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The Man with 1000 Kids review – yet more proof that we should raze human civilisation to the ground
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The Man with 1000 Kids review – yet more proof that we should raze human civilisation to the ground

Another week, another entrant in Netflix’s unofficially but accurately titled (by me) category of shows “Why Don’t We Just Raze Human Civilisation to the Ground and Start Again, or Hand It Over to the Monkeys and See If They Can Manage Any Better?”

It is more commonly known as the true crime genre, but sometimes that doesn’t capture the headshaking despair as a new and hitherto-unsuspected seam of depravity, psychoses or malevolence is mined and the results laid before us. Abducted in Plain Sight, say – the story of a paedophile who befriended a married couple for years and effectively kidnapped their daughter twice with all but their blessing. Or Girl in the Picture, whose twists and turns into utterly unbelievable yet all-too-real territory had you contemplating spending the rest of your life as a hermit or vigilante. Or any of the Jeffrey Epstein stuff. Or – well, you get the gist.

Now we have another: The Man With 1000 Kids. Think of it as a companion piece to the streamer’s Our Father documentary, about a fertility doctor who spent 30 years secretly impregnating patients with his sperm rather than the donor or spousal sample agreed. This time we follow the story of multiple ejaculator Jonathan Meijer, a Dutch man who appears to have travelled all over the world donating his sperm to as many clinics in as many countries as he could. Not to mention also finding time to make uncountable donations to women who preferred to source their sperm privately and avoid sperm banks’ rules about donor anonymity and veto the gamete provider’s contact with any offspring until the child is 16 or 18, depending on national regulations.

It is clear from the lack of any way of enforcing the already weak rules barring donors from providing too much material that men, should they choose to, can exploit this non-system almost endlessly.

We meet just a handful of the women he impregnated (occasionally through “natural donation” – sex – if the woman was single, though getting his end away does not seem to have been Meijer’s main motivation). Gay couple Suzanne and Natalie met him as a private donor, were impressed with his good looks, health and intelligence – especially after their weird encounter with the first donor they met, an unsettling bald, scarred man who seemed nothing like the “sympathetic, kind” profile he put up on the website they used. Meijer told them he was planning to donate to up to five families and was happy for them to be one. Suzanne and Natalie now have two children by him.

Kate (left) and Laura, who were caught up in Jonathan Meijer’s scamView image in fullscreen

He used the five-families-only line a lot. When suspicions were finally roused, recipients started to unite on a Facebook group. They mapped his travels via his YouTube videos and matched them with donor lists on nearby sperm banks. It gradually became clear that this was not the altruistic hippyish young man they had met but someone fixated on fathering as many children as he could, regardless of the risks of consanguinity and potential unwitting incest it holds. From what they could glean, he could easily have produced 3,000 children so far. From the personal experience of Nicolette, who within her own circle of friends and friends of friends realised that six had used Meijer’s sperm to have their children, the potential scale and risks of his operations were horrendous. He refused their entreaties to stop jeopardising their/his children’s futures, so they turned to the law.

The documentary tracks the women’s stories from the initial joy of the pregnancies to the unravelling of the horror, the rallying of victims and the eventual court case they bring that rules against Meijer making any more donations, on pain of a €100,000 fine for each one. This is supposedly the first case that has ever curbed male bodily autonomy in this, or possibly any, way.

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There are no solid conclusions about his motivations. One woman suggests attention-seeking after being a child overlooked in a large family, which you feel is very generous of her. Some of the women suggest addiction to the power and a growing God complex; others proffer simple narcissism and male entitlement writ large as the main drivers. Certainly his vicious response when they try to get answers from him suggests that these swam not far below the charming surface. There is no hope that Netflix or any other streamer will ever run out of content.

Source: theguardian.com