This week The Eye (weekly magazine of the Columbia Spectator) investigates the eerily eugenics-y world of Ivy League egg donation via pseudonymic sorority girl Alex Greenbaum:
How has she been feeling since her egg-removal surgery in September? She takes a long gulp from her Ethos water bottle and pauses for a few seconds. “You know, I felt like shit for days,” she finally says. “But they were able to extract 10 eggs from me… my check just cleared, so that’s $9,000 I can put to post-graduation travel and apartment-hunting.”
Alex’s financial woes stem from her lack of a “viable major” (fertility jargon infecting every area of her life, apparently) and “My parents said they won’t pay for my BlackBerry [after graduation].” Kind of makes you miss the good old days, when impoverished lady students just plain whored themselves for extra cash, right? Like high-end prostitution, high-end egg donation requires a certain nubile je ne sais— oh, who are we kidding. We know exactly which quoi they want, and it’s the same Barbie doll nonsense as everywhere else. In Alex’s words:
“If I was short, overweight, or a minority, I’m sure I wouldn’t have found immediate success or made that much money to start. I made more money than what’s typical because I was deemed an ‘ideal type’ by the agency.”
As the article continues, the only thing creepier than the $500K payday “for an Ivy League donor who was taller than 5 feet 10 inches and scored at least a 1400 on her SATs” is author Sadia Latifi’s rhapsodic description of Greenbaum’s statuesque Aryan glory. (Despite “50-percent Jewy-ness” — a minority who doesn’t resemble a minority! Jackpot!)
Alex Greenbaum is beautiful. She’s a 5-foot 10-inch, blue-eyed blonde with raised cheekbones and a lean, athletic body. When she arrives 10 minutes late to our second Starbucks interview, she apologizes profusely, pushing long strands of hair away from her face into a ponytail. I’m struck by her sense of style (which she describes as “sorority hipster”).
Latifi interviews Barnard president Deborah Spar for stock quotes about female autonomy, the wonders of modern technology, and the massive psychosexual guilt complex Alex may be hurting towards:
Though Spar says that every woman is an individual who can make her own decision, she does offer some advice for any Barnard or Columbia women who are contemplating the procedure.
“Do your homework,” she starts. “Think hard. It’s a very tempting way to make a lot of money very quickly, but it demands more than a cost-benefit calculation. I don’t think young women think long and hard about the emotional risks. Try to imagine not how you feel at 19, but how you’re going to feel at 29.”
When I relayed the message to Alex, she shrugged.
If Alex’s donors gets lucky, this girl’s DNA will soon be populating the greater New York region. I’d complain, but there’s a decent chance that I will some day be one of those elitist old ladies with withered ovaries and thwarted maternal instincts, my procreational fates forever tied to the Alex Greenbaums of the world, so who am I to judge? Shrug/shudder