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Sun May 19, 2019, 08:09 AM

Ursula K. Le Guin: "We are not great powers. But we are the light."

Found on FB~

Ursula K. Le Guin:


They asked me to tell you what it was like to be twenty and pregnant in 1950 and when you tell your boyfriend you’re pregnant, he tells you about a friend of his in the army whose girl told him she was pregnant, so he got all his buddies to come and say, “We all f*cked her, so who knows who the father is?” And he laughs at the good joke….

What was it like, if you were planning to go to graduate school and get a degree and earn a living so you could support yourself and do the work you loved—what it was like to be a senior at Radcliffe and pregnant and if you bore this child, this child which the law demanded you bear and would then call “unlawful,” “illegitimate,” this child whose father denied it … What was it like? […]

It’s like this: if I had dropped out of college, thrown away my education, depended on my parents … if I had done all that, which is what the anti-abortion people want me to have done, I would have borne a child for them, … the authorities, the theorists, the fundamentalists; I would have born a child for them, their child.

But I would not have born my own first child, or second child, or third child. My children.

The life of that fetus would have prevented, would have aborted, three other fetuses … the three wanted children, the three I had with my husband—whom, if I had not aborted the unwanted one, I would never have met … I would have been an “unwed mother” of a three-year-old in California, without work, with half an education, living off her parents….

But it is the children I have to come back to, my children Elisabeth, Caroline, Theodore, my joy, my pride, my loves. If I had not broken the law and aborted that life nobody wanted, they would have been aborted by a cruel, bigoted, and senseless law. They would never have been born. This thought I cannot bear.

What was it like, in the Dark Ages when abortion was a crime, for the girl whose dad couldn’t borrow cash, as my dad could? What was it like for the girl who couldn’t even tell her dad, because he would go crazy with shame and rage? Who couldn’t tell her mother? Who had to go alone to that filthy room and put herself body and soul into the hands of a professional criminal? – because that is what every doctor who did an abortion was, whether he was an extortionist or an idealist.

You know what it was like for her. You know and I know; that is why we are here. We are not going back to the Dark Ages. We are not going to let anybody in this country have that kind of power over any girl or woman. There are great powers, outside the government and in it, trying to legislate the return of darkness. We are not great powers. But we are the light. Nobody can put us out. May all of you shine very bright and steady, today and always.

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Reply Ursula K. Le Guin: "We are not great powers. But we are the light." (Original post)
babylonsister May 2019 OP
malaise May 2019 #1
lark May 2019 #2
Hekate May 2019 #7
lark May 2019 #11
Farmer-Rick May 2019 #3
PufPuf23 May 2019 #12
lunatica May 2019 #14
Taraman May 2019 #4
BlancheSplanchnik May 2019 #5
Farmer-Rick May 2019 #13
Hekate May 2019 #6
hunter May 2019 #8
yuiyoshida May 2019 #9
Martin Eden May 2019 #10
Hekate May 2019 #15

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun May 19, 2019, 08:14 AM

1. Great post

Get thee to the greatest page

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun May 19, 2019, 08:49 AM

2. Damn, no wonder I loved her books.

The Left Hand of Darkness is such a classic. I love her style and sensitivities.

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Response to lark (Reply #2)

Sun May 19, 2019, 11:49 AM

7. Always Coming Home is my favorite of hers. That and the Earthsea series...

She has books of collected criticism and commentaries -- a couple of shelves in my personal library are devoted to her output.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #7)

Sun May 19, 2019, 01:42 PM

11. Not sure if I read Always Coming Home back in the day, I'll have to check it out.

I love love the Earthsea series too.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun May 19, 2019, 09:12 AM

3. Loved her books

But for some reason I cannot identify, I thought she was born to English royalty. I swear I read she was a British heiress. Well, when I read her books there was no internet and it was difficult to get info on her 10 years after she had published her last book.

Glad to read she was just a normal American from an average family. May she rest in peace.

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Response to Farmer-Rick (Reply #3)

Sun May 19, 2019, 02:05 PM

12. Her parents were Alfred and Theodora Krober, very intelligent parents.

Le Guin was raised in Berkeley and graduated from Berkeley High School.

Alfred Kroeber is California's most prominent anthropologist. The anthropology building at UC Berkeley is Kroeber Hall.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_L._Kroeber

Alfred Louis Kroeber (June 11, 1876 – October 5, 1960) was an American cultural anthropologist. He received his Ph.D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia. He was also the first professor appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.[2] He played an integral role in the early days of its Museum of Anthropology, where he served as director from 1909 through 1947.[3] Kroeber provided detailed information about Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi people, whom he studied over a period of years. He was the father of the acclaimed novelist, poet, and writer of short stories Ursula K. Le Guin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodora_Kroeber

Theodora Covel Kracaw Kroeber Quinn (March 24, 1897 – July 4, 1979) was an American writer and anthropologist, best known for her accounts of several Native Californian cultures.[1] Born in Denver, Colorado, Kroeber grew up in the mining town of Telluride, before enrolling in the University of California, Berkeley, for undergraduate and graduate studies. Married once in 1921 and widowed in 1923, in 1926 she married anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber. She had two children with Kroeber, and two others from her first marriage. The Kroebers traveled together to many of Alfred's field sites, including an archaeological dig in Peru. Nine years after Alfred's death in 1960, Theodora Kroeber married artist John Quinn.

Theodora Kroeber began writing professionally late in her life, after her children had grown up. She released a collection of translated Native American traditional narratives in 1959, and in 1961 published Ishi in Two Worlds, an account of Ishi, the last member of the Yahi people of Northern California whom Alfred Kroeber had befriended and studied between 1911 and 1916. This volume sold widely, and received high praise from commentators for its writing. Kroeber published several other works in her later years, including a collaboration with her daughter Ursula K. Le Guin and several anthropological texts. She served as a Regent of the University of California for a year before her death in 1979.

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Response to PufPuf23 (Reply #12)

Mon May 20, 2019, 12:56 PM

14. Thank you! I had no idea!

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun May 19, 2019, 09:32 AM

4. Her family was hardly "average"

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Response to Taraman (Reply #4)

Sun May 19, 2019, 10:55 AM

5. Yet she tells the truths every female had to fear back then.

The idea of a ruined female life is something many men (and some women) can’t imagine empathetically.

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Response to Taraman (Reply #4)

Mon May 20, 2019, 12:48 PM

13. Why so?

Becase her parents were so intelligent?

She seems like an average American to me. Though my parents published in science journals, her life otherwise sounds very familiar to me. At least she is not the British royal I somehow got into my head that she was.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun May 19, 2019, 11:45 AM

6. Ursula Le Guin was a great, great woman, of towering intellect and insight...

Here is my story, not of 1950 when I was only three years old, but later, when I was 11 or 12, of a young woman who came to stay with the family across the street for awhile. She was probably 20, and as the pungent saying was at the time, "she had gotten herself pregnant."

Her boyfriend was a Marine who dropped her like a shot when she got pregnant, so she went to the base and found his commanding officer, hoping he would make the young man "do the right thing." She was told she was not the first young woman to come to the CO with that tale of woe -- but the fifth. Let that sink in.

So, there being no alternative either safe or legal, she continued with the pregnancy and stayed with older friends, our neighbors. She had a plan: she would return to the Mainland with her baby and pass herself off to her parents as a widow.

Could the story get uglier? Yes it could. Baby came, birth certificate came, and on it was stamped for all the world to see: ILLEGITIMATE. Let that sink in.

My mother, in her flaming outrage at this injustice, told me the whole story at this point. She told me that damned birth certificate was going to have to be presented every step of the way, including school enrollment. There was no possibility of the fiction of widowhood and respectability -- just lifelong shame for both mother and child. The woman who transgressed and the product of that transgression.

Someone here recently came up with the phrase: "behavior modification for women," regarding abortion bans. I thought that was a good way of putting it -- and it comes wrapped in a whole lot of other behavior mods, like making sure that babies carry shame for having been born at all.






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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun May 19, 2019, 11:55 AM

8. Ursula K. Le Guin was a brilliant light.

In my darkest times she helped me find my own light.


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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun May 19, 2019, 12:00 PM

9. I read the Wizard of Earth Sea

years ago..the entire set in fact. Loved those works...

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun May 19, 2019, 12:26 PM

10. Powerful. Personal. Compelling.

I haven't heard the case stated better.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Mon May 20, 2019, 02:09 PM

15. Kicking for a new week

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