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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

With This Kind of Friends, Who Needs Enemies?

Of course, it is crucially important to defend reproductive rights. Some people, however, do it in such a clumsy, unintelligent way that it would be better for them to stay silent. Here is one example:

Previous to the woman’s liberation movement, men had a secure source of inferiors, right there in his home, and everywhere around him.  Women were always right there, to be subservient.

He knew they were inferior, because everything showed him that — they were smaller, they were weaker, they were always pregnant and burdened with children, he could beat them up whenever he liked — and further, his religion and his culture told him they were his inferior. Plus, thanks to all that child-bearing, they kept dying on him.  And, thanks to the laws he had written, all the money they made belonged to him.

But then women fought for changes in the laws, and some of them worked to create these medicines, and now what’s happened?  They’ve changed the world!  They don’t have to have ten or fifteen babies!  They can get educated and get jobs!  Lots of them have decided to start ignoring the priests and not do Natural Family planning!  Lots of them don’t believe the Mens who tell them Natural Family Planning actually works!  (Spoilers: It doesn’t.)
Instead, they decide to use IUDs and take that evil pill (which does not in fact cause cancer or kill babies).
Why would women do such a thing?
And why does it make (some men) so angry?

Simplifications are very seductive because they make the world sound very easy to comprehend. They are, however, completely stupid and never lead to any useful activism. Anybody who has ever paid any attention to the fight over reproductive rights has surely noticed that anti-choicers are not exclusively or even overwhelmingly male. There are crowds of anti-choice women and crowds of pro-choice men. It is simply not possible to create a neat gender divide along the lines of one’s attitude towards reproductive rights.

The post doesn’t end here, however, and, as always happens in such cases, begins to make a case in favor of keeping women “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.” Any contribution to gender wars, including when conducted in order to advance the rights of women, ends up promoting anti-feminist goals. Here is an example:

For those of you who have never been a mother, I’ll just make this clear: a child takes all of your time.  A child needs every bit of every hour of your time.  That’s every hour of every day and every night.  Two kids need 48 hours of your 24 hours.  And so on.

Leaving aside the extreme condescension towards childless women, please consider what this statement implies. If a child has such a profound need of all of the mother’s time, it only follows that women with children should not be allowed to work. Or study. Or leave the house at all, lest their children suffer from their mothers’ absence. Maybe we should chain women to their children to ensure that “every bit of every hour of their time” is spent staring at the kids.

But wait, there is more. The post collapses into a celebration of the patriarchal family model:

If you’re lucky enough to have an extended family around you (I wasn’t), which is the way humans are meant to raise kids (see Mothers and Others by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, a book I cannot recommend highly enough) this work of raising a child, and it is work, dear reader, it is the hardest work you will ever do, however much you may love your child, and I love mine more than anything, but don’t fool yourself about what you’re getting into, it’s work, with an extended family around you, the work will be a bit easier, but it’s still work.

I’m sorry for inflicting this horrible writing on you, by the way. If you do manage to get through this breathless sentence, you will see that it suggests the restoration of a patriarchal family. This blogger writes first and thinks never, so she fails to realize that the moment you make your relatives responsible for raising your children, you cannot make any reproductive decisions without taking their interests into consideration. Surely, a woman who finds it such an insurmountable task to raise her own child, cannot be permitted to make any decisions without the input of the relatives who end up paying for her choices.

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13 thoughts on “With This Kind of Friends, Who Needs Enemies?

  1. Well if the women fought for changes, why is she still nattering on about whether she should take the pill?

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  2. “Leaving aside the extreme condescension towards childless women,”

    She can condescend to me. I’m terribly oblivious.

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    • somebody downvotes that she can condescend to me? Have I found a sister’s keeper?

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      • It seems there is a person who downvotes anything you say.

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        • She must care very deeply for my well being.

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          • Distressed damsels of the world unite!

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            • It’s a basic marker of dishonesty, this kind of caring, which does not engage directly with my thoughts. I find that a very common do-gooder will not address the facts I present, but will view them as evidence of some sort of moral failure. They sweep through life and act chaotically, not comprehending anything at all, but believing they are setting the world to rights.

              There are, self-evidently, some aspects of existence that need to be corrected, for instance cliff arroyo’s complete failure to furnish me with proper American strip-teases, but the moralists never address these important issues. Instead, they attempt to correct my perceptions or those experiences I’ve had that they wrongly perceive as my failures — as if life were no more complicated than to have a basket full of successes and another, no doubt significantly larger basket full of regrets.

              If only reality would be so simple!

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  3. Hm, a. I think you’re misreading this article and b. Delagar is incredibly intelligent. Her article is also well-reasoned and not at all clumsy. She’s also not bat-shit crazy.

    And how is saying that lawmakers that want childless women no longer to EXIST, which is something that is happening RIGHT NOW in my state condescending to childless women?

    If you think that all women have equal access to birth control, then you’re wrong. In fact, in my state, they just shut down a bunch of Planned Parenthood clinics, including the one in my county seat, meaning that in order to get access to affordable birth control in my town, poor uninsured women have to drive almost two hours to the nearest clinic. Even though most of these clinics did not provide abortions at all.

    If you think the war on women is just about abortion, then you’re incredibly naive. They really do want women pregnant. There’s no other logical explanation.

    You may not see this because you may not be lucky enough to live in a red state where people really do say that the birth control pill causes cancer, or that the Bible says that women’s sole purpose is to procreate and be subservient to her husband, or legislators are actively removing options for birth control and abortion and say ridiculous things about rape. But it is happening. And there’s no rhyme or reason to it other than precisely what Delegar is saying. Some subset of men need to feel superior to women, and the only way they can keep women down is by preventing them from preventing pregnancy. It’s real and it is happening. It’s happening in my state and in my town.

    With friends like YOU, who needs enemies?

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    • It would be nice if you tried reading the posts you are responding to instead of talking to yourself. That never happens, though. You just see the title and go off on a rant.

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    • delagar on said:

      IDK, N&M. I’m tempted to think it’s some specific ax she had to grind, given how determinedly she missed every single point I made in the post.

      Can’t say what it is about me exactly that has her back up without reading her blog further, which I’m really not inclined to do.

      But yes — wow: Clarissa, you had to work hard to get every single thing about my post so wrong. Congratulations! It’s an impressive feat, in its way.

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      • I have absolutely no idea who you are. It’s your post, not you, that I dislike. Why is it so hard for you to accept that people might engage with your thoughts and not with your persona?

        Also, I have had thousands of people comment on my blog. You are the first one who discusses me in the third person. This is both extremely bizarre and very rude.

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