“Being oppressed is the absence of choices.”
Read Shakesville’s Feminism 101 page as an example of how the whole world revolves around women and their oppression(s). For every three or four nuggets of wisdom on the page, there is something that only makes sense when you are completely bought in, drinking the Kool-Aid. Melissa McEwan can make the rules/assumptions for her own blog, but fortunately she isn’t in a position to do that for the rest of society!
Here is the definitive feminist position on reproductive rights as handed down from on high by Melissa. It’s a great piece to illustrate the type of problem feminists have with double-standards, framing an issue objectively and their warped version of “equality.” It is pretty clear that Melissa feels that men have no reproductive rights, only responsibilities, and women have the right to do anything they want.
On Men’s Rights Activists and Reproductive Justice: Men’s rights activists complain that men aren’t getting a “say” in reproductive rights, which is a mendacious argument of epic proportions. Men have plenty of “say” over reproductive decisions—but it all happens before the pregnancy. They have “say” in choosing the women with whom they choose to have sex. They have “say” over whether they choose to discuss in depth with a partner what they would do in the case of an unintended pregnancy—and what their partners would do. They have “say” in determining what kind of sex they have with a partner. They have “say” over whether they put a condom on, if they choose to engage in PIV sex. Once a woman is pregnant, men’s legal “say” ends. They don’t have the right to demand abortion, and they don’t have the right to demand carrying the fetus to term, because conferring those rights would allow them to exact control over another human’s body, which is simply an untenable position. That’s why making wise decisions in the first place is key. And if men’s right activists don’t like that, they need to take it up with the Almighty, or the Intelligent Designer, or Mother Nature, or whatever, which in its infinite wisdom decided that only some bodies (generally female bodies, but not always) should have the ability to get pregnant.
Cue the “Oh Melissa you are so amazing” and the “That!” comments from her readers that inevitably show up for everything she writes. Let’s ignore Melissa’s scornful, preachy tone for the “MRAs” pointing out legitimate issues, as if she considers the matter beyond discussion and questioning feminist pronunciations as somehow illegitimate, and focus on her interpretation of the situation.
I’ll grant that once a woman is pregnant she alone can make the decision whether to carry out the pregnancy more out of a sense of pragmatism than any sense that feminist portrayals of the status of fetuses are on morally or biologically solid ground. This is the only aspect of the issue that is biological and the only piece we can blame on “the Almighty, or the Intelligent Designer, or Mother Nature.” Her body, her choice. Fine.
The rest of the dynamics around this issue are socially constructed and feminists like Melissa only tell the part of the story that is convenient to them to disguise massive female privilege. The fact is, the all powerful and oppressive “patriarchy” has granted women the means to control all aspects of reproduction (presumably because the men who allegedly run it are of inferior intelligence to women and can’t help just giving their power away). Feminists erase or reframe the experiences of men to uphold female privilege in this area. If, as bell hooks says, oppression “is the absence of choices,” men are the oppressed class when it comes to reproductive rights.
Before pregnancy, men and women have a “say” over all those things Melissa mentions, but are the sexes on equal footing? Feminism is about equality, no? Melissa’s framing puts the sole onus of any responsibility here on the man. But what are the woman’s obligations to inform a man honestly of her inclinations or to stand by any promises she makes at a later date? None. Reproductive coercion is made into a big deal by feminists who insist that it is domestic violence and consists mostly of men forcing women to become pregnant through coercive, violent or dishonest means. Unfortunately for feminist facts (and for men), men experience reproductive coercion more than women according to the CDC (NISVS Full Report PDF 4.2MB, page 48). 8.7% of men and 4.8% of women “have had an intimate partner who tried to get [them] pregnant when they did not want to or tried to stop them from using birth control.” Yes, feminists, lying about the pill, condom-piercing and sperm-jacking are real things that real women do to coerce men into being fathers.
Having sex and making babies aren’t things the man does to the woman–it’s something they do together to each other. The whole feminist construction of PIV “Penis In Vagina” is a trope to emphasize their theory that women are “victims” of penetration. Calling it “Vagina On Penis” is just as accurate. But that would acknowledge women’s agency in the sex act (and ability to rape men). This reminds me of that scene in The Big Lebwoski where Julianne Moore’s character announces that the exercises she is doing post-coitus are to increase the chances of conception. She goes into the act knowing she wants to conceive, but fails to inform her partner. Most people would see that as a form of reproductive coercion, making the act akin to a rape (or at least theft). In the movie it was a joke because a man was the victim, but when Julian Assange allegedly did not wear a condom, he was accused of rape (Melissa hates him for that). Melissa seems to think that women get to make all the rules and if the man doesn’t play by them or isn’t told they changed, or the woman cheats, that’s his problem.
Another “his problem” is the piece Melissa conveniently doesn’t talk about: what happens when the woman’s decision results in the birth of a child? What usually happens is that the man is obligated to pay child support for 18 years, if he is even informed of his fatherhood.
People have actually done the math and discovered that the obligation of a man by the women’s unilateral decision is actually much greater in terms of time (vs. nine months of 24/7 pregnancy) and health risks (comparing the man’s risk of death/injury on the job to the risk of pregnancy). It’s not just writing a check. A man can even be forced to pay child support to his rapist when he is statutorily raped (or enveloped without consent), to his abuser (in the case of reproductive coercion) and for children that aren’t even his once an initial order is in place or if married to the mother. Note to all men: get DNA, never rely on the woman’s word! And when men are in arrears on payment, they are put in jail even though debtor’s prisons are supposedly against the law. On those rare occasions when women are ordered to pay child support to the fathers, they are in arrears more often and they are jailed less often.
Women, on the other hand, have options to retroactively negate their parenthood. They can put the baby up for adoption or they can use Safe Harbor laws to drop it off at a hospital or fire station if they don’t want the responsibility of bringing up the life they brought into the world.
They can even usually do those things without informing the father. Men have no right to even be told their biological progeny exists. Silent partner investors in a business have the right to be informed about its status. Women have the sweat equity, but that should not entitle them to pretend their silent partners don’t exist or worse, convince an innocent man that he is the “investor.”
The main source of female privilege after a child is born is the socially constructed presumption that the mother “owns” the child–that the mother is a better parent and that fathers should just shut up and pay. Part of this privilege is the “toxic feminine” practice of using the child as a pawn. Of course, feminists change the subject deftly from “who has the right to control who” to “what about the child?” or they will say “blame the patriarchy/misogyny” (the go-to defense of anything) to deflect any criticism of women on the topic.
If she hasn’t enlisted the male’s support for carrying a pregnancy to term, the female should make her sovereign decision with the understanding she is on her own (no help from paternalistic “patriarchal” institutions like the government, either). A man at the very least should have the right to know he is a father. If a biological father is removed from a woman’s decision over a pregnancy, he should also be removed from any parental obligation if he chooses in any rational world. If the biological father is involved, he should have the same rights and responsibilities after birth as the mother, including presumption of custody. In no way should a man be responsible for putting a roof over the mother’s head–custodial mothers must pay their share as well. Child support should be limited to half the child’s share of the custodial parent’s household expenses plus anything child-specific, not automatically based on a man’s salary. If the results are cruel to the child in any way, blame the woman/agent who made all the decisions with her reproductive rights.
Does anyone else see the inconsistency of a woman making a unilateral decision (because a man can’t control a woman’s body–that would be “untenable”) that controls a man’s body and mind for a good portion of 18 years? According to Melissa, this glaring hypocrisy is not a problem. So society is set up to benefit men and oppress women? Right. There are at least a few major flaws in the theory, and they usually boil down to the reality that misandry has real impact on people, too, which upsets the whole gynocentric applecart.
Society calls the father who rebels against the double standard and opts out of active parenthood a “deadbeat” and will even imprison him. When feminists are allied with the government, laws and conventional wisdom (societal institutions) to reinforce men’s traditional role as providers for their children on behalf of women are they smashing the “patriarchy,” or part of it? Obviously feminists are hypocritically in lock-step with the “patriarchy” they supposedly want to dismantle, as they always are when it suits them and protects female privilege. Note that feminists think women who opt to not be parents through abortion or other means are strong and courageous, just like single moms. If you are a woman, feminism approves of whatever you do and protects you from the consequences of your decisions.
What’s more, feminists actively reinforce the status quo and oppose any efforts to give men any reproductive rights. They are against efforts to combat paternity fraud, when it is estimated that 1-30% of children (rate varies depending on economic class, but average 17%!) are supported by a man other than the father due to paternity fraud. Women rarely pay a price for this crime, and are allowed to lie to, enslave and abuse the purported father for years with impunity. Just this year feminists blocked a bill in Tennessee that would have required a paternity test before the father’s name is listed on the birth certificate. Think of the emotional pain endured by father and children when the biological father is misidentified. Evidently, a woman’s right to lie is more important.
Some feminists are also against the male contraceptive pill, which would reduce unwanted pregnancies to near zero, because men supposedly can’t be trusted to take it. Hello? Men have had to trust women forever and they have not proven trustworthy (I see some projection in this rationale). If you don’t trust the man, don’t sleep with him or take your own pill or make him use a condom too. The real problem for feminists is that it would reduce women’s control over reproduction and thus men, by reducing their ability to trap one into fatherhood and a relationship or child support.
Why shouldn’t technology, which has benefitted women’s role in reproduction significantly from the pill to safe abortions to anesthetized, safer delivery, be allowed to help men with DNA paternity testing of all children and a male pill? Because it would destroy female privilege by giving men more options and holding women accountable for their actions.
Feminists rebelled against the notion that woman should be “punished for sex” but they are just fine with punishing men and ensuring they stay punished. ”Hypocrisy” is too mild a word.
With power comes responsibility, unless you are a woman, is the glaring double-standard at the heart of feminist dogma. When it comes to reproductive rights, feminists believe women should have them all and men should have none. The perversity/pathology of gynocentric feminism is really that it is not about the equality of women, but the control of men.
Women get many choices at every stage of the game and men get few or none, while feminists work to maintain this status quo. This is the very definition of oppression. This is the very definition of misandry. The “patriarchy” is supposedly a system that privileges men and oppresses women, but here it oppresses men and privileges women while feminists fight to uphold it. Feminist theory has just shattered into little pieces.
This whole issue of reproductive “justice” can be seen through the lens of the Damsel/WhiteKnight archetype. Men exist to protect and serve women. At first, this was simple survival on the savannas of Africa when men brought food to and protected reproducing women. This was for the survival of the species, not out of any conscious intent to dominate. As society evolved to be more complex so have the gender roles and the rules, but the dynamic is the same. Melissa is not engaged in some courageous moral or intellectual undertaking, as she imagines, she is merely defending women’s entitlement to play the Damsel.
“A mendacious argument of epic proportions” is apparently in the eye of the beholder. And “Patriarchy Theory” is the most epic, insidious lie of all.
I would love to discuss all this with Melissa herself, but am afraid of running afoul of her many rules for communication in an “advanced feminist safe space.” At least she publishes them and is usually fair in enforcement! I’ll just keep reading…
tl;dr: The bottom line for feminists: Only women are entitled to reproductive rights. It’s clear to any thinking human that women have been privileged with the power to control reproduction, through biology, technology and the “patriarchy” (laws, playing the Damsel, etc.) they allegedly detest. Feminists only care about retaining that power. This makes their statements about “equality” and their denial of female privilege or power in the “patriarchy” lies. No more, no less. Lies.
UPDATE: After the writing this I was actually banned from commenting at Shakesville rightfully, according to their rules designed to silence dissent. No, I didn’t use bad language, but apparently I was disrespectful questioning the intent of a poster who made factual erroneous statements and pointing out how women are currently advantaged by the health care insurance system, regardless of whether it pays for “the pill” for birth control with no co-pay.