards protecting other women (and potentially children too).