Friday, February 02, 2007

Designer babies

Hello all

I've been away lecturing most of the week, hence my absence from the blog. It hasn't gone too badly overall. After one lengthy session I even received a spontaneous round of applause! Very tiring though, with up to 6 hours contact time per day. I've got some more to do next week, then it's all over for another year.

The computer company Toshiba are still running their competition, despite a number of upsets. This week, they've set the question "Should prospective parents be able to determine their child’s gender?"

I was mulling over this very important question, one that society has a duty to address, and the answer to which has potentially far-reaching consequences, when my unborn foetus child interrupted with an early morning call for attention. Our conversation, somewhat coincidentally, ended up delving into the very subject posed by Mr Toshiba....

Joseph: Good morning No3

Foetus: Why do keep calling me no 3?

Joseph: Because you will be our third child.

Foetus: You mean I’m not the only one?

Joseph: Indeed not. You will be the sibling of twin boys. You’ll be the youngest of…

Foetus: Hold on there. Back up a little. First of all, tell me: what is a sibling, then what is a twin, then what is a boy.

Joseph: Oh dear, this could take a while…

Foetus: Try the executive summary. My attention span is somewhat bereft of longevity.

Joseph: Ok, well I think we should work in reverse order for ease of explanation.

Foetus: As you wish, but make it snappy. I’m beginning to curl up in the foetal position in preparation for a long sleep.

Joseph: Right. Well, essentially it is like this: you could either be a “boy”, or a “girl”. If you are boy, you will grow up big and strong. If you are girl you’ll be bit smaller overall but develop a larger bosom. These differences will determine your role in society.

Foetus: Blimey. So basically you’re saying that my life-chances depend on whether I am a boy or a girl. I had no idea. How can I tell which way my bread is buttered, to use a well worn metaphor?

Joseph: Well, there is a reasonably foolproof test. Even in utero, a boy will have something dangling between his legs, whereas a girl won’t.

Foetus: What, you mean this long thing sticking out of my stomach?

Joseph: Lower down.

Foetus: Hang on….humph, haa, no, wait, nearly there. No, I can’t reach. Damn. This space is just too damn small these days. Either it’s shrinking or I’m growing. So what am I, a boy or a girl?

Joseph: I don’t know. We didn’t bother to check.

Foetus: WHAT?

Joseph: It doesn’t matter. And calm down. In utero stress is bad for your development.

Foetus: Of course it matters! I need to be prepared. What if I don’t like being a boy or a girl? Why wasn’t I allowed to choose for myself after being given all the salient information? Why did you wait until 30 weeks to bring up this crucial issue?

Joseph: It was out of my hands I’m afraid. And anyway, I’m firmly of the opinion that we should not be allowed to choose whether anyone is boy or a girl.

Foetus: This isn’t about you.

Joseph: There’s a wider issue at stake here. You see, it’s very important that we allow Nature to strike its own balance between the number of girls and boys. If not, we risk putting the rights of the individual against the rights of society on an issue that is fundamental to population stability. It already happens though - In some places, especially where people are poor, boys are preferred because girls are considered an economic liability. Sometimes, girl foetuses are, er, not allowed to be born.

Foetus: Huh? So if I’m a girl I have to stay in utero forever? It’s getting so cramped in here I can barely move already!

Joseph: It's not quite like that I'm afraid. I think you’re a still bit too young to understand fully. You’ll be coming out of there whether you are a girl or a boy, don’t worry.

Foetus: Phew. Thank goodness. You had me worried there for a moment. The last thing I need right now is a gender identity crisis. I’ll see if I can work it out myself later on. You can leave now. I need to compose myself and gestate for a while. Wake me up for the Archers will you, there’s a good Voice-in-my Head.

If you enjoyed the above conversation, and agree with its argument, you might like to click on the button below. If you leave your email address (this is not obligatory!) then you will be entered into a prize draw for a laptop computer.
Vote for me on Love To Lead



Josh said...

"Foetus: This isn’t about you."

Made me laugh so much I spat tea over myself and now I'm embarrassed.

Lily said...

"... one that society has a duty to address, and the answer to which has potentially far-reaching consequences ..."

How very true that statement is. Really like your conversation with No3.

Kim Ayres said...

After the humiliation of barely scraping enough votes to come 9th with the vegetarian Love to Lead, I packed it in - if at first you don't succeed, parachuting isn't for you and all that.

So you'll be pleased to know you get my vote whenever I wander over here.

Best of luck with the court case

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Josh - sorry that you ruined your shirt with tea. I feel somehow responsible.

Lily - glad you liked it. There was a real message in there.

Kim - Thanks for your vote, old blogging chum. Sorry to learn that you decided to give up. I didn't even figure in the top ten of last week's competition. It's just a straighforward popularity contest. I'm only doing it because I can't help myself.

St Jude said...

I'm with you. I've voted.

Kim Ayres said...

Given your dealings with the local constabulary, I thought I'd cast you as the criminal mastermind for the latest Blunt Cogs strip. hope you don't mind :)

Nikki said...

I loved this Joe.

A good laugh. You have quite an imagination.