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El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago

The truth is that evolution and natural selection have quite straightforward explanations; in fact, from that perspective, a much more puzzling question is why human females don’t die immediately after menopause, as so many other animals do.
———————————-
There is no puzzle here. The granny effect… So be a grandma or cry

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
2 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

This bit foxed me too. Isn’t it obvs? If we died immediately after the menopause wouldn’t that affect – er – a lot of children? Women have been having babies 40+ for millenia, I mean contraception wasn’t brilliant for most of history. And we do come in useful as grannies, too, you know.
I read once, and don’t know how true this is, that giving birth late has a link with longer life and the explanation was that you need to be around for the next generation.
Mind you, I would believe it, my son was born when I was 44. Who’s to say?
Possibly the lack of research into breastfeeding is that it’s been done quite a lot. it’s been done by grandmothers and been handed down to mothers. That type of research normally works quite well.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Helen Nevitt

The older a woman gets the greater her chances of having a Down’s syndrome baby. There is an amniocentesis test for this, but Should she find out that she is carrying a Down’s Syndrome baby and wish to abort, she’ll then find out there are laws put in place by the anti-choice lot that will force her to birth a baby she didn’t want.

Steve Houseman
Steve Houseman
2 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

There’s much written by Sara Blaffer Hrdy on this subject. I suggest her 2009 book ‘Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding’. Also her 1999 book ‘Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How they Shape The Human Species’ is equally great and fun. Granny has a very important role in the raising of children as does the direct ‘tribe’. Pretty common sense too.

Anna Clare Bryson
Anna Clare Bryson
2 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

Um…sorry Kathleen, but human beings are one of the very few species (the others are orcas and a few other marine animals) that experience menopause at all. The “so many others”, whatever their lifespans, don’t die after menopause; they never get menopause in the first place, although their fertility may decline somewhat as they age. Whether the “granny” effect is reason enough to explain human and orca female menopause while somehow not applying to chimps or wolves (also sociable species where there is some collective responsibility for young) I don’t know.
Not that the correction really affects the argument. But the problem with the general argument from need to accept both biological limitations and the often related operations of luck is that it avoids the issue of the increasing ability – through science – to overcome some of the limitations and the bad luck problems. Philosophically, one can certainly argue with the idea that biological limitation or other forms of bad luck could ever be dispensed with entirely, or that we should think about life on the assumption that it could, but that doesn’t help us decide on where to draw lines when modern medicine changes the limits. And I’m amused at some commenters here with their stern pronouncements against “unnatural” elderliness in mothers…for it would be a very modern intervention is motherhood could be restricted to young women – back in the old days before effective contraception, when women like my great gran had a lot of children, nature dictated that they continued to get pregnant for as long as they biologically could…

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

It might seem odd that at the same time that overall fertility rates are declining in developed countries, (some) women are seeking the means to enhance their capacity for reproduction. The amount of energy required to give birth and raise children should never be underestimated, both in physical and psychologically terms. It’s not just about ovulating, but the subsequent demands on the female human body and let’s face it, most of the demands are met by women.

Do women think they can completely re-order the sequence of childbirth, raising, using that experience in the workplace, grannying to mix and match those aspects into any order they prefer? Do they, in fact, want the same options as men in that respect? Such desires as this article outlines, plus the rise in recent decades of “career, then child” might suggest that’s precisely what’s going on here.

KS doesn’t pull any punches around this subject, as one might expect, although the importance of the granny role in the raising of children was overlooked.

What she does do is raise the vital questions around human biology that has suddenly become if not possible, then at least thinkable due to technologies, healthcare and expanded lifespans.

If the onset of transhumanist ideas has centred mainly around enhanced male capacities (e.g. as warriors) this can be seen as females seeking to muscle-in, as it were, and stake their claim for attention in the research labs and think tanks, of the elites of course.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I doubt that women are behind this, more likely big pharma.

Janet G
Janet G
2 months ago

Surrogacy is on the agenda in New South Wales, Australia. State politician Alex Greenwich has drafted bills to allow self sex-ID, decriminalisation of prostitution and to allow commercialisation of surrogacy. The bills were supposed to be debated on 8th February but the debate has been postponed. In the meantime women’s rights groups and religious bodies (Christian, Hindu and Muslim) have mounted protests and petitions. Articles are appearing in The Spectator, the Daily Telegraph and other unlikely places.

Marsha D
Marsha D
2 months ago

Acceptance is the quality I miss in so much of the debate around human biology. We are animals with a limited lifespan. We get old and will die. We can use our intelligence to take care of ourselves to maximise health, and avail ourselves of medicine to improve and prolong our lives. But that is all.
Acceptance, however, is also an actively positive quality because it allows us to get on and make the most of life in the real world. But, of course, too much reality is uncomfortable for some.

El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago
Reply to  Marsha D

Firstly, a woman above 40 does not have as much strength and health as necessary to take 24/7 care of a small child.
Secondly, there is a special pleasure in being a grandmother or grandfather.
My daughter told me that she had never seen my face like when I was walking with her daughter, my granddaughter.

It is foolish to deny own biology.

Patricia Hardman
Patricia Hardman
2 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

I had my daughter at 41. We had been trying for several years … I had just about given up. We love her dearly and there isnot a day that goes by without me thanking God for her, but oh how I wish I’d been 31!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

Caring for a child 24/7 shouldn’t have to be the sole responsibility of the mother, ideally, there is also a father, Also with enough money one can employ others to help.

El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I’m sorry, but you are
1) or very naive to think that father replace mother for toddler
2) or too much feminist

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
2 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

“with enough money one can employ others to help.” – said Leona Helmsley

J Dunne
J Dunne
2 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

‘Ideally, there is also a father.’

Until divorce when he is alienated by the mother and the family courts and deemed to be an utter irrelevance except when it comes to paying maintenance (in many cases at least).

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
2 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

Precisely.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 months ago
Reply to  Marsha D

The acceptance I am willing to accept as a human, is that change, including of ourselves, by ourselves, is inevitable – short of a technological imposition which locks humanity into *this (current)* static condition, this moment, hereafter (just another variety of dystopia which for example a future machine intelligence more capable than us might impose on us, zoodom in effect). Unless individuals don’t want that for themselves, which is fine. But there is no need to attempt to put brakes on the rest of us who have Promethean instincts. This is of course caveated – no one should be allowed to reach for things for themselves that pose direct risks to all of us as a totality, or which entail pyramids of pain, of horrors, caused by experimentation on others in the search for those Promethean goals. Or rather they shouldn’t in theory, but it’s very difficult in practice to put a stop to this, *even if* you are willing to go to war over this – all that war can do is buy you some time. So things are going to happen, regardless of attempts by individuals and groups to stop those things they deem existentially bad.

For example I have an odd mix of seemingly contradictory views on this. I think searching for life extension, and even immortality, is completely fine – it is, to use your phrasing, “acceptance” – of change, as it happens. I also think the pursuit of ever more capable machine intelligences is going to do us in within a few decades tops. I don’t want that to happen at all, but I doubt any of us doomers can stop this regardless of how much we shout.

Christine Novak
Christine Novak
2 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Yes, honestly I think we all have a mix of views. Tough to deny a CRSPR fix to sickle cell anemia. Or the ability for a paraplegic to walk via a brain implant. The pursuit of immortality. As Mary Harrington wrote a year ago, we have to learn to address the monsters and the heroes of modern technological advances. I don’t think it’s going to stop. As a society, it will be hard to know where to draw the line though.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

And who’s to decide for the rest of us when changes should stop? AI is here now and there’s no going back. As far as science and reproduction go, I’m sure many transwomen can’t wait to get ovaries and a uterus.

Trishia A
Trishia A
2 months ago
Reply to  Marsha D

Exactly. The expectation that humans live beyond menopause (on average, of course there were always Elder exceptions, that’s what made them special, there were so few of them) is absolutely ridiculous.
All ailments occurring after 50 are not “diseases” or “illnesses”, they are DEATH. We do not “live longer”, we now die longer.
Safetyism + Medical Industrial Complex have decided that living longer is a better political imperative than living BETTER.
Humans are a ridiculous species, and we will likely be one of the shortest lived species on the planet, once we’ve deleted all the other large animals, which is coming soon.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
2 months ago

Why do I get the impression that all these wonderful bio medical developments are not going to benefit humanity or even women generally, but are aimed at the hyper rich who believe they can use their wealth to cheat mother nature?

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Women who sacrifice their fertility for their careers have basically been fed a series of lies. That’s why people marry young, and why women prefer well paid, gainfully employed young men as long term partners.
On the other hand, there are fewer and fewer well compensated males, outside of highly technical, upper end analytical roles.
Those other jobs, educations, and promotions went to women.

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Because you notice things.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

It’s the same with longevity fixes, cryo-freezing and all the other “live for ever” stuff some of the uber-wealthy seem to crave.

The reality is that there are less than 200 super-centenarians over 110 years old in the world and only once person *ever* has been recorded as living to over 120.

And read “Trouble with Litchen” by John Wyndham for a prescient take on what would happen if increasing life expectancy to 150 or whatever were to become possible.

It would be priced out of the range of hoi polloi.

More people living to a healthy 105 or so seems feasible, long term, but I for one wouldn’t want to push it much further, or be a 125 year old just for the sake of it..

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

That’s a long time to be doing chores.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
2 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Indeed, that’s part of the point that Wyndham was making – who wants to be in a dead end job for 60+ years, etc etc.? If current scientific understanding (that for 99+% of people the body shuts down at about 106 years old) was overturned then the implications would be incalculable and unpredictable. Unless increased longevity was restricted to the uber-elite of national leaders and multi-billionaires, all our assumptions about personal commitments and expectations, governance hierarchies, politics, etc would be flat out wrong. Not to mention the implications for population and resource consumption trends.
This is where the read-through to female fertility is found. Allowing a few privileged women to buck science is one thing, widening access to hoi polloi would be a whole different issue.
And on a topical point, we are seeing the undesirable implications of gerontocracy playing out live in the USA, where both presidential hopefuls are clearly not firing on all cylinders.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
2 months ago

Why do women need saving? Perhaps they need saving from feminism?

Courtney Maloney
Courtney Maloney
2 months ago

In allyship (not the SJW definition) with the inverse of “Yes, All Men” (i.e. the majority; reality) we women need to war against 3rd wave + feminism.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 months ago

Pass

Katha Pollitt
Katha Pollitt
2 months ago

I don’t understand what the excitement over breast-milk substitute is about. Formula was invented way over 100 years ago, and has been used by zillions of women who either can’t breast feed or don’t want to. It is completely normal! The struggle today is to get new mothers NOT to use it. Is the breast-milk substitute supposed to be better in some way?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Katha Pollitt

Most women have to return to work after 12 weeks in America and, by contrast, 6 months in Italy. That’s where the formula comes in handy.

Daniel P
Daniel P
2 months ago

K….Trying to imagine a woman taking both drugs to extend the life of her ovaries and taking the pill at the same time.

Is that like driving with one foot on the gas and another on the brake?

It would be nice if people could just stop trying to avoid fate. We are born, we live, we age , we die. Within that, we gain and we lose various abilities. It is called a human life.

This desire to CONTROL our fate makes us miserable.

If you think you are going to want a baby, then plan to have one during the time in which your individual body says that is a good idea.

BTW….If men have not studied breast milk and the issues around it it is likely because we know nothing about it. We face our prostates every day, women do not share with us their issues generally, but certainly I can say no woman in my life has ever mentioned latching, cracked nipples etc. I have had to deal with formula but it is not like the ex ever told me why. I just marched off to the pharmacy and got what she asked for.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

I doubt the birth control pill has made women miserable. On the contrary.

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
2 months ago

Wow. So many thoughts and feels. First, I am a mom, now 59, to a 26 year-old autistic daughter – the love of my life – but I am still parenting much as I did 20 years ago, and I am tired – bone tired. I am sure these rich women can afford all sorts of help, but motherhood is for the young in general. That’s why our eggs don’t last much past 40.
If you can’t breastfeed, it’s not the end of the world. I couldn’t because of a variety of factors with my older daughter, and she grew up whip smart and healthy on formula. But I was also home with my girls for 10 years, so maybe actually spending time with your children matters a bit more than pumping your breasts at work to give them breast milk when you see them for 2 hours a day at night.
As for surrogacy, I feel for any couple who wants a child, but the best interests and well-being of the child must come first – that is the heart of being a parent.
Surrogacy for money may solve a dilemma for adults, but it comes at a cost for the baby, and potentially the woman.  It is often poor women who rent their wombs for money, and they must inject themselves with hormones to be ready for the implanted embryo, adding more risk to the already high risks of pregnancy.  Surely, women with better options don’t do this.
But it is the infant who suffers the most.  Babies don’t realize they are separate beings from their mothers until at least 6 months. That’s why mothers carry them on their bodies in so many cultures.  The mother’s body has been their home – her smells, sounds, voice are part of the baby.  That is why as soon as a baby is born, the baby is placed on the mother’s chest, so the familiar heartbeat can be heard, reassuring the baby who has just endured the trauma of birth that the mother is still there.
Adoptive parents know about adoption trauma – the trauma that happens when babies are separated from their biological mothers.  But adoption is a beautiful solution to an otherwise heartbreaking situation.  Surrogacy plans for this trauma as part of the process.  Surrogacy plans to traumatize the infant. 
We don’t separate puppies from their mothers until 6-12 weeks because we know it causes lifelong behavioral issues.  But human infants are ripped from their birth mothers and given to strangers because they want babies?  
There are so many children in foster care who need families.  If you want a family, there are many ways to have one.  Creating a new life, a baby, just to tear that baby from his or her mother is cruel.
What good parent puts their needs over the child’s from birth???
Finally, the artificial womb thing is horrific. Can’t imagine the trauma from that. Or the freakishness of men (aka transwomen) taking drugs to produce some kind of liquid to lactate and breastfeed – that’s child abuse.
Can our world become a place where children are treated as human beings and not possessions?

A J
A J
1 month ago

Hear, hear! There is also the issue of microchimerism – some of the baby’s DNA remains in the mother. So a surrogate mother has a material connection with the baby she carried, even when it was not her egg that was used. We don’t yet know what effects microchimerism has on mothers or their children. It may be important. And an artificial womb could hardly replicate all that a woman’s womb does.

It reminds me of that awful 60’s experiment with the baby monkey whose mother was replaced by a wire cage and a bottle. The monkey did not thrive, to say the least.

Acceptance needs to include accepting infertility, and accepting that gay male couples can’t make babies AND that this does not give them the right to buy babies on the open market. We none of us have the right to acquire everything we want in life. We used to know this.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
2 months ago

A part of me agrees with this, but I also think it’s kind of short-sighted and present-biased. I mean, people died around the age of 45 in the early 1900s, right? It’s not like medical advancements haven’t improved quality of life and longevity before.
Just because it’s not there yet, doesn’t mean it won’t be. I cringe at the tech guy using his teen son as a “blood boy” as much as the rest of us (not least because he looks, at best, exactly the age he is) – but I certainly wouldn’t put it past our wealthy gerontocracy to figure out how they can more effectively suck the life out of us, eventually – whether literally or by sucking up ever more resources to enrich themselves.
Wealthy women are clearly just as invested in advancing their life extension goals as men. They may not have cracked any of it yet, but they might!

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
2 months ago

‘the tragedy of worldly contingency’.

Isn’t it funny that in California there can simultaneously exist this technological ‘can fix-it’ approach to life’s supposed problems and a thriving alt-religious culture of gurus and disciples of Buddhist persuasion teaching that ‘everything in life is change and contingency ‘ ?

I bet that in these women’s billion-dollar organisations they have free mindfulness classes for the staff but can’t see the inherent contradictions of it all.

Mind you, with the advent of polyamorous relationships, they’ll barely have time to change the sheets between partners. But of course some Mexican border-crosser will be on hand to do that for them.

William Brand
William Brand
2 months ago

The Surrogate should be a Cow. Forget about Human surrogates. The surrogacy problem is one of cost, bonding, law and nationality. You are hiring a woman for 9 months of heavy labor. The cheap way to go is to use a poor woman in a third world country. She needs to take extreme care of what is another person’s child. Then she gives birth and biology tells her that the child she bore is her child. She may not want to surrender the child to a biological ova doner who has not gone through the birth and biological bonding to the child. The law may be on the surrogates’ side if the baby is born in some third world country. Citizenship is based on place of birth, and mother of birth not conception or ova donor fertilization. The solution to the surrogate problem is the genetically altered dairy cow. This animal has its immune system genes altered to enable it to carry a human embryo. In addition, when designing the animal one can have it lactate human milk. Since the uterus is calf sized, one can extend pregnancy for an extra month or two for a more developed baby. Genetic alterations to the lab fertilized baby are possible due to the removal of the need to pass through a bipedal human pelvis. Head and brain size can be increased to super genius level. Bonding with the child’s mother can be accomplished with a short false chemical pregnancy followed by administration of OxyContin the love hormone released during birth. The drugs will cause the subconscious of mother and child to agree to bond. Childbirth and genetically improved progeny are now economical to accomplish.

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
2 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

Lol. Oxytocin. NOT “Oxycontin”. which is an opiate. Also that reads like satire. What could go wrong?‍

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
2 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

Wow, this was really weird, and not just the cow idea, but that fact that the poster actually thought about additional issues like citizenship or the need to make the subconscious of mother and child to “agree to bond”. The OxyContin was the icing on the cake.

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
2 months ago

Brava! Fantastic read as I have grown to expect from Stock.
My personal theory is that women evolved to live after menopause for the ( as I like to call it ) Grandmother Principle. We evolved as social, generational , community creatures, and grandmothers impart wisdom to their descendants having successfully already raised children.
Of course there are always exceptions, but we’re only a few generations into the shelving of our elders, which doesn’t seem to be an improvement to how we raise our progeny. Does it? We think we know better than a 100,000+ years of a system that obviously has been quite successful. The blowback is plain as day in our Western culture. We have lost our bearings.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 months ago

The underlying issue is that modern thinking (since the 18-19th century, and fully embraced by modern medicine) prefers a mechanistic view of the body. The body is made out of parts such as: reproduction system, a heart, a digestive system, a brain. Parts we try to fix when they go wrong, or we consider they go wrong. Of course, over time, we looked at smaller and smaller parts of the body as our ability to see and measure smaller things improved; but the same mechanistic narrative tries to hold all this together.
This view is opposite to the view that we are complex dynamic systems where everything is interlinked with positive and negative feed back loops and that we constantly engage with our surrounding (intake and excretion: both physical and mental…. (what is the difference really).. ) while there are constant renewal processes taking place inside, all the while trying to keep between acceptable parameters to remain alive. (This view is much more in line with current knowledge of biology and physics)
But of the course the mechanistic view is easier to put in a story we are used to and, more so as mentioned in the article, commercialised. It is time we start to accept that the view of life used to underscore many things in modern medicine (popular and medical explanations) is about 50 years behind the current understanding of biology/life and (physical) reality in general.
This is opposite to the more acceptable view nowadays that heath is multifactorial but still often tied to a limited number aspects (and preferably just to a tube of vitamins, or the prevention of an illness). We need to start to accept that , for instance, the concept that the health of your food starts at the health of the soil it is grown on, via the health of the animals feeding on its crops, the health of the farmer and his farm, the health of the way the food is transformed, all contribute to healthy food. You miss one link and suddenly the whole looses its value.

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
2 months ago

Is there a scientific reason that randomness matters? Is it possible that the rampant human demand for control just might cause extinction instead of immortality?
We know so little.

mike otter
mike otter
2 months ago

Eh? WTAF? Bio-hacking is using biological or bio-chemical knowledge to enhance existing biological states or mitigate, even reverse an adverse one (EG HRT). It is not about reversing the spell of ageing or cheating the inevitability of mortality. I wouldn’t have a dog in this fight except i got involved in supplying a firm which sepcialises in natural products that basically enhance (“hack” if you will) female biology particularly for 1st world women (Obvs not so much an issue for Austronesian natives, my wife’s testimony to this – aged early 60s she looks like a guerro woman in their late 40s/early 50s) Frau Ć tock needs to remember she is a philosophy academic, not the organ grinder, not the monkey just the things that the monkeys pick out of each others’ coats. Like they said of Sara Palin: not thoughtful enough to know shes not thoughtful enough. Much as i like my JG Fox print there is a limit where genuine reportage sinks into flat earht news, and this may be it for me. Just cos Ć tock understands that a man with polla & huevos is not a woman, i understand an anglo academic is nothing of the sort – just an opportunist plying their birth rite.

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
2 months ago
Reply to  mike otter

Apparently some people post while high on glue.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 months ago

“a much more puzzling question is why human females don’t die immediately after menopause”


Maybe 20 yrs ago I read a study that found children with grandparents to have higher survival rates.

This would certainly seem to have been the case during the worst ravages of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Many young (sexually active) parents died, leaving their children to be brought up by the elderly.

The ‘grandparent’ hypothesis was cited as a potential reason for the flourishing of Homo sapiens in spite of the disadvantage of human children being dependent on adults for many years.