[LMB] Women--indispensable

Paula Lieberman paal at gis.net
Fri Dec 3 19:19:20 GMT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Damien Sullivan" <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu>
To: "Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold." 
<lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk>
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 1:43 PM
Subject: Re: [LMB] Women--indispensable

> On Thu, Dec 02, 2010 at 07:44:44PM -0500, Thad Coons wrote:
>> I'm becoming more and more convinced, as I watch society, that feminism 
>> as
>> it's most commonly understood is a sociological dead end. For one, the
>> as well as your energy comes more often from women than men).  How far
>> do birth rates drop? Apparently, more than demographers had predicted.
>> There is some evidence that the Western Industrialized world where
>> women are most "liberated" has been most successful is that same part
>> of the world where birth rates have fallen below population
>> replacement levels. A society that does not reproduce will inevitably
>> dwindle and eventually die out. There ought to be a word for that:
>> autogenocide?
> Actually, to expand on my previous reply, if we look at the countries
> with the lowest birth rates, we see the ones that don't have enough

What about the shari'a law Islamic world? Most of those countries have very 
high birthrates... or e.g. Mexico, where machismo and other social factors 
values  and a lack of power on the part of women results in high 
reproduction rates.

> feminism.  They have the technology to break the traditional
> sex-children cycle, yes, but they still largely expect women to fill
> traditional roles.  Woman at home, man working longer hours and barely
> being seen... surprise, Japanese women choose not to sign up for this.

The ones who come to the USA generally do not like the idea of going back to 

> It's the developed countries where women and childraising are respected
> and materially supported, whether or not it fits traditional models,
> that have the recovering birthrates.  Parental leave laws (and for both
> parents), support for child care, nurse and doctor house calls,.
[snipped US politics comment]

>> counting the people who design, make, maintain, and supply it: If it 
>> takes
>> ten Lakewalkers in camp to support one Patroller in the field, how many
>> Betans does it take to support one uterine replicator?
> How many URs do you need, given people who live to be 120 and only have
> a couple children on average?
>> take place entirely outside their mother's body.  Would human
>> fetuses be bought and sold by pedigree on Jackson's Whole (or other
>> places) just like thoroughbred racehorses or AKC registered purebreeds? 
>> The
>> possibilities make the slavery of the 19th century and earlier look
>> positively benign.
> Except that the embryo (easier to sell and ship than a developing fetus)
> is just an embryo.  Buy all you want, you still have to raise it for 20
> years to get a human being.  And that's where parenting vs. slavery
> matters.  I don't really care how someone gets their child's genome,
> what matters is how they raise the child.

The genome does matter for some things, though.  A Bach offspring has an 
extremely high probability of being musical and choosing a musical career 
regardless of support or antipathy for that on the part of the people 
raising the Bach offspring, for example.

>> Why go through the trouble of gene-cleaning when you can
>> just flush the replicator and start over?
> Probably because most natural combinations of human genes will have some
> minor defects, so flushing just gets you a new set of defects.  At some
> point it may be easier to actually fix (or design) what you have.

The last Spanish Habsburg emperor was genetically extremely defective, and 
the lines which produced him were genetically defective  Only outcrossing of 
fertile members of the lines, could improve the situation back before 

> In the near term on Earth, I suspect the Gattaca shotgun approach of
> "make lots of embryos, pick the one you want" will be more viable.  I
> have no problem with that.
> In some ways, even Lois has been conservative in her imaginings, though
> Athos as Beta's misogynist evil twin was a stroke of genius.  See the
> Abh of "Crest of the Stars", or the non-fiction _Sex in the Future_
> (Robin Baker) for deeper explorations of what you can do after breaking
> the sex-reproduction link, and the necessity of having a woman to have a
> baby.

Lafiel, her brother, the [can't think of name] twins, etc., were also 
chosen, wanted, -planned- children, and raised as cherished and valued and 
wanted members of their clans.  The Abh don't have unwanted, uncherished, 
despised, abused children who grow up to be abusive socially destructive 
teenagers and adults (not that there aren't destructive and sometimes 
vicious Abh, but most of that is more mischievous than the result of being 

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