Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sex and Destiny

from the diary: “Tuesday 2/18/86

“The Hwy 12 bridge out of town toward Santa Rosa is under water. …

“Mom returned the second [wet/dry] vac this morning and rented another. This one worked fine. …

“Reading Sex and Destiny by Germaine Greer. I’m reading it compulsively. I don’t know whether it’s because the book is so good (it’s not bad) or because I can avoid other things while I’m reading.

“The library was closed again today. I finally got out of the house, did some walking around town [Sebastopol, California]. The wind wasn’t bad and the rain intermittent so I didn’t get real wet. Walked down past Pellini Chevrolet but there was a cordon at True Value Hardware. Just a half block away the water had crept. Half swamped the deli parking lot – the businesses behind and lanes were covered.” Well, not covered covered. Surrounded by water.

Sex and Destiny is the only book by Germaine Greer that I’ve read. She’s most known for The Female Eunuch, published in 1970, which helped galvanize the Women’s Movement. As I recall Sex and Destiny was a history of the birth control movement and how its origins are linked with eugenics. Eugenics is selective human breeding. Sterilize the stupid, discourage the reproduction of the inferior races. One of the ideas that formed the complex that justified the industrialized genocide of World War II Germany. Greer seemed to use that historical conjunction to tar birth control with the evils of eugenics. And I sympathized with her notion that in the non-industrialized world women are more free than in the industrialized world, even though they had no birth control. But their relative freedom and social status isn’t because they pop out babies all the time. It’s because, as Hilary’s book has it, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Child-rearing in pre-civilized culture was communal. A child didn’t have just one Mommy but many and men were more involved in caring for children. In civilized industrial society the basic unit is the individual (or an atomized version of the family, “nuclear” anyone?) rather than the tribe. If you have kids you alone are responsible for them. Since my mother and father broke up when I was small, all I remember growing up was a single parent. She struggled for money; and I have often felt a sense of deep loneliness (which may be associated with the loss of my father and older brothers and sister, or may just be me, who knows). Humans probably do best in small and close interdependent units, units that are linked to larger groups through language and genetics and trade. I’ve spent the day by myself so far. I think it’s time I went out for some lunch, allow myself proximity to people.

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