eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
[personal profile] eruthros
I was reading Mary Roach's Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex at a cafe for funsies this morning. And I was reading along, mostly enjoying it -- she mostly describes the science of sex in a funny and lighthearted and not-too-thoughtful but at least not-too-painful way. (Barring things like "men do X" and "women do Y" and the corresponding conflation of culture+biology. Since that happens all over the place in reproductive science, I was pretty sure I'd find it here too, and was prepared to put up with it.) When all of a sudden:

In which Roach sexually assaults a patient and has no ethical problem with it -- note that I'll be quoting her description of the assault here:

So, Roach is watching a penile implant surgery in Taiwan. The patient has consented to her presence, but she thinks that the patient thinks she's a nurse and doesn't realize she's here to observe for a book, and doesn't know that she'll be printing the story of his surgery. She doesn't explain to him that she is not a nurse. Then:
Does it feel like a blood-engourged penis, or does it feel like a penis with two silicone rods in it?

"May I squeeze it?"

Alice [her translator] looks at Dr. Hsu. Dr. Hsu looks at the patient, whose head is hidden behind a green curtain of surgical sheeting. He is awake now, but he speaks no English and his crotch is still numb. He'll never know.
WHAT? WHAT? SERIOUSLY? He'll never know so it's OKAY? OH MY GOD.

And in the book she sometimes talks about how, in the U.S. and England, she has occasionally volunteered for studies herself in order to see what they are like, because she isn't allowed to observe many experiments -- human studies ethics boards ban it. So it's not even JUST that she doesn't see it as assault (even though she specifically writes down that the patient is not consenting, which makes her an AWFUL PERSON and OMG) -- she can't even put that together with the human studies ethics board talk she's already done. Or maybe what happens in Taiwan stays in Taiwan, or people are different there; she seems to have some race issues as well, though I can't quote any that are as obvious as the above.


In which Roach seems to have disability issues:

So, Roach talks for a little while about studies of paraplegic and quadriplegic folks who orgasm. And, even though she is talking to a doctor who is doing this research specifically to improve the sex lives of people with paraplegia and quadiplegia, she doesn't really talk about that. She notes that people with paraplegia can have orgasms, and then segues straight into:
People with spinal cord injuries provide a unique window onto the workings of the human orgasm. If you examine lots of people -- some whose injuries are high on the spine, some down low, some in between -- you can eventually isolate the segments of the nervous system that are crucial to orgasm. You can begin to define what exactly an orgasm is. ... Once you have an accurate definition of what orgasm is and how it happens, then you will, hopefully, have some insight into why it sometimes doesn't. Studying people with spinal cord injuries might benefit the able-bodied as well.
To which I say: as well? But you haven't talked at all about how the studies benefit disabled people! She went straight from "spinal cord injuries" to "benefits for the able-bodied." Which, maybe is a problem of the way she jumps back and forth on topics, I dunno, but I do not have a lot of charity in me for someone who says things like "her beauty and poise belie the seriousness of her condition." Or the above re: assault.

I am not really prepared to read her chapter called "What Would Allah Say?" after the above. I can't imagine why.
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eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)

May 2017

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