I Am a Genetic Dead End

I am a genetic dead end. Each ejaculation spews only a few dozen atrophied, useless sperms. Physical reproduction is impossible. I still have plenty of sexual fantasies, and a perfectly good (if contextually sensitive) libido. But the means fall short of the reproductive end.

According to the (more dogmatic and orthodox) evolutionary psychologists,* I am a total loser. The whole point of life, the foundation of morality and development itself is based on the perpetuation of genetic material. I don’t even have any brothers and sisters whose common genetic material I may help to disseminate. I may just as well commit suicide and stop hogging resources.

The less dogmatic evolutionary theorists suggest some other options, especially in the realm of group selection. They suggest traits that serve group cohesion and sociability may promote evolutionary fitness by making that group better able to deal with difficult circumstances and inter-group conflict. Thus, wisdom, experience, skills, the desire to care for others, and a legacy of creation and knowledge may all contribute to the perpetuation of certain lineages in the species, or perhaps even the species as a whole. Perhaps even sex is about more than just reproduction, but also about social bonding and attachment—the more promiscuous the better for the group!

I am—with a couple of notable exceptions—the kind of safe and reliable man with whom (according to the orthodox) women choose to partner because we are reliable and more likely to help to take care of family. I am clearly not the rugged, strong, genetically superior type that women prefer to fuck when they are ovulating. In other words, my genetic purpose seems to tend towards care, bonding and group perpetuation rather than genetic reproduction. That’s an odd fate for an introverted loner like me (although no more ironic than if I were a charming and promiscuous ovulating-babe magnet with no sperm).

But what if I embraced my genetic doom? What if I lived life constantly aware my impending total physical annihilation? Fuck convention, fuck the species, fuck getting along and taking care. If the future won’t have my DNA, what the hell do I care? Follow my heart, stop worrying about all those reasons not to do something, escape from my genetic and evolutionary bondage. Who knows, maybe I’ll even make some great discovery that all the fearful sheep, worried for their genetic legacies, could never possibly perceive.

Of course, the materialist view of the matter is only a minority. Plenty of people will tell me about my soul, the atman, my Self, Heaven and Hell, karma and rebirth, the five aggregates that condition the future, judgment and so on. Genetic perpetuation is only barely relevant to that. . . . . But, ultimately, the people telling us to worry about these things tell us to value the same things as the genetic materialists: family, education, authority, tradition, hard work, group feeling, politeness, social stability. Only a few of the more hardcore Buddhists, ascetics and libertines want out even from these values; compounding their genetic doom with spiritual and social doom—in the hope of liberation.

*I have in mind Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker and early sociobiology of E. O. Wilson as the more well-known orthodox dogmatists who ground evolution in genetic and individual selection. Steven Jay Gould, later E. O. Wilson and the book Sex at Dawn are sources of less orthodox ideas.


Posted on July 23, 2012, in My Bad Science, The Big Questions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Jane Tuckwell

    Many men are ‘shooting blanks’, either on purpose (vasectomies) or naturally, and it doesn’t stop them having an active personal life. It also doesn’t stop you fathering children.
    Assisted reproductive technology has advanced to the point where your RNA could be artificially introduced into an egg cell. The child may of course carry your ‘problem’ forwards, unless it is not hereditary (e.g. if you’d had childhood exposure to toxins).
    This technology will soon allow gay women to have children without using sperm banks, where the child (always a daughter) will carry genes from both of them. Ditto for gay men, except that they still need to borrow/rent a uterus, and could have a male or female child.


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