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November 11, 2007

Comments

"Women don't get fertilized by pollen drifting on the breeze, ......"

Before, say, the middle of the 1950s, they (at least white people) surely did. Heck, as late as 1966, Rob and Laura on the Dick Van Dyke Show slept in separate beds, as did the Cleavers, for example. That's why the female in the sitcoms was always putting fresh flowers in vases ----- to attract the bees for pollen delivery.

The point at which all of this began to change was when Elvis Presley and his hips appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in the 1950s, after Elvis found out himself from black rhythm and blues artists that pollen just didn't do the job. He taught white women the new method of pollination, much to the consternation of the southern Baptists and Protestants, who were still into pistils and stamens -- but not too much, over-fertilization being the province, according to the former, of the Catholic Church.

Then Little Richard, James Brown, Sammy Davis Junior, and Clarence Thomas felt obliged to teach white women directly what Elvis had stolen from them.

At which point, the southern white Democrats started bolting their party and the Republican Party came up with its southern strategy.

You didn't really believe Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign way down there because of states rights, did you? No sirree, his money people wanted things to return to the status quo, in which white women tended the garden and black men pollinated the cotton fields.

Later, of course, all hell broke loose, when people started going to a place called the bathroom to engage in numbers one and two. Before, I believe, the middle 1970s, this practice was completely unknown outside of the third world. Americans apparently held it all in for nearly two centuries, which is why so many of our parents and grandparents were full of it.

It all seems pretty normal now. Heck, even Republican Larry Craig, who believed strongly in the original methods of pollination, gave in. He now uses bathrooms for numbers three and maybe seven, though he still gets pollen all over his pantleg.

Rolling back the 1960s would ruin all the fun, though the upside would be that Republicans might finally give a crap about the great bee die-off of recent years.

Henry Ford famously said that history was bunk, but who cares what he thought.

It's all in the presentation.

How is it "hard"? If men are allowed to run around topless, so should women be. What does this have to do with objecting to the proliferation of fake plastic boobs?

My experience with British culture leads me to believe that there is a reasonable change I'm more at ease with nudity and topless than the average Brit. It's just hard to find the political correct attitude towards boobs though, if you want to be a proper feminist. Can they be enjoyed or should they be neglected? Are push-up bra's and cleavage a sign of feminists enjoying their own body or subservient women selling themselves? I remember the early feminist waves where women weren't allowed to wear make-up and where quite a portion actually believed that having sex with a man was politically incorrect.

If you want to complain about the projected images and what they mean for the role of women in society there really are much more serious issues than fake boobs for the taste-challenged.

hair: The desire for sex and the desire to have children are both required.

Not since our species figured out that there was a connection between a man having sex with a woman and the woman getting pregnant. At that point - sometime prior to recorded history - sexual desire became irrelevant to having children.

As far as we can tell from our nearest non-human genetic relatives, the reason we as human beings are such a sex-desiring species has no connection with continuing the species: we like to have sex, and we have sex a lot, because as a species, we probably evolved to use social sex as a means of bonding a troop together.

If we as a species had evolved only to have sex to reproduce, women would be desirable to men only when fertile, and nobody would be interested in having sex purely for fun at any other time. Self-evidently, this is not the case.

This relates (she says, flailing a bit) because sex for social purposes - sex as a means of creating human bonds and liking - is still a valid purpose of having sex. (Though personally, with most members of my troop, an invitation for coffee and bagels is much preferred. That's civilisation for you.)

The creation of plastic/rubber boobs is not a heterosocial bonding activity. It doesn't cause a woman who sees them to feel warm and social towards the man who owns them - rather the reverse. These boobs create homosocial bonding between men, which is not the kind of social grouping that leads to the preservation of the species through heterosexual sex.

In short, given that if a man owns any or all of these booby toys a woman is unlikely to find him socially attractive, and therefore not likely to consider him a potential mate, contrary to Brett's theory, these boobs actively work against species survival, not for it.

(I'm being slightly ironic here. But you get the point.)

Catsy: No, in point of fact I feel contempt for Melissa, for raising such a stink about this in the first place.

And yet, you complain here, where Melissa did not post: this thread is "I Blame The Patriarchy" by hilzoy. And as this post by Hilzoy is not an attack on Melissa for posting, nor a contemptuous comment about Melissa for writing this post: it's an approving link, raising the topic here. In short, Catsy, if you're sincerely feeling contempt for anyone who "raises such a stink about this", that includes Hilzoy. Unless, of course, you're just prejudiced against Melissa.

You know perfectly well that using terminology like "controlling feminist discussion" casts the other person in a bad light

Why, yes, I do. Should I therefore avoid using this terminology about someone who is attempting to control feminist discussion with their "contempt"?

Why do you have a problem with casting a bad light on someone who is arguing angrily that feminists should stop having a discussion about a specific issue because this person thinks "the feminists" ought to be discussing other issues which this person thinks are more important, and not this issue, which while important enough to get someone very angry, is somehow not important enough to be discussed? Just because, in this instance, the "someone" is you?

I hear ya, Jes. But I don't think anyone was claiming that the owners of plastic boobs are helping to continue the species. I also don't disagree that humans have lots of sex not connected with procreation. But that doesn't change the fact that, if people didn't want to have sex - at all - there wouldn't be a human race. So I'd say from a purely procreative standpoint, we have more sex drive than is needed, but that doesn't meet that no sex drive is needed for procreation at a species-continuing level, particularly back when a smaller precentage of infants survived. And let's face it, lot's of babies came about from "social bonding" over the millenia. It's a much simpler mechanism to have the sex drive on all the time if you can afford it. If you can't get some on the 10th, you might not stick around 'til the 15th, if you know what I'm saying.

Marbel: It's just hard to find the political correct attitude towards boobs though, if you want to be a proper feminist.

That's odd, Marbel, because I've never found it at all difficult. But I often find that people who do not identify as feminists argue a lot about what "the proper feminist attitude" is, almost as if they cared.

hair: But that doesn't change the fact that, if people didn't want to have sex - at all - there wouldn't be a human race.

Well, yes, there would, if this sudden "people didn't want to have sex at all" had overcome the human species at any time after we'd made the intellectual discovery that heterosexual sex sometimes leads to having babies. Because if people still wanted to have babies, they'd force themselves to have this undesirable sex in order to be able to do so.

If your argument is that if sexual desire hadn't evolved no one would have had sex ever, a whole lot more species than just humans would have become extinct, or rather would probably never have existed.

John Thullen--
don't forget the effect of the world changing from black and white into color over the middle of the last century as well!

"Because if people still wanted to have babies, they'd force themselves to have this undesirable sex in order to be able to do so."

Oh, fooey. We DO like to have sex, and we're below replacement in most developed nations. If you didn't have contraceptive failure and teens taking chances, the human population would be plummeting through most of the world.

It's still to be established whether the human race will survive the invention of effective contraceptives.

I'm not sure I'm arguing anything anymore. If the existence of a sex drive doesn't (or didn't) lead to more sex than there would otherwise be (or have been), and if more sex doesn't (or didn't) lead to more reproduction than there would otherwise be (or have been), then I guess I'm just wrong. And, yes, sexual reproduction based on a drive for sex would be required for many a species, not just us. In closing, I'd like to add AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!

Marbel: It's just hard to find the political correct attitude towards boobs though, if you want to be a proper feminist.

That's odd, Marbel, because I've never found it at all difficult.

Since you know yourself best you are probabely right there. Some people like easy black and white worldviews and do not question the right course - but I try very hard to not raise my kids that way.

And yet, you complain here, where Melissa did not post

Because--guess what!--I don't read Melissa's blog. And I'm not really in the habit of jumping over to an unfamiliar comment section and crapping all over the person's rug; if someone at a blog I regularly comment on links to something elsewhere, I'm going to comment on the matter here, not at the place that was linked.

And judging from what I've read on this thread and in the comments on her post, that's a good thing, because she seems about as adept at dealing with contrary views as you are.

I don't really have as much of a problem with what Hilzoy wrote. Part of that is, of course, because I've been reading Hilzoy a long time and know her to be reasonable. The other part is that Hilzoy wasn't the originator of this nonsense; she linked to it and commented on it. If Hilzoy shares Melissa's opinions, that's unfortunate, and takes her down a notch in my eyes.

Why, yes, I do. Should I therefore avoid using this terminology about someone who is attempting to control feminist discussion with their "contempt"?

No, you shouldn't. What you should do is avoid applying it to people who /aren't/ just because you don't like their opinions. Which is, in case you were wondering, what you're doing here.

Part of the reason so many people have trouble taking your arguments on this blog seriously is because you have a tendency to label anyone who contradicts your worldview as some kind of sexist or misogynist. You may not realize that's what you do, but it is /in fact/ an accurate description of your behavior.

In short, Catsy, if you're sincerely feeling contempt for anyone who "raises such a stink about this", that includes Hilzoy. Unless, of course, you're just prejudiced against Melissa.

Dear gods, I don't know why anyone tries to communicate with you on subjects like this. It's almost like you're pathologically determined to shoehorn the other person's argument into your vision of how sexist they are, facts or their own words to the contrary notwithstanding, even when they're on your side. At least now I know how Sebastian and Von feel.

Why do you have a problem with casting a bad light on someone who [insert textbook example of "begging the question" fallacy here] ... Just because, in this instance, the "someone" is you?

No. Because I have a problem with /any/ flavor of dishonest argument that attempts to twist someone else's words and actions to fit their own personal agenda. I don't know why you persist in lying outright about my words or the purpose behind my saying them--and that is what you're doing at this point, lying, because I've corrected you several times already--but since you're not even making a superficial attempt at comprehending the difference between expressing an opinion and trying to "control women", I am officially /done/ with you and your particular brand of BS on this thread.

Post whatever triumphal follow-up you like, Jes. I quite honestly don't give a tinker's damn from this point forward.

"Heck, as late as 1966, Rob and Laura on the Dick Van Dyke Show slept in separate beds, as did the Cleavers, for example."

Was the inside of Ward and June's bedroom ever actually shown?

In any case, dismally puncturing myth and legend with fact, as is my cruel wont, the first sitcom tv couple in the same bed on American tv was Mary Kay and Johnny, a sitcom that ran from November, 1947 for three years, on three networks sucessively: Dumont, NBC, and CBS. It was never kinescoped, which is why it's forgotten today, despite being extremely popular -- among those who owned tvs -- at the time.

Less forgettable should be the fact that Ozzie and Harriet ran from 1952 to 1966 -- yeah, I never watched it, either -- and showed them sleeping in a double bed together. (Also, The Flintstones and The Munsters did the same in the early Sixties.)

The networks were later more squeamish about Rob and Laura, and Lucy, and the Bradys, but the fact is that couples were in bed together in American tv from the very first tv sitcom in 1947.

If you bribe me sufficiently, Thullen, I might consider discreet silence when inconvenient facts arise in future. Nice little satire you have there, you know: be a shame if any facts were to happen to it....

Some people like easy black and white worldviews and do not question the right course

Indeed. I find it quite easy both to believe that women must have the same basic rights as men - ergo, if men can go topless, so can women - but that women should not be dehumanized, that we should not be reduced to nothing but displayed bits and pieces, and that women should not be forced or required to make ourselves appear sexually attractive to men if we don't feel like doing so - or, of course, denigrated or condemned for doing so*, I don't find any of these basic feminist ideas difficult to understand, agree with, and support. But if you find them so, well, I sympathize with your inability.

*Far more common and more recent examples of this happening are not women being attacked by feminists for wearing make-up, but women told that they obviously wanted to be raped since they'd gone to the trouble of making themselves sexually attractive - not by feminists, but by defense lawyers and judges.

Catsy: Dear gods, I don't know why anyone tries to communicate with you on subjects like this. It's almost like you're pathologically determined to shoehorn the other person's argument into your vision of how sexist they are, facts or their own words to the contrary notwithstanding, even when they're on your side.

Wait, what? Now you're trying to claim that somehow your argument that you have nothing but contempt for anyone who "raises a stink about this" - Melissa, Hilzoy, anyone - puts you on my side?

Good grief.

Catsy- I'm responding, at face value, to her breathless hysteria over tasteless interior design and Spencer's boob kitsch. It's the sort of overblown, overreactive nonsense that tends to causes folk in Peoria to roll their eyes at activist feminism. [emphasis added]

And what will the folks in Peoria think? Will they think that poor Melissa is [insert favorite dismissive term for an outraged woman...perhaps 'hysterical']? We don't want them to get disturbed or dismissive, because then we might be forced to choose sides and we will have to side with Peoria in order to maintain decorum. We do have our priorities.

Feminism would be much more easy to support if all these women would just stop embarassing us in public with all these overwrought emotional displays.

Dang women, being all PC and telling us what we should and shouldn't say.

"Look, I came here for an argument. I'm not going to just stand --"

"Oh, oh, I'm sorry, but this is Abuse."

Paging Charles Bird, to provide an opportunity for a nice, civil thread!

Jesurgislac, I assure you from experience that it is difficult at best for a man to have sex with someone he finds completely unarousing - as one might expect from the literal meaning of "arise." I doubt that most women are impregnated by men who are not aroused at least in part by them, and I doubt extremely that if a man had literally no sexual drive and yet wanted to sire children, he could succeed in ejaculating enough to accomplish his goals (absent expensive artificial means). The equipment doesn't work that way. I thought all grownups knew these basic facts of male human physiology, but apparently not.

Re public breast-feeding, it's not really the same as going topless, in practice. Most women have the common sense to find a relatively private area to feed their babies, and to keep baby and clothing mostly between themselves and passers-by. Actual bare breasts still reliably draw attention.

For the love of all that is holy, I beg you, please, please, please put this monstrosity of a post below the fold.

Don't you realize, fake b00by posts kill LOLcatz!

Uncle Fester slept alone on a bed of nails, which I believe also was the fate of Donald on "That Girl", who never got beyond a dry peck on the lips from Marlo Thomas, who played Ms. Vagina Dentata on the show.

The Skipper and Gilligan, if I'm not mistaken, slept in the same hammock, from which the Professor was forever banished, leaving Mary Ann and Ginger as his only source of Platonic island heat.

Lassie spent alot of time beckoning and signaling and barking to Timmy's mother to follow him/her to the old mine shaft, where Timmy was trapped, but I think it was a ruse.

Thelma Lou once kissed Gomer right on the jaw, which caused Barney's long slide into alcoholism, onanism, and vacuum cleaner sales.

Pepino on "The Real McCoys" slept in the henhouse, which is why Hassie and Little Luke took turns collecting the eggs.

Then there was Trigger and that will be enough about that.

Facts are what gets reality in trouble.

But if you find them so, well, I sympathize with your inability.

I regularly wonder wether you actually want to discuss things with others or not. The habit of cherrypicking comments, taking them out of context, extrapolating them into statements that bear no ressemblance to the intent of the writer all indicate that you are not.

@nous: women's right and their position in society matter a great deal to me. Which is why I think the energy put into silly fights like this could be directed much more constructive. As a women striving for equal rights in todays society I feel that I am entitled to irritation when I feel that the cause is harmed by a bunch of zealots.

I actually cancelled my 27 yr subscription to the oldest Dutch feminist magazine because they stated that they wouldn't hire a women with a headscarf since they decided that that is a symbol of submissivness. I am old-school; I think that economic independence is much more important for the emancipation of women. Showing that being religious doesn't mean that you can't have your own career and embracing that whole group of women is much more important than dictating how they should emancipate themselves. Headscarves are a more relevant issue than fake boobs (come on, how many people do you know who *have* those kind of items and how many of those are changing their worldview because of it) - but it still boils down to people who have a problem with distinguishing important and less important issues.

If you want to change societies view on women, address commercials and how they portrait women. I don't see enough US media but in the Netherlands you still quite often see women sitting and men standing, or other subtle ways of visualizing power patterns. Check how often language to and about women differs from language to and about men. Those are sneaking up on people and influencing them. Fake boobs are silly, almost everybody sees them as silly and I doubt that there are many people buying them for themselves. When my mum bought a manneke pis corkshrew for my spouse she really just thought it was a laugh (yup, she was one of the taste-challanged) and didn't have any messages about how she perceived his standing in our society.

Feminism would be much more easy to support if all these women would just stop embarassing us in public with all these overwrought emotional displays.

Do let me know if that strawman ever starts fighting back. I wouldn't want you to strain yourself.

By the way, dutchmarbel FTW, for getting across the points I was trying to make with considerably less vitriol than I managed.

Catsy, there is an "almost" in your 2:20 that can be removed to make the comment more accurate.

Dutchmarbel, the answer to the question implicit in the first sentence if your post above mine is "no, no she does not. "

Marbel:

come on, how many people do you know who *have* those kind of items

Well, I know several women who have fake boobs, if that counts. ;)


If you want to change societies view on women, address commercials and how they portrait women. I don't see enough US media but in the Netherlands you still quite often see women sitting and men standing, or other subtle ways of visualizing power patterns.

I guess we are ahead you in this area then. For the most part, men are portrayed as generally harmless buffoons in American commercials. Women are portrayed as strong, smart, and resourceful. The husband in the commercial can’t tie his own shoes. The wife/gf gently chides him to manage him. If the wife isn’t readily available then his 13 yr. old daughter will help him with the online banking etc.

The UK is even worse about making women on TV sit in front of their superiors. Like the Queen, that poor, oppressed female. I see it all the time. How long until Britons everywhere unite to let the poor woman stand up?!? Oh, the humanity!

Well, I know several women who have fake boobs, if that counts. ;)

Only when you're dealing in eco-funerals. recycle or not? chemical disposal or not?

I guess we are ahead you in this area then. For the most part, men are portrayed as generally harmless buffoons in American commercials.

But it is often sneaky, people aren't aware. Like the visualisation I mentioned (because I did some research in that area once). But I remember seeing bits of a talkshow with all the spouses of the presidential candidates - but no Bill Clinton. There are a lot of people talking about Edwards, Obama and Hillary without even noticing the difference in adressing them. Those are the sneaky differences, and discussing those is much harder than discussing fake boobs.

Now that I am not reading from my phone . . . I kinda sorta agree with Catsy to the effect that things like this have the potential to be distracting minutae that have little to do with abortion rights, wage equality, child care, etc.

But I do think there's a bigger-picture tie-in, which relates to the discussion of female toplessness* and breast-feeding, which is that the proliferation of these kinds of products are a (continuing) signal that we've objectified and sexualized the breast to such an extent that, in some circles, a woman discreetly breast-feeding her infant is seen as an affront akin to me jerking off at the table of something.

Yes, breasts can be and in many cases are an erogenous zone, but that isn't their only function. We've divorced them so much from their anatomical purpose, and sexualized them so much, that I can see how these products are taken more seriously by, say, McEwan than they otherwise might be. Heck, think about the extent to which, in our culture, women have difficulty being taken seriously for no other reason than that they have large breasts.

*Given my druthers, both men AND woman would keep their shirts on in public pretty much everyplace but at the beach. And, in the abstract, I agree that women have just as much right to take their shirts off at the park as men do. But, again, we've sexualized the breast so much that even if the laws were all modified tomorrow to say that women and men alike can go topless, I have little doubt that any woman so doing would be the recipient of constant lewd comments, harrassment and probably sexual assault or battery.

DM, I don't understand your point about sitting versus standing. As Trilobite implies, sitting is generally a higher-status position.

And I think we've covered the "Hillary" thing before here. First, HRC must be distinguished from another Clinton who is frequently discussed (much as Saddam Hussein had to be distinguished from King Hussein, though no other parallel is intended). Second, HRC's campaign itself uses "Hillary" (much as "Rudy" and "Fred" and "Arnold" have used their first names).

OCSteve, Roy Edroso aptly deflects some complaints about the portrayal of men in American advertising here.

You know what they said about Joe DiMaggio, that his dread of a fan asking for an autograph was exceeded only by his dread of a fan not asking for his autograph.

And I think this thread is a vivid ratification of my earlier observation:

There comes a point at which the cultivation of moral indignation passes into the realm of obsessive behavior.

But, again, we've sexualized the breast so much that even if the laws were all modified tomorrow to say that women and men alike can go topless, I have little doubt that any woman so doing would be the recipient of constant lewd comments, harrassment and probably sexual assault or battery.

That's habit I think. Being topless in the park or on the beach over here won't lead to more harassment than with a top on. But I had (female) friends who would sit topless without problems but would not feed their baby in public because the sucking made them feel uncomfortable.

I actually think the feminist action in the UK where they put stickers of drinking babies on every nude breast in billboards was great.

I think breastfeeding should always be possible, as far as I'm concerned you can be topless everywhere as long as you wear a top when you're not sunbathing. If it were just up to me I'd be willing to make an exception for some blokes though ;)

KCinDC: I would have to go through a lot of US advertisements to show what I mean. I recognize it here in the Netherlands, but often have making people aware. Maybe it is less in the US - the Netherlands is pretty backwards with womens lib. But the bits of tv I see regularly have little things that make me cringe so I think there is still some residue left.

sorry, way past midnight here, so bedtime for me.

Phil: Roy Edroso aptly deflects some complaints about the portrayal of men in American advertising here.

Man, he needs perma-links. I had to browse through a lot of ah “interesting” stuff to get to it.

I’m sure it is all about the money. If I don’t agree with anything else I saw on that page I agree with that.

In my experience the wife has the most control of the household purse strings. So it makes sense to play to them. Even in some cases where the product is targeted at the husband they still play to the wife (he needs her permission to spend the money).

That makes me wonder though if that’s not the case in the Netherlands and other European countries. I would think that those same formulas would work regardless of nationality if women have the same purchasing power.

So if you get back here tomorrow Marbel: Do you think there is a difference? Do women in the Netherlands have as much or more purchasing power as their husbands?

trilobite: I assure you from experience that it is difficult at best for a man to have sex with someone he finds completely unarousing - as one might expect from the literal meaning of "arise."

And I assure you that many gay men managed it because they had to - and if gay men can manage to have erotic fantasies for long enough to get an erection with a partner he finds completely unarousing because he knows he must, I'm certain it's not beyond the capacity of any man: it's just that more gay men have been forced into situations where they had to find the capacity to become aroused enough to have sex without a desirable partner. (In fact, my understanding was that most men can do this all by themselves - and the rest lie about it.)

Marbel: The habit of cherrypicking comments, taking them out of context, extrapolating them into statements that bear no ressemblance to the intent of the writer all indicate that you are not.

Well, Marbel - you claimed you found it "too hard" to achieve a feminist position on breasts, and outlined a couple of situations you said you found contradictory. I said I didn't find it difficult, and outlined why. Instead of responding to my outline, you list a bunch of things I didn't do, and claim I'm "obviously" not interested in discussing things with others. Yeah, right.

Marbel: I actually cancelled my 27 yr subscription to the oldest Dutch feminist magazine because they stated that they wouldn't hire a women with a headscarf since they decided that that is a symbol of submissivness.

Good for you. I'm appalled that a feminist magazine would make such a racist decision.

- women should not be forced or required to make ourselves appear sexually attractive to men if we don't feel like doing so -

I'm all in favor of the government encouraging women to be sexually attractive - that is a good thing, like being a non-smoker. The question is, whether we should tax unattractive women, much like smokers, in order to discourage negative outcomes. It is all for the greater good.

"There are a lot of people talking about Edwards, Obama and Hillary without even noticing the difference in adressing them."

Not to disparage the frequency of sexist usages still out there, but the usage I've really been noticing in recent months is the prevalence of references to "Clinton, Edwards, and Barack."

Or some other mix of presidential candidate names, and "Barack."

And I'm sure that most of the people doing it don't even notice they're doing it.

"Second, HRC's campaign itself uses "Hillary" (much as "Rudy" and "Fred" and "Arnold" have used their first names).
Although
it's HillaryClinton.com, the front page is crammed with links to "Women For Hillary," "HillaryHub.com, THE Source For Hillary News," "Hillary For President" coffee mugs, bumper stickers, and other swag for sale at the "Hillstore," where they can be bought by "Hillstar" volunteers, a request to "Send Hillary to the next debate with...," suggestions to join "Team Hillary," "Be a Hillraiser" (I'm not making that one up, but I'm guessing they're not thinking Clive Barker), news that "Veterans Speak Out For Hillary," video of "Hillary At The Iowa JJ Dinner," that "Governor Strickland Endorses Hillary," and, yeah, KCinDC is entirely correct that the campaign is running a person named only "Hillary" for President. Just ask them.

This makes filtering out and identifying sexist usages of "Hillary" versus "Edwards, Obama, Dodd," etc., impossible in most situations.

"Or some other mix of presidential candidate names, and 'Barack.'"

That should be "Or some other mix of presidential candidate last names, and 'Barack.'"

Marbel: I actually cancelled my 27 yr subscription to the oldest Dutch feminist magazine because they stated that they wouldn't hire a women with a headscarf since they decided that that is a symbol of submissivness.

Good for you. I'm appalled that a feminist magazine would make such a racist decision.

It's arguably either anti-Muslim or anti-religious (do they also refuse to hire Orthodox Jewish women who believe in covering their head outside the home with a scarf or wig?) -- or not, but what "race" would be involved here?

I'm all in favor of the government encouraging women to be sexually attractive - that is a good thing, like being a non-smoker. The question is, whether we should tax unattractive women, much like smokers, in order to discourage negative outcomes. It is all for the greater good.

DaveC has won the thread.

Speaking of who buys these boob novelties, I must confess that my father buys a breast-shaped coffee mug every year to give out at his organization's annual awards breakfast. One of these awards is "Boob of The Year" and the "winner" of that award receives said mug in recognition of his achievement.

Second request to put the pictures below the fold so I can read this at work!!!

I sometimes think Jes goes too far in debate, but didn't think it happened here.

To Gary---I think the word "racist" is often extended to cases of discrimination or hatred expressed towards members of some religion. Antisemitism is often thought of as a particular type of racism, or that's my impression, but taken literally that implies that Jews are a race.

I wonder if the C, E, & Barack is to avoid problems with the resemblance of his last name to OBL. The belittling factor might be thought of as being less bad than the misidentification factor. I'm not sure which one is more powerful though.

Third request on the picture below the fold thing.

Hear, hear. Oh, and by the way: http://flickr.com/search/?q=penis+ashtray

For the most part, men are portrayed as generally harmless buffoons in American commercials.

Depends on the ad. Household cleaners and groceries, maybe so. Trucks, beer, sporting goods or sports TV programs, not so much.

Guys that show up in ads for baby stuff are quite often perfect dad dreamboats targeted at new moms -- hunky and cuddly all at once, and all about the newborn.

Marlboro and WWE ads are a toss up, it's not clear if they're targeting macho men or if they're gay porn.

It's all about the benjamins.

The question is, whether we should tax unattractive women, much like smokers, in order to discourage negative outcomes.

Sure, right after we impose a tax on folks who waste bandwidth.

Thanks -

Movies made while Queen Victoria was still alive showed husband and wife in the same bed (with usually the wife being extremly unattractive in contrast to the dream the man has before the bed is shown). Put that in contrast to Victorian libraries that would not put books of male and female authors on the same shelf (exception though: authors married to each other).
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I think universal toplessness would lose its (sexual) appeal after a comparatively short time. Hints of boobs work better than the blank thing and few women fit the (hyped) "ideal" anyway.
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Personally I think "fake" breast (=implants and the like) on women are justified only for repair and correction, i.e. to compensate for an imbalance or loss (e.g. after breast cancer). A view of "you are only attractive with huge boobs" (or for males a huge penis) is demeaning imo.

We DO like to have sex, and we're below replacement in most developed nations. If you didn't have contraceptive failure and teens taking chances, the human population would be plummeting through most of the world.

And...this undermines Jesurgislac's point how, exactly? She's not saying we don't like sex. She's saying that the urge to have children is why we have children, not the urge to have sex.

You're seriously mistaken if you think we're only have kids because of contraceptive failure and teens taking chances. We have kids because we want them; our population drops because we only want one or two of them, three at the most, because we ("we" meaning "developed nations") are no longer mostly farmland and there's little economic benefit to having a large family.

Basically, there is little support for your notion that people don't want kids and would not have them were it not for contraception. People in general will always want one or two kids; whether or not they want more will depend on the society and the economy.

I can never decide how to react to such things. How would men react to the proliferation of male body parts being displayed like this?

There are PLENTY of pneis novelties too.

Last Labor Day I was at a friends and he had two gay neighbors there. One was at the grill wearing an apron which, when lifted, exposed a very large cock hidden underneath - apparently an old gift from his lover. Everyone got a laugh and no one, women or men, gay or straight, seemed put off in the slightest.

dutchmarbel--

I saw a little example of the sort of thing you're talking about last night which I seem to recall having heard someone else mention on another blog somewhere-- on the medical drama House, during the credits all the actors' names are shown with some kind of medical picture with the exception of Jennifer Morrison's, which has an outdoor scene behind it. (To be fair, it must be noted that Lisa Edelstein does get a medical picture background.) One does get the sense of a subtext that Ms. Morrison's character, Dr. Cameron, who after all is the one most concerned about patients' feelings etc. etc., isn't really as much of a "real" doctor as the others.

I’m not sure why I feel the need to address this arguably irrelevant and certainly tangential topic, but I’m really, for lack of a better word, annoyed with the notion (well, at least Jes’ notion) that the human race would exist or would continue to exist without the drive for sex. I must be a weak person. How one could honestly believe that a complex biological system would continue with one of its most integral and basic components removed is beyond me. Of course, it might happen, but I wouldn’t be so blithely convinced of it. (BTW, none of this is intended to justify the existence of disembodied-plastic-breast novelty items. It is a tangent to a partial explanation for their existence.)

Even Jes, I think, agrees that the desire for sex was a prerequisite for continuing the human species before humans sufficienty understood the connection between sex and reproduction. So I'll stick to a disappearance of sexual desire at some time after such understanding came to be.

I can accept the idea that, were the sex drive to disappear for humanity tomorrow, there would be some humans who would engage in purely utilitarian sex for reproduction. I’m also quite sure that many more would stop having sex, since most people have it for fun (and many a baby is born because of fun sex). This trend of limited utilitarian sex, I think, would wane over time. I’ll get back to why I think this soon.

As Jes asserts, sex has been expanded beyond being a just a means for reproduction to a means for social cohesion. Part of this social cohesion involves committed, long-term relationships between men and women who become parents. Raising human children in a fully functional way requires much more than, say, raising bear cubs, so two long-term parents helps. So acceptance of the expanded role of sex in human beings furthers the idea that sexual attraction is necessary for the successful continuance of the species. It is part and parcel of the desire to have (and ability to raise) children, which Jes claims trumps the desire for sex in maintaining a viable human population. The successful having (and rearing) of children is dependant on the desire for sex beyond the simple act of fertilization.

To get back to purely utilitarian sex - after some time, those now in long-term relationships would die off. Most of those people came to be in those long-term relationships by way of sexual attraction. So the question becomes, how would new long-term, committed relationships between men and women come about in sufficient numbers to continue the species minus sexual attraction? (I would imagine that a significant number of men and women would cease associating with the opposite sex almost entirely minus sexual attraction. Many men would stop showering and begin drinking themselves to death, all the while watching sports and fighting.)

And whom would people want to have their children with, if they wanted to have them, were it not for sexual attraction? (I guess the UN would have to get together to institute a worldwide utilitarian mating program. China would object, and it would go nowhere.) I would suggest, beyond this limited question, that the desire to have children is often dependent upon already having a loving mate with which to have them. That is - many people do not simply decide one day that they want to have children and go out to find a mate, rather they decide they want to have children specifically with the person they have already fallen in love with. Before that, it is a general notion reserved for a down-the-road someday, not a strong desire.

The long and short of it is that sexual attraction is an integral part of a very complex system of modern (in the anthropological sense) human reproduction. The assumption that this system would fail without it is the common sense position simply because the system has worked with it for some time. The assumption that this system would continue to work, were sexual attraction removed, is absurd. It might make for a theory, but one that would require monumental backup to be compelling. Simply stating that it is physically possible for a man to impregnate a woman whom he is not the least bit attracted to does not suffice. It may convince one that there will be some number of pregnancies among humans who do not experience sexual attraction, but it does not show that the human species would last in significant numbers beyond a few generations. Certainly not in sufficient numbers to mass produce plastic boobies in an economically viable way. And, no, none of us would be here were it not for sexual attaction. The routers would have fallen into disrepair and blogs and the internet would cease to be with so few (and unfun) people on the planet.

BTW, what’s wrong with me? Why did I bother to write this?


You know, I don't see too many meninists going off about the proliferation of "completely unrealistic" expectations set by peter north, arnold, and the dildo industry.

When someone calls me a pretentious cock I don't think my entire gender is being insulted. I just grin with the smug satisfaction that I was able to reach new heights of pretension.

However I must say, that scene at the bar WOULD make a great opening for a short story. It has you hooked in the first two sentences, while allowing for all kinds of philisophical ramblings to follow.

Oh for Christ's sake, GUYS LIKE BOOBS. Duh! There's nothing WRONG with that. And feel free to mix up the gender/parts combination as you wish.

Oh, noes! The only appropriate manner in which to celebrate the bits we love is when the real ones are lovingly displayed by a person with whom we are in a suitably meaningful relationship, probably only on alternating Tuesdays between 9 pm and 9:15 unless something good is on TV.

Sorry! We're messy primates, not sexless, chaste CareBears.

Thirsty male Macaque monkeys preferred to push a button to look at rear ends of female monkeys than to drink the juice or water provided, no matter how much was provided when they pushed that button.

We're primates, we're wired to like to see the naughty bits, GET USED TO IT.

It's not the 'objectification of women' when there are boob stress balls. It's the iconification of the breast. There is, I would argue, a difference.

That said, the urinals *are* rather disturbing - way too much unpleasant subtext there.

"One does get the sense of a subtext that Ms. Morrison's character, Dr. Cameron, who after all is the one most concerned about patients' feelings etc. etc., isn't really as much of a "real" doctor as the others."

Maybe that's just to set the tone that she's an outsider, external to the core social group?

Oh, and one last thought: I'd think it would be far preferable to 'objectify' objects, rather than attached body tissue.

(And one last last thought: compare vibrators and dildos to simulated vaginas and blow up dolls sold to men. The women's products are far more socially acceptable. The men's products are either gag gifts or are treated the way Austin Powers treated the penis pump. And yes, I know many vibrators are not phallic, which is beside the point, 'cause there's an awful lot of the phallic ones).

So if you get back here tomorrow Marbel: Do you think there is a difference? Do women in the Netherlands have as much or more purchasing power as their husbands?

Oh, we have the same stereotypes. But he is seen as henpecked in those ads, and they usually assume it is his money.

She's saying that the urge to have children is why we have children, not the urge to have sex.

But Russels idea that enjoying sex is natures way to ensure more children is not awkward either. Reliable anticonception methods are relatively new.

IMHO having these fake boobs is a sign of being immature (sorry chuchundra) rather than being sexist (with the exception of the toilets; those were creepy).

hair: but I’m really, for lack of a better word, annoyed with the notion (well, at least Jes’ notion) that the human race would exist or would continue to exist without the drive for sex - with people of the opposite gender.

As noted by multiple queer parents of my acquaintance: if everyone in the world turned queer at once, the main difference would be that every child would be a wanted child. The notion that sexual attraction is tied to the desire to have children is kind of blown out of the water by the number of same-sex couples who have children and/or want children. Or was your mind all tied up in thinking everyone has to be heterosexual in order to reproduce?

And whom would people want to have their children with, if they wanted to have them, were it not for sexual attraction?

What makes you think same-sex couples don't feel sexual attraction?

Part of this social cohesion involves committed, long-term relationships between men and women who become parents.

Yes - but not necessarily in mixed-gender pairings.

Eh, there's no point in pounding on this any longer; A person doesn't remain this resistant to the obvious unless they've got strong reasons for not seeing it.

Brett: A person doesn't remain this resistant to the obvious unless they've got strong reasons for not seeing it.

You're right. I shouldn't bother. But, hey: I hadn't actually noticed some more people had come along who appeared unaware that (a) sexual desire is not linked to the desire to have children, and (b) lack of sexual desire does not make a person sterile.

Your points A and B might actually be relevant, if anybody had been asserting the contrary.

The real points are,

1) Sexual desire leads to people doing things that result in having children. So it contributes to reproduction even if it doesn't have squat to do with the desire to have children.

2) Lack of sexual desire usually results in the fact that you're technically fertile becoming irrelevant, because you probably won't be having sex.

Does this mean that if people didn't have sexual desires, there'd be no children born at all? No, of course not.

Just not enough to keep the species going.

Sexual desire leads to people doing things that result in having children.

Only if they're heterosexual and interfertile.

Lack of sexual desire usually results in the fact that you're technically fertile becoming irrelevant, because you probably won't be having sex.

Unless you're a woman, living with a man, in a country or at a time when the man does not have to care whether or not the woman feels sexual desire for him or indeed for anyone. Which applies to one hell of a lot of people in the world, Brett.

To repeat: Sheesh.

Have you ever heard the term "Birth dearth"? "Demographic transition"? Developed countries, where contraception is routinely available, mostly have reproduction rates below replacement.

And this, with everything lust can do to boost the number of children.

Take away such a major factor contributing to the number of children born, and regardless of the fact that it was still possible to reproduce, the whole world would be below replacement.

Where "Below replacement" is a nice way of saying, "On the way to extinction".

With six billion people ontis por planet extinction of humans isn't a problem. I'm all for disconnecting sexual intercourse from procreation.

Brett: Have you ever heard the term "Birth dearth"? "Demographic transition"?

Yes: they're generally used by right-wing anti-choicers who object to the fact that when women decide how many children they want to have, they generally don't have large families. (Further studies show that more education a woman has, the fewer children she will have, and the better they will be looked after.)

Take away such a major factor contributing to the number of children born, and regardless of the fact that it was still possible to reproduce, the whole world would be below replacement.

You're still kind of overlooking the fact that most women want to have children. (Some don't, of course - it's by no means universal, but few things are.) A woman who wants to have children will, providing that obstacles are not placed in her way*, have he number of children she wants to have.

*There are a whole bunch of such obstacles - economic discrimination against women with children is the main one in Western countries, but discrimination against women who have children outside marriage is still a significant one in many countries and cultures.

wonkie; With six billion people ontis por planet extinction of humans isn't a problem. I'm all for disconnecting sexual intercourse from procreation.

I was trying to leave that aspect of it out. After all, the insuperable problem with the number of people on this planet isn't so much the sheer numbers, as the scale of resources used by the relatively small number of people living in developed countries.

"Yes: they're generally used by right-wing anti-choicers who object to the fact that when women decide how many children they want to have, they generally don't have large families. "

Yes, I've noticed that this is the problem in rationally discussing virtually anything with you: You inhabit a world where there are no "brute facts", where everything has ideological implications which override such trivial considerations as whether something is factually true.

"You're still kind of overlooking the fact that most women want to have children."

A fact which is perfectly consistent with our going extinct, if they don't want to have enough children to prevent that.

Brett - the extinction argument assumes that decreasing numbers won't change the conditions that lead people to have too few children to maintain the population.

Dkilmer, I think you're up against a religious barrier with Bellmore. The best evidence for people's ability to change their behavior about families comes from the Third World, with women who have access to education and birth control reducing the size of their families even before outside circumstances like starvation and poverty end. Link to charts. (I hope I got the HTML right. I keep trying to do it as BB code.)

But acknowledging that we have something to learn from the behavior of Third World women would take on the foundations of Bellmore's faith in the scientific superiority of the white race in general and men in particular. His God the general intelligence quotient is just as prone to playing favorites as the fundamentalists' Father is, but Bellmore loves Q anyway and would never forsake him just for the sake of better understanding other people's choices.

Brett: You inhabit a world where there are no "brute facts", where everything has ideological implications which override such trivial considerations as whether something is factually true.

Projection, Brett. Pure projection.

Jaden - I was just trying to be rational and whatnot :).

I believe deeply (maybe too deeply) in assuming good faith in any argument. I don't think it turns out too badly, because people who are arguing from what they want to believe (or from plain old bad faith) will tend to choose arguments that are only satisfying to someone who wants to believe them in the first place.

Which is to say that I'd never claim to know anything about Brett aside from what he's said directly.

Re changing behavior, I'd agree that we have a lot to learn from the Third World. In the U.S (and elsewhere, too), we have this counterintuitive situation in which affluent people are having children at a lower rate than poor people. From the simple perspective of resources, it just seems wrong -- but the information you're talking about from the Third World (change in behavior prior to affluence) helps to make sense of it.

Jes: The notion that sexual attraction is tied to the desire to have children is kind of blown out of the water by the number of same-sex couples who have children and/or want children. Or was your mind all tied up in thinking everyone has to be heterosexual in order to reproduce?

Not at all, on both counts. These same-sex couples became couples how? [Or was your mind all tied up in thinking that only heterosexuals feel sexual attraction? (That's a joke, BTW.)] That's what I was getting at. Most people, of any persuasion, want to have children as a couple, and couples come about by way of sexual attraction.

Maybe I wasn't as clear about the premise that sexual attraction would disappear for all humanity - n0 heterosexuals, no homosexuals, no bisexuals, just asexuals.

I actually could see the human race continuing if everyone became homosexual after modern science made various options for reproduction available, perhaps even after simply the knowledge of the connection between sex and reproduction without all the . That latter would be a bit tougher, though - less likely.

I think the male and female roles would be interesting in an all-homosexual world. It's a lot easier to get (or be) a sperm donor than a surrogate mother. I think gay men would have a tough time of it having kids.

hairshirthedonist, I suspect in a completely asexual world, people who wanted children would still get together - just because it is easier with two or more people to share childcare. They just wouldn't base "who will help me best with childcare?" on "who am I sexually attracted to"?

(I have to admit, I did misunderstand what you were getting at - my apologies. That's a much more interesting idea than I'd assumed...)

I think the male and female roles would be interesting in an all-homosexual world. It's a lot easier to get (or be) a sperm donor than a surrogate mother. I think gay men would have a tough time of it having kids.

Well, if all children were being engendered by sperm donation, men who wanted involvement with the children would need to hold out for a mother who wanted the biofather to have involvement with their child. (And would need to be the kind of man that a mother would want to be involved with their child...)

"I suspect in a completely asexual world, people who wanted children would still get together"

Well, yeah. The only point I've been trying to make, is that there's no reason to suppose that there'd be enough such people to keep the species going. And plenty of reason to suppose otherwise.

Where "Below replacement" is a nice way of saying, "On the way to extinction".

Just as "losing weight" is just a nice way of saying "anorexic".

Honestly, Brett, I don't know where you get this notion that decreasing birthrate is a slippery slope. We want decreasing birthrate. If we don't achieve that, world population will continue increasing.

Which is a bad thing, no?

I'm not saying it's a slippery slope in the real world.

A discussion of why some guys are attracted to fake boobs led to a discussion of instinctual drives, which led to Jes's expressing the rather amazing belief that sexual desire does not contribute meaningfully to human reproduction.

Which led to me pointing out that, in this counter factual world where humans lacked sexual desires, we'd go extinct.

We don't lack sexual desires. OTOH, effective birth control is progressively severing the causal link between getting it on and kids showing up nine months later, and I think there's substantial evidence in the form of the demographic transition, (Which Jes thinks is an excuse to rape, or some such, and not an actual phenomenon.) demonstrating that my point about that counter factual world is spot on.

Discussing the real world, I don't think the demographic transition is an immediate cause for concern, depending on how we handle it. Though clearly the imbalances in where the people are being born has some dire implications for the long term survival of certain cultures.

But the results of severing the causal link between lust and reproduction does demonstrate how lust played an important part in our evolutionary success.

Brett - Holy soft-shoe.

You are talking about severing the link between lust and reproduction beneath a picture of disembodied plastic boobs!

That is a severed link.

Shorter Brett: Make more white people faster, please!

What's latin for "Shorter version"? Or maybe "Re-writing the argument"? This tactic unquestionably deserves to be on the list of classic fallacies.

No, Dkilmer, the rather silly object above is a form of compensation for guys who have decided they have no real prospect of getting at the real thing. It no more severs the link between lust and reproduction than pacifiers sever the link between suckling and infant nutrition.

Brett: The only point I've been trying to make, is that there's no reason to suppose that there'd be enough such people to keep the species going. And plenty of reason to suppose otherwise.

But this is nonsense, Brett. Most people do want children. That "want" is separate from "wanting to have sex with someone". There is no reason to suppose that the desire to have children would just go away if sexual desire disappeared completely: and we know already - from same-sex couples, straight/bi women who use AID because their male partners are sterile, couples who adopt - that people do want children, actively seek out means of having them.

The stat frequently quoted by people who want to decrease the number of abortions in the US, is that half the pregnancies in the US are unplanned and 4 out of 10 end in abortion - but it follows that half the pregnancies in the US are planned, and the vast majority of planned pregnancies do not end in abortion. If all pregnancies in the US were planned, that would cut the number of children born down by, what, 25%? (but decrease the number of abortions massively). That could only be a good thing: all children born would be wanted children.

effective birth control is progressively severing the causal link between getting it on and kids showing up nine months later

Not when the couple who get it on actually want to have a baby...

It no more severs the link between lust and reproduction than pacifiers sever the link between suckling and infant nutrition.

That's a perfect analogy to use if you're arguing that contraception doesn't sever the link.

Wait a minute.... are we still talking about the counter-factual world, or are we talking about the real world now?

...and we know already - from same-sex couples, straight/bi women who use AID because their male partners are sterile, couples who adopt - that people do want children, actively seek out means of having them.

One problem I see with this argument is that these couples you speak of became couples mainly because of sexual attraction. That was the point I was trying to make in my earlier comments. Sex isn't simply a matter of fertilization; it's also a mechanism for coupling. Most people, gay or straight, fertile or infertile, decide they want to have children after they have coupled. Sexual desire is interwoven into the dynamics of human reproduction on a great many levels and in ways too complex for us to fully understand. At this point, I would suggest that there's no way we're really going to convince each other of our opposing views and we should go consult the foremost authorities on human sexuality and evolutionary biology. Maybe we'll listen to them.

And I think it's really lame to paint Brett as a racist based on what he wrote in the context of this discussion. I know it's easy to be rude on the internet, which is why everyone has to try that much harder not to be.

hairshirdonist: One problem I see with this argument is that these couples you speak of became couples mainly because of sexual attraction. That was the point I was trying to make in my earlier comments. Sex isn't simply a matter of fertilization; it's also a mechanism for coupling.

Yes, that was a fair point.

Most people, gay or straight, fertile or infertile, decide they want to have children after they have coupled.

Most men, maybe. Most women know whether or not they want to have children independent of whether or not they've coupled. (Anecdotal evidence, I admit, but so widespread it's practically data.)

Therefore, if you remove sex as a motivator for coupling, what we would see would most likely be women who want children getting together with other people who also want children (who might mostly be women, if you're right that men mostly don't decide they want children until after they have a partner) and bringing up their children together.

And I think it's really lame to paint Brett as a racist based on what he wrote in the context of this discussion.

In the context of this discussion, yes. In the wider context, the terminology and ideas Brett is using are consistent with those used by people who are concerned about white women having fewer white children. If Brett is unaware of this context and was using the terminology in all innocence, he ought to be made aware that he is accidentally using terminology and ideas routinely put forward by people who are white supremacists in all but name.

hairshirthedonist (sorry to get your handle wrong, btw) - not to blog-whore, but something about this here, ages ago. The terminology Brett is using is absolutely classic of its kind.

Discussing the real world, I don't think the demographic transition is an immediate cause for concern, depending on how we handle it.

I'm absolutely unconcerned about how we handle it, other than that we get the citizenship part right. If you're concerned about birthrate in countries (Mexico and the like, for instance) that tend to send a lot of people our way, I think (although I won't look around for it just now) that there's some evidence that birthrate and standard of living are inversely related. I don't think there's anything intrinsic to other cultures that makes them reproduce uncontrollably.

This is one of my many pet peeves with what I consider to be the Buchananite wing of the Right: that there's this scary Replacement Birthrate thing going on. The suggestion is that there's something wrong with a culture that reproduces below replacement rate, and that those cultures should just try and out-consume, reproduction-wise, the competition.

Horse-pucky, I say. Even the (as I see it, anyway) ideologically stodgy PRC has seen the folly in that.

I am slack-jawed with amazement. Ihonestly had no idea that there were people on this poor overburdened planet who were actually sincerely worried that the human population might go down.

I gues I shouldn't be so surprised--afrer all there are stillglobal warming deniers around.

Sheesh.

I'm absolutely unconcerned about how we handle it, other than that we get the citizenship part right. If you're concerned about birthrate in countries (Mexico and the like, for instance) that tend to send a lot of people our way, I think (although I won't look around for it just now) that there's some evidence that birthrate and standard of living are inversely related. I don't think there's anything intrinsic to other cultures that makes them reproduce uncontrollably.

Given that these same concerns were expressed about other countries and earlier immigrant groups (Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, German, Irish), I think it would be safe to say that they shouldn't be taken at face value. Note that ALL of these groups, when they immigrated to America, saw their birthrates plummet after a generation or two of acculturation and economic uplift.

Most people, gay or straight, fertile or infertile, decide they want to have children after they have coupled.

I don't believe this. It certainly doesn't apply to me (a straight male), and not to other people I know.

This is one of those rare occasions when Slartibartfast and I find ourselves absolutely in agreement. (Brett, fwiw, I think the last time was probably something about Yes, Torture Is Bad.)

"The suggestion is that there's something wrong with a culture that reproduces below replacement rate,"

In a normative sense? Not at all. In a Darwinian survival sense, if it continues indefinately? Most assuredly.

The question, then, and I think it's still an open question, is whether it will continue indefinately. And to what extent it's cultural, and not a result of the intersection between our evolved drives and modern society. We did not, after all, evolve in an enviroment which included convenient birth control. Our instinctual drives may not be such as to assure our continued survival in such an enviroment.

"In a Darwinian survival sense?" Hotsefeathers. Evolution doesn't act on cultures. It acts in individuals. Humans are humans, and we're in no danger of running out of them regardless of which arbitrary subdivision of them reproduces more quickly.

We did not, after all, evolve in an enviroment which included convenient birth control.

No, we evolved in an environment in which we could be eaten by hyenas, and in which a common cold or an infected scratch could be fatal.

I don't see any danger that the world will run out of humans. There might be some subpopulations that are, in fact, in danger of extinction, but Americans (of any, or no particular, color) are not among them.

Thanks -

Brett: Our instinctual drives may not be such as to assure our continued survival in such an enviroment.

Elaine Morgan pointed out (in The Descent of Woman, 1972) the flaw in this.

If you assume that in Generation AA every person in the world has absolute control over their own fertility, and can decide for themselves exactly how many children they want to have (which is by far from being the case now, of course, but let's suppose it) then it follows that that Generation BB is made up only of children descended from people who actively wanted to have children.

If there's any genetic component involved in the desire to have children, then it follows that Generation BB will be proportionally much more likely to want to have children than Generation AA: and the same applies (more so) to Generation CC. Further, since each generation from Generation BB onwards is composed only of children who were planned and wanted from conception, it greatly decreases the likelihood of abusive families, children who knew they were unwanted, children who were actively rejected, etc.

Far from leading to species extinction, while there would undoubtedly be a dip in population as Generation AA died off, Generation BB and following generations would probably be more likely to reproduce, not less!

Why, Jes... You've finally articulated an argument for your position which makes sense! :)

Shucks, Brett, it's only that your position makes no sense at all: I've seen hills, in comparison with which you'd call that a valley.

But if it's literally never occurred to you that many people really do want to have children, then all I can say is, your circle of acquaintances must be mightily restricted.

"But if it's literally never occurred to you that many people really do want to have children"

And she loses it again. :(

How many times have I, in this thread, acknowleged that, and merely questioned whether enough people did?

How many times have I, in this thread, acknowleged that, and merely questioned whether enough people did?

Yes, rather ridiculously. Since you seem to be under the impression that most people don't like to have children, you were reading from your own mightily restricted circle and extending that to the whole human species, while stubbornly refusing to look at the evidence against this assumption.

In a Darwinian survival sense, if it continues indefinately?

Sure. But global birthrate is still above replacement, Brett. And you're concerned that we don't have enough people?

As far as I'm concerned, world population could be cut by a factor of six or more without any ill effects, and with many advantageous ones.

And let's get this straight: people are having fewer children because they choose to, not out of any lack of sexual or reproductive desire.

"Since you seem to be under the impression that most people don't like to have children"

Nope, made no such claim. Try again.

"Sure. But global birthrate is still above replacement, Brett."

Um, yeah. And most of the world's population does not yet have good access to effective birth control. Your point being?

"And you're concerned that we don't have enough people?"

Not particularly.

"As far as I'm concerned, world population could be cut by a factor of six or more without any ill effects, and with many advantageous ones."

As long as it happened very slowly, I agree. If it happened over the course of only two or three generations, OTOH, the distortion of age related demographics would have horrible implications for the average productivity of the population. I mean, who's gonna run all those nursing homes?

Um, yeah. And most of the world's population does not yet have good access to effective birth control. Your point being?

I have no idea why you think that matters, Brett. Birthrate slows in developed countries not because of diminished desire, or because of diminished fertility, but because people can and do choose to have fewer children.

Perhaps now would be a good time for you to summarize your point, as I suspect that one of two things might be happening, the second of which is that we're talking past each other.

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