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post #1911 of 2029 Old 05-31-2019, 01:56 PM
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Abortion in Spain is a total taboo topic. But, of course, with Catholicism being the official religion, which is taught in public schools (albeit not mandatory) from pre-school up through high school, and even offered in college, it is no surprise that women do not discuss abortion openly. In fact, I don't know of anyone here who has had one.

However, with the newly formed waaaaay right-wing VOX party, concerns about abortion rights are back on the table. While there has been no talk of stricter control like the new fetal heartbeat laws in the US, changes might come about in abortions performed in government-owned national healthcare system facilities. Of course, this would mostly affect the poorest women. Like always.

As for the ethical side of abortions, working in medicine wakes you up to a lot of things. When death is a daily occurrence in your work, you become more pragmatic. And, as I do a lot of work in organ transplantation (meanwhile I have a niece who will most likely require a double-organ transplant in her twenties), you start questioning the ethics of organ transplants going to patients whose conditions are a direct result of their abusing toxic substances. This is not to say that abortion is a similar circumstance, but there are other practices in modern medicine that many would not consider ethical if they were fully understood by the general public, so I tend to have a hardened shell.

I do not believe that abortion is a black or white issue. There are too many grey areas, too many personal extenuating circumstances, for it to be. I consider myself a feminist, and I respect a woman's right to choose, while being offending by some men's perceived right to decide. Their right to decide ended the moment they chose not to put on the condom. Because, let's face it, men cause unwanted pregnancies, not women. And yet, I am a mother, and I find all life precious, especially after saving my 2-month baby's life during a SIDS episode. Once you start mentally planning for your own child's funeral, I don't think you can ever look at the right-to-life debate in the same way again.

Thus, I am truly thankful that abortion is a decision I have never been faced with.

In skirting around the grey areas, my rational brain finds a hard time agreeing with many facets of the newly-imposed fetal heartbeat laws, for example in cases of rape, incest, very young minors, health risks and non-viable fetuses. The youngest mother on record was a Peruvian girl of just 5 years of age; and, not long ago (2 or 3 years?) a 9-year-old girl was denied an abortion in Argentina. I will not even address these abhorrences, yet we must be realistic about abortion data. Another aspect of these laws that is difficult to digest is the logistics of the heartbeat law. If a woman has irregular periods and becomes pregnant, she’s not going to figure it out on day 29. I did not realize that I was pregnant with my first son until I was one-ish week “late”, and by the time I was given an appointment with my gynecologist some days later, I was already 5+ weeks pregnant. So that would have given me less than a week (5 business days) to become informed, make a decision, schedule an abortion and have the procedure. And that is without considering holidays, vacations, my gynecologist’s schedule, etc. So if, as a self-aware, intelligent woman at the age of 30, I would have had only a few days to make a potential decision, you can be sure that there is NO WAY an inexperienced minor or young rape/incest victim is going to figure out that they’re pregnant, approach a parent or trustworthy adult and seek medical help before the 6-week cutoff. Impossible.

@SueC , thank you for providing a safe place for us to express our opinions.
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post #1912 of 2029 Old 05-31-2019, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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@Spanish Rider , you're most welcome, I aim for that to be the case, but it takes everyone interacting here to make that a reality, so thank you very much everybody, for your unfailing courtesy and respect, and for your willingness to share your points of view, and your ability to think in a friendly way of people who may have different views on touchy subjects to your own.

The heartbeat line, as a biologist, I see as emotive rather than rational. A heartbeat only means the embryo is now of a size that it requires a circulatory system to effectively distribute nutrients and oxygen, and to get rid of wastes - something that's handled by diffusion in the early stages. People tend to conflate the physical pump with our emotional ideas of what a heart is. A human embryo develops a circulatory system a very long time before it has anything like a personality, or a substantial, rather than vague, consciousness. And a human embryo develops that circulatory system the same way any other mammalian embryo does, or chicken embryo, or reptile embryo, etc etc. Earthworms have closed circulatory systems too.

And yet, many humans have very little trouble routinely killing things that have not only a heartbeat, but also a personality, and a developed consciousness, and a social system, and friends - because we need to eat, and many of us actually require complete animal protein and heme-form iron in order not to get ill. The food chain is one of those realities of nature and of Earth's ecology, which on the one hand is sad and horrific, but on the other, has led to the shaping of our beautiful biosphere and to the development of many unique species - an explosion of diversity and life. Reading the book Deep Ecology - Living As If Nature Mattered helped me come to grips with this stuff when I was a university student, and flirting with being vegetarian. I now eat what I require in order to maintain good health, but am thankful for the lives that went, and still go, into the continuation of my own life - animal, plant, fungi, protists, microbes - and I understand that one day it will be my turn to give up my own resources, and when I do, I hope they will widely benefit other living things. And while I am alive, I go out of my way to provide habitat for other forms of life, so that hopefully, I am nurturing more than I am destroying by dint of my existence.

I also no longer see death as the worst possible thing, but as a part of life we all must encounter, and not just at the ends of our own existences. We raise food animals on our farm here, with an emphasis on good quality of life while they are alive, and a determination that these animals will be able to express their natural behaviours, interact freely socially, have room to roam and interesting things to explore, and be treated with kindness and respect, and that when they come to die, it is done in as humane a manner as we can provide. And while this is still very sad, it's also generally less stressful than being torn apart by a pack of wolves, and the death by predation will continue to go on as long as there are carnivores and omnivores around, no matter what we humans choose to do, and indeed has to go on in order for the biosphere to be healthy and diverse. (Indigenous people generally have a deep understanding of this.) When our food animals here die, they will all have had a good life worth living, albeit a relatively short one - but then, in nature, most lives are very short. Most of us are just too disconnected from nature to see that - with the privileged and artificially lengthened life span of human beings, and their pets.

When you see things in the context of wider nature, it's a very different perspective to the mainstream perspective that privileges humans and their existences, and sees our species as "above" others and somehow separate from the rest of the biosphere. It's that kind of thinking that has gotten our whole planet into dire trouble, and will backfire even on us (having already backfired on many other species and caused a lot of extinction) unless we change our ways.

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post #1913 of 2029 Old 05-31-2019, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by knightrider View Post
@SueC , I would love to talk about Borrowed Light. First, a discussion about nerds. Clearly my definition of a nerd and your definition are quite different.

I think of nerds as people who are not socially skilled and also lack empathy. They are not aware . . . or not thinking about how other people might feel. This is clearly NOT you . . . or your husband, so I would not classify you as nerds.

Nerds are not arrogant or selfish. They are just . . . clueless. They don't seem to have a good filter on human interaction. So, basically, they are not fun to be around because they are not tuned into other people's needs or wants.
The definition of nerd seems to have changed significantly over the years - I notice that the definition in my 35-year-old Macquarie Dictionary simply has "a foolish person - an idiot" under that entry, even though this dictionary was contemporary with my schooldays. When Brett and I were teenagers in the 80s, a nerd was someone who got top marks in class, was interested in studying, had esoteric interests, tended to go deeper into interests general to everybody than the average person, tended to have science and / or technology proclivities, tended to have large vocabularies and spend a lot of time with their noses happily in books, and tended not to care about fashion or celebrity gossip. Therefore, Brett and I were both considered nerds, and had that epithet applied to us many times. We learnt to wear it proudly.

A contemporary definition from Wikipedia:

A nerd is a person seen as overly intellectual, obsessive, introverted or lacking social skills. Such a person may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, little known, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical, abstract, or relating to topics of science fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities. Additionally, many so-called nerds are described as being shy, quirky, pedantic, and unattractive.

Originally derogatory, the term "nerd" was a stereotype, but as with other pejoratives, it has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity.

From the Urban Dictionary:

An individual who:
1. Enjoys learning
2. Does not adhere to social norms

So Brett, I, Callisto from Borrowed Light, Hermione from Harry Potter etc would all be classed as nerds under contemporary definitions of that word. By the way, the perception of lacking social skills is often just that. Some of us don't find some of the stuff classed as such important, but do fine where it matters.

Also straight from the front page of Google:

Acting Like a Nerd

Lose yourself in your passion. ...
Don't be afraid to go beyond the ordinary. ...
Be polite. ...
Always be learning. ...
Use the right words. ...
Read voraciously. ...
Pay attention in school. ...
Channel any anger or disappointment you may have into your passions.

Here's an excellent link:

...when I was teaching, I made "nerd" a compliment in the classroom, and a lot of my students found they enjoyed being nerdy, and having a nerdy teacher!

Have you noticed how the word "gay" has gone through several transformations in main meaning in the space of one lifetime? It used to mean "merry" - then it became "same-sex attracted" - and then it even started meaning "naff / stupid", as in, "Oh, that's so gay, Miss!"

...lots of parents don't listen to their children. Caroline was sort of unbelievable because she was so incompetent as a mother.
Yet Caroline makes my own mother look like an angel - and many people's mothers, in the real world. Caroline at least attempted to have important conversations with them, and she didn't go around beating either of her kids black and blue, or verbally abusing them, or speaking badly of any of her children to anyone who would listen and refusing to see the good in them, or rejecting their presents and offerings, or turning one into a scapegoat and the other into a golden child, or making herself into a martyr for tolerating either of her children in her home, and for feeding them and providing shelter and clothing.

The domestic violence rate around our district, according to a friend who works in social services, is probably significantly above 20% of households. The emotional neglect rate is higher. Caroline's parenting falls under the category of emotional neglect - and in her case, and in many cases of emotional neglect, it's due to her own hollowness from past unresolved trauma. She is a more "benign" example of dysfunctional parenting, but even this level of dysfunction can be very damaging to children.

It was hugely positive that at the end of the book, Caroline was self-reflecting and modifying her parenting.

Calisto's division of people into moons and stars was way too simple. I think just about everyone is a combination of moon and star. I know I certainly am. It is important to me to please people, but I have no problem with going my own way and doing my own thing and shining by myself. On the other hand, I think I wasn't strict enough with my children because I enjoyed making them happy and doing things for them. I know I was the peacemaker in my family growing up. I was the one who made people happy when the fighting and arguing and fussing started up.
Yeah, a lot of the categorisations used in psychology, and made up by people more generally, run into significant limitations because they are binary, and life generally isn't binary. Another example is introvert versus extrovert - I part-time at both, and don't fit neatly into either category. I love interacting with people, it energises me - but I also need a lot of quiet time for reflection, and don't feel at sea when I am on my own. For me, the introverted side improves my extroverted side, and vice versa.

A lot of the girls in my class found the moon / sun idea really interesting to contemplate. It's a great starting point to think - Where do I sit here? And why am I sitting here? And in class we become aware, with discussion and sharing, that sun and moon are extremes at the opposite end of a spectrum, and we can start to place ourselves at a rough spot in that spectrum (or be part-time at both), and compare that to where we might have been in the past, and where we might aspire to be in the future.

Philosophy often has the same problem you've raised here, @knightrider - much of it works by someone making a thesis, and then someone else reacting with the complete antithesis at the opposite end of the spectrum, and then they argue till they're blue in the face about who has it right. And yet, as one of my favourite sayings in philosophy goes, the truth is usually found neither in the thesis or in the antithesis, but in the synthesis that reconciles the two. And this is why discussing things with other people and sharing our different points of view can be so valuable.

In high school, I made no effort to get in with the "in" crowd. I didn't like them (as Calisto didn't) so I didn't want to do things with them. I had a set of very close friends and didn't need those popular kids or want them.
My experience here was identical in that respect to yours - as was Brett's.

How far along in the story did you figure out that Gany was a firstborn who died?
I first read this book nearly 20 years ago, so can't remember precisely, other than it took me a lot longer to figure that out than I felt it should have, in retrospect! But, I think it was deliberately written to keep us thinking, "Why the heck is she so concerned about her son that she's not even mentioning her daughter? It's like she doesn't ever exist, grrrr." And of course, it's because she actually didn't!

It's really excellent that the book is written with these traps in it, because most of us fall into them, and then we go, "Oops, how often do I do that in real life?"

The overall effect reading that book had on me, and on many of the girls I worked with, is that it made us more careful about leaping to conclusions and judging people - and made us aware that we're frequently doing both. It made us want to be careful and to think about the puzzle pieces we were probably missing.

Re the abortion, one of the reasons I was cleared to use this book with my Year 9 class, in Catholic school, as their major study novel, is that the overall effect of reading this book is to get students to contemplate the realities of unplanned pregnancies happening, and the why (which is often complex and psychological, rather than the simplistic way it's frequently portrayed), and the consequences of such scenarios, in a very serious way, so that the net effect is protective and so that the girls are more likely not to have an unplanned pregnancy, and not to enter into or stay in dysfunctional romantic relationships, and to get help with family issues that may be driving them into the arms of unsuitable people and relationships.

The Studies Coordinator was very aware I'm not Catholic and that I'm pro-choice, but also that a lot of Catholics are privately pro-choice and don't agree with the official line taken by the Vatican on contraception, and/or on abortion. Plus, she understood that what both sides of the debate had in common is a desire to avoid unplanned pregnancies in the first place - even if the Career Catholics are very unrealistic about how that might be achieved.

In addition, the unfolding paedophilia scandal from the side of the Career Catholics left them, quite rightly, without the unquestioned moral authority they like to claim for themselves. I've always found the actual Catholic congregation very different from the careerists who want to tell them what to do. And by the way, so were some of the priests and religious brothers and sisters I worked with - they rejected the upper echelons too, and worked in metaphorical sandals rather than on red carpet, and with a modicum of personal humility.

SueC is time travelling.

Last edited by SueC; 05-31-2019 at 07:56 PM.
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post #1914 of 2029 Old 05-31-2019, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Spanish Rider View Post
Because, let's face it, men cause unwanted pregnancies, not women.
Yes, this can be a tricky subject. I do like to hear perspectives, however.

Even the above does not cover all circumstances. There are those men who have been with irresponsible women who lie and say they are using birth control, so the pregnancy is not the man's fault. Or both parties think they are using adequate birth control that fails. That can't be blamed on a man just because he was half of the equation - both parties were involved. It also happens that both were high on drugs, so there was no responsible person involved at all, which is also not just the man's fault.

I'm not saying this as a theoretical, but as something that has happened to someone I know. A man may not only feel responsible at the moment a baby is born, but as soon as the woman is pregnant. Which means he may think about and decide to be responsible for the baby (in the case I know of, with assistance from family), but then it can be devastating that he has no say if she decides to have an abortion.

That is one area where I could imagine science in the future might have an effect. This sounds very sci-fi, but if babies could live outside of a woman's body from a very early age, then it wouldn't become an issue about carrying a pregnancy anymore, and then there might be a different perspective where the baby could be removed from the woman early, like an abortion, but custody given to another biologically interested party.

I also think reproductive rights are protected too much, in the cases of those who are on drugs and have baby after baby born affected by drugs and taken away to be in the system. At some point it seems it could be ethical to force birth control, require shots or sterilization. One of my co-workers has two kids she adopted, both were born to the same drug-addicted mother a year apart. She has other kids in the system too.

I agree that it is hypocritical to value human life and suffering above all other creatures, but see other animal lives as not valuable. The difference for me is that I think if we can't even value life that is as close to us as another human, then the other creatures have no hope. We have to start somewhere, and people tend to care most about what they understand more, what is closest to their experience. I don't see death as the worst possible thing either, but there is a lot to consider between life and death. How life is taken is important, as is who takes the life. How does that affect us all and the other creatures on the planet?

Many in my sphere think I have been ridiculous to spend time and effort taking care of orphaned rats or an injured opossum. Many have a bias against certain lives that they believe are less valuable than others. Murderers and serial killers very frequently start out by killing and torturing animals. The attitude we have about life and the suffering of other creatures is important, I believe.
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post #1915 of 2029 Old 05-31-2019, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Just posting a few more virtual pastries for people that I'd love to send out if I had a space-time dumbwaiter!

These are wholemeal apple pockets. In the absence of the required gadget for distributing these to everyone here, I can share the recipe with anyone who wants it. These are so easy if you have a breadmaker!

People's favourite treats photos and recipes always welcome here!

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post #1916 of 2029 Old 05-31-2019, 09:01 PM
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I find your discussions interesting. Abortion is a topic my mind likes to avoid too much contemplation about, but you all gave me a lot to ponder.

The nerd discussion was interesting too! I am a nerd I think. I was very good at school and I am more than a bit socially inept. Unlike you guys, I tried to fit in which made it much worse.

My littlest is quite the nerd. She is brilliant, and sometimes I think lacking social skills, but as I look deeper I think differently. She is actually very intensely made. She is emotional and empathetic to an extreme, but from the outside it seems like she cannot read people, which is a confusing mix. However, when one gets her to talk, she explains it differently.

She makes choices intentionally which appear to lack social judgement. However, she explains she rather sits at the table of misfits, because the cool kids are required to pretend. She doesn’t care for anything that is not real. She sees the stories behind actions of her peers, and she reacts accordingly and intentionally. Why does she allow one boy to be such a jerk and tolerate his nature without becoming insulted or trying to interact? Well, this boy’s father killed his mother and is now in prison, and he acts in a certain way because of that.

Why does she sit with a child being bullied and not get defensive? She understands her reaction would detriment the boy instead of help, so instead she simply offers him a friend. She doesn’t react to the kids who try and offend her, because she doesn’t care. She doesn’t take any of it personally.

So, maybe her social skills are actually above the norm. She doesn’t hurt anyone, and she is a nurturing person to her core, but she also sees people must deal with their own realities. It is hard to explain because it is hard to see. She was born with more depth than I could process in a small child.

My oldest is far from a nerd, but being related to many she does defend them. ;) Her teachers have always complemented her to me for that. She will not tolerate someone being bullied, sadly unless it is herself. We are working on that.

Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaam’s Donkey
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post #1917 of 2029 Old 05-31-2019, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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your post, @Knave .

On that current discussion re men, responsibility and condoms that @Spanish Rider and @gottatrot are exploring at the moment - I do agree that it's not entirely the man's fault unless he's lying about having had a vasectomy, or putting a hole in the condom, or surreptitiously taking it off halfway through; or raping the woman obviously, all of which have been known to happen.

In general though, I think it's blanket irresponsible from an STD perspective for men to not be wearing condoms (regardless of whether the woman is using contraception or not) unless they are in committed relationships where any necessary STD checks have taken place and where the partners aren't cheating on each other. (Usually, unfortunately, the person cheated on doesn't know at first, and gets exposed to infection risk - and a lot of STDs including HIV are transmitted to unwitting spouses.)

Barrier contraception remains the most reliable method of significantly reducing STD spread during sexual contact. A female condom now exists as well, which is progress, but it's a bit more unwieldy to use, and quite expensive.

Something I'm really seeing on the topic of unplanned pregnancies is a statistical difference on who gets "blamed". It's still overwhelmingly the girl or woman who gets shouldered with blame and stigma in the community for a situation that generally (but not always, as we've seen) takes two people to create. Girls and women are often s!ut-shamed in this scenario, and also in scenarios where they are perceived as being interested in intercourse for their own sexual pleasure, and not just as an accessory to the male's pleasure (huge double standard) - even if that wasn't the actuality of the situation, as it's often not, and on that aside, here's an interesting panel discussion that explores what that actually looks like, recently held at the Sydney Opera House (like lots of good things ):

What the blurb isn't telling you is that the gap goes to 50% / 4% in casual sex, which we found really amusing considering we're often told we're boring and unliberated because we're married, and can't possibly be having as much fun as people playing the field. Not that the "soccer scores" are the be-all and end-all of quality indicators, either... but yeah, now I've got some ammunition next time someone smugly classes us as vanilla!

That's a good podcast series, by the way, made by our ABC in the interests of women's health and sexuality, and is really well presented. There's a whole raft of things it's bringing out into the open that are really helpful to many women.

SueC is time travelling.

Last edited by SueC; 05-31-2019 at 09:50 PM.
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post #1918 of 2029 Old 05-31-2019, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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PS: But re unplanned pregnancy, how often have I heard comments along the lines of, "She should have kept her legs closed!" - and how rarely have I heard, "He should have kept it zipped!" Neither comment is particularly useful - and the former, so often used, is so dripping with judgement, and with double standard. The really sad thing is that at its best, human sexuality is a really beautiful thing, and yet these kinds of attitudes, and the way sexuality is often represented these days (objectified, commercialised, scripted etc) really make social and personal roadblocks to the possibility of finding our way to beauty and intimacy.

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post #1919 of 2029 Old 06-01-2019, 06:48 AM
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I absolutely agree that we need to stop shaming women and condemning them. I generally accept any reason for a woman to choose an abortion, that is her right and dont think it should be taken away. I generally avoid saying I dont care about a heart beat because scientifically it has no consciousness until much further in the pregnancy and to me that is when I consider it life. Pregnancy can happen even with the use of protection. It is much less likely but can still happen. If a woman isnt ready to be a mother, she shouldnt have to be or be shamed for her choice. Fully okay to talk to her and tell her all opinions and educate but ultimately respect her choice and not hate her for it.

Nobody says "he should have kept it zipped." because I think we're more accepting of male's sexuality and make more excuses for men's behavior and expect responsibility from women. It's as if society treats men as sex crazed, driven animals with no self control and exempt from choice due to their animal urges. I watched a documentary on polyamory and how cheating should be acceptable and I was like nah just excuses and justification for disrespect, selfishness and bad behavior. But that is society it's a rooted tradition for centuries. Women could get pregnant and there wasnt really birth control, so women were controlled and expected to behave because their husband wanted to be sure who the father was. While men were given free rein to behave however they wanted, sleep with whoever they wanted and it was just "boys being boys." There was also a belief at one point that a woman's body was like a field of soil. In that if a man had relations with her that at any point that seed could fertilize and become a child. So if you wed a non-virgin can you ever be sure the child is yours? Was the thought process and is still present today, men arent totally exempt of responsibility but there is a lot more leniency where as women are held accountable. Kinda shows society respects women in some strange way and that men are slaves to hormones (generalizing).

Even in the case of rape people will say things like "well she shouldn't have worn that" or "she shouldnt have drank" or "she should have known better" or "what did she expect." Which takes the responsibility away from men and that makes me sick. My guy friends generally agree, they say it's an insult to men that society makes excuses for rape. Or they'll even say things like "she's too ugly to have been raped." I've heard that before and it made me sick to my stomach. Cheating, rape, any of it is all about sexual domination and gratification. It has NOTHING to do with how attractive or unattractive someone is. Teach men to value to women, teach men to respect women and see us as more than objects of pleasure and a good number of men are good but there are so many that are just trash. And think it is okay to play and manipulate (I mean yes women do it too) but people are sickening sometimes in their behavior. I wish the hot messes of humanity could all be sent on an island together and leave the rest of us alone.
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post #1920 of 2029 Old 06-01-2019, 07:02 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DanteDressageNerd View Post
I wish the hot messes of humanity could all be sent on an island together and leave the rest of us alone.
We'd need a big island. Maybe Antarctica would be good. The leopard seals could have a (frozen) banquet!

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