Eugenics Advertisement in Brown’s School Newspaper?



My buddy from home posted this picture of an advertisement he saw in his school’s newspaper today, The Brown Daily Herald, which he found quite troubling and offensive. Along with the photo he added these remarks:

What are the bioethical implications of such an ad? Are qualities such as beauty and intelligence now commodified goods?

In the Facebook comments on the post, some people make arguments defending the content of the ad, ranging from feelings of moral cynicism to defense of a personal right of choice, certainly valid consideration. However, do also consider, though very probably inadvertent, but existent, parallels to Nazism when viewing the ad.

Personally, upon consideration of the arguments presented in the comments, I feel as though  it is important to allow oneself to be alarmed by such an ad, and to question and consider it’s implications. Moreover, I also think it is important to view and take into account the type of society we are (whether good or bad) that such an ad was produced. Additionally, I believe the content of this ad is comparable to the plot of Oryx and Crake and the Crakers, in addition to the alarming display of the realities of our world today.

Certainly, such an ad is questionable and debatable in it’s ties to eugenics and Utopian human vision. What are your thoughts? How does this ad make you feel?


8 thoughts on “Eugenics Advertisement in Brown’s School Newspaper?

  1. I agree that this ad is troubling in the sense that it is in a newspaper advertising donating an egg like it should be in a classified. However, with regards to it being similar to eugenics with beauty and intelligence being commodified goods I disagree. My stance is based off the fact that women go into insemination clinics daily and search through profiles for their “ideal” donor. If you disagree with this couple searching for their “ideal” egg than you must admit there the double standard does exist. In response to the ad actually specifying their wants for their ideal ad there could be a handful of reasons why they act for the qualifications they did. For example, they may have asked for those qualifications to make it seem more like their actual child, hence the high ACT/SAT for the Ivy league couple and maybe the women is slender, healthy, caucasian. Despite all this, I do agree that this troubling because this can be seen in a newspaper with the “reward” being in the high thousands. However, My opinion toward the content of the ad and as artificial insemination goes as a whole, I do not see how that in our society is a sign or eugenics or anything along those lines.

  2. This ad troubles me as well. For starters, the ad starts off by categorizing the woman as “special”, and then names all of these characteristics. This made me think that the couple did not look at other races or body types as special, or worthy of producing their child. But I do agree with William when he speaks of women (and men) going to insemination clinics and attempting to make their perfect child. In the same right I do not feel as bothered by women and men going to these clinics and piecing together a child. Maybe because this is an ad in the newspaper, making it clear the type of woman they would like to have as a donor and the large lump sum they are offering. Whereas I do not see or hear what people are looking for at insemination clinics and as far as I know men donate their sperm everyday and do not receive anything near $20,000. This ad says a lot about what we value in American society today. I recently traveled to Spain and no one was into looks like we are here in the states. But America is known to have beautiful men and women, however I do not believe that we are trying to create the perfect race for the betterment of society; rather Americans are trying to create the perfect person for themselves rather than the rest of the country.

  3. There is definitely something I find off-putting about this advertisement. I think it is important to question the bio ethical implications of advertisements like this. While I most definitely support artificial insemination, I can’t help but question why certain qualities are so important to this couple. I can understand wanting an intelligent child, but blonde hair, tall, and blue eyes does give me an eery parallel to the Nazi desire for an Aryan race. As William has commented, perhaps they want these qualities because they are similar to the mother. Regardless, I personally don’t feel a child’s appearance should be the primary concern of a couple who are in desire of a child. There are so many children without parents around the world who need a loving home, and perhaps this is what bothers me most about attempting to create the “perfect” child.
    From the perspective of the woman donating the egg, I really do not have a problem with a woman who feels she meets this criteria selling her eggs. Some may question where does this end?; at what point does selling an egg differ from selling an organ? However, I would argue that an ovum is a single unspecialized cell, and therefore this is more a freedom of choice for the woman donating the cells. Ultimately, I think the point of this post is for us to question our values as a society. While this couple wants blue-eyed, light-haired children, others surely seek “appearances” of all kinds, so one may argue that this is not a case of eugenics on a societal level, but rather on a specific, individual level.

  4. After reading this add I was left with an unsettling, almost angry feeling. It made me feel as though this couple held certain characteristics to be more desirable than others. This troubled me for a few reasons. Firstly, the chances of their child being born with the same physical characteristics as its mother are not particularly high. Secondly, there is no causal arrow proving that a mothers intelligence is significantly correlated with her child’s. Theoretically their child could be born with completely opposite physical characteristics as well as scores in the lowest percent tile on his/her SAT’s/ACT’s, and then what? Would the parents discard their dark haired, brown eyed, black child? The reason that this troubled me is similar to something Katy mentioned. It is the fact that the most important thing a parent should worry about is not their child’s hair color, but other non aesthetic characteristics. These should include things such as health, happiness, personal well-being.
    The fact that this couple says they are ivy league graduates poses another problem for me. Now not only are people reading an advertisement of a couple who only want a child that looks a certain way, they are reading an advertisement submitted by two people who theoretically are among the most intelligent in our country. (Theoretically) The most intelligent among us are supposed to lead. So when supposed ‘leaders’ show favoritism towards these characteristics it could potentially cause others to start favoring them as well. Hypothetically you could end up with a flux of parents attempting to genetically modify their unborn children so that they are seen in a favorable light and those who do not posses these characteristics are shunned. This is where I can see the similarities to Nazism.

  5. I disagree with this ad as well. I don’t think that this is the correct way to go about searching for an egg donor. Just randomly posting in the public newspapers should not have been done. These types of affairs should be more privatized. Also the fact that they are asking for these Ivy League qualities in the egg donor is a cause for concern. I mean you can base your child’s production of the genetic makeup of your parents, but it’s not definite. This seems like a very up tight and specific couple, and I would definitely not want to be their child.

  6. The above link is a parody of choosing baby traits from a comedy show, Whitest Kids U Know. I think issues like this do deserve real consideration and discussion, but only to a certain extent. I like the video because it shows the absurdity of the situation. Human beings are not meant to be created like a custom pair of Nikes. And whether you’re attempting to design someone for superficial reasons or because you think Aryans constitute a superior race, I would strongly advise against it.

  7. I’m not sure I reacted as negatively as others when seeing this ad. I honestly believe that it makes sense. While it may be wrong it is logical. Perhaps this couple can’t have children and isn’t trying to produce the perfect child but one that would be most like the one they imagined they would have with their combined traits. The ad could be searching for women who resemble the mother both physically and mentally. Perhaps instead of trying to create a perfect child they would just be trying to create something that they couldn’t do on their own- maybe they want a child who will make them feel like he/she is completely theirs without having 100% of their genetics. I agree that this ad is potentially disturbing but so is the idea that this couple is unable to fulfill their natural desire to have children themselves.

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