But It IS All About Sex, Isn’t It?

If you roam in feminist circles, you’ll inevitably be involved in a discussion about the sexualization of women. I constantly consume commentary about the “consumption of Black women’s bodies” and patriarchal equation of women’s worth with their sexual prowess or body image. These arguments are a vital part of the gender discussion and achieving true parity between women and men. But methinks the totality of the arguments against representing women’s bodies as sexual bodies dodges the fact that we are all sexual beings.

The human body is tuned for species survival. To do that in a fashion wholly unassisted by modern technology (or an old-fashioned turkey baster), sex usually has to be involved. Therefore, it stands to reason that the human body is hard-wired for sex. And there is some of scientific evidence to support this statement. The sexual differences between men and women are exactly what makes our species so biologically successful.

Though many of life’s exploits can be detached completely from human sexuality, there is personal value in asserting ones sexual identity. Notwithstanding the potential for exploitation, sex workers use sex or sexual prowess to make their living. People with satisfying sex lives tend to also have healthier personal relationships, higher self esteem, and assertiveness as well.

The totality of personal identity and self worth should not solely be based on sexual identity. But sexuality is a vital part of human identity. It seems to me the efforts to reject the inherent sexuality of the human species for an asexual sociological model is fallacious at best.


What Does the GOP Know About Rape?

For a party that insists discussions about social issues (namely, abortion) are a distraction, Republicans spend an awful lot of time legislating, talking about, and litigating against abortion access. It would seem that were the GOP actually unconcerned with the abortion issue and more focused on creating jobs and boosting the American economy, the unemployment rate would be well below 8 percent and the economy would have seen substantial growth above 2 percent. But alas, as evidenced by the introduction of over 1,100 reproductive health and abortion-restriction bills in federal and state level the 2011 legislative session nationwide, the GOP and their Tea Party progeny are well focused on usurping control over women’s private parts.

Abortion is a polarizing issue in the United States. A majority of Americans believe a woman should be able to control her own fertility, including having the choice whether to continue a pregnancy. Most americans agree that abortion should be allowed for victims of rape or incest, or when a woman’s health or life is at risk. But the GOP platform committee approved a party platform this week that supports banning abortion altogether without any exception for the life or health of the woman or for cases of rape or incest. The Republican National Committee will vote on this platform in full next week. The platform, including it’s careless abortion position, is likely to be approved in stride.

This week, one especially ignorant and dishonest republican, Senator Todd Akin, claimed that women cannot get pregnant from rape saying, “If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.” (I guess he’ll say anything to score points with pro-life extremists. Or maybe he is just THAT ignorant.) I don’t believe I can pull a more bullshit claim out of the ether than that.

Akin and his buddies including Paul Ryan claim that exceptions to abortion bans for women’s health, or rape and incest victims are a “red herring.” Their meaning – “exceptions to abortion bans for rape are unnecessary because women who were REALLY raped cant get pregnant”. The GOP audacity to categorize rape according to the physical state of the victim is absolutely dispicable and illustrates just how much contempt for women’s autonomy the Republican party harbors.

The statistical occurence of pregnancy among rape victims has actually been studied. According to a study presented at The South Atlantic Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1996;175:320-5), the national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0 percent per rape. Holmes, et al also concluded that rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency – to the tune of 32,101 pregnancies resulting from rape each year – and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.

But the GOP doesn’t believe “legitimate” rape victims actually become pregnant.

The real GOP policy is to force impregnated rape victims to sacrifice their bodies and their lives because a fetus is more important than any woman’s sanity, health or life.

The real red herring here is that the GOP is unlikely to confirm any woman’s rape as “legitimate” enough to sanction the woman’s choice to terminate her pregnancy. Apparentlyin GOP-land, a woman could not have possibly been raped except if she lay on her death bed after the attack. So those of us who were raped by our abusive husbands – not really raped. Those of use who were raped after we passed out from drinking – not really raped. Those of us who were slipped a date rape drug – not really raped. Those of us who stopped fighting because our attacker had big fists and a knife and we didn’t want to die – not really raped.

So next time, struggle a bit more so you have some STAB WOUNDS to prove your rape was LEGITIMATE! And since you can’t get pregnant from “legitimate” or “forcible” rape, if you do turn up preggo you must just be some kind of masochist.

What Mars Curiosity Means for Humankind

Mars Curiosity Rover has finally landed in Gale Crater, defiant of the one-in-three chance of success researchers gave her. It took five years of preparation and engineering, 8 – 1/2 months of interplanetary transport, and 350 million miles; but she’s finally arrived, plum and ready to unearth Mars’ secrets. Powered by a radioisotope generator, Curiosity will transmit pictures of the Mars landscape for at least two years (quite probably many more). Ever more importantly, as she is equipped with a gas chromatograph, mass and other spectrometers, atmospheric instrumentation, radiation detectors and more, Curiosity will analyze the surface of Mars for evidence of microbial life, measure background radiation levels, and search for evidence of water on the surface [Mars Science Lab Facts].

All this sounds wonderfully interesting, and stands to keep curious minds occupied analyzing the data for years to come. But this successful landing on Mars means so much more for humankind. The ultimate hope is that Curiosity’s work will enable scientists to successfully plan and execute a manned mission to Mars.

The arrival of humans on Mars presents enormous opportunity for humanity to better its probability of long-term survival. If Mars once harbored, but no longer harbors life, its study can reveal useful clues to into the life cycle of a planet and a future that our own planet could experience. If Mars is currently in an extinction cycle, studying it could lend insight to questions about the extinction cycles experienced on Earth.

If Mars has water – on the surface, under the surface – it opens up a whole new world for humanity. How much Uranium is on Mars? How much Thorium? Rare Earth elements? Boron, lithium, silver, gold? Mars could be awash with resources that could sustain humanity’s future. Does Mars hold the key to a sustainable technological future? Are there ethical issues that arise with the potential exploitation of a neighboring planet that could theoretically sustain life; but is (only currently) lifeless?

Curiosity  has just touched the surface. There are so many possibilities laying before us. And so many questions. What is humanity’s next step?

Random Rant: Are We Computers?

What if we are just a more primitive kind of computer created by a much further advanced life form?

Humans are not that much different from computers. We are good conductors. We send electrical signals. We store data. We have RAM and ROM type storage. We can retrieve stored data. We require energy to perform. We give off heat. We communicate and facilitate communication with other “computers.”

In fact, humans could just be an evolved form of machine. First, there were the single celled organisms. Even humans use single celled organisms to produce energy and life-saving products such as BEER!!! (Okay, okay, penicillin) Then, the dinosaurs. And all the prior manifestations of mankind. We have finally evolved into super random access memory biological machines. We can even repair ourselves!

We make a product, surely. What if we are just a machine that someone made to produce something? What if we are just a more primitive kind of computer created by a much further advanced life form? The life we know may not be the only type of “life” in the universe. We could be someone’s coincidental science experiment – a self sustaining machine made of billions of self sustaining micro processors. A universe within a universe. And what is our product? Carbon dioxide? Heat? Rubber duckies?

Could the computers we create be the next step down in computer evolution? We strive to create more and more life-like computers and artificial intelligence. But maybe we are more sophisticated gadgetry than the ai we attempt to birth. We could BE that artificial intelligence. We think we are real and that life as we know it is the only kind of life in the multiverse. But we could just be some tossed aside digital terrarium experiment that makes rubber duckies.



*As an aside, when I started talking to my husband about all this, he interrupted me saying, “I’m going to see if I can buy some pot.” I said, “What? Why would you want to do that?” He replied, “Because people don’t usually talk like that unless they are high on something. So I want to see what you’ll say when you really are high.” 🙂

Curiosity is Killing Me!

I am so anxious for Curiosity to finally land on Mars. When the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft launched in November, I was watching with baited breath, twice. The launch was postponed once, which really lucked out for me as all the televisions at work were undergoing tests the day of the first launch. (I was like, GEEZ! Don’t they know how important today is?)

Even knowing the rocket is well off on its way, set to land just 55 days from today, I knew I’d be waiting even longer than that. Curiosity was scheduled to take many months to reach her – yes, I’ve made her a grrl. It’s only fitting – primary research subject. But Curiosity announced today on her twitter feed (@MarsCuriosity – you really should follow her!) that her landing site has been adjusted and she’ll only have half the distance to travel to get to Mount Sharp.

And when she does, we are in for a great treat my lay reader friends! Curiosity seeks answers to the most profound questions of the universe (for humans, anyway). Did life exist on Mars? Are we alone in the universe? What kind of environments can support life? Could Mars once become inhabitable again?

These questions are what keeps me excited about the space program and about Curiosity. I simply cannot wait to see what Curiosity turns up next!

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS