Women are freezing their eggs for feminism

Summary: A new study by a prestigious global team explains what might become one of the major social science phenomena of the century — the rising number of women unable to marry. Their explanation is politically correct but a gross violation of basic social science methods. The actual answer goes to the heart of our changing society.

Biological Clock


“Women graduates ‘desperately’ freeze eggs over ‘lack of men’. …Yale University researchers suggested an “oversupply” of graduate women left them struggling to find a partner and “desperate” to preserve fertility.”
— From the BBC.

This story went viral at warp speed. The Telegraph. The Guardian. The NYT. Broadly Vice. Medical Daily. All almost identical. All with the same oddity.

Here’s the study. The authors come from prestigious universities (e.g., Stanford, Yale). They include practitioners and academics from a wide range of fields (nursing, anthropology, and medicine). The study is well designed and executed. Can you identify the logical error? It is easy to find. The error reveals much about modern feminism and shows why the social sciences have a replication crisis.

“Gender and educational disparities underlying elective egg freezing:
results from the first major qualitative study of oocyte cryopreservation
in the United States and Israel.”

By M. Inhorn, D. Birenbaum-Carmeli, L. Westphal, J. Doyle, N. Gleicher, M. Dirnfeld, D. Seidman, A. Kahane, D. Meirow, P. Patrizio.
Presented to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
July 2017. Abstract from the program book.

Study question: Why are educated professional women in the United States and Israel increasingly turning to oocyte cryopreservation as a way to preserve their fertility?

Summary answer: Highly educated professional women undergo oocyte cryopreservation for lack of partners to marry, not for educational or career ambitions, as media reports suggest.

What is known already.

In the United States and Israel, so-called “social” (elective) egg freezing is increasingly being adopted by professional women as a means of fertility preservation. Extensive media coverage suggests that educational and career ambitions are the main determinants of professional women’s fertility postponement, especially as they “lean in” to their careers. But is this true? To date, no major qualitative study of women’s egg freezing experiences has been undertaken to assess whether women are using egg freezing to postpone their fertility in pursuit of their professions, or whether other factors in women’s lives are more important in egg freezing decisions.

Study design, size, and duration.

This study is the first binational, qualitative comparison of women’s egg freezing decisions and experiences. It was undertaken from June 2014 to August 2016 in the United States and Israel, and involved in-depth interviews conducted by senior medical anthropologists in both countries. An identical interview guide was used in both countries, but translated into Hebrew in Israel.

Participants, materials, setting, methods.

In-depth, ethnographic interviews were conducted with 150 women who had undertaken elective egg freezing in the United States (114) and Israel (36). Women were recruited from a total of 8 IVF clinics (4 in each country; 3 academic, 5 private), located in several major American and Israeli cities (e.g., New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Haifa, and Tel Aviv).

Main results and the role of chance.

In both the US and Israel, women freezing their eggs for elective reasons were highly educated professionals (>80% with graduate degrees) in their late 30 s/early 40 s. Most of these women (>90%) were not intentionally “postponing” their fertility because of education or careers. Rather, they were desperately “preserving” their fertility beyond the natural end of their reproductive lives, because they were single without partners to marry. In most cases, these women were unable to find educated men willing to commit to family life — the reflection of a growing, but little-discussed gender trend, with women increasingly outnumbering male college graduates in both countries.

Because of this dearth of educated men to marry, women resorted to egg freezing as a technological concession to the “man deficit.” However, egg freezing was not seen by most women as a “revolutionary” technology — one that creates new gender norms or family formations (e.g., single motherhood “by choice”). Rather, almost all of the women in this study who employed egg freezing were heterosexual and wanted to become married mothers. Women lamented the “missing men” in their lives, viewing egg freezing as a way to buy time while on the continuing (online) search for a committed partner.

Limitations, reasons for caution.

Participation in this study was voluntary, sampling was not random, and the response rate was unquantifiable. Still, the study sample was heterogeneous in terms of ethnicity and religion, particularly in the US, where egg freezing does not appear to be limited to professional white women, as media reports would suggest.

Wider implications of the findings.

Increasing numbers of highly educated professional women around the world are single. They may turn to egg freezing to preserve their fertility in the absence of male partners to marry. Egg freezing is thus a technological “fix” to a growing problem of “leftover” educated women and “missing” educated men.


The obvious flaw

They talk to 150 women who froze their eggs. They conclude that “In most cases, these women were unable to find educated men willing to commit to family life.” The stories about this study feature quotes like this by Professor Geeta Nargund (Medical Director of U.K. clinic Create Fertility): “Women tell us frequently that they are freezing their eggs because the men they meet feel threatened by their success and so unwilling to commit to starting a family together.”

The lead author is Professor Marcia Inhorn, Professor of Anthropology at Yale University and former President of the Society for Medical Anthropology. Her comment goes to the heart of their analysis.

“These are highly educated, very successful women and one after another they were saying they couldn’t find a partner. How could it be that all these amazing, attractive intelligent women were lamenting about their ability to find a partner?”

They do not interview the men these women dated, and in many cases lived with. Did they consider these women to be “amazing, attractive, and intelligent”? What kind of social scientists accept people’s subjective statements about their lives to be true without verification? How did this shoddy work get through peer-review? The study provides zero evidence explaining why these women have not married. A more accurate statement of the study’s conclusion is (red emphasis added)…

“In most cases, these women were unable to find educated men willing to commit to family life with them.”

Love revolution

What has changed from previous generations?

The women in the study blamed men for their condition. The study made no effort to verify their statements. Were these men married before meeting these women? Did some or most of those men marry other women after moving on from the study’s sample women?

It’s an especially salient question since women having their eggs frozen are an unusual group of women. Were there factors in these women’s psychology, appearance, or behavior that might account for their inability to find “educated men willing to commit to family life” with them?

Perhaps men have been liberated from the gender role of husbands. The authors share the perspective seen in countless women’s articles. Such as “Peter Pan Syndrome: A Man’s Fear of Commitment” at the Self-Love-Beauty website.  Feminism has opened new vistas for women’s live. But marriage and family remain the sign of men’s maturity. These women see themselves as prizes. Refusal of men to marry them must mean that the men are defective — or men worthy of them in short supply.

None of these questions appear to have occurred to the investigators. I can’t image why. It’s not gender bias; seven of the ten authors are men (Marcia. Daphna, Lynn Marie, Joseph, Norbert, Martha, Daniel, Arik, Dror, Pasquale).

Peter Pan syndrome

An unmentionable future, too scary to contemplate

Might the hidden assumption supporting modern women’s lives be wrong? A thousand and one sages advise women to have fun and delay marriage. Because boys will be eager to put rings on their fingers when they are ready.

But there have been warnings that society is changing, such as this Pew Research report from 2014.

“According to Pew Research projections based on census data, when today’s young adults reach their mid-40s to mid-50s, a record high share (25%) is likely to have never been married.”

What if they are much too optimistic? Probably there will be an increase in the number of women who choose not marry. It would be revolutionary possibility is there is a large increase in the number of men unwilling “to commit to family life.” I have written about the reasons this might happen (see the next section). Most commenters are incredulous. My favorite is by Lisa, whose feminist rant boils down to Men must marry the available women, under the terms women offer. Tens of millions of women have bet big that she is right.

Since Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in 1831, the family has been considered the foundation of American society. A collapse in marriage rates would torque American society as it has seldom been torqued.

A core belief of modern feminism is that women can say “no”. The next generation might be radically reshaped by the discovery that men also can say “no”.

For More Information

For more about the authors’ theory see the US Census data compiled by Jon Birger in Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game. For another set of numbers: freezing your eggs costs costs $10+ thousand plus $800/yr.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about romance, about women and gender, about feminism, and especially these…

  1. Do we want to bring back traditional marriage? What is traditional marriage?
  2. A brief guide to the new war of the sexes. Both sides are 100% right.
  3. Why men are avoiding work and marriage.
  4. Will young men break America’s family structure?
  5. Will today’s young men marry? America’s future depends which of these answers is right.
  6. Movies show the hidden truth about romance & marriage: they’re dying.
  7. For Father’s Day: revolutionary words that will forever change the American family.

Useful books about marriage.

Men and Marriage
Available at Amazon.
Marriage Matters: Perspectives on the Private and Public Importance of Marriage (2012).
Available at Amazon.

22 thoughts on “Women are freezing their eggs for feminism”

  1. I think this plays back to an earlier post of yours on “disturbing next steps in the gender revolution”.

    In the UK at least, there’s a definite trend toward more women taking university degrees than men.

    If the trend is allowed to continue women *will* find it harder to find a man with an equivalent education and employment prospects. They may also find it harder to get a man to stick around when the first child arrives…

    1. Steve,

      Yes, women’s hypergamy will make marriage more difficult as they dominate the ranks of college graduates — and eventually the upper ranks of the world outside (that this is not expected demonstrates our unwillingness to see the world).

      But the point here is that this study does not provide the slightest evidence that the shift in college degrees by gender has any effect on these women. Zero evidence. It shows that women give that as an excuse, which is a very different thing.

  2. I’m hoping it’s just the ugly ones, but doubtful. I don’t know what else to say about this insanity.

    1. As ever, I’m reminded of this Phillip Larkin poem:

      They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
      They may not mean to, but they do.
      They fill you with the faults they had
      And add some extra, just for you.

      But they were fucked up in their turn
      By fools in old-style hats and coats,
      Who half the time were soppy-stern
      And half at one another’s throats.

      Man hands on misery to man.
      It deepens like a coastal shelf.
      Get out as early as you can,
      And don’t have any kids yourself.

  3. But…but…I am Peter Pan and I do VERY MUCH want to remain in perpetual adolescence. Who wouldn’t? What’s the real problem here? Everyone said the world was over-populated and that we were all going to starve to death if we didn’t stop reproducing, right? I though the flames of Hades were upon us with global warming? Didn’t they say marriage was oppressive to women and ‘muh patriarchy’, too? What about man-spreading and man-splaining? Am not married, no kids and I couldn’t be happier. DO NOT want either. I fritter away my free time doing exactly what I want whenever I feel like it. It’s absolute heaven. It’s posh, easy liv’n. I’m lov’n life. Live and let live.

    “Once upon a time, a prince proposed to a princess. The princess refused and the prince lived happily ever after. The end.”

    Resist! PEACE!

    1. I know, right. I should be on the cover of Time Magazine. Frankly, I’m one heck of an interesting individual, if I do say so myself.

      “Man admits to being perpetual adolescent and idolizes…wait for it…Peter Pan! What’s more – he agrees that women should be free of the bonds of matrimony and the chains of the evil, misogynistic, toxicly masculinist patriarchy! Says he’s loving the sexual revolution and women’s rights and is willing to give women real equality! He claims that guys just wanna have fun! Thinks women should fight on the battlefield to give men a long vacation from dying for women’s advancement! It’s a man child-revolution unfurling right before our very eyes! He says that men are devolving into unprecedented levels of freedom, personal sovereignty and happiness – despite not having a woman to order about and make men a sammich! Who knew!? I guess women WILL have it all – whether they like it or not!”

      God I love gender politics. So existentially stimulating. People should really be careful what they ask for…cause you know…

  4. For a long time I worked with female colleague who was in her late 20s when I met her. She was a serial dater of married men who used to make profound statements like, “all men are pigs,” after a number of those relationships blew up in her face. Sure enough, eventually she got frustrated and on her own adopted a small child from Eastern Europe, which I would have commended her for but not for her unpleasant personality (her nickname around the office was, “The Ice Princess”). To this day (we’re both now in our 50s) she remains unmarried.

    I’m just glad I found a life partner back in the days before social media and smart phones. Just walking around, most women under 50 won’t even make eye contact anymore. If they aren’t staring at their stupid phones and texting away, they give off a air of hostility like they’ll bite your head off if you so much as say, “good morning.”

  5. Well, cats or small dogs as child substitute is an obvious trend here in NYC.
    Oddly enough, these animals are showered with attention by their doting owners, whereas real children are talked to as if they were inanimate or retarded.
    How social happiness is expected to result from this is beyond me.
    More broadly, the search for perfection seems a thin disguise for total selfishness. If people, whether men or women, are unwilling to give enough of themselves to accommodate a lifelong partner, they will stay single. Hopefully, they will always be as happy as Tim, although history suggests otherwise.
    Meanwhile, a likely investment implication is that in vitro fertilization is likely to get serious government support….

  6. Fellow Traveler

    There are plenty of educated 20-something men in those cities, so it’s not for a lack of availability and that will not really change.

    Where it will change is in the more rural areas and smaller metros where the graduation gender ratio result leaves Bobby with limited low-end or blue collar choices while Buffy goes and interns in the big city. The folks in the country keep thinking the kids will come back but over the last 20 years I don’t see that. Everyone urban and rural is complaining about having jobs and no one skilled to fill them (or no one who will work for minimum wage).

    Necessity is the mother of invention, so what is needed is a modernized, urban polygamist faith.

    1. Fellow,

      That’s an important point! Rural and small town America are dying fast. For good reason. In 15 years of Scouts I traveled to many small towns in the West. Other than jobs in California’s massive prison system, the jobs are mostly some combination of seasonal, no benefits, minimum-wage, part-time — and often all four. Towns have a few families that rule like royalty, a tiny middle class, and a population of peons.

      Young people with talent go to college and never return.

      “a modernized, urban polygamist faith.”

      We already have polygamy-lite: serial polygamy for the upper 20%. Many relationships, marriage, divorce, more relationships, remarriage. It’s almost a sacrament, beyond criticism.

      The next step is perhaps inevitable: polygyny, where women unwilling to settle for betas share an alpha. It’s a commonplace in history. It can happen here. It will be denounced as evil, then bad, then a social faux pas, then unusual, then accepted, then commended.

  7. It’s a tricky subject. I’d try to see if there is a way not to reduce gender relations to a purely confrontational “game” (as in game theory) where people are trying to get the best of each other. But I concede that you can learn some things from that kind of approach.

    So here’s a possibility: Aside from their higher social status or wealth, the women in the study have the conventional desire receiving love and respect and support etc etc etc from a man who is above them in wealth or social status. (Whereas high status men have no problem at all marrying a “regular” woman). Thus the complaint of the women in the study, of fewer potential mates, is just a matter of arithmetic, since they’re looking up the pyramid from a higher vantage point, and see less material in that direction.

    Contrast that to the scenario that I think may be the fear of some people who are critical of the “experiment” career focused women are doing. If career focused women were looking for men to exercise power over, that would get easier as a result with increasing wealth and social status. This study does not support that particular fear, I think.

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