Lesbian mothers and ‘traditional’ families


5:26 pm - May 24th 2008

by Laurie Penny    


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Medical technology is an awesome thing. It can save lives, cure terrible diseases, rebuild bodies. It can prolong and improve the lives of the chronically ill and disabled beyond the wildest dreams of sufferers even fifty years ago. It can reattach limbs, restore sight, cure depression, return the manic to health and sanity.

But can it be used to give women control over whether and when they have children? Only if male doctors and MPs say so.

Whoever your parents are, they’re going to fuck you up to some extent. I make no apologies for assuming that gay women and single women are just as likely to make good parents as anyone else, if not more so, as children conceived via the arduous process of IVF are slightly more likely to be wanted and treasured infants. For the purposes of this post we shall assume that one’s sexual orientation has no bearing on one’s likelihood of raising an unfucked-up child, nor on one’s right to attempt to do so. With that one out the way, let’s tuck in to a tasty breakfast of radical feminism with a gin chaser.

Throughout the wholesale technological reworking of the cultural landscape in the 20th and 21st centuries, laws remained in place to prevent new medical technologies and increased understanding liberating women’s reproductive choices. Even now, a woman must gain the permission of two doctors and undergo stringent ‘checks’ before she can access safe medical abortion. Until recently, women seeking IVF needed to declare a father and use a named man’s sperm despite the existence of plausible alternatives. But this week, in an impressive feat of anti-Luddism, MPs voted to allow single female parents and lesbian couples the right to reproductive self-determination: the right to have children, if they choose, without mandatory male interference.

Fathers are no longer needed!‘ screamed the headlines as the HFE Bill passed through the commons on Tuesday. Well, we could have told you that. Millions of us grew up without fathers at home or without fathers at all.

Millions more of us have loving and productive relationships with our fathers, but it is categorically not the case that any father at all is better than no father. The work of pregnancy, labour and the majority of childrearing still falls upon women, and it is inhumane to insist that that work be anything other than a sphere of self-determination. Men do not go through the physical trauma of conception, pregnancy and labour; men can have no right, as such, to insist upon any control over the process. It might be hard for individual men to swallow, but until medical technology enables them to conceive, incubate and bear children themselves, fatherhood will remain a privilege to be earned, rather than a right to be insisted on.

Reproductive rights campaigning goes far deeper than individual instances of choice. It’s a powerful cultural fascination, an issue that is woven into the very fabric of the stories that make us modern. From the rape of the Sabine women to Europa, ancient myth and precedent is obsessed by violent male control of feminine reproductive potential. From Brave New World to 1984 to the Culture, fables and fictions of the future are replete with paranoid speculation over the reorganisation of reproductive control.

The power to continue – or not to continue – the human race is quite simply the biggest social loaded gun on the planet. Since the dawn of patriarchy, male control over reproductive rights has been essential to the furtherance of patriarchal power, just as the ancient matriarchies ended when men’s involvement in human reproduction was realised.

This is why the rights of women to have children without ‘declaring the father’, to terminate pregnancy and to raise children alone, are such emotive and important legal sticking points. Women’s right to decide whether and when and how they have children is the ultimate threat to the rule of men, the ultimate insult to the divine supremacy of the father, and this week’s Commons vote is a milestone in the erosion of political patriarchy whose significance we will be debating for years to come.

The assumption of the Tories is that the vacuous notion of the ‘traditional family’ ever had any relevance. The organisation of human love has little to do with how children are raised and everything to do with the maintenance of the bourgeois state – excuse me for coughing communism onto this keyboard, I’ve got this little marxist tickle that just won’t quit.

The Embryology Bill marks a turning point in the history of patriarchy, and all of us -men and women and transpeople, feminists and libertarians and trade unionists – can congratulate ourselves on beating back the tide of fundamentalist reactionism at extremely short notice. But, since this is a fight we’re going to be called to again and again, we will have to spend the meantime coming to terms with the radical systemic social change that must be the end-point of our ideology.

The rights of women to biological self-determination, the rights of mothers to bear or not to bear children without mandatory male interference, must remain fixed points on the agenda of the British left. Men have a right to stand alongside women, a right to care for their children, a right to take up the responsibilities of fatherhood once that privilege has been granted them. Fathers have their place. But that place is no longer at the head of the table.

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About the author
Laurie Penny is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a journalist, blogger and feminist activist. She is Features Assistant at the Morning Star, and blogs at Penny Red and for Red Pepper magazine.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Campaigns ,Coalition For Choice ,Equality ,Feminism ,Westminster

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Reader comments


Deary me, maybe I’ll read this again later but the mere fact you go with the falacy of… “But can it be used to give women control over whether and when they have children? Only if male doctors and MPs say so.”

…just makes me want to ignore you. Feminists need to learn to stop being such generalising fools if they want people to read their messages, especially generalising completely falsely.

Let me also ask, do you think it is a problem that MPs dictate other areas of law? such as whether the person walking down the street has the control over whether or not they break in to your house and murder you?

‘Let me also ask, do you think it is a problem that MPs dictate other areas of law? such as whether the person walking down the street has the control over whether or not they break in to your house and murder you?’

That suggests that you find the notion of female reproductive self-determination criminal!

And in what respect is that generalisation false and foolish?

Hear hear! Great article Laurie.

Lee – “Let me also ask, do you think it is a problem that MPs dictate other areas of law? such as whether the person walking down the street has the control over whether or not they break in to your house and murder you?”

When MPs dictate other areas of law those decisions do not impact solely on one gender. What’s wrong here is that a predominantly male institution gets to decide on an issue that impacts only on women. Why the hell should women’s reproductive rights be decided by men?

Let’s apply the logic of this argument to itself.

Hmm, so mens reproductive rights are now to be decided by women, donorship to sperm banks should be made compulsory and sexual intercourse must be restricted to non-reproductive purposes only.

All the shouting and self-congratulation results in is the celebration of a reversal of the power relationships rather than any equalisation. It all sounds rather reactionary to me.

Sorry, but the point of the fact of sexual reproduction is that it is co-determinant and the argument of all feminism simply neglects the facts that in large numbers of cases complicity is intrinsic to submission: self-determination in areas of sexual relations is called either rape or celibacy.

Saying that MPs dictate is to be disingenuous to the representative state and ignore the role of participation. Were more women to participate in the candidate selection process more women would sit in parliament, so to underplay the failure of women to push themselves forward you aid the negative represenation of the state which discourages women and are therefore promoting the continued subjection of women to the projection of your own negative bias. Ultimately you are arguing from an anti-democratic stance.

I could be bothered more to counter this adolescent marxist claptrap, but eventually you’ll discover for yourself in time how you are promoting measures which will prove counterproductive.

A little bit of realism and restraint would find you many more allies.

“That suggests that you find the notion of female reproductive self-determination criminal!”

Let me turn this on its head, you seem to assume that the womans choice about what happens to a child is the only opinion that matters full stop. Now while in principle I generally would agreew with you, and let me make it clear I am totally “pro-choice”, where does the woman’s partner come in to it, would he not feel perhaps a grave injustice is done (for example) if his child is aborted without his wishes? As I’m aware currently this view is not taken in to account at all legally.

My point however, on this murky issue, is that we all disagree with laws. This one “discriminates” against women that favour abortions, another “discriminates” against those that like to use sprinklers in their garden rather than watering cans while another will “discriminate” against those that wish to drink alcohol where they choose over the legal consumption limit. I don’t deny that all of these are prejudices of sorts, nor that they are unfair…but how many laws do you live with that have been judged on solely by MP’s while not this one? Do you sit there feeling triumphant today that stem cell research has been deemed ok by MPs and that it is illegal to drive high carbon emitting vehicles in London without paying a tax, while damning that only MPs decide the law on your abortion rights? Please forgive me if it is your belief that MPs should have no power in deciding law whatsoever, but if you agree with the way democracy works on other issues then you seriously need to get real and off that high horse of yours.

“Why the hell should women’s reproductive rights be decided by men?”

What is wrong here is you’re assigning gender roles to an issue that is petently (as recently illustrated) false. A “male” parliament has just said that women should not be denied the right to abort up to 24 weeks. I repeat what i’ve said above to Penny, you either agree with the democracy we have or you don’t. You cannot pick and choose when it is and isn’t working based on your gender or your specific circumstance, otherwise just like you obviously wish only women (and let us note here the two figures that were predominantly anti-abortion were WOMEN and not men) would decide on women’s issues, we’d have paedophiles only dictating what happens to paedophiles.

All of this kind of thinking, and the various avenues that come off or towards such thinking, are intrinsically wrong. It’s been argued elsewhere and I also believe on here…the way to fight arguments is through objective and quantifiable reasoning and NOT through prescribed belief. Your arguments based on genders in power go against this as it assumes men will generally vote against women’s rights, something that is absolutely and completely not the case.

I just find your attitude on this, as well as those opening paragraphs by Penny highly insulting. As someone that really does traditionally support what you are saying I feel let down and insulted by such simplistic base arguments that offer nothing to the ongoing debate. Just go and actually make some real arguments that couldn’t be made by angry teenagers across the world.

Were more women to participate in the candidate selection process more women would sit in parliament, so to underplay the failure of women to push themselves forward you aid the negative represenation of the state which discourages women and are therefore promoting the continued subjection of women to the projection of your own negative bias. Ultimately you are arguing from an anti-democratic stance.

Thomas, I fear your response is too simplistic.

There are reasons why women are under-represented in parliament. Some are down to discrimination, some due to the work culture and some due to women not participating enough. While I agree that women should represent themselves more fully in parliament, this article isn’t arguing that Westminster should be replaced. Its arguing that a male-dominated parliament doesn’t understand women’s rights enough. The two are separate arguments.

Lee, similarly you’re making bad arguments:
Please forgive me if it is your belief that MPs should have no power in deciding law whatsoever, but if you agree with the way democracy works on other issues then you seriously need to get real and off that high horse of yours.

Is your point then that we should agree to and accept any law that parliament passes? Of course we are all happy with some laws and unhappy with others. Because I accept the Race Relations Act, does that mean I should also accept the loophole that allows non-doms to avoid tax?

It seems to me more that both of you are being unncecessarily defensive over this article and thus coming out with bad arguments in response.

The bit of the article I have a quibble with is this:

The assumption of the Tories is that the vacuous notion of the ‘traditional family’ ever had any relevance. The organisation of human love has little to do with how children are raised and everything to do with the maintenance of the bourgeois state – excuse me for coughing communism onto this keyboard, I’ve got this little marxist tickle that just won’t quit.

Mmm… I managed to get rid of my communist itch quite a few years ago 🙂
I don’t necessarily buy this. The point that many are making is that the death of the ‘traditional’ (aka nuclear, which itself is only about 50 years old) family leads to more unstable families, and thus more societal breakdown.

But look at Scandinavia – where the nuclear family has come apart more than most places in Europe – family breakdown isn’t an issue. Meanwhile America still buys the Christian nuclear family line more than us, but it has way more crime. Does the evidence support the view that non-traditional families lead to less-adjusted offspring?

7. Woobegone

Parliament is one thing, but to say that “But can it be used to give women control over whether and when they have children? Only if male doctors and MPs say so” is a bit puzzling since it is a long time since medicine was a male professsion; there are now significantly more female UK medical graduates than male ones, and there was actually a debate piece in the British Medical Journal a while back over whether we need more male doctors to even things out!

But I’m nitpicking here; what I really take issue with is the idea that if a man, or a group mostly composed of men (such as Parliament), decides that women can’t do something, this is somehow a different situation to if a woman or a female group made the same decision.

If Parliament makes some kind of overly restrictive anti-choice law, then that’s authoritarian and should be denounced as such. But in such a case it’s the law which is bad, not the fact that it was mostly made by men. It would be equally bad if it were made by women (and there are many many pro-life women, like our friend Nadine). Likewise if two male doctors were to decide that a woman couldn’t have an abortion, this would be no worse than if two female doctors did so; indeed this is not even a meaningful distinction. Two doctors made the decision, the gender is irrelevant (assuming that the doctors were doing their job.)

There is no male conspiracy to suppress women’s rights; there is a movement of people with misguided and ignorant beliefs trying to do that, perhaps, but these beliefs are unisex, and the motivation of the vast majority of pro-lifers is not that they wish to oppress anyone but that they genuinely believe that they are doing the right thing.

Sunny, please read the passage you quoted again where you’ll find I wasn’t trying to examine the reasons for female underrepresentation in parliament, but to use that as an example of Laurie’s polemicism – some way from which to construct coalitions!

Whatever your opinion on the question of balanced representation there is no question of the legitimacy of the mandate of Parliament to decide for both genders on issues of the day: Parliament is still unchallenged as the ultimate forum of debate and the place where decisions of relevancy are made.

In fact I was conjoining my example with my conclusion to demonstrate how the logic of Laurie’s marxist diatribe goes against reformist tendencies.

I’m afraid that it is possible to read this article in the context of the personal story of it’s author and recognise the attempt to absolve herself of the anger, guilt and frustration which is expressed powerfully.

Is revolutionary theory ever successful though? From the plain evidence here it appears she has only reinforced those feelings by transferring them from herself onto her readership: in turning the wheel she has turned the knife.

It is useful to ask if the objector is willing to deny male cancer patients the opportunity to freeze their sperm, knowing that if they die their partners may still be able to have a child by them, e.g. Diane Blood, Lisa Roberts . Since the 1990 Act it has been the case that the requirement for use of sperm is to show explicit consent for its use, not that the sperm donor has to be alive and present for the longer-term purposes of fatherhood. A dead father is simply not around. Far from being a new departure, the position since the Diane Blood case made this facet explicit, is that the clinic considers the child’s need for a father, and then having considered it, notices that it is not regarded as necessary. Yet there is no difference in practice between the children of a widow or a single woman in this respect.

The change in reproductive technology serves men here; it allows a man who would normally not be able to contribute to conception to pass his genes on. Nature can and does kill men while their wives, girlfriends and one-night stands are pregnant, but up till now death was an absolute bar to conception.

It’s important to understand a legal mechanism here, because it affects how this works for the man. He signs the sperm over to his partner, whose property it then becomes. The partner (I’ll assume she is female for this iteration) is then at liberty to begin IVF in any clinic which will accept her, providing she can arrange to keep the sperm frozen. Diane Blood had to go to Belgium, Lisa Roberts found that only two clinics in the UK wanted to try treatment, and even they said she stood no more than a 20% chance of a live birth.

I’m surprised that sperm-freezing services have not been marketed as an insurance policy for more men. Let’s face it, there are numberless ways to die and to have fathered children is some small comfort. The man deposits his sperm in trust (why not – he can put his wealth in a trust, why not his sperm?) and the trustee decideds who can use it, if a suitable applicant steps forward. It is only a slight legal shift from the present arrangement whereby a clinic uses on-going permission from anonymous donors, except, of course, we don’t have anonymous donors here now, and that has disrupted the, er, flow of donors.

This gives us a way to get round the unwillingness of donors to be named, by offering men who would otherwise might be unable to father children because they are dead a chance to do so. This means that resultant children would be able to know about their biological father and his family without it impinging greatly on their upbringing. The ‘price’ for this is that some single and lesbian women might be accepted as recipients , but this would be a matter of private negotiation and not one for the public moralists. If the grieving grandparents are happy with the choice then who am I to go telling them they can’t have grandchildren? Conversely, if the grandparents (if that is who the trustees are) don’t want a lesbian couple, that’s it – it is a private matter and cannot be grounds for a discrimination case. The judgment of the trustee as nominated by the donor is what matters, not MPs, priests, the recipients or even my good self, wise as I am.

The real problem here is that the public moralists are asserting a control over the way consenting adult men may wish to use their sperm because they are asserting some element of control over the clinic, whether or not it is being paid for privately. Who are the public to tell a man who is perfectly happy not to know the partner that he can’t do that unless they approve of who steps forward? They should be told firmly that they can specify what they do with their own sperm, but not any body else’s. If they don’t want to have children by single women or lesbian couples…then don’t have sex with either of those.

Like abortion, it represents an area of private law which is presented as being public law, as if the public automatically had an interest which has to be protected. There is the lazy elision of a responsibility towards any child when it is born, with a much nastier assertion of property rights in it before it is born – including whether it must be born or cannot be created.

It’s about time we stopped telling consenting adults of any variety what they can and can’t do with their own genitals. Moreover, if somebody doen’t want to be told what they can do, they should stop telling other folk how to live. It’s none of their business. It’s none of my business. Having said that, I personally don’t have any trouble with the idea that a man’s sperm dies with him – but I don’t want to be the one telling his grieving widow that. Let the public moralists do that dirty job if they are so keen on stopping single women having children.

“They should be told firmly that they can specify what they do with their own sperm, but not any body else’s. If they don’t want to have children by single women or lesbian couples…then don’t have sex with either of those.

Like abortion, it represents an area of private law which is presented as being public law, as if the public automatically had an interest which has to be protected. There is the lazy elision of a responsibility towards any child when it is born, with a much nastier assertion of property rights in it before it is born – including whether it must be born or cannot be created.

It’s about time we stopped telling consenting adults of any variety what they can and can’t do with their own genitals. Moreover, if somebody doen’t want to be told what they can do, they should stop telling other folk how to live. It’s none of their business. It’s none of my business.”

* applause and whistling *

Leaving aside the spurious religious arguments about ‘souls’, I would like to know whether the author of this article and other feminist posters consider that, once conception has occurred, the foetus has any rights, if so what these are, and if not why not?

@ anticant: my personal view is that the foetus, up until becoming an independent human being, is a part of the mother’s body, and therefore has as many rights as her thumb, or her kneecap. It is sad if a woman wants to chop off her thumb, or to kneecap herself, and I don’t think anyone would find it a pleasant experience, but I’d never try to stop a person from doing so if they had made a considered and careful decision to do so. “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.” and all that.

I have views on when the moment when a foetus becomes an independent human being is (I lean towards 26 weeks, for the same reasons as Unity), and have respect for others who might argue a different moment than I, but am quite convinced that my opinion is correct 😉

I won’t argue what rights are attributable pre-birth, but I definitely think there are some and they can progressively be attributed at the various stages of fertilization, implantation, independence/viability and birth/survival.

Then the same process of responsibilities accrues during life.

The problem with Mill’s principle is at what stage an individual gains full membership and privileges.

Are you sure you don’t want to slice it up further, thomas? You missed out the blastocyst phase…

I don’t think you can ever /partially/ acquire the right to life. You either have a right to live, or you don’t. Do you want to quantify which rights you think apply at which stages, or are you just vacillating?

I’m trying to suggest you get further by looking at the question from the starting point that rights are the product of civilisation, not the cause of it – they are secondary to the fact.

As beings grow so they develop abilities. It is the abilities which confer rights as they would be irrelevant without the ability to exercise them.

Otherwise at the other end of the spectrum there is potential conflict with the right to die and the question of negative rights.

The problem with that view is that any view which permits of the gradation of rights depending upon the ability to exercise them also permits that individuals even of an age with each other are not necessarily equally capable of exercising those rights. It also does not get around the entirely subjective view as to at what age all, most, many, some or a few people are physically and mentally capable of exercising any given right.

Yes, but you’re not specifying which rights you are talking about. The right to life is A right. Which others are you including?

Where this situation follows on from the HFE debates, the arguments of the anti-abortion and pro-abortion lobbies correlate to the right to life and right to quality of life (ie quantative and qualitative positions), respectively.

The problem of the debates was that a decision was reached by compromising both sides, rather than reconciling them. In the end the conflict was put to bed with nobody fully satisfied, which means it will rise again in the future and the whole ugly rigmarole will be repeated, creating threats and uncertainty for all. I’d rather avoid that scenario, or at least be prepared for it.

Thomas –
‘I’m afraid that it is possible to read this article in the context of the personal story of it’s author and recognise the attempt to absolve herself of the anger, guilt and frustration which is expressed powerfully.’

What’s that supposed to signify? I’m fascinated to know what elements of ‘personal story’ you’ve identified here. As far as I’m concerned, this is a much wider and more abstract issue.

Oh, I dunno, Laurie, maybe it’s something about the unequal attitude towards men that suggests a reactionary stance to some personally experienced event…

It sounds like a nasty phrase when quoted back to me, but I was really interested in how it seems to have created a limitation on your imaginative capabilities. Basically the article fails to address any concern on the opposite side of the equation – that of gay men.

Not that I’m suggesting the simple schoolground answer that gay men and lesbian women ought to get it on, but that there is an equal yearning for parenthood on both sides of the gay community.

With a shared input into the problem I know anecdotally of several homosexual couples who’ve provided communal assistance for mutual benefit – why not simply expand the principle?

The options are endless and the problem is easily resolved by an adjustment of attitude.

21. douglas clark

Just a couple of minor points to throw into the mix. Not all GPs are men. It is also pretty clear, given the current incidence of abortion that GPs, both male and female appear to have missed their essential role in the ‘culture wars’. Perhaps they already agree with much of what you have to say here. Equally, most MPs are men. Perhaps, they too have failed to buy into the patriarchal / matriarchal dichotomy that you are alluding to.

So, a male dominated House backed up by a male dominated profession – though see below – actually stood up for the rights of women against a cluster of reactionary motions. The main advocate of which was, err, a woman?

And, btw circa 40% of GPs in England are women. See here:

https://www.rcgp.org.uk/pdf/ISS_INFO_01_JUL06.pdf

It is also worth pointing out that around one in eight single parent families are headed by a man. Now, that is a forgotten minority.

I am actually pretty pleased, no, amazed would be a better word, that sense prevailed, and I share your concerns about this being an issue, like the death penalty, that some folk will represent to the House of Commons as often as they possibly can.

The fight isn’t over, but it would be perhaps more productive (hah!) to see it as a fight for human rights rather than gender politics. Which, as it happens, is what I think it is.

Apart from that I subscribe largely to what V Samuel said at 9.

“Is your point then that we should agree to and accept any law that parliament passes? Of course we are all happy with some laws and unhappy with others. Because I accept the Race Relations Act, does that mean I should also accept the loophole that allows non-doms to avoid tax?”

My point is that to act as if a law is passed because of anything other than the imbalance in the house of objective fact vs personal opinion on EVERY issue is to act under a fallacy. I’m sure there are a group of people out there that rather than complaining about male dominated parliaments and male dominated professions trying to take control away from them, are now (after the result) complaining about immoral parliaments and professions denying the rights of unborn children. There is always another side of the coin in these sort of laws, and while we of course would all accept laws that say you cannot murder someone when it comes down to much more personal issues one side of the debate is always going to feel jilted.

Does that mean they have any weight whatsoever when they gripe and moan about the “imbalance” they feel? Perhaps, but the other side is congratulating it…the key is to ensure that the parliament we have is representative of the views proportionally in line with the country so that at least no-one can complain its unfair…much less of all when the people they are claiming are out to get them (those dastardly males wanting women to stay pregnant all the time) are actually the ones that come to their aid!

As I’ve made it clear I believe strongly in liberty, and I believe ultimately that the way our country works in being able to take away those liberties is tragic…but I don’t sit here and act so naively as to assume that when such stuff happens it is all down to some massive gender supremacy plot…it belittles and sullies the debate because it has no quantifiable basis in fact. What do you suggest, Sunny, that we do? Have a supreme group of people that we feel is right (rather than perhaps another significant proportion might feel is right) on subjects that dictate what laws can and cannot be passed?

I had this same argument with someone about a recent NUS disaffiliation debate (passed it by on Facebook) where they felt that the NUS was failing in their duty because they no longer intend to fight for free education, only for the cap not to be raised. I just don’t understand people that stamp their feet every time democratic decisions don’t go their way as if their view is the ultimate view and that any deviation from that opinion is some devastating affront to the human race. I hate it when extreme porn is banned through completely baseless accusations of its causation on violent crime, and I hate it that kids are being victimised up and down the country by the authorities without suitable and sustainable infrastructure investment…but I also accept that the alternative to this decision making process is not palatable.

The system could be made better, don’t get me wrong, fairer certainly…but in this case I feel the OP has lashed out at the stereotypical “enemy” for her rather than at any point really thinking through the realities of the situation. If that isn’t the case then I would simply say that her writing style needs to change so that she doesn’t come off sounding like she’s only got arguments at the level such as a petulant child. I repeat for clarity, I agree with almost every facet of the argument and campaign LC has taken part in here, but feel completely disenfranchised by the type of language those like Laurie use as it is largely baseless.

23. anticant

Thanks for your response, Jennie. Having re-read Laurie’s original post and the comments, I think there are a few things missing here. I write as a lifelong public campaigner since the 1950s for gay rights, and a strong supporter of the 1967 Abortion Act designed as it was to end the scandal of illegal abortions – not to spawn a huge abortion industry. I believe in freedom of choice in personal lifestyles and consenting sexual relationships, but freedom to choose involves responsible choice-making and consideration of the rights of others. Laurie says fatherhood is a privilege to be earned, rather than a right to be insisted on. Surely motherhood is too? Do not the responsibilities of parents of either sex to their unborn child begin with the act of conception? If this is voluntary, their responsibility to make choices in the best interests of the potential human being they have jointly created is absolute. If the conception in unintended, or unwanted, they still have to recognise that a potential human being is involved, and not automatically assume that abortion is in its best interests just because the mother doesn’t want it. Jennie says that up until becoming an independent human being [which she sets at 26 weeks] the foetus is a part of the mother’s body, and therefore has no more rights than her thumb or her kneecap. I don’t accept the analogy, because her thumb or her kneecap don’t have the potential to become a human baby. Nor do I agree that a foetus of 26 weeks is capable of existing as an independent human being – any more than a baby born at full term is an independent human being for the first few years of its life. The whole thing boils down to irresponsibility. It is irresponsible to conceive an unwanted child without taking due precautions to prevent that happening; it is much more irresponsible to use abortion as a last-resort contraceptive. And extremely callous too.

Incidentally, I agree with Thomas. There are gay men whose desire for fatherhood can be satisfied by providing sperm for lesbian couples. And I have known gay men who are parenting the child of one of them by a previous [heterosexual] marriage, and doing it very well. This topic is far too important to be hijacked as a weapon in the stale old battle of the sexes. Some rethinking of the moral issues involved is in order here, and everyone is entitled to have their say – not just radical feminists.

Leaving aside the spurious religious arguments about ’souls’, I would like to know whether the author of this article and other feminist posters consider that, once conception has occurred, the foetus has any rights, if so what these are, and if not why not?

anticant – in my view, none, until the foetus is born. Until then I see the foetus as part of a woman’s body and therefore her property until its born.

thomas you say:

Parliament is still unchallenged as the ultimate forum of debate and the place where decisions of relevancy are made.

and Leee Griffin you say:

As I’ve made it clear I believe strongly in liberty, and I believe ultimately that the way our country works in being able to take away those liberties is tragic…but I don’t sit here and act so naively as to assume that when such stuff happens it is all down to some massive gender supremacy plot…

I think this is worth addressing because there is historical context that Laurie assumes and others who don’t follow gender politics closely may not.

The law, for a long time, has been quite patronising towards women when it comes to the issue of child-bearing and abortion. For example, the legislation requiring that women get two signatures and be ‘counselled’ also assumes, in many ways, that women are too emotional and unstable and incapable of making rational decisions, and therefore need secondary advice before they’re allowed to make such a big decision.

Hence, a lot of feminist thinking on abortion laws comes from the view that a male-dominated parliament enaacted sexist laws ages ago and some of them persist because parliament remains male dominated.

Here’s another example from Michael Tomasky’s recent article on CIF:

So the Senate blocked. That’s what it did. The House tried to pass civil rights legislation, and did, a few times throughout the 1950s. The legislation would go to the Senate and die. The Senate finally agreed to a civil rights bill in 1957, a very weak version of a bill the House passed but had to water down to make it through the Senate. The year before, 19 southern senators had signed the infamous Southern Manifesto, protesting the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision that ordered desegregation of the schools. The court, the manifesto said, was “destroying the amicable relations between the white and Negro races” that obtained in the south. I’m not making that up. That was the US Senate.

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/michael_tomasky/2008/05/kennedy_the_survivor.html

Its not necessarily true that Laurie is challenging the viability of Parliament itself. But she is part of a long tradition of progressives who challenge its thinking on the grounds that parliamentarians are not only behind public opinion, but unrepresentative of the population they seek to serve and therefore make bad decisions. The US Senate was a good example.

the BBC is another example. We accept the need for an independent, publically funded broadcaster, but should we not criticise it when middle-class white commissioners ignore the working classes and patronise them?

‘Oh, I dunno, Laurie, maybe it’s something about the unequal attitude towards men that suggests a reactionary stance to some personally experienced event… I was really interested in how it seems to have created a limitation on your imaginative capabilities. ‘

I can’t quite tell you how stunned I am by this. In point of fact, you’re completely wrong – I have no problem trusting men, I have a wonderful boyfriend, live with men and most of my best friends are men. I’m also a member of several male-positive feminist groups. If you read some of the writing on men’s rights and gender egalitarianism on my blog, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

But say if I had had ‘bad experiences in the past’ – if I’d been raped, or abused, or battered, or bullied, or sexually harassed by men, as so many women have more than the day-to-day low level social prejudice – how would that invalidate my argument? The fact is that women who have suffered at the hands of men do not represent a tiny minority of female citizens. They are a significant chunk of society and their voice needs to be heard – and not dismissed because of bias.

I’m shocked that you think that anger of this sort invalidates feminist argument. We’re not, actually, all hysterical wenches who can’t be angry *and rational and objective at the same time*. I think we have a right, as women, to own our anger and have our anger listened to rather than dismissed.

‘Basically the article fails to address any concern on the opposite side of the equation – that of gay men. ‘

Yes, but that’s because the article wasn’t about gay men. It was about women, gay and straight and single, and how society dictates our personal choices. I have no problem with the idea of gay men adopting children, or conceiving children with women outside the parental relationship – that doesn’t make the men any less the child’s parents. However, that does not mean that gay men have a right to have children, or to control what any woman does with her body. As with all men, fatherhood needs to be earned by demonstrating one’s suitability as a parent, putting time into the child’s development and assisting the mother (or any other parental figure) in bringing up the child. Mere biological parenthood does not give one a right over the child, nor over the process of its conception and birth. When it’s part of the mother’s body, it’s hers to decide what happens to the child. When it’s no longer part of the mothers body, a child is its own creature – parents have a duty of responsibility to care for the creature they’ve brought into the world, but a child isn’t an item of property people can have ‘rights’ over. Again, rule-of-the-father thinking…

It’s not the viability but the validity of the institutions that Laurie challenges, which is acceptable until you recognise they are open institutions, and responsive to influence. The difference being that Parliament tends to be slow to respond and insensitive, while the Beeb tends to be hypersensitive and over-responsive.

In keeping with her politics Laurie reacts stunned @26 against the perception of her projected slight turned against her rather than the actual content. Yet I do not question the validity of feminist critique, I only try to point out that it offers half of the argument at maximum.

It seems I’ve heard the excuse a thousand times before too – “I can’t be prejudiced against group X, as some of my closest acquaintances belong to said group”.

It’s also a cheap attempt at victimology to complain such a description amounts to description of hysteria.

Going further on, society doesn’t dictate choices, as we are complicit in creating the parameters of our possible choices and prejudice our future choices by our own behaviour and actions: we can’t undo events and wish away the causes of regret, we can only try to prevent restrictions on our level and type of choice to the extent we can control the situation or ensure we aren’t in a place where we might face the dangers we wish to avoid. So blaming society when we are active participants in its’ construction it is merely to admit our own guilt (of our previous mistakes and failings) and frustration (at our comparative powerlessness) without understanding or accepting that the true level of our responsibility is a measure of our ability to do good.

Finally, I’ll reiterate my infuriation at the continued infatuation exhibited over the fundamental basis of rights, as though rights are equivalent to the property Laurie rails against instead of being directly consequent and interrelated products of the specific physical or material property!

27. anticant

“anticant – in my view, none, until the foetus is born. Until then I see the foetus as part of a woman’s body and therefore her property until its born.”

Well, Sunny, that’s your view, but it isn’t mine. I don’t believe that a human being – whether an actual one [adult or child] or a potential one [foetus] – is ever anyone else’s “property”. That is a slave-owning mentality. Parenthood is a trust – not a matter of ownership. So is potential parenthood. I am not saying that abortion is always wrong, or should be illegal. What I am saying is that those of you who seek to justify ‘abortion on demand’ by claiming the foetus is the pregnant woman’s “property” are denying the foetus’s potential humanity; and this is both illogical and immoral. Rape apart, people who conceive, whether intentionally or unintentionally, do have a responsibility for their actions at the time and later. There needs to be a total rethink of this issue if we are going to move towards a humane and socially acceptable solution.

Of course, society’s attitudes to every aspect of sex and human relationships are still utterly screwed up, and often primitive, after all the campaigning efforts since the 1950s to civilise them. Differences of opinion such as those I have stated here need to be debated rationally and good-temperedly – not swept indignantly aside as if there is only one possible ‘correct’ answer.

thomas:
which is acceptable until you recognise they are open institutions, and responsive to influence.

That doesn’t address the point that the parliament’s own make up can make it biased towards certain decisions. History shows us many examples.

It’s also a cheap attempt at victimology to complain such a description amounts to description of hysteria.

Mmmm… no, because you accuse her of something she’s not saying. Hence her point that this article or her writing generally is not biased against men. You’re the one creating straw-man arguments.

So blaming society when we are active participants in its’ construction it is merely to admit our own guilt…

Not necessarily. Can one never argue that the distribution of power and influence is lopsided and biased towards certain groups?

anicant:
I don’t believe that a human being – whether an actual one [adult or child] or a potential one [foetus] – is ever anyone else’s “property”. That is a slave-owning mentality. Parenthood is a trust – not a matter of ownership. So is potential parenthood.

There are key difference here that you must resolve before asserting that as fact.
First, an unborn foetus is reliant entirely on the mother to grow, develop and form into an independent being. You can’t confer it independent rights when its not independent.

Second, by forcing a foetus to be born when the mother does not want it to, you’re not only forcing her to carry on through an unwanted pregnancy, and in effect getting the state to force a woman to go through the pain of pregnancy that she doesn’t want.

Third, she’ll have to raise a child she doesn’t want.

Fourth, what argument do you have to give an unborn foetus more rights than an animal for example that is more developed, more intelligent and more aware of its surroundings?

I see the foetus as part of a woman’s body and therefore her property until its born.

So the foetus should have no rights because it is property?

Sunny, did you come to this conclusion from first principles, and if so what effect did it have on your views on slavery or animal rights?

Laurie, do you think that straight female MPs should have a vote on matters that can only effect lesbians? Or that the old should vote on matters affecting the young?

I really do not like this kind of argument based on “inverse recusal”. It requires that legislative and legal decision should only be made by people with personal or sectional interests at stake.

I cannot help but think that people are making arguments because they are convenient, rather than because they seem to be true. C.S. Lewis’s road to hell.

If people did generally accept the principles you are basing these arguments on, and then based other decisions on them, you would get some very nasty surprises.

Ad,

I can’t be certain, but I’d guess that Sunny has read Judith Jarvis Thompson’s ‘A Defense of Abortion’

http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm

*Thomson

Goodness I’m muddle-headed. A crafty little full stop wormed itself out of my consciousness as well.

First, an unborn foetus is reliant entirely on the mother to grow, develop and form into an independent being. You can’t confer it independent rights when its not independent.

Historically a widely believed argument. It does mean that the more helpless and dependent you are, the fewer rights you have. Consider the implications for newborns and the mentally ill, for example.

Second, by forcing a foetus to be born when the mother does not want it to, you’re not only forcing her to carry on through an unwanted pregnancy, and in effect getting the state to force a woman to go through the pain of pregnancy that she doesn’t want.

By aborting the foetus you are forcing it to die. Which fate would you least want someone to force on you?

Third, she’ll have to raise a child she doesn’t want.

Their exist such things as orphanages and adoption agencies.

Fourth, what argument do you have to give an unborn foetus more rights than an animal for example that is more developed, more intelligent and more aware of its surroundings?

This argument is at least as good as the first, and on the whole it persuades me. However, it does also justify infanticide, killing the mentally extremely ill etc. I do not get worked up about female infanticide, for example.

33. anticant

Sunny, I’m increasingly coming to wonder about the ‘Liberal’ part of your blog’s title. There is nothing liberal, or humane, about your argument that the foetus is the mother’s “property” until the moment of birth. And afterwards? Are you saying that anything that isn’t independent has no rights? A child? A domestic animal? A Chinese cockle picker?

The fact that “an unborn foetus is reliant entirely on the mother to grow, develop and form into an independent being” doesn’t deprive it of its rights as a potential human being. Why should the unfortunate fact that the mother doesn’t want to have the child be the sole decisive factor in aborting a healthy foetus? And should this “right” be hers up to the time of the child’s birth? If not, why not? If she decides that she doesn’t want to/can’t bring it up, does she have the right to murder or abandon it after it’s born? If not, why not? The issue of who rears the child is of course a separate one: there are such things as adoption agencies.

I’m not sure what your fourth point, about animals, is. In any event, your stance, and that of the “abortion on demand” brigade, strikes me as inhumane and uncivilised. Please reflect: you and I were both once foetuses. If our mothers had chosen, for whatever reason, not to carry us to term, we wouldn’t be blogging here now – a sobering thought! A friend’s mother tried – unsuccessfully – to abort her. When she was dying, the old lady said to her “you were the one I didn’t want, and you’ve turned out the best of the lot.” A back-handed compliment, but better than nothing.

Sunny:

“The law, for a long time, has been quite patronising towards women when it comes to the issue of child-bearing and abortion. For example, the legislation requiring that women get two signatures and be ‘counselled’ also assumes, in many ways, that women are too emotional and unstable and incapable of making rational decisions, and therefore need secondary advice before they’re allowed to make such a big decision.”

That’s one interpretation. Another would be that the issue is nothing to do with how “emotional and unstable” a woman is, and more to do with firstly protecting the reputations and careers of the doctors that are making decisions that a significant proportion of the people in this country see as murder, legal or not. And secondly it’s to do with what I feel is simply a sensible practice of not allowing anyone to go in to a serious, dangerous and emotional procedure without proper consultation and consent from a professional.

“Its not necessarily true that Laurie is challenging the viability of Parliament itself. But she is part of a long tradition of progressives who challenge its thinking on the grounds that parliamentarians are not only behind public opinion, but unrepresentative of the population they seek to serve and therefore make bad decisions. The US Senate was a good example. ”

And I don’t necessarily disagree…but I find it petty to pick on personal traits as the cause of these issues. People made a big deal about Blair and how much his religion may or may not have played a part in his decision making for instance, I thought it was pretty much a waste of time since the only solution is to make parliamentary decisions much more accountable, and to introduce measures that ensure that experts and professionals are intrinsically involved in the process of decision making. For instance why are MPs with no experience of matters making intricate decisions on law when they could pass motions that say they will simply gather (and vote on the appropriateness perhaps) an expert panel to make the objectively justified correct call on what the meat of a particular law should be. Moaning about a sexism in the house that apparantly doesn’t exist right now to the degree is worthless, probably just as worthless as those of us (on reflection myself included) that dismiss completely such instances when they could easily come back.

Open these posts with comments about how parliament isn’t taking in to account the true facts of the matter (which in this case they did largely) and how unrepresentative it is of national opinion and I’d carry on reading with support in my mind, that’s all.

“Why should the unfortunate fact that the mother doesn’t want to have the child be the sole decisive factor in aborting a healthy foetus?”

Because currently the law makes it damn near impossible to seperate a parent from their children, even if they give them up for adoption the child has every right to return to speak/see the parents that never wanted them. Perhaps if the law in this country respected that some people don’t want children and that the child should have no rights to know who their biological parents are if the parents don’t wish that then some of us would feel differently about the rights of foetuses. But if UK law will dictate a life til death bond between child and mother/father that cannot legally be denied then by extension there is a huge argument for the woman needing to have the right to stop that situation from happening for hers and the other parents liberties.

ad, I beleiev I addresses your point in my response to anticant.

BenSix, nope I haven’t, but I’ll have a look, thanks.

anticant:
Sunny, I’m increasingly coming to wonder about the ‘Liberal’ part of your blog’s title. There is nothing liberal, or humane

Well, there are several ways to interpret liberal. My view is, why should the state interefere with women’s reproductive decisions just because others find them immoral? Isn’t that liberalism? The catholic church uses the same arguments against legalising gay rights, no?

You also say:
Why should the unfortunate fact that the mother doesn’t want to have the child be the sole decisive factor in aborting a healthy foetus?

Because without the mother to incubate and grow that foetus, it is nothing.

And should this “right” be hers up to the time of the child’s birth? If not, why not? If she decides that she doesn’t want to/can’t bring it up, does she have the right to murder or abandon it after it’s born?

Yup, until its born it is reliant on the mother to become a being. Hence its hers, in my view. She’s been the one carrying it around for nine months. What makes you think you and others, through the law, have the right to dictate what she should do with her body? You haven’t answered that question.

Once its born, it is an independent being. then of course she has no right to take away its life.

I’m not sure what your fourth point, about animals, is. In any event, your stance, and that of the “abortion on demand” brigade, strikes me as inhumane and uncivilised

I’m afraid you won’t get away with this so easily, regardless of the jibes of it being uncivilised etc. I think killing animals for pleasure is uncivilised but I don’t called meat-eaters ‘savages’ at every opportunity.

The point is, you’re conferring rights to an unborn foetus on the basis of what? That it has intelligence? That it can feel? That it can feel emotion? Pain? What? And why aren’t animals, who are more intelligent and can feel more, comparable to an unborn foetus, have less rights?

———————

Lee Griffin:

and more to do with firstly protecting the reputations and careers of the doctors that are making decisions that a significant proportion of the people in this country see as murder, legal or not.

Ha ha, that’s a really crap interpretation then. Have you read up on the decisions that underpinned earlier abortion legislation?

Secondly, it does nothing to do with protecting the reputation of doctors since its a decision for the woman to make, and she is responsible for it. Why can’t the woman alone be held responsible for her own decision without it impacting the “reputation” of doctors unless you think women can’t make those decisions by themselves and need outside support?

And secondly it’s to do with what I feel is simply a sensible practice of not allowing anyone to go in to a serious, dangerous and emotional procedure without proper consultation and consent from a professional.

It also means abortions are delayed, when they could be had much earlier. You’re making the assumption that the woman has not thought through the enormity of the decision she’s taking before she goes to the doctor.

For instance why are MPs with no experience of matters making intricate decisions on law when they could pass motions that say they will simply gather (and vote on the appropriateness perhaps) an expert panel to make the objectively justified correct call on what the meat of a particular law should be.

Exactly! Why then, were MPs and others making such a fuss when medical opinion OVERWHELMINGLY backed keeping the 24 weeks limit? Why are people making silly arguments above when the medical opinion is against them? Do you not trust the British Medical Association?

This is why the pro-choicers are pissed off. The Tory MPs and on the side of Labour who voted to reduce the 24 were going against medical opinion. And they will be in 2 years time.

On the question of lesbian mothers adopting kids, no one’s actually offered any evidence as to why its so bad. This is why parliament is stupid. Did you read the debates that came out? These people make decisions on our behalf! Some of them are complete nutjobs.

37. Woobegone

“Why can’t the woman alone be held responsible for her own decision without it impacting the “reputation” of doctors unless you think women can’t make those decisions by themselves and need outside support?”

Couldn’t it be that the law is designed to prevent rash decisions, on the basis that anyone – male or female – faced with a situation which might lead to an abortion, would benefit from such a mechanism? I’m not saying that this is a good argument. It’s pretty patronizing. But there is no reason to suspect that the two-doctors law is *sexist*, i.e. that it is based on the idea that women specifically are irrational.

“On the question of lesbian mothers adopting kids, no one’s actually offered any evidence as to why its so bad. This is why parliament is stupid. Did you read the debates that came out? These people make decisions on our behalf! Some of them are complete nutjobs.”

You’re accusing the British people of being stupid, then, since we voted for said nutjobs. You might well be right but if so you should berate the voters, not Parliament. Parliament is as stupid as we make it.

Sunny:
My view is, why should the state interefere with women’s reproductive decisions just because others find them immoral?

Or men’s reproductive decisions? Or non-reproductive decisions?

“Moral behaviour” is essentially that behaviour which you feel justified in, probably required to, enforce on others.

Criminal law is interference with someones decisions “just because others find them immoral”.

Employment law requires interference with someones decisions “just because others find them immoral”.

If the word “liberal” means anything at all, it means attempts to prevent people from infringing on each others autonomy. The question is at what point, or over what period, in someones history do you regard them as having become a person?

Having said that, I think modern liberals are rather ill-named. They are fond of employment law…

“Ha ha, that’s a really crap interpretation then. Have you read up on the decisions that underpinned earlier abortion legislation?”

It doesn’t matter what the original decision was for, it’s what the practical realities now happen to be that matters.

“Secondly, it does nothing to do with protecting the reputation of doctors since its a decision for the woman to make, and she is responsible for it. Why can’t the woman alone be held responsible for her own decision without it impacting the “reputation” of doctors unless you think women can’t make those decisions by themselves and need outside support?”

Because that’s not how it works in a profession where people have to trust their doctor implicitly. Now if you were talking about abortion going through the same process as the “living will” type scenario around the world, where there is true legal absolution, then I’d agree with you…but never could I agree in the current environment that a person should ever be able to walk in to a clinic and ask for something to be done without the proper professional consent of a doctor. It’s nothing to do with support, it’s all to do with simply ensuring that no mistakes or misinterpretations on a sensitive issue are made.

“It also means abortions are delayed, when they could be had much earlier. You’re making the assumption that the woman has not thought through the enormity of the decision she’s taking before she goes to the doctor.”

And without a proper legal process that underpins and demonstrates that consideration why should that assumption not be made? I’m not claiming that women aren’t going to think about such a momentous decision, but are the careers of healthcare professionals worth taking the risk?

That said, I am becoming aware that the medical profession itself may not have these worries and so wouldn’t disagree with the two doctors becoming only one. It still doesn’t make it a situation I disagree with from an ethical standpoint, but if the BMA believe doctors are well enough protected legally and that it would help them to reduce the number of consents required then I’d be happy to go with it.

“This is why the pro-choicers are pissed off. The Tory MPs and on the side of Labour who voted to reduce the 24 were going against medical opinion. And they will be in 2 years time.”

As I said, I don’t disagree, and I would love for someone to come up with a proper way, or to help come up with a proper way, that the people of this country can demonstrate that the time has to be called on a relatively small amount of people putting their own opinions in the fray without justification and without accountability.

“Once its born, it is an independent being. then of course she has no right to take away its life.”

And your opinion on a child being able to survive without artificial means of support before the natural pregnancy occurs? (just to play devils advocate 😉 )

40. anticant

“What makes you think you and others, through the law, have the right to dictate what she should do with her body? You haven’t answered that question.”

I don’t claim the right to stop her having sexual intercourse if she is above the legal age of consent. But I do claim the right to hold her responsible for the consequences if the outcome is an unwanted pregnancy. It’s not just “her body”. It’s the potential human life that she is responsible for. At the very least, she should not be able to walk into an abortion clinic and demand instant termination as casually as buying a packet of fags.

What you and others who maintain that the whole question begins and ends with the woman’s right to choose, regardless of the foetus or the father, are advocating is sheer irresponsibility. Personally I find it disgusting, and my own liberalism stops short of pandering to it.

“You’re accusing the British people of being stupid, then, since we voted for said nutjobs. You might well be right but if so you should berate the voters, not Parliament. Parliament is as stupid as we make it.”

This is utter bollocks considering the correlations between votes and election spending, and therefore just how little spending goes in to safe seats. Long story short, we the people don’t pick anything more than a party, and that’s ignoring who chooses which MP serves an area

42. Woobegone

“the correlations between votes and election spending … we the people don’t pick anything more than a party”

Both true, but whose fault is it? The voters’. There is nothing to stop people from voting for an underfunded independent candidate; it even happens occasionally.

People ask themselves come election time how much difference their votes will make. If political voting was more of a social affair then I would agree with you, but who in real terms is going to vote for an independent considering how likely that vote is to be a wasted one in a non-proportional system? They could also vote for a different party but in a safe area voting for anyone but who you voted for last time falls in to the same situation when you don’t know that everyone else is thinking of changing votes. That’s potentially why this recent news is so dangerous to Labour because right now it lets people talk without taboo about how everyone seems to be switching sides and going to a different party…but even then where is the incentive to vote for anyone other than the popular party that is likely to be able to take over power?

Without proportional representation and systems of accountability that actually mean who your MP is is more important than who their party is, the fault cannot be laid practically at the voters, only at those that know there is an issue and fail while in power to make the necessary changes towards fairness.

woobegone
You might well be right but if so you should berate the voters, not Parliament. Parliament is as stupid as we make it.

The problem is information assymetry, in addition to the way parliament works. People elect Labour or Tory, and aren’t given the opportunity to decide on the individual policies of candidates from parties. Furthermore, they may not have an opportunity to determine which policies a candidate votes on. No one elected Nadine Dorries on her anti-abortion stance, and no one elected Kaith Vaz because he’s against violent video games.

ad:
“Moral behaviour” is essentially that behaviour which you feel justified in, probably required to, enforce on others.

Not if they’re not affecting you. Otherwise, people would argue that they want homosexuality to be banned because it affects their moral view of what normal relationships should be. Thankfully, we’ve moved on from that.

The question is at what point, or over what period, in someones history do you regard them as having become a person?

Have already answered this – when that person is able to live and survive independently. Are you arguing that liberalism is a philosphy where the state should be able to interfere even further into people’s lives because of other people’s moral values?

anticant

But I do claim the right to hold her responsible for the consequences if the outcome is an unwanted pregnancy. It’s not just “her body”. It’s the potential human life that she is responsible for.
Why is it not just her body? Who said society owned her body? Next thing you’ll be telling us that you want people to not be able to buy alcohol because they might do damage to their own body? This isn’t liberalism.

What you and others who maintain that the whole question begins and ends with the woman’s right to choose,

Finally, you got it!

Personally I find it disgusting, and my own liberalism stops short of pandering to it.
You’re pushing yourself into a corner where the Catholic Church can point out that because they find homosexual acts quite unnormal and immoral, that they should be made illegal. It doesn’t matter if you find it disgusting, it is other people’s bodies and choice. What gives you the right to rule over women’s bodies? You’ve just admitted your own lack of liberalism.

Lee Griffin
It doesn’t matter what the original decision was for, it’s what the practical realities now happen to be that matters.

Not true, because those attitudes still inform the current debate as well as the existence of the laws that remain in place.

but never could I agree in the current environment that a person should ever be able to walk in to a clinic and ask for something to be done without the proper professional consent of a doctor.

Why can’t

I’m not claiming that women aren’t going to think about such a momentous decision, but are the careers of healthcare professionals worth taking the risk?

Are you aware of anyone removing the two-doctor rule on that basis?

And your opinion on a child being able to survive without artificial means of support before the natural pregnancy occurs? (just to play devils advocate 😉 )

My point is that a foetus is not an independent human with rights until it can survive by itself. And that a state should not be the arbitrator on who is allowed to abort and who isn’t. Abortion should be decriminalised entirely. As it is in Canada for example.

So my point is that foetus viability is the wrong way to look at abortion anyway. To me, the state should not even think about interfering with women’s wombs regardless of foetus viability.

Our society is full of vices that can destroy lives and people if taken to excess. Is gambling going to be banned? Is alcohol to be prohibited? The point is, if a woman wants to terminate something growing inside her body, that is her own decision to make (provided she has been informed fully). Simple as.

“Not true, because those attitudes still inform the current debate as well as the existence of the laws that remain in place.”

I just never really get this kind of opinion I’m afraid. This isn’t like cannabis where old thoughts and lack of evidence inform a situation that is no longer that way…whether or not a person wishes women to get two signatures because they’re an emotional woman, or because it’s safe practice on a complex issue doesn’t change the fact that by and large it’s not a negative situation to be in, unless you have hang ups about authority.

“Why can’t [you?]”

Because I don’t believe that a doctor should be made to do something they don’t professionally agree with, that’s their liberty. And in counter point to that (i.e. doctors that potentially could be less than ethical) procedures need to be there to ensure accountability and protection from abuse and manipulation.

“Are you aware of anyone removing the two-doctor rule on that basis?”

I don’t quite understand what you meant by this sentence, but basically given the climate there always has to be the consideration of the credibility of medical careers in the process.

46. douglas clark

Sunny,

So, do you see the present position as a compromise? I’m pretty happy that the present deadline for what could be described as ‘social’ terminations has been maintained, and that what might be described as medical terminations up to birth has also been maintained. That’s where I’m coming from.

I’d be interested to know whether you subscribe to the idea that, up to conception, the foetus is a piece of plastic. Unity says that they can feel pain at circa 28 weeks or so, others, including the Houses of Parliament, seem to see 24 weeks as a watershed. Whilst I am happy enough with the current consensus, I’d not be any too happy to see it pushed back the other way, either. Which is not to say that women don’t have the right to choose, it’s just to say that over half a half term seems long enough to decide.

‘Personally I find it disgusting’ –

I think here we get to the heart of the problem. As Sunny has already pointed out, yes, a lot of things to do with women’s bodies are both icky and, frankly, taboo. Rather like certain forms of homosexual sex. That doesn’t make them immoral, and it certainly shouldn’t make them illegal. Prudish distaste for all things slimy and feminine has its natural end-point in the pro-life propaganda posters of aborted fetuses in bags. Just because you don’t want to look at it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

This issue begins and ends with a woman’s right to decide what happens to her own body. Doctors’ rights to protect their reputations are a long way off the scale of importance and urgency. Generally speaking, doctors are one of the groups in this society who need least protection.

And as for this –

‘I don’t claim the right to stop her having sexual intercourse if she is above the legal age of consent. But I do claim the right to hold her responsible for the consequences if the outcome is an unwanted pregnancy. It’s not just “her body”. It’s the potential human life that she is responsible for. At the very least, she should not be able to walk into an abortion clinic and demand instant termination as casually as buying a packet of fags.’

This is toxically misogynist language, boiling down to the old pro-choice slogan ‘women have a right to keep their legs shut’. We live in an age where we have the medical technology to ensure that contraception, which is never 100% safe, can be backed up by safe chemical or, in dire cases (about 20% I think?) surgical abortion. My point in the original article is despite the undreamed-of freedoms that technology has brought to our society, whenever that technology affects women’s bodies a significant minority will start acting like medieval churchmen. That is in no way liberal.

Since an unwanted pregnancy is a condition that causes extreme discomfort and emotional disturbance, think of medical abortion as the cure for a bodily disease. It doesn’t matter if that disease is brought about by one’s own carelessness! What if doctors with the cures for, say, chronic liver failure caused by alcoholism, or junkies with pneumonia, or AIDS victims who caught the disease via homosexual intercourse, of unmarried teens with gonorrhea, decided not to administer treatment because they found the patients’ actions immoral? What if doctors left winos and junkies and people who sleep around to suffer, even as they came begging for help cleaning up, because they’d brought their illnesses on themselves?

It’s pure sexual and ethical puritanism if ever I heard it.

“What if doctors left winos and junkies and people who sleep around to suffer, even as they came begging for help cleaning up, because they’d brought their illnesses on themselves?”

Because God said that all STI’s are precious and should be preserved…that’s why we have so many pro-STI groups in the country. Oh, wait…

Methinks you’re deliberately missing the point. You can argue as much as you want that this is a personal issue of personal liberty and rights, but why must you insist on denying people their beliefs on when they think life begins, even if that is at conception for them?

It’s one thing to tell these people to keep their nose out of our business and it’s our choice to go to Hell if we want to, it’s another to simply try and hound them out of their beliefs when they’re not going to budge any more than we are. Does anyone else not see the pointlessness of this tact of argument (along with of course calling everything misogynistic, chauvinistic and based in sexism and male power hierarchies)?

“Doctors’ rights to protect their reputations are a long way off the scale of importance and urgency. Generally speaking, doctors are one of the groups in this society who need least protection.”

This so completely fails to understand liberty it’s untrue, but no doubt is born once again out of issues with power and who has it?

Anticant, if you find abortions disgusting, don’t have one. Problem solved.

50. anticant

Having done battle most of my life with bigots of various hues, I’m inured to the tactics of false analogy laced with personal insults now being employed here. I have never wished to impose my moral views on others in matters which solely concern themselves. Abortion, however, does not. The relationship which is said to necessitate it involves at least two actual people, and one potential one. It is not solely the woman’s private business. I have never said, and do not believe, that society owns my body, or anyone else’s. But I do believe that I am responsible for the choices I make, and so should everyone else be. We can’t be selective about it.

The point I keep stressing, which you, Sunny, and others apparently deny, is that unless a woman has been raped, she must take some responsibility for her choice to have intercourse in the first place; and that if she unintentionally or carelessly becomes pregnant [like Cherie Blair at Balmoral] it is totally irresponsible of her to call for a right to free abortion on demand in order to relieve her of the consequences of her original choice. But of course, if you believe that a foetus is nothing more than a piece of body tissue, you won’t agree. However, whatever you say, the whole question does NOT begin and end with the woman’s right to choose, and I DON’T “get it” [what a silly debating point!]. Therefore, all your analogies with illiberal moral interference with other types of personal behaviour are false.

My personal feelings of distaste for abortion don’t entitle me to seek to ban it in all circumstances, but I do think it is not illiberal to seek to hedge it round with suitable social limitations. All too often, the people who abuse freedom end up by restricting it for everybody else. If we ever do have prohibition in this country, it will come about because of the unacceptable excesses of binge drinkers. Not “prudish distaste for all things slimy and feminine”, Pennyred, but vigorous distaste for the callousness of women [and men] who claim that a foetus has no value in its own right. If you think that is “toxically misogynist”, you don’t know the meaning of words. I do my best not to be misogynist, but remarks like that don’t make it any easier. Ditto Jennie’s unfunny quip. You aren’t going to resolve genuine differences of opinion, and values, by anti-male sneers, you know.

anticant – “The relationship which is said to necessitate it involves at least two actual people, and one potential one. It is not solely the woman’s private business. I have never said, and do not believe, that society owns my body, or anyone else’s.”

As long as the woman is the one carrying the foetus then actually yes, it is her own private business. Can you think of any other example, apart from instances where the person concerned is deemed not mentally capable of deciding for themselves, when people would argue that it’s their right to influence what happens to another person’s body? Where the state feels it has a right to interfere? Are women somehow not capable of making decisions for ourselves so we need not just politicians, but doctors, priests, philosophers and every tosser with an opinion to act as moral arbiters on our lives?

Speaking as someone who has had an abortion, I can tell you categorically anticant, that my decision to abort had sweet FA to do with you, or with my MP, mad Nads, or with the forces of the Catholic Church and the evangelical christian right combined. It was my body, ergo my decision. You have a right to your opinion obviously, no one’s denying you that, and as Jennie said, you’re free to choose not to have an abortion if you find it so distasteful.

As for the argument about a ‘potential life’. Please explain how and why a ‘potential life’ should have more importance and more rights than the actual and existing life of the woman carrying it. Why should something which doesn’t yet exist take precedence over that which does?

anticant – “unless a woman has been raped, she must take some responsibility for her choice to have intercourse in the first place; and that if she unintentionally or carelessly becomes pregnant [like Cherie Blair at Balmoral] it is totally irresponsible of her to call for a right to free abortion on demand in order to relieve her of the consequences of her original choice”

So on the one hand you say women must take responsibility, and yet on the other you would take away one of the tools that enables her to take responsibility. Having an abortion and choosing not to bring an unwanted life into the world is taking responsibility anticant, or would you rather see even more unwanted children brought into this world?

anticant – “I do my best not to be misogynist”

Well you need to try a bit harder then ‘cos it’s not working.

anticant – “All too often, the people who abuse freedom end up by restricting it for everybody else”

And people like you who would restrict a woman’s right to abort because of some holier than thou patriarchal morality will end up not only restricting women’s freedoms, but killing them. Restricting abortion does not stop women from aborting, it merely drives them underground and into the hands of back street abortionists. But hey, what do a few dead women matter, they should have just learnt to keep their legs shut in the first place.

anticant – “You aren’t going to resolve genuine differences of opinion, and values, by anti-male sneers”

And neither will you resolve anything by coming out with such misogynistic b/s.

Sometimes it is important to build a shit-pit and the collection of opinions here serve to demonstrate why.

Liberalism is entirely open to interpretation which is why it requires the balance of a democratic counterweight for theory and practise to dynamically influence each other.

Is this debate going to evolve and reconcile the different sides, or are both sides going to entrench themselves further in their static dogmatism?

In my view we need to reunderstand our conception of ‘rights’ as the product rather than the basis for our decisions. I think it is completely selfish narcisism which is responsible for our inability to balance the requirements of mother, father and child and wider society.

Since outside imposition lacks legitimate mandate and self-determination is inherently selfish both lead to the kind of intractable conflict we can see here, we therefore need to find another method of discovering an acceptable solution: co-determination requires cooperative participation and leads to the agreed settlement of disputes, even if it is a lengthier process.

Perhaps it would be interesting if Sunny, you could organise and announce a closing limit on contributions to this debating thread with a named vote by participants to declare where they stand. It would clarify matters and it would provide legitimacy for any future campaigning policy by this site, rather than making any assumption about what the preferred interpretation of our opinions on this liberal theme might be.

Following on from the result, an analytical discussion about how different biases impacted on individual decisions would prove most informative and illuminating, I think.

This site will now accept motions…

Laurie – “‘Oh, I dunno, Laurie, maybe it’s something about the unequal attitude towards men that suggests a reactionary stance to some personally experienced event… I was really interested in how it seems to have created a limitation on your imaginative capabilities. ‘

I can’t quite tell you how stunned I am by this”

Don’t be, this is something you’re going to have to get used to as a fem writer. Just don’t rise to the bait – you have no need to justify yourself to people, especially those that are so precious they see any attack on the patriarchy as an attack on them personally.

Cath, does a ‘fem writer’ mean a female or a feminist in this instance?

I like to draw a distinction, because I see the difference between an analytical critique and a personal attack. Critiques of democracy are justifiable, but attacks on it aren’t.

Can we stop calling people misogynistic simply because they believe in the rights of the unborn, it’s immature quite frankly and really belittles the integrity of this site. Perhaps a good look at the dictionary again to remind yourselves what it actually means will do you some good, as it’s clear you’ve been using the word so many times against men that disagree with you that you’ve lost sense of clarity.

“Can we stop calling people misogynistic simply because they believe in the rights of the unborn.”

It’s perfectly true that one who believes in the rights of the unborn is not necessarily misogynistic, but, as in all debate, it can depend upon the semantics of an expressed opinion.

I think that Cath’s objections were inspired by anticant’s statement that he ‘ do[es his] best not to be misogynist, but remarks like that don’t make it any easier’.

thomas,

What lead you to attribute those characteristics to feministic writers?

I really don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone to state that, when confronted with people who’s only course of argument is to call you sexist, misogynistic or patriarchal, the nature of the arguments used tend to actually cause those feelings in an ironic way. Let’s face it, just like we don’t trust Brown on current economies when his only argument against things is “Labour have been strongest in the economy, ever”, or publications such as the daily mail that just pump out that “they’re not racists but kick the immigrants out”, this is really not much different.

Lee – I’m fully aware of what the term misogynist means thanks. How else other than woman-hating would you define arguments that seek to further dispossess women of their rights, create a hierarchy that places women firmly at the bottom below not only men but those that don’t even exist yet, and that would lead to even more women dying worldwide as the result of unsafe abortion procedures than the current figure of 80 million?

When someone tells me my life is of less importance than that of a 24 week old foetus, a ‘potential life’ how the hell else do you want me to define them? When someone tells me I shouldn’t have the right to decide what happens to my own body because I’m not morally or emotionally capable of making that decision what else would you call it?

thomas – a fem writer means feminist in this instance. Your clumsy attempt to attribute some kind of past abuse or bad experience with men to Laurie’s motivation for writing as she does, is just another tired example of the arguments used against feminist writers. I can give you a list of the rest if you want. They include:

Bitter ‘cos you’re too ugly to get a man
Must be a lesbian
Daddy didn’t love you enough

And so on and so forth.

Why is it so hard to accept that there are some issues where women get justifiably angry at the way the scales are weighted against them? The abortion debate is one such issue; it doesn’t matter how much we try and intellectualise or philosophise over it, at the end of the day it’s about the church and the state, two of our most patriarchal institutions, attempting to interfere in a woman’s bodily integrity, about male power refusing to give up its centuries held control over women. But even more importantly, from our side of the fence at least, it’s about trying to save women’s lives. I don’t think Laurie or any other feminist writer needs to justify their anger when the stakes are that high.

So misandry is acceptable in the fight against misogyny? I don’t think so.

BenSix, I wasn’t attributing those characteristics to anyone, I was asking whether other people (ie Cath) does.

Cath, I think you are failing to draw a distinction between ‘woman-hating’ and ‘not placing women on a pedestal’. I see plenty of room for movement, it’s a shame that others are so blinkered.

“How else other than woman-hating would you define arguments that seek to further dispossess women of their rights, create a hierarchy that places women firmly at the bottom below not only men but those that don’t even exist yet, and that would lead to even more women dying worldwide as the result of unsafe abortion procedures than the current figure of 80 million?”

But this is where I have a problem with your arguments (along with others like you). How can you sit there with a straight face belittling other peoples beliefs enough to essentially say that you’re happy with a hierarchy that places unborn life at the bottom while arguing against hierarchies? Just because there isn’t a word as easily accessible as misogyny attributed to it, your disdain and disrespect towards those that hold some belief in the rights of those you clearly do not is precisely the same kind of poisonous attitude towards others that hinders, not progresses, debate.

“When someone tells me my life is of less importance than that of a 24 week old foetus, a ‘potential life’ how the hell else do you want me to define them?”

The same way you’d wish to be defined by someone that believes vehemently in the sanctity of life even before birth and is listening to you trying to say that life is less important than yours. Just because your beliefs differ does not mean there should be a free for all on abusive and counter-productive language.

My apologies, Thomas.

I perhaps rashly assumed that you were making the distinction between female and feminist writers as those who criticise or attack democracy.

No worries BenSix, but we should also be aware that there are those who make the the rash assumption that gender automatically confers gender roles.

Aren’t women capable of sexism? Is feminism really democratic liberalism, was it ever or has it been taken over completely by revolutionary marxists?

Hmm, egalitarianism and bias, how do we disentangle on from the other?

63. anticant

Cath: “As long as the woman is the one carrying the foetus then actually yes, it is her own private business”. So the man who has impregnated her, with her consent, has no say in the matter whatsoever?

Cath: “Can you think of any other example, apart from instances where the person concerned is deemed not mentally capable of deciding for themselves, when people would argue that it’s their right to influence what happens to another person’s body? Where the state feels it has a right to interfere?” Oh, plenty! The irrational restrictions imposed by the 2003 Sexual Offences Act upon consenting adolescent sex; restrictions on consenting sado-masochistic activities as per the House of Lords in R v Brown [1993] and the Court of Appeal in R v Emmet [1999]; criminalisation of illegal drug use; regulation of tattooing and body piercing; illegality of assisting suicide, and of euthanasia…Need I go on? You really should think more carefully before asking such silly questions.

Cath: “You’re free to choose not to have an abortion if you find it so distasteful.” I do find it distasteful when it’s demanded as a right by a woman who has failed to take proper contraceptive precautions or has changed her mind the morning after.

Cath: “Why should something which doesn’t yet exist take precedence over that which does?” I didn’t say it should take precedence – I said that it should not be totally discounted as a factor in deciding whether or not to have an abortion.

Cath: “So on the one hand you say women must take responsibility, and yet on the other you would take away one of the tools that enables her to take responsibility.” The responsible tool to use is contraception. It isn’t good enough to demand that all the wonders of modern technology should be at your fingertips if you don’t use them effectively.

Cath: “Would you rather see even more unwanted children brought into this world?” No, Ms Woman, I wouldn’t. But I’d much rather see both men and women, young and old, take proper responsibility for their sexual behaviour so as not to conceive “unwanted” children. Responsibility to anything else except your own uncontrolled [but not uncontrollable] desires appears to be anathema to you and far too many other people nowadays.

Cath: “Restricting abortion does not stop women from aborting, it merely drives them underground and into the hands of back street abortionists.” I know this perfectly well. In the 1960s, when I was lobbying Parliament for homosexual law reform and actively supporting the Steel Abortion Act, we were only too aware of the horrors of back street abortions. But we didn’t intend to install abortion as a failsafe contraceptive, which is what you now claim it should be.

Please do drop the misogynistic sneers and sex war stuff. It’s so outdated. What you are really displaying is your contempt, if not hatred, not merely for what you regard as male attitudes, but for men. It’s pathetic. Perhaps you didn’t notice that two of the most stalwart campaigners to reduce the abortion time limit in last weeks’ debate were women. But not, I suppose, sisters.

As for your latest emotional rant, please don’t talk to me about B/S.

anticant: “The responsible tool to use is contraception. It isn’t good enough to demand that all the wonders of modern technology should be at your fingertips if you don’t use them effectively.”

This argument doesn’t really hold much water. If a woman has gone through the process of contraception and has still managed to get pregnant, is she not allowed to then get an abortion? And thus if that woman is allowed abortion techniques because she has “tried to be responsible”, what does it therefore matter if someone uses the contraception stage or not?

My point is that a foetus is not an independent human with rights until it can survive by itself.

Thought experiment Sunny. I am isolated on a desert island, with a small child, too young to survive by herself. She can be crippled, if you like, to guarantee that she cannot survive by herself.

I can keep her, and myself, alive quite easily.

Your point is that I can kill her however and whenever I choose. For whatever reason I choose.

It must be obvious that not everybody would agree with this moral principle.

I wonder why you picked it.

66. anticant

Lee, the point you raise is debatable. So far as I am concerned, the argument is about the circumstances in which abortion should be deemed acceptable. Contrary to those who claim that it should be available on demand, no questions asked, I do not believe that abortion is a morally neutral choice. But I don’t think it should be illegal in all circumstances, either. Is this an unreasonable position?

ad,

With respect, your analogy does not reflect Sunny’s argument.

a) You would not be obligated to defend or feed the girl. You would be generous to – and if you were to refuse then people may consider you to be cruel/callous etc. – but you are not morally obliged to do so.

b) In this scenario, the girl is deprived of her independent life, whereas in Sunny’s the foetus is deprived of the use of the woman’s body. It has – he assumes – no right to be there, and so it’s subsequent failure to survive independently would be immaterial.

There are ways to criticise Sunny’s argument, however, which largely consider the question of whether a foetus has the negative right not to be killed. Phillipa Foot’s “Killing and Letting Die” is an example of this.

Anticant,

“Is this an unreasonable position?”

It depends entirely upon what rights you feel a foetus is entitled to.

BenSix – I was not attempting to write an analogy to Sunnys argument. I am just pointing out one of the implications of the statement that an entity cannot have rights “until it can survive by itself”.

thomas – “So misandry is acceptable in the fight against misogyny?”

What misandry? Seriously, show me some examples from this thread. Talking about male power and patriarchy is not misandry, neither is describing Parliament as male dominated. Saying ‘it’s all the fault of you bloody men’ might be, but I’ve yet to see anyone here trying to make that argument.

thomas – “Cath, I think you are failing to draw a distinction between ‘woman-hating’ and ‘not placing women on a pedestal’”

Lol. Do you honestly think that’s what I’m arguing for? Perish the thought thomas.

Lee – “How can you sit there with a straight face belittling other peoples beliefs enough to essentially say that you’re happy with a hierarchy that places unborn life at the bottom while arguing against hierarchies?”

I’m not belittling anyone’s beliefs, what I am belittling is their presumed right to impose their beliefs on my life. If anticant or the archbish or Mad Nads hold different views from mine I really don’t have a problem with that; what I do have a problem with is when their personal morality is allowed to impact on others, and when it puts real human lives (not merely potential ones), women’s lives, at risk.

anticant – “So the man who has impregnated her, with her consent, has no say in the matter whatsoever?”

No, none whatsoever. In an ideal situation the decision would be reached by mutual consent, but at the end of the day, if their views differ, the one with the womb must have the deciding vote.

anticant – “Need I go on?”

No. Maybe I should have asked for ‘comparable examples’. The only one I would take from your list as being anywhere near close is the example of suicide, where a person is forced to endure something, in this case life, against their will. But in all these cases the person is being prevented from doing something which causes them harm, whereas in the case of forced pregnancy (which denial of abortion amounts to), harm is being done.

anticant – “But I’d much rather see both men and women, young and old, take proper responsibility for their sexual behaviour so as not to conceive “unwanted” children”

Then argue for policies that will enable them to do so: improved sex education in schools and easier access to contraception will have far more impact on abortion rates than denying women access to abortions.

anticant – “Responsibility to anything else except your own uncontrolled [but not uncontrollable] desires appears to be anathema to you and far too many other people nowadays.”

Rofl!

anticant – “What you are really displaying is your contempt, if not hatred, not merely for what you regard as male attitudes, but for men.”

Again, show me where on this thread I have expressed any hatred for men. Or should we just add this nonsensical statement to the list I supplied further upthread of the spurious arguments men make when challenged by feminists.

anticant – “Perhaps you didn’t notice that two of the most stalwart campaigners to reduce the abortion time limit in last weeks’ debate were women. But not, I suppose, sisters.”

I noticed, and no, they’re not sisters, they’re what’s known as collaborators.

anticant – In one post you’ve variously used ‘silly’ and ’emotional’ to describe my arguments. Be careful now, your sexism is really starting to show.

“But I don’t think it should be illegal in all circumstances, either. Is this an unreasonable position?”

I don’t find your position unreasonable no, I don’t agree with it in general (given you side for mostly illegal from what I can tell), but I respect you have reasonable and intelligent reasoning for holding the view you have. I was just interested on that particular point because it’s one (of a few) very interesting grey areas.

“What misandry? Seriously, show me some examples from this thread. Talking about male power and patriarchy is not misandry, neither is describing Parliament as male dominated. Saying ‘it’s all the fault of you bloody men’ might be, but I’ve yet to see anyone here trying to make that argument.”

Well, the two obvious examples, and infact the two things that spurred me particularly to write in this thread are as follows…

“Men have a right to stand alongside women, a right to care for their children, a right to take up the responsibilities of fatherhood once that privilege has been granted them.” – OP

“Why the hell should women’s reproductive rights be decided by men?” – Cath Elliot

Cath again: “anticant – In one post you’ve variously used ’silly’ and ‘emotional’ to describe my arguments. Be careful now, your sexism is really starting to show.”

And you’ve more than once responded to sensible arguments by calling someone a misogynist, or that they are trying to defend patriarchal hierarchies, so maybe you’re all even? Perhaps *everyone’s* sexism is starting to show, yours included?

ad,

Yes, but in your analogy the girl does not impinge upon one, whereas in an abortion scenario the foetus has – if we are to accept the argument – forced itself upon the woman.

73. anticant

“Then argue for policies that will enable them to do so: improved sex education in schools and easier access to contraception.” I was doing that publicly and professionally for many years long before you were around, Cath.

As for sexism, go look in a mirror. “Silly” and “emotional” are not terms I reserve to use against women. If men use stupid and irrational arguments, I call them silly and emotional as well.

As we are never going to agree on this issue, and you evidently want to reduce our differences to sexist name-calling as your preferred method of “argument”, I shall now bow out of this thread.

74. anticant

Lee – I certainly don’t advocate illegal abortions. I want a socially and legally liberal abortion policy which is widely acceptable as a reasonable middle way between two extremist positions.

Bizarre, that in some responses to what Cath is saying, the only response is that they’re guilty of man-hating or mysandry etc.

thomas – no I don’t want to close off this discussion, I think it needs to be had. I do think there are a lot of lefties who think they are right-on when it comes to racism, gay rights etc but suddenly start balking when women want control over their own bodies.

This debate needs to be had out in the open and constantly. The language could be less confrontational maybe, but it needs to happen.

The position taken by many such as anticant and ad and Lee here is a moral one. Which is fine. I have nothing against moral objections. I have a personal moral and ethical objection to eating meat for example.

But the question is how far the state should be allowed to interfere in women’s bodies. And why is the state allowed to interfere so much with women’s reproductive rights but not other situations where potential life is threatened (drinking alcohol for example, or smoking).

In response;

douglas
I’m pretty happy that the present deadline for what could be described as ’social’ terminations has been maintained, and that what might be described as medical terminations up to birth has also been maintained. That’s where I’m coming from.

I think the current compromise should be temporary. I am in favour of liberalising it further, simply because the concerns that people have (that it will lead to more deaths) is largely baseless.

Lee Griffin
You can argue as much as you want that this is a personal issue of personal liberty and rights, but why must you insist on denying people their beliefs on when they think life begins, even if that is at conception for them?

Read over this again and its obvious what the problem is. Your own beliefs are fine. My problem is when the state then chooses to enforce its plans on women specifically because of other people and their moral beliefs.

anticant
I have never said, and do not believe, that society owns my body, or anyone else’s. But I do believe that I am responsible for the choices I make, and so should everyone else be. We can’t be selective about it.

Yes, you are responsible. Then why aren’t you letting women be responsible for the choices they want to make? Why do they have to go along with your moral reasoning? Your argument could quite easily be used by the Catholic church against homosexuality.

Frankly I’m flabbergasted that a long-time campaigner for gay rights is spouting the same lines that the church used to keep homosexuality illegal for so long.

Cath: – “…men … when challenged by feminists” implies exclusivity between the two, which, while not directly sexism, does suggest the influence of sexist ideas.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call you a female chauvinist, your arguments do have a tendency to swing between two poitions, so it must be raised as a valid question whether you are deliberately building a smokescreen or whether you are unwittingly acting as a proxy.

Whether Parliament is male dominated or not bears absolutely no relation to whether it promotes the interest of men and is therefore a bastion of male dominance or patriarchy, and you cannot simply assume as much. Furthermore it is blinkered absurdity to argue from a position that concludes as much considering any of the ample evidence from which we are starting with in this small case.

I have also gone further, to argue that by pandering to the interests promoted by this article we open up the liberal coalition to accusations of bias which place our very democracy at risk – the consequences of which would be far reaching, and though most self-describing feminists would unhesitatingly attempt to resist them they would inevitably fail, having done the job of the right-wing authoritarians themselves.

Conciliation is a necessary prerequisite to the ability to form a majority.

I again move that this site accepts motions.

More points.

anticant
I do find it distasteful when it’s demanded as a right by a woman who has failed to take proper contraceptive precautions or has changed her mind the morning after.

That, I’m afraid, is not a good reason for state regulation. Homosexual acts don’t appeal to me personally, but why should other people’s distaste be a good reason for something to be made illegal?

Lee – I certainly don’t advocate illegal abortions. I want a socially and legally liberal abortion policy which is widely acceptable as a reasonable middle way between two extremist positions.

Most abortions happen before the 12 week gestation period anyway. An overhwhelming majority happen before 20 weeks. So the reality is how you want it anyway.

But there are good reasons why late abortion happen and I can point you to some examples. I see no reason why, given that most abortions happen way before 20 weeks, the whole practice should not be decriminalised.

It will ensure that the minute number of women who are forced to have late abortions by the nature of personal situations, aren’t forced to go abroad or take risks in getting a late abortion.

Lee
“Why the hell should women’s reproductive rights be decided by men?” – Cath Elliot

How is that sexist against men?

Sunny, I think it is important to use democratic methods such as voting, to counterbalance accusations of unrepresentative imbalance and reestablish the legitimacy of the consensus or ‘official’ position.

However I think it would also be fully understandable if you’d prefer to stand up for the ‘conspiracy’.

Yes, but in your analogy the girl does not impinge upon one, whereas in an abortion scenario the foetus has – if we are to accept the argument – forced itself upon the woman.

BenSix, I did NOT make an analogy with pregnancy, abortion, or anything else. I was considering the implications of a moral principle that Sunny claimed to be basing his reasoning on.

Sunny, Liberal Conspiracy is clearly mirroring the breakdown of Labour’s government in that the debate has suddenly evolved and is suddenly struggling to keep pace with changed circumstances following the recent symbolic free vote in parliament. The present format of any left-liberal coalition is clearly no longer sustainable, so if you cannot or will not show any decisive leadership maybe you’d like to put the choice to the participants whether this site proposes to promote:

A)
the transparent accountability of open liberal democracy,

OR

B)
the opaque unaccountability of a closed leftist conspiracy.

I suggest that because the internet encourages the interactive participation of users, the only sensible course of action is to support A) and find new ways to discover what the basis of any campaigns a future coalition may agree to push forwards.
I also think A) enables and encourages open and fair debate from which everyone benefits, in contrast to the alternative.

Now it’s over to you…

Ad,
You’ve misunderstood Sunny’s position. His opinion was that “[an] unborn foetus is reliant entirely on the mother to grow, develop and form into an independent being”. When, therefore, he wrote that it cannot gain rights “until it can survive by itself”, he meant “until it is separate from the mother”. He believes (or at least appears to believe from the posts in this thread) that an unborn foetus is not an individual being and is therefore not entitled to individual rights.

That is why your analogy is invalid. The girl – regardless of her physical condition – is an independent person, and and therefore has individual rights.

I’ll make it clear again, because it’s easy to get lost, I think that women should be able to abort at any stage of their pregnancy and I believe that the parliament as it works at the minutes is poor, subjective and unaccountable. I also believe the chamber proved itself to be pretty free of rampant misogyny through the recent result, and that the arguments being made on this thread are far too often hypocritical being wrapped up and defended as being because of a “passionate” subject with “roots in history”. The most important thing for me is that everyone understands on subjects like this that there is no wrong belief on the subject, only illiberal actions that in themselves are very much up for debate on who is suffering at the hands of them.

Sunny:
“Lee
“Why the hell should women’s reproductive rights be decided by men?” – Cath Elliot

How is that sexist against men?”

I didn’t say it was sexist as such, I said it was a case of mysandry because it shows that Cath is not thinking objectively about this situation, otherwise she’d understand that the same argument was falsely used as to ask why a bunch of southern urbanites could make fox hunting illegal. The argument above is born out of a hatred of being told what to do by men, which in itself isn’t a problem, but it doesn’t make the outburst relevant or any less targeted towards a mistrust of men, subconsciously or otherwise.

Can someone also explain to me what Thomas is going on about, he’s like a Stanley Kubrick film amongst some Steven Spielberg DVDs in this thread! 😛

““[an] unborn foetus is reliant entirely on the mother to grow, develop and form into an independent being”. ”

The girl in my example would just as reliant on me. She would still die if I chose to ignore her, and in that sense is more reliant on me, as a foetus will not die simply because its mother chooses to ignore it. Although the foetus is of course dependent on its mothers body.

The girl in my example is a conscious being, as a foetus very possibly is not. But that was not the distinction Sunny raised. No being can be considered independent if it is dependent on someone.

In any event, it seems highly unlikely that there is any useful sense in which a baby is noticeably more conscious five minutes after birth than it was five minutes before birth.

“The girl in my example would just as reliant on me.”

But she is not directly reliant upon you. She remains an independent entity.

“In any event, it seems highly unlikely that there is any useful sense in which a baby is noticeably more conscious five minutes after birth than it was five minutes before birth.”

Peter Singer’s, vastly unpopular, reply to this was that “a prematurely born infant may be less developed than a late-term fetus. But the criminal law needs clear dividing lines and, in normal circumstances, birth is the best we have”.

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,22304219-5000117,00.html

Lets say a Mother has four large stroppy teen age sons.
Mother ” Go and do your homework ”
Son ” No I am going out ”
Mother “Please do your homework”
Son ” No , I am going out , you cannot stop me”. Son pushes past Mother and leaves the house.

The poor strain on the Mother dealing with 4 sons, none who want to study but prefer spending their time out of the family home. Slowly the mischief becomes worse.

My Mother lost the ability to physically control me by the time I was 11-12 yrs old. My Father was at sea. A tough boarding school provided me with the discipline I needed.

Mothers tend to believe anything their darling sons say , especially if she had no brothers or brothers who were good as gold. Fathers tend to believe anything their daughters say. Ask siblings , who are better at manipulating the Mother, the sister or the brother? It is not just the loss of Fathers but the loss of tough but caring men who can help to prevent teen age boys going off the rails. Many boys get up to michief , including fights. However, there is a difference between two equally matched boys sorting out their differences with their fists and a pack kicking someone to death.

Perhaps the question should be asked of children would they like to have both a Mother and a Father ? Are not the interests of the children paramount ? Or are we saying the emotional needs of the Mother paramount even if they are detrimental to the children?

86. Matt Munro

“For the purposes of this post we shall assume that one’s sexual orientation has no bearing on one’s likelihood of raising an unfucked-up child, nor on one’s right to attempt to do so. ”

One hell of an assumption, especially since lesbian parents haven’t existed in large enough numbers or for long enough to produce a meaningfull sample size of adults raised in lesbian households. It’s pretty obvious to me that, especially for boys, growing up in house with such rampant misandrism and such a burning sense of hatred for the straight world is bound to be detrimental to a balanced upbringing, not to mention the obsessions with healthy eating, exercise, modern art and Ikea furniture.

” Even now, a woman must gain the permission of two doctors and undergo stringent ‘checks’ before she can access safe medical abortion. ”

Has it occured to you that that is to do with;

a) Protecting the rights of the unborn child

b) Ensuring that a physically and psycologically traumaic medical procedure is not undertaken lightly, or without an appreciation of the possible complications/risks

c) That the limited resources of the NHS are properly and fairly allocated

Nothing to do with opressing women (in fact its not impossible that both doctors would themselves be women).

Would you propose that abortions be freely avaiable in Sainsburys during the lunch hour ?

“fatherhood will remain a privilege to be earned, rather than a right to be insisted on.”

But the financial responsibilities of (even unwanted) fatherhood (viz the CSA, the family courts) remain a (negative) “right” enshrined in law . Hardly seems equitable.

I’m not convinced this entire post isn’t a wind up, it reads like a female version of talk sport.

87. Conservative Mom of 4

It makes me sad and sick to read things like this article. I am still one of many Christians who believes that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice but sin. You can’t make sin into something it is not simply by yelling loud and long enough. Sure over the years many people have been desensitized to many things that are wrong because they have had it shoved in their face by the media for so long it has lost some of its shock value. (Think about other issues such as how teens who were pregnat in High School two decades ago were still shunned and before that they had to move away in shame…today they look at it as a status symbol). Homosexuality is not how God make us. God made us to parter men to women and nothing else. I am tired of having this sin paraded around as being ok with all these attached issues such as the same sex parents raising children in a home where they l ive constantly in the midst of these confused and morally wrong people, and these same sex partners seeking the same benefits that man/woman unions have in health care etc. What is our world coming to? Should it also be someone’s right to marry a child, or their dog? Should we also start saying drug abuse is ok, just a way of life or pornography is ok just a way of life. Sin is sin period. Why is our society so bent now on having no moral structure whatsoever? The left simply want to have no one tell them what they can and can’t do. We are a society of laws, or at least I thought we were. I th o ught our laws were supposed to be based on what was good and right and just. What is good and right and just to me is what is pleasing to God. Yet, the things that most often are protected today are the things that verge away from the values I grew up with, the traditional values of the United States I envision when I hear the Star Spangeled Banner. My husband I realize sadly now that on the 4th of July we are celebrating soemt hing completely different than those who are chosing to take God out of our coutry’s heart and soul with morally deveiant behavior. Chirstians and tradtional values are those that the laws now seek to destroy with pushing to legalize gay marriage and taking prayer from schools and public assembly. Christians make up approximately 80% of our society yet for the sake a few our Christian rights are being infringed upon so we don’t offend the few. I am very offended by the laws that are popping up now and the types of things being defended. Doen’s it matter when I, and those conservatives like me are offended or only when those who are athiests or very liberal are offended?

“Doen’s it matter when I, and those conservatives like me are offended or only when those who are athiests or very liberal are offended?”

Let’s say you don’t like marmite, but the next door neighbours love it. Do you believe that those marmite lovers should abandon their sickly ways and no longer eat marmite because it is not something you like or would eat? Likewise I have to ask what the hell it matters if you are “offended” by someone, a homosexual, doing something that doesn’t affect you one bit. Some people think far too highly of themselves, you appear to be one of them.

89. Conservative Mom of 4

As for the attached issue obortion in some of the posts I am strictly pro-life believing fully that life begins at conception. I am currently 17 weeks pregnant and this baby is no less a person than my 15 year old son. I believe they are complete even to include the soul that genetics and schience alone cannot account for. The choice was when the person had sex to begin with. If they choose to have sex then they have to be willing to accept the results of their actions. No accountability seems to be the cry of to many today. Sex has turned into recreation with no tought about the production of a baby. Afterall, an abotion has become a common place procedure in our society. Selfishness and sin prevails when someone deliberately ends another life. It is murder to kill a growing baby in the womb no matter how abortion rights people want to dress up the issue. It isn’t complicated when it comes down to the cold hard facts that this is a peron we are talking about. i’m having an ultrasound today and will see my child perhaps sucking a thumb or kicking. Tke a look at any website showing week by week the growth of a child during pregancy, and pick a tiime when you could possibly say this is not a human being. I cannot imagine the minds of women fighting for the right to take the life of a child, a miracle, grwing inside them. They are giving up far more than they realize.

90. Conservative Mom of 4

In response to Griffin’s post, “Doen’s it matter when I, and those conservatives like me are offended or only when those who are athiests or very liberal are offended?”

Let’s say you don’t like marmite, but the next door neighbours love it. Do you believe that those marmite lovers should abandon their sickly ways and no longer eat marmite because it is not something you like or would eat? Likewise I have to ask what the hell it matters if you are “offended” by someone, a homosexual, doing something that doesn’t affect you one bit. Some people think far too highly of themselves, you appear to be one of them.

It does matter and it does affect me when we are no longer teaching one man one woman marriages as the only acceptable choice. it affects me and my children and thier children to come when our society is slowly taken from the Chirstian principles it has been founded upon (yes it really was – read Living Under God for one reference) to the society that nearly forbids anything Christian from entering into decision making. Separation of Church and State never was intended to mean what it has been interpreted to mean today. I am also against all those who recklessly conceive children out of wedlock. What an unfortunate start for these kids. How sad when it goes further for a woman to have children form multiple men. Then it becomes this is the father of so and so and this is thte father of so and so. Stats show that kids do better in school with the support of a Dad and a Mom, and families that actually eat dinner together, and go to church.Gay marriages resulting in a moral delcine in our society affects me and everyone. Single parenting and teen pregancy also affects moral deline in our society in a similar way. There are economic effects on our economy from both of these as well. Consider same sex unions getting tax benefits or health benefits and the like as a couple which should be only for one man one woman unions. Consider the financial and cost of single parenting. Consider things like child care tax credits to those who both work and put their chidl in daycare when families who have one parent staying home to raise their own c hidlren have no such tax credit despite giving up an entire second income to care for their own children. Our families taxies go to support all these things we are against. I don’t w nt my child rne being taught acceptance means that it is of for people to do absolutely anything they chose, and no one had better impose any boundaries to anyone at all. Finally, I am disgusted when I have to look at gay partners holding hands or kissing. I don’t want to have imorality paraded around in public society as acceptable. People are fighting for these things when at the same time Christians have been banned from simple things like prayer before a graduation cermony or sporting event, and some schools have even stopped including the Pedge of Allegience in the name of not offending someone. In my opinion it is time to stop letting the minority of people force the majority to sit back quietly . The minority of people who want these awful things have been vocal and insistent while conservatives have sat nicely with their hands folded watching our world be slowly chipped away. We have to stop being so nice and quiet and demand to be heard before it is too late.

91. Conservative Mom of 4

Below are some statistics on how declining moral values has a direct economic impact on society. This one pertains to single parent vs dual parent households. There are manyother sources of this supporting data for other issues as well.

The economic impact of this breakdown has been profound. Researchers estimate that the entire rise in poverty in America since the late 1970s can be attributed to “changes in family formation,” a euphemism for the decline of families headed by two married parents. The latest Census data illustrate the problem. Only one out of ten American kids living in two-married-parent families is in poverty—and about one-third of these families are recent immigrants whose poverty is temporary. By contrast, 37 percent of children living with single mothers are impoverished.

Marriage seems to be the defining characteristic of economically successful families. With out-of-wedlock birth rates in America soaring, so that many traditional families aren’t so much breaking up as never getting started, the percentage of children living with cohabiting parents is growing. Yet these kids are three times more likely to be in poverty than the children of married parents. The data actually demonstrate that poverty rates for families headed by two unmarried parents more closely resemble the poverty rates of single-parent families than those of two-married-parent ones.

92. Conservative Mom of 4

More on above post…please pay attention to the need for a FATHER AND A MOTHER in a committed relationship.

Such factors also help to illuminate economic disparities along racial lines in America. As the latest Census statistics illustrate, family formation differs widely by race. Nearly nine in ten Asian children, for instance, live with two parents, as do 78 percent of white kids. By contrast, 68 percent of Hispanic children and only 38 percent of black children in America reside in two-parent families. A black child living with a single mother is nearly three times more likely to live in poverty than a black child living with two parents, the Census data show, yet 50 percent more black children are living with single mothers than in two-parent married families.

Given that a significant body of research now shows that children raised in two-parent, married families do better in school, are less likely to wind up in jail, and are less likely to end up on welfare, the startling racial divide in marriage tells us that a new generation of children, especially blacks, are growing up destined to struggle academically, in the job market, and in forming their own families. And policy prescriptions like a higher minimum wage or tax credits are unlikely to help many of these kids. What they mostly need is another parent—usually a father.

You’re a very good troll, that’s for sure.

94. Woobegone

“Christians make up approximately 80% of our society yet for the sake a few our Christian rights are being infringed upon so we don’t offend the few.”

Well then it’s amazing that this overwhelming majority living in a democratic country haven’t worked out that they could easily just vote to stop this happening isn’t it? They must either be stupid, or lazy, or both – which is it?

Conservative Mom of 4, grow up.

Last census said 70%, this number is dropping, and it’s long been said that the census isn’t an accurate way (even though it’s the most accurate way) of determining religious belief as single people in families can prescribe religion on all of the family, and people can define themselves as Christian without being practicing or even believing. But any figures that help the arrogant bigots in this dwindling demographic retain their illusion of power and supposed authority will clearly be grasped at wholeheartedly, even if completely false as the above poster shows.

The answer, Woobegone, is that they may be stupid, and they may be lazy, but in reality they just aren’t that powerful any more.

I’m slightly amused by the idea that this issue ‘only impacts on women’, as if men and women live wholly separate lives in separate communities. Women’s rights are human rights, and the degree to which human rights are respected and protected affects us all. The logic of the point about male doctors and MPs deciding on ‘women issues’ is that only women should be allowed to make such decisions. Does this mean only gay men can legislate on ‘gay issues’ or only minorities can legislate on minority rights issues?

Having said that – totally support the freedom of people to access IVF and to raise a family how they see fit. The idea that every child needs a father and mother is not only nonsense it is also counter to the experiences of children since the dawn of time. Fatherless families are not a 21st century invention.

Conservate Mom of 4

Statistics which show a correlation between family ‘breakdown’ and social problems are fairly meaningless without further analysis. If anything it is more likely that social problems cause family problems, not the other way around.

Graham, you seem to ignore the fact that looking after stroppy sons is tiring work. Many teen age sons are too large , strong and stroppy for a Mother to control : I know I was .
Also many teen age sons enjoy the benefit os undertaking physically tough activities with their Fathers. My Mother had problems teaching me to box , play rugby and cicket. but was excellent at teaching painting ,sowing and cooking but I was not interested in these activities. My Mother, coming from an artistic background found my enthusiasm for playing out of doors in all weathers from dawn to dusk , being oblivious to the cold, rain and mud and invariably turning up in the evening looking as if I had been dragged through several bushes and swamp backwards very baffling. Many Mothers , if they they only have sisters, find boisterous sons totally baffling as they appear to have totally different interests to themselves when they were at they age. Part of the reason why boys are falling back at school is that education had become overly feminised. How many primary schools have men teachers who can supervise rugby, cricket or boxing? Many fit boys need an hour of tough sports every day from the age of 7 -8 in order to release their energy. The Father of Amir Khan took him t the local boxing club because he was a handful. Many comprehensives have a shortage of male teachers who can take arduous activtites. Many boys fall by the wayside because they never have had tough and caring male role model in their life. From the age of 9 ,I was a typical mischievous boy who needed a firm hand and plenty of arduous exercise every day as do many boys. Very few women have the strength to cope with say 2 or more large stroppy sons over the age of 12.

“Many Mothers , if they they only have sisters, find boisterous sons totally baffling as they appear to have totally different interests to themselves when they were at they age.”

I don’t think I can agree with this.

“Very few women have the strength to cope with say 2 or more large stroppy sons over the age of 12.”

I think you’re entirely sexist personally, you don’t need “strength” to keep your sons in check you just need discipline and a good relationship. People have long been “put in their place” not because the person in power is the strongest but because they’re the most ruthless or dominant.

You slightly do hit on a point though, and that is that there is not enough of an outlet for kids in some areas. I feel quite privileged in that I was able to roam around my town with enough space to play. I could go up to the local fields and play on the war monument, or go to one of several parks or football pitches, or even run around my school grounds after hours. My school did participatory lunch and after school clubs and there were other groups and hobby clubs that you could join readily.

Now compare that for “letting out energy” to what some kids have in inner-city locations, maybe a run down park, certainly no green space to run about and play in, certainly not for free. Schools seem to have a varying level of engagement with extra-curricular activities and all of this just adds up to people being frustrated, bored and feel their aspirations and imaginations drained.

It’s as Graham says, this causes families problems, especially when those parents also suffer from being stifled by the lack of opportunities or impoverished society around them, not mothers being too weak to control their sons.

Charlie, you fall prey to the idea that boxing, rugby and cricket are male only activities, and that sewing, cooking and painting are female only activities.

I take my daughter climbing, she is itching to be big enough to ride pillion on my motorbike, and the person who is teaching her to cook is her granddad (who was a chef, as well as a rugby player ;)) My fiance is several stones heavier than me; I can lift and carry him, but he can only just lift me. And you know what? We are ALL happy with this situation.

Not all women are delicate flowers of physical incapability, and not all men are lumbering idiots, only capable of physicality, and I really wish we would stop trying to enforce a model of society in which both men and women are diminished by being expected to fit into these stupid and restrictive gender roles.

Lee and Jennie , I said many not all. In reality what percentage of Mothers are keen to take part in contact sports with their sons compared to Fathers. How many Mothers are good at teaching scrummaging techniques , rugby tackling or boxing to their sons ? Generally my Mother could not able physically control me after the age of 12 as I was much physically stronger than she was. My Mother was 5 ft 6 , strong willed and owned her own business. A battle of wills with my Mother became a regular event. Some teen age boys can be over 6 ft and 13st of bone and muscle by the time they are 16 years of age and be extremely difficult to control. Try looking at the size of an under 18 rugby team- there are lads who are 6 ft 4 and 17 st! In all honesty how many Mothers can control sons sof this size. All they can do is ask the son to leave home. How many teen agers are in council care, in young offenders institutes or living on the streets because the parents could no longer control them? If one looks at the apparent increase in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, Aspergers Syndrome and dispraxia sufferers are approximately 90% boys and 10 % girls . The combination of hyperactivity and a large , strong and physically tough boy is perfect recipe for trouble . Many of those in prison would appear to have low education attainments largely due to learning difficulties. Many sons are good at pulling the wool over their Mothers eyes. Honest Mum it was’nt me or I won’t do it again -honest! As Dianne Abbott said too many parents do not ask questions as to the activties of their children. If the Father was a boisterous and strong willed teenager, always getting into scrapes and fights, then they probably have a better appreciation of their sons’ behaviour. My Father told me from a young age either do not break the rules or if caught accept the punishment and not to whine. I was an only child but if my Mother had had to deal with several sons all as boisterous as me or even worse, then her life would have been absolutely nerve racking and totally exhausting.

newsflash: raising /any/ child is nerve wracking and exhausting. If you’re not prepared for that, you shouldn’t even start.

You have a lot of ifs and buts, and I would suggest that all of them can be matched with counter examples. Here’s a radical notion for you: why not treat EVERY person as an individual? Gender lines are only ever an approximation.

I find it interesting that the description of stroppy, aggressive males appears to be accepted as a given, rather than a social construction.

there was a need , perhaps, for such a person in the past, whether that be to do manual work or as cannon-fodder.

But now? No. So, traditional ways of socialising and rearing boys may have to change. If not, plenty of square pegs for an ever growing number of round holes.

Being ‘boisterous’ and ‘strong-willed’ is largely learned behaviour and whilst we still rate that sort of behaviour as desirable in young boys, then expect teenage thugs and adult criminals.

Marriage seems to be the defining characteristic of economically successful families.

No.

Those families which opt for marriage are more likely to be stable. Simply forcing couples to marry will do nothing to change the quality of those relationships.

Marriage follows, not reflects or creates, stability

mother of 4,
your stats only represent americian families, what about the rest of the world?
Also one parent families, may not be due to anyone’s fault, there are to many reasons and all are individual ones, people are to quick to judge

conservative mother of 4, just read another comment of yours above about abortion.
i just have one question.
what if a women was raped? can she no abort?

It’s as Graham says, this causes families problems, especially when those parents also suffer from being stifled by the lack of opportunities or impoverished society around them, not mothers being too weak to control their sons.

Ignorant nonsense. In the early 20th C., Society was far more poorer than most of us can imagine and large section of the population lived in overcrowded and digusting slums. Yet we didn’t have adolescent boys stabbed to death almost weekly in London.

Roger : Actually, I’m fairly sure we did. Have you ever read Dickens? Unless you have statistics to prove otherwise, and can explain why we should trust them given that most crime went unreported…

From about 1900 the UK had remarkably low levels of crime. In the 1950s if a umarmed Policeman faced down an armed robber they would probably end up with the George Medal , now it is hardly mentioned.

In reality certain males are larger, have more energy and more boisterous than others. Sir Henry Cooper has recently mentioned once again how effective boxing is at keeping boisterous males on the straight and narrow- a comment made by Brendan Ingles, the Sheffield boxing coach. Amir Khan’s Father took him to the boxing club because he was a handful. Part of the problem is that there are inadequate activties and jobs for tough, strong, energetic and bositerous young males . If there are such clubs then the trainers can become Father figures to the young boys. In society , it is unlikely that a single action controls events. When boys started work at 14 they entered the adult World and had to become responsible for their actions. and therefore tended to become more responsible. A combination of a lack of demanding work ( physical and./or mental and physically tough exercise is the perfect mix for fulfilling the situation of ” The devil finds mischief foir idle hands”. If a single Mother can find an outlet for hers sons boisterous energy such as boxing, rugby, rowing , athletics or martial arts which require training 3 or more times a week for 1.5-2 hrs a session, then problems are far less likely to develop. Teen age boys can be like young working dogs: they thrive on good training and plenty of hard exercise out of doors : keep them cooped up in a small home and they can turn nasty.

112. Horatio Nelson

I’d be for feminism if all cultures took it on. However the wombs of the West lie empty in office towers while the wombs of the East carry the future of humanity and the source of our destruction. I dont think any principle that brings about your doom no matter how worthy or noble is worth pursuing.

If that is truly your view, then I am glad you are dead and no longer in power.

Quite impressive that he wrote the comment when you think about it, being dead and all.

InfoWars guy: can I buy a tinfoil hat online via your site? I need one for a competition prize at Shiraz Socialist.


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