Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Are Sperm Expendable Because they are Abundant? No.

There is a theory that seems to pop up every once in a while around the manosphere/androsphere that goes as follows:
  • Sperm cells are abundant ergo they are expendable, and eggs are rare ergo they are valuable.
This theory is wrong.  Sperm are abundant because all of them are needed for the fertilization process to take place.  A man with a low sperm count will be un-likely to have a baby with another women, which alone proves that lots of sperm cells are essential for the fertilization process to occur.  People need to think in terms broader than a simplified 'sperm vs egg's approach'.  They need to think in holisitic terms: the whole fertilization process which involves white blood cells, the distance the sperm need to travel, acidity of the womb etc etc.  It's very much like a team effort, like a sports game you could say, and all the players, all the sperm cells, are essential.

To disprove the theory we'll think of fertilisation in terms of a football/soccer match, with sperm cells on one side playing the role of the attacking side, and with female cells (white blood cells, acidity etc) playing the role of the defensive side.  The Chief Executive Officer of Sperm United football club (ahem!) is the like the proponent of the 'sperm are expendable' theory.

A chief executive officer of a football club comes along and looks at a football/soccer team (pool of sperm cells).  After a while a friend comes along and asks the CEO what he thinks.  The CEO says "Well, the objective of football is to score goals therefore the only football player who is of any value to me is the one who scores the goals.  The other football players in the team, the goalkeeper, the defenders, the midfielders and the substitutes are superfluous.  They're just taking up wages and costing me money, therefore they're expendable and I'll get rid of them."

The following week the CEO fires all of the players except for the centre-forward who has scored the most goals for the team.  He arrogantly thinks he is on to a winner because he has left the star player in the team and cut back on his overheads/wages.  He is sorely mistaken, his team loses - it is annihilated 191-0 to be precise.  He thought that by only including the winner in the football team that he could be victorious and save money.  He was wrong.  A football team needs all eleven players in it's team to stand a chance of winning.  Every player is needed, from the goalkeeper to the striker, even though he may never score a goal in his entire career.

As you can see from this little ol' analogy, sperm is not cheap, sperm is not worthless.  Every sperm cell and other sex related cell is needed for the fertilisation process to take place.  It's not just about 'the winner' and a bunch of 14,000,000 or so loser sperm cells.  It requires that all sperms take part in the race for the winner (whoever it is) to be successful.

Many of the sperm cells engaged in the fertilization process will never get anywhere near the eggs, but they will play a fundamental role because they will be attacked by white blood cells which will allow other sperm cells to get through and fertilize the egg.  Effectively they are 'taking one for the team'; ergo you could say that it's a team effort.

So the next time you read, or hear, about some urchin who proudly proclaims that 'men are expendable and women are not because sperm are abundant and eggs are rare' know that he is wrong.  Because without all of the sperm cells there would be no fertilisation, and their would be no human race.


1 comment:

  1. Correction, there is no human race, but there is a human species.