For Whom Does the Clock Tick?: Male Repro-Temporality in Fertility Campaigns, Scientific Literature, and Commercial Accounts

Charlotte Kroløkke


Sperm swimming in circles or a lone sperm cell with two heads: male reproductive aging is increasingly equated with poor sperm quality, the prevalence of offspring learning disabilities even schizophrenia. To discuss the construction of a male biological clock, this article asks: how does the biological clock intervene in men’s reproductive bodies. And secondly: how is male repro-temporality visually and rhetorically invoked in fertility campaigns, in medical scientific accounts and in the marketing material of one elective sperm-freezing company? Situated within an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, the article draws upon biomedicalization theory (e.g. Clarke et al. 2003), reproductive masculinity studies (e.g. Daniels 2006; Almeling and Waggoner 2013), and social scientific theorizing of time and temporality (e.g. Amir 2006; van de Wiel 2014a; 2014b) to discuss the emergence of male repro-temporality. This article contributes to the interdisciplinary scholarly agenda on time and temporality by theorizing the emergence of a male biological clock as a type of repro-temporality that, in its discursive and aesthetic framing, portrays male reproductive aging as involving loss and disability. The article concludes that while the biological clock derives its temporal force from the logic of decay, it simultaneously cements heteronormative ideals of the nuclear family, re-naturalizes the genetic unit, and situates men as proactive and modern in their anticipation of future infertility.


biological clock; sperm; men; reproduction; elective sperm freezing; fertility campaigns; scientific accounts

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