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Comments by LaurieB

Go to: A lawsuit too far?

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by LaurieB

Here we go again. I was dead set against the Rhode Island cross monument and I'm dead set against a PUBLIC Elementary School forcing its music students to perform church songs. For those here who are not American please understand that this has nothing to do with feelings. This is a violation of our National Constitution. I'm very happy when FFRF goes after these predatory indoctrinators. If they want to teach religious music then do it in their local church. There's no shortage of them in this place. Granted, I know nothing about music education whatsoever, but seriously, are we hard up for decent simple little musical pieces for elementary school students? I mean, we're not talking about Handel for an 8 year old, are we?

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 00:41:37 UTC | #950912

Go to: Benefits for young atheists?

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by LaurieB

If you are an atheist then I recommend that you start putting distance between yourself and the church. I realize that you are 15 years old and that this could be difficult if your family requires you to attend. If you continue to attend Catholic schools at the college level I can only assume you will be functioning in a state of absolute aggravation by the time you graduate. What good can ever come of that?

Please don't think that I take your dilema lightly. I had a difficult time of it when as a teen I wriggled my way out of the Methodist church that I was brought up in. Now at 50 I have a fair amount of bitter resentment against the brainwashed adults who at that time, heaped negativity on me over the whole ordeal. One side of my family are Methodists and the other side are Baptists. They believe that the Bible is literally true in every way. Even now I don't have a single family member that supports me in my atheism. They ignore the whole subject like the plague. You see, it's not just the Catholics that control their youth in mean and cruel ways. I hope you can find at least one or two adult family members who will defend your freethinking ways. That would make such a tremendous difference to someone your age, even if they don't agree with your views, the least they could do is celebrate your independent nature. If you can't find someone in your family then seek out mentors where ever you can find them.

As for the college applications, have you looked at any public universities? Surely you don't think that only Catholic schools are the best schools, do you? I've now helped my own kids with their applications and several of their cousins too and I don't see any problem with them being atheists. There is no place on the applications where you need to worry about the religion thing. And there are plenty of ways to promote yourself as a morally good person. Think about all the humanitarian organizations out there that you can join and really make a difference. Get out there an volunteer at any number of places that would be thrilled to have your help. I'm thinking about all the nursing homes in every town that are full of lonely elderly people who would be delighted to have a young person to talk to. What about shelters for battered women and soup kitchens for the homeless? If you are strong in any particular academic subject, how about spending time in elementary schools tutoring kids who struggle academically to do their homework. Many of them have no help at home.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head but really, the list could go on and on. You don't need to join a church youth group to demonstrate your moral fitness on a college application. I know that because I belonged to these dull groups at your age. When I finally was allowed to quit the church and then the day I moved out of home and went off to (public) University was a day of freedom for me. I hope you have that feeling on some day in the future too. Now as an adult I feel that I have a great power in this life that I'm not afraid to speak in defense of oppressed people on an international scale. At your age I read every book I could get my hands on about feminism and political movements. Then after graduation I traveled and lived in a tough third world country where I saw the tragic consequences that religion heaps on women there. I now see those people who tried to brainwash me as being very small minded, frightened, and judgmental and I'm so thankful that I'm not one of them.

I wish you the best of luck as you forge your way through all of this. Try to avoid bitter negativity and always remind yourself how lucky you are that you have an independent and intelligent mind. Go for it!

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 13:39:32 UTC | #949891

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 65 by LaurieB



Natural State

Spiritual Beliefs

How did you decide that in their natural state men and women have spiritual beliefs and that it's a universal fact?

Are you having a hard time reconciling our fascinating skills and talents with our more dastardly, unsavory behavioral repertoire?

Wed, 11 Jul 2012 08:24:35 UTC | #948889

Go to: Special objections to the right to die - purely religious?

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by LaurieB

My state of Massachusetts, USA is voting on a right to die bill this coming November. The bloviating Priests in the Catholic churches have been foaming at the mouth for a couple months about this already.

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 20:01:02 UTC | #948647

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by LaurieB


Here's another wiki paragraph from "child abandonment" page that explains about the connection between child abandonment and infanticide.

From Wikipedia:



Historically, many cultures practiced abandonment of infants, called "infant exposure." Although such children would survive if taken up by others, exposure is often considered a form of infanticide—as described by Tertullian in his Apology: "it is certainly the more cruel way to kill. . . by exposure to cold and hunger and dogs" Similarly, there have been instances of homicidal neglect by confinement of infants or children such as in the affair of the Osaka child abandonment case or the affair of 2 abandoned children in Calgary, Alberta, Canada by their mother Rie Fujii. Medieval laws in Europe governing child abandonment, as for example the Visigothic Code, often prescribed that the person who had taken up the child was entitled to the child's service as a slave.

@@@@ end wiki

Hope these two wiki quotes can explain better why both wet nursing and child abandonment are both considered forms of infanticide. Guess I was a little too blunt with my "abandonment = infanticide" statement. heh..

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 19:47:05 UTC | #948644

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by LaurieB


Here is the Wiki paragraph on wet nursing. I'd like to get you a better source but I'm on vacation and far from the comfort of my personal library.

From Wikipedia:


Renaissance to twentieth century Wet nursing was reported in France in the time of Louis XIV, the early 17th century. It was commonplace in the British Isles: For years it was a really good job for a woman. In 17th- and 18th-century Britain a woman would earn more money as a wet nurse than her husband could as a laborer. And if you were a royal wet nurse you would be honored for life.[6]

Jane Austen mentions the practice in her novel Emma. Women took in babies for money in Victorian Britain, and nursed them themselves or fed them with whatever was cheapest. This was known as baby-farming; poor care sometimes resulted in high infant death rates. Dr Naomi Baumslag[17] noted legendary wet-nurse Judith Waterford: "In 1831, on her 81st birthday, she could still produce breast milk. In her prime she unfailingly produced two quarts (four pints or 2.3 litres) of breast milk a day."[6] Wet nurses were common for children of all social ranks in the southern United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Steven Pinker speculated that Sigmund Freud's theories about the Oedipal complex were the result of Freud being raised by a wet-nurse, rather than his mother, because this dissociation from his mother would have prevented the Westermarck effect from taking hold.[18] Wet nursing has sometimes been used with old or sick people who have trouble taking other nutrition. Following the widespread marketing and availability of artificial baby milk, or infant formula, wet nursing went into decline after World War II and fell out of style in the affluence of the mid-1950s. Wet nurses are no longer considered necessary in developed nations and, therefore, are no longer common.

@@@@@@@ end of wiki quote

The part that I'm most interested in is the statement on the high death rates. See it? It was known that those babies often died when sent out to the wet nurses. I'm not saying that those mothers knew that on a conscious level exactly. Maybe they did and maybe they didn't but what I think they knew was that they were in over their heads with hoards of screaming babies that they couldn't take care of. I'm assuming that they didn't have any way to stop the pregnancies and you know that the church was adamant about doing their "wifely duties" and all. What the hell could they do about it?

I'll try to find something on the drop off orphanages.

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 19:38:57 UTC | #948643

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 54 by LaurieB


:-) Ohhh, come on now eve, let's not blow a fucking gasket over this whole unsavory mess. I'm not talking whatsoever about victorian unwed young moms and how society screwed them over, literally and figuratively. And not about hideous baby farmers either. But if you want to read a cool book about that try Fingersmith by Susan Waters. It's a fiction, which I rarely read any of but what a hum-dinger!

Now rest assured, I'm not saying abortion is murder. Did I even say that? No way. I'm pro-choice! Look, what that article is considering is exactly what we already know. It's a pro-choice, pro-science perspective. Instead of the pro-life stance which is that "life begins at conception" the article is considering the idea that there isn't any difference really between the consciousness and awareness of a late term fetus and a newborn. This is why late term abortion is illegal. Do you think that late term abortion is fine? Do you think that late term abortion is much different than post birth "murder"? This is what the article is attempting to sort out. That's as far as I had time to get in that article and I'll go over it in closer detail tomorrow in the am when I'm fresh.

You know, it's perfectly consistent for us to carry a feminist hard line and still take a truthful and realistic view of our own sexuality and reproductive strategies too you know! Some unsavory truths to be dealt with but what a fantastic scenario we have - all said and done! Take it easy on the bangers and mash though...just sayin...

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 18:44:06 UTC | #948636

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by LaurieB

Red Dog,

We don't have much disagreement here, believe it or not. Ok, the part about the birds required no correction from you. I included it as a sort of timeline that was meant to explain how I got to my present position on this whole thing. The birds part was what I used to think up until about 5 years ago. Over and done. Since then, I've apparently been reading much of the same stuff that you have been reading too. Don't worry, Trivers will bring you most of the way and Hrdy will get you the rest of the way. She studied under him I think I heard somewhere. Maybe from her when she spoke at Harvard last year.

Of course mothers want to protect their offspring at all costs. That's a given. What we are talking about here are special circumstances where she's between a rock and a hard place in conditions that don't seem to exist here and now. When I talk about the evolution of female reproductive strategies I'm sure as shit not talking about a hundred years ago but an immense timeline that extends into our deep past.

you said: (I'm afraid to try blockquote because I screwed it up so bad on previous thread)

" I do agree that there is a lot of conditioning from the paternalistic, sexist Abrahemic religions but I think at least part of the reasons for such conditioning is that we are wired by evolution to want to nurture our children, and the evolutionary pressure is even higher for women then men."

I don't quite get this. If you are saying that we are wired by evolution to want to nurture our children.. I have no argument with that but are you saying that religions have just jumped on that bandwagon and serve to reinforce what's already there? We don't need it. They use the glorified, purified, sanctified motherhood thing to make us feel bad when we have different ideas about our relationships and how we want them to proceed.

"Because as humans we can rise above (or in some cases fall below) the direction our genes push us. We are capable of over riding our genetic programming to make decisions for ourselves."

Of course this is true! I override my evolutionary imperatives every day and so don't most of us! Just because I talk about how things must have been, that doesn't mean it's all fine and dandy in the here and now! Jeezis! I'm surprised I even have to explain it on THIS website!

I hope you will read more on this and come back for more discussion. It's not an easy subject, as I said previously, and it takes some getting used to. Again, I doubt if we even disagree about anything, just that you're missing some information. Naturally, those authors mentioned above have a talent for explaining these concepts that I lack. :-)

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 18:19:28 UTC | #948633

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by LaurieB

Looks like we got moved off the front page.

Check this article that has been causing quite a kerfuffle having to do with infanticide in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 16:24:18 UTC | #948620

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by LaurieB

Red Dog

It's not a typo. I mean to say infanticide by human females. I get it that this doesn't make sense. It never made sense to me either. In fact, I used to hold near and dear the idea that motherly love was unconditional and the strongest instinct that functioned in my brain. Then I started reading evo bio/psych and everything changed. Now I think I was programed to believe in unconditional motherly love by the whole Virgin Mary worshipping damn church. That's not how women tick.

What started the whole big question for me was with birds. I think I always knew that mother birds sometimes booted a baby bird out of the nest for whatever reason. I think the explanation was that it was a runt and it was just merciful that she made short work of it. Better for it's siblings that it was one less mouth to feed. Still, it never sat well with me. I thought, so what if it's runty? It will probably be able to reproduce at some later date anyway and there you have it, the genes have moved forward into the next generation. What's not to like? So this question of infanticide in birds never did have any satisfactory answer for me but I thought the ways of birds have nothing to do with us human females. We love our babies unconditionally and this is a superior trait that we have! sigh...:-(

A few years ago while reading on reproductive strategies of monkeys and apes I came across the fact that new males come marauding in and kill all the babies that are not theirs and bring the females into fertility. Ok, again I thought, wow, we're different and civilized. Then I saw the stats on stepfather violence and had something of a comeuppance. The next bunch of books I read were by Sarah Hrdy, who I mentioned above. Her books, Mother Nature and Mothers and Others are a detailed analysis of the reproductive strategies of female primates, including human females and these books destroyed any pie in the sky idealism that I had left in me concerning me and my fellow females.

I strongly recommend anyone reading these books for a clear picture of this subject. The infanticide that we engage in (though out our evolutionary past) has not been the dastardly shit that Premiseless talks about above. It takes the form of abandonment in the hours after birth. Of course this was infanticide. The statistics on newborn abandonment in Europe are shocking and this took place until relatively recently. What about the fact that European mothers placed newborns out to wet nurses as a regular practice and probably knew that most of those babies never came back alive. There were orphanages with little revolving doors in the wall to accept abandoned babies anonymously. There are many examples of baby abandonment, especially with hunter gatherers and right up to modern times that are nothing less than infanticide. Abandonment = infanticide. Our modern day version is of course, abortion. It is the abandonment of a (future) child. In times past I will assume that abortion was medically way too risky to the life of the mother and not an option. Even with high labor and delivery mortality rates in the past, she would have been safer to see the pregnancy through to term and abandon it at that point.

Why would she do it? Spacing of offspring is of crucial concern to women. If we go back in time a bit or into a present day hunter-gatherer band, one baby requires a significant increase in food resources. They are calorie expensive and so is the pregnancy for that matter. Once it's born she needs help from others around her. If resources are already tight then another mouth to feed could be a disaster. It would be a serious threat to the other children she already has. If a female is breast feeding and is not carrying an extra ounce of fat on her own body then her fertility will be compromised just like other primates. But if something goes wrong and she finds herself pregnant with a totally dependent one year old then she's got a real problem, right? Now the toddler and the newborn will be in direct competition for food and attention and I have to think that they will both be in jeopardy. What to do...

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 15:03:36 UTC | #948605

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by LaurieB


Exposing the degree to which religion has warped and distorted the true nature of our sexuality and reproductive behavior is in no way irrelevant. We are half of the population. The virgin/whore dichotomy that is and has been imposed on us has been psychologically devastating. Religion has disabled our ability to control our own fertility. You apparently take this lightly, maybe plenty of guys do so, but I'm willing to bet that my fellow females here on this site don't take it lightly at all. Is this really a waste of time? We don't think so.

Of course I'll be dancing in the streets if religion disappears from the face of the earth. I doubt if any of us will live long enough to see it but the progress we've seen even in the past decade is encouraging. You might consider that as more women realize the extent to which they have been controlled and manipulated by Judaism, Christianity and Islam, they will reject these patriarchal institutions and embrace a more female centered view of sexuality and reproduction and encourage more women to leave their archaic beliefs behind them.

You seem bothered by the fact that many atheists are involved in fights on many fronts. Do you think that this weakens us? I never saw it that way. I think we are a diverse group with many interests and talents and I think it's a strength for us that we can fight on a number of fronts. Although we have a few disagreements with feminism at this point, there is still an enormous amount of agreement between Feminism and Atheism in general, especially on the subject of women suffering under the monotheistic religions, as explained above. Let's celebrate women fighting on this front and all credit to the men who back us up too.

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 06:38:57 UTC | #948595

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by LaurieB

And don't forget about Pink Floyd too.

Wed, 04 Jul 2012 19:03:05 UTC | #948576

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by LaurieB


"Is it possible to reach a point where pathological behavior such as this, is ousted from human behavior?"

If a behavior is so very widespread in the human population then we can hardly label it pathological. That females employ certain adaptations in order to control the paternity and spacing of their offspring is so widespread that we have to say it's normal behavior. Granted, when it goes so far as infanticide, as I said, it's difficult for us to acknowledge that this is also normal human female behavior. It took me quite some time to be able to say that.

I always view religion as one big scheme by men to control the reproductive behavior of women. Deny them access to birth control, abortion, the freedom to choose sexual partners, the right to reject sexual advances from husbands and we are reduced to baby making machines.

From time to time in the States we hear about cases of infanticide by mothers of newborns. Usually they are teen moms who have in desperation disposed of their newborns in trash dumpsters or trash bins in their high schools etc. The public is always horrified by this behavior, and rightfully so, but I hope we could gain a better understanding of this in light of our evolutionary past. Obviously our social services and the families of these young women have totally failed them in the nine months leading up to these births, but if we can accept the fact that infanticide, including of course, abortion, is normal female behavior, then these infanticides of newborns become absolutely predictable! All the factors that lead to this behavior must have been there for anyone to see and yet ignored. Personally, I don't feel horrified by these stories. I feel very sad about it.

If we can't accept that infanticide by females is normal and common throughout the population and well established in our evolutionary past then we will never deal rationally with the idea of abortion and with the young women who find themselves in desperate situations with newborns that they don't want and can't care for. These young women are trapped in a society that intends to control their fertility for them and severely punishes any deviation from the severely restrictive religious definition of what female reproduction and sexuality is supposed to look like, in their opinion. In light of this, it's no surprise that we will continue to hear about babies abandoned in trash bins.

I have on occasion been asked what good is all this theorizing by academics in their ivory towers and what practical purpose could it serve to the general population and my answer is that we all suffer when we don't understand and acknowledge what is the truth of our own evolutionary past. We can't wish away certain unsavory aspects of our behavior. When we impose a behavioral model that we consider to be ideal because our imaginary friend in the sky said so or because we hold a view of motherhood that is so high minded and pure that no real human female could ever measure up then we are asking for disaster. Let's face it, motherly love is conditional. It's not a given.

I am asking for a more realistic understanding of this behavior and a more compassionate strategy of dealing with these women.

Wed, 04 Jul 2012 06:34:28 UTC | #948542

Go to: Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by LaurieB


I always found it disturbing to watch the nature shows where the male lions would come charging in and kill the adorable cubs. The violent chimps were a little too close to home and therefore even more disturbing. But what really choked me was when I read the book Mother Nature, by Sarah Hrdy where she describes in detail infanticide by human females. That was the last straw for me. Although I could pass scornful judgement on lions and chimps, I couldn't fathom why a human female would destroy her own offspring. At that moment, for me, that's when I accepted that we are only apes; only animals; not special.

Tue, 03 Jul 2012 20:06:41 UTC | #948520

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by LaurieB


Thanks for that explanation. I'll just skip the italics entirely! Problem solved.

Tue, 19 Jun 2012 11:51:44 UTC | #947839

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 54 by LaurieB


The bonobo domestication thread is great. Sorry I missed that one. And your discussion on the hand is good too. Evolution of hooves-fascinating! I got to meet Carl Zimmer this past winter at Harvard when he came there to talk about his latest book on science tattoos. It's a beautiful book if you get a chance to look at it. The tattoos were also very inspiring.

Tue, 19 Jun 2012 00:24:46 UTC | #947823

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 52 by LaurieB


Yes, that's right. As a girl I was crazy about horses and I loved to pour over books with pictures of the evolutionary ancestry of horses. You're right that I couldn't deal with vast expanses of time but it wasn't lost on me that the dramatic changes shown on those pages could never have happened in a short time frame and certainly not in seven days as was explained to me in my Methodist Sunday school class!

Mon, 18 Jun 2012 19:29:40 UTC | #947810

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by LaurieB

thanks Alan4

Mon, 18 Jun 2012 18:27:25 UTC | #947806

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by LaurieB

I used italics up in comment 40 and now all posts after that are stuck in italics. How can I/we shut it off?

Mon, 18 Jun 2012 18:03:27 UTC | #947803

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by LaurieB

uh-oh. why are we stuck in italics? Did I do that? please advise.

Mon, 18 Jun 2012 17:40:28 UTC | #947799

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by LaurieB

The scale of time that we deal with in discussion of evolution is in fact a serious difficulty for people who are unacquainted with the subject. Many people can't deal with 1 or 2 thousand years of history, never mind 1 or 2 million years!

I'm interested to see if an earlier introduction of this material to school children will help them wrap their minds around the vast expanse of time that we deal with here.

Mon, 18 Jun 2012 17:37:59 UTC | #947798

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by LaurieB

All About Meme,

Now then my dear must know that I am so happy to encourage our new female member of this website in any way that I can, but for you guys that have been hangin' around here for a long time like I have, surely you don't think I'd give you a goddamned inch!!!

sock it to me baby!!!


Mon, 18 Jun 2012 16:53:54 UTC | #947796

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by LaurieB


Ha! Don't worry about him. We've always had all different sorts of members on this website. When I first started posting comments here I was so happy to find that I wasn't alone in my worldview. The first time I posted a comment I was slammed in no uncertain terms and I walked away from the keyboard wicked upset. My teen daughters told me to "not take any crap from internet assholes" and I'm glad they were there to advise me. Now I take it with a grain of salt.

Remember that guys can have a different way of communicating. To us, they can come off as confrontational. I'm generalizing here, but it often seems to me that they are more comfortable with a "winner-loser" style where I find women more comfortable with a consensus-seeking style. I don't think he meant to hurt your feelings. He is mostly making basic statements that most people agree with that share our worldview. Don't take these things as personal insults.

Stick with it and you'll definitely learn a lot from this site.

Mon, 18 Jun 2012 16:11:16 UTC | #947792

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by LaurieB


I commend you for your obvious concern for the young people who suffer in poverty and ignorance. Although I'm not English and not suffering economically, I hope I can reassure you that there are people of all classes that care very much about disadvantaged youth everywhere. When I think about the changes that have happened in just the past 50 years that I've been alive, I a still very encouraged, even in the face of poverty that I've seen here in the States and in every place that I've traveled in this world.

I would remind you of all the rights revolutions that have had a huge positive effect on all of us here. Women's rights, children's rights, animal rights, worker's rights etc. These movements were all accomplished by coalitions of people from all walks of life. We need all different sorts of people involved who can stand up for what's right and good in whatever economic class that they happen to find themselves in. Think of the women's rights movement for a moment. In the fight for the right to vote in both of our countries, was it just women from the lower economic class that achieved it? No, it was a generalized effort across class with the women of the upper economic class doing everything they could in their own milieu.

I'm sure you agree with me that a good general education is the most direct path out of poverty and ignorance that you so rightly speak out against. Let's push hard for reforms that will help children and young people gain access to learning and knowledge that will lay that path out in front of them. If RD was born into a family of economic comfort, why should he be criticized for it? I can't help it if I was born into a family that is financially comfortable either, but I'm hoping you can put bitterness aside and judge people by the values they hold and by their actions in this life. There are many people of all ages and different financial means that take direct action to make a difference in the lives of others.

What I want to ask you is this; what are YOU doing to reach out a hand and make a difference to these poor, long suffering people?

Mon, 18 Jun 2012 13:15:05 UTC | #947778

Go to: Stop female genital mutilation in the UK! - petition

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 61 by LaurieB

I have never heard of a case here in the States. We have definitely had some honor killings. Even that is largely under the radar. Political correctness is sheltering that community from criticism as usual. What a complicated problem this is. Ayaan Hirsi Ali's foundation is doing good work here in trying to bring these atrocities to light.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 12:52:17 UTC | #946128

Go to: Stop female genital mutilation in the UK! - petition

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 60 by LaurieB

I absolutely agree that strict laws are needed and that somehow we need to make enforcement more effective but as I said in previous comments, a change in mentality of these communities is the only way that effective change will happen. Muslim immigrant communities in the West have an us against them, defensive attitude. If new ideas are strongly presented by community insiders there will be less resistance.

  1. Rally the matriarchs (through the mosques) to throw their considerable weight around in the community.

  2. Divide and conquer by pitting different thinking groups against each other. For example, the Maghreb North Africans don't practice FGM. They are absolutely horrified that others do this to girls. They recognize that this practice is attracting tons of negative press for all Muslims. Motivate them to criticize the groups that do practice FGM for the good of all.

This is a war of ideas. Remember what V said, "Ideas are bulletproof"

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 12:44:20 UTC | #946125

Go to: Stop female genital mutilation in the UK! - petition

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by LaurieB


That children have no regular yearly check ups is certainly a problem for my plan. Sidelining girls who have traveled abroad sounds like a logistical nightmare. Should they be checked right there at the airport? Singling out girls by their vacation destination won't work. This is asking for a loud, nasty uproar.

I still like my plan best. Yearly checkups for all kids including genital checks. Evidence of any tampering by adults and it's see you in court!

Now I will criticize my own plan:

In countries with universal health care, getting the gov to pay for these extra exams will be like pulling hens' teeth.

Here in the States with our unethical inhumane health insurance system, the very population of girls that would be victims of FGM are the very ones who are probably going through life without medical insurance because their families can't afford any. They will stay under the radar of the authorities. Poor immigrants are invisible to well insured, middle and upper economic classes here.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 12:24:30 UTC | #946118

Go to: Stop female genital mutilation in the UK! - petition

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by LaurieB


Why is a dentist doing that? A dentist would be highly preferable to the itinerant hack-artists that claim to be specialists in child genital mutilation procedures. A dentist would hopefully have some understanding of infectious agents and at least have some adequate manual dexterity. Mind you, in North Africa, a "dentist" will have, hopefully, 4 years of college. In the US, this is what a dental assistant should have. In the rural areas a dentist is probably the 3rd cousin of so-and-so who pulls teeth and makes necklaces out of them for fun and profit. When it became known that I have a BS in Exp. Psych, they started addressing me as Dr. ! I quickly corrected this atrocious mistake but soon realized that they couldn't fathom the difference. My in-laws got used to turning people away who knocked at the door asking me to give them injections! You see the level of ignorance that we're up against in dealing with medical problems in these places!

On previous threads dealing with this unfortunate subject we discussed the issue that you bring up of enforcement of laws dealing with crimes of this nature. When you said that, "it is imperative to get to the child in time to stop this from happening" I wonder how this could ever be possible. I'm afraid that all the excellent communication with the child would be to no avail if the adults in her family had taken the notion to violate her in this way. I believe the best strategy here is to inform, in no uncertain terms, the adults in her family who have authority over her and responsibility for her under the law. I refer you to the book, Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who explains therein that laws of the land must be explained in detail to new immigrants on their arrival. They need to understand that there is a heavy price to pay for breaking the law and that their religious excuses are not appreciated in their new country. I want to stress that it is within the power of the matriarch of a tribe or extended family to manage this issue. She is always well within her rights of authority to stand up and issue an edict, especially about the standards of behavior under her roof and especially having anything to do with the women and girls under her supreme authority. Only her husband has a right to cross her. Not her sons or any daughter-in-law. Matriarchs wield a lot of power in their domains and I don't think we are doing enough to influence them in the right direction. They are an untapped resource.

As for the problem of taking the girls to the home country for the procedure, it was suggested on previous threads that there be routine checks done by Pediatricians on a regular basis (here in the States most health insurance plans pay for a yearly check up which includes genital exam). This is already part of a normal yearly check up for children here. Any deviation from the previous year will result in a phone call to the authorities and the responsible adult will have some explaining to do in front of the judge. Again, already normal procedure here.

Wed, 06 Jun 2012 21:01:52 UTC | #945957

Go to: Stop female genital mutilation in the UK! - petition

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by LaurieB

It has been stated and agreed upon in this thread that circumcision of boys is a milder offense than FGM of girls and I'll be the first to agree because the consequences later in life for the girls are severe. I acknowledge that we shouldn't clutter up this thread with discussion of the male procedure. However, if I may, I'd like to share a few cultural insights that occur to me while reading the above comments.

As stated before, I lived for some years in Algeria where boys are circumcised with much joyous ceremony and FGM, as far as I know, is not done. I want to point out that circumcision in the West is a very different procedure than the one done in North Africa and the Middle East. A quick snip-procedure in a modern hospital bears no resemblance to the hack jobs that the other boys endure.

The North Africans circumcise at between 4 to 8 years old, in general. Those boys know exactly what will happen. The family and neighbors gather in the boys house at the agreed upon day. It's a big crowd. There are traditional party foods and singing and clapping. Then a bunch of adults gather around the boy, Take off his pants, spread his legs, hold him down tightly so he can't move, and the "specialist" starts slicing his foreskin off of his penis. The screaming and crying is ear splitting and it's making me sick to think about it. After they wrap him up and dress him in a little ceremonial robe/dress he spends the rest of the day laying there sobbing in wracking pain. No painkillers. Antibiotics? I doubt it. I rarely found anyone in those days who ever heard of antibiotics. Most argued with me when I tried to explain the idea. Needless to say, infections for these boys were prevalent and severe. It takes them weeks to recover from the physical trauma, not to mention the psychological trauma. It is also common that the procedure gets botched up and has to be redone! My own husband suffered through this hatchet job twice because it wasn't done well the first time. He tells me that he knows plenty of cases like his.

Please bear with me as I explain that horrific procedure. The point that I am trying to make here is that genital mutilation of children, boys and girls, is thought of as just "something that we just do" and "It's part of our religion!" although I doubt that, and "It's fine, don't worry about it! We all survived it just fine" and "the boys like it because they get candy and gifts of money after it's done!" They don't know that it is possible to circumcise boys in the first week of life in a sterile, clean hospital with anesthetic and antibiotics and to have the procedure done by a medical doctor who has devoted most of their lives to learning.

Granted, I've never been present at a FGM procedure but much of the description above must be the same. I doubt if it is done in a big family group because they won't put a girl's genitals on public display the way they will with a boy's, but I think that all else will hold similar. You see, I don't think that people in these societies really do see much difference between the two procedures. Wouldn't a better strategy be to strongly condemn genital mutilation in general? Oh, no, because then we'd have to take a long hard look at our own sterilized, anesthetized, hospitalized version of it and there's the rub.

Wed, 06 Jun 2012 20:13:23 UTC | #945949

Go to: Sixty Years of British Science Innovation

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by LaurieB

I recommend the book The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes.

From the book jacket:

"A riveting history of the men and women whose discoveries and inventions at the end of the eighteenth century gave birth to the Romantic Age of Science.

The Age of Wonder investigates the earliest ideas of deep time and space and the explorers of "dynamic science," of an infinite, mysterious Nature waiting to be discovered. Three lives dominate the book: William Herschel and his sister Caroline, whose dedication to the study of the stars forever changed the public conception of the solar system, the Milky Way, and the meaning of the universe; and Humphry Davy, who with only a grammar-school education stunned the scientific community with near-suicidal gas experiments that led to the invention of the miners' lamp and established British chemistry as the leading professional science in Europe.

Holme's extraordinary evocation of this age of wonder shows how great ideas and experiments-both successes and failures- were born of singular and often lonely dedication, and how religious faith and scientific truth collide."

I would add that the fascinating story of Joseph Banks weaves its way through the book, in and out of many curious characters. Also the spirit of competition between the French and the English was very interesting and productive. As an American, this was unknown to me before I read this book. It was a great read!

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:13:22 UTC | #944973