Expose how sexy is the idea may not need sex to reproduce? exposed our schizophrenic attitude towards sex

With These New Bottomless Paparazzi Shots We've Basically Seen Kate Middleton Nude [NSFW]

With These New Bottomless Paparazzi Shots We've Basically Seen Kate Middleton Nude [NSFW]

I’m crouched next to Reem, a beautiful young Syrian woman living in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. A head scarf covers her hair and her family hover nearby. She is telling me about her life in Dera’a, Syria, and why they left. She is also crying.

“I remember when we decided to leave. The shells and bombs began at 8am and rained down for three hours, continuously. It did not seem that they were aiming for anything, the bombs just came down – a barrage of bombs. But if these bombs fall on houses they take out the complete neighbourhood, like a small genocide.

“After three hours there was quiet. We came out, and saw that bombs had hit another shelter. We realised then that they had targeted it – they meant to hit the shelter. They had killed 10 people – they were all children, and their mother. It was a massacre.”

The tears start to fall faster, but she insists she wants to continue talking.

“We thought they had left. But then they came back. They came back after an hour had passed. This time they targeted the mosques. Everyone was there. They knew this. People went to pray, and instead air strikes received them. Three floors – right in front of my eyes – three floors fell in that moment. The streets were full of horror and blood. The scene was indescribable. It was terrible, gruesome. The noises on the streets were of terror. Everyone was looking for shelter, for safety, but there was none. I know now that the schools, the field hospitals, the shelters – they are the most targeted things. But there is no media there, no photos. So no-one outside knows.”

On her face is such a look of hopeless sadness that I want to cry. Instead I explain again that I am here to help tell the world what is happening, to tell these stories, to make people understand. She nods and in English says “thank you, thank you” over and over. Then she resumes.

“They carried on shelling and bombing in the afternoon. Then they stopped. And this time they came back again with tanks and missiles. The electricity was cut – no communications, no internet, no light. That night we said “that’s it. Enough. Tomorrow morning we leave, whatever happens”. We felt that at any moment we would be killed. Death was around us. Death was everywhere. There is no house in my town, not one house that hasn’t lost someone to this – either from the fighting, or a field execution, or a death from a bomb or a shell or a prison cell.”

I’m unable to speak, what can I possibly say? There is no solution I can offer, no end in sight. Instead I ask her what she wants world leaders, those with power, to do.

“What do I want world leaders to do? I want them to act. Enough silence. Enough. People of the world – aren’t you afraid for your own children? It is the same. Children are dying. They are dying from the shelling in Syria.

I ask everyone to let their conscience be the judge. Because right now I feel your consciences have died.”

View Cat’s video blog : 

http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/syria

 

 The foreign minister of Pakistantold a gathering in New York on Thursday evening that the top cause of anti-Americanism in her country is the U.S. tactic of drone attacks.

“The use of unilateral strikes on Pakistani territory is illegal,” said Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in an event at the Asia Society, according to the Agence France-Presse. “It is illegal and it is unlawful.”

The United States has deployed drones as part of a top-secret, but increasingly exposed, war against suspected terrorists in the mountainous regions of northern Pakistan. Several investigations, including a recent report by a group of law professors at Stanford and New York University, have concluded that the drones have killed thousands of people in the years since 9/11, including hundreds of civilians.

U.S. officials have generally avoided speaking about the program, except to occasionally and abstractly defend its legality — and to deny that any civilians have been killed.

Asked why opinion polls consistently rank Pakistan among the most anti-American countries in the world, Khar responded with a single word: “Drones.”

Khar noted that the Pakistani government approves of their overall strategic purpose — to target and kill high-level militants — but the manner in which they have been used by the U.S., she said, has been “illegal” and has turned the local populations against the United States.

“What the drones are trying to achieve, we may not disagree. We do not disagree. If they’re going for terrorists, we do not disagree,” Khar said, according to the AFP. “But we have to find ways which are lawful, which are legal.”

She added, “The use of unilateral strikes on Pakistani territory is illegal.”

recent Wall Street Journal article revealed that the United States have established a particularly low-fidelity way of establishing Pakistani assent for the drone strikes. Once a month, an official at the CIA sends a fax to the headquarters of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency. The lack of a reply, even once, has been interpreted by Washington as implicit approval.

Science promises many wonders. The Higgs Boson, for one: it’s the “God particle” now said to exist (if not yet certifiably so). Or colonizable Mars – I’d expect the exertions of NASA’s rover Curiosity on the red planet are partly geared to studying that possibility. We’ve also been told of tomorrow’s genetically manipulated super soldiers: big tough guys who won’t need food or sleep. Oh wait, it seems they’ll also regrow limbs.

Ask me and I think something else rivals all of this. A brave new reproductive dawn, in which you won’t need the baby carriers of women’s bodies or sperm donors or test tubes. And you won’t need sex. Can anything in science – or science fiction – get sexier?

Let’s first recall Kaguya the mouse, born minus a daddy but compensated for by two moms instead. This very special rodent came into being through a very special and tortuous process. In brief, genetic material in an immature egg sourced from baby mice was prodded into acting like sperm and combined with a mature egg. This helped grow an embryo. Thence came forth the miracle mouse, later going on to have babies the ‘normal’ way. Ergo, it’s technically possible to develop embryos – and kids – from female egg genes modified to suggest paternal coding. Call it the lab variant of parthenogenesis – birth sans fertilisation.

Could human birth happen in similarly ingenious ways? Yes, if writer-scientist Aarathi Prasad is to be believed (“In future, virgin births will be a possibility”, The Times of India, The Crest Edition, September 1, 2012). This research geneticist from Imperial College London hit the news the other day for saying that humankind could be headed towards “virgin birth”: sexless reproduction. For, if designer sperm is possible, why not synthetic eggs? Round them off with the development of the external artificial womb, acting as an incubator-like receptacle, and science could one day herald what Prasad calls the “ultimate solo parent”. With transplant of tweaked genetic material into disembodied wombs, women and men could make babies at any age. And without getting within an inch of each other!

Some consider the vision bizarre and outlandish. Others spy a ‘threat’ to human relationships and family values from such reproductive emancipation. “Virgin birth” may be nowhere near materialising for humans as yet. But that hasn’t stopped people from getting alarmed. Or asking questions. Such as: What’ll happen to romantic love and its attendant sensual joys? Or to the hallowed institution of marriage, and its socially sanctioned purpose of breeding bonny babies?

Not that the main worry about sexless reproduction concerns endangered emotions and sexual bonding. The main challenge would be practical and ethical, surely. Think of the laborious experiments required to perfect such reproductive technology. Would they involve botched babies? If yes, could that conceivably be winked at in the name of scientific progress? No. As Prasad suggests, such procedures won’t be supported unless every child born of them is healthy.

Also, if artificial wombs become commercially accessible, I’d think society will need an excellently crafted and stringent regulatory regime. How to gauge whether those electing to ‘produce’ children this way are motivated by parenthood and nothing less noble – or more faddish? Parental instincts generally offer protection to children born the natural way. Will nurturing instincts remain intact with use of manipulated stem cells and artificial wombs?

Here’s the counter-question: If romantic love, parental care and family values can coexist with artificial insemination, test tube babies, sperm-donation and wombs-on-rent, why can’t they with ‘virgin birth’ from artificial wombs? In fact, I suspect many would embrace scientific advance that radically widens reproductive choices for people whose ideas about love and family are less conventional. With sexless reproduction, having children would no longer be a heterosexual monopoly. As Prasad points out, same sex couples could become “genetic parents”.

Don’t forget the expanding section of people who want asexuality – inability to feel sexual attraction – formally recognised as a “fourth orientation”. They too could ‘reproduce’ without having to exert themselves in the mating game. At the same time, women in general could be spared the kind of mating game that, having little to do with emotions or attraction, merely treats them as objects to be “farmed” reproductively.

Imagine other not-so-fringe benefits of sexless reproduction. Millions of men and women won’t have to think they’re freaks for not getting goose bumps at the sight of each other the minute they hit puberty. Millions won’t have to seek sexual relations as a social rite of passage, worry about stigmas attached to childbirth out of wedlock or bemoan child-bearing as a missed bus. Millions of women won’t need lectures about their bodies being tick-tocking biological clocks that need timely impregnation. And millions of men won’t have to feel that behind every successful daddy there’s a mommy (going into labour).

Women can be freed of what Prasad calls the “tyranny of the womb” – the womb is indeed a site of morbid social curiosity and investment. Women won’t need to fall for bromides that conflate femininity with the fertility of baby-producing machines. And men can be freed of the tyranny of notions of masculinity based on the number of times their wives flaunt the baby bump. In fact, if men can get to be ‘mothers’ courtesy science, they may even get less testosterone-driven.

But let’s remember that nature can only be manipulated, never mastered, by science. All scientific advances bring their share of jitters, precisely because they can involve a misdirected, hubris-laced attempt to bypass nature. Hence that broad social consensus on scientific ingenuity that’s taken on the contours of a homily: whether science is a bane or a boon depends on us. We can make a right royal mess of harnessing the power of science. Or we can get it right to make our lives better and richer. The script won’t be any different with “virgin birth”, should it ever become a baby-making option

“Is it a book you would wish your wife or your servants to read?” That’s the question prosecuting counsel Mervyn Griffith-Jones asked the jury during an obscenity trial in England in 1960. The novel in question: DH Lawrence’s sexually charged Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928). Griffith-Jones’s stout defence of conventional morality notwithstanding, the publisher was acquitted. And the unabridged book feting adulterous passion went on to sell like hotcakes. There you have it: society’s profound – and enduring – ambivalence towards sex.

Cut to the present. Consider nude Prince Harry frolicking in Vegas or topless Kate Middleton. On one hand, these images provoke grimaces and jibes. On the other, British royals are indulgently expected to star in frequent lifestyle-related ‘scandals’ so that commoners can satisfy their prurience. So here we are, in the 21st century, still asking a question Lady Chatterley post-lover wouldn’t. Is sex a basic instinct or a baser instinct?

Rewind a bit. Western religious tradition posited spirit as superior to the flesh. This body-belittling heritage reinforced cultural representations of sublimated love, such as inspired medieval knights. However, not all religious priests were strangers to carnal pleasure. In the fourth century, St Augustine confessed as much. But unbridled desire was seen as having subversive potential. It needed to be girded to holy matrimony and its procreative functions. Dubbed sinful otherwise, sex got policed simply by being demonized and domesticated.

In The History of Sexuality, philosopher Michel Foucault described how the 17th century’s growing discourse on sex brought it under secular forms of scrutiny and control in the following centuries: demographics, education, criminal jurisprudence, psychiatry, medical studies, etc. Reinforcing the link between knowledge and power, sex became a subject of clinical study – something like a squirming frog up for dissection.

Osho has said religion induced guilt about sex all the better to control the flock. It wasn’t always so. Consider the life and times of Gautama (born 6th century BC), prince who became the Buddha. Sensuality was then valued as a gateway to voluptuous plenitude, even a rite of passage towards wisdom. Wielding influence over the mightiest with exquisite subtlety, courtesans enjoyed a special status even holy men dared not interrogate. So great, for instance, was the fame of Ambapali, Vaishali’s royal courtesan, the story goes a visitor to her land counseled Magadha’s king to recruit his own money-spinning harlot! Thus Rajagriha welcomed the beauteous Salavati.

Ancient Indian spiritualism inspired Hermann Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha (1922), on which Conrad Rooks’s film was based. Who can forget the on-screen Kamala, instructor of the amorous arts? Bejeweled and statuesque, this courtesan is an aspirational ideal and an evolutionary stage in the spiritual voyage of the protagonist, the son of a Brahmin. She embodies the ecstasies of kama without which human experience is incomplete. Contemporary views and representations of the courtesan pose a contrast. In life, the prostitute’s a pariah whose trade concerns guardians of public health and morals. In reel-life, she’s redeemed only by a golden heart – and a golden-hearted benefactor.

In contemporary culture, sex sells. But, for fear of moral censure, it’s no longer a way of life, of ‘respectable’ intellectual and artistic creativity. We scarcely comprehend the sophistication, breadth and candour of the past’s celebration of sex. The Kama Sutra, a philosophical investigation of the science of love, reconciles eroticism and virtuous living. Questioning asceticism, Tantra harnesses sexual energy as access to the divine. Ancient Greece glorified homoerotic bonds. Roman aristocrats filled private homes with salacious art, while statues of Priapus – fertility god with an erect phallus – spread gaiety adorning public places. A polychromatic portrayal of Japanese aristocracy and its sexual mores, The Tale of Genji, is an 11th century literary classic recounting the dalliances of a prince. In this meditative exploration of licentiousness, love and loss, eroticism is a quest not bound by taboos or constraints of fidelity.

In our world of in-your-face sexuality, permissiveness hides behind the facade of ‘permissible’ sex. Pleasure-seeking outside conjugal monogamy or ‘committed’ pairing goes underground: if exposed, it wrecks lives, menaces careers. You can’t escape, especially if you’re rich and famous. Tiger Woods was dubbed the devil incarnate for marital infidelity. Monicagate-hit Bill Clinton was bashed for betraying American “family values”. Arnold Schwarzenegger was pilloried, with dollops of class bias, for fathering an ‘illegitimate’ child with a housekeeper. Closer home, Indians are generally non-judgmental about celebrity private lives. Yet, shock greeted a video allegedly showing ND Tiwari, then Andhra governor, cavorting with women. There was also that paternity suit. A geriatric with a libido seemed mortifying to an ageist culture that associates elders with pilgrimages, not peccadilloes.

Involving consensual sexual relations, none of these cases involved infringement of law. If those concerned were answerable, it was to their families, not society. Such is the intimidating power of social conservatism, they didn’t tell the prying world to leave them alone. Most issued public apologies for ‘transgressing’, with Clinton even throwing in church visits as a family man to expedite his much-publicised expiation!

“Sex is the most fun you can have without laughing,” said comic guru Woody Allen. Society retorts sex is serious business, yoked to its ideas of good and bad, clean and dirty. But can Eros be shackled to artificial constructs, drained of his secular power to strike at will, to empower, to enlighten, to liberate? Lady Chatterley’s sexual awakening changes her life’s course. Prince Genji’s amorous trysts bring the searing discovery of love’s fragility and life’s transience. Hesse’s Siddhartha embraces sex in order to transcend it. Let’s ask ourselves why our world is full of sad, guilt-ridden journeymen, all sexed up with nowhere to go.

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