I am looking for a nonfiction book that will tell me all about Parisian lesbian subculture in the late 19th century--preferably related to women's higher education in some way.
I am embarrassed to tell you why, but here goes. I have been working on the plot of a silly romance novel and a piece of it turns on the existence of such a subculture. It doesn't take place there throughout most of the story, but there's a scene or two requiring it. In fact, the whole drama really depends on the fact of such a subculture's existence.
It can be anywhere from, oh, 1875-1900. That's in my period, but my expertise is in the U.S., not France! Help? Thank you in advance!
If I can get a bit of "research" done by November, I'm thinking of doing NaNoWriMo.
Sigh. I know my baby is not a baby anymore, and here is why: When she was a baby, she hated being held in a way that confined her limbs and rocked and sung to. Instead, she insisted on being held up, facing me and singing along. (It took me ages to figure this out, too, because Nat had loved--still does, really--to snuggle up to me and surrender all control while I sang and rocked.)
But now she loves to play "baby" in which I rock her, cradle-style in my arms and sing "My baby, Selina, my little baby, Selina!" She still sings along though--"baby Seena, baby Seena!" with a huge grin. It's a sure sign she isn't really a baby anymore.
I stopped looking at developmental milestone charts as soon as it seemed that Selina was A) done with the preemie delays and B) shaping up mentally and physically within typical perimeters. But recently someone raised the question of her language development, suggesting that the fact she's very difficult to understand may indicate she is lagging in language development. (I understand her about 75% of the time, Cole and babysitter J understand her about 50% of the time and everyone else is in the dark--except, come to think of it, Nat, who understands her most of the time, I think.)
My immediate instinct was the opposite--that her language is ahead of the curve and that her funny baby speech is a matter of her tongue being on a more normal trajectory and her brain being ahead of it. (Not that I won't keep a sharp ear on her speech and take her for help if it ever does seem she has a slight impediment, mind you.) So I checked the book we all love to hate and according to those perimeters, she is indeed quite a few months ahead in language development--at least as far as what she is trying to say, even if we don't always understand.
For example, she's all over the prepositional phrases. "Sit down right here!" is a favorite of hers (it tends to be the rocking chair and it tends to be part of a demand to read books). "Over there" "up the stairs" "into" the room, the car, the bathtub, etc. are favorites. Instead of "look" or "what?" she points to things that impress her and says "right there!" (I know that's not a prepositional phrase, but anyhow). She also regularly strings two, three or four words together in phrases or sentences. After being happy with "have that!" for a few months, I have moved on to encourage "may I have that please?" and she usually gets it after one reminder.
She has reached the age of loving books. She knows all of her favorites by title and asks for them accordingly. "Panda Bear What See?" "Every Babies" "Happy Baby ABC" (actually the correct title), "Counting Book" "Welcome Presh" "Head-Toe" "Big Red Barn" are some of her greatest hits. She likes to take a book to bed and if I let her, will play and read for a good 20-30 minutes alone after waking up. (Yes!) I will say she has quite an obsession with balls and hats, and these days, reading books is all about finding the balls and hats on any given page.
She knows about 80% of the capital ABCs and all the ASL letter signs. She points out the ones she finds herself and tries to sign them (and usually fails--her fingers aren't that nimble yet). For instance, this morning, the clock hands on a dial clock were crossed in an X pattern and she pointed, declared "x!" excitedly and tried to make the sign for X.
She is a bit ahead of the curve in certain gross motor skills too. She's been "kicking a ball forward" and "jumping up" for some time. In fact, she climbs up on the sofa in the playroom and jumps off of it to a pile a cushions below on a fairly regular basis. Nat doesn't like to do that sort of thing, but wants to join (and best) her, so Selina actually has Nat engaging a bit more with her body than she would ever choose to do on her own. As I recall, Nat was still a long way from walking up a single stair at Selina's age, and here, Selina has hit the "do it myself" stage and will fight me to let her climb three floors when we arrive home from somewhere. I'm glad, frankly, as my back is more than happy to have the break, even if it takes three times as long to plod along behind, spotting Selina on the stairs. Really, she and Nat can get up them at about the same pace, though Selina's short little bow legs can't step up very well, she scrambles up using her hands to assist, now and then, while Nat is still working on the every-other stair climb technique.
Selina still loves music and singing and has a great sense of rhythm. At the moment, she has a thing for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and will just bust out with it from time to time when the mood strikes her. She isn't pitch-perfect, but she is quite melodic for her age. She and Nat also perform duets on the toy piano and toy guitar and sing the ABC song or Twinkle, Twinkle to their own accompaniment.
Selina informs us about 25% of the time when she needs a diaper change. Since Nat is still refusing to poop on the potty (save two big events), I am hoping that God's reward to us for potty-training (or not, as the case may be) the hugely resistant Nat, will be one of those kids who just does it herself at two and a half. Fingers crossed.
Selina's favorite person at this point is still baby sitter, J, whose name she shrieks with delight upon seeing him, or hearing that he's coming to see her. She has, at least, stopped asking for him in the morning when I go in to get her, though. Really it was sad, like, "sorry kid, it's just your mother."
She was also a big Uncle Jeremy fan when he came to visit and asked for him after he was gone too. Both my kids do love them some uncles. If you can put a kid on your shoulders and sing tenor, you're golden around here.
And that is Selina, about one week shy of 22 months old!
Now that I'm a farmer, I take an interest in something called "hardiness zones" which tell me how cold it can get where I am planting and what will and will not grow there. I never knew what zone I was in until recently. It seems I am in zone 6. But here's the thing: a couple of years ago I would have been in zone 5. In 2006, they changed the zones, because some places had warmed up so much. I found a nifty, but worrying animation of the shift in zones from 1990 to 2006 here. Check it out. It kinda gives me the willies.
Because I subscribe to a zillion key-word alerts to help me dig up material for Strollerderby, I came across this blog post quite by random. I know nothing about the blog or its authors, but I was intrigued by the post and the comment discussion following it. It's a question, in the end, (for the most part) about whether adoptees have a right to know who their biological family is when that information is available (open records, right to search, right to contact etc.). It has extended, in the comments (this might have been my fault, in fact) to include a right to know who your gamete donor was and whether anonymos donation should be allowed. Anyway, I thought some of my readers here would find it interesting.
Jody pointed out that my position seems pretty freighted with my experience as someone on the margins of mainstream parenting for a number of reasons (like being a lesbian transracial adopter, for instance) and the frustration that brings in terms of people's expectations about what makes for a family and what makes for beauty etc. Yes indeed.
Sara raised some scenarios of ethical conundrum in which aesthetics overlap with disease (sort of) or in which values conflict--like the value of being a different kind of person versus the value of being free of what mainstream society might consider a defect (Sara used little people versus typically statured people. Me, I always think of deaf people when this kind of question is raised.)
Anyway, I got to thinking that I should share my personal stakes in this discussion. So here are the ones that immediately come to mind:
1. I'm a member of a group that could well be severely reduced in numbers were we to find a gene for it. I know that you, gentle reader, would never select against a gay embryo, but that doesn't mean most people wouldn't. Most people probably would, given the choice, right now, today. (Mind you I'm not so sure I think there's a gay gene out there, but let's just say they were to find one. God forbid they ever do, and this is why.)
2. I am someone with very little personal feeling about being pregnant and passing my genes into the future. I realize either or both of those things are very important to some people. My interest in it doesn't go much further than idle curiosity. I am awed by human reproduction, but I don't have a burning desire to participate in it directly. Which is just to say I do know that the desire to be pregnant and/or pass on ones' (or one's partner's) genes is almost indescribably strong for some people, and I am sympathetic, but I am not empathetic in the sense that I just don't get how that feels.
3. My two best friends are directly impacted by ART. One went through IVF twice and she and I even had an egg donor talk once (didn't ever go through with it and she ended up with a surprise bio-baby in the happy end). My other best friend and her female partner are starting down the path to donor sperm selection, beginning with a friend. So it is not that I am untouched or unfamiliar with the details of various ART options, beyond just reading infertility blogs (which I've done a lot of too).
4. My family is composed of entirely un-biologically-related members. We don't look a thing alike either--no two of us. And that is a deep, special blessing with gifts that I think most people never consider. It is most often assumed to be a handicap. And it is a social oddity, to be sure, but I am not one to assume social oddities are necessarily handicaps.
So that's where I'm coming from. Now, Jody raised the problem of how you go about actually regulating these things. I don't know, and that's not my area of expertise. But here's what I think. I think people like me and like Jody can certainly sit in meetings with people whose expertise is actual regulation--and actual enforcement of regulation--and air our concerns and help to hammer it all out. Sara, on the other hand, seems worried in both her comments that the special needs of special cases and the special knowledge of the parents in question would somehow be overridden by regulations. But "regulation" doesn't mean parents have no voice in decisions. In fact, it can mean whatever we hammer out in a meeting with the regulation experts. It doesn't have to be all one way or another. And as for ethics boards consisting of all tall people (making decisions, in Sara's scenario for little people), why would that necessarily be the case? Hospitals already have ethics boards for trouble-shooting things that come up (which they do on a regular basis). I don't know how they get put together. But I strongly believe that any board overseeing these kinds of decisions should have representation from someone with strong disability rights credentials. Because the case of the little people forced to have tall children or a deaf parent forced to have a hearing child are good examples of how subjective these kinds of issues can be.
Calling for regulation or ethics boards or whatever is not saying "people should not be allowed to blah blah blah." It's saying "this needs to be mulled over much more thoughtfully than just to say 'is there a market for it?'" All the cautionary concerns raised by you all and others should be part of the mulling. It's all valid fodder. But I still maintain laissez-faire is not the way to go when it comes to medical ethics, especially medical ethics concerning entirely helpless, dependent beings, from embryos to babies. And although PGD may be quite rare today, it may be considerably less rare a generation from now, (as is the case with all kinds of ART that was in the wee developmental stages a generation ago and is all but routine today). That being the case, it is a good idea for us to establish--at the very least--a set of values upon which to base future uses of such technology. And even if there's loads of gray area (and there is likely to always be), I think the values that technologies like PGD be used for 1) legitimate medical reasons only and 2) without violating the rights of the child in question is a great place to start. After that, we can sit around tables and argue for and against various cases being legitimate/rights violations or not. But I think those values would put hair and eye color selection quite obviously beyond the pale. And I'm good with that.
To be fair, I thought I'd share a few books with you that are in the background of my thinking on this reproductive ethics stuff. I know there are piles of terrific books about these things, but mostly these three are lurking behind my recent writing on the issue (from my strollerderby Suleman posts to this recent one about PGD):
I love this book. Shanley shifts the bottom line from "best interest of the child" to the rights of the child. Sound like the same thing? Not remotely. Everybody should read this book. Right now. Immediately. Go on, click, buy, read.
This one is a less academic choice than the other two. It's a highly readable account of the Nobel Sperm Bank written by a Slate contributor. It gives a great overview of sperm banking (history of to current practices) and will demystify the notions they try to sell you at the big sperm bank websites.
I also read a fascinating, 85-page academic article about Indian surrogacy and its ethical tangles last week. You can download it too from Ethica.
When I was in high school and college I was subject to a gazillion courses in bioethics. At the time, IVF was newish, egg donation was mostly theoretical, right-to-die folks were just starting to get noisy, the human genome was only just beginning to be mapped, etc. I spent countless hours in discussions with far more conservative peers, arguing mostly for a great deal of freedom for the uses of new medical technologies and research (including research using human embryos).
So imagine my surprise when my recent post at Strollerderby about a new for-profit offering at a fertility clinic, allowing parents to use PGD to determine a child's hair and eye color, was met with a big shrug. Most commenters seemed to feel that hey, it's a free market. And of course, IVF being a massive undertaking--only done by the medically in need, at great pain and suffering and expense--this procedure isn't going to be sought by many and thus will have very little impact on society.
Well of course. This procedure. At this moment. But that doesn't mean we should just accept it and move on. The fact that huge expense goes into developing something so--frankly--stupid as hair and eye color selection and it is offered in a free market to medical consumers is a travesty in my opinion. No it won't impact the gene pool (which fact plenty of people don't seem to understand and is another problem with the lack of discussion) and no, banning it won't automatically cause money to spent elsewhere.
But unlike Barack Obama, I'm a socialist--at least about a great many things. And it seems more than obvious to me that a free market approach to medicine has failed miserably in the United States. It's time to pull in the reins on the race to the ethical bottom (octuplets, anyone?) and the excessive gap between rich and poor people's access to medicine. Taking a good look at high-cost fertility treatment that forces people to mortgage their homes for a 5% shot at having a baby seems reasonable to me, when we re-evaluate how our society allocates spending.
And I am not talking about banning fertility treatment. It seems like in some corners, if you say "regulate" and "fertility treatment" anywhere within 100 words of each other, people jump to assume they will no longer be allowed to do those high-end procedures. I am hardly suggesting that. In fact, I think that any public health coverage should include fertility treatment--including IVF, including PGD when medically called for--which is considerably more than most private insurance plans do for us now. But if we are going to provide fertility coverage to everyone, we are going to need to make the expenses reasonable. Why not include in any new health plan, caps on pricing for treatments and drugs like many countries have now? Why not put a maximum on the profit a doctor can make with this stuff? How could regulating that kind of thing not help infertile people who need the treatment?
Look, I'm not interested in ever getting pregnant myself. But I'm happy to pony up some percentage of my tax money so that you folks who are interested and need help with it can get that help even if you aren't rich, without going into monumental debt. But I'm not paying so some fool doctor in LA can line his pockets with cash from people who know no better than to think it's a good idea to custom order a baby by looks. And I'd like to see the incentives to a doctor to offer that sort of thing drastically reduced--by, for example, making it illegal to charge anything extra for that kind of service. That would also reduce the R&D incentives to go finding those genes in the first place. The market is not a force of nature. Plenty of people outside the United States know this. It is time U.S. Americans realized it and started taking some responsibility for where the market goes next.
Let's focus on curing cancer, not filling the prep schools of tomorrow with customized kids.