Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 241-263

First online:

Complicating Power in High-Tech Reproduction: Narratives of Anonymous Paid Egg Donors

  • Anne PollockAffiliated withProgram in Science Technology & Society, Building E51-070, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Email author 

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This paper is informed by my own participant observation and uses my own ethnography which included conducting in-depth interviews with anonymous paid egg donors and observing a listserv for women considering, pursuing, or having completed egg donation, to illustrate the way that power operates at this particular site of the reproductive center in postmodernity. After outlining who the consumers and providers of eggs are, I will use Foucault's concepts of biopower, disciplinary power, and normativity to describe how anonymous paid egg donation plays a socially useful role in reproducing privilege and in preserving the myth of the nuclear family. Drawing on feminist theorizing to problematize altruism, I will show how the construction of the altruist narrative feeds the preservation of that myth by giving egg donors appropriately feminine motivations. Finally, I will focus on one particular site of resistance on the part of egg donors—controlling their self-presentation, tweaking the pool of eggs—to underscore the simultaneity of control of and control by egg donors.

egg donation reproductive technologies stratified reproduction biopower