Respect for Alternative Worldviews

I left this comment on one of the threads but it’s important, which is why I want to amplify it and put it into a separate post.

If you have an “everybody for himself” worldview and you maintain it consistently in every aspect of life, then I respect that. I don’t share it but I recognize that it’s your right to have that worldview. It’s the lack of logic and consistency that angers me, but alternative worldviews definitely do not. For example, a transphobic pro-choicer makes me livid because that position is not logical. But a straight-out dog-eat-dog Libertarian does not anger me at all because s/he is logical and consistent.

Of course, when I see a self-proclaimed Libertarian who believes that the government should decide what women do with their bodies, then that’s not a Libertarian. S/he is either a huge hypocrite or a simple idiot. That I do not respect and will ridicule viciously. Or, say, a Marxist who waves around his copy of Das Kapital but lives off of the proceeds from his factory.

I respect people’s right to have alternative worldviews. A worldview, however, is not a bunch of unconnected opinions that you gathered from a variety of TV shows and articles because they somehow felt right for some unspecified reason. I believe that it is a duty of every rational human being to work on elaborating her or his worldview. Such a way of being in the world will have organizing principles, will be consistent and coherent. This is a life-long project we embark on and it is one of the greatest joys of being human to be capable of doing that.

A great variety of worldviews makes our shared human reality fascinating. As much as I dig my own worldview, I recognize that this planet would be a very boring, miserable place if we had seven billion Clarissas walking around, all thinking exactly like me. So if you have a worldview that is very different from mine, then I’m very interested in hearing about it. This is why I read and promote on my blog articles by people like Dan Miller and Charles Rowley. They obviously vote Republican but they are thinkers, intellectuals who have worked a lot on elaborating their vision, and I’m very curious about what they have to say on a variety of issues.

If, however, you are too lazy to elaborate a worldview and want to bore me with some unconnected, illogical, incoherent opinions, then do not expect any respect from me for those opinions.

P.S. My thanks go to reader and fellow Canadian Titfortat who inspired this post.

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Breaking the Chain

So I decided to listen to David Bellamy’s advice and step back from my article for a while. This means breaking the Seinfeld Chain. It was a good chain that lasted 38 days. I think that, for my very first chain, it’s a great result.

The article needs a very significant intellectual breakthrough to be made as good as it can potentially be. But I’m completely blocked and exhausted right now. I’ve been staring stupidly at the text for three days, creating meaningless ugly sentences. I believe that I need to get some rest during the final part of the spring break and then attack the article with new-found strength. I don’t think it makes sense to drive myself to the point of a physical collapse here. This is pretty much where things are going right now. I don’t sleep, I don’t do the grading and the service-related things I need to do, I don’t read, I don’t play my favorite Kindle game, I don’t cook, I don’t take long baths, I don’t play with makeup, I don’t read posts in my Google Reader – because I’m stuck on this article.

So from now until Tuesday, I’m resting. Feel free to tell me I’m making the right decision because I will not manage to rest if guilt over breaking the chain consumes me.

Do Men See Themselves As More Important Than Women?

Reader NancyP writes:

Boys don’t want to imagine themselves as girls because they see themselves as more important than girls, and because they have to prove and be secure in their masculinity. Any non-masculine endeavor will make a junior high or high school boy an outcast, a target of bullies.

I’m sure that this is absolutely true. However, yet again, we are seeing only half of the picture. Girls and adult women castigate females who depart in any way from the stereotypes of femininity as swiftly as boys and men punish the “traitors” to their gender identity. No matter how much you hypercompensate with hair, makeup, shoes, skirts and dresses, if you are not openly emotional, if you privilege career over relationships, if you value financial independence, if you break up with men the moment they stop being completely perfect and just move on very easily, you will be told, “Oh, Clarissa, you are such a man!” And that isn’t said admiringly, to put it very mildly.

The reason for such attitudes – that, once again, are identical among men and women – is that people cling to their stereotypes because stereotypes make the world seem more understandable. This is not about men despising women. This is about people feeling threatened by the idea that the most basic binary that they use to explain the humanity at large might be completely useless. If the gender identity as a meaningful set of characteristics is gone, one is left with the need to elaborate a way of being in the world completely from scratch.

This is one of the reasons behind transphobia. I always think about this when I hear the favorite transphobic “pronoun objection.” I’m sure you’ve heard it more than once. “So how am I supposed to keep track of which pronouns to use when speaking about my friend now that she identifies as a female?” a transphobe asks. This question always sounds so desperate and so emotionally charged that one might think we are talking about a language with thousands of pronouns. The pronouns are not the problem here, though. The real question that the terrified transphobe wants to ask is, “If the pronouns only mean what we want them to mean, then who am I? Who is going to assign me the part and give me the lines to memorize and to deliver?”

Of course, one could always be grateful to one’s transgender friends for showing that the oppressive, reductive binary is not set in stone. That, however, requires the enormous courage of facing the possibility of a life that doesn’t follow a script one has been handed at birth.

Financial Abortion

A while ago, a reader sent me an article about this hilarious concept of “financial abortion” concocted by a bunch of grievously sexually unsuccessful men and supported by even more unsuccessful women who don’t mind looking like stupid clowns in order to have some loser somewhere approve of their sorry existences. I found the piece too ridiculous to write about at the time, but since it’s International Women’s Day, I want to use this opportunity to share a few laughs with my readers on the account of the miserable rejects who have come up with this silly idea.

It took me a while to figure out what the “financial abortion” was supposed to be all about because it’s too bizarre. Now I have worked it out, though. Men who hate their bodies and their biological sex and detest the idea that a pregnancy occurs inside a woman’s body want to have the option not to support their children financially after those children are born, if they informed the woman (not the child, mind you) early enough in the pregnancy that they don’t want to be fathers. Because a newborn should totally go without diapers because two people had this or that conversation before said newborn even arrived on this planet.

If you think I’m making this all up, here is a quote for you:

“Up until now, reproductive choice has been seen as a woman’s issue: you’re either pro-life or pro-choice… If we expect men to be responsible, isn’t it right to give them some choices too?” “I’m not talking about fathers opting out of obligations that they’ve committed to. I mean early in pregnancy, if contraception failed, men should have a choice, and women have a right to know what that choice is as they decide how to proceed.”

Of course, I’m all for reproductive choices and I think we should all start a petition addressed to Mother Nature, demanding that men get a capacity to become pregnant. Until our shared wish is granted, though, this entire discussion should be kept at the comedy clubs.

The funny article I quoted asks a series of hilarious questions to make its silly point:

 While pro-choice legislation makes the rights of the mother clear, at what point is a father able to say, ‘I do not want this child’?

We all know that a father can say this at absolutely any point of a child’s life and sometimes, indeed, does. Obviously, any normal government protects the rights of the person who can’t assert them for him or herself because of being legally a minor. The decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy or carry it to term always lies with a person inside whom the pregnancy occurs. Both in case of the abortion or in case of giving birth, a woman puts her health at risk and transforms her life in a profound way. A man never risks anything at any point. Except for a few bucks, which is a very insignificant little factor when compared to the magnitude of the needs of a human being who was not even around when his or her parents had sex, made reproductive decisions, and held conversations about abortion or childbirth.

The unintelligent author of the article, however, proceeds with stupid questions:

As costs rise and opportunities disappear, shouldn’t men have the same rights as women to control their entrance into parenthood?

This is pretty much as asking whether a person without legs should have the same right to be hired for the Royal Ballet company as a ballet dancer with 10 years of experience, or whether a person who doesn’t speak a word of Spanish should have the same right to be hired to teach Spanish as I do. Unless you are physically capable of giving birth, you cannot possibly expect to have the same rights in the area of giving birth as people who do.

Of course, the article eventually comes up with a bugbear of a completely invented scary woman:

Adversely, what would one call the presumptuousness of women who assume that men should snap to attention after they’ve made the decision to bring — or not to bring — a life into this world without allowing them to play a pivotal role in the decision?

There is, of course, no explanation of who these presumptuous women are and what “snapping to attention” on the men’s part would even mean in this situation. The idiot who wrote the piece does not even realize what kind of a fool she is making of herself by suggesting that anybody else should be playing “pivotal roles” in decisions she makes about her own body. I have to wonder whether she manages to decide when to pee without holding a referendum among her male coworkers.

The conclusion to this bizarre piece nearly made me fall off my chair in laughter:

Do we believe in absolute freedom of choice — or merely our choice?

Erm, can you show me a single idiot on this planet who believes in “absolute freedom of choice”? There are tons of choices that we all frown on and sometimes even punish with prison sentences. The freedom of choice can only be respected when it’s exercised on one’s own behalf and does not infringe on the rights of any other human beings.

A reasonable government cannot afford to go into an investigation of who said what to whom at some point, who did or did not put on a condom and why they did not put it on right, why contraception malfunctioned, what anybody did or did not want in the process, before and after the process. A reasonable government most definitely cannot protect the right of a grown individual to be a cheap stupid prick who begrudges a few dimes to his own flesh and blood at the expense of a small person who does not yet have a voice and cannot even hire a lawyer.

I completely support the right of any man not to be a father to his child if he did not want that child to appear in this world. What I do not support, though, is the right of anybody to rob a small creature who is 50% them of financial means to existence for any reason whatsoever. I’m not a rich person but if I were to find out that somebody collected my DNA and created a child on the basis of that (say, this is scientifically possible), I would dedicate my existence to making sure that this little human being did not want for anything. You need to hate yourself a whole damn lot to refuse something so insignificant as money to somebody who is half you.