[LMB] Betan control of pregnancy

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com
Sat Nov 7 20:58:38 GMT 2015

On 11/7/2015 6:06 AM, Elizabeth Stowe wrote:
> Matt: Cordelia has occasionally suggested that Barrayarans cut their kids' tubes
> and let them find their own damnation.
> <snip>
> There is of course the concept of 'fairness'.
> es: That's what annoys me when I reread the stories. The Betans control women in order to reach a supposedly shared societal goal just like any earthly institution does/has done. They cloak it in "we're more advanced than the rest of you" rhetoric.
The Betans control /everyone/.  Cordelia implies that men have implants 
too--"a biochemical padlock on everyone's gonads" is what she says in 
ACC--but the point is that NOBODY can have children without government 
approval.  It isn't any more or less onerous on the women than it is on 
the men, and Cordelia (prior to coming to Barrayar) doesn't really seem 
to have a concept that one gender can be more or less controlled than 
the other.  It just doesn't make sense to her.  It doesn't matter how 
much "we're more advanced" rhetoric there is, she's a smart woman.  She 
would have noticed /something/, even if she were able to explain it away.
> The idea of innocent Kareen going off to Beta Colony to have a series of procedures which include hymen snipping, first sex with a hermaphrodite (because she wasn't comfortable with a man), and that sex with Mark watching creeps me out. I'm on Drou and Kou's side here. Cordelia pushed her into it, too.
How did Cordelia push her into it?  Every bit of textev I can find 
implies that Kareen was completely fine on Beta, and indeed much prefers 
the attitudes and customs there.  Her problem is trying to deal with her 
parents whom she loves who want to stuff her back into the Barrayaran 
box where she doesn't want to be.  As a long-term resident, she might be 
required to have the implant (*might*, we know it's required for 
citizens but probably not for visitors, even long-term ones like 
students).  There is absolutely no textev that anything else might be 
required or pressured.  She was nervous going in, but who isn't their 
first time?  She had no trauma anywhere in the process, and looks on it 
as a positive experience, or at the very least a neutral one.

She thought it was good and explicitly preferred it the way it 
happened.  You complain about Beta controlling women, but you're the one 
ignoring Kareen's own stated preferences.  Also, why does the hymen 
thing bother you?  Good lord, a hymen serves no purpose except to cause 
pain, and with their tech it should be extremely easy to get rid of!  If 
I were her doctor, I'd have advised her to get that taken care of 
regardless of whether or not she was planning on sexual activity at any 
time in the near future.

Also: you assume that because she wasn't comfortable having sex with a 
/man/ her first time, that means she wasn't comfortable with the whole 
concept of having sex.  That is, er, a rather large leap to make, as 
well as very heteronormative.  Ignoring the heteronormative bits, it's 
like saying that because someone isn't comfortable with full-on 
penetrative sex their first time with another person that obviously they 
can't be ready for, say, mutual masturbation or oral sex or something 
else that still involves getting off with another person but /feels/ 
less like a big scary step, for whatever reason.  Most people, in my 
experience, like to kind of ease in to sexual activity their first 
time.  They genuinely want it, but realize (correctly) that it is a big 
step. Kareen was able to take that step at her own pace, with as much 
medical, informational, and sexual help as she wanted, in a 
non-judgmental place where there would be no negative or unforseen 

Mark was not watching, he was waiting anxiously to see how it went, 
nervous because his own experiences had been so bad.  The question is 
not whether /you/ are creeped out by it, but whether /Kareen/ is creeped 
out by it ... and she shows no indication of ever having been so.

> I agree, too, with Raye's point that it's easier to sterilize men (and reverse sterilize). If that choice was conscious, it contributes to the scenario where a brilliant survey officer isn't promoted to captain because a man tricks her into stepping back from the competition -- by offering her children.
Yeah, but we're not talking sterilization.  They "put a padlock on your 
gonads" which, combined with other things like the fact that it turns a 
woman's period off, sounds more like a really-effective version of 
today's birth control implants.

I'm not sure what exactly your point is here.  Are you saying that their 
reproductive choices are somehow specially hard on women, and that made 
Cordelia vulnerable?  How do you figure that?  Nobody, male or female, 
gets children without approval, and how much people want children varies 
by individual (and is probably a lot less gender-dependent than we 
assume--the most baby-crazy person I know personally is a guy).  And 
there will always be manipulative creeps who prey on people--even 
otherwise strong people--and use whatever things are at hand to do it.  
Which is why men suffer from domestic abuse, and not just women.  In our 
world, a situation like Cordelia's would be greatly influenced by 
sexism.  You seem to be saying that, despite all evidence to the 
contrary, because systematic sexism would have helped a manipulative 
creep in our world, therefore the manipulative creep Cordelia fell afoul 
of must also have had systematic sexism backing him up.

Beatrice Otter

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