talk to me like an adult: planned parenthood edition

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79 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Yeah. I have discovered a catch-phrase of a sort, that highlights a bunch of gendered attitudes:

    Women feel, and men do

    I’ve seen research that suggests that this starts out when children are infants, they are spoken with, engaged with differently. We end up assigning agency to men in situations where it is ambiguous, and even sometimes where it isn’t all that ambiguous.

    Men are taught this under the rubric of “take responsibility”, which is endemic in workplaces, and important in our martial arts curriculum. The difference being, we teach it to women, too.

    But a couple of points about Aquinas. No, he did not conceive of doing empirical research. Nobody did. He lived some 350 years before Hobbes and the beginnings of empiricism.

    Also, the attitude that a superior body held a superior soul has an impact beyond that of gender, having an impact on dwarfs and other men who were shorter than average. That still holds true, by the way.

    Fun fact: Elizabeth turned this to her rhetorical advantage in her speech to the troops at Tilbury, awaiting the Spanish Armada:

    I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.

    I don’t know that I would describe Elizabeth I as “weak” or “feeble”, but in terms of bodily size, she was smaller than many men. I also love that she has the heart and stomach of a king. Elizabeth rocked.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      In a workshop I led, we examined greeting cards for welcoming babies. The language differences between cards aimed at male babies and female babies were stark. The boy cards were full of verbs and the girl cards full of nouns (besides from all the other stereotypes they were laden with).Report

  2. Avatar Murali says:

    I’m not going to question Aquinas’s or Aristotle’s view of women. Except for a few troglodytes (i.e. those red pill assholes and their ilk), no one takes those dinosaurs’ views on women seriously anymore. Nevertheless, I think it mischaracterises the current pro-life position to say that it treats women like children.

    The argument is that not everything we may elect to do with our body is equally permissible. To whit, when the thing we do with our body interferes with the body and life of another human being, that presumptive right that we have can and perhaps should be circumscribed, or at least so the argument goes. Leaving it up to women to decide when it is morally appropriate to abort is akin to leaving it up to someone when it is morally appropriate to steal or to kill etc (or any other illegal act). That is to say narrow exceptions are carved out broad prohibitions. Criminalising an act instead of leaving the decision to act up to the person does not ipso-facto infantilise her. More must be said of why not leaving abortion up to women infantilises them when other prohibitions on people does not. Instead of something like killing or stealing, let’s make the analogy to something like minimum wage. Do you think mandating a minimum wage infantilises workers and employers?Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

      Leaving it up to women to decide when it is morally appropriate to abort is akin to leaving it up to someone when it is morally appropriate to steal or to kill etc (or any other illegal act).

      Since I’ve actually been pregnant and given birth twice, no. It is not akin to leaving it to someone else decide if it’s moral to steal or kill. Pregnancy is physical; it is so physical that it impeded our view of women as having reason, moral agency, and intellect throughout most of history. Your gross simplification does that historic silencing injustice and is firmly rooted in the women-as-children mentality that suggests they cannot hold moral reasons for wanting to control their own bodies. It is not anything like a minimum-wage debate, it’s more akin to spending 3 years in prison; where control of your own life is wrested from you.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

        It is not anything like a minimum-wage debate, it’s more akin to spending 3 years in prison; where control of your own life is wrested from you.

        That pertains to the heaviness of the burden and thus weighs strongly against the reasonability of requiring women to carry to term. You’re missing the point of my objection. You are misunderstanding the dynamic that goes on with the anti-abortion argument.

        We have general prohibitions against killing, trespassing theft, particular wage contracts etc even though we do recognise that there may be morally sound reasons to kill, steal, trespass or pay below the minimum wage. It does not follow that prohibitions on those actions fail to recognise the existence of moral reasons to engage in such activities. When someone steals to feed their starving family, a system which recognises the exigencies of the case will tend to forgive that crime, as it would when someone kills in self defence. Nevertheless, even if a general prohibition against theses things recognises that people will tend to do these things for morally inadequate reasons, it does not thereby treat them as children.

        Thus, to prohibit an action does not imply that one fails to recognise that there are sometimes moral reasons to engage in that action. Nor does the belief that most people who perform the action do so for morally bad reasons treat them as children.

        Now, the question arises as to why abortion is different? Why would abortion be different from other crimes such that its prohibition treats women like children? The answer you hint at is that the burdens suffered by going through a pregnancy are so large that this fact by itself is always (or at least almost always) a morally adequate reason to terminate abortion. Supposing that I do grant that this is the case (it seems plausible if pregnancy can be legitimately compared to spending 3 years in prison*), it still does not make prohibitions on abortion an instance of treating women like children. It may still be unjust, and you would be right in saying that it is unjust because it fails to recognise that women do have a morally legitimate reason to abort, but that does not mean the law treats women like children in that instance.

        *I confess to being somewhat sceptical of this claim. Surely not everyone’s or even most people’s pregnancies are that difficult! Certainly my mother and sister-in-law (as well as many of my school teachers) were mobile and able to and did work in strenuous jobs right up to the point they went into labour. But what do I know, I’m a man and am not going through the pregnancy**. Though, the variability in burdensomeness raises an interesting question: What would be the lower bound on the burdensomeness of a pregnancy such that the burden itself is morally sufficient reason to abort?

        **It would be an interesting study to survey women and see the distribution of burdens across women and time.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

          Do you think an employee should be informed of the physical dangers associated with a particular job? That coal miners, for instance, should be informed about the dangers of black lung and mine collapse? Farm hands the safety concerns of being buried alive in grain silos? What about patients going in for medical treatment, should the be informed?

          And is not the process of informing to gain consent for what they’re about to have happen to their physical bodies?

          Why would pregnancy be any different?Report

          • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

            I don’t think pregnancy is any different. I do believe that it can be very burdensome and risky and further people ought to find out how risky their pregnancies are likely to be and make informed decisions about whether to terminate it.

            I do fail to see how your response replies to anything I have said.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Murali says:

          Murali,
          “What would be the lower bound on the burdensomeness of a pregnancy such that the burden itself is morally sufficient reason to abort?”

          Difficult to say. If we’re talking nausea, in particular, you’d be looking at levels of genetic similarity — on the other hand, high levels of genetic similarity tend to come with such significant social opprobrium as to count as taboo…

          I don’t think there is a lower bound… I value a woman’s autonomy over her own choices that highly. But I do think there could be times when the morally right answer would be “here, have 100 dollars from The State.”Report

      • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to zic says:

        @zic, I’m curious, along with Murali, it seems, if you believe that any pro-life position necessarily infantilizes women?Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Christopher Carr says:

          Well, at some level, belief in Christianity does in general — original sin that she must suffer for isn’t all that great an explanation for child birth. Plus, the dumb beasts didn’t sin, but they suffer in birth, too.

          I have no problem with people opting to believe that women are somehow inferior and need to have their life-decisions made for them; but belief despite the actual evidence is something you opt into, not impose; at least in my definition of polite society.

          I’ve lived my life in a faithful and chaste marriage and never had an abortion; those are my choices and reflect my beliefs about how to be a good person. To presume women won’t make those kinds of choices, as well as making bad choices (just like men!) without being coerced into them is infantilizing. To presume men are somehow more perfect is really infantilizing; men are simple creatures with simple biology, after all. Compared to women.Report

          • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to zic says:

            So do you believe that any pro-life position necessarily infantilizes women?Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Christopher Carr says:

              I believe any pro-life position that doesn’t recognize her agency to her own body infantilizes women. If she opts to be pro-life, fine; but if you’re opting for her, you’re treating her as a child.

              That is what pro-choice means; it’s her choice, since her body bears the burden.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to zic says:

                Can you recognize a woman’s agency to her own body and still be pro-life?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                hell yeah. but at that point you’re not pushing for Paternalistic Legislation.

                It’s one thing to be pro-life (lots of dems are), but most of the dems don’t want to force that on the next person in line.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                Given the definition of “pro-life” that is most commonly used (i.e. in favour of prohibiting abortion), I can’t imagine how you would.

                It is possible to come up with a definition of “pro-life” such that it is compatible with recognizing women’s agency – but that would require a definition of “pro-life” that is also “pro-choice”.

                I personally think that’s totally consistent – just as one can be against both the prohibition and the consumption of any given drug (i.e.pro-abstinence from it, and pro-choice as to whether to abstain or consume). But it’s not how those terms are generally used.Report

              • Avatar ktward in reply to dragonfrog says:

                The pro-life movement, as it exists, is first and foremost anti-abortion. Close second, they’re all about moralizing over various birth control measures. (Abstinence is arguably their fav.)

                That said, it’s crucial to note that pro-choice advocates are not, at all, the flip side of pro-life. The pro-choice movement equally embraces a woman’s decision not to have an abortion, even under dire circumstances.

                The pro-choice and pro-life movements are, in fact, working toward very different ends. It’s accurate to say that pro-lifers are anti-abortion. It’s not remotely accurate to say that pro-choicers are pro-abortion.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to ktward says:

                I’ve argued in the past that someone with more time on their hands and tolerance for abuse than I have, ought to create a framework (literature, website, registered non-profit) for a “pro-abortion” movement that is as anti-choice as the “pro-life” movement is, just with the forced decision being “yes, you must have an abortion” not “no, you may not have an abortion”.

                Mostly this would just serve to give pro-choice people somewhere to point when they’re accused of being pro-abortion, or when someone yet again tries to portray them as being on the extreme end of the spectrum of possible opinions on abortion (such that the implied reasonable centrist view is some paternalistic thing where abortions are allowed but surrounded by all manner of restrictions on the circumstances of conception and pregnancy).Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Christopher Carr says:

              Insofar as a pro-life position deprives otherwise fully autonomous agents of their agency, it infantalizes them on the model that infants aren’t fully autonomous agents capable of making their own decisions? Something like that?Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Stillwater says:

                Insofar as a pro-life positionprohibition deprives otherwise fully autonomous agents of their agency, it infantalizes them on the model that infants aren’t fully autonomous agents capable of making their own decisions? Something like that?

                The substitution does not work, not unless you are an anarchist. Prohibition on homicide also deprives otherwise fully autonomous agents of their agency. After all, it coerces people into not doing something which there is sometimes good moral reason to do. Suppose we lived in a society where 90% of the homicides were justifiable (e.g. self defence). It would not infantilise people to have a law prohibiting homicide.

                The only sorts of prohibitions which infantilise a person are prohibitions on self-regarding and prohibitions on eu-voluntary agreements. We could say that abortions are the first kind, but that would imply that the consideration that needs to go into the decision to have an abortion (at any given stage) is no different from the decision that needs to go into having an appendectomy. But, per the parameters of the OP, the foetus is not nothing. Having an abortion is not morally trivial. If it is your position that a foetus is just like an appendix (or a tumour) then fine, but that lies outside the parameters of the OP. The working assumption, I believe (and zic may correct me if I’m wrong) is that the foetus is not a mere thing, and is a distinct entity whose interests the infringement of which is sometimes impermissible.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Stillwater says:

                Interesting. Is it only abortion that creates this scenario? Because I can find a lot of examples of a position that “deprives otherwise fully autonomous agents of their agency, it infantalizes them on the model that infants aren’t fully autonomous agents capable of making their own decisions”.

                Like, say all the drug laws.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Damon says:

                While I hate to defend the concept, it’s worth pointing out that addiction *does* create people not fully in charge of their own behavior, and thus *treating* addicts as if their self-control is compromised can, in theory, make sense, under the law.

                Of course, what that would actually mean is we let *non*-addicted people take drugs, and if and when they become addicted and their behavior is compromised, we then consider it reasonably to forcible un-addict them. People who are addicts cannot, maybe, make fully-informed decisions to stay addicted.

                I don’t actually *believe* this logic, I don’t think weakened self-control gives us the legal ability to remove *all* choices from a person, and I probably haven’t stated it clearly, but there is a workable theory somewhere in there that society has the legal right to put addicts ‘back to normal’ (Even against their wishes) and ask them ‘Is that *actually* how you intended to live? So strung out on heroin that you were giving blowjobs for it?’ when they are free from the addiction.

                I’m not sure this really works, because there is the counter argument that people know drugs are addictive, and they obviously *started* taking drugs when sober, so they, in sound mind, consented to becoming addicts.

                But ‘addicts should be treated as less than adult until their addiction has been removed’ is not an entirely impossible position to take.

                Of course, this is not how drug laws work *at all*. In fact, they don’t seem to recognize addiction exists at all. Current drug laws, in fact, are extremely infantalizing.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Damon says:

                Damon, I didn’t say it was a good argument. And it’s not an argument that I would make. (Well, I *did* make it, so there’s that I guess. Does mentioning that I included quizzical question marks in that comment get me outa this jam?)Report

        • Avatar Francis in reply to Christopher Carr says:

          Answering (obviously) for myself only, the pro-life position that holds that women should be held fully criminally liable for the crime of premeditated murder for obtaining an abortion does not infantilize her.

          [whether that position is actually held by anyone, or is consistent with other aspects of the law such as the legality of IVF or morning-after pills, is beyond the scope of this comment.]Report

          • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Francis says:

            Is that the only pro-life ratiocination that does not infantilize women?Report

            • Avatar Francis in reply to Christopher Carr says:

              If a person is anti-abortion because he believes the fetus is an innocent person entitled to protection of the law, then under a purely legal approach abortion is premeditated conspiracy to commit murder. There’s just no wiggle room there, unless women who get abortions lack the ability to form the necessary mental state (which is infantilizing). (Note: rape and incest provide no justification. The law does not tolerate violence against innocents no matter how much violence the first victim has suffered.)

              If a person is anti-abortion because he believes that the fetus is an innocent potential person entitled to protection of the law, then you could make the case that the punishment should be suitably reduced. We do, after all, punish cruelty to animals, but not at the same level as assault. Non-humans and not-quite-humans share the common characteristic of not being fully human. But once you make that concession, you’ve given up a major point. If a potential person is not the same as a born person, then why not decide not to punish people who obtain early-term abortions not at all?

              Parenthetically, this is what we do for people who go through IVF. Some embryos are frozen then discarded. Some embryos are implanted then scraped off. Tolerating IVF while condemning early-term abortion requires some real mental gymnastics.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Francis says:

                If a person is anti-abortion because he believes the fetus is an innocent person entitled to protection of the law, then under a purely legal approach abortion is premeditated conspiracy to commit murder. There’s just no wiggle room there, unless women who get abortions lack the ability to form the necessary mental state (which is infantilizing). (Note: rape and incest provide no justification. The law does not tolerate violence against innocents no matter how much violence the first victim has suffered.)

                Yeah, the rape and incest exceptions really screw the pooch here, and make it clear what is actually going on is an attempt to punish women for sex by making them have children. Which, in one sense, seems a point against the ‘infantilizing’ claim…look, society will punish women…but I think it actually works perfectly.

                It’s the ‘let the child touch the hot stove’ manner of parenting, and the parents are both anti-gloves and anti-trying-to-make-to-hurt-less-afterwards. They *told* the kid not to touch the stove, they *told* the women not to open their legs, and now the kids and women have to deal with the consequences, and shouldn’t come crying to them.

                But once you make that concession, you’ve given up a major point. If a potential person is not the same as a born person, then why not decide not to punish people who obtain early-term abortions not at all?

                Yeah, once fetuses take on the attribute of even *slightly* non-human, it doesn’t work anymore, ‘fetal pain’ bills and other such nonsense aside. (If fetal pain actually *was* an issue, there are plenty of ways around that involving drugs.)

                I mean, we’re willing to let people kill *dogs* without any legal justification (Hell, we set up government services that deliberately result in that) and our rule is basically ‘it shouldn’t hurt’.

                Tolerating IVF while condemning early-term abortion requires some real mental gymnastics.

                And, as I think you and I have discussed before (?), thinking the pre-born are people also requires some interesting mental gymnastics to avoid paying attention to the worse health disaster in human history that kills about 3/4 of the entire population: A majority of fertilized eggs don’t get born, and in fact go away without anyone knowing they ever existed.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to DavidTC says:

                @francis @davidtc I wrote about this several years ago at this blog: https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2011/02/01/a-utilitarian-framework-for-evaluating-the-morality-of-abortion/

                I believe my thesis in that post gets beyond this dialectic.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to DavidTC says:

                note the infantilizing of the teenage boy — obviously he can’t be trusted to actually display some self-control or decency. it’s the girl’s fault, because the boy’s not expected to say no.Report

  3. Avatar SaulDegraw says:

    I remember you once wrote something in the comments about how a particular kind of environmentalist sees humans as an alien/invasive species.

    I wonder if this thought extends beyond environmentalism. I am perplexed by the idea of original sin. I am perplexed that so many religions have a very dim-view of humanity in general.

    There seemed to have been people in the past who were freaked out by sex and reproduction. This caused them to see women as necessary but secondary.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to SaulDegraw says:

      I remember you once wrote something in the comments about how a particular kind of environmentalist sees humans as an alien/invasive species.

      That would be deep ecology, which holds humans as outside of nature and not part of it. While I’m an environmentalist ideological, I find the notion of viewing people as separate troublesome.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

        It has the potential to lead to some really wacky and potentially dangerous ideas like killing a large number of humans for the benefit of the earth or something similarly evil.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

          One of the reasons I say treating women’s reproductive rights as a moral issue is that it eliminates (or minimizes) a lot of the whacky stuff that might happen otherwise; there is a lot of Earth’s carrying capacity and resource distribution at play here; smaller families, more education seems the most sensible path forward.

          It’s a moral thing; when you allow women to be self-regulating, you solve a lot of problems that will, otherwise, require conflict and massive regulation to resolve and that might not resolve.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Somewhat OT, but I’d say it mostly has the opposite problem.

          Viewing humans as outside of nature for the past 5000 years or so is what got us in this mess. Building an environmental movement on the exact same foundation seems likely to lead to most of one’s readers making the opposite of one’s own conclusions: “The Earth and every non-human living thing on it are a write-off, let’s strip-mine the place for spaceship parts and go infest as many other planets as we can.”

          Believing that they will draw the conclusion that humanity should be sacrificed to save the rest of nature, rather than the other way around, seems like an extreme case of obliviousness to history.Report

  4. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    I would just like to say that this is really good, zic, and I enjoyed reading it.

    And this:

    I grew up reading Phillip K. Dick novels. I worry about the impact of humans on Earth, about overpopulation and climate change and mass extinction and bee colony collapse. I want to save the whales and the polar bears because I believe their lives are every bit as sacred as mine. It’s my best guess that space aliens, if they’re out there, have quarantined humans as a potentially invasive species, and if the Earth were my garden, I’d probably be picking humans off like I pick potato bugs off my potato plants. I’m not convinced we’ve reached the Japanese beetle stage of things just yet; I hold out some hope that we have the capacity to use knowledge to restrain ourselves so that we can be good neighbors, good stewards. Recognizing women’s rights and their demonstrated responsibility is a moral imperative, a save-the-Earth imperative.

    I could have written this, if I were a better writer, perhaps. I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve said as much in the comment threads of yore (I got lots of argument on my not agreeing that human life has more value than other life. All life has value.). Here is one of the old discussions: https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2011/02/01/a-utilitarian-framework-for-evaluating-the-morality-of-abortion/

    If anything, I always view men as children, for that is how we act and that is how we think, unfortunately. Perhaps it is just me that is the child, though.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

      Thank you, @john-howard-griffin

      There’s nothing wrong with being child like. But there’s something horribly wrong about assuming childishness dependency and incapacity of another adult.Report

      • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to zic says:

        I always like to say that if men were the ones having babies, the law would state that all men are allowed 936 weeks of paid paternity leave when they have a baby.

        And, I think I was wrong. Men aren’t children. Most of the time, men are big babies.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

      JHG,
      We do men a grave disservice when we say that they can’t act like adults. Expecting people to behave decently towards others (not taking advantage of someone on a bender, say…) ought to be standard behavior.

      Luckily, this seems to be changing. Few men are completely incompetent cooks anymore (they can at least handle a pot of pasta without creating sludge, or a microwave meal).

      Learned Helplessness also appears to be fading into the past, which I heartily approve of.Report

  5. Avatar Chris says:

    Here’s an interesting essay on Aquinas on women, a topic rife with misunderstanding:

    http://www.womenpriests.org/theology/nolan.aspReport

    • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

      Thanks for that, @chris

      The second paragraph,

      He asks himself why God followed this (asexual) method of production and replies that it was to show that reproduction is a relatively peripheral activity in the life of the human being. The specific goal of human existence is to understand.6 He uses the word homo: the activities of mind are the central work of the human being qua human being, of woman therefore as of man.

      I really want to hone in on that ‘to understand,’ the fact that women, when they understand and have control of their bodies via the wonders of understanding bodies and modern medicine, are fully equal. I see this as a fulfillment, a blossoming, of potential long submerged; and just as I mourn the ignorance of biology Aquinas suffered, we should all mourn the loss of women’s reason and understanding throughout human history. Overcoming that tragedy is a path to grace.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Humans evolved with a very particular understanding of their own biology. There were a lot of habits and cultures that developed because of this particular understanding. I’d hesitate to call them “pathologies” because, hey, it’s all about cultural transmission at the end of the day. If you survived long enough to pass your culture on, you won. If you didn’t you lost.

    Nothing moral/immoral about it. Just amoral survival.

    A few generations ago, we figured out how to transcend our biology but we were still living well within these cultures and habits that survived for hundreds of years but crashed and burned when they hit unimaginable wealth.

    Where we are now: our moral judgment of the amoral process that got us here is standing on an edifice that isn’t quite as sturdy as our moral certainty seems to imply.

    Get rid of the wealth and we will see ourselves, once again, slaves to our own biology. The cultures and habits that survive will be the ones that best handle this relationship. The ones that can’t will die and be cautionary examples to those who haven’t yet died.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

      Humans evolved with a very particular understanding of their own biology.

      Let me fix that for you, @jaybird

      Humans evolved. Like two million years ago.

      Some time later (and very much later, too), they developed understanding of their own biology; much of it incorrect, and fashioned moral systems around those beliefs. Sadly, much of that still stands as the basis of human morality, saddling half the human population (the side that didn’t get to participate in developing that understanding but suffers the burdens of it) based on ignorance.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

        I suspect that if the unimaginable wealth that makes our correct understanding possible disappears then we would find ourselves quickly finding that ignorance is more successfully transmitted across generations than knowledge.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

          This is exactly why women might make better leaders; they’ll be less likely to blow the place up, having knowledge of what lack-of-knowledge will mean to themselves. They’ve a vested interest in social stability, at least on the scale you’re talking.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

            Has the era of Women’s Suffrage resulted in fewer wars than were found in previous eras?Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              Jaybird, you really stumped her with that question, yeah? Why not just put a QED right behind it and call it a day? Decisive!

              If I didn’t know better I’d think that question was asked by an effing … non-intelligent person.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, let’s just go back to her point about how women might make better leaders because they have a more vested interest in stability than men do and just saying that I’d prefer some arguments in favor of that proposition.

                Because increasing the representation of women doesn’t seem to have resulted in less inclination to blow things up.

                Perhaps I’m looking at history incorrectly. Perhaps we haven’t given women *ENOUGH* say to see peace dividends.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird

                First I’m amazed you took that so seriously, I was being snarky because that’s typically what contrarian, devil’s-advocate commentary merit.

                Second, you second point is correct; women have only options to actually control their bodies for 55 years. These things take time. I mean it’s more than 150 years, and we’re still rehashing the outcome of the civil war, no? And there are places where women are far, far away from anything like full agency yet.

                /plus, war actually has declined significantly; particularly death from war. I don’t really think the women get much credit for that, however.Report

              • Avatar notme in reply to zic says:

                You forgot the snark tag. Death from war has declined not b/c of women but b/c of advances in medical care, Unless your going to give women credit for advances in medical care as well.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to notme says:

                He didn’t ask for that level of detail. And it was Florence Nightingale (a woman,) who figured out the hand-washing thing. So yeah, I am.

                All you men ever do is kill, maim, impregnate, and troll blogs, no?

                /snark tag

                And no snark, but I did say women don’t get credit for that.Report

              • Avatar notme in reply to zic says:

                /snark tag

                of course, b/c someone has to do all the really important work.

                Actually i think that honor should go to Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, a man.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                I’m not sure how to phrase an apology for taking your comments too seriously.

                women have only options to actually control their bodies for 55 years.

                It’s my opinion that we don’t really even know what effective (even if only 99.44% effective) birth control *MEANS* yet. One of the things that came out of it, for example, was gay marriage. Hey, that’s a wonderful thing, right? I’m fully supportive of that. But it’s something that I’m pretty sure I never would have guessed would have happened at the time.

                I’m guessing that there are a lot more changes to come down the pike. I’m apprehensive that they’re not going to be as awesome as gay marriage happens to be.

                And there are places where women are far, far away from anything like full agency yet.

                Even though I am pro-choice, I find sex-selective abortions to be atrocious. Not atrocious enough to say “We need to hire people to prevent this sort of thing and punish the guilty!” but, morally, atrocious.

                The tools that help provide full agency in this localized area does the opposite in that one.

                And we don’t know what that means yet either.

                /plus, war actually has declined significantly; particularly death from war. I don’t really think the women get much credit for that, however.

                The extent to which medical tech is responsible for this versus the extent to which forbearance is up in the air for me. (And that’s without getting into the degree to which the threat of nuclear annihilation is/was behind the forbearance… and the extent to which gender dynamics colored that).Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                I had to have an amnio with my first, and refused to learn the sex. Same with the ultrasounds for the second. So I agree, sex-selective abortion is not cool.

                Lot’s of awful things are not cool. Teaching abstinence-only education is not cool, and probably results in a lot more abortions then sex selection.

                ETA: there are some pretty awful diseases that are x/y based, and that is a place for sex selection.

                There are also other methods for doing sex selection; from diet to control the acidity of the mother’s body to selecting x or y sperm in a centrifuge; things that are not as invasive as pregnancy and abortion.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                Sex selective abortion is so prevalent in China and India that it has measurably changed the demographics of the country.

                I don’t know how to meaningfully compare that to abstinence only education in the US.Report

              • The obvious comparison is that only one of the two is effective.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                I didn’t think outside the US.

                But in both, the reasons for sex-selection root in the infantilizing of women, too.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                Has war declined since women got the vote? Because if not…

                Yes, it has.

                OK, well that doesn’t tell us much because there are other factors at play.

                [Me jumping in.]

                If you knew there were other factors, what was the point of the question? It looks like it was asked in bad faith when you are prepared to explain away the answer you don’t want (rhetorically, at least).

                On sex-selective abortions: I wonder if giving women more political and economic independence and access — two things that require reproductive freedom — would yield more or fewer sex-selective abortions?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                If you knew there were other factors, what was the point of the question?

                Well, given my assumption that WWII was the worst war that humans had seen and I knew about studies like this one:

                http://www.moreright.net/comparing-warfare-death-per-capita-in-18th-vs-20th-centuries/

                That the assertions of putting women in charge would result in things being different requires, at least, some citations. As it turns out, it was a joke on Zic’s part.

                I wonder if giving women more political and economic independence and access — two things that require reproductive freedom — would yield more or fewer sex-selective abortions?

                What would it take for us to give women in China and India more economic independence and access?

                We’ve evolved and, along the way, we’ve picked up a *LOT* of habits. It seems to me that our moral certainty is taking a *LOT* of things for granted and making a *LOT* of assumptions that are built on a foundation of sand.

                The moment our massive, massive wealth blows away, I suspect that our moral positions will blow away as well.

                Our morality is a luxury.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Wow, Jaybird. That was impressive. You rolled the effects of women’s suffrage on warfare, abortion rights, sex-selection, and dismantling global wealth into a single. jumbled comment ending, just in time, with the End Times.

                Yowza! +1!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Actually, Stillwater, Zic’s joke about how putting women in charge would result in us not wanting to blow each other up as much did that.

                My position is not that women would be worse, mind.

                My position is that women aren’t that different from men.

                Stuff like “wanting to blow each other up” wouldn’t change, appreciably.

                But I am well aware that responding to that comment of Zic’s as if it were serious was a mistake on my part.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Fraid I can’t join you in blaming zic for your incoherence and argumentative dishonesty Jaybird. You gotta own that by yourself.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Sigh. I’m not “blaming” Zic. *I* am the one who made the mistake.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                One thing would be reproductive freedom. Another would be equal status under the law, strictly enforced.

                Cultures take a while to change, but sex-selective abortions are the product of cultures that don’t value women equally, or anything close to it, and therefore tend to exclude or restrict them from the sorts of institutions that drive social and cultural change. One way to hasten their change is to give women full access to those institutions.

                Will this yield unexpected cultural effects? Certainly. Are there cultural directions that won’t?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                That feels somewhat tautological. We just need to achieve the goal and then we’ll have achieved the goal.

                But, sure, let’s assume that.

                To what extent is our ability to have achieved this ourselves based on our massive wealth?

                Will this yield unexpected cultural effects? Certainly. Are there cultural directions that won’t?

                I’m more wondering to what extent the unexpected cultural effects will be sustainable and, to the extent that they are not, what that will mean.

                Please note: this is not me saying “OH NO! I HATE CHANGE!!! WE CAN NEVER CHANGE!!!”

                I’m assuming change.

                I’m more musing on how we will continue to evolve and to what extent the things that we think are vestigial will wither away (if anything) and the extent to which those vestigial habits will prove to be very useful indeed when circumstances change yet again.

                Because they will.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                It is in fact a tautology, or as close add you can get to one in the behavior of large groups, that if you give women more of a say, society doesn’t treat women as poorly.

                I’m not sure why gender equality requires wealth, though.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                I’m not sure why gender equality requires wealth, though.

                I’m also using the term “wealth” to include stuff like “scientific advancements” and “medical technology”. Not just stuff like money.

                As such, it seems like equality follows wealth.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

                Actually, from what we’ve seen thus far, gender equality generates wealth; most particularly because it allows women to become productive beyond bearing children.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

                That makes sense conceptually.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

                Re-read the piece I wrote here (the links op above, too) Choice, not Chance. The economics of reproductive rights is one of the pillars of American growth from 1960 on. It’s not just conceptual; it’s actual. Similar patterns happen in developing nations; and morally, those patterns are pretty essential going forward if we want to minimize stuff like climate change and resource wars.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

                You won’t get any argument here.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

      @jaybird

      “Humans evolved with a very particular understanding of their own biology.”

      So wandering womb and hysteria both demonstrated our brilliant understanding of biology, yes?

      Just because we figured out to stop eating the poison berries because too many of us died and we then decided that a magic man in the sky forbade the poison berries because they are filled with evil spirits and now certain people of faith don’t drink alcohol doesn’t mean we understood biology. It means we had a very basic understanding of cause and effect that we couldn’t quite make sense of.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

        So wandering womb and hysteria both demonstrated our brilliant understanding of biology, yes?

        No,not at all.

        I wouldn’t call our understanding of biology anything even close to “brilliant” until, oh, let’s say “Lister”.

        It means we had a very basic understanding of cause and effect that we couldn’t quite make sense of.

        I’m under the impression that we’ve still not made sense of it and our mastery of it is the result of technology that precious, precious few of us actually understand and fewer still can, no pun intended, reproduce.Report

        • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’m under the impression that we’ve still not made sense of it and our mastery of it is the result of technology that precious, precious few of us actually understand and fewer still can, no pun intended, reproduce.

          Pretty much.Report

  7. Avatar trizzlor says:

    This was a fascinating way to put all those threads together. It was morbid watching the PP video go through the feedback loop of the conservative echo-chamber; get debunked; and get even further amplified as a consequence. I has some interesting discussions with people who genuinely thought this was going to open some eyes, asking them who it is they imagine that will say “I was pro-choice when I thought fetuses were just disposed of, but now that I’ve learned they’re being used for life-saving research I’m outraged!”. And the response was, implicitly, that women are too dumb to understand what a fetus is and this video of a doctor casually discussing fetal organs will gross them out. To be fair, some kind of infantilization is also implicit in any movement that screams “if you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention“. But it is illuminating when a movement looks at an unalloyed good such as organ donation and sees it as a useful weapon because it happens to be icky.Report

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