careers, rants, religion, sexism

Repost: According to a Christian blogger, women are destroying the medical profession…

I just got a wild hair up my ass and decided to repost a couple of blog entries I wrote about Lori Alexander, otherwise known as The Transformed Wife. I am reposting them because sometimes it’s handy to be able to link to old posts from my original blog, particularly where Lori Alexander is concerned. This first one was originally posted May 14, 2018. It made quite a stir three years ago.

First thing’s first.  I need to state upfront that I don’t regularly follow The Transformed Wife, which is a blog written by a Christian woman named Lori Alexander.  I had never heard of this blog until I started following the Duggar Family News group on Facebook.  I did see a recent post by The Transformed Wife where I felt compelled to leave a comment, only because she’d misspelled “censorship” in her title and it was making me twitchy (sorry).  But no, I don’t regularly read her blog because I’m pretty far from being a devout Christian.  Sometimes people share her more ridiculous posts, though, and that’s usually when I take notice.

2013 seems to have been the year to be talking about female physicians…

This morning, someone shared Lori’s thoughts on women doctors.  She writes, “women are destroying the medical profession.”  To back up her claim, she cites a five year old opinion piece done by the U.K.’s Telegraph.  That piece is about female doctors who only work part-time because they are raising families.  It’s apparently causing a problem in countries around the world because part-time doctors lead to a shortage.  The opinion piece, written by Max Pemberton, is actually pretty sensible.  He writes:

…attempts to raise these issues are routinely met with accusations of sexism. But it’s not sexist to acknowledge that women, more than men, often appear to place family life ahead of their career. Nor is it a bad thing that women want to focus on having and bringing up their children, and caring for a partner. Underlying this is a larger debate about the 24/7 working environment and lack of affordable child care that leaves so many women torn between a career and a family. This is where the real sexism lies. But until there is a shift in the way that domestic responsibilities are shared, we need to accept that most women want to work part time so they can combine a career with family life – and, in medicine at least, start preparing for it becoming the norm.

But then Lori Alexander writes:  

Men were created to be the supporters of families and women were not. Women are taking men’s positions in medical schools that should belong to men.

Hmmm… very interesting indeed.  I happen to know a couple of women doctors who are raising families.  One is a very successful trauma surgeon.  Her husband is an Episcopalian vicar and takes excellent care of their two kids while his wife works to save lives.  The other just recently had her sixth baby.  And yet, according to Lori Alexander, these women are absolutely wrong to pursue careers in medicine.  Alexander reminds readers…

Men can be doctors but they can’t be mothers. Only mothers can be mothers and NO ONE can replace a mother in a child’s life.

What exactly makes someone a mother, anyway?  Is it the simple act of giving birth?  Because if that’s the case, adoptive mothers are apparently worthless, according to Alexander.  Is it simply being female?  Are women inherently more nurturing than men are, simply because they have female parts?  What about fathers?  Can they be replaced?  Actually, Alexander would probably say fathers can’t be replaced, but apparently they aren’t as important as mothers are.  Why is that?  Is it because they aren’t nurturing?  I would challenge anyone who has ever met my husband, Bill, to compare his nurturing instincts to mine.  (ha ha ha)  But then, I know that Bill is a pretty rare individual, especially for a military veteran.  He’s unusually nurturing and kind.  He’d probably be a better mother than I would, though.  Or, at least he’d probably be more like the type of mother idealized by folks like Lori Alexander.

Lori continues with the following thoughts…

No long-term good comes out of women leaving their homes. Nothing. Satan convinced women to spend years and a lot of money getting a higher education and then a degree. When they finally have children, they still have their God-given instinct to care for their children, thus they are in conflict with what they were convinced about concerning their career and being with their children. Their children are the ones who suffer and society is suffering too.

Oh… so it’s the fault of women that society is suffering?  That sounds pretty familiar.  Women get blamed for all kinds of shit.  That’s been going on since the dawn of time.  But then Lori ends with a quote from Proverbs:

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  Proverbs 31:27

I wonder what she’d think of an overeducated housewife with no children whose housework skills are lacking…

In fairness to Lori Alexander, I don’t know her at all.  I have no idea what shaped her opinions about woman in the workplace, other than her obvious love for the Bible.  My guess is that she’s actually against women who work, not just women who choose to be doctors.  Somehow, her blog has attracted a lot of attention.  This particular post has been shared well over 1500 times.  Maybe I should start writing really badly written provocative stuff that causes outrage.  And… to be honest, I don’t necessarily disagree that children in the United States need more exposure to their mothers.  Actually, I’d argue that they need more exposure to BOTH parents.  

What I like about Europe is that the powers-that-be have recognized that young children need their mothers and fathers, so employers here allow them to take time off from their work to take care of their kids.  That time off is paid, and they do have jobs to go back to when their time off is finished.  But this generous leave has nothing to do with religion.  Instead, it’s a simple product of common sense.

Europe, in general, is also a bit less work happy than the United States is.  In the United States, there’s this idea that one must constantly be working in order to keep their jobs.  Plenty of folks who are lucky enough to have jobs with benefits, to include paid vacation time, are pressured not to take any leave.  Those who dare to enjoy their lives off the clock are often considered unproductive and poor performers.  They don’t tend to climb the ladder of success the way their more driven colleagues do.    

In Germany, workers get more time off and shorter work weeks, yet the German economy remains very strong and the people, by and large, seem to be a lot happier.  I think Germans tend to work smarter, too.  They focus is less on how long a person works and more on the quality of their work.  I would imagine that having time to rest allows them to work smarter.  It’s probably better for their overall health, too, including their mental health.

Let’s face it.  Living in the United States is very expensive.  A lot of families need both parents to work just to be able to pay their basic bills.  The need to work makes it harder to focus on the family. And yet, we keep voting in Republicans, who are in bed with Christians, yet seem hellbent on making money and ruining any family friendly programs that might make it more possible for one parent (not necessarily the mother) to stay home and take care of their kids.  The United States is not a community friendly country.  Many people are focused on their own needs and things that only benefit them personally, rather than society as a whole.

But… in fairness to my countrymen, I can understand where this attitude comes from.  And now that I don’t live in the United States, I can also see where people like my Italian friend, Vittorio, see the United States as a “weirdorama” country.  We have all these God fearing people who don’t seem to love their fellow man very much at all… unless, of course, their fellow man lives in a way that they claim is Biblical.  It doesn’t seem logical to me.

Anyway, allow me to go on record as saying that I think it’s great that women are following their career dreams.  I also think it’s a good thing that so many of those women are focusing on their own fulfillment.  Perhaps that means they have fewer children or none at all.  But, as Alexander points out in the comments section of her post, women doctors are here to stay.  Women will keep going to medical school.  So… I guess in her opinion, the medical profession is on its way to being well and truly fucked.  She’s entitled to her opinion.  I’m not sorry she wrote her post, even if I disagree with her.  She gave me some food for thought.

I guess we’re in the end times…

I think I need an aspirin now.       

modern problems

Arizona Supreme Court justly rules divorced woman can’t use her frozen embryos…

Ruby Torres, 39, had always dreamt of being a mother. But in 2014, when she suffered an aggressive form of breast cancer, she was told that chemotherapy would eventually render her infertile. At that point, she knew the only way she would ever be able to get pregnant was by freezing her eggs and undergoing in-vitro fertilization.

John Terrell, Torres’ boyfriend at the time, initially declined to donate sperm, but eventually agreed. The couple signed a legal agreement stipulating that neither party would use the embryos to create a pregnancy without the express, written consent of both parties. Torres and Terrell married days after signing the agreement and immediately started IVF, resulting in seven viable embryos. But then they divorced in 2017, after just three years of marriage.

During the divorce proceedings, John Terrell asked the Maricopa County Superior Court to prevent Torres from having the embryos implanted. He stated that he no longer wanted to father children with Torres, and did not want to be financially responsible for children with her. The court initially sided with Terrell, and the embryos were ordered to be donated. Torres appealed, and the Arizona Court of Appeals sided with her, “ruling that Torres’ rights to have children prevailed over her ex-husband’s objections to becoming a parent.” Terrell did not accept that outcome and also appealed.

The couple continued to fight in court until a new law was made in 2018, allowing former spouses to use frozen embryos against their former partner’s wishes, but relieving the ex-spouse of parental responsibilities like paying child support. However, because this case predated the 2018 era law, the new law can’t be applied to Torres and Terrell. And they have finally reached the Arizona Supreme Court, which has sided with John Terrell and ruled that Ms. Torres does not have the right to use her frozen embryos after all. The embryos can now either be donated to another couple or destroyed.

Let me first state that I have empathy for Ruby Torres’ situation. Not knowing anything at all about the people involved in this case, I can definitely see how this would be a heartbreaking outcome for Ms. Torres. However, having been married to a man whose ex wife has “issues”, to say the very least, I can also see John Terrell’s side. If the situation were reversed, and Mr. Terrell wanted to implant the embryos into another woman, there would likely be much outrage among the masses. Moreover, there could be a very good reason why Terrell doesn’t want to father children with his ex wife. It may not be entirely about finances, either. Given that the two were only married for three years before they split, I wonder if maybe one, or even both of them, doesn’t have significant issues. I’m not saying they definitely do have issues— only that such a short marriage makes me wonder about the stability of one or both of them.

Ms. Torres has stated that she plans to remarry and would have her new husband adopt any children resulting from the embryos. She claims she would not have required any financial support from Mr. Terrell. However, making such a statement and actually adhering to it are two different things. Even if Ms. Torres is committed to having her new partner adopt any children resulting from the frozen embryos, when it comes down to it, the new partner also has to agree. Until he signs the dotted line accepting responsibility, it’s not a done deal. Not knowing any of the parties involved in this case, but having seen my husband’s ex wife promise things and then renege, I can see why Mr. Terrell didn’t want to take the risk. It sounds like their split was not amicable, which in and of itself could present serious problems.

A lot of people might wonder why Mr. Terrell would even care about what happened to the embryos if another man was willing to adopt any live children resulting from them. Personally, I can kind of see why Terrell wouldn’t want his ex raising his biological offspring. Think about this. At the very least, Mr. Terrell would have to live with the knowledge that some of his DNA resulted in a son or daughter who was being raised by an ex spouse with someone else. I think it would probably bother me to know that some other woman was raising any child of mine, with my DNA, against my wishes, whether or not I knew her. I don’t think I would ever be able to give up a child for adoption. Maybe Mr. Terrell feels the same way, or perhaps, for whatever reason, Terrell specifically doesn’t want his ex wife raising his child, even if he’s okay with strangers parenting his offspring. Since they had a legal agreement in writing, he has the right to withhold his permission for her to use the embryos his DNA helped make, regardless of the reason.

Again… I’ve actually seen my husband in this situation. He raised another man’s child for about ten years, then saw his own children raised by a different man. It was upsetting for Bill to be in that situation, so I can see why it might be problematic for Mr. Terrell. Add in the fact that Terrell hadn’t even wanted to donate sperm in the first place, and you could easily make the case that he never wanted to be a father– even one who is basically just a sperm donor. Since I don’t support forcing women to give birth; I also don’t support forcing men to father children.

Thinking about this situation reminds me of an 80s era episode of the classic sitcom, One Day At A Time. At the time, artificial insemination was a very new concept, so this episode was particularly groundbreaking when it aired in January 1981. An infertile couple, dying to have children but in need of a sperm donor, went to Pat Harrison’s character, Dwayne Schneider, for help. Schneider was almost talked into donating sperm, until he started talking enthusiastically about being involved in the child’s life. The infertile couple then made it clear that beyond donating sperm, Schneider would have no part in the child’s life. In fact, they said they hadn’t decided that they hadn’t decided if they would tell the child the circumstances of his or her birth (many years before home DNA tests, obviously). I remember very clearly what Schneider said in a very sorrowful tone of voice. It was, “I don’t think I can hack that.” Maybe that’s the case for Mr. Terrell, too. Or maybe he’s just a selfish, spiteful jerk, in which case, perhaps it’s better that he doesn’t pass along his genes. Not knowing anything about either party, it’s hard to tell where the truth lies in this case.

Schneider is asked to donate sperm to an infertile couple. In the end, he can’t hack it.

As it was pointed out to me last week when I was dismayed about the fifteen year old boy being evicted from his grandparents’ house after he was orphaned, there was a legal contract in this case. Legal contracts must be binding; otherwise, they do no good. It does seem crazy that another couple could birth and raise children resulting in a pregnancy created by the embryos made by Torres and Terrell. I’m sure it’s heartbreaking to think about it. But this is just one of the many issues that come up when people make babies in an unconventional way. It’s definitely a cautionary tale for those who sign legal contracts. Be sure to consider what could happen, worst case scenario, and make sure the language provides for those situations.

The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure the people who argued with me about the justification of enforcing the legal contract in the case of the teenaged boy would be squarely on Ms. Torres’ side in this case. Both people are pro-life, and Ms. Torres did have pro-life lobbyists at The Center for Arizona Policy working on her behalf to prevail in this case. But then, I tend to be more concerned about the welfare of people who have actually been born than embryos.

Anyway, I feel empathy for Ms. Torres, even though I think the Arizona Supreme Court ruled properly in this case. It’s too bad she didn’t also freeze some of her unfertilized eggs. I hope she’s able to find a way to move past this setback. At least her case has resulted in a new law, which may prevent this from happening in the future… in Arizona, anyway.