Best advice: Tell your wife how you feel, give her everything in the divorce

Hey look, it’s a creepy racist guy writing into Dear Prudence!

Prudence,
My wife, who is infertile, and I have recently decided to have children—we’d like eventually to have three—using an egg donor. (We decided against adoption because we would have no biological connection to our children.) We have just settled on this option but it has thrown open a whole new dilemma for me. I am white and my wife is East Asian. Her race isn’t a problem for me and I would have had no difficulty raising mixed race children, but frankly, now that I have the choice, I’d prefer my kids to be white. We live in a fairly homogeneously white area and at the end of the day I want my kids to look like me, their cousins, and the kids they’ll go to school with. I don’t think my wife has ever experienced racism, but I think she might understand my point of view. Then I think I maybe I’m just convincing myself about this. I really could use a second opinion before I broach the subject with her.
—Want To Be a Dad

Dear Want,
Reince Priebus, is that you? I can see how increasing the white population might be a good strategy for raising GOP turnout on election day. However, if you’re not the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and you only want to increase the white population because you don’t want your kids to resemble your Asian wife, then it’s good you ran this by me before proposing it to her. How generous of you not to have a “problem” with the fact that you married an Asian woman. And how grotesque that now that her eggs are out of the picture, you’ve decided this is a great opportunity to keep your kids from being mixed race. There’s just no way to express to your wife the thoughts you’ve conveyed here without sounding as if you’re a spokesperson for the Council of Conservative Citizens. There are many ways to become parents, as you know. With adoption, sometimes it’s obvious that the children are not the biological offspring of the parents. In the case of sperm or egg donation, the parents may choose to keep private that they used assisted reproduction, which is possible by selecting a donor who resembles the infertile parent. (I still think the child should be told about this, but that’s a separate issue.) Now that you and your wife have decided on egg donation, you first need to just listen to what she’s thinking about the criteria for your donor. It could be she very much wants an Asian woman. It could be she just wants someone healthy and smart to donate and she doesn’t care about race. But your desire for your future kids to look only like you because you have a pre-Brown v. Board of Education view about their social lives means that before you have children, you need to do a serious reassessment of your assumptions about the world they are going to live in.
—Prudie

Or, you know, just don’t reproduce because you’re a racist ass-bag.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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50 Responses to Best advice: Tell your wife how you feel, give her everything in the divorce

  1. Lolagirl says:

    This whole scenario just doesn’t ring true to me, I call bs on Prudie and her alleged letter writer.

    Supposedly the wife is infertile, yet they “just” decided to have children? And they are going straight to using donor gametes/eggs without trying to use her own eggs? Yeah, no, the whole thing sounds highly unlikely to the point of being a retread soap opera story line. But then again, Prudie knows nothing about the mechanics of infertility or the various roads to treating it, so no big surprise there, I suppose.

    Bonus points for Prudie with the racism angle. Not only will she get traffic for the people condemning infertility treatments, but she gets tons of extra hits for all the condemning people will do of the letter writer for his racism (and rightly so.)

    • karak says:

      I read it as they decided to have children, discovered she was infertile, and then decided to do egg donations. Or possibly they could have known she was infertile for several years due to a medical issue, let it go, and later decided now was the time for kids.

      • Lolagirl says:

        99% of the time people have zero inkling that they are infertile until they try to get pregnant unsuccessfully. The medical definition of infertility (and the one also enforced by insurance companies in order to trigger any covered treatment for infertility) is trying to get pregnant for a year via PIV and not becoming pregnant.

        I mean, it’s within the realm of possibility that they somehow magically knew in advance that she was infertilte, but it’s highly unlikely.

        Furthermore, using donor gametes is highly complicated legally as well as incredibly expensive. Thus, it is treated as an absolute last resort in the ART spectrum of treatments. Any Reproductive Enodcrinologist is going to encourage or even insist that a patient attempt to use their own gametes as a starting point before moving on to donor gametes.

        And it isn’t as though Prudie hasn’t given plenty of reason in her past columns to suspect that is is fabricating these scenarios at least in part if not entirely. The more sensational and out there these alleged letters and their alleged writers are, the greater the number of page hits for Prudie.

      • Anon21 says:

        And it isn’t as though Prudie hasn’t given plenty of reason in her past columns to suspect that is is fabricating these scenarios at least in part if not entirely. The more sensational and out there these alleged letters and their alleged writers are, the greater the number of page hits for Prudie.

        Honestly, this is endemic to the advice column business, not specific to Prudie. I don’t think this letter is super-outlandish (sadly), and it’s entirely possible that Prudie or her editor cut out some parts of the question detailing what treatments they tried as a first resort.

      • Jill says:

        Yeah I read it as they decided to have kids, couldn’t because of infertility, and after looking at various options have just recently decided to go with egg donation.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I get where you’re coming from Jill. I’m just saying that there are several points in that letter that don’t pass the sniff test.

        Once you’ve gone through the infertility wringer and found yourself at the point that you’re considering donated gamets it’s highly unlikely that you haven’t already done a great deal of self-analyzing and inventoried whatever previously unexamined personal issues you may have already had wrt to what will actually happen when you finally get to the point of having a child.

        I mean, seriously, it never occurred to him yet that he had reservations about a child of mixed racial/ethnic heritage? It hadn’t already crossed his mind that having a child with half of his wife’s genetic makeup (or a similar analog) was something that gave him pause? After having ridden the roller coaster of infertilty with his wife (again, assuming for the sake of discussion that he isn’t lying) it’s highly unlikely that would not have already come to a place of brutal honesty with one another wrt to their intended progeny.

        Bottom line? If the one infertile person in the room is saying this letter is highly implausible for some pretty significant reasons, she isn’t just pulling this stuff our of the ether.

      • karak says:

        I bow to your knowledge–I hadn’t picked up that you had personal/real experience about infertility and how to obtain that diagnosis.

        I know various women that describe themselves as “infertile” because they will have difficult or dangerous pregnancies, like my friend with diabetes and another with ovarian cysts. They’ve decided to never have biological children and not even bother trying, instead going straight for adoption or other options.

      • karak says:

        Edit to add: I was assuming the man’s wife was in the same situation as my friends, not realizing there’s more to it than that.

      • Kierra says:

        After having ridden the roller coaster of infertilty with his wife (again, assuming for the sake of discussion that he isn’t lying) it’s highly unlikely that would not have already come to a place of brutal honesty with one another wrt to their intended progeny.

        Assuming that he was ruled out as the problem early on in treatment, it’s possible that he hasn’t really been “riding” the roller coaster with her (notice that he’s very specific that she’s infertile, not that they are). Given the lack of empathy displayed in the letter, it sounds like he might regard the fertility issues as entirely “her problem” to be fixed by “her doctor” with his job just to show up periodically to provide a sample.

      • LearnedFoot says:

        Hi Lolagirl,
        Fellow traveler here (two years since diagnosis of infertility due to unknown causes, and going through the treatment gauntlet). Just for the record, I did interpret the original letter the same way that Karak and Jill did. Not denying the validity of your interpretation at all. I just ask that you not speak in a way that universalizes your personal experiences. Thanks.

      • Medusa says:

        “Magically?” Have you ever heard of this little thing called fertility testing?

      • im says:

        well, why would you get fertility testing if there was no reason to suspect you were infertile?

    • It depends why his wife is infertile. Low egg quality is a common cause of infertility. If she has very bad egg quality, the doctors might encourage her to go straight for the donor eggs, especially if she’s older and doesn’t have a lot of time to mess around.

      I see no reason to assume that Prudie fabricated anything. Some couples go straight to donor eggs. It’s not the most common path, but it certainly happens.

      • Fat Steve says:

        I know in the case of women who become infertile due to chemotherapy, they stop menstruating, maybe this is the case with infertility due to other non-natural reasons. Doesn’t mean that 1 out of x thousand women who stop menstruating won’t get pregnant, medical science is rarely perfect. However some women can definitively say they no longer ovulate and therefore are infertile- this guy’s wife might be in that group…or…he might just be as presumptuous as his letter suggests and she might not even be definitively infertile. Who can say? But if I think anyone’s ‘faking’ it’s the letter writer, not Slate.

      • LearnedFoot says:

        True, Lindsay. One of my closest friends is in that situation. After trying to get pregnant for over a year, her very first round of tests with the fertility specialist indicated that she is essentially in (very) early menopause and her own eggs will not be viable.

        Back to the OP: yikes, this guy. It’s not uncommon for people to be wary of adoption or using donated sperm or eggs, if they are very intent on having a child who “looks like them.” But if he is prizing his appearance and identity over hers… That poor woman.

    • Queen_George says:

      Hi. Another infertile person here. Please remember that one person’s experience does not define the whole. There are ways to be infertile that can be detected and determined early in life – particularly if you have a disease or condition that either affects your fertility or causes doctors to say that you SHOULD NOT become pregnant. I know that I’m infertile because of a particular medical procedure done on me when I was in my early thirties. If I married anyone now, they would know going in that I’m infertile. It’s possible that this woman has one of those conditions; if she was always aware of the knowledge of her infertility – like, from the time they got married – this would explain the fact that the dude SAYS he’d be okay with mixed race children even when he really isn’t. He might have known it was never really a possibility.

  2. tomek says:

    hmm. thought dear preudence was a bad or disliked in here. what she say seem very good here. very against the racism.

    • Fat Steve says:

      hmm. thought dear preudence was a bad or disliked in here. what she say seem very good here. very against the racism.

      People on here criticize her when what she says is stupid and annoying, and they agree with her when what she says is clever and/or insightful. You’d find the same applies to you once you say something clever or insightful.

      • PrettyAmiable says:

        hahahaha ouch. I realize this is one of those ganging up things, but I actually laughed out loud.

      • im says:

        She is often very bad, by my standards and by Feministe’s. And it can be interesting when somebody you usually disagree with very strongly gets things right, if you can stomach it.

    • It was a good answer. Sometimes, a letter writer throws a pitch so slow and low over the plate that even Prudie can hit it out of the park.

  3. Valerie says:

    All of the other insurmountable bullshit aside,

    I want my kids to look like me, their cousins

    Did it ever occur to this asshat that his wife might want her children to resemble, at least remotely, her side of the family too? Or are we assuming now that no Asians want to look Asian? But how could that be, especially since

    I don’t think my wife has ever experienced racism

    Tell me more.

    Also, if you want your kids to look like your nieces and nephews, maybe you should have kids with your sister.

  4. Kierra says:

    That letter just squicks me out the more I look at it. I mean, the guy is the one who’s going to be using his own genetic material, and yet he’s worried that the kids won’t look enough like him.

    Plus I can’t help seeing him as one of those MRA guys who is just attracted to Asian women because they are supposed to be submissive and demure (unlike American women), but he still wants his totally white american kids now that the opportunity is presenting itself. Yuck!

    • Jaen says:

      I literally had a flashback to a forum I stumbled across where a bunch of racist shitbag MRAs had come to the realization that having ‘submissive, passive, feminine, and exotic’ foreign wives means they wouldn’t have white sons. It would have been hilarious if it was so horrible, as they seemed to exactly emulate an movie villian who just had their master plans foiled. Must be hard to be a racist misogynist…now where did I put my tiny violin?

    • K says:

      Exactly. This is why it’s so creepy when guys “prefer” Asian women (i.e. yellow fever). They want all those submissive stereotypes because they are lazy and immature but get upset when they don’t get 100% of what they want.

      • im says:

        Yeah. I never could understand people wanting lovers who were submissive or shy ALL the time. And it doesn’t really seem like the often-nice, emotionally vulnerable sort of submissive shyness.

      • Alyson says:

        Yeah, guys like that definitely don’t want emotionally vulnerable women. They want women who “know their place” and also display NO emotions, if possible.

      • Alyson says:

        Correction: Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Emotions are okay, so long as they are only positive emotions and are all related to their male partner, but not to the point of being a”annoying.”

  5. librarygoose says:

    I don’t think my wife has ever experienced racism

    Whelp, she has now. Asshole.

    • K says:

      And given the wording of his comment, he probably hasn’t cared about her enough to even ask her if she’s experienced any beyond his racism (as you so astutely observed :D). Or he didn’t listen/notice.

    • Marksman2010 says:

      +1

      Yep.

  6. Nahida says:

    I hope he tells her! And that it results in a prompt divorce.

    The thought of the bodies of women of color carrying the spawn of racist douchebags engineered to look as close to them as possible at the deliberate expensive of these women…

  7. (BFing) Sarah says:

    Sigh. I’m just shaking my head. I actually want to vomit at the thought that this man (if he exists) may someday have children at all, particularly children of color. Even if he does talk to his wife and she says she does want to use a donor that resembles her as much as possible, I can’t imagine that his kids wouldn’t sense his racism. I always feel like there are people in my family that would feel closer to my children if they ‘looked more like them’ and it hurts to hear that there are people who actually feel that way and feel comfortable talking about it as if its okay. I feel the same way about the raving I hear when a multi-racial child is particularly light skinned, light-eyed, or has “good” hair. You know that you might as well just say something like, “white is right,” don’t you? Its racist. Plain and simple. If this guy (if he exists) really feels that way, he needs to do some soul searching before having children in a multi-racial family.

  8. mxe354 says:

    A response from Prudence that isn’t at least somewhat terrible? News to me.

  9. Dominique says:

    His wife needs to see that letter.

  10. EG says:

    When I think about being a single mother, then yes, I want to find a donor who resembles me as much as possible, because I want my child to have a good chance of resembling the only parent zie will have.

    But when I’m part of a couple, when I love somebody, when I love somebody enough to want to spend my life with them and raise children together? What the racist fuck is wrong with this letter writer? When I love somebody like that, I would be thrilled for our children to resemble them, because…I mean…that’s part of what the love is. I love who they are physically, and I would love to look at our children and be reminded of the partner I love, I would love to see our two selves and families blended and re-arranged in our children in ways I had never imagined.

    The baby book for one of the children I used to sit for opened with a beautiful quotation about how parents desire to create another human being in the image of their love (I think it’s more heteronormative than “parents”). I think that’s a beautiful sentiment. If my partner told me zie didn’t want our children to look like me, I would doubt zir love for me and I would leave.

    • pheenobarbidoll says:

      If I were still wanting more children, any man who was to be the father would have to be happy with them looking like me. I make little clones. If you were to line me, my mother and my daughter up, it would look like the same person at different stages of her life.

  11. im says:

    Hmmmmmm…. I think he should have thought about that earlier…

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