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rambling meta about teyla, pregnancy, contraception, etc

So, because of Teyla's storyline in the current season of Atlantis, and a fic I've been working on here and there and another fic I just enjoyed, I've been thinking about Teyla in particular and Athosians in general and pregnancy.

I know this can be a touchy subject and I'm wary of it straying into areas where feelings are very passionate. So I just want to remind everyone who wants to contribute here to play nice and remember that we're talking about a very fictional situation.

So, when Atlantis first started, it kind of evolved in the back of my mind that for a lot of cultures in the Pegasus Galaxy, contraception might be an option, but not one that was often utilized. Not because the majority of cultures have been shown to not be as technologically advanced, but because when your people are constantly being culled, isn't it important to keep replacing your population?

Teyla seems surprised by the news that she is pregnant, leading me to believe that it wasn't what is typically thought of as 'planned', but she's never shown having regrets, or doubts about keeping the baby. After all, the baby is a part of someone she loved and lost, and as she points out, if the Athosians are all dead, her child might be the last of her people.

If having children to replace culled members of the population is so important, why has a woman Teyla's age not had children before this?

A lot of stories where Teyla is in a sexual relationship with John seem to show her adopting 'Earth methods' of contraception. Is this just the writer's bias of 'our way is the right way' coming through, or does it make sense from a practical standpoint?

Like I said, this is all just rambling. I don't have any actual answers, just the feeling that I mentioned that made sense to me when the series first started. Am I totally off-base here? Are there obvious solutions to any of the 'issues' I mentioned above? Have I gotten anyone's juices - erm, mental juices - flowing?
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Is this just the writer's bias of 'our way is the right way' coming through, or does it make sense from a practical standpoint?

More that the writer's a lazy sod and completely didn't think about it. ;) I think it makes sense from a practical standpoint. If the Athosians had something like the pill, I think it'd be a bit of an inconveince to have her run back every few months to get more of it when she has basically the same thing at her fingertips in Atlantis. I can't see her whiping out condoms in a relationship with an Athosian; Earth guys would probably provide them. Or so says my brain at 3 a.m.

Interesting discussion point.
LOL, I wasn't trying to point out your particular, I really have seen it come up a lot in fic. It probably came up in Teal'c SG1 fic, too, when people bothered to let him have sex ;) But what if the Athosians used, oh, I don't know, an herb or something? Or what if they used a completely different, non-chemical method to not get pregnant when they didn't want to?

Now you're making me wonder about what kind of supply of condoms the expedition brought with them initially, and how long before they ran out.

*shakes head*
Now you're making me wonder about what kind of supply of condoms the expedition brought with them initially, and how long before they ran out.

I honestly think I read a fic about that once. Or at least it mentioned the condom supply running low. I wouldn't put it past fandom.
Definitely not.

I picture this Atlantean black market ala the BSG episode of the same(?) name, and Radek is running around with all the condoms...
It's the U.S. military. They packed enough condoms and pills for the end of the world plus some. That's one thing the military can be pretty guaranteed not to skimp on.
I've actually written fairly extensively about this before -- but in comments, so lord knows where exactly. It's my view that while replacing your population would be important in the issue of being culled, there's two things that take higher precedence. One, it's important to be at a stage where you can protect your young (so that more survive childhood) would be even more important. Two, it's important not to over populate your society because a higher population is likely either thought to, or actually does, attract Wraith -- hence the term "culled."

In which case, a young adult (used here to mean anything from 15 to mid-20s) wouldn't be a good candidate for parenthood. They're still in the stage where others would need to protect them and it's more practical if only the people who've shown they CAN survive reproduce. Especially since out of the two parent-child relationships we see in the Athosians, both were single parents. We don't know what happened to Jinto's mother but Halling's obviously on his own in raising the boy (and, notably, Halling's also rather well on in years for having a son as young as Jinto, which shows a pattern). Teyla's parents also both died, her mother at least a few years before her father.

[There's also the possible flub that, in the pilot, Teyla tells John there hasn't been a culling on Athos in quite some time, since IIRC either before she was born or when she was a young child. So, we have to assume the writers accidentally contradicted themselves or that a notable amount of Athosians were caught up during trade in other planet's cullings or conflicts.]

It really doesn't make sense to have young women (16 to 24, or so) having children. Their bodies can't handle it nearly as well because the bones haven't finished shifting and fusing and because teenagers (especially female teens) have greater vitamin and nutritional needs than grown adults. They'd lose more women who have survived, who have training and experience in protecting their society, than they'd gain (defenceless) children that way.

And, like I said, population growth, both according to Teyla and in multiple other examples (the Genii, the planet in Condemned), is dangerous. The best balance is to merely replace your population, which means that any given couple should have two children over the course of their lives (or, if couples don't tend to stay together for lifetime periods, any given adult should have one child to their claim).
Also, there was effective and commonly used birth control long before the synthetic pill and latex condoms. Women who didn't want to get pregnant have always had ways of making sure that doesn't happen, assuming that the men in their lives don't block the access to those ways. And herbal abortives and preventatives do work (and there's even some evidence they're safer and healthier than the birth control pill, as the pill works essentially by tricking a woman's body into thinking she's pregnant all the time).
Yes, I remember reading some time during college that some form of birth control existed as far back as ancient Egypt? Which of course made me think SG1 and I probably didn't pay attention to the rest of the article after that...
they actually used crocodile dung for birth control in Egypt for awhile.
Some interesting info here and definitely some new aspects to think about. That's a good point about Halling, as well... it makes me wonder why he waited, or if he had other children at some point.

Population replacement makes sense. I didn't mean to imply that Pegasus cultures should all shag like rabbits to make as many of themselves as possible :) But then you still have Teyla, who's in her 30s(?) and it makes me want legit Teyla backstory GRRR!
Teyla is probably in her late 20s or early 30s, which is a perfectly logical time for her to have a first child, especially if Athosians have any knowledge (and they probably do, they're not as "backwards" as fandom seems to think) of egg degradation in women past their mid-thirties.

Put it this way -- if Teyla and Kanaan have one child when Teyla is 29 and another when she's 33, then the children are four years apart (which is safer than having two infants/toddlers at the same time) and they've replaced themselves population wise. It also minimizes the risk to Teyla and even to fetus health.

But that assumes that the writers have really thought this through. Chances are they haven't thought it through that deeply and the extent of their thought is "replacement? Yeah, that works for our numbers." (especially since in the fourth season they are throwing a lot of numbers around).

In terms of fanwank though? It's incredibly easy to justify Teyla being pregnant with her first child "only" now.
[There's also the possible flub that, in the pilot, Teyla tells John there hasn't been a culling on Athos in quite some time, since IIRC either before she was born or when she was a young child. So, we have to assume the writers accidentally contradicted themselves or that a notable amount of Athosians were caught up during trade in other planet's cullings or conflicts.]

The way I took that - and I looked up the transcript on GW to refresh my memory - that there hadn't been a large-scale culling in a long time, but the Wraith have still been taking people in the meantime.

The last great holocaust was five generations ago, but still they return, in smaller numbers, to remind us of their power.

And I want to say thanks for your perspective on this; it's very much appreciated. :)
I think this falls under one of those things the writers just dont' think about. Such as the obsession some fans have with us never seeing a bathroom in atlantis.

But it's also something they contradicted with Teal'c and Drey'auc. T-Man is 100 years old, we have no idea how long he and Drey'auc were married, but they only had one kid? In a society where their people are basically cannon fodder and killed with impunity by rival goa'uld, shouldn't the pressure be for Jaffa in general to reproduce as much as possible? Shouldn't Teal'c, as first prime, be pressed into 'duty' with concubines if nothing else and spread his good genes around to provide the next generation of warriors for his god?

And with an infant ortality rate that i'm sure is horribly high, the more babies born, the more that should survive to adult hood.

I would think it's the same basic idea with Teyla, if they're culled regularly, thier best chance to surviving as a race is to breed enough that they are always more than the wraith need so more survive a culling.

Basically, i think, the writers come up with these 'different' societies, then never think them out. If they had, Adria would have been a male cause the religion of origin wasn't quite open minded enough to handle a scantily/provicatively clad female as a leader. Religions such as origin - where ever other member of power is male - would see females as baby machines and nothing more. Adria should have been a male to fit in with the restrictive religion Coop created.

but, then they would have been cheated out of fulfilling hte 'hot alien chick' cliche :)
Actually, like I argued above, since population growth attracts Wraith their best bet isn't to have as many children as possible -- it's to replace only as much as they've lost.

Oh, and edit! I don't think that's true about the religion. There's more than one religion which has used male superiority as a tenant that also has a sacred female within the mythology or which has recognized a singular, feminine power as exception (I'm thinking here of the acknowledgement of unmarried queens). It's perfectly possible for Adria to be asserted as an exception, a holy being brought upon them by the Ori to further the cause. In which case it wouldn't matter if she was male, female, neither, or purple; her status as holy would supercede any other standard considerations.

Edited at 2008-03-02 07:05 pm (UTC)
>cause the religion of origin wasn't quite open minded enough to handle a scantily/provicatively clad female as a leader.

what?? Origin never said anything about one's biology - only about the status of enlightened vs unenlightened beings.

yes, what few Priors we've seen have all been male. mind you, with one exception, all those Priors were in our galaxy, not theirs

...we've also only seen exactly one Ori. are we supposed to infer that the Ancients are utterly terrified of a single lone Ori??
excellent question
>if the Athosians are all dead, her child might be the last of her people.
...which leads to the question: "how is Athosian(ness) or Athosian heritage passed on?

if Teyla and her child are the only two surviving Athosians, Athosian culture is probably doomed...(unless Teyla turns out to have all the knowledge of all the Athosians who have ever -- wait, wrong character)

as for why Teyla hasn't had kids before now...perhaps for Athosians, the leader is actually forbidden from having children (and-or the entire community is seen as the leader's children)
Re: excellent question
...which leads to the question: "how is Athosian(ness) or Athosian heritage passed on?

Good question. The Athosians don't seem to hold to any specific ethnic mold (few cultures in SG do, iirc, which is kind of annoying) so I've always thought of 'Athosianness' to be somewhat fluid, having more to do with their lifestyle and their beliefs.

perhaps for Athosians, the leader is actually forbidden from having children

I've wondered about that myself; it would be a fun idea to play with in fic. But does it make sense anthropologically speaking? Usually someone is a leader because they are 'strong'; they exemplify traits that are important to that culture. So wouldn't it be important for those strengths or traits to be passed on to the next generation? Specifically The Gift -- even though it may 'set one apart', it still represents a significant advantage against the Wraith.
Re: excellent question
>The Athosians don't seem to hold to any specific ethnic mold (few cultures in SG do, iirc, which is kind of annoying)
mmm...yes and no...humanity was put in that galaxy ten thousand years ago. now, that's at least 5,000 years further than any known society or religion in real life.

on the other hand, the Tasmanian Aborigines were isolated for - anthropologists estimate - 40,000 years.


>But does it make sense anthropologically speaking?
I think so (just imho)...as, if the leader thinks of all Athosians as his or her children, then (for as long as he or she is leader) there is no social/psychological reason for that person to physically have children of their own.

>they exemplify traits that are important to that culture. So wouldn't it be important for those strengths or traits to be passed on to the next generation? Specifically The Gift --
I had thought that The Gift was a fairly recent addition (within the last few generations' time) that was integrated into their society to some degree.
Re: excellent question
mmm...yes and no...humanity was put in that galaxy ten thousand years ago. now, that's at least 5,000 years further than any known society or religion in real life.

Actually, 10,000 years ago is when the Ancients departed the Pegasus galaxy. The human societies they seeded probably go back much further than that. Perhaps even hundreds of thousands of years or more.