What is it like……..

to give birth?

Question asked today in the Guardian by a journalist looking for clues in literature to prepare her for her impending childbirth. She finds there is an odd absence of birth descriptions in literature (well, maybe not so odd given all the things readers of this blog will be familiar with).

The discussion is quite interesting, however, particularly comments that indicate noone can really can convey what it is like, and particularly not what it is like for YOU – only what it was like for them. And that is interesting for philosophers of mind – or is it?

Why did philosophers wonder what it is like to be a bat, not what it is like to give birth? Is birth the ultimate first-person only access experience? How come there is no mention of birth in philosophers’ of mind obsession with pain?

There is a simple answer, of course, which is that there have been too few female philosophers (though that still makes it curious why men philosophers did spend time wondering what it is like to be a bat, not what it is like to give birth). But are there also more interesting answers to these questions? Is there something philosophical to learn from wondering what it is like to give birth?

Live Sex Demonstration in University Class

It was part of an optional lecture — which came with multiple warnings about explicit content — after his human sexuality class. It featured three guests involved in the BDSM scene who were planning to talk about their kinky lifestyle. It happened that the presenters arrived early during the professor’s lecture on the g-spot and female ejaculation, both of which are scientifically controversial. When it came time for the guests’ presentation, one of them, Jim Marcus, suggested that he and his fiancée, another speaker, provide a genuine example of female ejaculation right there on the spot. After brief hesitation, Bailey agreed.

“I couldn’t think of a legitimate good reason why people shouldn’t be allowed to see that, and I still can’t,” he told me. The students were repeatedly warned about what they were going to see, and those who were uncomfortable with the idea were allowed to leave. The woman took off her clothes and her fiancé got her off with the motorized dildo — although she didn’t actually ejaculate…

It’s important to note that this story broke in Northwestern’s student newspaper — the angle being that, hey, this unconventional demonstration had taken place, and students were fine with it. It didn’t make MSNBC because the actual students who witnessed the demonstration were outraged or scarred by the experience. It made national news because the idea itself is shocking, unusual and titillating.

Read more here.

I’m very curious to know what people think.

CFP: Feminism, Autonomy & Reproductive Technology

A Special Journal Edition in Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology

The aim of this special issue is to offer an interdisciplinary analysis focusing on reproductive technology from philosophical and psychological perspectives, including diverse approaches from within each (feminist theory, analytic philosophy and continental philosophy, developmental theory, psychopathology and ethology.) We welcome papers that address questions such as these: How might the use of technology help or hinder women’s autonomy during labor and birth? Given recent developments in reproductive technology, do we need to rethink the concept of autonomy as it relates to labor and birth? Which social attitudes might pressure or coerce women to use technology during labor and birth? What social norms and values might pressure women differently within different societies to use such reproductive technologies? What attitudes of health care practitioners might pressure or coerce women to use technology during labor and birth? What moral and/or political implications follow from the use of technology during labor and birth and the impact of its use on women’s autonomy? Can women make autonomous choices if they cannot be informed adequately because of a lack of randomized, controlled studies on the use of technology during labor and birth? Does informed consent require that physicians inform laboring or birthing women of alternatives to the use of technology?

Papers must be complete and should not exceed 8000 words, although shorter papers of at least 6000 words are welcome. All papers will be blind reviewed. Please list your contact information, the title of your paper and a brief abstract (of no more than 200 words) in a separate attachment from your paper. All papers should be sent in regular .doc format with notes numbered consecutively and placed at the end of the main text rather than as footnotes. For more details please see the guidelines for submissions on the journal’s site at http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/SPT Please enter “Special Issue Submission” in the subject heading of your paper submission.

All papers should be e-mailed to: Dana Belu, Philosophy Department, Cal-State University at Dominguez Hills, dbelu AT csudh.edu, Sylvia Burrow, Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies, Cape Breton University, sylvia_burrow AT cbu.ca and Elizabeth Soliday, Psychology Department, Washington State University Vancouver, esoliday AT vancouver.wsu.edu. If you have any questions please contact Dana Belu, guest editor-in-chief at dbelu AT csudh.edu

The deadline for papers is August 1st, 2011.