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Clearly, the Phrase “Pro-Life” Is Ironic

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 10:48 EDT
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Someone on Twitter sent me this poll today, on the grounds that it was interesting that the choices apparently boil down to “all women are dirty whores” and “perhaps a few dirty whores should be shown mercy if they weren’t at fault this time”. What I thought was interesting was that pretty much all people taking the poll (presumably Republicans, though it’s open to everyone) chose the “exceptions” option, which of course removes any lingering doubts that bans on abortion are strictly about punishing women for choosing to have sex. (Not that “no exceptions” bans aren’t. As Akin and Huckabee have demonstrated, anti-choicers tend to view rape victims as complicit in their crimes, and just as needing of the disciplinary measures of forced childbirth as women who have consensual sex. But rape exceptions just make that conclusion unavoidable.) Personally, I don’t see why there’s any reason to doubt that’s what it’s about. Even people who are pro-choice-but-uncomfortable with it are expressing sexual anxieties; in my experience, they tend to intellectually understand that people should be free to fuck whoever for whatever purpose, but tend to get antsy around expressions of sexuality that aren’t geared towards the goal of marriage and family. Getting through to those people is part of the reason gay marriage became the central issue of the gay rights movement; a surprising number of liberals can’t extricate themselves completely from feeling that the only truly legitimate expression of sexuality identity is within the nuclear family.

But for conservatives, of course, it’s all about Punish the Bitches. The official stance is to feign compassion for women while bleating about the fetus, but it takes very little to scratch the surface and find the roiling hatred towards women. Specifically, the sexy young women of their imaginations who are out having fun that excludes them, and therefore must be punished. (That abortion bans also affect women they don’t find attractive, aren’t jealous of, don’t identify as women, and are boring married ladies in their 30s and 40s doesn’t seem to matter.) Resentment of others perceived as getting away with something is the primary motivating force behind modern conservatism.

Any right wing Facebook feed makes that clear: The enemies list is primarily people they’re stoking jealousy against or resenting for having something the conservative believes he’s been deprived of. For instance, the assumption that people on welfare are just lazy and drawing a check for not working, while the poor beleaguered wingnut has to go to a stupid job every day. Or those “elitist” urban liberals with their fancy organic foods and ability to read a wine label. I’d say the most common attack I get online from conservatives falls along the lines of “you think you’re soooooo coooooool”, whatever that means. The entire worldview is rooted in a lot of projection of self-doubt and anxieties outwards, and then scapegoating the people that those feelings are projected onto.

So why would it be any different with abortion and, now, contraception? It’s not. Which is why I was amused to cranky old man conservative blogger Smitty at the popular right wing blog The Other McCain go off about what motivates pro-choicers in the aftermath of Todd Akin accidentally saying what most anti-choicers are thinking.

Abortion has got to be about the sweetest lie Satan has devised. If we’re each body, mind and soul, and a society is composed of men and women arranged in families, then note the contradiction afoot. Here is an argument that purports to be about liberty of the woman, but is really about the anarchy of the body. Men and families appear nowhere in the argument about abortion. Pregnancy is some present-tense condition, free of historical context.

WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ? If you poke most anti-choicers hard enough, this belief that women won’t choose to be with men unless forced to by dependency comes tumbling out. That means there’s a lot of anxiety over the loss of forced childbirth as a way to trap women. This sort of anxiety strikes women like me as strange, since we manage to continue wanting to be with men even without being trapped. But it makes more sense if you think about how, without being forced, we can hold out for men who treat us well. For dudes like Smitty, that’s the rub; having to actually be nice to a woman to keep her in your life is apparently an overwhelming burden, which makes force all the more attractive of a prospect.

“Historical context” appears to be code for “the dirty slutting it up that got you knocked up in the first place”. I don’t know why he bothers to use a euphemism, because in the very next paragraph, he gets more direct.

This is not mature liberty for the mind; this is slavery to the crotch.

“Mature liberty” means “pretending to be free even though you aren’t”, apparently. “Slavery to the crotch” sounds like a good album title name, but really, Smitty isn’t against slavery to the crotch. As he’s been very clear that a woman’s entire destiny should be constrained by her fertility, it seems that he’s supportive of women being enslaved by the crotch. If you have sex, your freedom should be revoked. You lose not just your bodily autonomy, but there’s a larger hope Smitty is pushing that you lose your ability to be free to choose who you love. I really can’t think of a regime built around “slavery to the crotch” more than trapping women with pregnancy.

The Left continually makes an emotional appeal to the body, and proudly labels itself pro-freedom, while crushing the minds of Americans with anti-intellectual arguments.

The mind is in the body.

If you doubt this, call your doctor and ask where those thought-things come from. He’ll say “the brain”. Ask then where this “brain” thing is located. He’ll think you’re a moron, so you can come back here and I’ll explain: It’s inside your skull cavity. It’s part of your body. Without a body, there is no mind.

It’s amusing to see someone with so little mental capacity worry so much about how the body supposedly erodes the mind, of course. But unfortunately, this pitting of body versus mind is really common amongst conservatives, as it rationalizes their irrational fears about physical realities, especially regarding sex and death. But the biological reality is not just that the mind is part of the body, but that the mind’s function—which Smitty worries so much about!—depends on the overall function of the body. If you want to improve the workings of the mind, you can’t just isolate the brain from the rest of the body and tinker with it. You have to go through the rest of body: Eating right and exercising are good for the mind, as is getting a good night’s rest. You can manipulate the mind through the body, by consuming alcohol, caffeine or mind-altering drugs.

And even though the genitals are no doubt an important part of sex, most anyone who knows anything about sexual function and the biology of sex knows that it’s primarily a function of the mind. That’s where sexual desire and fantasy and, yes, even affection happen. The sensations of sex are routed from the rest of the body through the mind, where they interact with these aspects to create a full experience. Orgasm has a genital component, but it’s experienced in the mind. That Smitty reduces such a mindful experience as sex to “the crotch” tells you everything about him and all the conservative idiots mindlessly nodding along. How sad and joyless your life must be to reduce something as wonderful as sex to a mere body function, one that falls below other mindful experiences like eating, and ranks more on the level of taking a piss? Is it really any wonder that someone so out of touch with what it’s like to truly live would be so hateful towards others simply because they have some experience with the fact that sex can be so much more than the grim march to replicate your genes that Smitty insists that it is?

It’s truly tiresome having to prove, over and over again, that anti-choice philosophy has nothing to do with “life”, but is in fact closer to a death cult that is intent on grinding actual joy of living out of people, especially women, who are seen as the workhorses of the human races, here to serve others and not to please themselves. Particularly so when conservatives go out of their way to demonstrate this aspect of themselves.

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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