“Health of the Mother”?

It’s making the rounds – over at Shakesville,The Curvature, Feministing, and Hoyden About Town – as it should be. Most of the sites I’ve linked to have the video of McCain puting scarequotes round the notion that the health of the mother should be a consideration for abortion; as if women’s health is such a joke to him that he can’t even make it through the words.

You’re probably expecting me to call that misogynistic, but really, what’s the point? Anyone who can’t see that won’t be able to read any word in this paragraph.

Instead I’m going to quote one comment made at the Shakesville post: “I am so, so sick of watching men debate abortion rights” (tata). And I’m not surprised. Not just when it comes to men like McCain, but also men who would “let” women have abortions. The truth is that it’s not up to men to “let” women exercise control over their bodies; the truth is simple: no uterus, no say. Which is as much of an opinion as I have a right to.

Comments

  1. Mr. Visitor says

    I completely agree with the concept that males should not have the right to “let” women decide what they do to their bodies.

    I am confused about the subject as a whole, though.

    When a woman becomes pregnant, it is due to the actions both the male and female chose to do.

    Males are told that they must be responsible for supporting the child if it is born, and they are completely responsible for their part in the original creation of that child.

    However, in between the conception and the possible birth, the male does not have a say whether or not his potential child is born or aborted. The decision is completely out of his hands, whether he wants to raise the child (even alone), abort the child, or give it up for adoption.

    In most American states if a child is born out of wedlock it automatically becomes the custody of the female parent, without any background checks, survey, interviews, or other forms of legal decision making. It is simply given that the male cannot be qualified to raise the child.

    This would be the very definition of sexual discrimination. Most parents will tell you that nothing in their entire adult lives is as important to them as their children, so what is considered to be the most important thing in a father’s life is taken away from him for simply being male.

    I believe in a woman’s right to choose what is done to her body, and that includes abortions, but I am confused by this subject as it seems far more complex than most people care to admit it is.

    In many ways, males are given preferential treatment, and that needs to change. Gender should never be a consideration for any decision that doesn’t literally involve gender itself.

    But in this most important way, men are left with multiple signals, telling them that they are just as responsible for the pregnancy, but they get no say in what happens with that pregnancy, and that in the end, they are just a second class citizen who has no given rights to be the primary care giver to the child. (This does not include situations involving divorce, as that has different rules.)

    I am a former case worker for the Department of Children and Families, and I wonder about these things all the time.

    Thank you for reading this, and I hope that none of it was offensive.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    McCain appears to have bought into the “Moral Majority” constructed myth that there are hordes of people who live to rip fetuses from the wombs of women, probably cackling with laughter and then sacrificing them to Satan of something. It’s absurd.

    In the early 90s, the Moral Majority – that band of hypoccritical pseudo-Christians who would line up to crucify Jesus if he showed up today – was displeased about abortion rates. So you know what happened? Liberals taught people about birth control, and down came the abortion rate. Poor Moral Majority – now they have nothing to complain about, so they’ve recently decided today’s birth control pills are actually abortive so now we need to end that, too.

    It’s funny how they keep moving the finish line whenever we accomplish meaningful change without making women more subservient to men. Makes one wonder what the real end goal is.

    I always knew the “rape and mother’s life” exception would blow up on close examination. Does a rape victim have to charge and testify against the “father” before getting clearance? If so, the baby would likely be born before the trial’s over. So that was always a bullshit concession “Christians” were making. As for the mother’s life, I was just waiting for someone to claim that could be stretched to mean anything when in fact there are a very limited number of conditions under which carrying or birthing a baby can kill a woman. Again, disingenuous.

    I do think some pro-lifers are just concerned with saving potential lives. I respect the position in some cases. But when you have difficulty conceding that the mother’s life could maybe possibly be equally worth saving, welcome to my hit list.

  3. says

    Jennifer, this has been around since the mid-70s at least. (Remember, I was raised a card-carrying theocon! And one handshake, multiple times, from Pat Buchana & Alan Keyes, too.)

    What’s happening now is that all this old rhetoric that was nurtured in he hothouses of conservative Christian publications like “The Wanderer” and “National Catholic Register” and “Columbia” magazine and “New Oxford Review” and other publications that don’t exist any longer (plus lots of obscurer fringe publications) , as well as some that came into existence in the ’80s funded by right-wing think-tanks like “First Things” and Crisis,” has been mainstreamed as the generators of it gained power first under Reagan and now reinforced under Bush II.

    Roe vs. Wade as the New Dred Scott Decision, Abortion Is The New Holocaust, The Pill is an Abortifacient, Condoms Lead To A Contraceptive Mentality that Causes More Abortions, Rejection Of A Culture of Life/Culture of Death – this was the household conversation among conservative Catholic families who were “social conservatives” rather than just fiscal conservatives (tho’ there was always more overlap than I realized back as a kid) in the 1970s.

    It went right along with ZOMG! Contracepting Old Europe is Vanishing Under The Tide of Muslims! and Unions Are Destroying Our Economy and Liberals Will Force Christianity Underground and The War On Christmas – that last straight from the mind of Henry Ford, tho’ most of us didn’t know it at the time…

    And no, the notion that pregnancy could *really* be dangerous was dismissed blithely, often by women who had never had a problem pregnancy themselves and so who sneered at the notion that it might be any more, with modern medicine. And if it DID happen somehow, one-in-a-millionth-chance, so what? Nobler to suffer wrong than do it, better to pray for a miracle and die as a saint!

    It was gospel within the movement in the ’70s that “health of the mother” belonged in scare quotes (tho’ we didn’t use the phrase back then!) and you were supposed to simultaneously believe that a) all [other!] women were wicked beasts who would happily murder their helpless babies just to stay slim and good looking, and thus deserved to die in complications from abortion, b) all [other!] women were helpless fools manipulated into giving up their natural fertility to the wicked/greedy [male] doctors of the abortion mills of which PP was the chiefest, and thus shouldn’t be jailed (as Sarah Palin hastily shoehorned in the other day) because “they know not what they do” – somehow our heads didn’t explode. (Well, eventually mine did, which is why I am no longer a ‘single-issue prolife voter’…)

    The big problem is, that having *stayed* in the hothouse for so long, all the while having told themselves that they were the Only Speakers For Real True Middle America, they have *no* idea how horrifying their rhetoric is to *actual* Middle America.

    I think that the fatal moment for any conservative kid is the point when you start thinking “You people need to get OUT more” about your parents/elders/community authority figures, because what they’re talking about – be it The Gay Agenda, or Living Together Will Inevitably Result In Misery & Separation, or doctors handing out tubal ligations like they’re candy at the drive through, or ZOMG we’re being OUTBRED by the FURRINERS at our gates!!! – none of it matched up to what I saw/heard working downtown part-time at our small-town whitebread library…You start thinking that and no matter how fast you stuff down that disloyalty, the inevitable slide to rejection of the Worldview has begun.

    (PS: I can provide links to all those magazines I mentioned if you want to play Sun Tzu and spy on the enemy via archive, I just didn’t want to trip the spam filter. But it shouldn’t be too hard to google them up.)

  4. Firebird says

    all [other!] women were helpless fools manipulated into giving up their natural fertility to the wicked/greedy [male] doctors of the abortion mills of which PP was the chiefest,

    As a child, from my earliest memories, I knew that a) my bio-dad left my mother because he didn’t want to be a father and b) that my mother’s doctor pressured her to have an abortion, supposedly because he would make more money that way. All of this was supposed to underline how lucky I was that my mother wanted me – and that she was strong-willed enough to resist the doctor’s intimidation and pressure.

    LOL @ all the Issues. I remember all of those (with a shudder!).

  5. says

    Oh wow, Firebird – your story sounds an AWFUL lot like mine! “You were wanted” was also used to guilt me when I was feeling suicidal from all the parental putdowns: it was my job to Exist (as well as to be perfect) to validate my mother’s choice…

    (I’ve come to realize that my mother was a cat hoarder, only with humans instead of pets. As soon as we stopped being cute little kittens she got bored with us and wanted another and shoved us off to fend for ourselves, or onto older kids. This was very difficult, because for so long I believed and defended the myth of her Perfect Motherhood and Utter Selflessness – but she never spent any time *with* us after my (first of many) brother was born and out of diapers, just making doll^h^h^h cute kids clothes and toys and cookies and playing house when she felt like it. And when she *had* to deal with us when she didn’t feel like it – boy did she get angry and tetchy!)

  6. gategrrl says

    The thing that scares me the most (well, okay, ONE of the things) about outlawing abortion *even for rape and incest victims* is that it’s telling the wrong kind of men (and women) that if’n you want a baby, and the woman/girl isn’t willing, then simply rape her until she IS, and you’ll get to be in her life and the baby’s life until the baby is all grown up.

    Not saying that that’s a true danger, but nor is it a totally outlandish idea: anyone remember those two criminals who kidnapped a series of black women in Philadelphia a few years back? One of their aspirations was, aside from eating the women, was to father lots of babies. So yes. Those crazies are out there.

    I think that sort of legislation gives men of a certain bent the go-ahead to do whatever they want to women.

    I know I’m sliding down a slippery slope, but it’s something to think about.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    @Bellatrys, your first comment here is a GEM. I’m pointing people to it from now on when I’m too tired to try to distill it all down to a few hundred words.

    Gategrrl, I agree. I have known women whose husbands sabotaged their birth control and raped them because they wanted babies now whether she did or not. If even a small percentage of men are trying that now, with abortion readily available as the victim’s solution, how many might be encouraged to try it if abortion’s off the table?

    While I suspect even the most staunch pro-lifers would share our unhappiness at a man being rewarded for his crime by getting the baby he wanted, I’m not sure they’re clear on the fact that this would not be a fatherhood of love. The personality capable of something like this is incapable of love, period. The chances are high that he wouldn’t be content knowing the baby existed. He would probably want to take an active role, which in his mind would be constructive, but in reality would be highly abusive. If you don’t have a way to keep such a child from a lifetime of abuse, you shouldn’t oppose abortion. It may truly be the more merciful option for the victim child, and/or for the eventual victims OF the child warped by that abuse. (Especially if the reincarnationist world majority is right – then that soul has a chance to be born into a happy family.)

  8. gategrrl says

    One of the reasons I’d never carry a pregnancy through that was the result of a rape is the possibility that the rapist would want parental rights of some sort. I’m sure I’m not the only woman to think about that, especially with the increasing Father’s Rights movement.

    What you’ve said is interesting: (gen) you hear all the time about women “forgetting” to take the pill, or entrapping a man into marriage through pregnancy (who would be that stupid, really?), or in general manipulating the male through her reproductive system–usually nowhere is it mentioned in those stark terms how the male manipulates the female into pregnancy, etc.

    Neither gender is lily-white in this area, and it’s an intensely individual subject, but there’s an odd dissonance.

  9. SunlessNick says

    … nowhere is it mentioned in those stark terms how the male manipulates the female into pregnancy, etc. - gategrrl

    Women’s bodies are regarded as tools. And to acknowledge the idea of that “tool” being in a man’s hands is an admission of things MRA’s don’t want admitted.

  10. says

    Well, gategrrl, I *have* known iirc 2 women who did admit that they got pregnant in order to try to get the boyfriend to marry them, and deliberately “forgot” their birth-control long enough to ensure that.

    One of them was the only “welfare queen” I’ve ever met, as well – she boasted of how she got pregnant so that she would qualify for housing assistance so she could move out of her parents’ home, and how she was cheating it because said boyfriend was paying part of the rent and they were lying about it. (It seemed like a match made in hell to me, but then most do.) She worked so that she could have drinking money, mostly. Of course she was white, working-class, from a long-established New England family, so I guess that makes it just canny Yankee ingenuity instead of being shiftless/lazy self-indulgence. [/snark]

    The other one also had subsidized housing (parental) and was bored with her dog and thought a baby would be a fun new accessory as well as a way of forcing the longtime live-in lover to finally propose (a husband also being a highly-coveted accessory when you’re getting towards thirty, it seems – we’re not so far from Jane Austen’s day after all.). It hadn’t worked by the time of delivery, but hope springeth eternal &c. (He was a musclehead but not a scarily-jealous psycho jerk like the previous case, so it seemed kind of a *good* match from a personality standpoint, to me… [/snark])

    So there *are* some women out there dumb enough to do that, as well as greedy, just like there are women IRL dumb enough to bring a dead – and as it turns out, unsurprisingly, rabid – bat to their child’s grammar school and let all the class handle the animal; we’re not immune as a gender to the kind of human stupidity that Barnum aphorized about. But compared to the LARGE number of men I have known in my life who think that getting married is going to be buying a totally-subservient domestic servant/sexbot, and SHOULD be, and some of whom have actually openly admitted this to me (after they had given up on asking me out) it isn’t a very impressive proportion.

    Jennifer – there’s also the head-explodingness of believing that availability and use of condoms increases abortions, that sex ed is the primary cause of teenage sex, that women who don’t want to be pregnant will magically become good mothers due to the Miracle of Parturition, and that men who don’t want to be fathers will magically become such due to the power of a gold Ring. (Hence the need to make divorce unobtainable again.) Six impossible things before breakfast? Hah! Piece of cake – I can do that before my first cup of coffee!

  11. gategrrl says

    Bellatrys, in no way do I deny that there are members of the female sex who have left their brains somewhere in Schenectady or worse; nor that there ARE women who are manipulative enough to bear a child solely for their own welfare (hook a [rich] man, get more welfare bennies, etc). My point was, there’s the other side of the coin, which is about men entrapping women into baby-bearing and servant-work.

    I’m attempting to be inclusive in what is nongender stupidity and selfishness. And it does all come down to selfishness of one sort or another. However, to me, the selfishness of those who want to bind others into bearing children no one wants; keeping half the population subservient Just Because that’s the way it’s Always Been; and who want to restrict the civil liberties and rights of any other group simply because they don’t fit their personal template (ie, someone who looks/acts/thinks) just like themselves…the selfishness of that type of person is beyond hubris. I can only hope their personal views come back to bite them in the butt. Hard. By a rabid bat, no less. ;-)

  12. says

    But gategrrl, didn’t you know that Men Just Want Sex(TM) and Women Just Want Security/Babies(TM), because Men And Women Are Different(TM) ? That’s been Scientifically Proven by Sciency Science and all! (What, do you reject Science(TM)? I’m going to tell Larry Summers on you!)

    So any men who claim to want domestic stability and/or babies, let alone to be willing to resort to desperate and criminal deeds to achieve them, simply CANNOT exist! They’re like, square circles or flying unicorn ponies, you see.

    Q.E.D. etc.

    (Some of the folks on my flist were between gobsmackedness, consoling themselves last week with the thought that no matter how badly they worried about their parenting skills, at least the thought had never crossed their mind to bring roadkill to their childrens’ school for show-and-tell…)

  13. MaggieCat says

    As a child, from my earliest memories, I knew that a) my bio-dad left my mother because he didn’t want to be a father and b) that my mother’s doctor pressured her to have an abortion, supposedly because he would make more money that way. All of this was supposed to underline how lucky I was that my mother wanted me – and that she was strong-willed enough to resist the doctor’s intimidation and pressure.

    It will never cease to amaze me how the same general facts can be told so differently, because other than the dad bit this isn’t that far off from what I was told. My parents weren’t married yet when I was born, but my mother knew there was a good chance she could wind up raising me alone because my father was already showing signs of the hereditary kidney disease that killed my grandfather when my dad was kid.* It even hits the “health of the mother” issue that started this post; the first OB she saw was apparently a whack job who was convinced that if she carried to term she would die and I would die. This was used for an important lesson — always get a second opinion. Just because someone has a white coat doesn’t mean they don’t need to taken away by other people in white coats.

    But my parents didn’t tell me most of this until I asked or it came up, most of it came in dribs and drabs and I had to put together the facts that my parents are/were pro-choice, she knew she could wind up a single parent, and still had me on my own. During those teen years when we all occasionally hated each other, I have to admit it was rather reassuring. The only person who didn’t really want me around was my grandmother (she was “too young to be a grandma”) which frankly, should have been my first clue about a lot of things wrong with her treatment of me had anyone had the guts to tell me before I’d figured as much.

    * Which brings up my other favorite soapbox: if you believe in it, please sign your donor cards and tell your family that’s what you want (that second part is very important, most hospitals won’t go against the wishes of the family). The only reason I got to know my father was because some teenager’s parents made a very generous decision on what had to be the worst day of their lives.

  14. Jennifer Kesler says

    It occurred to me today that believing a woman should die in order for a baby to live should be considered a form of terrorism against women, because if you really believe in the sanctity of life, you would see this situation as unwinnable, with no right answer, because one life has to be lost.

    I read recently that rabbis may counsel a woman to abort a child if the pregnancy is making her suicidal. This would surely come under John McCain’s scare quotes, but what he’s really saying then is that Jews must not be allowed to practice religion as they see fit because this is a Christian theocracy.

    Abortion is not a case of Christian morals versus no morals at all. There are a lot of legitimate viewpoints. It is a fairly sound position to argue that abortion shouldn’t be allowed in the case of rape – if you believe a fetus is a life, then you’d see that as “two wrongs don’t make a right.” But it’s equally sound that Jews believe life begins at birth, not before, and they’ve believed that since before there were Christians. It’s equally sound to argue that every child should be a wanted child. And so on, and so forth. It’s not as if everyone who gets abortions is a thoughtless, selfish, amoral cretin. People whose ethics and conscience and/or religious beliefs dictate that an abortion is appropriate in their circumstances MUST be allowed to do as they see fit, because a fetus doesn’t meet the legal definition of a living person. If we change the definition of life to include zygotes, then you’re opening up a crazy can of worms.

    Christians who want to oppress people who view abortion as an ethical option in some cases should be shipped off to a country that will oppress Christians from practicing their morals as they see fit, so they can get a sense of what that’s like.

  15. Jennifer Kesler says

    The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. I have always respected McCain as a serviceman who went through something awful in the line of duty, and survived it, even though I disagreed with his politics.

    But now I realize: John McCain is a terrorist committing hate crimes.

    I know he doesn’t *think* he’s saying, “Let the bitches die”. He’s too stupid and/or senile to make ANY sense during this campaign. He probably thinks he’s making a valid point that people will claim “health of the mother” when it’s really not as risk, just to excuse the abortion. But the only way to prevent that is to deny abortions to women who are going to die from the pregnancy. So really, he is saying let the bitches die.

    If you say online that hospitals shouldn’t try to save women’s lives because they’re just women (or replace “women” with any “minority” group), it is considered hate speech, and the owner of the site where you say it has a legal responsibility to remove your words, or else the whole site can be taken down, and I think legal prosecution or certainly a civil suit is possible. Why are people who argue the mother’s life isn’t worth as much as the baby’s NOT being treated as the hate crime terrorists they are? The only possible explanation for thinking that way is that either you consider women valueless if they have sex (with someone other than you, of course), or that you consider men superior to women, and while there’s no chance of the mother being a man, there is a chance the baby will have a cock.

    John McCain is a terrorist.

  16. says

    Abortion is not a case of Christian morals versus no morals at all.

    Not if you’re a Christian conservative!

    There are a lot of legitimate viewpoints.

    See above.

    So really, he is saying let the bitches die.

    I’ve heard a lot of argument over whether McCain is *really* a moderate Me-o-con (my nickname for “fiscal conservatives”) who just *panders* to the Theocons and other social conservatives to get votes, or whether he really *is* a social conservative, too. On the one hand, I think – based on my family’s long history in the military on both (all!) sides of my family tree – that it’s probably not As Simple As That – that he’s a social conservative who despises/uses women because that’s what the dominant Traditional American Macho Culture always has done, and being a Navy pilot is about as deeply immersed in that macho feminine-despising Traditional America as you can be (see also The Great Santini, the book moreso than the movie even); but that he doesn’t believe in any of the god-bothering bullshit reasons for it, any more than my atheist NCO grandfather or fathers did – but being a good neo-Roman-Imperium politician of the equestrian class he’s perfectly willing to burn incense at the altars of Jove and the lars and penates of the gens without believing in any of it at all.

    Which imo is even more contemptible than being an honest fanatic, and just as bad to deal with.

  17. SunlessNick says

    Abortion is not a case of Christian morals versus no morals at all. There are a lot of legitimate viewpoints.

    I would even contend that being pro-choice is not inconsistent with the foetus having a right to live. I do think a foetus has the right to live; but I do not also think it has a right for another person to be compelled to offer up their body as its life-support. Just as I have the right to a blood transfusion if I’m traumatically injured, but do not have the right to demand another’s blood to be forcibly taken for my sake (I use blood as my analogy rather than the more common one of organs, as blood donation is less necessarily harmful to the donor).

    if you really believe in the sanctity of life, you would see this situation as unwinnable, with no right answer, because one life has to be lost.

    However, to be anti-choice demands that the foetus be given more right to a woman’s body than she has herself – it inherently denies the sanctity of her life.

    Why are people who argue the mother’s life isn’t worth as much as the baby’s NOT being treated as the hate crime terrorists they are?

    An argument I frequently hear is the foetus’ supposed innocence, seen as even more ultimate than that accorded to children. But I regard that version of innocence as an illusion anyway; and I can’t help but be reminded that women are blamed for taking it from humanity as whole.

  18. Stella says

    I humbly submit that anyone who was ever a fetus can debate abortion.

    But, no, that’s too flip. Men believe that human life is entitled to protection at all stages of development. And men believe that women have the right to direct and control their own body. These beliefs are based on reasons and morals and empathy and I think they are valid. Would you argue that whites in the sixties weren’t entitled to debate civil rights? Though many whites opposed civil rights, I think those who supported it out of a respect for their fellow beings had a right to their view.

    More to the point, putting the health of the mother in quotes doesn’t necessarily indicated that McCain is mocking the idea of health of the mother. Quote marks also indicate that a speaker believes other people use a phrase in a way that differs from its straightforward meaning. In this case, he is probably referring to the widespread anti-abortion belief that regulations barring abortion in the third trimester are meaningless because they make an exception for the health of the mother and then define the health of the mother to mean things like the mother’s financial situation that anti-abortion folks don’t believe constitute health.

    I would like to make my personal views clear hear, but I’m not sure whether discussing abortion in general is close enough to the post’s topic to count as relevant. I’ll leave it to others to decide whether I am trolling. I am anti-abortion. I know this makes many think I am anti-choice or anti-woman, but I respectfully disagree. I believe that individual rights extend up until the point when they impede on someone else’s rights.

    In the case of abortion, there are two bodies involved, with two sets of rights. While it is true that a fully grown woman is a rational human being while a fetus has no reason or consciousness, that can also be said of a newborn baby. If a newborn baby has rights, I believe a fetus does as well, given that there is no point in the development of a human being when he or she switches from one class of creature to another. However, I’ll admit I am a lot more sure that a late-term fetus should have rights than a very young one.

    Given the assumption that there are two rights at odds–the right to choice and the right to life, I believe that the right to life should have precedence. While freedom of choice is fundamentally important, life is the most vital, important right in the world. Without life there is no freedom, after all, and not a single choice.

  19. Jennifer Kesler says

    Stella, the argument for/against choice IS off-topic. This discussion is limited to McCain, and what he meant, and what is problematic about the way he expressed himself.

    As I said above, McCain probably DOES mean simply that “health of the mother” will be/has been stretched to mean all sorts of things. But his intent doesn’t get him off the hook: listen to him, and you’ll see he is essentially saying “We can’t allow ‘health of the mother’ as an excuse, because they’ll twist it to mean anything.” Now just read the part of that sentence that comes BEFORE the comma, and you have the only logical solution to McCain’s conundrum: we must declare the fetus’ life more valuable than the mother’s and deny her and her family the right to decide which member they want to lose, even if there are already other children in the home who love their mom.

    Was he thinking it through that far? Perhaps not. Maybe he’s not a hatemonger – maybe he’s just too daft to communicate. Either way, thank goodness he lost.

    While freedom of choice is fundamentally important, life is the most vital, important right in the world. Without life there is no freedom, after all, and not a single choice.

    I see it just the opposite: without freedom, there is no life – only living death. 1984. The most vital, important right in the world is a life worth living. I’ve experienced choicelessness deeply and personally, and I would rather die than go back into any of the situations that rendered me choiceless.

    I’m not alone in my view, and my view is quite sound. Your view is sound, too. The only way to let the two views co-exist is to leave abortion legal, and thank goodness we all have the right to follow our consciences and air our views publicly in hopes of helping the undecided figure out what’s right for them as individuals.

    In short, this issue should not be the purview of law, but no one’s saying you can’t try to influence culture. We all can. In the 90s, we lowered abortion rates in this country not by passing laws, but by educating people and letting the topic of condoms and birth control and abstinence be discussed openly on TV shows and so on.

  20. SunlessNick says

    I see it just the opposite: without freedom, there is no life – only living death.

    I’d also contend that a right to life is a lie without the right to determine who or what has access to one’s body – because if another has more right to your body than you, they do have the right over your life.

    If you have to appropriate women’s bodies to support it, you don’t have respect for life, just a cult of the foetus.

  21. Genevieve says

    I humbly submit that anyone who was ever a fetus can debate abortion.
    But, no, that’s too flip. Men believe that human life is entitled to protection at all stages of development. And men believe that women have the right to direct and control their own body. These beliefs are based on reasons and morals and empathy and I think they are valid. Would you argue that whites in the sixties weren’t entitled to debate civil rights? Though many whites opposed civil rights, I think those who supported it out of a respect for their fellow beings had a right to their view.

    Here’s my view on the whole “men’s opinions on abortion” thing–it is acceptable for them to be pro-choice. Unacceptable to be pro-life/anti-choice. Why? Because the choice will never be fully theirs. By being pro-choice, they are helping to give women, who will have the choice, the ability to make whichever choice they want to make, when and if they need to.
    Which is the same way I feel about most things–the current debates over gay marriage and immigration have no direct affect on me. However, because they do effect the lives of others, the most humane and compassionate thing for me to do is to support measures which will give those who will be affected by laws on these matters the most rights possible.
    Therefore, yes, white people who were pro-civil rights in the 1960s had every right to be so–and people who were not did not, not if they wanted to be decent human beings.

  22. Amy McCabe says

    First of all. I have never met a pro-abortion person and if I did, I’d be first in line to say they are a sick individual. No one *wants* to get an abortion. People are going around having casual unprotected sex with the hopes of getting pregnant purely for the pleasure of then being able to get an abortion.

    I do think it is important to supply women with knowledge, sex ed and access to birth control so that abortions will be minimized. (Also, so that women can have power over their own bodies, but I think you all know that’s a priority.)

    And, when it comes to performing an abortion, I feel the earlier along it is done the better. I don’t know when life starts. I don’t think it is at conception but I suspect it is before birth. Third-term abortions make me nervous and uncomfortable but their are some situations where it is the best solution.

    What drives me insane is those that go around acting like pro-choice = people who love killing babies. That think we think lightly of it. Because I don’t. Nor do any of the pro-choicers I know.

  23. says

    @ Mr. Visitor

    However, in between the conception and the possible birth, the male does not have a say whether or not his potential child is born or aborted. The decision is completely out of his hands, whether he wants to raise the child (even alone), abort the child, or give it up for adoption.

    I know you had other points/questions in your post, but this is the one I have the time to respond to. So, here goes.

    You’re right. Between the conception and the birth, the man does NOT have a say. It’s the woman and her body that are actually pregnant.

    Let’s try to look at this from a different perspective.

    Let’s say you’ve got a committed heterosexual couple. They’ve been talking for a while about the man getting a vasectomy – they don’t want any (more) children. They’ve got the date for the surgery set, they’ve talked about it over and over, they’re ready. Or so they think. But the man has some misgivings. He can’t really think what they are, but they’re poking at the back of his thoughts. The day comes for the surgery and… The guy doesn’t get the vasectomy. He goes home and tells his partner. She’s upset and confused, but she knows she can’t tell him that he has to get his tubes clamped, so she says she understands and hopes they can talk about it more soon.

    Now imagine your same committed couple, but now they’re talking about having a kid. They talk and talk and they plan and the conception takes and they’re good to go. But something is niggling at the back of the woman’s mind and she decides now isn’t the right time and she goes to have an abortion. Her partner is upset, but he understands he can’t force her to devote her body in a potentially-lifethreatening endeavor to support a pre-person.

    I have no idea how likely either of these scenarios are, but the point is that when a woman is pregnant, it’s HER body. Just like the vasectomy is relevant to the man’s body. And ususally, if a couple decides to get pregnant and they plan for it and it’s all good and they’re ready, there isn’t an abortion, except in health cases. The situations where abortions DO occur – don’t have the finances to support another child or a first child, not in a committed, stable relationship, etc. just don’t even compare. Even if the guy wants the kid and wants to raise it, that’s not his deal. He can’t have his own, so he needs to accept that he is dependent on a woman being willing to share herself in such a way as to have a child (I’m using terrible feminist wording here but this is long and complicated enough. Sorry). Does that maybe suck for a guy who’s ready to have kids? Sure. But in a good society that doesn’t mean he just gets to force a pregnancy on someone.

    Just like a woman who wants a kid would, in a good society, have to find a willing partner to help her out.

    One last thing. It is important to remember the toll that a pregnancy takes on a body. You jump from conception to birth without a mention of the serious committment from a mother’s body that is required to actually go through 9 months carrying a fetus around, feeding it and growing it. You know those fake pregnancy belly+chests that they have so guys can try on a pregnant body? You have to get special medical permission to wear them for more than a few hours… Wearing it for multiple months is NOT something to be dismissed lightly.

    The suggestion that abortions be made illegal is sometimes referred to as forced pregnancy for a reason.

    And for the record, I appreciated the respectful sound of your comment and hope I don’t sound combative. I often come off that way via electronic communication and I’m still trying to figure out how to abate that.

    If I haven’t addressed your concern, please do let me know. I’ve checked the option to be notified of follow-up comments so I’ll know if you respond to me. We can also continue this conversation elsewhere where it would be less off-topic, if you’d like.

  24. Jennifer Kesler says

    Hmm, I missed Mr. Visitor’s comment. Here is the reality of men’s rights in regard to babies:

    Men have a right to abstain from sex and/or use birth control until they’re pretty darn sure they have a partner who will be honest with them about plans to reproduce.

    Men have a right to only have children with pro-life women.

    Men have a right to DATE only pro-life women, etc.

    Now, here’s the thing everyone leaves out. We are designed so that gestation is left up to the female. Whether you think God designed us or we just evolved that way, that’s the reality. Either it just kinda worked out that way… or God purposely and thoughtfully granted women the power to carry babies, knowing He had also created plants that could abort those babies, and given Woman the brains to figure this stuff out eventually. Either God didn’t grant men any control over gestation, or it just didn’t evolve that way.

    Either way, there you go. We women are frequently told, “Well, sorry about sex not always including orgasms for you/rape/periods, but it’s just part of nature. You’ll have to live with it.” I’m afraid that’s the case with men and gestation.

    But lo and behold, there are ways to decrease abortion, increase good sex for women, decrease rape and even make periods less miserable. You need pro-active communication, trust, honesty and information about these subjects people don’t always like to talk about.

    That’s where men have rights. They have the right to help us create a world in which boys and girls learn about birth control. In which being a single mother isn’t so daunting. In which a woman isn’t measured by whether she’s managed to snag herself a husband yet. And just as importantly, a world in which men aren’t measured by how many women they’ve had sex with, aren’t encouraged to cop an attitude about wearing a condom, aren’t raised to think Birth Control Is Her Job, etc.

    Making abortions illegal really will not decrease their rate of occurrence. Educating people – like we did a fairly good job of in the 90s – will. Decreasing the reasons to have an abortion will also help.

  25. Mr. Visitor says

    I think there is some confusion about my comment earlier.

    I absolutely do not believe that abortions should become illegal, or set so a woman needs a “valid” reason to have one as dictated by another person.

    I completely agree that it is a woman’s body, and that she should ultimately be the one to make the final decision about what she does with that body.

    However, I feel that while males have so many other unfair advantages in life, when it comes to children and families they are treated like second-class citizens.

    No one talks about how the creation of a lifelong responsibility or how the loss of a child will affect the male parent. We are not even in the conversation, except to be vilified for either getting the female pregnant irresponsibly, or for trying to have a voice in the final decision regarding what should equally be our child.

    Again, I repeat- the final decision should always be the woman’s, but I feel that she should at least acknowledge the consequences of that choice and how they will affect the male parent.

    We have feelings, too. A close friend of mine has spent the last 4 Christmases buying gifts for a child he cannot stop mourning. (They were a close couple in the beginning of the pregnancy, but she left him and decided to let him know after the fact that she had aborted their child.)

    Your comments regarding gestation are very sound, Jennifer Kesler, and I agree with them.

    My point isn’t about the pregnancy or the abortion, but the consequences after the fact.

    It is wrong to dissuade any group from even discussing a decision that will have an effect on the rest of their lives. (This is a response to the original line that had me post in the first place, “no uterus, no say.”)

    Is it not possible to give a woman absolute control over her body (as should always be her right!) without taking the male parent’s voice out of the picture?

    And for those of you who have had horrible experiences with males forcing their opinions on you, this is not at all what I mean.

    There are men who respect the rights of women, and who acknowledge that as equals both of our genders have an absolute right to self governing regarding our bodies.

    I am one of them.

    Llencelyn: You did not sound combative, and I felt that you made good arguments in your post.

    I appreciate your acknowledgment of my first comment, as I was very nervous posting here.

    Regarding your comments about forced pregnancies and so on. I find it appalling that such things still go on.

    I believe (as Jennifer already posted) that education goes a long way into making this world a better, safer, place.

    I feel that it would be a good idea to start teaching children at an early age (around sixth grade maybe) about the opposite gender. Not just in a way related to sexual interaction, but in a way that teaches them both better ways to communicate with each other, and respect each other’s needs.

    “Understanding is most important.
    Not peace, nor even love, come before it.
    For both are mere illusions without it.”

  26. Genevieve says

    To your points:

    No one talks about how the creation of a lifelong responsibility or how the loss of a child will affect the male parent. We are not even in the conversation,

    and

    We have feelings, too. A close friend of mine has spent the last 4 Christmases buying gifts for a child he cannot stop mourning. (They were a close couple in the beginning of the pregnancy, but she left him and decided to let him know after the fact that she had aborted their child.)

    Careful here. Fetuses are not children. If they were, they wouldn’t be in a uterus, living off of a woman’s body. I won’t deny that there are men out there who wish their partners hadn’t had abortions, but (and I don’t mean to cast any aspersions on your friend) have you ever considered that his partner left him due to her knowledge that he would not support her decision to have an abortion? That had he said he’d support her no matter what, she wouldn’t've had to let him know after the fact? That she might’ve been quite scared of his reaction, and rightly so? His actions of continually mourning and buying gifts for a ‘child’ who was never actually born does not suggest that he is a mentally stable person.

    Is it not possible to give a woman absolute control over her body (as should always be her right!) without taking the male parent’s voice out of the picture?

    No, it’s not possible. The minute the man (or any person) who is not that woman has a legal say over what she does is the moment the woman does not have absolute control.

    And for those of you who have had horrible experiences with males forcing their opinions on you, this is not at all what I mean.
    There are men who respect the rights of women, and who acknowledge that as equals both of our genders have an absolute right to self governing regarding our bodies.
    I am one of them.

    And I’ll take your word for it, but not every man is like you, and you need to remember that. If you say that the male partner should have a say in whether a woman has an abortion or not, then you are not only opening it up to people in caring relationships, but those in abusive ones as well. Setting up laws with the ‘strong’ in mind will hurt the weak. Would a woman need to prove her partner was abusive before having an abortion without his consent? (This is also why I say the rape/incest exception laws for abortion bans aren’t good enough–in order to protect the people with the fewest resources, you need to give the rights to everyone or they will be nearly inaccessible for those who need them the most.) We acknowledge that there are good men out there, and most of us aren’t stupid: if we’re in a good relationship with a good man who we know respects us, we will confide, discuss, all of that. But those in more precarious situations should not be forced to.

    I feel that it would be a good idea to start teaching children at an early age (around sixth grade maybe) about the opposite gender. Not just in a way related to sexual interaction, but in a way that teaches them both better ways to communicate with each other, and respect each other’s needs.

    And I think it would be a good idea to teach children from birth that there are no strict gender dichotomies, so that when they are older they will know how to communicate with every person as a rational human, not as ‘men’ or as ‘women.’

  27. Mr. Visitor says

    I never intended that the male parent have a legal say in the decision regarding the abortion. I don’t feel a third party (of any gender, for any reason) has any right to legal control over a person’s body. All I wanted was that he be allowed to participate in the decision verbally. I have no desire to change any legal rights of anyone. I simply feel that rational discussion is the only way for equals to behave in any important decision.

    You are right, though- there are bad males in the world (just as there are bad females, too), and they lower the standard of human interaction for everyone involved. Which is a shame, because in the end, it makes everyone disrespectful to each other…

    I agree that I used improper wording when I referred to an unborn child as simply a child, as that is not the same thing as a fetus.

    The stereotype that someone in deep mourning is possibly mentally unstable, is actually a pretty common, but archaic, fallacy.

    Part of my work for the state include grief counseling, and I have seen a lot of women who carry the grief of having an abortion much longer than some people realize. And, yes, sometimes this grief can last for years (usually only coming to the surface during “reminder dates,” such as the date of the abortion, or a holiday that is centered around children).

    The male friend I mentioned is actually part of a local support group (where he is the only male) that try to work past the loss they feel.

    Please do not confuse their sense of loss with feelings of guilt for doing something “wrong,” as each of them know they made the difficult decision for valid reasons.

    Sometimes, a decision that involves a permanent loss (as some people will see it- others, of course, don’t see it that way at all) carries a lot more weight than people outside of the situation can understand.

    I find it disheartening that the first assumption that comes to mind when I talk about my friend’s wife leaving him is that he is some kind of villain. (A relative of mine made the same guess.)

    The wife actually left him because he finally called the police on her for the physical abuse she was putting him through. She felt it was an unforgivable betrayal, and left him soon afterward.

    I would like to make a very clear point here, to avoid any further assumptions on this subject: at no time during the two years she was physically (and emotionally) violent did he ever hit her. Not once. Not even a slap, or a push. Or any of the other displays of weakness males sometimes do in desperate attempts to gain dominance, for that matter. (And, I absolutely believe that acts of domestic violence are dramatic signs of weakness on the part of the abuser.)

    You make a good point about teaching human rights and unbiased behavior at birth, as that is exactly what the parents should do. I guess I was just referring to the school system. It is at around 4-6th grade that gender roles start to change and become more defined in our society, so I hypothesized that it might be a good milestone to start with.

    I am grateful for being able to discuss important matters such as these with people who make rational arguments and are not openly hostile toward me for being a male speaking out of turn on a sensitive subject.

    Thank you.

  28. Genevieve says

    I never intended that the male parent have a legal say in the decision regarding the abortion. I don’t feel a third party (of any gender, for any reason) has any right to legal control over a person’s body. All I wanted was that he be allowed to participate in the decision verbally. I have no desire to change any legal rights of anyone. I simply feel that rational discussion is the only way for equals to behave in any important decision.

    And currently, they are allowed to participate verbally, if their partner trusts them enough to tell them what’s going on. If she doesn’t, she probably has a valid reason. But they need to understand that while they can give their opinion, their word is not the final say, and in my mind their wish should not be anywhere near as important as what the woman thinks.

    I find it disheartening that the first assumption that comes to mind when I talk about my friend’s wife leaving him is that he is some kind of villain. (A relative of mine made the same guess.)
    The wife actually left him because he finally called the police on her for the physical abuse she was putting him through. She felt it was an unforgivable betrayal, and left him soon afterward.
    I would like to make a very clear point here, to avoid any further assumptions on this subject: at no time during the two years she was physically (and emotionally) violent did he ever hit her. Not once. Not even a slap, or a push. Or any of the other displays of weakness males sometimes do in desperate attempts to gain dominance, for that matter. (And, I absolutely believe that acts of domestic violence are dramatic signs of weakness on the part of the abuser.)

    I’m sorry for making an assumption about your friend that wasn’t true, but I volunteer for an abortion clinic and I have seen cases where what I assumed about your friend actually happened.
    And I’m also sorry your friend was abused. No one should have to go through that. But if he left her, no matter how bad of a person she was, the fetus was still in her body and he had no legal right to it (though had she decided to give birth, he would’ve had a right to some form of custody.) Nor did she have to tell him anything she didn’t want to.

  29. Dan says

    @Jennifer Kesler- I agree with your larger point, but there’s a couple issues with this comment:
    “We women are frequently told, “Well, sorry about sex not always including orgasms for you/rape/periods, but it’s just part of nature. You’ll have to live with it.” I’m afraid that’s the case with men and gestation.”

    a. Ever heard of blueballs? Not only do men not always orgasm during sex, but when we don’t, it HURTS.
    b. Pretty sure guys get raped too.

  30. SunlessNick says

    b. Pretty sure guys get raped too.

    But they don’t get told that “it’s just part of nature. You’ll have to live with it.”

  31. Genevieve says

    a. Ever heard of blueballs? Not only do men not always orgasm during sex, but when we don’t, it HURTS.
    b. Pretty sure guys get raped too.

    Yes, and your blueballs are underscored by centuries of being told that enjoying sex was bad, that you were supposed to ‘lie back and think of England’ and that sowing your wild seeds before marriage was absolutely 100% wrong, right?

    No one is denying that men get raped. But at a fraction of the rate women do. (What is it, 1 in 6 compared to 1 in 30?) And the vast majority of male rape victims were raped by other men.

    You, my friend, have just thrown out a classic “what about the menz” argument, and for that you are nothing but a pitiful cliche.

  32. Jennifer Kesler says

    I find it disheartening that the first assumption that comes to mind when I talk about my friend’s wife leaving him is that he is some kind of villain. (A relative of mine made the same guess.)

    And women find it disheartening when no one will believe their claims of abuse because He’s Such A Nice Guy & A Pillar Of The Community & He Was So Good To Us When Our Mom Was Dying Of Cancer.

    Mr. Visitor, your premise seems to be “Men have a right to have feelings about fetuses they’ve sired, and it’s a pity women don’t consider their feelings on this more often.” Here are my specific problems with your argument. (1) Having a right to feelings doesn’t mean you have a right to consideration. If you fall obsessively in love with me, unrequited, I don’t owe you any consideration. If you interview for a job and get rejected and are terribly depressed, the boss doesn’t owe you any consideration. It’s sad, but sometimes these things are just life. (2) I think it’s always best for people to consider others’ feelings, except when one of the parties is abusive, but is there an epidemic of women being purely selfish? I would guess that if you improved the culture, you’d cut down considerably on the REASONS a woman would abort without talking to the man who sired the fetus, so that’s where your focus should be instead of just asking women to be more giving, like usual. (3) I’m not a fan of the nuclear family at all, so you’re probably operating with a lot of precepts you assume I accept, which in fact I do not. I have to wonder if there’s a connection when I noticed that no other species molests its young and no other species forges lifelong bonds with its offspring, preceded by an unimaginably long period of total dependency (which can breed power abuse). I would prefer a more communal setting in which generations raise generations, and kids have multiple adult figures to turn to and learn from, and no one gets stuck in a horrific 18+ year abuse cycle just because of whose egg/sperm they were unlucky enough to inherit. In such a setup, you wouldn’t have Moms and Dads, and maybe that would be the best thing for us all (I know no one who loves a parent enjoys hearing that, myself included, but I do think it might be ideal.)

  33. Jennifer Kesler says

    a. Ever heard of blueballs? Not only do men not always orgasm during sex, but when we don’t, it HURTS.
    b. Pretty sure guys get raped too.

    I’m calling bullshit. Nick and Genevieve pretty much covered the reasons why.

    1 in 4 men do not get raped, Dan. Neither are men told they must respect their rapists and not make such a fuss about it because the rapin’ sex is the morally superior one which leads our homes and our nations. (Imagine the double-think girls learn by the age of 14 to swing that one!) Men don’t have several centuries of history in which they were forced to marry their rapists because being raped made them whores and marriage was the only way to redeem their reputation. Men don’t have centuries of history in which they weren’t allowed to own property or get an education or a job of any consequence so they could leave stalkers and rapist husbands. Men were never defined as the property of their wives, whose interests could not possibly run askance from hers (see Victorian England, not ancient history). Men are not mere decades to one century removed from this bullshit, which is still coloring the attitudes they grow up with and live among today.

    If you want to compare side by side the things that happen with unwanted sex to men and to women, you’re going to lose – women can get permanent damage to critical internal organs, like the kidneys, from rough sex without lubrication, for example.

  34. Genevieve says

    I would prefer a more communal setting in which generations raise generations, and kids have multiple adult figures to turn to and learn from, and no one gets stuck in a horrific 18+ year abuse cycle just because of whose egg/sperm they were unlucky enough to inherit. In such a setup, you wouldn’t have Moms and Dads, and maybe that would be the best thing for us all (I know no one who loves a parent enjoys hearing that, myself included, but I do think it might be ideal.)

    I have nothing to say about this except that you rock.

  35. Mr. Visitor says

    I said, “I find it disheartening that the first assumption that comes to mind when I talk about my friend’s wife leaving him is that he is some kind of villain.”

    Your response was, “And women find it disheartening when no one will believe their claims of abuse because He’s Such A Nice Guy & A Pillar Of The Community & He Was So Good To Us When Our Mom Was Dying Of Cancer.”

    I don’t understand the nature of your response. If it sounds like I am trying to say that males have an exclusive right to being disrespected, and you felt the need to remind me that women also have to deal with having their words ignored, then you have misunderstood me.

    ALL humans have the potential to face abuses and disrespect, regardless of gender, culture, and so on. It is not a competition. At no point would I ever tolerate someone trying to defend a male accused of abuse just because he is “a nice guy.” I believe that gender should never be related to right or wrong. It is simply right or wrong, and let the details of what actually happened tell the tale.

    The problem we both face in our comments is that most humans like to generalize. It’s simpler to lump things together into a single label. We often have difficulty realizing that every single situation is always unique. Every single human being is unique, and what they consider to be acceptable or abusive is complete subjective to that individual person.

    It is very true that women as a gender are in far more danger of being raped than men are. Should that allow us to devalue the consequences of any of those rapes, regardless of what gender the victim was?

    You both lose, when comparing the consequences of rape as some sort of competition. Rough, unlubricated anal sex is as damaging to a male as a female. I don’t think any rape victim cares at all which gender is worse off. They only care about how much it hurt them as an individual person. Statistics, history, and other details are meaningless for the victim in the hospital wondering if they are ever going to feel safe again…

    Do not confuse my views on how every individual victim is in need of equal care and respect, and think that I am ignoring the epidemic crisis that women face today. 1 in 4 shouldn’t even be 1 in a billion. So much more action and education must be done to prevent these unforgivable acts.

    …cont…

  36. Mr. Visitor says

    …cont from above…

    A comparative example regarding seeing individuals and creating labels…

    A friend of mine and I both have a similar history regarding dating.

    She was cheated on by the first 4 or 5 boyfriends she had, without fail. All of them ended up sleeping with her friends, then leaving her for them.

    I was cheated on by the first 6 girlfriends I had, also without fail. My friends were also the people they cheated on me with.

    These situations started for both of us in high school (where we met), and as we got older and stayed in touch, we ended up having a falling out over how we both decided to see these relationships.

    She decided that all men are dishonest, cheat, and are basically jerks. She “tolerated” me because I never showed an interest in her romantically, but believed that even I would cheat on her, despite 7 years of an honest friendship with her.

    At first, I felt the same thing about women, but I realized that I had only dated 6 women so far, and that 6 out of several billion isn’t even a percentage of a percentage point of the total number of women in the world.

    It made more sense to me that I was the one at fault, making poor choices, and that if I examined what attracted me to those women I could make better choices later on and avoid being put into a bad relationship again.

    10 years later, I have been validated, as I have had healthy and loyal partners ever since. Even when we both find out that a relationship cannot progress into something lifelong, we still end up friends, and I am on great speaking terms with all of them still.

    When I last spoke to the woman I used in this example, she had only dated a few men since we stopped talking, and never allowed herself to progress further than a couple of dates, still hating men in general.

    Her life dictated by labels and prejudice, and mine by recognition of individuality.

    (Knowing that there will be comments trying to justify her bigotry, allow me to clarify that she was never hit, raped, or threatened by these losers she dated. The idiots she dated cheated and lied, and that was enough for her to categorize all males as being idiots, too.)

    (Also- The last of the women that cheated on me was physically and emotionally abusive to me as well. That was how I met the divorced friend I mentions several comments ago- we met in group counseling for victims of abuse. The ex knew I could never hit her back, and that I would stay due to a severely mistaken fear that to leave her would allow her to take my beautiful daughter away from me. I know better now, of course, but it was a hard lesson to learn. Still, though- despite a violent mother, and then falling in with a violent girlfriend, I absolutely do not associate all females with them. They were simply two individuals who were bad people.)

    This brings me up to something I should apologize for, Jennifer.

    I never considered your views on what you referred to as a nuclear family, and I apologize if it sounded like I was making any assumptions about your views of it.

    I was speaking solely on a biological point. There is one female parent. There is one male parent. This is the rule for the creation of all human life. (Including artificial insemination, as they still need the biological components offered by a male.)

    It is a different subject altogether to speak about the raising of a child.

    I do have a view on that, though, which only slightly differs from your own.

    I agree that children should have multiple adults that they can go to for education, guidance, and protection. I do believe that a community raised child will have much better options with their life as they grow up.

    I also agree that children trapped in abusive relationships with their parents absolutely need a way out, and that having more adults in their life would be a good answer for that.

    However, I think that simply devaluing parents as a necessary whole is missing the point of the problem.

    A child needs more than a group of people giving them the part time attention they could give as they lived their separate lives.

    A child needs the people they live with to completely dedicate themselves to putting the child first.

    24 hours a day, 7 days a week, someone has to think of that child over all other needs. Neighbors, and even close friends cannot do that. They have their own lives to live that may prevent them from being available as often as it would be necessary for a child.

    Better to force stricter laws and punishments on parents who fail or abuse their children. Being a parent shouldn’t be a right, it, too, should be an earned privilege.

  37. Mr. Visitor says

    (I am sorry for being long winded in the above posts, I guess I have a lot to say about these important subjects. I will try to limit the size of my comments in the future.)

    This one will be really short, actually.

    To the posters who tried to use blueballs as a a counterpoint to what was said about how women have been historically disrespected in the bedroom (among other places, of course).

    Really, guys? The classic line used to try to convince or coerce a woman into going further than she wants to is your counterpoint to the generations of women who were told to never expect pleasure in bed, as it was just a responsibility on their part to be available for impregnation?

    Not good.

    Yes- “Blueballs,” does happen. It is not pleasant at all, but every honest guy in the world has known how to “remedy” this problem on his own since puberty…

  38. Mr. Visitor says

    The example I gave wasn’t meant to specifically be analogous to Jennifer’s situation or reaction. It was simply an attempt to point out the weakness inherent in prejudice as opposed to the strength of individual treatment.

    Also, as a single father raising his child, I would like to point out that not every family follows the historic rules of society.

    In fact, I believe that tradition for the sake of tradition is simply stagnation, and that which cannot stand up to questioning and possible change should not stand up at all.

    I chose to raise my daughter. I have always wanted to be the primary caregiver, and I think it is insulting when society points out that the idiots of the past put their limited, crippled, roles as patriarch before the actual care and nurturing of their child is still the standard we live with today.

    It is not about being anywhere near perfect. It is simply about awareness of the consequences of your actions. Taking accountability for every detail of your life and decisions and how they will relate to the child.

    Not everyone is strong enough to be worthy of the responsibility of raising a child. Not everyone is willing or able to put themselves second to another person, and it is those people (who decide to have children anyway) that make the task of raising a child seem so difficult.

    While adding as many adults as possible into a child’s upbringing might mitigate the damages done from bad parenting, wouldn’t it just be more logical to simply demand good parenting from the people who are there with the child in the first place?

    Think of this- your point is that 24/7 (bad) parental interaction can screw up a child, so I ask if there even more adults involved are there not even more chances for that child to have to filter through someone in that crowd treating them poorly?

    I don’t believe in a nuclear family. I don’t believe that simply giving birth (or causing impregnation) should be a good enough reason to force a child into a life they do not deserve.

    I think, as said before, that the communal effort is a good idea, I simply think that someone needs to step up to care for the child more than anything else in their lives- a crowd of people cannot all offer that. More logically it would still have to be one or two people who are willing to stop living for themselves and start living (completely) for another.

  39. Mr. Visitor says

    I read, and enjoyed, your poem, Genevieve. I try to put my beliefs into poetic form once and a while, too. (Though they never really end up sounding like poetry, and sound more like something from the Tao Te Ching.)

    I am conceding my point regarding males and abortion.

    In a slap-on-the-forehead moment, I have come to realize that the individual situation I mentioned so long ago here (the friend whose ex decided to abort their child to hurt him in a continuing attempt to control him) is just that: individual.

    I was standing up for him, and males in general, when it is actually inappropriate to do so.

    In each situation that occurs, if the woman wants to share the decision with the male parent, then she will, and she will have a (hopefully) good reason to trust him in that.

    In the situations where the male is unworthy then obviously, things should (hopefully) go differently, without the woman having to feel any responsibility toward him at all.

    Sometimes, there may be a bad woman making poor choices, but that is the risk that must be allowed to ensure the rights and freedoms deserved by everyone.

    I was doing exactly what I trying to get people to avoid doing- I was generalizing. In that, I apologize. I was reacting too strongly to the views here that males are bad people.

    In each of the responses here I was reminded that men are often seen as abusive, untrustworthy monsters. A reputation that many males have sadly earned. (Though to think of all men as being like those who earn the bad reputation is wrong, as all prejudices are.)

    The more I tried to talk of equal treatment, the more I sounded like I was supporting those men who do wrong.

    My intentions have always been to support equal and fair treatment on a completely individual basis (don’t judge me for being male, I might actually be an honorable person anyway, and never tolerate anyone judging you for being female, as we are all simply individuals).

    Judgment should be reserved for the actions and intentions at each moment of a person’s life. All other details are simply distractions from the truth of our actions.

  40. Mr. Visitor says

    I just re-read a paragraph I wrote:

    I chose to raise my daughter. I have always wanted to be the primary caregiver, and I think it is insulting when society points out that the idiots of the past put their limited, crippled, roles as patriarch before the actual care and nurturing of their child is still the standard we live with today.

    I wanted to make sure that (since it is such a poorly written jumble of words) it is understood that the “idiots” I was referring to were the people who believe in a patriarchal system, disregarding the actual needs of their children, just to fulfill expected roles.

    I am sorry if it sounded like I was calling anyone here an idiot, which I wasn’t.

  41. Genevieve says

    A child needs more than a group of people giving them the part time attention they could give as they lived their separate lives.

    A child needs the people they live with to completely dedicate themselves to putting the child first.

    24 hours a day, 7 days a week, someone has to think of that child over all other needs. Neighbors, and even close friends cannot do that. They have their own lives to live that may prevent them from being available as often as it would be necessary for a child.

    A few points here:
    1. I do not believe that the case of your friend who won’t date men anymore is analogous to Jennifer’s situation/reaction. Because your friend is one person, who dated only a few men. While Jennifer is also one person, who only had a two parents (I’m assuming, I actually have no idea if she had stepparents as well as bio-parents), the act of raising a child is an extremely challenging one, and one must be a nearly perfect person in order to raise a child who is not in some way screwed up due to the actions of their parents. Which I, personally, believe is due to the 24/7 parent-child interactions. For the formative years of that child’s life, their parents are the only adults with any real impact on them. They may have teachers or other adult relatives, but for most of us, their influence pales in comparison to that of our parents on us.
    2. Multiple influences–four important adults? Eight? Twenty? Would not only mitigate the harm any one parent could do, but it would leave the child with the benefit of multiple points of view, multiple ways of looking at the world–and I believe less of a chance of having to choose between blind obedience to the ideals of their parents or outright rebellion. (And if you think I don’t know what I’m talking about here, please think again.)
    3. Also, the 24/7 parent-child devotion has, for much of history, been a 24/7 mother-child devotion. Society didn’t care where Dad was–work, business trip, bar–as long as Mom was caring for her kid. Women had to choose between work and a family, and they knew what the ‘right’ choice was in the eyes of most people. Dads could throw the football around the backyard or whatever, but that was pretty much where their expected parental duty ended (other than making sure his daughter’s skirt wasn’t too short, but that’s a whole nother rant).
    So you’d have women who were career-minded who, yeah, wanted to raise a family, but maybe wouldn’t've chosen to be the primary caregiver if that wasn’t expected of them (and certainly their husbands wouldn’t consider taking on this job); who’d end up stuck at home, and if they were lucky, they’d learn to love it…and if not, they’d be as stifled as Mira in The Women’s Room.
    But in communal-parenting-world? You wouldn’t have this. The people who enjoyed looking after children would have that be their duty. Or there’d be a rotation of sorts–some people work some days, some people care for the children some days.
    Sounds beneficial in more ways than one.

  42. Genevieve says

    Oh, and if anyone wants to read a rebuttal of Mr. Visitor’s original points about abortion rights in poetic form, it’s here. And heavily based on my volunteer experience. And illustrative of my nerdiness.

  43. Jennifer Kesler says

    Okay, there’s a lot going on here. Mr. Visitor, after reading your last two comments, let me say first that yes, it IS right to stand up for individual men, but in a conversation where we’re talking about something as general as law, it can tend to come across as if you’re recommending something to be generally applied.

    I didn’t express myself so well last time, because I accidentally edited out a paragraph (sorry). I meant to say that when people assume the abuser in a male-female relationship is the man, unfortunately, statistics back up that assumption. Obviously, it’s wrong to make such an assumption if you’re, say, the judge deciding custody… but for everyday people to picture a man beating a woman when you say “They had an abusive relationship” – well, sadly, there is a reason why that picture springs to mind (which you acknowledged). Does this mean there’s something wrong with the nature of men? No, because the majority of all men are not criminals at all. But it does indicate our culture is encouraging some pretty selfish behavior in men, and unfortunately – very unfortunately – a woman would be foolish NOT to be on the lookout for signs of such behavior in the men she knows. Yes, it’s true men can run into very selfish and abusive women – it’s just that men tend to have more resources for escaping from such women, even in the unenviable position of getting no support because everyone thinks She’s Such a Lovely Woman Who Was So Kind To Us When Blah Blah. (For men, the problem is more one of not knowing what forms abuse by women take, since our culture’s in denial that a mere woman could hurt a Manly Red-Blooded American Male. No one wants to say, “Men, if you’re going through X, Y and Z, get out of that relationship before someone gets seriously hurt” because that would imply men are not infallible. It’s tragic and inexcusable, and something that must be addressed alongside abuses of women by men, if we’re to make any serious reduction in abuse generally – after all, mothers can create abusive men just as easily as fathers. But the problems, while all of equal concern, cannot be handled exactly the same way or with the same measures.)

    Your friend who decided all men were cheaters – I personally would not make such an assumption, and I hope she finds reason to drop it someday. But it’s not precisely an equal situation to yours. Our culture continuously sends men messages that it’s okay to cheat, and women hear these messages every day, too, and take them in and internalize them. Conversely, women cheaters get no approval from society, let alone encouragement, and more frequently get “punished” in fiction than do men. Your friend, sadly, has reason to think all men are cheaters – both she and the men she know are being told this every day.

    A child needs more than a group of people giving them the part time attention they could give as they lived their separate lives.

    I disagree whole-heartedly. It’s not healthy for anyone to make their entire life about someone else – it’s too high a standard for people to meet, and I believe it’s the reason we have so many “dysfunctional” families. Furthermore, in a society in which generations raise generations instead of parents raising their own offspring, childless people like me would be expected to help teach, nurture and guide kids. No one would wonder if its their business when some parent spanks the hell out of a kid in a strip mall parking lot – that child would be as much mine as yours, we’d all have a vested, tangible interest in making sure it becomes a healthy adult instead of a lazy bum or serial killer, etc. I think that model could work much better than the present system. You of course are welcome to disagree, but this is my position and I wanted to clarify it.

    While adding as many adults as possible into a child’s upbringing might mitigate the damages done from bad parenting, wouldn’t it just be more logical to simply demand good parenting from the people who are there with the child in the first place?

    There are so many steps that would have to be taken first. We’d need to stop shaming people into making babies. People are SO PRESSURED to breed – and no one’s ever told “You know, you might grow up to be someone who’s not really parent material, and that’s okay.” We’re all told “when you have kids on your own.” No wonder the vast majority don’t think to themselves, “Gee, am I parent material?” before conception’s already occurred. Additionally, when 18 year olds who have thought this through try to get vasectomies or tubals, many times doctors insist they wait until they’re 25. This is unconscionable, especially as these operations can be undone or, in the case of complications, adoption is another way to become a parent after you’ve changed your mind. If someone’s old enough to vote, they are old enough to get surgery to make sure they never have a child.

    Think of this- your point is that 24/7 (bad) parental interaction can screw up a child, so I ask if there even more adults involved are there not even more chances for that child to have to filter through someone in that crowd treating them poorly?

    Yes, and it’s true you’ll never eliminate abuse 100%. However, you’d be talking occasional abuses, not ongoing ones. I.E., I had two school teachers who verbally abused me for an entire school year. One was my sole fourth-grade teacher. The other was one of four teachers I had in fifth-grade, because in that year we moved to more of a “class” system in preparation for middle school. The second teacher had much less power over me. Her claims that I wasn’t listening, that I wasn’t trying, that I was wrong even when I was right, eventually fell on deaf ears because my other teachers thought quite highly of me and let me know that (I was a good student). The fourth grade teacher had caused me to doubt myself. The fifth grade teacher made her class a hell on earth for me every day (and affected how the other kids treated me, in a new school, no less), but I never doubted she was a psycho whose crap I could safely ignore. I’d rather every kid go through what I did with the fifth grade psycho – in which case it would be an equalizing experience, and we might all draw together in sympathetic support, or might all go to the principle and get her ass fired – than a few go through what I experienced in fourth grade and end up thinking themselves bad eggs the rest of their lives.

  44. the OTHER Maria says

    Hi Dan -

    Sterile women are OBVIOUSLY obsessed with addressing that… which is why when women had disorders like PCOS, they’re really just worried about their ability to have babies, and not stuff like the pain, bleeding, acne, or migraines also associated with it. A lot of the goals of the medications and supplements recommended to treat that address FERTILITY and not quality of life.

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