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the politics of eggs
Thank God Peggy Orenstein is the person telling us about the current state of infertility options. Her piece in the Times yesterday about donor eggs covers a lot of controversy in a totally even-handed and thoughtful way. Having tried it herself, she's well-qualified to talk about the complex emotional responses women have to the process without calling its legitimacy into question.
One observation that that really struck me was the difference between how sperm and egg donation is perceived and packaged. Here's Peggy scanning the potential egg donors at Ova The Rainbow with one of the women she interviewed:
I stood behind her, watching the young women go by. Each was accompanied by an assortment of photos: girls in caps and gowns graduating from high school, sunburned and smiling on family vacations, as preschoolers in princess frocks, sporting supermodel pouts in shopping-mall glamour portraits. Sperm banks rarely provide such visuals, which is just one disparity in the packaging and treatment of male and female donors, according to a study published last month in The American Sociological Review. Egg donors are often thanked with presents and notes by recipients for their generous “gift.” Sperm donors are reminded that they’re doing a “job,” providing a “sample,” and performing an act they’d presumably do anyway — which may be why many men in the study were rattled when told a pregnancy had actually occurred. And although the men could admit they were in it for the cash, ovum donors were expected to express at least a smidge of altruism.
She also talks extensively about different answers to the "when and how to tell" question and errs on the full-disclosure side. This article is really worth reading, and seems especially crucial-- if emotional-- for those trying to decide between an egg donor and adoption. The final sentence is spot on:
“I’m just happy,” she said. Finally, Becky would be a mother, her husband a father, the two of them building a family with all the conflict, joy and unpredictability that entails — regardless of whose genes are involved.
beautiful people have more daughters and other facts of life
Here's a little fodder for your summertime dinner party conversations. Psychology Today has published a list of ten highly "politically incorrect truths about human nature." Since many of them relate to sex, babies, marriage and divorce I thought they were worth mentioning here. The ten truths are quoted from the article; the crude breakdown below is from me. I'm not sure what to make of all this, but I will be checking my husband's credit card statements when those hot flashes kick in. And next time I get whistled at on the street, I'm going to feel empowered. Oh yeah, and blonde highlights have been factored into the long-term family budget.
1. Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)
Blonde hair is more common in chidlhood; men want younger, fertile women. Therefore men are attracted to blondes. Small waists and big hips mean a woman is more fecund.
2. Humans are naturally polygamous
Men want to spread seed. More wives, more pregnancies. More spawn.
3. Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy
Rich, powerful men get all the ladies; poor losers get none! Women, on the other hand, can benefit more from sharing one fancy, rich guy than having their own slob.
4. Most suicide bombers are Muslim
Since half the Muslim men are not getting laid (b/c other half have all the wives), they are so sexually frustrated they'll do anything to get to those 72 virgins.
5. Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce
Men are more invested in son carrying on family name/wealth. Wealthier couples with no sons are more likely to divorce!
6. Beautiful people have more daughters
Beauty is more important for girls' success. Money is for boys. (The ruling class tends to have more boys-- you'll have to read the article to learn how, I'm not sure I get it!)
7. What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals
Violence and genius (in men) peek at an early age!
8. The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of
A man's midlife crisis is a response to a partner's aging (menopause) not his own age. (Ashton Kutcher may hit a midlife crisis at 30).
9. It's natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they're male)
Power is attained in order to bang lots of women. If Bill Clinton didn't use his power for a BJ, he'd be denying evolution.
10. Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist
They have so much respect for them, they treat 'em like dogs.
circumcision back in the news
CNN reports that the circumcision numbers for 2004 are in and they're down. In some places less than 50% of boys were circumcised. Gawker chimes in with the help of some foreskin-championing "hos." We have discussed this before. I do not think CNN (or those dears at Gawker) really addressed how the more recent HIV/Africa study could change this trend. I have a hunch the circumcision rates will sneak back up a little. Stay tuned for 2007 numbers (in 2010) so we can see where we are now. Then.
Auntie Flo doesn't visit here anymore
The FDA has approved a birth control pill that will eliminate periods. There’s an excellent account of the pill and surrounding debate at Slate. The basic back–and-forth goes:
It’s not natural to stop periods!
It’s not natural for women to have so many periods!
If we were cranking out babies and breastfeeding starting at the “natural” age of about 15, we’d have way less periods. According to Reproductive professor Ian Fraser,
"Breast cancer in our society is 100-fold greater than in primitive societies and having lots of menstrual cycles probably plays a role in that."
This whole discussion echoes so many other debates about what’s "natural" for women. That word always makes me wary: while "natural" often connotes goodness, nature can also suck: morning sickness, the fact that a baby doesn’t easily fit through the pelvic bones, miserable periods, death! Sometimes when I hear someone say "your body knows what to do," I curse that knowledge!
I used to to think it was wrong to prevent menstruation. Partly, it’s because I have an association between being a woman and blood: stopping the periods felt like a denial of biology, even sexuality. After all, anorexics stop menstruating. Also, ovulating involves becoming, for lack of a better word, ripe-- which is part of the whole sexual arousal package. I'd miss that sexually charged mid-month feeling if it were hormonally erased.
But the idea that maybe it wasn't so great to have so many periods for so long is starting to make sense to me: The thought of raising a child with my high school boyfriend still makes me shudder, but my body was ready to start conceiving at 15. Had this pill been available earlier and had I been--in the promiscuous heyday of my immortal twenties--able to contemplate things such as cancer risk and a limited egg stash, maybe I would have taken a couple years off and saved a pretty penny on tampons, Advil and bleach.
our bodies, ourselves ages nicely
The Our Bodies, Ourselves team has written a new book about menopause. In the liberating, anti-establishment fashion typical of their '70s classic, the authors knock off myths about the aging woman one bullet point at a time. In today's Times, Jane Brody mentions the book and looks at the sex lives of older people. The good news: loss of sex drive is neither inevitable nor the result of a woman's changing hormones. The bad news: there are tons of other reasons your sex life could go down the tubes.
birds, bees, c-sections...
I have no idea what sex and childbirth education for Chinese kids is like but according to this article, it's very minimal. But that's changing! The first step: Show 7 and 8-year-olds a video of a real life C-section.
Apparently, some of the kids were freaked out.
Maybe they should rethink the program but send those videos over here for fully grown American pregnant women to see-- just to clear up any potential confusion about surgery being 'cleaner' than a vaginal birth.
tap that bump
Inside her belly is more beer!
sex is just sex
Not that women bursting at the end of nine full months of pregnancy
don't want to have lots of intercourse just for the pleasure of it
the passion of the cruise
Heather B. Armstrong (who had a massively harsh dose of postpartum depression and was saved by anti-depressants, all of which is documented on her awesome blog Dooce) offers some amazingly enlightened, touching insights into the humanity of Tom Cruise at Alphamom.
....But I haven't ever been interested in the man behind the actor either, because to me he hasn't ever been human. I haven't ever wanted him to be human because as the central figure of my pre-adolescent sexual awakening I've always wanted him to be an untouchable wax figure, something that can't be hurt or show weakness or wake up in the morning with bad breath...
This headline, Most New Moms Exhausted: Study, is so obvious it looks like it might have been ripped from the pages of The Onion. But it's no joke. A new study from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota shows that nearly 1 in 6 women are back to work within ONE MONTH of having a baby and concludes that women need way more support (and time off) for post-partum healing. Too often the focus shifts radically from mom to baby, and she's left in the dirt (or at least in the office bathroom, sweating and tending to plugged ducts, hemorrhoids or who knows what). Maybe this study will help spread the word that for many of us, bouncing back is much more complicated than fitting into pre-pregnancy jeans.
coming soon...spa epidurals?
Aha! the brazillian wax serves an evolutionary function (besides making women look porny enough to drop trou with pride.) It prepares women for the pain of childbirth! Maybe if you had really really bad cramps while getting waxed...and swallowed a bowling ball.
header or footer?
We've been in book-land for the past few weeks, but a recent New York Times article (about men getting post-traumatic stress from too much information in the birthing room) wrenched us away from the grindstone. Basically, the guy suggests that male participation in birth, or more specifically, access to the image of his wife being split open in one way or another, is potentially damaging to the male psyche, or maybe just the male hard-on. We've heard about this phenomenon, but not first-hand. We really want to know...if you're a parent reading this: did your sex life take a lasting hit from too much birth/body info? Why do you think there was/is so much weirdness? Is it better to go back to the daddy pacing in the hall, oblivious to the reality of the "bloody show"?