|Opinion - Global Warning|
|Lisa Jain Thompson|
|Sunday, 05 August 2007 20:00|
shopping for my cloned ovaries and a uterus
They perform countless “reps” until their bodies react naturally and instinctively to what is a learned, unnatural act (e.g., hitting or fielding a baseball, swimming the backstroke, or playing tennis).
Even in ancient Greece, athletes took herbs and exotic elixirs to run swifter, jump higher, and be stronger than their competition. During the ancient Olympics, the induction of herbs and elixirs was considered natural and even expected.
Fifty years ago in the United States, professional baseball and basketball players took amphetamines to give them that extra edge when they were tired – the meds were considered natural, everyone took them to diet or give them extra energy. Nobody blinked an eye, certainly not the fans who would rather win than anything. Losers stayed home, winners raised banners over stadiums.
Since the 1990s, athletes, professional and amateur, have used specific herbs and elixirs to build muscle mass and endurance. Initially the enhancers were natural substances containing steroids, but rapidly switched to synthetic equivalents because the results were more predictable.
The medicine got ahead of the athletes, the governing organizations, and the fans. Performances soared until the governing organizations began to arbitrarily divide the world in natural and unnatural substances (and, in doing so, prohibited a number of natural herbs and meds).
The lines between natural and unnatural blurred. Where was the dividing line? Doing steroids – bad (if you used them to build muscle mass); doing steroids – good (if you used them to heal an injury or cure a disease). If you used technology and a nautilus machine to build your body that was good, if you used technology and steroids to reach your body’s full potential, that was bad. What was natural and what was unnatural? Is gene splicing permitted? Who knows? Who could tell?
Which brings me to the point of this rambling discussion. What do we mean when we say someone is a woman? What is natural and what is an unnatural enhancement?
If we draw a line between those women who use hormones, and those who do not, we must throw out birth control pills and natural substances that enhance estrogen uptake or provide natural equivalents. If we decree that a woman must bleed each month, we eliminate those woman born without a uterus or ovaries and all women past menopause or who have had a hysterectomy.
What is natural and what is artifice? Who should draw the line?
Do full breasts make a woman or are flat-chested nipples enough? Both are natural but the small breasted woman may use artifice to enhance her cleavage. Where does natural end and artifice begin?
If a woman chooses to have breast implants, that is obviously unnatural (and may be considered an unfair enhancement by lesser endowed women with smaller bank accounts). Who decides what a woman should be?
Is an unadorned face, sans make-up and grooming, more naturally womanish than a carefully made-up one? Women have been enhancing their looks sense Homo Sapiens began. Who is to say that is not natural for a woman to use make-up? It’s what the female of our species does.
Is a shaved head (an unnatural act) more authentic than one covered with long hair?
If you shave inches off your waistline by exercise, that is within the rules; but if you lose inches via a plastic surgeon, that is unnatural?
Exercise for exercise’s sake is no more natural than a surgeon’s knife.
Everything is arbitrary and only the self-appointed judges possess the knowledge of good and evil.
Which brings me back to the point of this column (and, as Ellen says, I do have a point), what is a natural woman?
Breasts, no breasts, or silicone enhanced, a woman’s body has more estrogen than testosterone.
The estrogen drives the way the brain was configured, maintains that configuration, patterns the physical relationships of synapses and neurons within the brain.
At best, ovaries were designed to work for 30-40 years. A woman’s body is designed to menstruate when not pregnant, but does that mean women without ovaries are not women?
What is natural?
If you reduce a woman to blood, cramps, and Tampax ®, you are no better than some priest or shaman who shunts bleeding women to a tent outside the village where they must be ritually cleansed before they can return home. This was our way for centuries.
What is more natural, the bleeding or the shunning?
The trained eye cannot tell the difference between a surgically constructed/reconstructed vagina and one that developed untouched by human hand. Both serve the function for which they design. Who is to say this one is good and that bad?
If you reduce a woman to a hole in which to place a pole, you have reduced all women to bits and pieces.
A woman is more than a listing of her parts.
If the ability to bear children is natural, what of the women who do not or were born without wombs. Do they not count as women because they do not bear children?
What of women who are unable to conceive but have in vitro fetuses implanted in themselves? Do we now define that medical breakthrough as natural?
Who decides what medicine and science is natural and permitted and what is not?
If in a decade or two, a woman born transsexual uses her own natural cells to clone and implant working ovaries and a uterus in body, would she not bleed as she cycled, become pregnant when sperm met ova, give birth when her time was full?
Behold the woman and her child.
Would she be less than any other woman however born?
Defining what is natural is a social construct that shifts and changes throughout time and space.
A woman is not her clothing, whether she wears make-up or not, or if she is tall or short. The rule makers, whether they are John Hopkins University, Germaine Greer, the Catholic Church, or the Michigan Women’s festival, are more interested in exercising their own personal power bases, than making defensible decisions.
Science and medicine are natural because they are done by humans who are the product of millions of years of natural evolution. Nothing we do is unnatural: all that we do is true to our nature as evolution made us.
Arbitrary distinctions remain arbitrary, as does the definition of what is or is not natural.
All people are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights: Life, Liberty, Biotechnology, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
And now I would like to get in line for my cloned ovaries and uterus.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 August 2007 14:48|