Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You Don't Own Me

Digby discusses abortion.

[...] I'm rather sad and stunned to have learned in the past few years just how fragile and illusory many women's rights are and how reflexive sexism remains in our wider culture generally. Great strides have been made over the past 30 years,of course, but some kind of deep and intractable barrier remains. This is where the battles of the culture war will continue to rage. And whether they like it or not, politicians are going to have to accept that this is not something that can be finessed or swept under the rug. And it's not because the pro-choice people have been unwilling to bend, it's that, as Kilgore points out, because all their bending hasn't changed a thing. So everyone will just have to search his or her soul and decide what to think about women's roles in society and whether they believe they have agency and autonomy or not. And then be prepared to fight it out.

I don't discuss feminism much because it is a particular way of looking at a problem that I think is universal. Irrational hatreds and prejudices are taught by our parents and reinforced by society, so I think changing parenting behavior will decrease sexism and many other -isms. It's more efficient to go directly to the source than try to fight sexism and then abusive parenting.

Do anti-abortion opponents want to save the children or to control women? People who believe abortion is murder can't stand the thought of an in-utero child dying, but their concern is suspiciously limited. We frequently kill babies by bombing Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Mothers kill their babies and their children as well. According to FBI Justice statistics, 9.8% of murders in the US are of people under 18, and 29% of murder victims under five were killed by their mother. Children also die slowly of unhealthy living conditions, poverty and neglect. We do not see people marching and killing to support aid to women and children or family counseling or decent jobs that pay a living wage. We don't see them doing anything possible to stop war; instead we see them mocking those who do protest. It is not very credible to claim that abortion must be stopped at any cost because it is murder when other infant murders are utterly ignored or actually cheered. It is only the aborted child they are interested in, and you have to ask why.

People seek to control others for many reasons, but people seek to control reproduction to control sexuality. If you control someone's sexuality, you control them; it affects every aspect of their life. The nature of their families, their relationships with others, their career options, their image of themselves. Men have always been able to control women through physical and social pressures and if women are able to control their sexuality men will lose a great deal of that control. So men feel that they must control contraception and abortion. Not just abortion--contraception also, and most of all, since it gives women even more control over their lives than abortion does.

Men want to control women because everyone wants to control their circumstances, to protect themselves from pain and fear. If you feel bad about yourself you will seek ways to ease that pain, often by finding someone else that you feel is "worse" than you. People without that insecurity, who grew up loved and able to love others, will not seek as much control and not need as much self-reinforcement. They will be able to trust others to make their own choices instead of letting fears and needs they can't identify drive them to invade the private choices of others. It is utterly unacceptable to exert control over someone else's sexuality, just as it is unacceptable to lay claim to his labor or children. They are his and belong to him alone, and so are the choices he must make regarding them.

It's not even an issue.


Downpuppy said...

But what if Ross does own the goat?

Susan of Texas said...

Then he's on his own.

satch said...

When I started college in 1965, the "women's movement" was just getting started. I'll never forget, when I went to a discussion on abortion and choice, that in that particular group, the ones most opposed to choice were women. Mine was a small, church related college in central Pennsylvania, and was somewhat conservative, but not in a fundie whackazoid way. I was young then, and I wasn't sure what dynamic was at work... it never occurred to me that a fetus, especially in the early weeks, was even close to being a person, and I naively thought that the main objection to abortion was that it was often carried out in none too sterile back alleys when it should be done, if necessary, in a nice, clean hospital. To this day, I simply cannot fathom the issues of "control" that surround the debate, and I REALLY can't understand why so many women are complicit.

Susan of Texas said...

A lot of women thought they would lose advantages with equality, or truly believed what they were told about women's inferiority. Some saw a way to make money by selling out other women. Women as well as men can be very guilty of manipulation and control. Everybody Loves Raymond has a great example of a toxic mother, who uses manipulation to control those around her.