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The church—he’s no good for you

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, July 28, 2008 22:43 EDT
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Antigone has done us all a service and compiled some data about where “pro-life” organizations fall politically outside of their anti-abortion stance. As can be expected, they’re routinely conservative, religious, misogynist, etc. But it’s a good time to reiterate what’s most telling about their “pro-life” stance.

Antigone was actually pretty generous with her ratings for groups that have no official stance, because most of the time, they do so with big, fat hints that they’re very sympathetic towards the anti-contraception stance. The anti-choice movement opposes contraception, the number one way the vast majority of fertility-age American women avoid abortion. They’re not really “pro-life” or strictly “anti-abortion” so much as they’re pro making your life a living hell for the high crime of being female. I’m not even going to qualify that with a “sexually active”, because the choices offered women are sexual frustration or continuous pregnancy. Lesbianism is an alternative if that’s your inclination, but believe me, they’re not really cool with that being legal, either.

I won’t belabor the point, because I make it once a week or so. (Though usually this doesn’t stop some asshole from trying to claim that I’m misrepresenting the anti-choice movement when I do make this point.) The point of this is that he “Humanae Vitae”, a vile, deadly papal edict denouncing contraception (that has helped cost untold numbers of lives that could have been saved from AIDS with condom use, not to mention the lives that could have been saved if people had more power to limit family size) is 40 years old now. And this NY Times editorial by John Allen is annoying. He cites the racist arguments about Europe’s “demographic winter” and uses admiring language to describe the church’s stubborn refusal to drop the deadly policy—vigorous, resilient, solid. The church’s stance on contraception is the idealized phallus, strong and resilient and unsullied by the feminine.

I read it differently—the “Humanae Vitae” is a misogynist temper tantrum created by celibate men to tell women that despite our growing wealth and power, we are fundamentally subhuman baby machines. The idea that marriage is strengthened by riddling your sex life with anxiety about pregnancy—or shutting down intimacy completely because of the fear—is laughable on its surface, unless you think that “sacred marriage” is code language for keeping women tied to the stove. Threatening people with punishment from god for making healthy choices for themselves and their families is the anti-love. The church abuses its parishioners, making them choose between honesty about their contraception use or living fulfilling lives. I see the dance between the church and its parishioners on this issue as similar to a woman living with a dictator of a husband. Which is why the pleading of the parishioners for the church to drop its unreasonable rules makes me sad. I know you love him, but sometimes the only choice is to leave the asshole.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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