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Zoethe

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Outrageous, but inevitable? [Jul. 1st, 2010|12:25 pm]
Zoethe
Yesterday Dan Savage wrote about a clinical study designed to treat female fetuses with hormones to make them more classically girly. In other words, this risky hormone treatment is specifically designed to make little girls interested in playing with baby dolls and growing up to want to be good mommies. And to decrease the number of lesbian and bisexual women.

Get beyond the absolute outrage of how they can dare to make a judgment call that "girly" women are somehow superior as mothers - and apparently more desirable as people. Get beyond the fury at the idea that eliminating lesbians is somehow a societal good. Get beyond the dizzying notion that doctors would propose - and mothers would allow - treatment of undeveloped fetuses with incredibly risky and poorly tested hormones. Take a few moments to get past seeing red for all these things.

And then let me point out my reaction. After the initial "How could they dare?" my next thought was "How could we not see it coming?"

Ever since we started genetic screening in vitro for Down's Syndrome and other genetic anomalies, ever since we started trying to select the sex of our children, the notion of designers babies has been out there. When we think about designer babies, it's in an abstract sort of way - healthier, better looking, stronger, smarter, etc. But here's the thing: the more we work to make perfect babies, the less individuality there will be in the species.

So, in a designer world, there won't be the weird kid, the nerdy kid, the fat kid, the kid that acts out. My god, how boring a world would it be.

It's our crazy individuality that makes us strong and interesting. And while we appreciate it in the people we know, the unborn are an abstract, and the abstract is malleable in our minds. Any expectant parents can tell you that they have lots of daydreams about who their baby will be. But when we start treating that abstract less like a gift of chance and more like Play-Doh, proposals such as this disgusting experiment are inevitable.
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[User Picture]From: letoile82
2010-07-01 04:30 pm (UTC)
Whenever my son (who is 10) asks me something like what I would want him to be when he grows up, my only answer is 'happy'. Who he loves, what he does for a living - all I want is for those things to make him happy. Not for it to fit into some idea of normalcy I have in my mind.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 10:05 pm (UTC)
That's a great answer.
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[User Picture]From: angela_n_hunt
2010-07-01 04:53 pm (UTC)
Fabulous. *waves the sarcasm flag furiously*

I can't even get angry anymore, I'm just so unsurprised. Disgusted, yes. I can work that up.

Sweet gods and little fishes.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 10:20 pm (UTC)
Maybe they can find a way to genetically remove girl fetus's lower ribs so they can be snugged into corsets and raised in the Victorian style.
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From: jennb45
2010-07-01 05:11 pm (UTC)
I've read a few articles about the problem of proving that sexual orientation is in fact genetic. On one hand, yup, you are who you are. Born that way, no options. Excellent, now all those totally wacked out relgious fix-it conversion centers can go away.

On the hand, future moms and dads can now get their fetuses screened for this particular genetic "deformity." And just like that, problem solved.

Of course, there is always the theory that in the end nature always gets its way....
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 10:05 pm (UTC)
It's terrifying to imagine. And thank god for nature. It will kick our asses.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 10:04 pm (UTC)
That is completely beside the point, of course.
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2010-07-01 05:16 pm (UTC)
I was supposed to be the girl of the family, according to the various family friends anyway. My parents already had my two brothers who arrived six and five years before I came along. Apparently when these people found out my mom was pregnant, they said, "Oh, think pink!" However, they had another boy and both my parents were happy because all they wanted from their babies was that they were healthy. In fact, my mom was in a ward with other mothers recovering from giving birth and there was this one particular woman who was so pissed off that she had had another baby boy instead of a girl that she said she didn't even want to see him. A doctor came in to try to reason with the stupid bitch. He said something like, "Now, look: You should be grateful that your baby is healthy and alive."

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[User Picture]From: jumpinfool
2010-07-01 05:34 pm (UTC)
Aaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!

These people Do Not Get It. Oh, sure, they pay lip service to diversity--even support & pass lots of legislation on it--but only in cases where they have begrudgingly accepted that the "problem" (the existence of N----rs, Kikes, Wops, Chinks, Japs, Spics, Micks, Krauts, whatevers) can't be "fixed."

But sexuality--ah, _that_ problem _can_ be fixed (they think; I'm not so sure, even with genetic and chemical manipulation). My sadly cynical view of the situation is that any form of diversity that _can_ be eliminated, some part of the population will want to eliminate. We can only hope that that faction is small enough to be overpowered politically by The Rest of Us.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 09:54 pm (UTC)
I guess it's part of the progress: bring sexuality into the light, and then deal with accepting it. But it's scary to think that people would risk the future health of their daughters for such a dubious benefit. Who knows what kinds of cancers and things we will see in 30 or 40 years from this kind of mutagenic treatment?
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[User Picture]From: kythsharrie
2010-07-01 05:39 pm (UTC)
Dan Savage finds the most interesting of articles and news. I'm glad for him being around, especially after I read the bit about Cornell and a doctor actually surgically altering little girls' clitoris to make them look "appropriate sized". *shudders*

What is wrong with this world when we can't accept differences?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 10:03 pm (UTC)
I find the theory that girly girls = straight girls completely laughable. It's fake pseudoscience. And sad.
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[User Picture]From: candiedheart
2010-07-01 05:54 pm (UTC)
This is insane.
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[User Picture]From: the_magician
2010-07-01 05:55 pm (UTC)
Did I miss something?

to make little girls interested in playing with baby dolls and growing up to want to be good mommies.

And to decrease the number of lesbian and bisexual women.

So, er, where's the evidence that wanting to be a mother or to play with dolls stops you being a lesbian or bisexual? Or somehow "converts you in the womb"? ... obviously I've not read the article, because my time is precious, certainly too precious to be reading obvious junk "science" like that.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 06:19 pm (UTC)
You aren't missing something, but they certainly are. Their research connects the two. Which is, of course, insane.
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[User Picture]From: dhimahi
2010-07-01 06:15 pm (UTC)
What is truly scary is that Dr. Maria New has been doing this for 20 years.

I mean didn't these morons learn ANYthing from what happened with David Reimer?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 09:59 pm (UTC)
Of course not. Children are blank slates, and if we can mutate them before birth, even better!

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[User Picture]From: cinema_babe
2010-07-01 06:17 pm (UTC)
I saw this yesterday and I was saddened but not surprised.

I see a few issues here:
(a)There is a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CHA), this isn't something invented for this study. However there *are* other treatments for this condition. While the current treatment involves

(b)I am greatly disturbed by Doctor's New and Meyer-Bahlburg's reasoning behind using this conducting the experiment. Gender normative (read: stereotypical) behavior should not be a reason (stated or implied) for dosing women and their fetuses up with some drug. Their comments verge on eugenics.

(c)So much of their feeble argument seems based on sparing parents any kind of distress. God forbid your child not play with dolls like all the rest of the little girls. God forbid she's not a deferential delicate flower letter a big strong man do all the heavy lifting for her. God forbid she be bisexual or gay. I question whether parental discomfort is an adequate reason to do this study.

(d)They are conducting this study without the oversight of an IRB? WTF??!! I know that some people find IRBs to be a PIA but they do serve a purpose one of which is to ensure that study protocols carry a reasonable amount of risk for the participants. Who is protecting the participants and who is their voice?

(e)Finally, this goes back to the whole idea of gender as a binary? male/female, check one and only one. I tend to believe that gender is more of an inverted bell curve. While most people fall towards the ends, there are people all along the spectrum. Are those people a problem to be solved?

Yup this has homophobic, suspect science written all over it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 10:00 pm (UTC)
It makes me sad and scared.
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[User Picture]From: mamculuna
2010-07-01 06:24 pm (UTC)
I just finished reading The Windup Girl, about this very issue, and a lot of related ones. If you even have the time, I think you'd find it interesting (by Paolo Bacigalupi).
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 10:00 pm (UTC)
I have been meaning to read it.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-07-01 06:41 pm (UTC)
"Get beyond the absolute outrage of how they can dare to make a judgment call that "girly" women are somehow superior as mothers - and apparently more desirable as people. Get beyond the fury at the idea that eliminating lesbians is somehow a societal good. Get beyond the dizzying notion that doctors would propose - and mothers would allow - treatment of undeveloped fetuses with incredibly risky and poorly tested hormones. Take a few moments to get past seeing red for all these things."

Nope, sorry. Tried and I can't.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 06:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, me either, really.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 10:01 pm (UTC)
I don't think we'll ever get to Gattaca because we will collapse ourselves as a species long before that. We lack the knowledge and imagination to make it work.
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[User Picture]From: miintikwa
2010-07-01 08:16 pm (UTC)
I can't get past wondering how much information the people involved were actually given about the risks involved. Because according to an update, there was an article done on the risks, and it's better to risk birth defects or a dead baby than a gay one? If that's how these homophobic fuckers feel, they don't deserve the blessing of being able to have a baby. *enraged*
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-01 10:02 pm (UTC)
I feel sorry for the daughters/victims. Undoubtedly in 20 years they will be diagnosed with horrible cancers or other diseases. It's so foolish.
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[User Picture]From: mzwyndi
2010-07-01 10:53 pm (UTC)

Outrageous, but inevitable?

After the ire subsided, I began to laugh. The science is so poor, the information so sketchy, this weird experimentation is only barbarism. It will backfire, surely. They do not understand the Irony at work.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-02 12:43 am (UTC)

Re: Outrageous, but inevitable?

But in the meantime, women and babies will suffer.
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[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2010-07-01 11:08 pm (UTC)

Gattica has become reality.

So it finally happened. I'm not surprised, but I'm scared. Who knows what horrors will be unleashed on humanity by these incredibly arrogant scientist. ( Sounds like something out of a 60' sci fi film)

Well I guess the Sarah Palins of this world will be very happy.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-02 12:45 am (UTC)

Re: Gattica has become reality.

Until it all collapses under it's own foolishness.

Remember the Chiffon Margarine ads? "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature." [ka-boom!!!!!]
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[User Picture]From: cynic51
2010-07-02 12:42 am (UTC)
I'm not worried. Nurture is such a huge part of personality traits that we'll always have tons of crazy awesome individuality.

Plus, if we do figure out how to boost everybody's intelligence 20% or whatever, maybe we can hope that we'll all be smart enough to not worry about this shit any more.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-02 12:44 pm (UTC)
I'm more concerned with the likely appalling effects these children will encounter later in life. Like cancers or early onset Alzheimer's.
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[User Picture]From: oceansedge
2010-07-02 02:39 am (UTC)
I am sooooooooo linking to this!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-02 12:48 pm (UTC)
Link away!
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[User Picture]From: bart_calendar
2010-07-02 07:19 am (UTC)
I generally have no interest in having children, but if it gets to the point where I can order one that will grow up to be a seven foot tall hermaphrodite cyclops with a megalomaniac desire to rule the world with an iron fist, I'll happily order one and change diapers and save up for its college fund.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-02 12:34 pm (UTC)
I think your priorities are going to be low on the list of Bad Science experiments....
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[User Picture]From: meyerweb.com
2010-07-02 02:18 pm (UTC)
Completely inevitable. Some of us did see it coming years ago, and also saw that there was nothing that could stop it. What I also see coming is a surfeit of unintended consequences, only some of which we can imagine at this stage.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-02 02:33 pm (UTC)
You always were an optimist.
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[User Picture]From: matt_doyle
2010-07-02 06:04 pm (UTC)
Things like this - I don't know if 'eugenics' is the right term when it's a hormone treatment and not strictly genetic, but it's definitely related have the potential to be the most terrifying and prejudice-reinforcing thing on so many fronts (racism, sexism, classism, homophobia) ... it's disgusting and frightening.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-02 08:05 pm (UTC)
It boggles me.
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[User Picture]From: kenp_v3
2010-07-02 09:56 pm (UTC)
Haven't there been enough science fiction movies made (like Gattica- mentioned above) to warn us about the inevitable results of genetic tampering?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-02 10:19 pm (UTC)
We're always arrogant enough to think that we are better at it.
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[User Picture]From: scarletdemon
2010-07-03 12:03 am (UTC)
I agree, it sounds vile. I'm really old-fashioned about fiddling with stuff like this - The fact that we are all flawed is part of our beauty.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-03 12:45 am (UTC)
Precisely.
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[User Picture]From: noshot
2010-07-03 04:43 am (UTC)
"So, in a designer world, there won't be the weird kid, the nerdy kid, the fat kid, the kid that acts out. My god, how boring a world would it be."

Yeah, it would be boring...for the jocks.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-03 05:12 am (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by that. Are you saying that those people are only useful as bully fodder? Seriously?
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