In order to avoid the implication that 'mitochondrial replacement techniques' (MRT) would produce 'three parent babies', discourses around these techniques typically dismiss the contribution of the mitochondria to genetic parenthood and personal identity. According to many participants in debates about MRT, 'real parenthood' is a matter of contributing nuclear DNA, which in turn implies that men and women make the same contribution to the embryo. Even when the importance of the mitochondria is acknowledged, an emphasis on mitochondrial DNA still has the effect of valorizing the role of DNA (and thus the paternal contribution to conception) at the expense of the role played by the cytoplasm of the oocyte in the development of the embryo and placenta, and that of the mother's body in gestation. In this way, discourses around MRT falsely imply that what men and women contribute to reproduction and parenthood is the same-nuclear DNA-and thus erase the distinctive contribution that women make to conception. The potential of MRT to reconfigure relationships between the sexes in the service of patriarchal norms is perhaps one of the most significant things about it and should, we argue, be counted in the discussion of the ethical and policy implications of legitimating these procedures. © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.