There are parts of the recent shouting on abortion that have made me profoundly uncomfortable.
No, not those, I expect lunacy and hatred of humans from the left, so it doesn’t touch me, even remotely. I mean, I think I sprained an eye from rolling them, but…
The disturbing things are coming from people politically aligned with me, and I’m not sure my qualms can or should be reflected in policy (because I don’t think that is possible without its becoming a tyranny and a “stay in your place” straight jacket.) But I think it should be thought about and perhaps reflected in the culture war, in how we raise our kids, in how we think of being human and particularly of being one of those weird humans who can make other humans and nurture them inside our own bodies, and who were designed by nature to do so.
I first want to point out that I find the XKCD comic about being lost in Plato’s cave extremely funny. (I don’t want to link it, given the way the author has gone, and the tenor of this post.) So much so, I have it on my fridge. And the reason for that is that I often legitimately forget I have a body. I know that sounds super-weird, but I swear it’s true. It’s part of the reason I’m one of those introverts who needs to go out and see strangers on the regular. Otherwise it becomes all too easy to float through life thinking of my body not as part of me, but as some weird vehicle that moves me around.
This is why I sometimes forget what sex I am. (No joke, I’ve said on a panel of all females “Everyone here is female but me.” No, I didn’t mean I was male, just that I was thinking outside my body or sex again. But it caused some complete puzzlement in the audience.) Or that I HAVE a sex. I forget to eat. I forget to take medicine. I forget I’m sick/neglect care needed. It’s not that I hate myself, I just forget the body is part of me.
I realize this is an extreme case, and I also want to point out it’s not constant in me, and it’s worse when I’m concentrating on doing something else that involves my mind only, like having arguments on intellectual points.
But to some extent, because I live some much in my head, I’m always a little uncomfortable with my body (It would be easier if it didn’t try to kill me on the regular) to the point that “normal” things like being pregnant or nursing were uncomfortable, and felt weird. I’ve run into women who say they love being pregnant, and all I can do is gape at them in wonder.
Before you shout, I’m aware this is not a healthy way to be, and is in fact just a wee bit nuts.
Which is my problem, precisely. Because as a society, when arguing on policy that impacts women — like the overturn of Roe v Wade — we have become a lot like me, treating the body as an inconvenience, something that shouldn’t matter, or something that isn’t an integral part of who we are.
Because that is all, and absolutely a lie. Because our bodies influence us, in health and illness far more than we wish to believe. The thinking meat is MEAT. We are creatures of flesh and blood, who think. We are not thoughts, trapped in the flesh and blood.
And if you ignore the needs and impulses of the flesh and blood, you’ll either lose your mind or your body.
And if you ignore them as a society, you end up with a lot of unhappy, confused, angry people, who can’t figure out what’s made them so unhappy.
On the whole subject of abortion, a friend said — and I don’t intellectually disagree — that we can’t force women to carry babies, because that’s evil. And that we can’t curtail women’s sex drive, or demand they curtail it, because that too is evil. Oh, and that all birth control fails eventually (which isn’t wrong, btw. Reproductive systems are far, far more complicated than we like to believe. Which I’ll revisit again, btw.)
But something at the back of my head piped up and bitched when she said that. It wasn’t a happy something, and it was an admission against interest, since I mostly believe we should make people as free as possible (my protest on abortion is that it involves two people, and the defenseless one gets killed, but that’s something else) and since I legitimately think nature is something to conquer. But what piped up in my mind was “But is that fighting against reality?”
This was brought into full bloom last night, on a facebook thread of Brad Torgersen’s, in which a guy came in guns blazing and said we needed abortion to be safe, convenient and as available as possible so women wouldn’t be “second class citizens.” Because if women are going to be fully equal, we need to eliminate the downsides of being a woman.
At which point the bitching at the back of my mind became a scream “But women are women. You can’t eliminate the downside of being a woman, without eliminating being a woman.”
This same guy, btw, tried to put me in my place by coming back with something about how society had failed women for millennia, which made me doubt he had a brain between his ears, because seriously? “Society” (which one? The caveman band? The hunters’ party? The various monarchies? WHICH “Society”?) failed everyone for millennia. Most people were oppressed and stepped on, because life was hard and freedom for the individual wasn’t a thing.
But my point here is the definition of a woman until society went howling mad (and we might be looking at the reason society went howling mad) is a person who can bear live young. Yes, we have vulvas, and sex is lots of fun, but our drive for sex is different than males. We tend to attach to one male and the reason we become interested in males is that they give signs of being good providers, usually at a subconscious level. (Yes, there are exceptions, there are exceptions to everything human, but for the vast majority of women this is it.) It’s part of the reason women are attracted to rich and successful men more than to cute ones. Because we’re looking for fathers for potential children.
It’s also why we bleed every 28 or so days for most of our adult lives. It’s why there is a load of emotion and reaction that comes with that cycle.
I keep coming across, particularly from the left with “If men could have children.” Well, if men could have children, they wouldn’t be men. And our entire society would be so different (most hermaphroditic species are very violent, and hermaphrodite humans… well, yes, I am rewriting that first book. Eh. So I’ve thought about it.) that there is no connection.
Because we are not brains, or minds, in a vacuum. We’re creatures of flesh and blood. And contra the “there’s no difference” crowd, you need only have a rudimentary knowledge of biology to know your brain, your tissues, everything were formed differently according to your sex. I don’t remember and am not in the mood to go look it up, but you start differentiating at a ridiculously early gestational point, for sure before two weeks. After that the hormone baths in utero are different, and your development is markedly different.
No, you don’t know what it’s like to be the other sex. No one does. Yes, we’re way more different than our superficial outward appearance would indicate. The longer I live the more aware I become that perhaps Heinlein was right about us really being different species who are merely symbiotic.
So when making women “not second class citizens” requires making them as free from concerns about getting pregnant as men…. are we in actual fact at war with the very fact that there are women; that women are unique and have different capabilities and different downfalls?
I mean to me “not second class citizens” means the right to vote and engage in trade. It doesn’t mean making them “the same” because that’s Procrustes bed.
Whether you consider getting pregnant a liability or a magic power, it is still an integral part of being a woman.
And yet, as a society we’ve been devoted to making women into men-manque for as long as I’ve been alive. Perhaps it’s the after shocks of chemical birth control. Or perhaps it’s the unique insanity of the mega-states of the 20th century, who have always preferred to deal with widgets.
As a society and for almost a century, we’ve regarded having children as an impairment, for both men and women, frankly. You’re supposed to have a “career” (most people have jobs, not careers, so that’s also mildly insane) and devote everything to it. You are a unit of tax-payment, not a living human being who, like most humans, probably want to have children and eventually fat and sassy grandchildren.
This has affected men, yes, because frankly in their natural state, they autonomous, sentient sperm-delivery devices, whom only culture can mold into true men, who care about their wife and children. It has given them an adversarial relationship with women, made them into sort of grown up boys, who just want to “score” and keep count.
But it is outright starting to eliminate women as women. Someone on a blog I can’t remember was lamenting the fact that “liberation” seems to entail the elimination of the female form of professional designations. I suppose “Police-woman” was always a bit silly since a police officer is a police officer is a police officer, though I imagine that women do it slightly differently there too, but never mind. And the same for Mail-woman. Though I will note those fragments encode more information which is usually a value add for those rare occasions where it’s relevant. But we’ve eliminated “authoress” which is– More on that later. And we’ve eliminated “Actress” which is bloody stupid, because in that case your body is what you perform with. If you’re female you perform as female, in female roles, and it’s a different craft.
Yes, I do understand the reason for it. And I question it. The reason for it is that whole “second class” thing. “I am an Author, not an author with special begs of being female.”
Um… okay, then, but why is the male form the real one? Why isn’t everyone called an “authoress” (I detest the term, btw. I actually prefer writer to either Author or Authoress)? There have been female writers time out of mind, and many of them were superb. Why isn’t the “real” term the female one? Why do we have to “be the real thing” by assuming the male term. PARTICULARLY for actresses. Because at one point women were barred from the profession for real and legitimately. And now they’re subsumed, and have to be “real” by using the male term.
And of course, we all know men who “transition” are beating women at everything from sports to beauty competitions, and the left is all for it. When, at least in sports, the reason they’re beating women is because they have masculine strength, masculine muscles, and were formed to be bigger and stronger.
And then there’s the push…. Oh, you know very well what it is. And it’s an abomination.
I raised kids in the last thirty years. If I’d raised girls, I’d probably be wearing orange and in a maximum security prison.
The double dose of “you can do anything you want, but only if it is what we think you should want.” and “You’re all powerful and infinitely fragile” would have me happening to the school before they were out of elementary.
And I’m not joking that when younger son was in an engineering club, all the publications they were sent were for WOMEN engineers. Even though most of the membership/people with an interest were male.
Before that even, I was sneered at and looked down upon because I stayed at home for most of the time after I was married and all the time, pretty much, after I had kids. Yes, I was writing. But it turns out a lot of women my generation used that (or art, or crafts) as a cover for just wanting to be housewives and mothers. (Both honorable occupations, if you perform them honorably. And both of them can make your husband way more successful if you do them right. And if you’re a unit and divorce wouldn’t even be considered, his success is yours. Yes, I know the level of trust that requires is uncommon now.) So at gatherings talking to strangers, when the “What do you do?” came out and I said I was trying to get published, I got the sneer and “That’s just your cover for being a housewife.” And yes, the sneer was obvious. And I always wondered “It’s not true, but if that were, why would it be looked down upon?”
In the same way I’ve seen women being sneered at for wanting to be nurses, or for taking up other, traditional female pursuits.
It seems to be worth it as a woman you have to pretend to be a male.
The push is on constantly. You’re sneered at for writing or reading romance, because it’s a thing women do. (Yes, men do it too, but the crossover on that is minuscule.) And now a lot of movies, including those billed as romantic comedy are consciously eliminating the Happily Ever After. Instead the woman decides to go off and have a career, or “learn to love myself.”
And I come back again to: Why can’t women be women? Why is it that performing the most basic and distinctive function of being female is considered being a second class citizen? Why are we all supposed to act like men?
(And I ask this as a tomboy. There’s nothing admirable in that. It’s just who I am. And yet, it gets me more praise than I ever get for having two kids and raising them.)
To clarify, no, I don’t think women who are infertile or simply never got married and had kids (or have no wish to) are “lesser women.” These things happen. Heck, it almost happened to me.
I’m just saying that evolution has formed us to have kids. It’s what our bodies were designed for. To an extent it’s what our minds were selected for, too. It gives us some superpowers, like the ability to multitask, or to think in deep-connection ways. (We connect disparate things and figure out their relationships more than guys do. Men are more linear thinkers. Women had to deal with social links in the tribe, (so someone would watch their kids) and they had to deal with co-relations between foraged edibles, and– We just tend to think in a lot more interconnected ways.) We also tend to be more interested in people, and better at language.
Yes, some of us still want to be engineers. The only point of “diversity” that works, we do bring something new to “engineering” because of the way we think. (And we still should pass the basic abilities of male engineers.) And some of us are more damaged on figuring out the social. It’s all a spectrum. But most women gravitate towards social/connected/indoor/safe professions. Why would we force them to be otherwise? Allow them, sure. Force them? No.
In the same way, most women truly, really, do not want to sleep around as much as men. Yeah, okay, some do. But it’s not biologically inherent in us. We are not sperm delivery systems on legs.
Arguably civilization came about because women didn’t want to put out all the time and for everyone. If Ogg wanted Morga to put out, he had to make sure he was a good hunter, and could make the spears to make himself so. And no sleeping around with everyone, all the time, because he had to provide for Morga and their kids. In return, he had the assurance that Morga also wasn’t sleeping around, and their kids were THEIRS.
If women sleep around as much as men, the entire world becomes a giant gay-bathhouse. And kids are an inconvenience, or a “punishment.” Stop me when this sounds familiar.
There are legitimate reasons to allow abortion — mostly because you pays down your dust, you takes your winnings, and that one is its own punishment — though no legitimate reason to allow it past viability that I can think of. (There is no legitimate reason to allow Roe v. Wade to stand, because it was horrendous law, but that’s something else.)
But keeping women from being “second class citizens” is not one of those. Not in an age with a plethora of safe and effective contraceptives. Sure, those fail. But abortions fail too. (Waves in “otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”) What’s more, abortions are major medical interventions, against a process that your body is designed to do, which means they’re dangerous as heck, and have a strong chance of complications. And we’re not telling kids that.
In fact the push for abortion on demand whenever, and the cultural imperative of considering children and impairment and being pregnant/giving birth a terrible thing is making women second class citizens. It’s saying “If you actually get pregnant, it’s destroying your goals of being a perfect male who happens not to have a penis. And you should abort it, so you can be free to be your true self. Which is of course male.”
THAT is appalling.
And I don’t need to be a biologist to tell you it ends badly.