Attack of the morally depraved sperm stealing abortion partiers
So not but a few minutes after I posted about stupid attempts to grant men legal ownership over women should they accidentally impregnate them, I read this post by Gabriela at Bitch Blogs about a couple of paranoid, annoying pieces by men who, while granting that coming in someone doesn’t give you legal ownership over her, should at least buy you some moral ownership. Gabriela is far too generous with Conor Friedersdorf, who thinks the “what about child support?!” argument has any validity, and Damon Linker, who is very concerned that feminists are encouraging immoral displays of excessive independence for women who’ve had the presence of semen within their vaginas in recent memory. Conor is less interesting to me. He uses the phrase “your agenda on reproductive rights”, making it exquisitely clear that he doesn’t consider women’s rights to be human rights, and there’s not much you can do with someone whose argument is premised on the belief that “women” are a separate category from “human”. He also buys into the fallacy that child support constitutes 100% of the expense of raising a child, when of course single mothers usually pay far more than 50% of the money and 90% of the time and 100% of the physical creation effort that goes into making a child. Okay, 99.9%, but I’ll get back to that in a second.
Both authors, due to their obvious emasculation fears, fell for the “abortion party” story hook, line, and sinker. As I noted when the controversy first arose, anyone who falls for this story is telling you more about their fears and gullibility than they are telling you about what actually happened at what was technically a fund-raising party for a college student who couldn’t pay for her own abortion. Indeed, I’d say the young woman and her friends were being generous and honorable by raising the money themselves, so that there is more for other needy women that have to turn to abortion funds. (I have more on that subject in this week’s podcast.) The author of the “abortion party” piece made his anti-choice views clear with his digression about the 3-year-old. His belief that the boyfriend was being outcast and abused seems to come more from his hopes than from the evidence at hand, since he admits that the abortion decision was mutual. But he believes, against all evidence, that the boyfriend is being emasculated by a bunch of hard-drinking feminist harpies, and our bloggers today buy that, again, telling you more about their fears than about what feminists do.
Damon Linker was the one who really got on my nerves, starting with his self-congratulatory willingness to extend to women their basic human right to control their own body. At least legally. But he’s incredibly concerned that feminists are misleading women into being immoral towards men’s feelings, which is a legitimate concern, because as we all know, women are particularly weak-minded and easy to confuse, and unlike men, have no native moral sense.
The kind of feminists and progressives who would throw an “abortion party” and insist that the father of a fetus facing possible termination should have no say in its fate are thinking and behaving monstrously, I’m afraid, by applying political and legal considerations to a sphere of life (the private sphere) where morality should set the tone. They believe, perversely, that the best (and perhaps only) way to ensure that abortion remains legal and out of the political sphere is to treat abortion–and demand that men treat abortion–as a matter of moral indifference.
The straw is flying so furiously that it’s hard to see, but it’s still hard to miss his point about how women have so much trouble understanding their moral obligation to their impregnators, just because they have no legal obligations to them. Which is bullshit, even using the evidence he has on hand. Even in the original abortion party story, which was sexist propaganda with obvious truth-fudging going on, noted that the decision for the abortion was mutually reached. The boyfriend was made a part of it. Frankly, I think that the original author and Linker just can’t imagine a man signing off on an abortion , and so they’re eager to believe that any sadness that a man experiences during an abortion process is due to a woman undoing what he did, and not because of other factors, like perhaps that he feels bad that he couldn’t help her out financially and so she had to throw a fund-raising party.
Linker is very, very concerned that feminists are inculcating an immoral disdain for a man’s right to say what happens to his baby, even though it’s not a baby yet and it’s actually her pregnancy. That feminists are giving women the impression that they don’t have to put up with it if a man tries to bully them out of their decision to abort.
But once again, abortion is not, and will never be, a matter of moral indifference. A man can fiercely defend a woman’s (public) right to choose an abortion without state interference while also passionately trying to persuade his girlfriend (in private) to carry their (not her) baby to term. In the end, she should be permitted to abort the child if he fails to convince her, even if he continues to object.
How very magnanimous of him to graciously allow that women should maintain legal ownership over their uterus even as they’re breaking a man’s heart by wielding her formal legal ownership over his moral stake in her body. A couple of things are interesting here: Linker doesn’t seem to realize that men are just as capable of “passionately” persuading through guilt trips and badgering towards having an abortion. At least Conor Friedersdorf got that right. Linker is so worried about the perilous consequences to women who have abortions—you might end up single (ominous music)—that he doesn’t stop to think that men quite frequently are of the belief that they don’t want children right now just as much as women are. I can’t say for certain why he’s got this blind spot, but the above Bill Hicks routine comes to mind as a likely diagnosis of the problem, especially since Linker makes sure that the thick-skulled ladies grasp that it’s “their” baby. (Which is, at least, a step past the my/his language that Linker might have felt more comfortable using a couple decades ago.) Linker seems to approach abortion with roughly the same attitude you’d have if you sold a painting you’d slaved over to someone, and then found out that they’re about to burn it.
Thus the need for the Bill Hicks routine, and his strong reminder that impregnating someone isn’t exactly hard work. Linker put more effort and cunning into writing this silly blog post than it takes to knock someone up. Linker seems like he’d do well to laugh a little about the absurdity of reproduction, and remember that he probably has entire nations laying around in a gym sock somewhere. You’d think that men only get one chance to create offspring, the way he works himself up. Or that semen is a precious commodity entrusted to women’s care, instead of something thoughtlessly tossed around in pursuit of other goals.
Personally, I’m extremely concerned that Linker doesn’t understand the impact that his rights-based argument might have on male readers. Yes, men may have the right to be complete dicks, who run roughshod over a woman’s feelings about having an abortion and spend all their time berating her, instead of maturely realizing that it’s for the best not to have a baby together unless the mother is all in. I’m concerned that Linker isn’t educating young men on the morality of being an inconsiderate asshole who doesn’t take the time to wonder how scary it must be for a woman to be pregnant when she doesn’t want to be. And while I fully support the right for men to lay a guilt trip on a woman who is getting an abortion, I’m worried that Linker will influence young men to think that their rights to free speech are hemmed in unless they thrash about as if this is the only chance they have to have a baby.
Naturally, I’m going to be accused of not wanting women to consult with men in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. But that’s not true. I’m just annoyed that anyone is stupid enough to think that’s there’s some moral turpitude in young women of stealing off to destroy fetuses that men put entire minutes into inadvertently creating, and then I suppose having gossipy parties to talk about what fools men are or whatever we supposedly do. The truth is that most women turn to the guy who got them pregnant first, and if they don’t, it’s often because they have a good reason. For instance, they might be dating Damon Linker and know that he thinks that his right to act like a big baby over an abortion means he’s obligated to do so, in which case, I don’t begrudge them the moral right to sneak off and abort to avoid his “passionate” persuasion. Not that Linker stopped to consider this in his high dudgeon about feminists lowering the morals of the women of America, but 48% of women getting abortions cite relationship issues or lack of a relationship as a reason they’re getting an abortion, a reality that makes his ominous threats that a relationship might end if a woman aborts over a man’s wishes sound even more comical.
Obviously, women in solid, healthy relationships have a moral obligation to let their partners in on the decision, but they’re already doing that, because that’s what people do. I honestly don’t know why abortion throws people off-balance. An unplanned pregnancy is like any other major decision that can rock a couple’s relationship. Most of these decisions affect one person more than the other, or at least one person has the real decision-making power here. If my boyfriend got a job in L.A., we’d talk about it (a lot), and my input would be important to him, but at the end of the day, it’s his decision to make, and if there was an irreconcilable difference, so be it. But that doesn’t mean he’s being some immoral bastard by retaining the right to make his own employment decisions for himself, both personally and legally. Nor is there any great danger of him sneaking off in the middle of the night to LA without telling me, so preaching about his moral obligations to me seems more than a little stupid.
On the flip side, sneaking off in the middle of the night to live in another city isn’t always wrong. I’ve known one man to do it, actually, because his girlfriend was willing to passionately persuade him by breaking his shit every time he tried to break up with her. But then again, my two differing examples involve men, who can be counted on to understand their own situations and act accordingly, instead of having to be subjected to a single moral rule that covers all situations.