Sunday, 17 August 2008

Women - More experimental or simply more open minded?

According to Hog Gadling, his observations lead him to conclude that while men are either straight or gay, women tend to be more experimental. Hence his hypotheses that there could be a higher number of bisexual women than men. He asked me what my views were. Are women really more experimental?

Now, I am not the most qualified person to answer this question with authority. However, if I were to consider the driving factors of what drives men and women into relationships, then I think I would tend to agree with Hob. To begin with there is the common knowledge that while physical intimacy is typically more important for men in a relationship, for women it is emotional intimacy that is more essential. Next, there are probably more societal pressures on single women to get out of the situation than there are on men. And lastly, women can tend to have more expectations from a relationship than men.

If I take all these three factors together then I would think that in the absence of expectations being met and faced with societal pressures, it is highly probable that women enter into a relationship with their own gender as that is also more emotionally satisfying. So there is a possibility that women become more experimental. For men however, given their need for physical intimacy it would be very difficult to experiment with a gender that holds no attraction or possibility of satisfaction!

The truth none the less could also simply be that women are simply more open minded than men. Any views, ideas, research anyone?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Abortion - Is The Timing Right?

In the twenty first century we scream about equality. Equality between races, equality between religions, equality between genders; our quest for equality is never ending. However, in some cases, while trying to empower one stakeholder we overlook another stakeholder who becomes a sacrificial lamb in the whole exercise. This in particular seems to be true in case of abortion.

I am not anti abortion. I am completely for it. Women should have the right to decide the life they want to lead, the economic pressures they want to put up with and the physical challenges they wish to endure. To that extent, abortion is fair. I also believe that every child that is born should be loved and cared for. This is not possible if the child is considered a burden even before she is born. And from that point of view an abortion is justified for a foetus as well.

The debate that I am having with myself and with my readers is not about the legality of abortion but more about the timing of abortion. Let us consider the human gestation cycle briefly. There are two clear stages in prenatal development. The first stage lasts for eight weeks, the embryonic stage. From week four to week eight there are basic organs that begin to develop. The next stage is the foetal development stage, the first four weeks of which are the ones where the foetus is most vulnerable. From week thirteen; the skin, bones and muscles start to take shape such that by week nineteen a heart beat is in place and can be heard with a stethoscope. This also when scientific research proves that the foetus becomes aware of pain, distress and suffering.

Currently in the UK abortion is legal up to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. In the first nine weeks in fact all procedures carried out are oral and do not call for any surgery. However, from there on the “treatment” is not oral. From week nine to thirteen “suction” is used to literally suck the pregnancy out of the womb. From week thirteen to twenty-four there are varied forms of surgeries used to terminate the pregnancy. Most often this involves an oral medicine in step one and then a physical procedure in step two. This second step causes the cervix to dilate and the uterus to contract resulting in an orchestrated miscarriage. From week nineteen onwards this implies that as the uterus is contracting, there is a possibility of the foetus feeling the anguish and distress. Have we considered if we are in a position of authority to subject the foetus to this pain?

Overlooking the moral aspect of this, there are instances of late abortions in which the abortion actually results in an underdeveloped child being born who subsequently perishes outside of the womb. The child is then dismembered and disposed. This entire exercise can be a trauma for the woman undergoing the procedure not withstanding what the helpless gasping soul would go through. Are we really justified in bringing a life into this world for a few minutes only to kill it?

This was the crux of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill that was dismissed by the UK parliament. The bill attempted to reduce the abortion time limit from twenty four to twenty two weeks. However, majority of the MPs backed the twenty four week limit. The MPs deliberated and pondered and finally expressed their views. Should we women also not consider making up our minds sooner if unfortunately caught in such a situation or are we justified in taking our time to make up our minds, only to subject an innocent, vulnerable and helpless foetus to capital punishment of sorts.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

A resurrecting institution or a crumbling pillar?

Human relationships do not survive on rationale, they thrive on emotions; and binding emotions are the foundations of the most basic human relationship - friendship. The knowledge of unconditional acceptance, existence of mutual respect and trust and the presence of genuine affection. It is hard to imagine that with these ingredients in place, there would be fragility in any relationship (occasional feeling of vulnerability maybe) let alone friendship. If this foundation forms the basis of a marriage, strengthens with time and the individuals grow in tandem, why should that marriage be deemed fragile?

For one, marriage can be viewed as limiting and curtailing individual freedom. Logic nevertheless insinuates that where there is mutual respect there is space for both partners to achieve their ambitions. Unconditional acceptance on the other hand results in complementing a partner’s perceived weaknesses by lending support. Affection facilitates compromises which call for a slight challenge, parking the so called ego on the roadside while traveling on life’s journeys.

A second reason is external interference - the perception of our society on what married life should be. It could range from what the role of a man and woman in a marriage should be to how the couple appear in public to what constitutes a “family”. External interference becomes a concern when it bothers either of the two stakeholders of marriage who makes an “issue” out of this external noise. Once again, a simple view I have is that mutual respect and trust lend confidence to adopt honest sharing and aid in devising a solution that works for the couple.

Intolerance and impatience are a combined third culprit which could potentially weaken the foundation of marriage. Acknowledging that not a single one of us is perfect should ward away intolerance. Even Gandhi was not perfect! And the fact that time takes it own course should help us deal with impatience.

In the Indian context, a fourth very important factor is “arranged” marriage. In the true sense of the word, the marriage is arranged by elders of the family. Little or no choice is given to the two people expected to commit for life, on how they feel about the alliance. No argument can support that a relationship created thus is susceptible to significant weakness. This was the only route available to older Indian generations. It did lead to several unhappy marriages which continued to ferment in their sorrows due to societal pressures. However, with the current generation having a choice to pick who they want to spend their life and grow old with; with increased levels of awareness and understanding, why should the institution be deemed fragile. It should only become stronger or so I would “rationally” conclude.

I could be looking at things simplistically; however, life is what we make out of it. It is as simple as we keep it or as complicated as we weave it to become. Marriage has been the pillar of modern society for a long time, and if it has stood the test of time there must be some merit in the institution. The perception is ours and the decision to challenge our views and beliefs is solely ours. While marriage is not fragile it is not tamper proof either. But then life itself is not invincible, is it?