In days of yore, when men were men and women were women and the Byzantine Empire was still a thing, it was a truth universally acknowledged that a single viking in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife—so he’d sail off with a raiding party to find one. Husbands, fathers, and other disagreeable persons were either slain or captured and sold off as slaves.
This is just one of the many ways the Danes kept their gene pool fresh.
The centuries rolled along and people began to frown upon kidnapping as a courtship ritual, so the Danes sent their young people abroad to lure fresh blood back to Denmark with nothing more violent than a certain physical allure.
I myself am a victim of this more civilized modern ploy: I was enticed into following a gorgeous young woman to her frigid northern homeland on the false pretense that it was merely to be a one-year visit. That was in 2003. In the twenty years since, I’ve met many men and women from all around the world lured to Denmark in much the same way. We’re treated decently enough, but functionally we’re no different than the women dragged kicking and screaming across the whale roads a thousand years ago: we’re just ensuring the Danish gene pool doesn’t turn in on itself and breed monsters.
It is therefore probably no accident that Denmark has become one of the world’s largest exporters of sperm.
According to a report from Copenhagen Economics, the Danish “fertility cluster” had a turnover of one billion Danish kroner in 2012, while the value of the exported goods was estimated at 700 million kroner in the same year.
A number of Dutch fertility clinics report that more than 60 percent of their treatments are carried out with sperm from a Danish company.
In neighboring Belgium, six out of ten donor children have Danish biological fathers.
And a third of all the sperm imported to Great Britain is of Danish origin.
I was gonna make a joke about those stats being hard to swallow.
Or about Denmark coming to the rescue of countries with fertility problems.
Or the irony of women in nations once routinely raided by Danes now paying Danish men to come for them.
This remarkable and little-discussed Danish export came to my attention courtesy of an article in today’s Berlingske:
Women around the world want Danish children. So they’re “plundering” clinics for “Viking sperm”
Nina Schaumann, Berlingske.dk, 30 May
The author of the piece wonders aloud why all those women want Danish spunk. (Tastes great? Less filling?)
But why has Denmark gained such a foothold when it comes to sperm donation?
Is it our reputation for beauty, where blue eyes, blonde hair and a tall figure conform to Eurocentric ideals of beauty? Is it the Vikings’ reputation as strong and steadfast that makes us admired and sought after?
Sounds plausible (even if it’s weird that she describes Europeans’ beauty ideals as “Eurocentric”).
Much can be traced back to Denmark’s long-standing tradition of fertility treatment. In 2006, it became possible for single and lesbian women to be inseminated with donor sperm. It is currently allowed in a dozen EU countries.
According to Annemette Arndal-Lauritzen, managing director of the European Sperm Bank, it not only opened up the conversation about sperm donation, but also set in motion a wave of newborn Danish donor children.
“Today, more than one percent of all children born in Denmark are born with donor sperm. This is the highest percentage in all European countries. The fact that so many children in Denmark have been born as a result of donation removed the taboo in our country,” she told Euronews.
Schaumann’s theory is only looking at the supply side of the equation, but the question has to do with demand. British, Dutch, and Belgian women aren’t hungry for Danish sperm (sorry) simply because there’s Danish sperm to be had. That’s like saying “Americans bought a lot of Japanese cars in the 80s because post-war Japanese industrial policy had produced a lot of cars.” It misses the point.
Schaumann seems to understand as much, because she ends the article in a way that belies her supply-side theory.
Although Danes have the option of donating anonymously, many choose to have a so-called “extended profile.” Here, as a buyer, you can access sound files, images, and detailed descriptions of the donor’s personality and interests.
This is very different from most other countries, where only the physical characteristics are described.
And it was precisely the opportunity to gain greater insight into who the Danish donors are that was decisive for Amanda Tinker’s decision.
“I wanted to get a real feel for the person. In the end, what made the difference was the personal audio recording where the donor introduced himself. It’s nice because now we have a clip of his voice,” she says.
Ah, yes. The voice that launched a thousand seeds.
Actually, I just looked it up: more likely, our lad’s voice launched 300 million seeds.
Take that, Helen. . .