by Mary Harrington
Thursday, 13
January 2022
Idea
07:00

The vasectomy ‘movement’ is a front for eugenics

The self-gelding campaign has a dark motivation
by Mary Harrington
Credit: World Vasectomy Day

Are men really getting themselves neutered to save the planet? A Guardian story yesterday quotes Lloyd Williamson, a 30-year-old childless man who underwent vasectomy last November, who explains that “I don’t want to bring a life into this world, because it’s pretty shitty as it is and it’s only going to get worse”.

This follows a spate of articles in December, reporting on young men self-gelding. Ground Zero appears to be this Washington Post article reports that one Texas vasectomy doctor has seen a 15% uptick in requests since the introduction of restrictions on abortion in Texas. Numerous other outlets picked up the story, including the New York Post and Jezebel.

But wait a moment: is this really a movement? Following the WaPo article, writer Katherine Dee noted the recurrence in these stories of the same two figures: documentary-maker Jonathan Stack, and vasectomy doctor (vasectomist?) Dr Doug Stein. These two co-founded a heavily hashtagged event: #WorldVasectomyDay.

I’ve tried (and been rubbish at) a number of careers over my adult working life, one of which was PR. The laundering of corporate or campaign-sponsored ‘news’ into the press works in a way analogous to the ‘policy laundering’ I discussed last week.

A ‘story’ is developed, complete with canned press releases, an easy news hook and a ready-made spokesman. PR execs will bash their phone and email contacts to ‘sell in’ the client’s story. The content machine is hungry; journos are busy; a good PR will usually find someone willing to pick up a good story.

PR-confected pieces have a distinctive smell, and I agree with Dee that these articles reek of it. The same spokesmen recur; there are no large-scale statistics, only single providers and anecdotes; the same flagship event appears again and again. And surprise, surprise, a bit of rummaging reveals a PR Newswire report launching #WorldVasectomyDay in mid-November last year. The press release even includes the ‘act of love’ phrase. And hey presto, Stack and World Vasectomy Day crop up again in this week’s Guardian piece.

So if this is a PR campaign, what does it want? World Vasectomy Day is, according to its website, ‘a year-round program that trains doctors, educates the public, works with institutions and encourages the creative community to tell stories of hope and possibility.’ But with Western fertility rates already well below replacement and still falling, why all the effort to accelerate this process still further? The website offers a clue: it’s not really about the West.

Skimming through WVD’s ‘Allies’ links reveals it’s funded by a population control foundation, and partners with charities whose activities focus far afield as Ecuador, Kenya and India. In other words: a group of bodies with very little interest in American ‘reproductive equity’ or English climate consciousness, but united in their efforts to reduce population growth among the world’s nonwhite peoples.

In 2020, the pro-life campaigner Obianuju Ekeocha accused Western bodies such as the UN and Gates Foundation of ‘neo-colonialism’ for tying relief funds to the imposition of population control measures in Africa. Ekeocha argued that food programmes, micro-finance, education and healthcare would do more to meet communities’ needs — but instead Western bodies seek to decouple sex from reproduction, and normalise medical abortion.

From this vantage-point, we might see the Western end of World Vasectomy Day as one-half of a pincer movement, with the other being female-focused population control campaigns — and taproots deep into the eugenic views of early, progressive birth control pioneers such Marie Stopes. In other words: eugenics may have been whitewashed from Western reproductive campaigning, in favour of ‘gender equity’ and ‘climate’. But it remains alive and well elsewhere in the world.

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G A
G A
8 months ago

Guardian readers taking themselves out of the gene pool should be celebrated.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
8 months ago
Reply to  G A

Hear hear!

Alison Hine
Alison Hine
8 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Seriously,.. really…. sometimes the comments on unherd sound very much like a woke herd

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
8 months ago
Reply to  G A

‘Guardian readers taking themselves out of the gene pool should be celebrated’

NO. They are intelligent, sort of moral in a secular way, educated – they are what the West needs to be having large families. That they are all Fu**ed up philosophically is bad, but as people they are good for the nation – and if they had big families the ferocity of a parent would make them much more realistic about what sort of world they wish for their children. I think the Guardian cat spinster and lefty drone are hopeless – but parenthood would be the perfect way of the famous line happening:

“Or as Irving Kristol once said, “A conservative is a liberal mugged by reality.””

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
8 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Is this the same Irving Kristol who was the godfather of neo-conservatism and the invasion of Iraq ?

Who could be a more perfect example of a realist ? !

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
8 months ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

I believe Bill Kristol was more involved in promoting the Iraq War.

Malvin Marombedza
Malvin Marombedza
8 months ago
Reply to  G A

Three cheers for that bright lad.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
8 months ago

‘united in their efforts to reduce population growth among the world’s nonwhite peoples.’ Now, and I realise that this might come as a shock to the author, it isn’t because that are ‘nonwhite’, but, gasp, because that’s where population growth is already far beyond sustainable levels, and babies are being born into starvation, deprivation, misery, sickness, and early deaths.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
8 months ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Because of greedy decadent B’s like us.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
8 months ago

“A 15% uptick since abortion was banned in Texas.” Is “I can’t make you pregnant” now a plus factor on Tinder?

Not sure Mary’s logic really follows through here. People in the third world don’t read the Guardian. If shadowy figures are trying to make this fashionable, they’re going to have way more success in the West than in, say, Africa, which rather defeats their objective.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago

Too many people, too much waste, too much greed, too many poisons, too little regard for flora and fauna.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
8 months ago

I agree. There is a strange reluctance to speak about population, well I say strange but I think I know why – it’s because where most population growth is taking place. However, it’s a little drastic to take this step, theoretically reversable though it might be. Have they never heard of condoms? Ok, not 100% effective, but pretty good.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago

I agree that certain steps are drastic, but as you say there is a reluctance generally to speak of population. It offends the progressives, most of whom have not ever been to e.g. Africa, but are happy to order off Amazon Prime quick delivery service.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
8 months ago

Calling up Pol Pot on your Ouija board will help you even more with your Population Control programme.

e.g. with “Western population reduction”

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
8 months ago

Too many WESTERN people and their cars, aeroplanes etc.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
8 months ago

The general trend for “Western” countries is toward lower fertility rates anyway.

If a few guardian/nyt readers or other misanthropes decide not to procreate, then the world is probably better off without their progeny.

Nigeria’s increase alone would make up for them many times over.

Extrapolating from tiny trends is something Mary must be familiar with from her life in PR.

if I continue to accelerate at this rate, I’ll reach the moon next week. Or I may just be getting up off the couch.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago

World population will not be significanly influenced by these gimmicks but by the well-known forces already working: lower child mortality, better education (especially for girls) etc. Population growth has slowed down a great deal, and the number of people on Earth is approaching a peak and then will decline.

Seemingly we are addicted to doom mongering: after decades of worrying about over population, the siren voices are already bewailing reducing populations!

Last edited 8 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Jonathan Stack
Jonathan Stack
8 months ago

I read your recent article, THE VASECTOMY ‘MOVEMENT IS A FRONT FOR EUGENICS, about World Vasectomy Day (WVD), an organization I founded in 2013 after 25 years making documentaries in war zones and conflict areas. Previously, I was not aware of UNHERD, and I am impressed by, and in solidarity, with your commitment to ‘push back against the herd mentality with new and bold thinking’. That said, allow me to do some pushing back of my own. 
As someone who has spent my life making documentary films on a wide variety of human rights related topics, I salute your concern for any human rights abuse regarding ‘population control’ and agree that the roots of family planning have been intertwined with eugenics. That said, a bare minimum of research, including an interview, would have led to a completely different conclusion.
Here are some basic facts to help fill out the picture:
1.    WVD believes in the importance of inspiring men to be partners in decisions about family planning and we think it is wrong that the burden of responsibility, and the risks, falls almost exclusively on women.
2.    The fact is, for men, and women, whose family is complete, whatever the number of children that might be, a vasectomy is the best, and for now, only viable option.
3.    At WVD we don’t judge or impose reasons for getting a vasectomy, but we work hard to assure that it be an informed decision with access to professional standard care.
4.    WVD does not determine our success only by the number of vasectomies done, but by the quality of the conversation we inspire. Just as UNHERD encourages thoughtful and intelligent dialogue, we aim for the same.
5.    WVD’s strategy has not been to work exclusively in 3rd world countries. In fact, as you’ll note in the picture UNHERD published, we brought our campaign to Times Square in New York City. It was, in fact, the end of a 10 day US vasectomy educational road trip from Iowa to New York.
6.    That said, there’s nothing wrong with offering men, and women, in Ecuador or India or Kenya or any other country a chance to access quality sexual and reproductive health care. Do you actually think men in these countries aren’t interested in family planning or don’t deserve that option, or have no role to play in determining family size?
Finally, while WVD does not believe that numbers alone determine either our individual or collective destiny, there is no doubt that providing for a growing population or simply a growing family is not financially easy.  As we see it, helping inspire men to be more responsible about bringing life into this world, and providing a means to make that possible, has nothing to do with eugenics, and much to do with math and love.  
I could go on and on, but your worst error – and the most common myth of all – is equating a vasectomy with castration. To be 100% clear, a man who chooses a vasectomy is not ‘self-gelding’, nor is he lowering his capacity to give or receive sexual pleasure and he’s certainly not harming himself or anyone else. It’s just what he believes is right for himself and his family.
So you should keep pushing, keep questioning and keep doubting, but do the hard work as well. If you’re going to be different, you also need to be better.
Good luck,
Jonathan Stack, Executive Director
World Vasectomy Day

Michael K
Michael K
8 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Stack

Mad respect for commenting here. I honestly don’t know much about the whole issue, and I couldn’t care either way, but I appreciate that there is a conversation happening.

Madeleine Jones
Madeleine Jones
8 months ago

I don’t like ‘it’s irresponsible to bring a child into this world.’ Yes, things are bleak and may worsen. But it’s certainly possible to raise a child who thrives and grows in adverse circumstances. I look at my cousin’s children; all young during COVID. My heart breaks for them, but I still admire their kindness, potential and worth to the world. Their existence is a positive.
Tbh, I used to be one of those ‘world’s gone mental, might as well not have kids.’ Luckily, I’m a single 27 yr old woman – I never botched my fertility. But I do get this mentality, and it comes from deep depression, self-hatred or disgust and inability to handle hardship without internalising it. Back then, my hypothetical daughter or son represented me, and all the horrible things I thought I was or would be. The kind that’d crumble in hard times. Messed up. Has it ever occured that future generations may come up with creative solutions, terrific works of art and innovation? Why must we assume that there’s nothing but suffering that awaits our children?
On a more personal note, I’d like to share why I personally want children. Again, I’m single and a bit clueless about dating. But I want kids because it’s a positive, loving thing to do. Hate to get all Dostoevsky here, but things can get brutal in our lives. I cannot guarantee my children won’t experience a war, a great depression, etc. But I have faith in myself, and in my future children, that they’ll be a force for good. Not perfect angels, of course.
My role as a mother is to bring them into the world, love and raise them as best as I can. Maybe I’ll stuff up, maybe I won’t. But I have hope.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
8 months ago

Merely one step further down the ‘Frankfurt School’, Postmodernist, Neo-Marxist’s path to complete destruction of the family. I would think half of all the stories Mary addresses are inspired by the modern pathology of the Solipist/Nihilist Liberal/Left in their mission to destroy childhood, community, marriage and family.

PS Jan 23 – global ‘Defeat the Mandates Day’ https://defeatthemandatesdc.com/

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
8 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The Mainstream Right have made a pretty good job of destroying Marriage and the Family.

Of which Capitalism is the most effective enemy.

After all, if you want to get things done, you call the Right.

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

Oh give over with this nonsense. It’s obvious where birth control is needed and it has nothing to do with eugenics.
Nigeria has the largest population in Africa: currently around 214 million.  The United Nations project that the overall population of Nigeria will reach about 401 million by the end of the year 2050. By 2100, if current figures continue, the population of Nigeria will be over 728 million.
By contrast, the population of European countries is projected to shrink significantly: by between 10 and 25 percent by 2050, depending on the country.

Last edited 8 months ago by William Shaw
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
8 months ago

The Priests of Cybele were quite keen on auto-castration, normally performed on the 24th. March.
Perhaps we could make it mandatory for the contemporary clergy? It would certainly solve the current “ botty bandit”
nonsense.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
8 months ago

Or — at least in the Catholic Church — Rome could start upholding the rules laid down in its own catechism and decline ordination for men of…ahem…a certain disposition.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
8 months ago

But as Andrew D has kindly pointed out below that would be impossible.

Andrew D
Andrew D
8 months ago

Curiously enough, the Council of Nicaea (AD 325) specifically forbade priests from becoming eunuchs – I don’t know if this policy still applies. The idea being that temptation is something to be overcome, not sidestepped.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

How interesting. In retrospect the Council of Nicaea was obviously in error.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

It does. And those already eunuchs can only very rarely be ordained.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
8 months ago

Excellent (and subtle) analysis by Mary as usual, tying in various ideas from related disciplines (eugenics, pro-abortion, racism against Africans having families etc). Regarding over population, I remember Thomas Sowell (in Vision of the Anointed I think) performing an analysis that all 6 Billion (at that time) people, in small single family houses could fit into the State of Texas – maybe now with8 billion it would spill over into Oklahoma, but you get the idea.

Health Care, sanitation etc are better in populated areas, and their are other benefits of size as well. And now America is moaning its fore-bemoaned moan about falling population rates etc. Mass castration seems to be the only solution to a state that wants to stop life in its tracks – clearly the only Final Solution 🙂

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
8 months ago

Population will soon be in decline anyway – https://youtu.be/VIANLddo-ec?t=3890

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
8 months ago

It’s not, actually, because the sort of people who will go along with it are not the people who shouldn’t be breeding. It, along with the more radical self-gelding of the ‘trans’ nonsense, will skew the population even more in favour of the stupid and unproductive. That is the last thing we need.

Veronica Lowe
Veronica Lowe
8 months ago

The vasectomy lobby are going to look awfully outdated when the world wakes up to population collapse. Already, it won’t be long before Brits with British ancestry are an endangered species, because they refuse to reproduce sufficiently to replace themselves.

Last edited 8 months ago by Veronica Lowe
Roger Jones
Roger Jones
8 months ago

Clickbait.
Vasectomy /= gelding, population control /= eugenics.

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

Without a doubt, a vasectomy is an excellent lifestyle choice for any young man today.
He frees himself from the financial burden of providing for children and eliminates any possibility of a woman using pregnancy to ensnare him in marriage. Dating becomes risk and worry free. Child support is completely eliminated.
Who wouldn’t want that peace of mind.