“Being oppressed is the absence of choices.”
Reproductive rights are social constructs. There are obviously some elements of reproduction that are purely biological, but much surrounding sex, pregnancy, birth and child-rearing, including any concept of anyone’s “rights,” is all socially constructed. Feminists talk a lot about the reproductive rights of women, but they only tell the part of the story that is convenient to them. They deliberately erase or reframe the experiences of men to uphold massive female privilege in this sphere.
The fact is, the all powerful and oppressive “patriarchy” has granted women the means to control all aspects of reproduction and men themselves. If, as bell hooks says, oppression “is the absence of choices,” men are the oppressed class when it comes to reproductive rights.
To illustrate this privilege, let’s look at the concise feminist position on reproductive rights as handed down from on high by blogmistress Melissa McEwan at Shakesville. Her “Feminism 101” page is an example of how the whole world revolves around women and their oppression(s). Her paragraph on “Reproductive Justice” illustrates the problems 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 cult following that inevitably show up for everything Dear Leader writes. Melissa’s scornful, preachy tone for the “MRAs” pointing out legitimate issues is par for the course as she considers the matter beyond discussion. One of Melissa’s ground rules on her blog and in life is that questioning feminist doctrine is ipso facto illegitimate. The following is a critique you would never see in her comment section.
Before Sex, Men Are Held Responsible, Women Are Not
Men have plenty of “say” over reproductive decisions—but it all happens before the pregnancy.
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.
Melissa 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. But if the man does any of those same things, it’s domestic violence.
The feminist position is no different than the position of society, the dreaded “patriarchy.” Sex is something men and women do together, but only men are treated by feminism as adults who are responsible for their actions.
(Note to men: Never trust a woman you are sleeping with. Control the source of your condom, use it correctly and always secure the contents of the used one after sex. Also, makes sure your semen is disposed of after oral sex or masturbation. Some courts have ruled it is a “gift” otherwise, that women can do with as they please, with you being held responsible for their intentionally devious action. Remember that one of your”privileges” under the supposed “patriarchy” is that society will think you were “tricked,” not robbed, defrauded, injured or victimized in any way.)
Update: Melissa digs herself deeper on the issue of reproductive coercion here.
After Sex, Women Make Choices Related To Their Bodies. Men Must Accept.
Once a woman is pregnant, men’s legal “say” ends.
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.
Note, however, that a woman’s choice may force a man to monetarily and emotionally subsidize either a pregnancy or abortion he does not approve of. There seems to be an odd fairness in the abortion scenario, as it makes him share some of the socially constructed risk of a biological pregnancy she hasn’t approved of. The woman of course still carries all the biological, and most of the socially constructed risk.
However if she does opt for a pregnancy she wants, why would a man be forced to pay for that if he did not want to? How is it a different choice than if she suddenly had the opportunity to have the breast enlargement she always wanted, if it is just a “Her body, her choice” matter? Because that is what social construction and “patriarchal” tradition require–that men protect women (as much as possible) from the consequences of their own decisions, like they were children themselves. When men are forced to pay for something (more on that below), they use their bodies to earn the money. When a man is obligated to pay for an option he didn’t choose, even if it is just a moral obligation not a legal one, isn’t that coercion?
When feminists argue that men have no say, they are basically saying that women have the right to bodily autonomy and men do not–that women have the right to coerce men through their choices.
After Pregnancy Women Have Choices, Men Do Not.
They don’t have the right… because conferring those rights would allow them to exact control over another human’s body.
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 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.
And if a child has a “right” to be supported by two incomes, as I’ve seen some feminists argue, don’t they also have the right to two parents and the other advantages of a two-parent upbringing? If children have a right to two parental incomes, does that mean that all mothers must work and not have the option to stay home? Or do feminists think women are just entitled to be paid a salary while they stay at home should they decide to do so because they successfully used their uteruses? Or does this “right” only apply when women want to coerce support from men, either directly or through the government as intermediary?
Society calls the father who rebels against the double standard and opts out of active parenthood or child support 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. Feminists never mention the rights of the child if it is inconvenient.
If you are a woman, feminism, and increasingly the broader society, approves of whatever you do and protects you from the consequences of your decisions, like adults do for children.
Feminists Work To Perpetuate Female Privilege, Not “Equality”
Equality, remember? That’s what they keep telling us their movement is trying to achieve.
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 privacy is more important than a man’s autonomy and the right of both father and child to know the truth.
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 been primarily developed by men and 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? Why not acknowledge that more women than men practice reproductive coercion? Because it would destroy female privilege and control by giving men more options and holding women accountable for their actions. You know, like adults.
that men aren’t getting a “say” in reproductive rights …is a mendacious argument of epic proportions.
We have basically seen that feminists believe women have the right to coerce men and their bodies, enslaving their labor and emotions and stealing their genetic material to use as they see fit. They not only believe this, they actively promote it. So what does this say about feminism itself?
Feminists maintain that when women consent to sex they do not consent to pregnancy and parenthood. Women should not be “punished for sex.” But apparently, according to Melissa, men do consent to fatherhood when they have consensual sex. That is the clear implication of her assertion that “men’s legal ‘say’ ends” at the decision to have sex. Feminists are just fine with punishing men and ensuring they stay punished for a long time. “Hypocrisy” is too mild a word for this. The words that are the appropriate strength are ones I will not be using on this blog.
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 (that is to say almost all) 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. The only rational conclusion is that feminists and the women they advocate for are parasites on “patriarchy,” not exactly its enemies.
This whole issue of reproductive rights can be seen through the lens of the Damsel/WhiteKnight archetype. Men exist to protect and serve women. When women need help, men are socially obligated to respond based on their gender alone. But it doesn’t work the other way around. 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 of men being obligated to women has remained the same. Melissa and her fellow feminists are not engaged in some courageous modern moral and intellectual revolution as they imagine, they are merely defending women’s privilege–their entitlement to play the Damsel.
“A mendacious argument of epic proportions” is apparently in the eye of the beholder.