We Have Brains
In response to the following:
blinded by the light
July 19, 2004 08:03 AM
I thought I'd do something this time that's both fun and serious. I recently reread Sheri Tepper's book, Gibbon's Decline and Fall. In the story, right wing men are trying to take over the world and put women back "in their place." But during the story, a "plague" hits people, where women's breasts shrink and they stop menstruating and getting pregnant, and men stop wanting sex and their genitals shrink. It turns out, well, I won't say who/what is responsible, or why, but when it's over, the creatures give the main characters in the book the following choice:
If you choose the ruby light, then in all future time only pairs mated for life will breed once in a decade. A woman may have one child or two. Rarely, three. Never more than that. Your numbers will fit themselves into the wholeness of life. There will be room for other life than yours and better perception than now.
If you choose the topaz light, you will be come like us, parthenogenetic, mothers and daughters, with a few males born only each eighth or ninth generation. There is an advantage to our way. Where men are many, they fall easy prey to creatures like [the enemy.] And where there are only women, you need only half as many.
If you choose the emerald light, all will be with you as it was before, except that no woman will ever conceive unless she chooses to conceive, unless she is ready in mind and body and heart and has chosen so over long and careful time. No pregnancy can be forced upon any woman. If this light is chosen, no woman would say, 'Be it done unto me.' Each woman would have to say, 'I want this for myself.'
If you choose the sapphire, you will return to your former nature except in one regard. Men and women will mature quickly, almost overnight, but not for thirty years. Some creatures take that long to mature; it is not a great change. Think of a long and lovely childhood, a long and lovely youth in which to learn and travel and work, learning of oneself and of the world, followed only then by a brief reproductive maturity. Think of a life with no adolescence, a life in which only the mature may bear.
And last, if you choose this lapis light, you will be as you were, your world will be as it has always been. Remember the stories you have told me of yourselves, remember the stories I have told you of others. Remind yourselves how your world has always been. Much was His fault, but as much was not.
The group of women who hear these choices leave it to one woman in their group to decide and you never find out what her decision is. And of course, the question for this collab topic is, which light would you choose and why?
If only we could have an amalgam of the emerald and sapphire lights!
The first light would allow for every child to be wanted by his or her parents. No "accident" epithets hurled in argument. The sapphire light also allows this, since only those who are truly ready, only those who are "mature may bear" children.
The emerald light, however, does not safeguard against false senses of readiness. One may want a child. One may think she is ready and more than capable to care for a completely dependent life--but how can one ever really know that until one is put into that situation? I don't think one can know. Wanting a child and being ready and able to rear him/her are completely different things.
Conversely, the sapphire light--a prolonged childhood full of worldly investigation and self-exploration--ensures that each individual truly, fully knows her mind, her heart, herself. It has always struck me how attuned to their capabilities and desires children are. It is not until (pre-)adolescence--a time of peer pressure and, often, of reckless rebellion--that most humans begin to misjudge themselves. Imagine what it would be like to bypass that period! To build on that childhood certainty through extended, leisurely education and play--to mature without acquiring the self-censoring awkwardness, the emotional baggage so many of us do through puberty!
For the ability to know myself and to be able fully to act upon that self-knowledge, I would choose the sapphire light.