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Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 09:00:15 -0800
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: (urth) DOORS: The hive-like society

Adam Stephanides quoted me and wrote:
>> like insects, society is divided into the
>> mass of sterile female workers and super-fertile queens (little doubt
>> here)
>Could you elaborate?  It's been a long time since I've read the novel, but I
>don't recall any indications of this.

First I'd like to give my sense of the dolls, as I've been meaning to do
since Roy Lackey wrote:

>I had the impression that dolls such as Tina were given primarily, if not
>exclusively, to boys. It also seemed to me that boys lost interest in them,
>or were made to give them up at some point, perhaps at puberty. At any rate,
>most men in the Otherworld do not seem to have retained them as adults. The
>shopkeeper in the doll hospital implied that dolls sent there for repair
>were not often picked up, and if they were, it was usually by the owner's

Previously I pointed out that women are pretty much against men having
dolls: they will destroy them (the dolls first).  Now I will explain more
about why I think this is.

My theory: The women tolerate, even encourage dolls/goddess worship for
boys.  A doll gives a boy a focus, erotic and spiritual (especially in
preparation for his personal self-sacrifice that others might live).  The
doll does a lot of the work in preping the boy for his role as a man,
filling in during free time when the boy is away from formal education.
Otherworld marriage is an institution whereby a man pledges his zygotes to
a woman in exchange for her mercy and forbearance: it is for the man to
avoid sudden random death (be it like the probably unlawful rape at the
hospital or the socially-sanctioned lure of an ice-queen on a parade
float), and for the woman to avoid being a maenad/lamia/stalker of
unmarried men.

This then is the social contract.  The man gives up the doll when he
marries: his wife becomes his "goddess," the one that the doll was
preparing him for.  The husband lives until the zygote transfer (witness
the situation with boxer Joe Joseph and his wife Jennifer: according to the
pre-nuptial she will wait until she is 35, but some think she is pressuring
him for an earlier transfer).  The wife would have no interest in the man's
doll, but the man's mother of course would, since she had raised the boy
like a prize pig -- she would remember the boy and his doll.

With this in mind, a man with a doll is something rather shocking.  It
implies arrested development at the very least, if not some weird cult
and/or socially deviant behavior.


THE FAMILY MAINTENANCE--[volume turned down] bill that would have permitted
involuntary sterilization of mothers of twenty-five or more children" (28).

Now this could be a simple "Planet of the Apes"-style gag (words of the
sermon: "He said he never met an ape he did not like").  But I take it as
being more thought out than that.

In the government (of the women, by the women, for the women) there has
been a movement to restrict the number of children a mother can have.  To
me this suggests that 1) mothers have power; 2) the mother's power is
proportional to the size of her brood; 3) pre-mothers want to reduce the
power of mothers (at the cost of more male lives lost to fertilize more
low-output mothers); 4) the mothers are blocking the attempt at reducing
their power/upping the male death quota.

(I assume that the 25 children limit represents a number that is both
reproductively sound [i.e., does not represent negative population growth]
and supportive of a "democracy of mothers" that the bill's framers
presumably want.)

When I wrote,"like insects, [Otherworld] society is divided into the
mass of sterile female workers and super-fertile queens," I did not mean to
imply that the pre-mothers were actually incapable of giving birth (as
neuter female insects are), nor did I mean to imply that the mothers were
literally queens (it seems like a representative democracy of some kind).
In a hive-like society where every (female) "worker" (pre-mother) can
become a "queen" (mother) there will be the sort of tensions  I see in the
Otherworld society.



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