Palin, abortion and the gender agenda


3:04 pm - September 2nd 2008

by Laurie Penny    


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We cannot avoid being moved by what’s happening in the States. The mood is infectious. Hope, its audacity, and its enemies. And one of those enemies is Sarah Palin, the gun-toting ‘feminist for life’ newly announced as John McCain’s running-mate.

Let me make one thing absolutely and abundantly and categorically clear. There is no such thing as a ‘pro-life’ feminist. You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose. Let me repeat that for the brainwashed and hard of hearing:

You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.

You can be a feminist and be uncomfortable with the notion of abortion. You can be a feminist and communicate that discomfort to third parties. You can be a feminist and choose never to have an abortion yourself. You can be a feminist and support greater rights and opportunities for young mothers everywhere so that fewer women will have to choose between pregnancy and their career. You can do all of these things and be a feminist. What you cannot do is stand in the way of any other woman’s moral and political right to reproductive self-determination.

There is a world of difference between being against abortion on a personal basis and supporting, or leading, movements to make the practice illegal. There are no good arguments for making abortion illegal, a policy which, where it has been tested in other nations, has been shown to lead directly to hundreds of thousands of adult women dying in horrific pain along with their unborn children following illegal backstreet terminations. Distasteful as you may or may not find it, women will always seek to terminate unwanted pregnancies. The very least we can do in civilised societies is make it safer for them to do so.

Mrs Palin is anti-contraception, anti-gay rights, identifies as a ‘feminist for life’, wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade and is an important advocate for the American pro-gun contingent. Mrs Palin is, in fact, about as right-wing as you can get, and has been chosen as a running mate by a presidential candidate who had met her only once as a sop to the American far-right. A more cut-and-paste insult to American feminists, and, indeed, to political women worldwide couldn’t have featured in the wet dreams of the god-guns-and-tame-pussy lobby.

Thankfully, it’s not working. Feminists across the world have condemned Palin’s appointment, and none more vocally than British feminists, because we know – having lived through the Thatcher years and been dogged more recently by the apparitions of Widdecombe and Dorries – that a vote for a woman is not always a vote for women. We want women in power because we want politicians who care about women’s issues. As Anne Perkins comments in the Guardian today, women on the far right have traditionally been more politically successful because it is right-wing women who omit gender issues from their policymaking. Thatcher ‘did not do women’s rights’. We all remember the eighties, even if for some of us most of what we remember is The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and some terrible lines in babywear.

It is unacceptable to support the ‘pro-life’ faction in its quest to criminalise women’s reproductive choices if you are an ordinary member of the voting public. It is doubly unacceptable if you are a rich woman who does not know what it is to have to raise a child alone and in poverty, and it is triply unacceptable if you are in political power. Mrs Palin is all of these things. A case for post-natal abortion if ever there was one.

At home and abroad, there are those on the far right who would see women returned to the status of frantic, downtrodden baby-making machines in a constant state of anxious pre-pregnancy, with no control over when and how they get pregnant or when and how and if they give birth. The lobby, although small, is so vocal that there are those on the left who find themselves tempted to pander to them. Especially men on the left, who will never experience unwanted pregnancy.

No candidate in the upcoming US elections supports the further legalisation of abortion. Obama has stated that he will restrict late-term abortions with some exceptions. Once again, the battle lines are drawn and the fight is over women’s flesh, not just in theory but laid down in our millions under the feet of men wrestling for power. Our precious and hard-won reproductive self-determination is just another pawn in their arsenal. And that’s the greatest insult of all.

Sunny adds: Innerbrat also sums it up well:

See, the thing is, it’s obviously not my position to say with absolute certainty that this particular seventeen year old girl should stay in school, stay single and not be burdened with marriage and motherhood this young. I have no right to cast aspersions on the state of the girl’s education or values that she is pregnant. I don’t know the situation: I don’t know squat about Bristol Palin and I will not pass judgement on her. More than anything else, I believe she has the right to her choice and her privacy.

But Sarah Palin doesn’t think that about me. She wants to take away my (theoretical in existence, theoretical in nationality) daughter’s right to information and education that might reduce her chances of being pregnant. She wants to take away my daughter’s right to privacy (from me). She wants to take away my (TiE;TiN) daughter’s right to make a choice about what to do should she get pregnant.

So yes, this is an issue. And voters do need to ask themselves – if Sarah Palin’s abstinence-only anti-choice policies have worked so well that she’s a grandmother at 44, will they work for your family?

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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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Reader comments


“Let me make one thing absolutely and abundantly and categorically clear. There is no such thing as a ‘pro-life’ feminist. You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose. Let me repeat that for the brainwashed and hard of hearing:

You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.”

***

“Mrs Palin is all of these things. A case for post-natal abortion if ever there was one.”

It is amazing how the left manage to sound both patronising AND threatening at the same time. As I said yesterday, whats the use of being pro-choice, if you won’t give women the individual right to enforce it: http://www.a-human-right.com/s_alive.jpg

“You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.”

Unless it comes to pornography, prostitution or strip clubs. 😉

Lee –

Unless it comes to pornography, prostitution or strip clubs. 😉

Do you think so? I don’t.

Julie Bindel does. Is she NOT a feminist?

Of course, I would contend that her views do not advance the interests of women (as a group or as individuals) so perhaps she shouldn’t be considered a feminist. But she definitely is considered to be one by most and I find amongst many vocal feminists (perhaps a majority) a desire to prevent other women from choosing rather a lot of things that they don’t approve of. In essence, they are conservatives. They just happen to believe in the right to abortion amongst their medley of beliefs. It is not a principled “pro-choice for women in general” stand.

Nick –

Well, personally I believe that Julie Bindel is a fascist who normally gives feminists a bad name.

And let’s not muddy the issue here. I’m not talking about a woman’s right to choose in general, but a woman’s right to choose whether and when and how to terminate pregnancy. As you know full well.

Okay. I’ve had a smoke and a think. Let’s do this.

I believe in a woman’s right to choose – in reproductive terms, and also in general.

I believe in a woman’s right to choose to work in the sex industry. I believe that women should not be criminalised if they choose to take off their clothes, have sex and/or be filmed and photographed doing these things, for money. I have taken off my clothes for money myself in the past.

I also believe that, whilst not morally wrong, it’s a bad idea for them to do so. I believe that the reasons that women choose to enter these professions should be interrogated and examined and questioned.

For example. I have a close friend who’s a struggling artist who makes money on the side in the sex industry. I don’t, fundamentally, approve of what she does, but I totally respect her and her decision to do so. And I understand that for someone her age, with her creative ambitions, it’s very difficult to pay the rent any other way whilst still leaving her time and energy to pursue her dreams.

Now, can we get back to the issue at hand?

“You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.”

That only works if you accept the highly dodgy premise that womens’ rights are the only, or the most important, issue around childbirth. Many would argue, and not neccessarily from a religious platform, that they are not.
By your argument it is also impossible to believe in the theory of evoultion and be a feminist ? (think about it now…..)

Yes, but why is that your primary shibboleth for being a feminist? Why not include the right to choose who to have sex with, in any freely chosen circumstances? And why not also include the right to possess the tools necessary to enforce that right to choose.

I don’t approve of Palin’s beliefs but the funny thing is you don’t need to in order to support her so long as she follows the US constitution. They don’t have an elective dictatorship as British system tends towards – a state governor (and even president) operates under far stricture rules and it is more important that she agrees to follow them that she agrees with all their consequences. Bush ignored many of these rules and that has led to a number of disasters. Palin, at least, vetoed a bill that would have discriminated against gay couples, even though she is passionately against homosexuality, because the law violated the constitution: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/09/the_libertarian_case_for_palin.html

She is certainly religious, but not a theocrat (as some Republicans are). And actually following the constitution would do more to help women’s rights (and everyone’s rights) than anything else on offer for now.

“You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.”

Hmm…if one believes that a fetus is a person then denying the right to abort isn’t necessarily distinct from denying one the right to kill, any other being. Therefore, one would believe it to be protecting the liberty of a person, rather than intruding upon the liberty of the Mother.

Is it your belief that one should be known as a person once one is separate from the Mother?

Ben

‘Is it your belief that one should be known as a person once one is separate from the Mother?’

Yes.

“Do you think so? I don’t.”

Exactly, my point is that feminism is a very large beast, of which there are many facets and extensions. To claim you can’t be a religious feminist, to me, seems naive. Perhaps you’d be better off saying “You can’t be my kind of feminist and oppose the right to choose”

It’s like saying “You can’t be a liberal and…” before anything, you know you’re jjust going to start a debate about what exactly you mean by liberal.

Well then, your own logic is sound.

The problem is that if one does believe that a person comes into being at conception, one views abortion as an invasion of the liberty of a person rather than the individual act of the Mother. Therefore, one may reject the right to choose entirely.

Ben

Actually, Lee and Nick, I think that abortion rights is an issue that’s central to political feminism. It’s a key piece of legislation, and the fact that it’s a legislative issue is part of what makes it important – it’s less ephemeral than, say, ‘the right to have sex with whoever you want’ (I’m not sure that’s a right, Nick, for men or women). It’s the same as believing that you can’t call yourself a supporter of gay rights without believing in the right of same-sex partners to marry or have a civil partnership, even if you’re a gay person who’s against marriage in their own relationship,

“personally I believe that Julie Bindel is a fascist…”

This is a bit off-topic but: honestly? Could you define what you mean by “fascist” and how it differs from “bully”?

Sorry – I’m just a bit touchy about people throwing around that word today, after seeing this nonsense:
http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/09/02/new-labour-fascism-and-silly-squabbles/#comments

Ben – I think we’re singing from the same hymnsheet here. However –

‘The problem is that if one does believe that a person comes into being at conception, one views abortion as an invasion of the liberty of a person rather than the individual act of the Mother. Therefore, one may reject the right to choose entirely.’

No, even if one believes that a person comes into being at conception, one mayn’t reject the right to choose *entirely*. One can simply argue against it far more strongly. Because a fetus’ ‘rights’, whatever they maybe, must be taken *alongside* the rights of the mother. Especially in cases of rape, incest and where the mother’s health is at stake.

The problem is that we have no way of knowing, scientifically, when personhood starts. Until we have absolute evidence on that front, we must assume that personhood is contingent upon separateness, and that a woman’s right to control what happens to her own body is a fundamental human right.

To claim you can’t be a religious feminist, to me, seems naive. Perhaps you’d be better off saying “You can’t be my kind of feminist and oppose the right to choose”

The central tenet to feminism is the right to be able to choose your own reproductive options. How the hell can you want to restrict those for others and then call yourself a feminist?

I love the fact that the liberals love playing devil’s advocate here, but let’s have another thought experiment.

If someone described themselves as a liberal, but wanted to restrict the rights of others to move around, would you be ok with them calling themselves liberal?

Hell, you get idiot libertarians these days wanting to restrict freedom of movement for people’s these days, and still calling themselves libertarian. What’s up with that?

“The fact that it’s a legislative issue is part of what makes it important”

Isn’t that also what makes it rather less important in the case of Palin, who is running for an executive position?

“The problem is that we have no way of knowing, scientifically, when personhood starts. Until we have absolute evidence on that front, we must assume that personhood is contingent upon separateness, and that a woman’s right to control what happens to her own body is a fundamental human right.”

Devils advocacy : If there was a 1% chance that there was a living human in a house, would you be justified in demolishing the house, on the grounds that there is no absolute evidence that this would be killing someone?

You’re kidding yourself if you believe that Vice Presidents have no power to influence what laws are made or how those laws are *executed* in the US.

Sunny – in principle I am a supporter of free movement of people between states, somewhat against the official Libertarian Party line but there is an interesting discussion of libertarian immigration theory here that does substantiate an anti-immigration position in some circumstances: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/hermann-hoppe1.html

Woobegone: your analogy isn’t sound. Of course I wouldn’t be justified in demolishing the house. A house doesn’t have feelings, or selfhood, or control over its own life. (not getting into psycho-geography here). A woman, on the other hand, is far more than a ‘house’ for a fetus to gestate in.

To extend the analogy somewhat: if there was a woman with her leg trapped under a piece of rubble and the only way to save her limb and salvage a better and more autonomous life for her was to destroy the remaining part of the house to ease the load, and time was ticking, but there was a 1% chance that someone was trapped in there –

I’d do it. If she knew the risks, and asked me to.

“You’re kidding yourself if you believe that Vice Presidents have no power to influence what laws are made or how those laws are *executed* in the US”

Really, what has Bush managed to do despite his outspoken beliefs and evangelist supporters? Banned gay marriage federally? Nope. Overturned woe versus wade? Nope!

Sorry, “Roe”! Silly me.

Possibly the most didactic opinion piece I’ve ever read in my life, which is saying something.

Oh look, another thread with men telling us what feminism should and shouldn’t be.

I wish I could say I was shocked.

Banned gay marriage federally? Nope. Overturned woe versus wade? Nope!

Bad examples, since these can be done only at state level anyway. And no president would be stupid enough to try and make them federal decisions.

That doesn’t mean the VP has no executive power though, does it?

Sunny – in principle I am a supporter of free movement of people between states, somewhat against the official Libertarian Party line but there is an interesting discussion of libertarian immigration theory here

So, you admit there is difference of opinion on free movement between states among ‘libertarians’.

But even further, what about stopping people moving around even within a country? Could you call yourself a liberal if you stopped that? The feminism example is the same here – you cannot be a feminist if you want to deny women the choice over their own bodies and lives.

Trying to play devil’s advocate with this basic point is rather amusing though. Its a shame many liberals don’t even get feminism.

Sunny – Roe V Wade is a federal Supreme Court decision – it could ONLY be overturned by the federal government. It just happens that the presidency, and vice-presidency, is a poor place to launch such an initiative from.

“So, you admit there is difference of opinion on free movement between states among ‘libertarians’.”

Well yes, but there is also a difference of opinion over whether states should exist at all:) There is still all to play for in the libertarian discussion!

I get the sense here that Laurie has decided that an unborn child becomes a person only at the very last moment because she has first decided that the mother’s rights are paramount.

Once she had decided the latter so the former of course had to follow, else she would be condoning murder.

Can anyone really believe that an unborn child the day before birth is not a person?

“The feminism example is the same here – you cannot be a feminist if you want to deny women the choice over their own bodies and lives.”

I agree, but that would also include what drugs they choose to use or inject. To be principled believer in “choice” even over what to do with your own body is to put you far far out onto the libertarian spectrum compared to mainstream policy.

Gun ownership is the best equalizer of the sexes. You can’t be a feminist unless you support the right of women to use armed defence against stronger male attackers.

gina – hmm. I think men have every right to comment as long as they’re not aggressive or bullying. Here, they’re being aggressive and competitive and playing devil’s advocate all over the place. It’s not respectful. What we need men to do in the feminist movement is listen and work with us rather than tell us where we’re going wrong.

Just imagine if you saw these sort of comments from white men and women on a thread about race.

‘Gun ownership is the best equalizer of the sexes.’

What drivel.
Nobody needs to own a weapon as deadly and inhumane as a gun. If women really want to defend themselves against stronger male attackers they can damn well go to a self-defence class. Men aren’t as physically impressive as all that. You can take them down with a swift kick to the balls, in fact. You don’t need a gun. NOBODY needs a gun.

Laurie- You’re right, they do have a right to comment, but what bugs me is that quite often they don’t comment with anything helpful, but rather tell women exactly what they should be thinking and saying.

That’s not feminism.

And yeah, tell me about it. I have a Bingo card for these sort of debates. Quite often it’s alarming how often you can predict what they’re going to say next.

“I think men have every right to comment as long as they’re not aggressive or bullying. Here, they’re being aggressive and competitive and playing devil’s advocate all over the place. It’s not respectful. What we need men to do in the feminist movement is listen and work with us rather than tell us where we’re going wrong.”

The comments here are no more aggressive than on any comparable thread on Liberal Conspiracy – I mean, here’s one plucked at random from the current most commented thread :

“Chas publishes all that shite at 1.47 in the morning… and he thinks someone else has got a personality disorder!
Wow!”

The internet just isn’t a very respectful place.

Laurie – “…whilst not morally wrong, it’s a bad idea…”

You’ve not quite grasped what morals are, have you? Keep going, you’ll get there one day when you stop getting confused over your use of the English language.

Sunny – “If someone described themselves as a liberal, but wanted to restrict the rights of others to move around, would you be ok with them calling themselves liberal?”

I agree here, but there is a grey area where the desire to create restrictions is often confused with the recognition that some restrictions are essential (I think of driving on the wrong side of the road as a good example).

I get the sense here that Laurie has decided that an unborn child becomes a person only at the very last moment because she has first decided that the mother’s rights are paramount.

Its really playing devil’s advocate too far when self-confessed libertarians who keep castigating New Labour for the nanny state and creeping fascism are then against allowing women abortion rights.

Laurie’s point isn’t a theological discussion about when a baby is an individual. Her point is about allowing women the choice to abortion. Do you want to deny women the choice or not? Stop flaffing about with idiotic points cjcjc.

Nick:
I agree, but that would also include what drugs they choose to use or inject.

Yes, and what’s your point. My point was about imposing restrictions on women about reproductive choices. What’s yours?

Laurie’s point isn’t a theological discussion about when a baby is an individual. Her point is about allowing women the choice to abortion.

And those points aren’t related at all, not no way, not no how…

“Oh look, another thread with men telling us what feminism should and shouldn’t be.”

I think you’ll find it’s a woman trying to tell feminists what feminism should and shouldn’t be.

“The central tenet to feminism is the right to be able to choose your own reproductive options. How the hell can you want to restrict those for others and then call yourself a feminist?”

It’s a central tenet to a certain type of feminism, yes. Why is it impossible for women to believe themselves to be feminists in terms of equality with men, to be free from discrimination and abuse, or even to be (as some feminists believe) better placed than men in the whole scheme of things…yet hold a religious belief about something? Who indeed says that they need to be liberally minded, I certainly have seen no evidence that feminism is inherently liberal in how it is approached, universally it seems that feminism is completely outside of the left and rights of politics and different people apply it in a variety of ways. I’m not saying there is a whole lot of them, but the point is still valid here…you *can* be a religious feminist, just not perhaps the type of feminist that the loud and most popular feminists call themselves.

Now, your argument about the liberal restricting movement is much the same, and that’s my point, as long as you can argue that there is a liberal angle to your decision then you can probably call yourself it. Will I agree that you are? Probably not, but then I’m smart enough (and I would hope most people here are as well) to recognise that these very, VERY, generalised labels are hardly sufficient to be using in the very specific manner they’re being used in debates like these.

‘What do you mean…”you people”? —- What do YOU mean…”you people”?!’ comes to mind.

Here, they’re being aggressive and competitive and playing devil’s advocate all over the place. It’s not respectful.

Can these allegations be a bit more specific? I don’t want to be too prissy and petulant, but it’s uncomfortable to discuss anything if it’s implied that one may only be doing so under the influence of testosterone.

You’ve not quite grasped what morals are, have you? Keep going, you’ll get there one day when you stop getting confused over your use of the English language.

As fun as sneers are, I’m not sure that they’ve ever accomplished anything.

Men aren’t as physically impressive as all that. You can take them down with a swift kick to the balls, in fact.

Hehe…

Laurie’s point isn’t a theological discussion about when a baby is an individual. Her point is about allowing women the choice to abortion. Do you want to deny women the choice or not?

Eh? I don’t know why you’re mucking about with a theological strawman. Personhood and liberty are philosophical concepts.

‘NOBODY needs a gun’

Sentimental drivel.

One additional woman carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for women by about 3-4 times more than one additional man carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for men. Nothing equalizes the sexes like a gun and since you don’t support full equality of the sexes, you can’t really call yourself a feminist. Anyone who pushes for gun control are of the same mind-st as Palistinian suicide bombers and the Taliban who kidnap women for rape and sex-slave trade. Kick them in the balls!? What planet do you live on?

– “Men aren’t as physically impressive as all that. You can take them down with a swift kick to the balls, in fact. You don’t need a gun. NOBODY needs a gun.”

Really? What about disabled people? repeated martial arts lessons are for the time and money rich (who also have a frame suited to some form of self-defence), whereas a gun (in legal circumstances) can be available to those of relatively modest means.

– “Yes, and what’s your point. My point was about imposing restrictions on women about reproductive choices. What’s yours?”

That you can’t be a feminist, by the “body-choice” definition given, without believing in zero drugs restrictions too. But I don’t think thats a position that a majority of feminists hold. Hence the demand of the “body-choice” definition doesn’t hold.

Do you have a source for that stat, Christina? Do you know if rape rates are correlated with gun ownership?

“That you can’t be a feminist, by the “body-choice” definition given, without believing in zero drugs restrictions too. But I don’t think thats a position that a majority of feminists hold. Hence the demand of the “body-choice” definition doesn’t hold.”

This is a really good point Nick, and is precisely what I mean. The abortion debate is important, and those on here know I back abortion rights to the hilt…but to say that it is an inherently feminist thing is…well…it’s only part of the story. It is a liberal feminist thing, and just like a conservative feminist wouldn’t accept drug laws to be relaxed I would expect a conservative feminist to be a little more conflicted on abortion, as I would expect a liberal feminist to be more open to legalisation (or decriminalisation, whatever you want to call it) of drugs.

This is my annoyance, it’s that Laurie does a really good job of portraying *her* feminism as the only one that matters, as if it’s the only type of feminism that is real and has purpose. There are vast amounts of other political views that influence and conflict with the political view of feminism, and this needs to be accepted as a perfectly understandable situation…Palin’s ability to believe herself to be a feminist while not agreeing with abortion being one of those things.

I don’t like the woman, don’t get me wrong, her politics are all wrong for me…but I’m not going to sit here and belittle legitimately formed views because they don’t conform to my own. Question them, sure, fight against them…if I were American…but to try and make out that she simply can’t be what she believes herself to be? That is what is disrespectful in this thread.

Is it your belief that one should be known as a person once one is separate from the Mother?

Frankly, I don’t think anyone should be known as a person until they’re old enough to sell me beer, and even then I’d recommend some pretty stringent conditions.

Like to ask: is this feminism a smokescreen for female chauvinism or a female perspective on gender egalitarianism? If it’s the latter how does it promote equality by going round shouting “nobody messes with me, you asshole!”

My source is ‘More Guns; Less Crime’ by John Lott. Although people have opposed his argument that more guns lead to a reduction in crime, nobody has been able to adequately answer his argument that curbing gun ownership reduces crime or that gun ownership causes more crime. Those two positions are factually and logically insupportable. And yet here we have a fake feminist babbling that ‘guns are inhumane’ and accepting this drivel as self-evident truth. Tell me Laurie, if owning legal guns in itself breeds inhumanity then how come Switzerland, a paradise of social peace compared with the US or UK, is one of the most heavily armed countries in the world?

Bensix, you’re right of course, but without interposing some judgemental mechanism the flaws of her statement may easily be overlooked.

Laurie, please don’t confuse morality with the stigma attatched to immorality. If you are confused about what is ‘moral’ please don’t just assume the people you oppose have a monopoly on it, otherwise you result in defining yourself according to them, rather than according to yourself.

Correction:

I meant to say:

Nobody has been able to adequately answer his argument that curbing gun ownership DOES NOT reduce crime or that more gun ownership DOES NOT cause more crime. His two positions are factually and logically SOUND and unanswerable.

“Frankly, I don’t think anyone should be known as a person until they’re old enough to sell me beer, and even then I’d recommend some pretty stringent conditions.”

Is that legally or could I get away with my personhood if I shoved you a few beers on the quiet?

Ben

That depends what type we’re talking about. If it’s Tennents or Carling, forget it….

Oh, because she said you can’t be pro life and feminist she’s telling women what to do. mmmhmm. That makes a lot of sense.

Predictable as usual.

Christina : Laurie never said that owning guns breeds inhumanity – she said guns are inhumane – so she has no case to answer. You do however when I point out to you that Japan and Singapore are both havens of safety compared to anywhere in the West, and they have extremely strict gun control laws.

Christina, the conflation of issues in such an argument must be disentangled, as I’m sure many people will see from a cursory analysis of Swiss and US social policy relating in particular to education levels.

More guns may or may not mean less crime, but what is certain is that guns are among the most injurious weapons devised by humanity and your placement of death or serious injury by gunshot over rape says something about your personal evaluation of the relative value of life and physical harm.

My personal opinion is that rape is a less serious offence than homicide and it’ll take a lot to convince me otherwise.

Laurie, I think you’re spot on but what always gets me about these debates is not the moral consideration surrounding abortion, it’s easy for a conservative of any stripe to say we shouldn’t be killing babies. How about this, all of you who are opposed to abortion, where are you getting the funding for the orphanages for these extra children? Are you willing to foster and adopt some of the abandoned babies that your policy will create? I suppose the funding for the women who end up in hospital after having illegal abortions will be provided from the budget that previously covered abortions but the creation of a criminal black market will need extra police funding. Then there will be extra healthcare for the ill babies that will be born. Obviously a lot of women in their 20s will have to remove themselves from the job market for a period of time because they will have to give birth, a good proportion of women you know will have had abortions and won’t have told so the economy will also be effected.

To even suggest that we revoke abortion rights in the west is extremely naive and shortsighted because it has had a massive effect on our societies. All you have to do is look at this page. Under the links the date of closure for each of the orphanages is given, we would need to recreate an entire section of our society.

“More guns may or may not mean less crime, but what is certain is that guns are among the most injurious weapons devised by humanity and your placement of death or serious injury by gunshot over rape says something about your personal evaluation of the relative value of life and physical harm.”

Uhh… Christina may just value the health and safety of a law abiding woman (or man even) over the life of a rapist.

Sarah may be able to take her baby to work with her and nurse during a meeting as Governor of Alaska – a state with a population of 626,000 people. It is a different story being the VP of the United States. No CEO in any corporation would do such a thing. I think a woman with children is certainly capable of being the VP or president of the US, but I do question the judgment and “family first” priority of a new mother with a newborn having special needs.

When it comes down to it, where will her allegiance be? With the MILLIONS of people relying upon her to lead the country, or with her children, whether they be pregnant, sick or whatever the issue? Will she be in the Middle East brokering a peace deal and suddenly have to fly home to attend to the health care needs of her infant son? She would be a cruel, heartless mother if she did no less, but she will be an ineffective, laughable joke of a world leader if she places her family priorities ahead of her country.

“Oh, because she said you can’t be pro life and feminist she’s telling women what to do. mmmhmm. That makes a lot of sense.”

Now look in a mirror, and realise what it is I’m getting at.

Nina: I don’t know if anyone here is actually stating a case for abortion to be criminalised, your points are all certainly valid in terms of opposing those that believe so. The issue here is, however, whether or not you can be a feminist and anti-abortion…not really whether abortion is right or not, we’ve had that debate about a million times.

Gina,

I don’t think that Laurie is “telling us” what feminism is or “telling anyone” what feminism is. It’s a contribution towards a definition.

Nina,

Yours is an interesting argument, but not one that’s likely to appeal. It reminds me a little of those who argue that aid to Africa is immoral as depletion of populations that can’t be maintained shouldn’t be fought.

“That depends what type we’re talking about. If it’s f Tennents or Carling, forget it….”

Well, I’ll stick with being a non-person, anyway. Generally, beer tastes like dishwater left to ferment in a toilet bowl.

Ben- you misunderstood me. I was being sarcastic in response to Lee’s comments that she’s telling women what to do.

Lee- aaaand another one for the Bingo square.

Lee:
This is my annoyance, it’s that Laurie does a really good job of portraying *her* feminism as the only one that matters, as if it’s the only type of feminism that is real and has purpose. There are vast amounts of other political views that influence and conflict with the political view of feminism, and this needs to be accepted as a perfectly understandable situation

Erm, that completely undestimates the extent to which abortion rights are central to feminism.

As I said before, its a bit like someone calling themselves a liberal and then being against the free movement of people within a state.

Updated
I’ve updated the article above to include Innerbrat’s comments too, which I think are relevant here too:

See, the thing is, it’s obviously not my position to say with absolute certainty that this particular seventeen year old girl should stay in school, stay single and not be burdened with marriage and motherhood this young. I have no right to cast aspersions on the state of the girl’s education or values that she is pregnant. I don’t know the situation: I don’t know squat about Bristol Palin and I will not pass judgement on her. More than anything else, I believe she has the right to her choice and her privacy.

But Sarah Palin doesn’t think that about me. She wants to take away my (theoretical in existence, theoretical in nationality) daughter’s right to information and education that might reduce her chances of being pregnant. She wants to take away my daughter’s right to privacy (from me). She wants to take away my (TiE;TiN) daughter’s right to make a choice about what to do should she get pregnant.

So yes, this is an issue. And voters do need to ask themselves – if Sarah Palin’s abstinence-only anti-choice policies have worked so well that she’s a grandmother at 44, will they work for your family?

“Lee- aaaand another one for the Bingo square.”

Are you here to contribute, or is your sole purpose to ignore the obvious ironies in what you’re saying?

“Erm, that completely undestimates the extent to which abortion rights are central to feminism.”

To YOUR feminism. You’re using (as Innerbrat does) LIBERAL arguments against CONSERVATIVE views, neither of which are the sole purview of feminists. You believe in a liberal feminism, this does not mean that Sarah Palin cannot be a feminist with religious values and beliefs.

Sunny, as I’ve said before recognising that some restrictions are essential to good practise does not conflict with the idea of liberty, because liberty is not a singular absolute and must be balanced.

It is perfectly liberal to legislate for driving on one side of the road, just like it is perfectly liberal to enforce restrictions on entry to areas where contamination is a concern (crime scenes and nuclear or environmental disaster zones spring to mind at either end of the scale).

It is also perfectly liberal to have regulatory control on markets to prevent the damage caused by distortions (of which abortion is an extreme example caused predominantly by laziness and maleducation).

Balance and equality is not found by tipping the scales all in one direction, but we should remember adjustments are always possible and often desirable.

“As I said before, its a bit like someone calling themselves a liberal and then being against the free movement of people within a state.”

To take this to a seperate point. I am sure I could make a liberal argument as to why lack of free movement is a good thing if I thought about it, no doubt there are others that could to. There is liberalism in vast amounts of things due to it being such a subjective concept based on just which set of criteria someone puts as their priorities. The same can be said for Feminism. Not all liberals agree on everything, even on some of the most key issues such as property, life and money, why must you pretend that Feminists must?

Oh the obvious ironies? My problem, Lee, is that here, and elsewhere on the site you have habit of telling feminists what they should think. At one point during a debate about pro choice and pro life you told someone they shouldn’t fling the word misogynist around and that they should get “back on topic.” It IS on topic. Controlling a woman’s reproductive rights IS misogyny.

And if you’re wondering why I’m being so flippant, I see your type all the time. You have no desire to educate yourself about feminism, you simply think the big bad mean ol “ironic” feminists are attacking you. There, I contributed something, but it will likely just fall on deaf ears anyway, so I may as well pull out the bingo card again.

My advice to you is this: If you feel anger towards a feminist because they disagreed with you it is not because they ironically placed those feelings there, it is because they were already there. Your responsibility is to educate yourself and learn- it isn’t mine. If i stopped to play teacher to every ignorant person on the net I’d be wasting my time.

“You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.”

Dam right.

What people like Nick don’t seem to understand is that choice, means choice. I do not give a shit if a woman wants to have an abortion or not. It is her body, and her right to decide. What religious fundamentalist want, is to take away that choice. If the Palin family wants to keep their baby then fine. But Palin wants to take the choice to have an abortion away from other families who may not want to keep their baby.

It is not acceptable for Palin to claim this is a “ private family matter” because Palin and her like would like to use the power of the state to interfere in other family’s “private matters.” Unfortunately, this is so typical of the simpleton, Christian fundamentalist hick bullshit, that has taken over the Republican party.

Palin also believes in book banning. Here is a piece from Time…….

“ as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” The librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire her for not giving “full support” to the mayor.”

When conservatives talk of freedom, what the hell are they talking about?

Lee is a concern troll.

Very concerned that liberals don’t say nasty things that will upset the poor little Copnservatives.

Lee – The point is that feminism is not an ideology, but a movement.

Feminism is a coalition between illiberal feminist chauvinists (not all of whom are female) and liberal gender egalitarians (only some of whom are female)

The movement cracks as soon as the divisions are exposed and women are forced to choose whether they are for women first or humanity first.

In standing up for equality of course you are going to tread on a few toes in the meantime, but in their opposition they dream of their jackboots stamping on our faces, forever.

Thomas, I sincerenly doubt that most unwanted pregnancies are conceived due to laziness and maleducation. Contraceptive failure, believing that you are infertile (during menopause), are all factors leading to unwanted pregnancies and my bet is the first accounts for the bulk…

Gina, enabling a woman to have control of her own reproductive abilities is liberation and is done by creating boundaries of acceptability so that she is able to accept the responsibility for her behaviour.

Without discernable and enforced boundaries then liberty descends into anarchic chaos, so your criticism of those who wish to help as misogynist exposes your own misandry.

thomas- the man who said we all want to stomp on men’s faces with our jackboots called me a misandrist.

lol

And you wonder why we don’t take you seriously.

Pippa, I do love a betting woman – what are you prepared to gamble? your dignity, or your credibility?

Frankly, the cause of abortion in any particular society is contingent on the morality of that society – so whatever the case it is caused by failure. And in my book the only good thing about failure is that it provides an example to learn from.

Gina, no I didn’t.

If that was your impression then it was all a projection of your own mind, so I’ll leave readers of this thread to judge for themselves.

shrug. Fine with me.

Palin is nuts!

Speaking before the Pentecostal church, Palin painted the current war in Iraq as a messianic affair in which the United States could act out the will of the Lord.

“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God,” she exhorted the congregants. “That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”

I”n standing up for equality of course you are going to tread on a few toes in the meantime, but in their opposition they dream of their jackboots stamping on our faces, forever”

I don’t want to stamp on anyones face Thomas, I just want to be able to control my own body.

Give it up, you are talking bullshit.

For the man who questioned the assertion that one can’t oppose abortion and be feminist , I’m guessing you’re a young man. Woman are “of the body” in a way that men aren’t. Your intellectual (and I’m using that word generously) response is a perfect example. It’s something that took me about 10 years of marriage to figure out. To deny a woman reproductive rights is to deny her fundamentally. Now, to say that a woman is ALL about the body, is equally silly, but I really believe that’s the center from which women operate. Helene Cixous has written about this gloriously.

Lordy… great post, Laurie. Shame about the comment thread. Some people just have no idea.

Well, I have just rolled in from work and read this, and am moved to observe that I think Laurie’s post is one of the best things I’ve read on Palin… you cannot be a feminist (or indeed, a human being who truly thinks of women as equals, methinks) and oppose a woman’s right to choose.

That is exactly right. You can’t be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose. You can, however, be a female politician who decides to build a career around pandering to middle America’s endless anti-liberal hangups. I give you Sarah Palin.

Well done, Laurie. Pour it on, sis.

Lee, you’re clearly not getting this are you?

What defines liberalism? Or can anyone call themselves ‘liberal’? I suppose if Joseph Stalin wanted to call himself liberal you’d have a discussion about the extent to which property rights can be protected… or you’d think he was a twat.

The point is, there are some ideals that define a movement.. and control over reproductive rights incl abortion defines feminism. There’s no way of getting around that.

And if you buy into this bullshit about ‘conservative feminists’ and ‘feminists for life’ just having the interests of women at heart, then I’m sorry but you’ve fallen for rubbish. You might as well be a black person joining ‘black men for slavery’ because apparently black slaves were treated better than ordinary people during the time.

thomas –
Feminism is a coalition between illiberal feminist chauvinists

How are you defining illiberal here? You guys really are confused. Either there are some basic ideals that define a movement, in which case you can throw around the words ‘illiberal’ and ‘anti-feminist’, or nothing is certain and the stupid labels that thomas is using are no use. Sort it out amongst yourselves. I think the women here are pretty much agreed on the issue. That should tell you something

Sally, you were being a bit extreme, so I’m glad you accepted the power of rhetoric and could moderate yourself even if you needed to get a sly dig in at the end to save face.

You do have that choice, within limits, like 24 weeks limit (minding exceptions). Our debate is not over whether choice is a good thing but what the limits of that choice should be, so I don’t know why we are getting hot under our collars.

The debate on the other side of the Atlantic is a different matter however, and Palin shows how it is choice itself which is under attack, not women – so this isn’t about feminism, it’s about liberty.

Can you be a feminist and anti-abortion?

If by feminist you mean female chauvinist who doesn’t take into account anything any man says, then easily, because there are no half measures among illiberals.

If by feminist you mean gender egalitarian, then this is a false question, as most of us here would agree, the real choice is a question of at what stage of the pregnancy does the acceptability of abortion turn unacceptable – and not who chooses.

Sunny- Isn’t it “amusing” that the blokes here are completely ignoring your arguments yet head patting the women with drivel like “i’m glad you accepted the power of rhetoric.”

Cowards.

No, thomas, i don’t think most of agree with your definition of the “real choice”. But, I think the sensible people here might agree that you defining for the ladies here what the question is. it’s pompous and sophomoric. as we say here in texas, just shut the fuck up.

No, thomas, i don’t think most of us agree with your definition of the “real choice”. But, I think the sensible people here might agree that you defining for the ladies here what the question is, is pompous and sophomoric. as we say here in texas, just shut the fuck up.

Way to go Joe, stick a gun in my face! I like threats, me.

Sorry Sunny, but some of us don’t run with the crowd. I think you need to be clear about your own definitions and the limitations of your own biases.

Suely, feminism is poorly defined according to your terms.

sorry, thomas. I’m trying to quit smoking. that was unfair. BUT, I really think some of us me (me included) would serve the the cause of women best by just shutting up.

Actually Joe, I think you should talk a lot more. 😉

That’s OK Joe, but I disagree.

The cause of humanity is best served by getting men and women talking to each other. Or Arabs and Israeli, or police and protesters, or nationalists and unionists – oh, isn’t that what democratic politics is about?

However, I also agree, that there is a time and a place and once you feel you’ve made your full contribution you should withdraw gracefully.

Thanks ginaSketch, then let me just add that it has been the modus operandi of the male medical establishment to diagnose women who kick too hard with “Hysteria”. So when Thomas begins to suggest that your imagining things, he’s evoking his own subtle brand of jack-booted thuggery. Husbands say these sorts of things to wives all the time. Again, it’s about the body, I think. Men want to control women’s bodies. It’s what we want more than anything else and HOW we do it is, quite often, by convincing them that they’re crazy, or stupid.

Why is it everytime I encounter Lee Griffen he’s trying to tell women what is or isn’t feminism and/or sexism.

Lee, if you could explain which ‘Liberal argument’ I have used against which ‘Conversative view’, I’d be obliged.

The point is, there are some ideals that define a movement.. and control over reproductive rights incl abortion defines feminism. There’s no way of getting around that.

I’m going to ignore Sarah Palin for a moment. Everyone here agrees that she should be kept away from the Presidency like a pyromaniac from a lighter.

The distinction that I think should be made, though, is feminism as Laurie is attempting to distinctly define it and what may constitute a feminist cause. For example, consider the recent protests in Turkey against draconian “exhibitionism” laws. Many of the protestors would oppose the right to abort, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be supported in their opposition to patriarchal oppression.

And please, can people stop the broad-brush remarks about a variety of others “not getting it”. If you disagree with a comment then refute it directly, but don’t loftily condemn anyone in sight.

Ben

Nothing really to add to the all too familiar feminist squabble, but this is probably the most hilarious thing I’ve read on a serious political site in a long time:

“Anyone who pushes for gun control are of the same mind-st as Palistinian suicide bombers and the Taliban who kidnap women for rape and sex-slave trade.”

I think I feel an internal combustion coming on…

Sunny, other mods: the side thread about gun control/safety was getting quite interesting, but it is a distraction. Could we have a couple of guest posts on the subject from a UK perspective, please?

Back to the topic: I have been surprised how few times the word “moral” (or its forms) has been used in this thread. Opposition to abortion has been described as “conservatism”, but surely “right to choose” is a moral judgement (possibly based on religious teaching, but that is irrelevant). I have known many liberal people (men and women) who support reproductive rights (eg contraception) but who oppose abortion. Some would be happy with the morning-after pill, others would consider it a form of abortion.

Opponents of abortion may be more commonly conservatives, but if we are genuinely liberal, there should be space for liberal moralist opponents. Science struggles to define when a foetus becomes a person, so we should respect those who wish to protect foetuses, even when we disagree.

The moral argument about abortion is an important one, because of the effect of pregnancy on the woman. Earlier in the thread, someone commented about “body consciousness” and the difference between men and women. When a woman is pregnant, her hormones change, stimulating different behaviour and attitudes; a woman’s body system is geared up to producing and nurturing a child. The woman may have rational reasons for an abortion, but her body is contrarily saying “look after this baby”, so a moral argument, backed up by community, will help her to overcome feelings of guilt.

A moral argument for abortion may be constructed about “inappropriate circumstances to bring up a child” or rape. Inconvenient foetus disposal is more difficult to qualify.

. This supports the woman who wishes to have an abortion.

Doh, ignore the last paragraph in my previous post which was an editing glitch. My post was intended to end with “…difficult to qualify.”

Thankfully, it’s not working.

I should say that it is working just fine. From McCains point of view, one effect of this pick was to drive a section of the other sides coalition nuts.

99. douglas clark

Laurie Penny,

Excellent post. I am struggling to understand what there is in it to disagree with. I’d have thought that feminism was defined, at a minimum, by the right of a woman to control her own reproduction. Surrender of that principle would undercut almost any other ambition that feminists might have. It would be as if the last fifty years hadn’t happened.

Lee @39 and Gina @53

A woman telling other women what feminism should be about?

I take issue, first off, with the frankly patronising fact that you assume I’m only talking to other women when I’m talking about wimminz issues. Not that that stops you getting in my face and telling me where I’m wrong, of course. Oh no.

What I am doing is presuming to define one of the central tenets of feminism. The fact that I am a **female** feminist means that I get to even attempt to do this in the same way that white anti-racists’ job is to participate in debte and offer support, but not to tell BME people what their experiences of racism are and how they should react to them.

Thanks Gina, you’re a mate. 🙂

@ thomas’ many pokes to get me to talk about morality:

No, babe. ‘Immoral’ and ‘a bad idea’ don’t mean the same thing. It’s a bad idea to cross the road without looking both ways, but it’s not immoral. There are plenty of things people can do to fuck their lives up. Doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to make their own mistakes.

ginasketch: “And if you’re wondering why I’m being so flippant, I see your type all the time.”

Likewise, I’m glad I made a lasting impression on you, but it seems given you cannot tell the difference between someone willing to engage in debate and someone telling you what to think. I also find it amusing you think I’m angered, if I was to describe any emotion that comes out of these frequent debates surrounding feminism it is disappointment that a discussion cannot stay on the topic it is developing around without accusations being thrown around.

Sunny: “Lee, you’re clearly not getting this are you?”

Right back at you 😉

“What defines liberalism? Or can anyone call themselves ‘liberal’? I suppose if Joseph Stalin wanted to call himself liberal you’d have a discussion about the extent to which property rights can be protected… or you’d think he was a twat.”

What is the difference between a liberal that believes in no taxation, and a liberal that believes in total taxation? Quite a lot, but they’re still liberal, just with different priorities.

“The point is, there are some ideals that define a movement.. and control over reproductive rights incl abortion defines feminism. There’s no way of getting around that.”

And the point I’m making is pretty much in line with this, she can call herself a feminist and could be 90% in line with what you’re thinking, but because she’s not in “your club” of perfect priorities you can’t accept that she genuinely (or maybe not, I don’t know the woman) believes herself to be a feminist. Does this make all her feminism wrong? If she stands up for equal employment rights (again, not saying she does) then is she any less a feminist than you? If she believes women are better off for following God’s way then that’s her choice, her choice if she were to push for it through legislation would be absolutely irrespective to her feminism and instead totally to do with her politics.

“And if you buy into this bullshit about ‘conservative feminists’ and ‘feminists for life’ just having the interests of women at heart, then I’m sorry but you’ve fallen for rubbish.”

I’m not buying in to anything, but I’m also not simply throwing scorn and disrespect at people I fundamentally disagree with either. I will, however, accept that there can be feminists out there that believe such things. I know you’d rather pull the covers over and pretend they don’t exist, but perhaps that’s just not going to work 🙂

“You might as well be a black person joining ‘black men for slavery’ because apparently black slaves were treated better than ordinary people during the time. ”

Jokes about the BNP aside, there’s a world of difference between accepting what that black person were to say and arguing/debating/educating/whatever about the realities…and saying that perhaps he is the perfect example of someone that doesn’t deserve to be alive right now.

Debi: “Why is it everytime I encounter Lee Griffen he’s trying to tell women what is or isn’t feminism and/or sexism.”

I really do find it quite funny…so many feminists thinking I’m trying to tell them what it is that they are actually thinking or following, when what I’m simply saying…more often than not…is that they are not considering what other people are thinking or following has any merit 🙂 God forbid someone come along and question just how narrow your viewpoints are, if anyone does they must immediately be branded as trying to impose their “narrow” viewpoint on you!

“Lee, if you could explain which ‘Liberal argument’ I have used against which ‘Conversative view’, I’d be obliged.”

You haven’t piped up in this thread except to grace us with your opinion about how much of a cock you feel I am, so I don’t think you’ve really used any argument relevant to the topic I was discussing with Sunny.

To clarify, I’m not the person here telling anyone what feminism is or isn’t, if you believe I am trying to tell you what to think then you need to take a little more time reading over what is actually being said. 🙂

Joe: “To deny a woman reproductive rights is to deny her fundamentally.”

I’m not arguing that this is or isn’t the case. What I am saying is that for religious people faith and God come above everything else, and so to deny their religion is to deny them fundamentally also. This is why I certainly can’t find a serious argument as to why a religious woman can’t be a feminist in her own way, subservient (as with the male gender) to their religion before all else.

Now Palin’s problem is that in this view (again, if it really is her view) she is staking out a very non-liberal argument that religion is the truth and all us sinners need to accept this whether we believe it or not. If she is pushing for legislation it is because of conservative politics, not any lack of feminism that she may feel she holds. And we argue against it why? Because we’re liberal and we don’t believe in lack of choice that organised religion and busy-body ultra-right politicians tend to foist on us.

Where does feminism come in to our gripe with this woman? Oh…nowhere, except that one type of feminist is really pissy that a person not totally in tune with them is calling themselves a feminist too.

Maybe it’s my age, but I was taught to cross the road with the moral that ‘if you look before you cross, you’ll never get hit by a bus’.

‘a bad idea’ does imply that the referenced action will lead to an unwanted outcome – in other words ‘a bad idea’ is literally so because of the causal properties involved.

Morality also implies causal inference and therefore IS the same thing, whereas immorality is a negation which could refer to the process or the consequence. The employ of negative terms is a shoddy tactic of misapplication which creates confusion and raises the emotive stakes, so it is you, Laurie, who are responsible for the bad language which created the confusion and caused all the insults thrown in this thread.

If you did it accidentally then you should go back to school, but if you did it deliberately you should be ashamed.

““You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.”

That only works if you accept the highly dodgy premise that womens’ rights are the only, or the most important, issue around childbirth. Many would argue, and not neccessarily from a religious platform, that they are not.
By your argument it is also impossible to believe in the theory of evoultion and be a feminist ? (think about it now…..)

I have thought about it, Matt, and your logic is still drivel.
Excellent article – Palin really does seem to be massively unhelpful, frighteningly right-wing and largely corrupt…

*blinkblink*

Lee, I was linked to this post because I was quoted. I read the comment thread and found you specifically dismissing what I’d said as “LIBERAL arguments against CONSERVATIVE views,” so I asked you to clarify.

Clearly you’d rather be smug and condescending and comfortable in your privilege. Please, feel free continue discussing MY words with Sonny. Nothing flatters me more than having two men discuss me without my input.

*checks thread*

Ye gods…

I have stopped trying to read this thread and am hitting my head against the desk. Lee, you’d better give Debi a good answer to her question y’hear?

Why can’t I spell anyone’s names right? Lee, Sunny, I apologise from the depths of my fingers.

108. douglas clark

Lee,

You have not answered the fundamental question, have you? Your post at 102 swings everywhere, but it does not, as far as I can see, address the quite obvious point that feminism is based on ownership of your uterus. Whilst neither you nor I have one, it seems to me that women should have that right. What’s to disagree?

What makes you think at any point I was referencing what Sunny quoted? I started in this debate long before your stuff got added to the main article. No offence, but you think awfully highly of yourself if you think I was referring to you personally when I said what you are quoting from me. One thinks you flatter yourself enough without two men discussing anything at all. 😉

What I will say is that I don’t disagree with your general attitude that Palin’s candidacy is something worthy of opposing, and that her being there is detrimental to the progression of positive health and education in at least the US. The only thing I’d question in what is quoted in the main article is why you say you aren’t going to judge their personal family situation (very noble), but then proceed to judge it (ignoble).

110. subservient_son

While I disagree with pretty much everything Sarah Palin believes, at least she is consistent on the abortion question. There are few things more hypocritical than pro-lie people who allow incest and rape exemptions, just because they don’t like the circumstances of conception. So while she wants a policy which would cause great damage to the lives of many mothers and their unwanted children, at least she appears to want it out of personal moral principle and not a mysoginistic desire to control.

I don’t they’re having the same argument in America over Palin, largely because the left there, it seems, is more aware of feminist arguments. Sure, they have right-wing nutjobs galore, but the dividing line on these issues is pretty clear.

Here, because we don’t have such clear ideological demarcations, I think the points about feminism or sometimes lost. As is also the case with other issues.

Coming back to Lee:
I’m not arguing that this is or isn’t the case. What I am saying is that for religious people faith and God come above everything else, and so to deny their religion is to deny them fundamentally also.

No one is denying Palin her religious rights nor her own family rights. The point is she wants to deny those rights to other women.

Now. Again, if I haven’t gotten across clearly enough that reproductive rights are pretty central to feminism, regardless of whether you’re conservative or liberal, then you’re not really getting feminism. The 90% other stuff she may agree with isn’t relevant because women having control over their own bodies is 90% of feminism. Its not a small part of it. Economic rights are there too, but frankly you cannot deny those rights and say well you have 90% of all other feminist rights so what’s the problem? because it doesn’t work. Your argument doesn’t stack up. I suggest reading a bit more feminism.

I will concede one point though. In case of race politics for example, there are far too many people willing to shut down the debate amongst themselves by saying another (brown/black) person is an ‘uncle tom’ or ‘white-washed’ etc and is saying things only to appease white people. I’m not a fan of it. So I agree that people far too easily say this person or that person isn’t a feminist or leftist etc.

After all, Thomas is happily throwing around the word ‘illiberal’ like confetti. We’re plagued by libertarian commentators who throw the word ‘fascist’ around like its 1930s Germany. These are all examples of political hyperbole.

But there are certain basic rules here. If the state is locking people up without trial, and executing them, then you can be pretty certain you’re living in a police state – there’s very little in the way of ifs and buts. Similarly, if a brother is part of ‘black people for slavery’, then its pretty clear he ain’t an equality activist. The same goes for feminism. I can’t really make the point too many times or any more clearer.

“Your post at 102 swings everywhere, but it does not, as far as I can see, address the quite obvious point that feminism is based on ownership of your uterus. Whilst neither you nor I have one, it seems to me that women should have that right. What’s to disagree?”

The feminism you and I know and love is indeed centred on that, I’ve never denied this, I’ve put many an emphasis on how much I don’t deny this. However I also don’t deny that a person can be completely and utterly legitimate in their belief they are a feminist while following a religion as near-as-damnit to the letter of the (holy) law.

Do you disagree that if a woman puts god and her religion as a priority she can still be a feminist while believing wholeheartedly that the only choice she has available to her..indeed perhaps the only positive choice…is to carry through with a pregnancy? This is the fundamental question here, nothing else.

Debi – sorry, to clarify, I added your comments half-way because I thought they were very relevant to the thread.

Charlieman – erm, you want a side discussion on gun ownership and feminism? Erm.. who’s gonna write that?

Um, Lee?

You’re using (as Innerbrat does) LIBERAL arguments against CONSERVATIVE views, neither of which are the sole purview of feminists.

You challenged the lady’s words. Going to try and answer what you meant by that challenge?

Sorry, I’ve only just notice that. I was referring to Laurie, not to innerbrat. Your quoting her must have put her name in my mind when typing out the line. Innocent mistake.

And when I say “Your” I meant sunny, because although you, MatGB was posting, me last seeing Sunny as the last person that posted put it in my mind that you were him 😛 Confusion land ahoy.

What makes you think at any point I was referencing what Sunny quoted?

Well, my first clue was when you referred to me directly by handle. But as you seem to have an aversion to actually backing your shit up, I’ll just go to bed, I think.

Sunny, thanks for the link and the quote. No need to apologise at all.

Laurie, I didn’t mention this, so I will now – fantastic post.

Sunny, what is the singular of confetti?

Sunny: have known for a while that Lee doesn’t get feminism. Bless him 😉

Agreed with whoever it was up there who said that a Liberal should have no issue with Palin denying herself an abortion because of her religion, it’s her denying them to other people because of her religion that’s the issue.

“No one is denying Palin her religious rights nor her own family rights. The point is she wants to deny those rights to other women.”

Which is not at it’s forefront a feminist issue, it is a liberal/conservative issue at least in terms of method of legislating. I can see totally why traditional feminists will be the first to be annoyed at it, but that doesn’t stand to mean that what Palin says she is (if she says she’s a feminist) isn’t true within the context of holding a religious belief. That’s literally all I’m trying to say here.

“So I agree that people far too easily say this person or that person isn’t a feminist or leftist etc.”

Good 🙂 Does this extend to wishing you could “abort” fully functioning living beings too then?

“The same goes for feminism. I can’t really make the point too many times or any more clearer.”

If a woman chooses, and believes all other women should follow her lead, that every baby conceived should be born she is no less a feminist than one that decides every baby conceived should be aborted. The problem with Palin is not that she believes that babies should not be aborted, that she opposes a women’s “right to choose” on religious grounds…it’s that she is in a position of power (arguably) to force women not to choose. This has nothing to do with her feminism,or lack thereof.

Joe: “To deny a woman reproductive rights is to deny her fundamentally.”

“I’m not arguing that this is or isn’t the case. What I am saying is that for religious people faith and God come above everything else, and so to deny their religion is to deny them fundamentally also. This is why I certainly can’t find a serious argument as to why a religious woman can’t be a feminist in her own way, subservient (as with the male gender) to their religion before all else.”

Uhhh, for starters because her religion is a paternalistic, anachronism in which broads are turned into pillars of salt, enslaved for adultery, and likened to snakes.

I might also add that in our Democracy, we all pledge allegiance to the united states of america – no jesus. it’s part of being a citizen of the united states to NOT put your religion above the state – especially when you’re office.

ridiculous that all this even needs to be said.

“Uhhh, for starters because her religion is a paternalistic, anachronism in which broads are turned into pillars of salt, enslaved for adultery, and likened to snakes.”

Yep, that’s what you believe indeed, but let’s pretend for a moment that women have somewhat advanced out of that rather neanderthalic interpretation of their own religion for one second…

“it’s part of being a citizen of the united states to NOT put your religion above the state – especially when you’re office.”

Welcome to idealism land, here is your voucher for three rides on the “American dream for all” train and a free viewing of American idol!

Here in reality, people like George W Bush are elected *because* of their affinity in policy to religious beliefs. To ignore how influential religion is on US politics is …well…I’m sure you understand how ridiculous it would be to ignore.

“Well, my first clue was when you referred to me directly by handle. But as you seem to have an aversion to actually backing your shit up, I’ll just go to bed, I think.”

My sincerest apologies for what was a fully avoidable mistake on my part in typing in the wrong name.

Lee – let me say this slowly and clearly – denying rights (such as reproductive freedoms) to women, when those rights are only denied to women, *because only women can excercise them* – I’d say that’s pretty much on the button of feminism.

Yes, it’s *also* a liberal/conservative issue. It’s allowed to be both. You seem to have started this thread by objecting to the idea that feminists need to be pro-choice; now you’ve been conclusively taken down you’re shouting ‘but it’s not really feminism at all!’

I think it’s time for you to go to bed.

125. douglas clark

Lee @ 112,

Do you disagree that if a woman puts god and her religion as a priority she can still be a feminist while believing wholeheartedly that the only choice she has available to her..indeed perhaps the only positive choice…is to carry through with a pregnancy? This is the fundamental question here, nothing else.

Yes, I am disagreeing. It might be admirable, it might be worthy but is certainly not feminism. It strikes me as religion, quite frankly. I have no issue with a woman that did that. What I do have an issue with is a woman – or more likely a man, come to that – that wished to impose that on other women. That is the fundamental question, I think.

Look mate, I am not advocating anything here other than choice. It is up to a woman to decide whether or not they carry a foetus to term or not. And without that right women are subjugated. The point being that that is, if not a definition of feminism, at least a definition of patriarchy.

Am I hearing this right? The feminists are suddenly unhappy with the 24 week limit as a restriction of their freedom to choose to kill because this ‘right’ to control their own reporduction is fundamental to female identity? Well, why then were we here at LC campaigning against the reduction in the time limit instead of campaigning to raise the time limit?

From feminism 101: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/17/faq-what-do-feminists-mean-by-reproductive-freedom/

You cannot be a feminist and be anti-choice. Anyone who claims that they are a feminist, yet wants to deny other women reproductive rights is a liar.

Quote Sunny: Charlieman – erm, you want a side discussion on gun ownership and feminism? Erm.. who’s gonna write that?

Sunny, it was a serious proposition. Some people were upset enough on this thread to introduce the topic, so surely it deserves separate discussion. It is definitely a topic that divides right-left liberals, but left liberals don’t talk about it in the UK. Thus, in my post, I suggested that you seek a guest contributor.

But, erm, I appreciate your point about content. Erm, it is easy to write a few hundred words as a comment, but harder to write a thousand plus plus in the form of an essay. I must try harder.

Ugh, Lee, you are seriously tiresome, my friend. I don’t think my view of Christianity as a paternalistic, anachronism is “Neanderthalic.” Anthropologists, notably Joseph Campbell, said the same in many different ways. Sure, there are all brands of Christians, many of them far more palatable than American Fundamentalist Christians. But, the latter are whom we’re talking about and, living in the state of Texas, I would guess my perspective on their proclivities would be more accurate than yours, bloke. They are, in short, fabulously backwards and take much literally. If you’ve seen Sara Silverman’s show, Jesus is Magic, maybe you get it.

130. douglas clark

thomas,

No, your not hearing it right. At least I don’t think you are. We have been all around this issue when the 24 week deadline, which as you know is not a deadline, was up for discussion in Parliament. There seemed to me at least to be a general agreement that the 24 week win was a victory for common sense.

Please, stop using the emotive term kill. It just makes you look like a fundy.

Laurie, let me ask you a hypothetical question. Suppose that one day, some genius proved beyond any doubt that the fetus becomes a fully-fledged person, say, 3 days from conception. And suppose that you saw that proof, and were convinced by it.

Do you think that at the moment that you finished reading the proof, you would suddenly stop being a feminist?

I’m going assume that your answer is “no”. In which case – don’t you see that Sarah Palin could be, in reality, in sort of the same position as you hypothetically would be?

(Disclaimers : I don’t believe life starts 3 days after conception, I don’t like Sarah Palin, I don’t believe that my hypothetical proof will ever exist, etc etc. This is a Socratic excercise.)

“You seem to have started this thread by objecting to the idea that feminists need to be pro-choice; now you’ve been conclusively taken down you’re shouting ‘but it’s not really feminism at all!’”

The “it’s not really feminism at all” is what I’ve been saying from the very first point, that we are hung up right here on a label, feminism, which can be much broader than that which you are using it. I accept full that *your* feminism is centred around a right to choose. I also accept that it’s perfectly feasible for another form of feminism to exist where it is centred around all the same things just without the abortion part due to religious beliefs. To claim this is not possible is to ignore that feminism has evolved and to ignore that when anything evolves, any movement, you get offshoots that are perfectly entitled to call themselves that upon which they are based even if they are not precisely what you believe.

People are arguing here that feminism’s central theme is that they have control over their own bodies, a religious feminism doesn’t conflict with this…it only has a certain boundary in which no person has control over their own bodies in certain circumstances. I would argue that feminism’s central theme throughout history is that women should not be second class citizens, unequal in the eyes of society or the law. Again, opposing choice does not stop this it merely conflicts with popular feminism of today.

Now feel free to say all you like about how it is purely the uterus that is the issue in feminism, I’m not going to deny and never have that in modern day feminism it is the single biggest factor in the ongoing fight in the cause of equality for women. If we’re lucky, however, in 10-20 years down the line you’ll have a new generation of women saying that it is not sexual reproduction that is central to feminism (for that has already been won, like the right to education, to vote and equal status in the law before it) and maybe it’ll move in to the realms of pay equality being the central pillar…or having olympic sports always names male or female rather than neutral and female. Who knows.

But this lends itself to the fact that there can be, though I’m not professing there are, many other feminists out there that are religious and may legitimately feel that the war for control over their body has been won within the confines of their religion that they readily accept and expect other people to adhere to. I’m sure there are plenty in religion that feel exactly the same as you do, but I’m sure you can understand therefore why I feel it is perfectly legitimate for some feminists to feel that they are as such and anti-choice, not because it is or isn’t feminism but because religion is or isn’t involved.

Now to claim that those women who are religious, and wish for all of us to be religious too in our ways, are not feminists is to make a very bold claim that feminism is a purely liberal movement, that no woman involved can say what another woman can do. I think this is very admirable and agree wholeheartedly, but is that really the reality? I can personally see why some people may not see the calls for abortion at any stage up until birth to be any more liberal than the actions of those calling for no abortion whatsoever, however those calling for full term abortions…perhaps because THEY want it that way…get the benefit of being in a situation that does as a secondary nature give women ultimate choice.

Does that change how illiberal the way those on the other end of the scale act? Not at all, and it belies just how mixed the liberal nature of the movement is inside itself, and that while the overarching message may be one of overall choice that it can exist as such with people having their own internal struggles and off-message beliefs too.

So it may not be your feminism, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not a relevant feminism to certain people…perhaps more so than your feminism.

Woobegone – I don’t think that question’s very helpful, actually. If I say ‘yes’ then there are those on this thread who will say, ‘ah, you’re a hypocrite, then!’ . If I say ‘no’, you’ll call me inhuman. But I wouldn’t say either, because I don’t, actually, think it’s a situation that’s likely to arise any time soon.

It’s like me asking you, ‘what would you do if I showed you factual evidence that personhood starts at birth’? The point is one of personal belief and is likely to remain so for a good long while.

The point about lack of factual evidence on pre-natal consciousness is that until it happens all we have are these questions. What we know, and all we know for sure, is that a person is a separate human being who begins to gain emotional, physical and intellectual autonomy once ze is born. Anything else is superstition – superstition about when life really starts, superstition about what personhood and individual life entails. In civilised societies, we try not to legislate on the basis of superstition.

You’re free to avoid walking under ladders at all costs. If someone showed me concrete proof that walking under ladders will cause me to suffer horrible misfortune, I’ll stop too – probably. But I still wouldn’t support a law banning people from walking under ladders, or, indeed, from leaning them against walls in public places.

“Ugh, Lee, you are seriously tiresome, my friend.”

And you seem to lack a debating style that doesn’t revolve around insulting the person you’re conversing with, but I continually let it go.

“But, the latter are whom we’re talking about and, living in the state of Texas, I would guess my perspective on their proclivities would be more accurate than yours, bloke.”

Are we though? Does Mrs Palin believe wholeheartedly in every single word of the bible sentence for sentence? Can you point me to where you have such intimate knowledge of her personal beliefs? I would think, on reflection, that neither one of our perspectives can even come close to guessing the most accurate version of reality without a great deal of luck.

You’re making assumptions, basically, and I’m making assumptions in the opposite direction… the meat of the debate is in the subject where my assumption is closer to the mark, because if your assumptions are correct, regarding belief in women being second class because of their status in the bible in a very literal sense, then I’ve never disagreed that such views are entirely non-feminist…and hence there’d be no debate.

PS how did I do?

Lee – you’ve either missed the whole point or twisted it out of shape to suit your retraction.

I never said that abortion rights are THE central, defining issue in feminism. I merely think it’s a prerequisite for someone who wants to call themselves feminist in the same way that, ooh, believing that women deserve full citizenship and feeling that men shouldn’t be free to beat their wives are prerequisites.

Now can you please explain where your ‘perhaps more so than your feminism’ comes from?

Are *you* a feminist, Lee?

Laurie: “But I wouldn’t say either, because I don’t, actually, think it’s a situation that’s likely to arise any time soon.”

Cop out 😉

For the record I too think you’d say no, but are you sure you haven’t mixed up woobegone’s question of whether you’d still call yourself a feminist with would you still agree with (for instance) 24 week abortion. Or are the two so intrinsically entwined for you now you can’t separate the two?

But maybe towards your point, has the possibility of a foetus being “fully human” before 24 weeks stopped any of us being happy at a 24 week limit and thus isn’t this where feminism does truly branch and more personal views over the priority of life versus one’s body are likely to be perfectly legitimate to form?

What you’re doing, Lee, is forcing someone to answer a question which misses the point. That’s not constructive. That’s bullying. But I’ll answer it, because feminists sometimes have to stand up to bullies.

If there were concrete evidence that a fetus is sentient and fully autonomous at three days, I’d still ask its mother’s permission before forcing her to carry it to term. I’d explain to her, too, that it was a sentient human being and that there was no small moral magnitude attached to her choice. And then I’d expect her to make that moral, very personal choice over what was happening inside and to her own body, for herself, because she is a reasonable and rational human being, and her body is her own territory, not anyone else’s.

Of course, hopefully by the time you’ve conclusively proved that a fetus is sentient at 3 days, you’d probably also have the technology to safely remove and incubate that 3-day-old ball of cells in an artificial womb on your wall, thus saving everyone a lot of hassle.

Our problem, in this age of wonders and words, is that we still live in a society whose ideals are far behind its technologies. So let’s not have name-calling, because you’re still losing this one.

“Are *you* a feminist, Lee?”

I’m pro-equality, I think being more pro for one type of equality makes me unequal, so I don’t do it. 😉

“Lee – you’ve either missed the whole point or twisted it out of shape to suit your retraction.”

I really have to stress that I’m not missing the point here, I totally get that in terms of the feminist movement you subscribe to…which I fully accept is a huge movement with all the merit in the world (which I’ve never denied)…a women being unable to choose to have an abortion is like being forced to eat asbestos. I understand that in your criteria you cannot be the type of feminist you are without agreeing all women have a choice. However I am simply saying that there is no reason whatsoever that another branch or form of feminism can’t exist that is identical but for that criteria of choice…because for them the choice is already made by God, a choice they believe other women shouldn’t perhaps “tamper” with.

Maybe it’s just semantics but I think it’s important that one type of feminist does not cast away, belittle and ridicule another that is so very similar.

“Now can you please explain where your ‘perhaps more so than your feminism’ comes from?”

I was simply saying in the context of those people that are devoutly religious, perhaps a feminism that doesn’t campaign for the abortion rights is more relevant to them. That is all, pretty common sense really.

Laurie – Well, you didn’t answer the question, which is good, because it was a rhetorical (Socratic) one, it wasn’t meant to be answered 😉

But you haven’t grasped my implicit point. What I was trying to say is that if you, as a feminist, suddenly became convinced that the fetus becomes a person at 3 days, then I think you’d agree that this belief would not suddenly stop you being a feminist. obviously not – why would it stop you believing in women’s sufferage and gender equality and equal pay for equal work, and all the rest? There would be no reason for you to change your mind of any of that.

now it *might* make you rethink your stance on abortion. But you would *still* be a feminist even if it did, because you’d still have all your old opinions about all the other stuff. It’s just that one thing would have changed due to new information coming to light.

From which we conclude that you could at least in theory be a pro-life feminist. This is basically Lee’s point (I think), stated differently. Feminism is not fundamentally about abortion rights, even if, today, abortion rights are a central feminist issue (which they are).

it’s that she is in a position of power (arguably) to force women not to choose. This has nothing to do with her feminism,or lack thereof.

Mate, this just shows your own lack of knowledge about feminism. To be honest, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that now. ANYONE who seeks to deny other women rights over their own bodies CANNOT be a feminist because thats like killing people for a laugh and calling yourself an angel. Its obvious that your “pro-equality” stance extends mostly to economic rights. When it comes to reproductive rights, you’re pissing in the wind. Unfortunately, its flying back in your face. I’d stop if I was you, this conversation is becoming circular.

A discussion about when life starts is rather irrelevant. Its having the choice and allowing other women to have that choice is what matters. Sarah Palin cannot be a feminist. Full stop.

Furthermore, you say:
I was simply saying in the context of those people that are devoutly religious, perhaps a feminism that doesn’t campaign for the abortion rights is more relevant to them. That is all, pretty common sense really.

I don’t believe you’re even saying this. Its a bit like saying that science has this theory of evolution, and the religious people believe something else, so we should teach ‘intelligent design’ at school too. After all, both views are relevant? In fact, given Palin believes in teaching creationism, I’m not even surprised she calls herself a ‘feminist for life’.

I don’t think it’s common sense at all. Feminism isn’t a religious belief, it’s a political one. People who put religious belief before their apprehension of feminist justice have made a choice.

There comes a point, in some religions, where you have to choose between absolute faith and equality. It’s possible to make that choice and remain both feminist and religious. You can be, for example, a feminist and Jewish, because it’s possible to be a reformist orthodox Jew who supports legal abortion. It’s not possible to be a feminist and to blithely and unquestioningly accept someone else’s anti-woman doctines – even if those anti-woman doctrines are personal beliefs you’ve internalised from birth.

As religious people we may choose to kill the unbeliever in ourselves, but we don’t allow religious extremists to practice terrorism or genocide because killing certain groups is a part of their religion. We don’t allow religion to come before the basic legal and personal self-determination of others. Bollocks to that. What your religion affects is what *you* do with *your* body.

Belief cannot and should not be a basis for legislation. It’s okay to be a Christian feminist who believes that abortion is morally ambiguous and will consequently never have or facilitate one herself. It’s not okay to be a ‘pro-life’ feminist who believes that her religious faith is more important than anyone else’s. Religion determines individual moral choice – not national and international law.

Woobegone – I’ve actually answered the question, see above 🙂

“What you’re doing, Lee, is forcing someone to answer a question which misses the point. That’s not constructive. That’s bullying. But I’ll answer it, because feminists sometimes have to stand up to bullies.”

I’m a bully too, whatever will my mother think of me.

“So let’s not have name-calling, because you’re still losing this one.”

Who’s calling names exactly? 😉 Anyway, back on subject…

“If there were concrete evidence that a fetus is sentient and fully autonomous at three days, I’d still ask its mother’s permission before forcing her to carry it to term.”

Aye, this is what I thought you’d say. I’d say the same thing. The thing is that it’s a personal view based on personal priorities of rights. They have no place in determining if someone is a feminist or not because you cannot say with 100% confidence that you are in the right. It is your liberal side that argues for abortion this way, not your feminist side…just how on the other side a conservative side argues for abortion a different way. Both of you can be following the idea of choice for a woman, however one set of you absolutely believe this is one area where women should not have a choice. No feminism in conflict here, just liberal atheistic views versus conservative theological ones as to which set of rights are more important when making (or therefore not being able to make) a choice.

“From which we conclude that you could at least in theory be a pro-life feminist. This is basically Lee’s point (I think), stated differently. Feminism is not fundamentally about abortion rights, even if, today, abortion rights are a central feminist issue (which they are).”

Yep, you’re thinking right, that’s definitely one of my points here.

“I don’t believe you’re even saying this. Its a bit like saying that science has this theory of evolution, and the religious people believe something else, so we should teach ‘intelligent design’ at school too. After all, both views are relevant? In fact, given Palin believes in teaching creationism, I’m not even surprised she calls herself a ‘feminist for life’.”

You’re comparing something we cannot know about (the sinfulness of abortion) combined with the uncertainty of situation (when a foetus actually becomes “alive”) with intelligent design…something that is all but proven to not be the case? I’m being very careful here in that I’m not stepping in to lines of factual information here, we’re strictly on belief. I know how vehemently you disagree with religion, and I myself don’t tend to agree with it either…but you manner of just dismissing it is precisely what I’m saying isn’t really justified.

“Mate, this just shows your own lack of knowledge about feminism.”

It’s nothing to do with feminism, it’s all to do with a different set of politics. If I am to follow your logic then any woman that agrees that she is bound by a contract at work, is forced to wear a uniform at school and accepts it or indeed simply has supervisor rights over other women which she exercises…cannot be a feminist. Feminism isn’t anarchy, it isn’t about every woman having absolutely every choice available in front of them, it’s about every woman having absolutely every choice available in front of them that everyone else has.

To this cause one feminist telling everyone else what they can and can’t do does not limit the feminism of the party in power or subservience (for want of a better word), especially when what she’s trying to tell them to do is in relativity no more radical than telling women they can’t murder their own children under the age of 2.

I also will clarify again, seeming some of those in the conversation (mainly Sunny right now) are still managing to prescribe on my “equality” credentials based on the fact I don’t agree with them on a singular part of a subject. If I am pissing in to the wind it is only alongside many of you that I’m speaking against, I am totally pro-choice and always have been.

“It’s not possible to be a feminist and to blithely and unquestioningly accept someone else’s anti-woman doctines – even if those anti-woman doctrines are personal beliefs you’ve internalised from birth.”

What is so inherent about the idea of a religious person wanting to not abort a baby/foetus that is discriminatory against a woman? At it’s core it’s an issue about the sanctity of life which is running parallel to the issue of a woman’s choice.

“Religion determines individual moral choice – not national and international law.”

I never understood this argument…we cannot let Religion determine our law, yet we can let a different set of beliefs determine it? It feels a lot like snobbery to me. I don’t agree that personal belief should really *ever* be involved in the process of legislation, not just religious belief…but abortion is one of those issues where you have to stand proud and say “I believe that this baby isn’t alive until 24 weeks, and even if it is then fuck it because my body, my choice”. Currently the majority of a particular parliament agrees with this personal choice. Let’s not make out all of a sudden that because this isn’t a choice based on religion that it’s any more justified….it’s still, on balance, a reflection of personal belief committed to law.

It’s interesting how you don’t seem to see the similarity.

“Feminism isn’t a religious belief, it’s a political one. People who put religious belief before their apprehension of feminist justice have made a choice.”

Is there really that big a difference? Sure, one is based on believing in something we can’t prove, but the reality of how people practice religion is hardly any different to how the feminist movement operates…prayers and circumcisions aside.

I know how vehemently you disagree with religion, and I myself don’t tend to agree with it either…but you manner of just dismissing it is precisely what I’m saying isn’t really justified

I despair, I really do. I don’t actually disagree with religion that much – I read a lot of religious philosphy and my family is quite religious. You’ve not grasped my point.

This isn’t about sinfulness of abortion of whatever… the argument isn’t even about whether abortion is a moral decision or not. People can believe what they like. The argument is about whether the anti-abortion position, and those who hold that view wanting to make it law, is a feminist stance to take.

Let’s be clear about something. John Kerry ran for presidency 4 years ago. He said he personally, as a Catholic, did not believe in abortion. But he would not take away the right for other women to do so. That is an acceptable position.

Sarah Palin is not only against abortion in any circumstances, she would also want to make that law. I keep hammering this point but bloody hell you’re mixing up with some other claptrap. If you want to shut down choice for women on abortion you cannot be a feminist.
If you have religious views fine… and you can have whatever personal moral stances you want. The minute you want to impose that on other women, it not only becomes illiberal, it also becomes anti-feminist. The same way you accept its illiberal to impose that restriction, I think you really need to grasp this nettle that it also becomes anti-feminist. I really don’t get why its so hard but presumably we’re not making this clear enough. Anyway, I can’t be arsed to go over this again.

Charlieman – If someone makes a good argument, then maybe. But to be honest, I don’t think you’ll find a very pro-guns culture in the UK and frankly I’m not very pro-guns either. So I find it difficult to take that argument seriously… sorry.

“The problem is that we have no way of knowing, scientifically, when personhood starts. Until we have absolute evidence on that front, we must assume that personhood is contingent upon separateness”

I’m assuming, incidentally, that those who subscribe to this view would support the legalisation of full term abortions?

Ben

Sunny, you are completely muddled between what *is* an acceptable position to hold, whether you accept that position and whether that is or isn’t *feminist*.

It is no wonder this thread has headed down several blind alleys when the supposed arbiters encourage attempts to divert it for their own purposes and polarise opinion into facile and unproductive leftist and rightist oppositions. Getting involved in divisive discussions like this only benefits those with extreme views because is reinforces contributors prejudices – it does nothing to break down barriers or build wider coalitions.

Observing this absolute travesty has been a shocking experience because it wilfully neglects the tragic reality which anybody facing such a choice has to deal with and I’m embarrassed for your sake.

I can fully understand that the author and commissioner of this piece will be proud to have recieved such a resounding response in terms of pure numbers of replies, however that is really just a measure of their failure to live up to your aspirations and mission statement. Laurie can look forward with optimism to her offer of a job from Rupert Murdoch on the evidence of this success.

As far as I’m concerned Sarah Palin couldn’t convince me to vote for her irrespective of how anyone describes her philosophic, political or policy positions but many of the so-called feminists here would appear to be more closely aligned with her in a shared ability to alienate the open-minded amongst the rest of us.

If you wish to talk political science please do so in the future on a topic and in a manner which is less susceptible to the ideological bias of identity perception and has reference to at least some empirical measure.

“Sarah Palin is not only against abortion in any circumstances, she would also want to make that law. I keep hammering this point but bloody hell you’re mixing up with some other claptrap. If you want to shut down choice for women on abortion you cannot be a feminist.”

A feminist by your values, of course, I understand and agree. Does this mean a branch of feminism can’t exist that believes that abortion is wrong and simply doesn’t want it…headed up by someone zealous enough to want to make it law? Quite simply this whole discussion is bogged down by the fact that you and some other feminists believe that your version of feminism is the only kind of any worth, you can’t accept there is the potential for a different version of feminism where taking away a woman’s right to choice isn’t so much controlling them but protecting them from God. It’s as dogmatic as listening to a bible basher in the street, it really is.

I can’t stress enough how legitimate law already exists that controls women (and men) that wouldn’t even be considered to be anti-feminist…yet is only a step away from an anti-abortion law in terms of protecting rights to life, and all such arguments around both ends of such a legal spectrum are as such purely about liberties and nothing more.

to cjcjc –

“Can anyone really believe that an unborn child the day before birth is not a person?”

yes. in fact i’d go as far as to say that it’s not a person the day after birth either; imo a newborn baby has no sense of self and doesn’t have “consciousness” in the adult human way. In addition, it is completely reliant on care provided by others to survive.
but it’s impossible to determine at what stage a baby/child develops a conscious sense of its own existence, so birth can be used as a safe cut-off point. Until birth the foetus is reliant on, and an extension of, the mother – she should have the right to choose.

so yes, I feel that abortion is acceptable at any point before birth.

“Does this mean a branch of feminism can’t exist that believes that abortion is wrong and simply doesn’t want it…headed up by someone zealous enough to want to make it law? Quite simply this whole discussion is bogged down by the fact that you and some other feminists believe that your version of feminism is the only kind of any worth, you can’t accept there is the potential for a different version of feminism”

On some level I agree with you, but at the same time, if we’re going to use categories, the properties of the thing you’re categorising have to have characteristics in common with the accepted characteristics of things in that category. You can’t really say “this is a chair, but it can’t be used for sitting on” just like you can’t really say “I’m a femanist, but I think that woman should have to stay at home and bring up babies their whole lives”.

Who’s saying anything about women staying at home and bringing up babies their whole life? I don’t believe anyone is legislating to force women to be stay at home mums, so there’s no need to muddy the waters there really 😛

Sam, I’m sure your comparison of a sentient, sensual female human being to a four-legged sitting apparatus will be welcomed by the feminist brigade as a helpful contribution to the cause!

“You can be a feminist and be uncomfortable with the notion of abortion. You can be a feminist and communicate that discomfort to third parties. You can be a feminist and choose never to have an abortion yourself. You can be a feminist and support greater rights and opportunities for young mothers everywhere so that fewer women will have to choose between pregnancy and their career. You can do all of these things and be a feminist. What you cannot do is stand in the way of any other woman’s moral and political right to reproductive self-determination.”

Absolutely. I am entirely with you on this defintition.

There is a spectrum of opinion on this, as you have illustrated, and I have at some stage been at most points of that spectrum, without abandoning my core belief in the right to chose.

The line is drawn where women, as opposed to debating, communicating and making individual choices, step into the powerful positions traditional to men and apply male oppression to other women.

Regrettably in US (and UK) politics, this is how you get to the top. This is why our one female PM was Thatcher. She presided over an era of war and recession and she did no favours for women’s rights. I can name female political figures who have terrified me with their right-wing attitudes and willingness to oppress their fellow women – Widdicombe and Dorries spring to mind. The only liberal woman I can think of who has gone dramatically in the opposite direction is Harriet Harman, Minister for Women, with a good record on voting for gay rights, and better employment rights for women.

But by and large, the trend is for women in political power to do just as the men do, for fear of the electorate abandoning them in favour of their male counterparts, who generally hold no brief for the rights of women. While it is possible to be a feminist in politics, there’s no doubt it’s tough to do so and retain your popularity.

Simone de Beauvoir argued in ‘The Second SDex’ that feminism was hampered because women are more willing to identify with their male peers in class and race than with other women of different classes and races. Women in the Right are still proving her point.

In my view, when a woman is prepared to argue against such a fundamental right as reproductive autonomy, and to do so from a position of power, she is entirely drawn in to the patriarchal power structures that still govern us. You can be a feminist in a patriarchal power-structure, it has been done, and kudos to those who do it. But when you are in favour of stripping your fellow women of their rights to chose, you abandon one of the primary aspects of feminism, in favour of placating the (white male) majority of your political peers, and you betray your sisters.

That’s not feminism. That’s oppression of women by women, and it needs to stop.

Is the inability to kill your child before the age of 1 (and obviously after that age) oppression against women? Is it anti-feminist?

Simone de Beauvoir had remarkable literary talent, but her philosophy was tainted by the purposes she hoped it would be put to. It is unfortunate that her personal choices were a product of her experiences otherwise she’d be a more reliable and trustworthy source.

I do hate the bland generalisations of ‘male oppression of women’, like all men are guilty or are equally guilty at that – have you never heard of passive aggression and victim psychology? Shall I cite Lady Macbeth or Empress Mathilda as examples of women who are hardly innocents and hardly masculine?

These double standards are getting a bit hard to take, next we’ll be getting the old chestnut about legalising bestiality in the name of feminism and freedom of choice!

“next we’ll be getting the old chestnut about legalising bestiality in the name of feminism and freedom of choice”

Thomas- I really wanna know what planet you’re from. XD

“Does this mean a branch of feminism can’t exist that believes that abortion is wrong and simply doesn’t want it…headed up by someone zealous enough to want to make it law?”

Yes, Lee, that’s exactly what it means. Such a person is not and cannot be a feminist, because they do not support women’s right of control over their own bodies.

It’s like someone who thinks that all women should stay at home and cook for their men claiming to be a feminist. It’s nonsense.

As for your comment at 158: once the child is born, it can be given to someone else to look after. While it is in the womb, it can’t. You know this. Stop being intentionally twattish: it’s not big and it’s not clever.

Gina – clearly he comes from a planet in which Lady Macbeth didn’t go out of her way to reject her femininity in her very first speech. Or maybe even a planet in which Shakespeare’s account was historically accurate.

But then, it’s possible he thinks he’s talking about the historical Lady Macbeth, of which we know incredibly little.

I don’t know why I’m still reading these comments.

“I don’t know why I’m still reading these comments”

For the lulz? There seems to be no other sensical reason to look at them.

“It’s like someone who thinks that all women should stay at home and cook for their men claiming to be a feminist. It’s nonsense.”

It’s nothing like this, as you’re comparing an act that actively makes women less equal to what I’m talking about which is to do with beliefs over rights of life and of religion before it is anything to do with equality.

“Such a person is not and cannot be a feminist, because they do not support women’s right of control over their own bodies.”

They do, they just support religious adherence before that on the issue of abortion. It’s literally no different to us supporting the right of other peoples life before that of being able to go on murderous killing sprees, it’s just many steps out of alignment with each other.

You, and I, and most people here, don’t consider a baby in the womb to have the same right to life as a child that’s been born. This doesn’t mean people like Palin don’t, and that they view abortion in the same light as we see the murder of a toddler. The stopping of murder is not an anti-feminist stance, and thus as long as abortion is the only issue we’re talking about (which for this discussion it has) then people wanting to stop abortion is not an anti-feminist stance either in line with their beliefs. It’s just a different set of feminist beliefs by a singular issue.

Once again I refer to the fact that just because your beliefs on abortion (and mine) aren’t based in religion doesn’t mean they are any more valuable when it comes to legislation. Just like I would argue with a religious nutjob harping on about how homosexuals shouldn’t be able to marry and are unable to be christian, I’m going to do so with you on this issue…twatishly or otherwise.

Lee – ‘Does this mean a branch of feminism can’t exist that believes that abortion is wrong and simply doesn’t want it…headed up by someone zealous enough to want to make it law?’

Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what it means. I’m glad you got there in the end.

Thomas – thanks for picking up on Lee’s unhelpful equation of women with kitchen furniture. However, I find your Lady Macbeth analogy ludicrous. Not only is she a fictional character, written by a man, her introductory speech begins:

Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. …’

The ‘unsex me here’ bit is vital. She deliberately rejects her own femininity, her own gender, as a precursor to her ruthlessness in the rest of the play. In Macbeth – rightly or wrongly – cruelty is *not* coded feminine. Even the Wyrd Sisters have beards.

Kit – I love you, babe.

“Stop being intentionally twattish: it’s not big and it’s not clever.”

It’s not what Lee’s doing, either. To be honest compared to most people here, he’s been a model of restrained debate.

P.S I’m not Lee.

Great post, Laurie!

Nope, I’ve tried lookig at it all sorts of ways but there is no way you can believe that women’s rights are also human rights if you can force someone to be pregnant against their will. It is a central tenet of feminsim. Self identification is all well and good but there has to be line drawn at some point and this is it.

Fine, if socially conservative women make the choice to carry pregnancies they don’t want or will be harmful for them and/or the foetus, that is their prerogative. I am not going to take that choice away from them but I see they would not do the same for me.

I have noted that the only people arguing against this definition of feminism are men. I think that says oodles!

Lee – ‘It’s nothing like this, as you’re comparing an act that actively makes women less equal to what I’m talking about which is to do with beliefs over rights of life and of religion before it is anything to do with equality’

Lee, abortion rights is EVERYTHING to do with equality. If you owned a uterus and had experienced a pregnancy scare, you’d understand that abortion rights are not theoretical, not just about ‘beliefs over rights of life.’

Imagine it. You’re 17 years old, you’re worried you’re accidentally pregnant, you don’t want to bear a child now, not when you’re about to go to university. Suddenly your entire future depends on the decisions of two probably-male doctors about whether you’re allowed to abort the clutch of cells inside you. Or worse, it’s not your choice at all. The equality between sexes which medical technology has given us this century would be suddenly and brutally taken away if abortion rights were disbanded.

Show some fucking empathy.

“two probably-male doctors…”

There are more female medical graduates that males in this country

woobegone- You’re so oppressed.

171. John Meredith

Any argument as categorical as this about any complex subject is almost bound to be wrong. The thing is, nobody can know for certain, and, if we are honest and rational, we are forced to accept the limits on our rationality. So, the best that Laurie can really, reasonably say is ‘I am X% convinced that a woman who is opposed to abortion cannot be a feminist’ and I think, in a subject that is as complex as this, X could not equal much more that 60%. Personally I am about 60% sure that an anti-abortionist could reasonably be said to be a feminist, although I am strongly pro-choice (I think the pro-choice position is about 70% likely to be the right one, if you want a figure).

A lot of hot air would be saved if people would give a percentage to describe how strongly they think their position holds, bearding in mind that beyong very simple questions, because of what we know (and are learning more and more about) concerning the limits on human knowledg and rationality, 80+% should be vanishingly rare.

Laurie: “Thomas – thanks for picking up on Lee’s unhelpful equation of women with kitchen furniture.”

I didn’t make such an equation, just as I don’t try to compare the complex issue of abortion with expecting women to stay at home and be mothers, I’m assuming you just misread the name.

Jo: “I have noted that the only people arguing against this definition of feminism are men. I think that says oodles!”

No-one is arguing against any definition of feminism, stop getting so defensive. The only thing “we” are doing is arguing that there can be more than one definition in existence at one time without the world imploding.

“Show some fucking empathy.”

Stop playing the man, I don’t know how any times I have to repeat how my personal beliefs on abortion are in tune with yours.

You are, once again, falling in to the trap of shouting about YOUR beliefs on the subject as if the other side of the debate doesn’t come in to it. This is ultimately why you are unable to engage with what I’m saying, because you’re completely unwilling to just take this to an objective level for even one moment, and that has been my point throughout. We all know what YOU take feminism to be, it’d be nice if you could just even start to think how different branches of feminism could exist in conflict with your views on it, just as occurs in christianity as a prime example.

We get it, YOU believe a woman isn’t equal until they get the chance to have complete control over their body, it’s a view I share…but palin isn’t any less feminist for believing that a woman is perfectly equal by having the children she concieves because her religion demands it. These are the two beliefs. There is no fact present here, no hard rules of ultimate truth, only two sets of opinion that both sides are deeply entrenched in. Stop acting like you are speaking the gospel truth and accept that you are speaking, at best, a strong argument for liberal feminist beliefs to be accepted as the better practice.

“woobegone- You’re so oppressed.”

That wasn’t his point though was it? 🙂

‘palin isn’t any less feminist for believing that a woman is perfectly equal by having the children she concieves because her religion demands it.’

You’re just not listening, are you? I give up. And what the hell do you mean by ‘stop playing the man’?

As if I’d listen to you.

176. John Meredith

“And what the hell do you mean by ’stop playing the man’?”

As opposed to ‘playing the ball’. It gets touchy round here, doesn’t it?

Fantastic post Laurie – boggling at the comment thread. How is a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body *not* a feminist issue? Makes no sense! Of *course* it’s a feminist issue – and I utterly agree that you can’t be a feminist while trying to deprive other women of that right

Laurie- clearly we are being hysterical over emotional women and empathy has NO PLACE IN RATIONAL DEBATE.

I gave up trying to make them listen ages ago. There are two types of guys that argue: those that sincerely do not understand and want to make the effort to learn and educate themselves and there’s those who sit in the corner singing with their fingers in their ears while they listen to the sound of their own fapping.

gasp. How vulgar and unladylike of me.

““And what the hell do you mean by ’stop playing the man’?”

As opposed to ‘playing the ball’. It gets touchy round here, doesn’t it?”

You know what, I didn’t even see the irony in me cutting the sentence in half until you made that post!

“woobegone- You’re so oppressed.”

Er, so Laurie implied that most doctors are male, I pointed out that most medical grads are in fact female – and to be fair, I suspect that most older doctors are probably still male but my point stands.

The thing is I don’t think the fact that there are more female doctors now is either a) a bad thing or b) evidence of sexism.

Do you think that the fact that there used to be more male doctors than female was a) or b)?

If yes – who’s crying oppression?

I can’t give serious answers to people who don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

*popcorn*

Brilliant article, Laurie, with which I agree 100%.

Having read the comments, I’m struck by how, yet again, a few self-important knobends have made the debate all about them and what they think feminism should be. Instead of discussing Palin, it’s moved *yet again* onto the ‘morality’ of abortion, via the hoary old tactic of posing ‘philosophical’ or (what are laughably and tellingly described as) ‘Socratic’ questions, which merely demonstrate the utter cluelessness of these men about the reality of the issue.

Rather than pandering to these pompous self-important fools, I’d like to draw this appropriately-titled blog post by the excellent Twisty to everyone’s attention, since it nails the issue of why eejits like this need to be ignored or sent to Feminism 101.
http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2007/08/20/the-fucking-pedantic-asshole-chronicles/

It seems to be a problem for all feminist articles, blogs and websites; the FPAs coming along to disrupt and dominate the conversation. As a reminder of why we shouldn’t let them, allow me to reproduce some of the gems from above:

Lee Griffin: Is the inability to kill your child before the age of 1 (and obviously after that age) oppression against women? Is it anti-feminist?

Yes, Lee, yes it is. You immense cretin.

Woobegone: Laurie, let me ask you a hypothetical question.

Sadly, you unoriginal bollock, abortion is anything but hypothetical for us. Now fuck off.

John Meredith: So, the best that Laurie can really, reasonably say is ‘I am X% convinced that a woman who is opposed to abortion cannot be a feminist’ and I think, in a subject that is as complex as this, X could not equal much more that 60%. Personally I am about 60% sure that [sorry, I fell asleep at this point]

The only reason I’m not commenting on this one is that John HAS to be autistic, right?

I don’t believe that someone automatically forfeits the right to cal themselves a feminist if they oppose abortion BUT support women’s rights in every other way.

Palin, however, couldn’t seriously be described as a feminist on any other issue either. That’s the point. She (and her ‘feminists for life’ comrades) have cynically appropriated the term to make political capital. That’s what the right is good at.

Woobegone/gina –

I think the sex/gender of doctors is an important issue (there may be more female doctors graduating from medical school, but do they end up as consultants?). However, we really shouldn’t assume that a male doctor (or male anyone) is more likely to oppose abortion than a female one.

A YouGov poll is 2005 found that 10% more women than men thought abortion was being used “as contraception”, and that 10% more men than women believed that “women should have the right to choose whether to have an abortion.” (see http://www.yougov.com/uk/archives/pdf/TEL050101009_2.pdf).

Obviously, the usual disclaimers about opinion polls apply. The point is about getting the permission of two doctors, not whether they are male or female.

Mooska- My autistic friend thinks he’s full of shit so It can’t be that.

I’ll go with “utterly stupid” instead.

I have a truce suggestion. Lee gets it, but doesn’t want to accept there can’t be any more “interpretations” of feminism. Even if those interpretations go against whatever feminism stands for, he’s stubbornly sticking to his point.

I’m certainly not going to spend any more time repeating myself on this. Anyway – good article Laurie. Damn you, yo’ve taken my top spot on most-commented article 🙂

I’m with you Sunny. It’s like a bloody Ferris Wheel you can’t get off of.

“Yes, Lee, yes it is. You immense cretin.”

🙂

“I’m struck by how, yet again, a few self-important knobends have made the debate all about them and what they think feminism should be.”

Us knobends aren’t telling you what feminism should be, it’s hilarious that yet another feminist has come in to the thread and made this assumption despite several statements to the contrary.

JG: “Palin, however, couldn’t seriously be described as a feminist on any other issue either. That’s the point. She (and her ‘feminists for life’ comrades) have cynically appropriated the term to make political capital. That’s what the right is good at.”

I think this is the first real argument on this specific issue I’ve heard so thanks, I obviously don’t wish to claim (and have made several statements to ensure this is conveyed) that Palin is certainly a feminist. I am most definitely talking about the hypothetical of a woman actually being what Palin claims she is, since that is all that the original statement of “you can’t be a feminist and oppose choice” requires.

BTW, John made a very good point regarding the situation of beliefs versus facts, it’s interesting to see you would rather ignore and belittle this point than engage with it, indeed by claiming mental illness. Didn’t Sunny write an article about this recently? Must try very hard to not claim hypocrisy yet again.

“Yes, Lee, yes it is. You immense cretin.”
“Sadly, you unoriginal bollock, abortion is anything but hypothetical for us. Now fuck off.”
“The only reason I’m not commenting on this one is that John HAS to be autistic, right?”
“I’ll go with “utterly stupid” instead.”

The behaviour in this thread has been fucking shameful.

“Having read the comments, I’m struck by how, yet again, a few self-important knobends have made the debate all about them and what they think feminism should be.”

No, people are discussing Laurie’s claim as to whether one can be a feminist and yet oppose reproductive rights. That’s the focal point of the article, and so naturally it’s being debated in order to question and substantiate.

Still, I do agree with you, the audacity of commenting in a comments thread is staggering.

“Instead of discussing Palin, it’s moved *yet again* onto the ‘morality’ of abortion, via the hoary old tactic of posing ‘philosophical’ or (what are laughably and tellingly described as) ‘Socratic’ questions

Of course people are discussing philosophical concepts. What else do you imagine personhood and liberty are?

Ben

“I have a truce suggestion. Lee gets it, but doesn’t want to accept there can’t be any more “interpretations” of feminism. Even if those interpretations go against whatever feminism stands for, he’s stubbornly sticking to his point.”

Indeed I am, it is entirely interesting that not one person has been able to put their head out of the trench of “feminism is only one thing, and I define what this is” and debate with me in a non-insulting manner, but then I’ve been disappointed on here before about the lack of engagement so I’m sure it won’t break my heart.

190. John Meredith

2it’s interesting to see you would rather ignore and belittle this point than engage with it, indeed by claiming mental illness. Didn’t Sunny write an article about this recently? Must try very hard to not claim hypocrisy yet again.”

Kind of you to say so Lee. I thought the ‘autistic’ taunt was especially classy too.

There is another aspect to the problems that categorical, hard-held views create and that is the psychological one. Having commited yourself emotionally to a view of any kind to such an extent, it becomes very hard to back off from it, making it much more likely that you will end up espousing views you no longer hold: your mind changes but it feels like a loss of self to admit it to yourself. And, to repeat, it is, frankly, irrational to hold a belief about something as complex as this with the degree of certaintly that Laurie appears to. We know how little we know. The limits on human rationality are very well researched.

BenSix and Lee, you’re both children.

Mooska – You’re right on and these chaps needed the spanking you gave them.

No, I’m not, Joe, I just object to the very real rudeness that’s been displayed in this thread. I appreciate that this is an emotive subject, but so are Iraq/Iran/Israel and Palestine and many other topics, and people should try to treat their rhetorical opponents with, if not respect, then at least cordiality.

It would be rather patronising for me to expect anything else.

Ben

Joe-haha “fucking shameful behaviour.”

Are you laughing as hard as I am? They really can’t STAND angry women can they?

I note thomas’s stupid comment about feminism and bestiality was completely ignored.

i think it’s childish to cry foul over verbal insults, particularly when they’re as entertaining as Mooska’s. If ya’ll have ever read Foucault, then you know that violence comes in all forms, and I think Lee’s approach is aggressive and threatening – to women, which is why I called him out as a dick, and why I think Mooska and others letting him have is JUSTIFIED. Yes, Socrates, violence begets violence. so what.

I have to say it’s honestly like I’ve gone back in time by about 6 or 7 years to my time in Usenet. One of the primary reasons I’ve supported this site and contributed is that I thought it was a place for people to actually discuss real issues…instead it turns out that when our views are not agreed with we get refered to as children, as having mental diseases, and a whole raft of other insults and verbal abuse. This is a good debate at it’s heart, one with a lot of merit and one that is clearly not “settled”, yet it is on the verge of being abandoned because it is being aggressively broken down by those that don’t wish to engage with people that don’t share their viewpoint.

What, exactly, is liberal about the way the vast majority of you have acted on here? I seriously would expect better of a devout catholic or a right wing nutjob than I have experienced in this thread so far. Commendation where it is due, I thank that Sunny and Laurie, at least to begin with, tried to engage with the debate…it’s a shame that couldn’t continue and that more couldn’t have been done on your side to curb blatant attempts to silence an unpopular (on this site) line of discussion.

“I note thomas’s stupid comment about feminism and bestiality was completely ignored.”

Along with most other things, not much at all of what has been said opposite to your view has been engaged with. It’s very disappointing.

Indeed I am, it is entirely interesting that not one person has been able to put their head out of the trench of “feminism is only one thing, and I define what this is” and debate with me in a non-insulting manner, but then I’ve been disappointed on here before about the lack of engagement so I’m sure it won’t break my heart.

Well, like I said, its as “interesting” as looking at some black people joining ‘blacks for slavery’ and then commenting on whether there can be different interpretations to civil rights.

The lack of engagement isn’t down to people not making their points – I’ve seen it made about 50 times on here, repeatedly by Laurie and myself. So just blaming the others for not accepting your point or not making their points won’t wash. I do think you need to learn a bit more about feminism before you start wondering why feminists aren’t really agreeing with you.

Anyway, let’s move on shall we, until the next thread about Palin.

“If ya’ll have ever read Foucault, then you know that violence comes in all forms, and I think Lee’s approach is aggressive and threatening”

God forbid anyone actually tries to debate you to death, it’s a terrible way to die.

199. John Meredith

“Are you laughing as hard as I am? They really can’t STAND angry women can they?”

Gina, anger is one thing, insults are another. Shouting abuse is just empty of content and you must see it does your position no favours, especially when your opponents continue to treat you with respect?

It is worth asking yourself, how oftenm anger has helped you cme to the right decision about things, as well. Do you usually make better decisions when you are angry? If not, it is another good reason to feel less secure in your opinions on this issue.

“it’s very disappointing.”

Oh my heart BLEEDS for you.

“Are you laughing as hard as I am? They really can’t STAND angry women can they?”

Yes, I’m objecting to people flippantly invoking autism to smear another commenter just because it’s a woman. However did you tell?

Ben

“I do think you need to learn a bit more about feminism before you start wondering why feminists aren’t really agreeing with you.”

I know enough about feminism, it’s the fact that you guys haven’t been able to move out of the realms of current feminism into the realms of where it has come from and where it may go and how different individual views and perspectives can play a part in divergences of opinion within the movement that is most telling about why there has been so much repetition in this thread. I don’t expect people to accept, what i do expect is for people to engage…not to but up a stonewall of “you don’t know what you’re talking about, come back when you’re on our level” kind of bullshit.

“Gina, anger is one thing, insults are another. Shouting abuse is just empty of content and you must see it does your position no favours, especially when your opponents continue to treat you with respect?

It is worth asking yourself, how oftenm anger has helped you cme to the right decision about things, as well. Do you usually make better decisions when you are angry? If not, it is another good reason to feel less secure in your opinions on this issue.”

You think we haven’t heard these type of arguments before? Being polite gets a feminist no where. It gets her stepped on.

I’ll swear and curse all I like. Grow a spine (and a uterus) and then we’ll talk.

Don’t expect anymore replies either- I intend to continue reading this thread and laughing at what you think is “originality” when it comes to a feminist argument.

QUICK- ACT NOW AND YOU COULD GET THE LAST WORD IN

Gina, you are more than welcome at any point to actually participate in the debate.

Cheers Joe, and Gina – you’re not wrong. Aaanyway, I’m going to follow my own advice and get back to the point of the article. I thought this was an especially interesting point.

“No candidate in the upcoming US elections supports the further legalisation of abortion. ”

It does seem to this feminist that abortion has become one of those almost ‘pantomime’ issues (It’s bad! Oh no it’s not! Oh yes it is! [repeat ad nauseam]) that polarise the American electorate, like gay marriage, creationism and guns. None of them, I would venture to say (but am open to disagreement) are as fundamental as abortion. But the reason that so many people feel qualified to have an opinion (and impose their opinion via restrictive laws) is because it fundamentally affects only women, whose bodies are considered to be public assets. See: society, pornification of, and women, commodification of.

And this reduction of abortion to an ‘I’m more moral than you’ abstract debate, along with the media-led fetishisation of motherhood, is insidiously helping to make us forget what will happen if we can’t access abortion services. I despair sometimes when I read about children of 12 and 13 getting pregnant here in the UK and, by their own account, not even considering abortion as an option. (Not saying they should have abortions, although I can’t imagine who would think motherhood at 12 is a great idea. But why is no-one presenting that option to these children?)

And now we have a situation where politicians can argue straight-facedly, as my male MP did in response to an email I sent, that they are concerned with women’s rights and health and that’s why they support reducing the time limits for abortion. And people don’t laugh in their faces.

However, there were women of every age and class at the pro-choice demo outside Parliament during the recent vote on reducing the time-limit, and that gave me hope. Articles like this, calmly stating what ought to be self-evident facts, also give me hope.

206. John Meredith

“Well, like I said, its as “interesting” as looking at some black people joining ‘blacks for slavery’ and then commenting on whether there can be different interpretations to civil rights. ”

That is an absurdly false and inflamatory analogy. If a black person wrote an article claiming that it was impossible to be anti-racist while opposing reparations to the descendants of slaves, for example (a much closer analogy) it would be perfectly reasonable to engage him or her in debate. Being a woman or a man does not determine the value of your thoughts on any issue. TIf it did, w would have to demand proof of Laurie’s gender before we could tell whether what s/he said was true. I am sure you can see the probem.

my GOD! You fellows are seriously crazed! yes, Gina, this is hilarious.

John Meredith – Have you ever asked yourself how often pedantry has endeared you to others?

My final comment is this: my wife emailed me this article and said it was the best thing on Palin she had read. I agree, Laurie. You rock and I hope we American Liberals can do the world a favor and elect Barack.

Cheers!

“because it fundamentally affects only women, whose bodies are considered to be public assets”

And…the potential life of a human being…let’s not forget the foetus’ involvement in an abortion eh, it’s pretty key to why the religious right make such a big deal after all.

209. John Meredith

“I’ll swear and curse all I like. Grow a spine (and a uterus) and then we’ll talk.”

If you only intend to talk to people with uteruses, why on earth join the debate in the first place. Governor Palin, of course, does have a uterus, probably even a spine. What is missing from her anatomy that places her beneath your contempt?

This is a ‘liberal’ site isn’t it?

“my GOD! You fellows are seriously crazed! yes, Gina, this is hilarious.”

Yep, we’re crazed, we’re knobends and cretins…where is your engagement with our arguments again? Oh….

“And now we have a situation where politicians can argue straight-facedly, as my male MP did in response to an email I sent, that they are concerned with women’s rights and health and that’s why they support reducing the time limits for abortion.”

What possible justification did he give for that?

“I’ll swear and curse all I like. Grow a spine…”

This from the person who’s just said that they have to sneer at and insult other commenters “or get stepped on”.

Ben

hey Joe, apparently I don’t talk to people who don’t have uteruses. How does it feel to be a man with a womb? 😉

213. John Meredith

“But the reason that so many people feel qualified to have an opinion (and impose their opinion via restrictive laws) is because it fundamentally affects only women, whose bodies are considered to be public assets.”

But it affects the aborted foetuses of both sexes. It also potentially affects the men who father the children (doubly so if he is required by law to pay for children that a woman decided to keep which he might prefer aborted). That is not to ay that those groups should be accorded equal rights to the woman, or, indeed, any rights at all, but it is incredibly shortsighted not to recognise that these issues are real and live. Denying this will make you appear shrill and closedminded.

214. John Meredith

“But the reason that so many people feel qualified to have an opinion (and impose their opinion via restrictive laws) is because it fundamentally affects only women, whose bodies are considered to be public assets.”

But it affects the aborted fetuses of both sexes. It also potentially affects the men who father the children (doubly so if he is required by law to pay for children that a woman decided to keep which he might prefer aborted). That is not to ay that those groups should be accorded equal rights to the woman, or, indeed, any rights at all, but it is incredibly shortsighted not to recognise that these issues are real and live. Denying this will make you appear shrill and closedminded.

*shrug* You don’t get it.

See ya.

216. John Meredith

“Not saying they should have abortions, although I can’t imagine who would think motherhood at 12 is a great idea. ”

I would guess, and anecdotal evidence seems to support this, children who don’t have many other life choices.

Why do I have the urge to ask everyone’s A/S/L? It feels like that’s the level at which we’re operating now.

218. John Meredith

This is a very strange thread. I don’t think I have ever seen so many messges where opinion has, broadly, divided into two strands with one strand being entirely polite, respectful and reasonable, and the other just stamping its feet and screaming from the school yard. Can Gina be real or has she been invented to discredit the pro-choice movement?

219. John Meredith

Lee, I think you are right. It didn’t occur to me that there might be children on here.

Gina’s real.

Laurie – will you please nail this coffin shut! I can’t stop myself from looking at it’s “car crash beauty.”

So, final question…how is any of how this debate has gone any different that some devout catholic bishops (i.e. the feminists in this thread) denouncing the idea that gays could ever become a part of the church?

How about that gay Catholics actually exist, and you’ve been harping on for 100+ comments about a ‘hypothetical’ anti-choice feminism position without once naming one person who fits this criterion?

Twisty (again) put it brillantly.

“If a foetus is a person, a woman isn’t.”

Because this is a zero-sum situation. Every right you claim for a foetus is taken directly from the woman.

Although, of course, this isn’t what motivates the anti-abortion brigade. You can tell that by their concern for the little ‘person’ after it pops out of its incubator. After all, aren’t the anti-abortionists mostly staunchly in favour of helping teenage or single mothers? Aren’t they the first to vote for welfare programmes, and for freely available contraception so that unwanted conceptions are kept to a minimum?

John Meredith: “Denying this will make you appear shrill and closedminded.”

Oh, bless you, John. I am actually grinning as I type this. I interrupt men too, sometimes. BOO! I’m scary!

Mooska : “Sadly, you unoriginal bollock, abortion is anything but hypothetical for us. Now fuck off.”

I’m sorry – I was under the impression some people might want to actually think about this issue. You know, because I’m an old-fashioned, pseudo-intellectual FPA and I believe that in the long run, reasoned argument and, yes, philosophical and Socratic dialogue is the only thing which seperates us from fundamentalists such as Sarah Palin and has always been at the heart of everything that’s good about the feminist movement.

Congratulations – you’ve proved me wrong.

226. John Meredith

“Oh, bless you, John. I am actually grinning as I type this. I interrupt men too, sometimes. BOO! I’m scary!”

And when you interrupt them do they roll their eyes? I bet you think that is because they are challenged by your courage and determination and nothing at all to do with the possibility that you are just about to miss the point again by a country mile.

“How about that gay Catholics actually exist, and you’ve been harping on for 100+ comments about a ‘hypothetical’ anti-choice feminism position without once naming one person who fits this criterion?”

This isn’t relevant to what I’m asking, it’d be nice if for once one of you didn’t sidestep the issue. As Woobegone before me states, the reason we talk about this stuff and debate it is we want to become better than we are, to better understand everything around us rather than to conform to the pre-ascertained and handed down view. What does it matter if it is hypothetical or not, there is an interesting issue here to discuss. No-one is threatening your view, the vast majority of us that you seem to be taking as your “enemy” in this thread likely agrees with pretty much all your personal views, why is it so hard just to be a considerate human being and engage in the discussion?

This debate seems to have now ended. I don’t see any point in keeping this thread open to be honest, its just getting boring to be honest.

Lee, I think you’re as guilty as others in not engaging, as much as you won’t admit it. Anyway, let’s move on shall we?

Lee : “No-one is threatening your view, the vast majority of us that you seem to be taking as your “enemy” in this thread likely agrees with pretty much all your personal views, why is it so hard just to be a considerate human being and engage in the discussion?”

Yes – for the record, I’m completely pro-choice. And the main reason that I asked my hypothetical question was because I wanted to better understand what Laurie believed, and to help her clarify her arguments, not because I wanted to change it.

Hence why I said I didn’t expect a yes or no answer.

“You know, because I’m an old-fashioned, pseudo-intellectual FPA and I believe that in the long run, reasoned argument and, yes, philosophical and Socratic dialogue is the only thing which seperates us from fundamentalists such as Sarah Palin and has always been at the heart of everything that’s good about the feminist movement.”

Sorry, sorry, you’re right. I should have realised that you had the best interests of feminists at heart when you posed clever questions that left behind dreary, irrelevant concepts such as womens’ direct experience and their freedom to choose whether to reproduce.

In fact, really, why are we bothering with details like Palin and feminism? Let’s talk about *you*, shall we? Tell us more about yourself and your beliefs – ‘old-fashioned pseudo-intellectual’ is such a tantalising glimpse into a mind so clear-thinking and independent, it eschews conventional wisdom about reproductive freedom and how to spell ‘separate’.

I’m joking, incidentally. Shut up about yourself and read the posts already.

Sunny, who are you to say it’s getting boring? If you don’t like contributing any more, or reading, then don’t. Liberally it is perfectly within your realm to simply stop looking at this thread, meanwhile if anyone wishes to answer my question they can.

It is also absolute bollocks that you can sit there and accuse me of not engaging despite the sheer lengths I’ve gone through to ignore the personal abuse in this thread and attempt to keep the debate moving forward…something extremely hard while the likes of you refuse to answer points without the precursory disparaging “you don’t know what you’re talking about, poor dear” introductory statement.

232. John Meredith

“Sorry, sorry, you’re right. I should have realised that you had the best interests of feminists at heart when you posed clever questions that left behind dreary, irrelevant concepts such as womens’ direct experience and their freedom to choose whether to reproduce.”

But Mooska, those women who oppose abortion and consider themselves to be feminists have ‘direct experince’ of being a woman too. Who is to say which experience should tell more in the debate, therefore? What principle could be brought to bear? I can’t see one, which is why it is pointless to appeal to experience in a theoretical debate (albeit one that has practical consequences for women (and foetuses)). This leaves aside the problem of whether or not a man can consider himself a feminist.

This isn’t relevant to what I’m asking, it’d be nice if for once one of you didn’t sidestep the issue.

That actually had me laughing out loud for several minutes. It’s been a slow day.

So Laurie states that Palin cannot be a feminist because she’s anti-choice. You respond by claiming the two viewpoints are not mutually exclusive. Despite the fact that you are neither, and the vast numbers of individuals – emphasised because half the time I can’t tell if you’re using a specific ‘you’ or refering to the Hive Vagina – who DO identify with one viewpoint say actually, they are mutually exclusive, and we know because we’re actively involved in the movement, you carry on harping on about hypotheticals, and call people narrow-minded for constraining the discussion to real life.

Again- your analogy is false because gay Catholics do exist. Because the homophobia in Catholicism is the work of a powerful minority, and the majority of Catholics – forgive me for basing this on my personal experience with them – are actually pretty OK with homosexuality. Likewise, the gay community doesn’t preoccupy itself with bringing down the Catholic Church*

So once again, if you want to show that idealogy A and issue B are not mutually exclusive, then find someone who has both.

And considering how insulting you were to me upthread, I find your whining particularly galling. So no one’s giving you slack for your ignorance. That’s why Jennie posted the link to Feminism 101, FFS. Educate yourself.

*That’s an extra credit assignment for the Deluxe Toaster.

Mooska – I love you.

234. John Meredith

“the fact that you are neither, and the vast numbers of individuals – emphasised because half the time I can’t tell if you’re using a specific ‘you’ or refering to the Hive Vagina – who DO identify with one viewpoint say actually, they are mutually exclusive, and we know because we’re actively involved in the movement, you carry on harping on about hypotheticals, and call people narrow-minded for constraining the discussion to real life.”

Debi, this is called ‘arguing from authority’ and it is a logical fallacy.

“So once again, if you want to show that idealogy A and issue B are not mutually exclusive, then find someone who has both.”

And this is called ‘begging the question’ because you will reject any example since your terms exclude the possiblity of one (or Palin could be offered as the example, which takes us back to where we started). It is another logical fallacy.

“And considering how insulting you were to me upthread”

First off, I have already apologised for any confusion given that at no point did I intend to reference your work, and indeed at no point insulted you. Please do point out where I “verbally” wounded you so, and I’ll be happy to retract any such statement.

“You respond by claiming the two viewpoints are not mutually exclusive.”

I claim that the two viewpoints can be born of the same desires and ambitions. Of course they are in conflict with each other, one is against choice and the other for it…does this mean they can’t both exist at the same time in that conflict? The answer is simply that they can, despite what Laurie proposes in her original post.

“you carry on harping on about hypotheticals, and call people narrow-minded for constraining the discussion to real life.”

But what version of real life? Your real life, where you believe that you can’t be a feminist and be pro-choice. This is where John’s argument really comes in to it’s own.

I am arguing hypothetically that there are those out there looking at you disgusted that YOU call yourself feminist due to what they see as infringements on the woman through a lack of sanctity of religion. Real life doesn’t really come in to this argument, there’s no need to drag it down to what ever “real life” may be here as it is irrelevant to the discussion at hand, even if the discussion only ends up being a thought experiment. If you don’t care for discussion about possibilities, thought experiments or hypotheticals then cool…just say so, there’s no need to get so defensive over the fact that some of us are interested in the subject.

“Again- your analogy is false because gay Catholics do exist.”

Quite arguably, women who deem themselves feminists that oppose choice do exist too, don’t you accept this?

“Likewise, the gay community doesn’t preoccupy itself with bringing down the Catholic Church*”

OK, but for the purposes of what we’re talking about can you stop assuming that when we’re talking about feminists against choice for abortion that we are also talking about feminists that don’t hold other feminist values? I don’t think either you or I need to waste time agreeing (as I have on the thread many a time) that women that don’t hold any feminist values can’t call themselves feminists, we’re talking very specifically about simply differing on the issue of abortion. In this case, why would a feminist against abortion be trying to “bring down” the whole of feminism, it’s counter productive to their other aims of equality for women legally and socially.

“Because the homophobia in Catholicism is the work of a powerful minority, and the majority of Catholics ”

I didn’t ask about minorities or majorities, I asked how your stance on this thread is any difference from the instance of a bishop doing such a thing. Are you saying that the Bishop would be fully entitled to discriminate against and belittle the gay person as long as the Bishop was supported by a majority view?

Lee Griffin, why do you come on this site?

I ask, because you seem to believe in absolutely nothing. You seem to take positions for the only reason of engaging in proving your university debating skills. I smell troll.

Back to the OP:

You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.

Why is this the case? Surely someone can believe in equal rights between the genders and yet still believe that foetuses accrue a right to life at some point before birth?

26/M/UK

I’m having a hard time understanding where Lee (and those agreeing with him) are coming from regarding the feminism issue. After all, logically;

Someone in favour of women having rights and freedom of choice = feminist, no argument there.

Someone in favour of women having rights and freedom of choice who – for religious reasons – chooses not to have an abortion themselves = also a feminist, their choice just happens to be dictated by their religious beliefs.

Someone in favour of women having rights and freedom of choice who – for any reason – wants to deny that choice to all women = not a feminist, surely? They may believe in everything else that feminists believe in, but they’re still in favour of limiting the rights and freedoms of women.

I’d be perfectly happy to say they have “some feminist tendencies”, or even “a lot of feminist tendencies”, but they’re not a feminist.

“Someone in favour of women having rights and freedom of choice who – for any reason – wants to deny that choice to all women = not a feminist, surely? They may believe in everything else that feminists believe in, but they’re still in favour of limiting the rights and freedoms of women.”

By our perspective it is limiting the rights and freedoms, is that how they see it…do they believe that they are rights and freedoms women should be afforded? We say they can’t be feminists on here because they break the rule, our rule, of not forcing women out of a choice that we feel they should have, but to them they may simply not believe that choice is one for women to make.

There is obviously a difference of opinion to be had here, but that is based not on feminism but on personal politics and religion. To the religious conservative their form of equality and choice is not necessarily the same as our liberal agnostic/atheist version. We argue that the amount of choice is not enough, but if a group of feminists believe they have already attained the right level of choice for their beliefs, as people with a political disposition to inflict their views on the rest of us…that doesn’t make them less feminist. It just doesn’t make them particularly nice people either, from my perspective.

It is the action that is in question, the illiberal forcing of people to not have what they strive for…but making that an argument as to how feminist someone isn’t only works from OUR perspective as we are the only ones to see choice being taken away. To them, how are they acting against feminism if the only choices they’re limiting are ones they believe we don’t deserve or have a right to hold?

“So, final question…how is any of how this debate has gone any different that some devout catholic bishops (i.e. the feminists in this thread) denouncing the idea that gays could ever become a part of the church?”

Incidentally, this allegory is worthless as the homosexual catholic doesn’t wish to remove the right of heterosexual catholics to worship.

Ben

“And…the potential life of a human being…let’s not forget the foetus’ involvement in an abortion eh, it’s pretty key to why the religious right make such a big deal after all.”

Oh, please!

The religious right don’t care one rap about the kewt ickle babies. They care about women daring to have sex, because it’s a dirty, shameful thing, and only a God-sanctified monogamous marriage can expunge its filthy sinfulness. That’s why they push abstinence-only sex education. That’s why they want to reclassify birth control as abortion and plead that they can’t dispense it because of their consciences. To them, a pregancy that results from sex out of wedlock is a “consequence” – to rhyme with “punishment”. If women can procure abortions as easily as they can any other medical procedure, then that “punishment” is gone. And if there isn’t a scary, life-changing punishment for sex outside of marriage, then women might start having sex whenever they want with whoever they want, for whatever reasons they want. And men might have to take responsibility for birth control, and their kids, and ditch that well-loved misandrist notion that they’re slaves to their dicks so women have to rein them in.

If you don’t believe that, then read this: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/09/02/palin_slashed_funding_to_help.html

and ask yourselves why Palin slashed funding for a state program designed to benefit teenage mothers, if she really cares about the kewt ickle babies.

Liberally it is perfectly within your realm to simply stop looking at this thread, meanwhile if anyone wishes to answer my question they can.

Well, you’re the one who said people weren’t engaging with you, so the question is why are you bothering to carry on?

I do love the knots the left ties itself in over the choice issue – it’s like they want to pick and choose what they have a choice over.

‘Choose abortion, sure, it’s not like you have to take responsibility. Choose homosexuality, no way Jose, it’s not like I want to be blamed for making a choice.’

The only consistency the left shows is in wanting to avoid stigmatisation for failure, as if that prevents failure itself.

I want to return to Lady Macbeth because it still provides the classic example of the separation between feminist geist and female person. Her opening speeches do show how she wishes to escape the limitations of her ascribed gender role, but also how this is a futile desire.

This dilemma is at the heart of feminist dialogues and the case of Sarah Palin demonstrates how an individual is capable of redefining the prescriptions of preconcieved roles within their own experience. In this way she shows up how the whole political body of leftist opinion has failed to overcome the challenges they criticise – she has come in for heavy criticism because she disproves the leftist feminist argument (not that she proves anything specifically rightist, it must be added).

This has provided a mortal wound to what seems to be the majority of commenters on this particular thread, so it is paradoxic that the journalistic success of the piece is in contradicting the authorial argument.

The theoretical contention is over self-determination as a means to achieve equality. Do the ends justify the means? Some would say so. But do the means succeed in achieving their ends? clearly not – so we must return and reassess what the ends actually are.

The real question is at what point between conception and adulthood a person becomes a person, what principles should inform that decision, how the transfer of rights should be reflected in staute.

But like Lady Macbeth found, this is an eternal dilemma from which attempts to escape are futile because the geist remains bound to the being.

Laurie makes an extremely important point about the real situation of accidental pregnancy necessitating abortion and how this self-determined choice informs her feminism, but then extrapolates to the conclusion that because she defines self-determination in this way only this form of self-determination can be defined as feminism.

Well that’s just shoddy logic because self-determination can be defined as the active motivation at any point in the process and it is an open question at which point it should be emphasised, or whether indeed it is possible to be a continuous motivator.

Sarah Palin fundamentally disagrees with Laurie here, and it would seem that she feels able to define herself as a feminist by emphasising the prior motivation. In other words how is pregnancy *ever* accidental? She says if you abstain you don’t get pregnant and you won’t need to consider abortion.

It seems difficult to argue that the left-feminist position proposed by Laurie and supporters on this thread are not only not interested in short-sighted and self-centred gratification of desire, but this is at odds with their assumed posture in favour of communal support in cases of need.

In light of these contradictions we must return to ask what ‘end’ is really sought by support or opposition for abortion. It isn’t the case that feminism and patriachy align perfectly with left and right-wing arguments, but that left and right-wing political interests hope to move opinion in their direction by manipulating perceptions of the rights and wrongs of feminism and partiarchy as voting motivations.

This debate is not about right and wrong, it is about power for it’s own sake and as an end in itself.

My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?

But let that go.

“Someone in favour of women having rights and freedom of choice = feminist, no argument there.

Someone in favour of women having rights and freedom of choice who – for religious reasons – chooses not to have an abortion themselves = also a feminist, their choice just happens to be dictated by their religious beliefs.

Someone in favour of women having rights and freedom of choice who – for any reason – wants to deny that choice to all women = not a feminist, surely? They may believe in everything else that feminists believe in, but they’re still in favour of limiting the rights and freedoms of women.”

Well done for putting it so clearly, but it won’t go in, Nigel. The distinction between denying rights to other women and making your own moral choice does not seem to be one that has occurred to those who are playing devil’s advocate in this thread.

Jennie, the contrast between restricting choices and denying rights is one which left and right will never agree on because they dispute the terms of definition.

Palin is entirely consistent in her view, whether we or anyone else dispute the decision or the grounds for the decision. Whether her viewpoint can be described as ‘feminist’ is an entirely political judgement, which again depends on personal bias over whether feminism refers to gender egaliratianism or female chauvinism.

Because I see feminism as a movement and not an ideology I can understand how this causes confusion and that it thus becomes a never-ending circular battle for ownership of the term and the right to define membership to the clique. Is it liberal to argue about ideology, or is it liberal to promote the necessary understanding and consideration to improve real people’s lives?

I’m all for sexual liberation but this is why I strongly oppose casualised physical gratification – I’m happy to agree and disagree with all sides here because I accept that some accidents do happen and it is necessary to have resort to drastic intervening solutions, but the first resorts should always be prevention and minimisation of harm.

This isn’t a matter of playing devils advocate, but seeking out a universally acceptable alternative position through synthesis and agreement – something I thought you LibDems favoured!

Thomas “I do love the knots the left ties itself in over the choice issue – it’s like they want to pick and choose what they have a choice over. ”

So you are not of the left, or liberal, so why do you come on here? Another troll. There is plenty of Conservative sites that would be happy to have you.

thomas, to promote understanding, one must first agree on a definition of terms. There is an accepted definition of the term “feminism”. Sarah Palin does not correspond to it in any way, shape, or form.

I’m amused by the non-inclusivity.

Yes, Jennie, and because there isn’t a singular definition it is hard to accept that any agreement has been reached.

Of course if you can point me in the direction of a UN convention on political definitions then I’ll retract and withdraw, but otherwise you’re just squirming in an attempt to deny her intellectual credibility and delegitimate her candidacy without addressing the concerns she represents by engaging in debate.

She is already an established figure whatever anyone says and her position has been legitimized by the ballot box, so to deny that is to deny democracy and to be blind to reality.

If you think she is wrong please explain why, rather than getting cross-eyed in your vociferous attempt to say she isn’t a feminist, because that’s only to indulge in collective self-harm.

Ben: Good point.

Thomas: Really interesting points of view, particularly…

“Because I see feminism as a movement and not an ideology I can understand how this causes confusion and that it thus becomes a never-ending circular battle for ownership of the term and the right to define membership to the clique. Is it liberal to argue about ideology, or is it liberal to promote the necessary understanding and consideration to improve real people’s lives?”

It certainly seems that throughout this thread there has been a flicking between feminism being a movement and being an ideology…the obvious situation being that in a movement ideologies are fluid, subject to change and to evolution, while ideologies are, in a snapshot, quite rigid. It’s why in particular I think it’s important not only to note what is current in terms of how feminism defines itself but also how it has defined itself in the past and how it is likely to define itself in the future.

Jennie: “The distinction between denying rights to other women and making your own moral choice does not seem to be one that has occurred to those who are playing devil’s advocate in this thread.”

Of course it’s occurred to us, that’s why we’re talking about how that situation of how you view rights, and whether they’re being denied, depends on a whole variety of personal beliefs and views. We’re not sitting here blindly just picking the otherside, there is a devils advocate argument here precisely because the situation is not as black and white as you believe it to be.

Sunny: “Well, you’re the one who said people weren’t engaging with you, so the question is why are you bothering to carry on?”

One can always hope for more. On another note in the hope that such engagement will continue to possibly grow, I have another question. If the feminist movement evolves in 5 years time to mean that another central pillar of their beliefs is that women should have the right to kill anyone they choose, would any feminists here still consider themselves feminist and call themselves such (though perhaps being against the license to kill) or would they immediately drop the term because they no longer fit in with the larger consensus?

“If you think she is wrong please explain why, rather than getting cross-eyed in your vociferous attempt to say she isn’t a feminist, because that’s only to indulge in collective self-harm.”

I think the one thing feminists have done very well is explain why they feel Sarah Palin is wrong in calling herself a feminist, or indeed in supporting any of the things she does. 🙂

Now I’m going to pick on you Lee.

Yes, some of the ‘feminists’ have explained well why they think Palin is wrong to describe herself as that, but they have done little to explain why they think she is wrong in what she prescribes. Then there are other among the ‘feminists’ who have unpicked why her advocacy of certain policies are wrong while ignoring what that means for her particular code of ‘feminism’.

Taken together this can be seen as a dual assault on her credentials and her competence, but because these critiques do not coalign there is space to counter them by turning each against the other – in effect validifying Palin through use of the ‘no-defence defence’, that she is simply being victimised, when lookey-here she is really a supermom and the personification of the best Rep ideals!

The left are presented with a real political challenged by this woman – with her photo plastered everywhere and replacing Obama in the headlines she has already made a huge impact on the race for the White House.

It is typical of the abject misery of intelligence among leftist ideologues that they sink into empty introspection and self-evisceration of the sort seen in this thread, but conversely it gives me hope that Obama is better than that because he is personally rising above the empty vitriol. Though whether that will help him overcome his associations with his idiot supporter-base is a different matter.

Thomas:
When you come back with anything more than lazy stereotypes about how lefties behave, I’ll bother responding. All you’re doing so far is trolling.

Lee:
I have another question. If the feminist movement evolves in 5 years time to mean that another central pillar of their beliefs is that women should have the right to kill anyone they choose,

Instead of constructing silly straw-man arguments, how about we do this thought experiment.

Why don’t you tell us what you think are the core ideals of feminism. Then tell us how its changed over time and then why you think its leading into a state where women justify homicidal behaviour for a laugh.

I need to find out whether you’re being facetious or is there some intelligent point hidden deep beneath all this claptrap. But first, your own definitions.

And on another point, the reason WHY ‘feminists for life’ is a stupid idea, is because these people don’t believe in feminism in the first place.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/8/29/163234/559/495/579213

Palin’s links to “Feminists” For Life, a deceptive anti-abortion group

As if the Assemblies links weren’t enough (and between this diary and the stuff that has been reported re John Ashcroft–much less George W. Bush’s consistent support for Assemblies frontgroups–that should be a pretty big damn danger sign right there!), there’s still more to indicate Sarah Palin may have been put in as a “stealth dominionist”.

Among other things, Palin explicitly promoted “teach the controversy” by calling for the misnamed “creation science” to be taught in public schools (as now well documented in Kitzmiller vs. Dover School District, it’s known that “creation science” is nothing more and nothing less than a method of putting young-earth creationism in public schools).

It also appears that Sarah Palin is a member of a misnamed group called Feminists for Life.  FFL in fact engages in “cultural appropriation” of women’s suffrage icons to promote a very woman-unfriendly agenda that–despite attempts to sound “not like those crazies in Operation Rescue”–would not only criminalise abortion but the IUD and hormonal birth control methods, and potentially everything outside the rhythm method (the term “abortifacient birth control” is a codephrase in the dominionist “pro-life” community for hormonal birth control–partly due to a unique urban legend claiming “the pill” and other hormonal birth control causes abortion and partly because of a unique definition of pregnancy beginning at conception rather than at implantation (the latter is what most mainstream OB/GYNs use) and thus making anything preventing implantation potentially “abortifacient”).  

FFL promotes such fun bogosities as “post-abortion syndrome” (the idea that having an abortion will inevitably lead to PTSD and insanity), and promotes mandatory waiting periods and misinformation guidelines that can be insurmountable for poor or rural women–even those forced to make the most heartbreaking choice because of a nonviable pregnancy.  In fact, one of their biggest causes isn’t feminist at all–they actively promote the idea that the best choice for women is to stay home as fulltime mothers, and it can be well argued that the only traditionally feminist viewpoint they really support is women’s suffrage!

One of the big things FFL promotes is deceptive “pregnancy counseling centers”–where pregnant teens are forced to essentially listen to an altar call on how “abortionists want to murder their children” whilst a pee-stick test clears–and if she tests “yes”, she gets a hard-sell to keep the child or to check herself into a dominionist-run “halfway house for teenage moms” where she will ultimately be forced to sign her kid over.  (Yes, there is an entire private adoption industry in the dominionist community–mostly focusing on adopting out the infants of poor teenage mothers who have been forced to give their kids up and who have been either scared into it or checked into such facilities by their parents.)

Ironically, FFL itself is rather a “stealth” organisation in and of itself–yes, even the dominionists admit this.  Interestingly, despite their claims of being more “moderate” than most anti-abortion groups, very few real solutions are offered on how they intend to fund such things (which can be boiled down to “CHOOSE TO BREED”).

While you’ll probably argue that this doesn’t detract from your argument that there could be “in theory”, anti-abortion feminist groups anyway, the point is they are like this for a reason – they don’t really have the interests of women at heart.

Anyway.

‘Feminism’ has no specific ideals because it is an area of academic debate relating to female-specific gender topics and how these correspond and interrelate with wider societal issues.

From this academic debating territory a movement has coalesced and split multiple times to provide support to relevant political issues whenever and wherever contributions could be made, principally with regard to and in the hope of changing the social situation of women. The temporary popularity inspired during each major phase of feminist activism lead to a growth of adherents who each assumed they offered a conclusive arguments on every side of traditionalist right-left divides in ways which defined their times.

Over the decades feminism has evolved to consider more inclusive debates within female experience as disillusion grew that earlier conclusions could be manipulated to support the effective reestablishment of previously dominant forces, albeit with additional (and this was the usual aggravating factor) unguaranteed concessions.

The field of feminism has revolved through many cycles of activism, retrenchment and reappraisal with different political forces coming in turn to the fore to evolve and morph the influence which female-centric thought has had on society.

Feminism infers political consideration from distinctly and exclusively female perspective, which has the benefit of self-containment, but the drawback of a non-completist view. As such it cannot be considered an independent political standpoint, which is probably why there is no popular Women’s Front able to unify for or be successful on any election ticket anywhere.

thomas

“Taken together this can be seen as a dual assault on her credentials and her competence, but because these critiques do not coalign there is space to counter them by turning each against the other – in effect validifying Palin through use of the ‘no-defence defence’, that she is simply being victimised, when lookey-here she is really a supermom and the personification of the best Rep ideals!”

Once you untangle the tautology and self-consciously ‘critical’ terminology of your first two paragraphs, you appear to say, in essence, that because the people posting to this thread have not all made the same points, they cancel each other out and the whole argument collapses.

Nice try (for a four-year-old, possibly), but no cigar. Unless you can come up with a coherent argument yourself, you just look like an angry and frustrated wannabe intellectual who needs to learn that a dictionary is no substitute for original thought.

“It is typical of the abject misery of intelligence among leftist ideologues that they sink into empty introspection and self-evisceration of the sort seen in this thread….”

The deep irony of that first assertion aside, who’s been introspecting or self-eviscerating? Seriously – have you any idea what the latter actually means? I’m sure you’re an expert on activities normally undertaken in isolation, but it doesn’t really stick in the context of this thread.

Thomas: “Yes, some of the ‘feminists’ have explained well why they think Palin is wrong to describe herself as that, but they have done little to explain why they think she is wrong in what she prescribes. Then there are other among the ‘feminists’ who have unpicked why her advocacy of certain policies are wrong while ignoring what that means for her particular code of ‘feminism’.”

I can’t help but feel that they’ve explained precisely why they don’t agree with what she prescribes…they are pro choice and they see anyone trying to force them out of choices they feel they’re entitled to as illiberal at the least. It’s multiple strings of various parts of politics they’re using, but they’ve made it pretty clear why they feel that way.

Sunny: “Why don’t you tell us what you think are the core ideals of feminism. Then tell us how its changed over time and then why you think its leading into a state where women justify homicidal behaviour for a laugh.”

It’s nice to see the “strawman argument” used again, a healthy staple in a debate where you don’t want to answer a question. I’m not saying in any way or form that feminism IS going the way I posed the question, I said what if…the idea clearly being in ascertaining whether you believe that you could still be a feminist if the movement changed around you in to something you don’t necessarily wholly agree with.

“While you’ll probably argue that this doesn’t detract from your argument that there could be “in theory”, anti-abortion feminist groups anyway,”

I will argue that, indeed, because all along I’ve never been talking about specific groups such as FFL, it has been your side of the argument that has always been seeking to find a real world example that is barely comparable to the type of person I’m talking about just to debunk my argument. It’s ridiculous, I’m talking about a very specific instance of a woman with certain beliefs..it’s not at all helpful that you and other feminists then flesh out what YOU believe that person will also believe in beyond that. Just answer the points and questions at hand…and you have the audacity to claim that it is *I* creating strawmen?

The original statement is that you can’t be a feminist and oppose choice, I’m exploring that..putting the only difference between a feminist and a feminist who is anti-abortion as that they disagree on abortion and the anti-abortion feminist is willing to impose those views on others. Where is it helpful to the debate that people in this thread then somehow make out that I’m arguing that you can be a feminist and believe women should be stay at home mums who cook the meals for their husband? Stop skewing what is being discussed for once.

Lee, let me try this one last time. Many of us who call ourselves feminist are anti abortion in a personal sense, myself included. It’s the wanting to force your views on others thing which is essentially anti-feminist. The essence of feminism is that women have had other people’s choices forced upon them for long enough, and it’s time that they were allowed to make their own moral choices, at least in as far as men can, within the boundaries of acceptable behaviour for society.

Something that men have and always have had is sovereignty over their own bodies. It is a basic tenet of feminism that women should have this self-same sovereignty. Anything which takes that away might agree with feminism on various other things, but is not, and cannot be, feminism itself.

“The essence of feminism is that women have had other people’s choices forced upon them for long enough, and it’s time that they were allowed to make their own moral choices, at least in as far as men can, within the boundaries of acceptable behaviour for society.”

And it is this boundary that I am bring in to the equation. I am not doubting that feminism is about not being told what you can and can’t do…it’s what happens when the moral, religious and legal boundaries are perceived differently between people of different political ideologies that is key here.

You are making the assumption that all people that would like to call themselves feminist, i.e. women that don’t want to be told what they can do or not, are all of the belief that the right to abortion is one of those things that they have a right to ask not to be denied choice on. Just like I’m sure you’d still call yourself feminist if the feminist movement took a radical turn to campaigning for the right to take life from living humans, perhaps you’d even fight to keep that from happening, there are points due to religion and potentially other social factors that mean women can and no doubt will reach boundaries at different points.

Now, you can call those people non-feminist because it makes your movement look stronger, or because you don’t want to be associated with them…but in the end that is not to do with how more “correct” your views on feminism are, it’s just to do with how religious and liberal you are compared to those other feminists.

I think we should make laws FORCING parents to give up their kidneys, liver, blood bone marrow….whatever during a child’s serious illness. Most parents would gladly donate to assist their children but not all so I think parents, men in particular should not have the right to control their own bodies if their child’s life depended on it.

I have to say that I thought it was an enlightenment value to wish to influence decisions through rationalism rather than by force (like I said above I understand feminism as an intellectual/academic field which is open to influence rather than being fixed, and as such is equatable with other fields eg economics).

I also think it is highly inaccurate to say that all men have and have always had personal sovereignty. It definitely wasn’t true during periods of segregation, slavery and serfdom, so perhaps, Jennie, you are merely refering to the heirarch who lorded his power over his underlings and in so doing switching correlation with causation. Of course the franchise has expanded over time and men have been first in line, but you are still refering to power structures and not gender roles – it is just happenstance that contemporary debate has settled on women’s reproduction as the next issue in line for liberation (and that means from bad choices as well as lack of choice).

“it’s what happens when the moral, religious and legal boundaries are perceived differently between people of different political ideologies that is key here.”

No, those would be key to a discussion of morality, religion or law. We are discussing what *feminism* is.

And your straw man about ‘what if feminism took a different route’ shows how you’re still not grasping the concept that a logical interpretation of feminism – the emancipation of women – is different from feminism as an ideology onto which individual women can project their own beliefs and prejudices.

The emancipation of women requires their reproductive freedom, therefore being pro-choice is a prerequisite for being a feminist, therefore Palin and her ilk, whatever they may claim, are not feminist. It’s not hard to understand, unless someone doesn’t want to understand it, which makes them a patriarchy-loving penis.

thomas

“it is just happenstance that contemporary debate has settled on women’s reproduction as the next issue in line for liberation”

And it is just this kind of fatuous statement which disqualifies you from making any worthwhile comment about feminism. Women are dying in Nicaragua and elsewhere as a result of their draconian anti-abortion laws, leaving children who were already living in poverty, without basic medicine or hygiene, to starve. Other women are being forced to bring up unwanted children they can’t afford, all over the world. Children are being made to give birth to babies, all over the world. And you have the moronic complacency to suggest that this became an issue by chance?

Go and comment on something you have an iota of knowledge about, for everyone’s sake. You’re just embarrassing yourself here.

Mooska you are imposing the prejudice of your personal political views onto this question and coming up with the answer you wish to agree with rather than anything helpful.

You can disagree with Palin on her views and her interpretation of the question but that doesn’t deny the validity of her response. Not all women want to be emancipated in your terms (yes, really) and not all women think abortion helps them gain emancipation.

Palin isn’t emanicipated and argues (indirectly) that it isn’t in her interests to be emancipated (or at least if she does she defines emancipation differently) – who can argue with her at this moment in time, she’s closer to sitting in the White House on her own terms than Hillary Clinton ever got (though I would be stunned and concerned if she ever got the keys).

Yes, I’m not sure if I’m in love with Mooska, or should run for the hills in fear of her Gorgon powers, but she has so thoroughly skull-rinsed you Thomas, that I’m actually feeling some sympathy for you.

I see you’ve taken the primary description of the word I used, not it’s actual meaning within its actual context.

By referring to ‘happenstance’ within a period of centuries and millenia you might say that such an eventuality was ‘statistically inevitable’, as are all ‘random events’ over a long enough period.

“No, those would be key to a discussion of morality, religion or law. We are discussing what *feminism* is.”

We’re not though, you can’t frame the debate surrounding feminism without considering that people have different moralities and religious beliefs. You can’t separate the two from each other, they are important to each other. My argument surrounding feminism here is intrinsically based on the notion that people have different visions of “societies” they prescribe to and idealise.

Until you grasp this concept we’re not going to even agree to disagree, but I won’t push it further than I have as if it’s not gotten through yet then it likely never will.

“The emancipation of women requires their reproductive freedom”

Religious women are not necessarily likely to believe this, and if they believe in a society bound by their beliefs then there is no reason for them to consider that what you’re asking for in terms of abortion rights is reasonable. This is precisely why we cannot discuss what feminism is to people without discussing what type of society they strive for.

To clarify, if you are stating that feminism IS what it is, that you cannot have feminism without being pro-choice and without supporting legislation that gives women as much choice as avalable…then you’re also stating that only one version of society is also acceptable. By making such a hardline statement you’re not just making a statement about the current state of feminism, but also about what you believe the world should be like politically and morally…a shrewd thing to do as from an organisational point of view it allows you to disband people from the “feminist” label just because they disagree with your societal values. It essentially makes feminism a club rather than a movement.

return to Mooska, I also rationalised the placement of the current state of this debate as following in an identifiable order, so it’s hardly ‘by chance’.

It amuses me that many of these ‘feminists’ are arguing their gender is their prime motivator as far as decision-making is concerned, rather than by rational and conscious political thought – it can’t really be true that all feminists wish to accept a genitalia first, brain last approach!

Physically speaking at least, we can survive without genitalia, so doesn’t that say we are humans before we are men and women? And it is our more highly refined ability to make choices based on political outlooks which defines us human: politics leads intelligence.

“Religious women are not necessarily likely to believe this…”

Great point! As we all know, religious people’s beliefs are entirely based on reason and logic. They can get their rosaries on my ovaries anytime!

“To clarify, [blah blah]…then you’re also stating that only one version of society is also acceptable. By making such a hardline statement you’re not just making a statement about the current state of feminism, but also about what you believe the world should be like politically and morally…a shrewd thing to do as from an organisational point of view it allows you to disband people from the “feminist” label just because they disagree with your societal values. It essentially makes feminism a club rather than a movement.”

I am imposing MY version of society on everyone else because, er, I’ve pointed out that women’s bodily autonomy is a basic and unarguable right! Wait… that must mean that Palin and her fellow anti-abortionists must be the open, inclusive ones who wouldn’t dream of excluding anyone who disagreed with them, or, say banning their books form the local library!

You, sir, are a debating colossus, I think we can all agree.

thomas:

“It amuses me that many of these ‘feminists’ are arguing their gender is their prime motivator as far as decision-making is concerned, rather than by rational and conscious political thought – it can’t really be true that all feminists wish to accept a genitalia first, brain last approach! ”

Oh, dear, this is quite tragic. I bet I’m not the only person who can imagine thomas desperately trying to achieve a debonair laugh to show the empty, echoing room what a devil-may-care bantering cavalier he is.

I’m going to leave you to your lonely existence of takeaways and tissues now, thomas, pausing only to point out that yes, my gender probably is relevant to my views on abortion. However, I suspect my views about you are shared by people of both genders on here.

Oh, and Joe – thanks, and don’t be afraid! Abortion, and idiots who try and turn it into some kind of philosophical debate about the meaning of life while we do all the swelling, bleeding, vomiting and tearing wide open, does get my stout hessian undergarments in a twist, as we say here in our green and pleasant land. But I’m a happy feminist really and would share a beer with Joe-types anytime. 🙂

Oh, this is absolutely ridiculous. Can we all stop dick-waving (this includes those of us without dicks) and agree that this is what the argument is about :

Some people think that support for abortion rights is absolutely fundamental to feminism in the sense that no-one could, under any circumstances, be a feminist without supporting them.

Some other people think that support for abortion rights – while very important as a feminist issue and as a human rights issue – is not strictly speaking fundamental to feminism, because they can imagine circumstances in which someone who was in all other respects a feminist, could sincerely (albeit wrongly) decide that abortion was impermissible.

No-one likes Sarah Palin, no-one supports banning abortion, and no-one, in fact, actually disagrees with anyone else except on a fairly academic point about the definition of the word “feminist”.

It’s really a pretty simple difference of view. the real mystery is how and why this became a mental masturbation bonanza (because that’s what insulting people on the internet is -)

“I’ve pointed out that women’s bodily autonomy is a basic and unarguable right! ”

It isn’t though, it’s just what you believe. However it’s clear that you don’t wish to accept that what you believe isn’t a fact that others are merely confused about or misunderstanding, and while you hold that mentality it is certainly impossible to even begin to think in the terms of what this debate is about. See you the next time we need yet another feminist to preach about beliefs as if they are fact without noticing the irony of the similarity between their actions and those of religious fundamentalists.

Dismissing a debate about basic rights to abortion as ‘an academic point’ is about as dick-swinging as it gets, my pseudo-intellectual friend. The real mystery is why you and your fellow tuppenny philosophers can’t get it into your head that pregnancy and abortion are life-changing physical realities, not an opportunity for you to preen about your detachment from something you’ll never experience.

“Dismissing a debate about basic rights to abortion…”

Which debate? There are several. There’s the debate over whether women in fact have a basic right to abortion – I never dismissed that debate, and I fully agree with you, that women do indeed have that basic right.

Then there’s the debate over whether you can be a feminist while not agreeing with us. That’s the (fairly) academic one.

“The real mystery is why you and your fellow tuppenny philosophers can’t get it into your head that pregnancy and abortion are life-changing physical realities, not an opportunity for you to preen about your detachment from something you’ll never experience.”

About as much of a mystery then as to how you still fail to understand or comprehend the beliefs I and others have clarified this thread multiple times, hilariously managing repeatedly to misrepresent us in an effort to score some kind of points or something. But then that is only a mystery if I assume that you’ve actually been reading what we’ve been writing rather than noticing we’re male, that we’re not thanking you for gracing us with your dogmatic presence, and typing up your own pseudo-intellectual stock replies without any care for how relevant they actually are to what has been said or what the person you’re directing them at believes.

Oh good grief…

Look folks.

Rights are, per se, social constructs which exist with the framework of a social contract (unless you happen to take Locke’s view of ‘natural rights’, but that’s another matter entirely)

Jennie hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that, at the core of this is the issue of personal sovereignty and therefore the basic right to liberty which, within the liberal tradition is held to be equal to and conjoined with the right to life.

In philosophical terms, liberalism is about life AND liberty such that one without the other is meaningless, all of which makes choice and personal sovereignty a fundamental precept of feminism, if feminism is to be considered to be part of the liberal tradition.

It is the explicit denial of personal sovereignty inherent in Palin’s position that negates her claim to be a feminist and not her personal opinions of abortion – as Jennie rightly said, its perfectly possible to be a feminist and opposed to abortion in a personal sense, as in not wanting to have one yourself, because that’s your choice – its when you start with the whole business of ‘because I oppose abortion, YOU can’t have one’ that you flush your feminist credentials down the pan.

Oh, and I should point out here that – strictly speaking – as the core issue here is one of personal sovereignty, autonomy and choice then its really down to those who think that abortion rights aren’t fundamental to feminism to make the argument for their exclusion and not the other way round.

“strictly speaking – as the core issue here is one of personal sovereignty, autonomy and choice then its really down to those who think that abortion rights aren’t fundamental to feminism to make the argument for their exclusion and not the other way round.”

Who has said it should be any other way? Anyway, thanks Unity for otherwise simply repeating the arguments others said 100+ comments ago. However, the level of ignorance over the potential for liberalism to a limit that is to a lesser social boundary than we would argue for ourselves (or indeed to a higher boundary) is simply astounding.

Thomas “Mooska you are imposing the prejudice of your personal political views onto this question and coming up with the answer you wish to agree with rather than anything helpful.”

Yes, but at least Mooska has some political views. You on the other hand have no views at all. You simpy use this board to try and show how clever you are, by debating that black is white annd white is black.

“The real mystery is why you and your fellow tuppenny philosophers can’t get it into your head that pregnancy and abortion are life-changing physical realities, not an opportunity for you to preen about your detachment from something you’ll never experience.”

Tuppenny philosophers is is a marvellous and very accurate description of Lee and Thomas.

Wow, arguing over such minor irrelevancies when you could’ve actually done something to help Obama fight Palin’s horrid views! Unless of course you don’t actually believe in doing something other than arguing with people over the internet?

Lee, I’m not sure what you mean by your response to Unity above.

However, you said this above:
I’m not saying in any way or form that feminism IS going the way I posed the question, I said what if…the idea clearly being in ascertaining whether you believe that you could still be a feminist if the movement changed around you in to something you don’t necessarily wholly agree with.

But you completely avoided my question – what are the ideals of feminism you’re starting with? Try that first.

283. douglas clark

I’d have thought that what Unity said, and Laurie Penny said, and fuck knows however many other people said, this should have put a cap on this argurement.

It is perfectly clear that this is right:

Jennie hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that, at the core of this is the issue of personal sovereignty and therefore the basic right to liberty which, within the liberal tradition is held to be equal to and conjoined with the right to life.

In philosophical terms, liberalism is about life AND liberty such that one without the other is meaningless, all of which makes choice and personal sovereignty a fundamental precept of feminism, if feminism is to be considered to be part of the liberal tradition.

Any female that does not believe that is not a feminist. In fact, any male that does not believe that is not a feminist either.

Ok, I’ve been resisting the urge to get involved in this debate, but what the hell, here goes.

While I agree with Laurie, Sunny et al that pro-life feminists are not “my kind” of feminist, there is nonetheless a strong and quite valid anti-abortion feminist argument.

Germaine Greer for example, in her book The Whole Woman, writes of the pro-choice campaign:

“What women ‘won’ was the ‘right’ to undergo invasive procedures in order to terminate unwanted pregnancies, unwanted not just by them but by their parents, their sexual partners, the governments who would not support mothers, the employers who would not employ mothers, the landlords who would not accept tenants with children, the schools that would not accept students with children. Historically the only thing pro-abortion agitation achieved was to make an illiberal establishment [patriarchal culture] look far more feminist than it was”

The argument is that the “abortion industry” is itself a patriarchal tool that allows men free reign to copulate at will; that far from liberating women, abortion has in fact liberated men, who can now (as if it was ever any different!) have sex without having to take any responsibility for the consequences. There’s also the argument that abortion perpetuates societal discrimination against women by removing any impetus for the social change that is necessary in order for women with children to enjoy full equality. So for example, businesses don’t need to bring in flexible working hours, workplace nurseries, etc, because why should a business or indeed society have to adapt to fit women’s needs, when women now have the tools by which they can be made to adapt to fit in with the needs of what is still essentially a patriarchal anti-woman society. Hence for example whenever women agitate for more family-friendly working hours, enhanced maternity/paternity leave, we increasingly hear “if you choose to have children then it’s your choice and your responsibility. Why should employers have to make special efforts to accommodate you?”

Abortion is big business, and like all businesses it is one where men predominantly pocket all the rewards: they own and control the tools of the trade, and they get to enjoy consequence free sex. Women meanwhile still face disadvantage; in the workplace and in society at large if they ‘choose’ to have children, in the medicalisation of their reproduction through both contraception and abortion, and by having to take all responsibility for sexual congress.

Greer again:

“If we accept every instance of abortion as the outcome of unwanted and easily avoided pregnancy, we have to ask ourselves how it is that women are still exposing themselves to this risk. A woman who is unable to protect her cervix from exposure to male hyperfertility, who cannot suggest another way of making love or ask for a condom to be used, is certainly not calling the shots…….If the child is unwanted, whether by her or her partner or her parents, it will be her duty to undergo an invasive procedure and an emotional trauma and so sort the situation out. The crowning insult is that this ordeal is represented to her as some kind of a privilege. Her sad and onerous duty is garbled in the rhetoric of a civil right.”

This isn’t my view I hasten to add; I’m absolutely pro-choice, and while I agree with a lot of what Greer says here, and indeed with some of the arguments I’ve heard from the pro-life lobby, I would argue that these discriminations have to be dealt with if we want to see a decline in the abortion rates, but in the meantime a woman’s right to choose has to remain and is non-negotiable.

I don’t believe Sarah Palin and her FFL pals are anywhere near approaching Greer’s arguments, so I don’t believe they are feminists. However, I do think there are valid anti-abortion feminist arguments, so I don’t think it’s entirely true to say that “you cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.”

285. douglas clark

Cath Elliot,

Frankly, I do not think you are understanding what is at stake here.

Either women have the right over their own bodies, or they do not. Which is it?

douglas – Of course I understand what’s at stake, and I would hope I don’t need to spell out my own pro-choice credentials in order to prove that?

The only point I’m making here is that there is a feminist anti-abortion argument; it’s one that I would refute and argue against blah blah blah, but it’s a feminist one nonetheless.

The mistake was to take Palin’s ‘feminist’ claim at face value. Palin is to feminism what the creationists are to ‘science’ or the Dominionists to ‘religious freedom’. They don’t really believe in these concepts, but they can see how politically expedient they are. It’s kind of the right-wing flipside of reclaiming abusive words – something the left has traditionally been pretty good at.

As for the ensuing discussion – I think it’s a shame that you seem to have set up this binary between socratic method on one side and ‘real experience’ on the other. It’s a false binary and one we must overcome, because ultimately it’s a sexist one. Making a moral decision based on lived experience isn’t any less ‘philosophical’ than basing it on thought experiments and hypotheticals.

Cath Elliott, I have a new and supreme respect for you, I think you’ve handled what I’ve been trying to say in a much more eloquent fashion. Also thanks for the Greer quotes, it’s interesting to see that side of the discussion from a less religious point of view. 🙂

Keyfob: “Wow, arguing over such minor irrelevancies when you could’ve actually done something to help Obama fight Palin’s horrid views! Unless of course you don’t actually believe in doing something other than arguing with people over the internet?”

It’s far too early to be “fighting” Palin’s views, all the fighting pre-conference only served to allow her to make the perfect argument in response. I think the amount of dirt that’s been dug up on her is amazing, but it’s about striking when the time is right. I understand the level of passionate feelings against her, but you can’t just go all guns blazing at the very beginning of what will be a long fight.

Sunny: “But you completely avoided my question – what are the ideals of feminism you’re starting with? Try that first.”

You mean your question where you were going to attempt to debunk my argument based on twisting what I said to try and paint me as someone that thinks feminism is *actually* going to turn to homicide? But hey, to me Feminism is about equality for women with me, freedom from opression and freedom from discrimination…I can totally see and agree with how that has manifested itself in seeing abortion rights as key, but societal values and constraints of belief can make those basic elements of feminism manifest differently. Over on Jennie’s blog someone said it pretty perfectly…

“but there is an argument (mostly from fundie christians) against that [that you can’t be feminist and anti-choice].

They say that the decision isn’t the woman’s. Once life has started – not potential, but the process that they assume would result in a baby – neither men nor women have the right to murder. They don’t view it as her own body, they view it as an independent child that no-one is there to defend. And that murder is an absolute.

So they don’t even see it as a feminism issue, because murder is wrong regardless of social equality status. They can still believe women deserve to be treated equally in society, but that no-one has the right to terminate a foetus.”

I ought to say the guy also made it very clear he is very pro-choice and doesn’t agree with feminists who are anti-choice. I need to say this clearly because it can’t be said enough without people on this thread ignoring it and attacking the person rather than the argument.

“I think it’s a shame that you seem to have set up this binary between socratic method on one side and ‘real experience’ on the other. I think it’s a shame that you seem to have set up this binary between socratic method on one side and ‘real experience’ on the other.”

Why is it sexist, do you feel? I ask because no-one is negating any real experience arguments, no-one is saying that what the feminists on this thread feel is wrong.

Hi Lee – “Why is it sexist, do you feel?”

I’m not saying that your arguments are sexist, but that historically the binary of philosophy/lived experience has been one where the former (privileged) term is gendered male. Which is why I think it’s a shame that it seems to have been reinforced in the discussion so far.

I’m not blaming you for that. It cuts both ways – some commentors have attempted to negate your views because you won’t experience pregnancy yourself.

Ok, yeah I understand what you’re saying 🙂 I’m not sure if I agree that it is necessarily the case here as I didn’t see (until Cath’s post referencing Greer above) how the lived experience argument came in to a discussion that seemed to be solely about underlying belief structures and acceptance of others to take different paths from the same underpinnings because of those structures. More than happy to hear the counter-argument to this though.

292. douglas clark

Cath @ 287,

Don’t agree. There is no feminist arguemnt against choice, at least I don’t think there is. You said:

The only point I’m making here is that there is a feminist anti-abortion argument; it’s one that I would refute and argue against blah blah blah, but it’s a feminist one nonetheless.

Care to expand on that? I can clearly see that an individual woman might consider abortion unacceptable for her. I do not see how anyone can consider themselves a feminist and attempt to impose that rule on others. Clearly, if the abortion is being imposed on her by others, that is a different can of worms. But that arguement, the benefit of a male offspring, or whatever, is not what this discussion is about, is it?

293. douglas clark

Line one: Or arguement, maybe.

Fascinating post, Cath, and thank you for really making me think about this.

I’m not sure I agree, unsurprisingly; but it’s not just the conclusion I don’t agree with, it’s the reasoning. While these arguments are absolutely valid and feminist arguments against abortion, they ignore the possibility that some women simply may not want to have a child.

I won’t go into it in detail, since I know you’re presenting it as a legitimate argument rather tthan one you agree with, but the main argument, that abortion is simply another way for society to marginalise women and ignore their difficulties, does seem to be premised on the idea of abortion being somehow imposed on women. More generally, it seems to assume that the interests of women and the patriarchy must always be in opposition, so that if something benefits the patriarchy then it cannot also benefit women.

So I’d argue that it is a valid feminist argument against coerced or universal abortions. It’s a valid feminist argument for supporting women if they don’t want abortions. But Laurie’s article was not arguing *for* abortion, it was arguing for *choice*. None of what you posted appears to (a) justify denying a woman an abortion, or (b) acknowledge that a woman may choose of her own free will not to have a child. The latter does seems like a glaring omission from any allegedly feminist argument.

Laurie asserted: “You cannot be a feminist and oppose a woman’s *right to choose*”. I still think this is correct.

they ignore the possibility that some women simply may not want to have a child

No, it really doesn’t. Greer:

we have to ask ourselves how it is that women are still exposing themselves to this risk. A woman who is unable to protect her cervix from exposure to male hyperfertility, who cannot suggest another way of making love or ask for a condom to be used, is certainly not calling the shots

Again, not trolling, but what exactly is wrong with the contention that if you don’t want to have kids then you should avoid penetrative sex? I don’t understand.

what exactly is wrong with the contention that if you don’t want to have kids then you should avoid penetrative sex?
Abstinence only doesn’t work. That’s what’s wrong with it.

If it did work, then Bristol Palin wouldn’t be currently running into a shotgun marriage.

“Again, not trolling, but what exactly is wrong with the contention that if you don’t want to have kids then you should avoid penetrative sex? I don’t understand.”

Fair enough – I don’t mean this rudely at all, but if you don’t understand why women might want to have penetrative sex without having kids, then it’s probably beyond my powers to convince you.

That comment of Greer’s doesn’t allow for the possibility of contraceptive failure, but more importantly in this context, it doesn’t give any valid reason that I can see for denying a woman the choice to have an abortion if she wants to. I might have missed something, though?

Debi – I didn’t mention abstinence and neither did Greer, who specifically did not suggest abstinence when she said, in the part that I quoted:

…who cannot suggest another way of making love or ask for a condom to be used…

Having been in a relationship with a Catholic who wouldn’t do (penetrative) sex before marriage, I can tell you that even exluding that there are plenty of options!

Mooska – well, okay, I obviously understand why people might want to have sex and not have kids! Bad phrasing on my part 🙂

But surely one has to accept that if one has penetrative sex there is a risk, however small, of the woman becoming pregnant as a result? This being the case, my argument is (I think) that women already have control over whether they become pregnant or not (obviously excluding rape etc) with or without access to abortion.

(In fact, in such a situation they have “equal” reproductive rights with men, who are in exactly the same bind. By granting abortion rights to women, one is surely giving women a right that men don’t have, which is to terminate unwanted pregnancies?)

Greer doesn’t mention why abortions should be denied to women, but surely the “right to life” is one? I mean, I don’t really believe myself that “life begins at conception” but some people do, and I think that the line of what is life worth saving and what is not has to be drawn somewhere and that line will always necessarily be drawn somewhat arbitrarily.

Anyway, I’m not at all sure I am convinced by what I am talking about, I just want a refutation that makes sufficient sense to me that I can quell the nagging feeling that there’s something about this that I’ve missed.

Also, the final para of my comment at #299 sounds condescending and retarded. Please ignore.

Having been in a relationship with a Catholic who wouldn’t do (penetrative) sex before marriage, I can tell you that even exluding that there are plenty of options!

Honey, I’m a lesbian, I know! 😉

But the choice argument is about enforcing a decision on every single woman. And no matter how much you say ‘only do penetrative sex if you’re absolutely fine with becoming pregnant’, unwanted pregnancies are going to happen, because people like sex.

You excluded rape in your comment to Mooska, but failed to explain how you exclude rape – would you give abortion rights to rape victims only? How would that work?

And even without rape, I find the ‘if you have sex you deserve to be straddled with a pregnancy’ PoV incredibly problemmatic and sexist. For a start, I’m not sure a person who lacks the sense to use a condom is particularly suited for parenthood.

Hey Sanbikiniraion

“…if one has penetrative sex there is a risk, however small, of the woman becoming pregnant as a result? This being the case, my argument is (I think) that women already have control over whether they become pregnant or not (obviously excluding rape etc) with or without access to abortion.”

Again, this excludes the possibility of contraceptive failure. It also, and sorry for repeating myself, fails to supply any valid reason that I can see for denying a woman the choice to have an abortion if she wants to.

“(In fact, in such a situation they have “equal” reproductive rights with men, who are in exactly the same bind. By granting abortion rights to women, one is surely giving women a right that men don’t have, which is to terminate unwanted pregnancies?)”

Women are the ones that get pregnant, so they are the ones that get to decide whether to keep the baby. That seems logical and obvious to me. Pregnancy is a hell of a business, physically, mentally and emotionally. Why the fermented fuck (sorry, saw this elsewhere and it amused me greatly 🙂 ) would anyone cede the right to decide whether to go through it to someone who’s not going to be affected in any comparable degree by it?

“Greer doesn’t mention why abortions should be denied to women, but surely the “right to life” is one? I mean, I don’t really believe myself that “life begins at conception” but some people do, and I think that the line of what is life worth saving and what is not has to be drawn somewhere and that line will always necessarily be drawn somewhat arbitrarily.”

Well, that’s one of those things that pros and antis will never agree on, so all I’ll say about it is that right-to-life is not a feminist argument because it ultimately denies bodily autonomy to women.

Doug @ 293: I’ll repeat the quote that specifically deals with one reason why this may be the case…

“They say that the decision isn’t the woman’s. Once life has started – not potential, but the process that they assume would result in a baby – neither men nor women have the right to murder. They don’t view it as her own body, they view it as an independent child that no-one is there to defend. And that murder is an absolute.

So they don’t even see it as a feminism issue, because murder is wrong regardless of social equality status. They can still believe women deserve to be treated equally in society, but that no-one has the right to terminate a foetus.”

304. douglas clark

Lee,

I see where you are coming from. It is a sort of absolutist viewpoint on life starting at conception, is it not? Quite what that has to do with feminism, which in this case is about the right of the mother, is a bit beyond me. It is as if the Taliban said they were all feminists now and we meekly agreed. I’d have thought, correct me if I am wrong, that labels such as feminism or liberalism or socialism ought to have some sort of substance behind them. Y’know, core beliefs. Lest they be easily co-opted, whereby they become meaningless, or worst still useful to the enemy.

Viz Sarah Palin.

Look at it this way, you are arguing (as I would) that feminism can’t operate without full autonomy to the woman. The argument by people that believe abortion is a sin because life starts at conception will also be that feminism can’t operate without full autonomy to women. The standpoint of the people involved is no different (at least about the type of women we’re talking about here). I understand completely that Sarah Palin is unlikely to be what anyone should accept as a feminist but the debate has long gone past her.

What is different is the interpretation of full autonomy. To you and me it is complete control of her actions and her reproductive rights. To a christian it may be complete control of her actions but NOT that of her reproductive system because her morals over life supercede that. To a crazy full autonomy may be the ability to control her own actions, to have full control over reproductive rights, to be able to kill who she likes and to be taxed less by the government because she’s a woman. All of these people are cut from the same kind of cloth, they are all striving for the same thing within the boundaries of their wider belief structure and social systems.

306. douglas clark

Lee,

Excuse me, but I think this is all a bit confused.

If you agree with me that female autonomy is a given, (inside herself, not walking about killing men for fun – which is a bit of a non-sequitur I’d have thought), then you are a feminist.

Arguing that a Christian, say, who doesn’t believe that that is a core princilple is also a feminist seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse. That persons’ main identity is their Christianity rather than their feminism. It would seem to me that they could subscribe to everything else, equality, etc, but calling themselves first and foremost a feminist is a bit of a cheat.

It would be like you or I saying we were Liberal except we couldn’t stand . It would call into question just how committed we were to our Liberalism, would it not?

307. douglas clark

Hmm…

Last para was supposed to read:

It would be like you or I saying we were Liberal except we couldn’t stand “insert minority of choice”. It would call into question just how committed we were to our Liberalism, would it not?

I think some commenters are getting rather too hung up on labels and being a bit unreasonable; there is also a ridiculous number of ad hominems and vociferous and aggressive comments. It seems to be LC is aiming for a standard higher that of Usenet, and it is (or it should be) to the shame of the mods and those particular commenters that it is not.

Look, there are people claiming they are X but that they do not support Y. Some people seem rather absolutist and dogmatic in saying that others cannot possibly claim to be X if they do not support Y. It seems to me a more reasonable, objective person sees Y as being a position on the spectrum or Venn diagram of X, rather than something mutually exclusive of X, which is Lee’s point. Unfortunately some commenters are less reasonable and appear to be ideologists.

Unity,

Rights are, per se, social constructs which exist with the framework of a social contract (unless you happen to take Locke’s view of ‘natural rights’, but that’s another matter entirely)

Well, in practice, rights (such as they are) exist within the framework of laws enforced by a state that usually has a monopoly on violence. The use of the word ‘contract’ therefore seems rather kind!

Jennie hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that, at the core of this is the issue of personal sovereignty and therefore the basic right to liberty which, within the liberal tradition is held to be equal to and conjoined with the right to life.

It’s interesting that the ‘right to life’ and personal sovereignty is raised in such a context – Sunny wrote, “A discussion about when life starts is rather irrelevant.”

Hardly! It is the essence of the disagreement between the anti-abortion / pro-life and pro-choice (Unspeak alert) camps, because some people think an embryo or foetus has the ‘right to life’ and some do not, because some people think life starts at a particular point (conception, N weeks, birth, whatever) and some do not or think it is not relevant. Then of course there is disagreement within the pro-choice camp regarding the circumstances (gestational age, circumstances of conception, whatever) a woman should be allowed (or not) to terminate.

So far perhaps so banal, but my point is that there is a spectrum of opinions and we should look beyond labels if we’re genuinely interested in debate.

Douglas,

It would be like you or I saying we were Liberal except we couldn’t stand “insert minority of choice”. It would call into question just how committed we were to our Liberalism, would it not?

But that is the point, isn’t it? That someone can claim to be Liberal, understanding that they should be free to associate or not with whoever they choose, for example a hotelier refusing entry to gays or blacks), while other people claiming to be Liberals believe that a gay or black should have the right to be treated just the same as white heterosexuals and have the opportunity to stay at that hotel.

Lee made the point early on that some people who claim to be feminists are against women choosing to work in the sex industry, yet the same people would otherwise claim women should be free to do whatever they choose.

Again, a spectrum of opinion falling under a label.

Of course the above would make for a less provocative article than Laurie’s.

Sunny,

We’re plagued by libertarian commentators who throw the word ‘fascist’ around like its 1930s Germany. These are all examples of political hyperbole.

To say we’re ‘plagued’ seems like hyperbole too: I have seen variations on the word ‘facist’ in roughly five comments in the context you’re alluding to (I note that a feminist used the word ‘fascist’ early on in this thread). Also, I’m not sure I’ve seen any reasonable commenter use the word ‘facist’ on its own – what people have said is that something is like fascism in such-and-such a way, or ‘soft fascism’, in other words something on the spectrum of meaning given to the word fascism.

Between Cath Elliot and ukliberty (not disrespecting the understanding of other commentators here that I’ve seen) they have completely and utterly encapsulated what I’ve been perhaps failing to say adequately. Thanks UKLiberty, spot on.

Again, this excludes the possibility of contraceptive failure.

I think that my original argument accounts for contraceptive failure insofar as I said “if one has penetrative sex there is a risk, however small, of the woman becoming pregnant as a result?”. That’s true whether you use contraceptives or not; none claim to be 100% effective.

It also, and sorry for repeating myself, fails to supply any valid reason that I can see for denying a woman the choice to have an abortion if she wants to.

Sorry, I should have been more forthright in my original comment – see below.

right-to-life is not a feminist argument because it ultimately denies bodily autonomy to women.

I don’t think it has to, so long as one takes the view that one has already taken one’s choice at the moment of conception (well, about ten minutes before conception, really 😛 ), chosen to risk becoming pregnant, then the two views can surely be compatible – you choose every time you have sex to risk the possibility of having to host another life for nine months.

Surely we act like this every day in many respects, constantly making choices now that will preclude other options later. If I go skiing, I choose to take the risk that I’ll break my leg or worse. I can’t break it (or my neck!) and then decide afterwards that I didn’t want to go skiing and have it become unbroken.

I really don’t know what is so difficult to understand here. I for one resent Christian, right wing wack jobs from calling themselves feminist. The religious right has rallied round Palin for political reasons, but in doing so they have thrown out most of what they believe in. The religious right has always believed that woman should stay at home, and their place is in the kitchen and the bedroom. If they had their way, the Sarah Palin’s of this world would not have a job as governor of anything, but the kitchen table. They also believe that unmarried sex is bad, and it is the fault of the parent for letting this happen. Hence many fundie will no send their parents on dates with their daughters. (How very Islamic) So how can they support a working mother with 5 kids who let (their opinion) her daughter get pregnant? These are some of the views of John Hagee, a right wing preacher that McCain has endorsed…………

“Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist. “

The religious right hate working woman, and hate woman having any control in society. For people like Palin to support them, is like Jews for Hitler.

“The religious right hate working woman, and hate woman having any control in society. For people like Palin to support them, is like Jews for Hitler.”

Who had comment number 312 in the sweepstake?

Sally, instead of telling us what you think people you disagree with believe, why don’t you tell us what you think.

Now you’re being high-handed Lee.

I apologise, it’s just that I know I could go in to great detail about how sally is shifting the debate away from it’s context to the extremes…that we aren’t talking about the hardcore right here that disagree with most of what feminism says…but I know that the response will be that I’m a troll, and that we’re all fascist Tories. The Hitler comment was just too…well…expected at some point. 🙂

ukliberty

I’m new to this site, and it does seem that the tone here is less aggressive than, say, on the Guardian’s CiF pages, so in deference to that I’ve toned it down a bit recently. Having said that, I’m not sure that laying on the passive aggression entitles one to the moral high ground either, particularly while hurling accusations around like confetti.

Dressing fundamental disagreements in the language of ‘reasonableness’ isn’t automatically a good thing. ‘Ideology’ can be merely a set of ideas; why would it then be unreasonable to adhere to those ideas? I think this insistence that people must accept the possible validity of an opinion they utterly disagree with stifles debate at least as much as insults. In fact, if you look at the thread as a whole, the bits where people actually patiently respond to questions like ‘What if feminism means killing your child? No, really – would you support that? Would you, though?’ are, IMO at least, the most tedious by a country mile.

You claim that it is absolutist and dogmatic to state (presumably; due to the ubiquitous “some people” in your post, one can’t be sure exactly what arguments you refer to) that an anti-abortionist cannot also be a feminist. It would be more reasonable, you say, to talk of spectrums and Venn diagrams than of mutual exclusion.

However, you don’t offer any justification for this. Saying that one thing logically and necessarily excludes another, and *giving reasons why you think this is so*, is not dogmatic. You offer a solution to the problem of ‘absolutism’ without stating why it is a problem.

You also repeat the orthodoxy that one should avoid concentrating on ‘labels’, despite the fact that one particular label was the subject of this article. Feminism has been ridiculed, discredited and co-opted so much in recent years that I think debate about what the ‘label’ means is entirely valid.

Of course there are different types of feminists and disagreements between them. However, I think Laurie and others have made a coherent argument that deserves better than to be subsumed in meaningless metaphors of Venn diagrams and suchlike for the sake of not disagreeing with each other.

That argument is that since feminism is fundamentally about female emancipation from the various factors contributing to their oppression – this may be only one of several fundamentals, but it is one nevertheless – you cannot seek to deny women such a basic right as reproductive freedom and still call yourself a feminist. Cath’s post gave me serious pause for thought, but I still believe that Laurie’s point was right, and I don’t think a Venn diagram is necessary to illustrate that.

Sanbikiniraion

“I don’t think it has to, so long as one takes the view that one has already taken one’s choice at the moment of conception (well, about ten minutes before conception, really 😛 ), chosen to risk becoming pregnant, then the two views can surely be compatible – you choose every time you have sex to risk the possibility of having to host another life for nine months.”

Ten minutes, eh? I believe the UK average is more like three. 😀

Srsly, the problem with this point as I see it is that it relies on the false premise that one has only one opportunity to make that choice. Oh, wait, I get it – you’re talking about how to reconcile a belief in the right to life with feminism. Well, hmm, I can see how this would be valid if applied to your *own* choices, sure. Other women might say, ‘I chose not to get pregnant by using contraception/partner said he’d had a vasectomy/I was told you can’t get pregnant while on your period’ (OK that last only valid for very sheltered teenagers!)

And, of course, what about victims of rape? They have not taken the choice. But if the right to life supersedes the right to boldily autonomy, they should not have abortions. And denying a rape victim an abortion is not only dogmatic, it’s applied dogmatism with a lifetime of consequences.

It is noticeable how the tone of this thread swings as the issues get outed.

It is also noticeable how the left mirror the right in only accepting half of the argument, and opposite halves at that. Yet the ideas of pro-life/anti-abortion and pro-choice/pro-abortion are not incompatible if you choose to seek their means of reconciliation.

I think the only workable solution in a society is to listen to the opinions of all sides and try to address all the concerns. I think the liberal position is to make the case for exceptionalism – because the exceptions prove the rule that absolutism doesn’t work.

So we do have a rational state where the acceptable line of compromise is draw and on the issue of abortion the fact that we hear equal howls of dissatisfaction from left and right proves this. Abortion is a ‘fundamental’ right, but it is restricted by time-limits; Abortion is also banned after the expiry of those time limits, but there are exceptions.

Abortion should not be encouraged, but also nor can it be prohibited. It is in the recognition of exceptional circumstances which we find space to allow for flexibility in the practise of law by decentralising the decision-making process according to each individual case in agreement with (and under the supervision of) professional medical advice.

The people who undergo such an experience or dilemma are not heroic figures deserving of our recognition and desiring celebration, but also neither are they demonic figures deserving of our stigmatisation and humiliation – they are just normal people in abnormal circumstances trying to live healthy lives.

As far as ‘feminism’ is concerned Sarah Palin is the embodiment of how the trend of debate has already turned against the paleo-emancipationists to the neo-emancipationists with a greater degree of spirituality combining with some former aspects of rationalism. I don’t see anyone agreeing that to terminate the pregnancy at 5 months is a lesser evil than a shotgun wedding and as the term reaches completion so the balance tips further.

So a clearer understanding of the label as no more than a subset of prior political beliefs by which that political philosophy can be applied to specific problematic questions is essential to contending and defeating the propositions and prescriptions you dislike or disagree with.

What the feminists here are calling ‘feminism’ is really ‘liberalism’ applied to feminist subjects, but many of these ‘feminists’ dislike this reality because they consider themselves (like the author herself) socialists. Divisive articles like these are designed to squeeze conciliatory and inclusive liberalism out of the picture by coopting the liberal feminists into the socialist camp through the old-fashioned and conservative method of polarisation. We could go into another long discussion about means and ends, but I think this thread has proved the point.

Mooska, I see you are no stranger to hyperbole.

One of the reasons why I comment and read articles and other comments here is that there is a general air of civility that I don’t find in some other, perhaps more high profile places, even though I might disagree with some of the views put forward, and even though some commenters very occasionally resort to ad hominems and non sequiturs.

I don’t mind engaging in a robust discussion, but there is a difference between that and plain aggression. I am well used to Usenet and of course there it is easier to ignore or killfile people who don’t seem interested in reasonable discussion but rather insulting people and point scoring.

LC seems to have a reasonable standard of discussion, but I found this thread particularly aggressive relative to most other threads I’ve read on LC, and it’s a shame a mod didn’t say, hang on, let’s be a bit more civil.

“some people” in your post, one can’t be sure exactly what arguments you refer to)

I didn’t want to mention anyone particularly because I thought it would result in even more aggression.

Now, I don’t insist people accept the validity of opinions they disagree with, far from it – and it would be hypocritical of me to do so particularly regarding what I wrote in my previous comment and the content of my blog.

But there are some things that are a matter of opinion and there are some things that are a matter of fact. It is a matter of fact that the Earth is roughly round and you are just plain wrong if you think otherwise. However, the meaning of words is a bit different because it is here that consensus defines correctness. We can therefore correctly say that feminism involves X, Y and Z, and that there is a disagreement over W. There is a lack of consensus among feminists about some issues, so while we can agree on the general principles, we can and no doubt will argue about the specifics.

I would say Palin is wrong if she wants to prevent women from choosing abortions. What I would not say is that this bars her from being a feminist, because I understand there to be a lack of consensus among feminists about the abortion issue.

But some commenters here think that believing W completely obviates you from being a feminist. This seems absolutist by definition. They seem unreasonable, in the sense of not conforming to reason, and they also seem unreasonable in the sense of lacking civility.

‘Ideology’ can be merely a set of ideas; why would it then be unreasonable to adhere to those ideas?

Well, it depends on what the ideas are and the extent of the adherence, doesn’t it?

thomas @ 319 seems spot on.

“And, of course, what about victims of rape? They have not taken the choice. But if the right to life supersedes the right to boldily autonomy, they should not have abortions. And denying a rape victim an abortion is not only dogmatic, it’s applied dogmatism with a lifetime of consequences.”

And also to add to the above posts, the above is an argument you need to have with someone that is feminist and anti-choice, but ultimately such arguments come down to (yet again) whether the right to life, based on a pre-judged belief on when life is formulated, is a higher right than the rights feminists fight for. It all comes down to, as ukliberty put it, the placement in the venn diagram of everyone’s views.

You may call this meaningless but it is almost as if you are putting too much of the personal in to this whole discussion. Nothing in this debate was ever about the sanctity of your views or attacking them…yet it’s been interesting to see several times this argument being used that we shouldn’t be discussing this subject because “the hypothetical doesn’t matter” or “our experiences matter more”. It really just seems to be confusing to sides of the same discussion, both can quite happily coexist in a discussion of this nature.

First time visiting this place, and I have to ask: Are all debates as interesting as this?

Sure, there was a point where things went in circles where people where saying that there could possibly be a form of feminism where you are pro-life, and everyone else saying that “No, then it’s not up to the individual woman.” Of course, in varying degrees of hostility.

As I see it: A majority of feminists believe that the choice of a woman should be up the individual woman, as long as her choice does not also force others to follow it. (adhere?)
If a majority of feminists think so, you can probably say that it’s a requirement for a feminist these days. What was considered feminism in the days of yore, and what is considered feminism now should not be the same thing, since that implies that nothing have happened. But it also says that there will be new forms of feminism. Most people that know this will realize that Pro-life feminist are not considered feminist, and probably never will because of how a majority of what is considered feminism looks today.
That would at least be my personal reason for why I’d never call anyone pro-life a feminist, and why I doubt there will ever be such a thing recognized by a majority of feminists.
Then again, it’s also speculation, so I can’t claim to know.

I don’t really understand how the US functions at all, considering the cross breading of church and state going on, but then again I am Swedish, so religion has never been much of an issue in politics for me.

ukliberty

You’ll have seen that I’m happy to engage civilly with people who are debating in good faith, and indeed with you, if you could stick to *either* deploring aggression, *or* passive aggression. My advice would be to drop the holier-than-thou attitude and keep the oh-so-subtle digs; neither are much help to communication, but the digs are more fun.

“There is a lack of consensus among feminists about some issues, so while we can agree on the general principles, we can and no doubt will argue about the specifics.”

Come on, stick your neck out. What ARE the general principles that we can agree on?

Mooska, if that’s the case you have a different definition of ‘civility’ than I do.

Illogic: Glad someone else found it interesting 🙂

Mooska, your comments on this thread put the lie to your claim that you are “happy to engage civilly with people who are debating in good faith”.

OK- Let me put it this way:

Any pregnancy is a risk to a woman’s health, sometimes a small risk, sometimes a large risk because the pregnancy puts a large stress on a woman’s body.
Outlawing abortion is putting the rights of a “potential” human above the rights of an existing human woman or girl.
It’s equivalent to demanding that one being be allowed to risk the health of another to maintain it’s life (even thought the zygote or fetus isn’t yet a human being with rights).
A law outlawing abortion is equivalent to a law mandating kidney donation from any matching donor to a person who needs one. (After all, donating a kidney is pretty low risk and involves about the same surgery as a C-section).

Stop quibbling. Anyone who doesn’t support reproductive choice believes that women do not have full rights of self determination, and is certainly not a feminist.

I am not anti abortion, (nor am I for it) but you need to realize that in 98% of the cases it is simply a convenience. Rape & Incest and health are the exceptions. Adoption is a viable option but some women have decided that they would rather not be inconvienced. Ok, I support your right to make that decision but don’t try to sound high and mighty about it. Simply say I choose to terminate the life growing inside me because: I do not want to carry the child 9 months. I do not want to bear the burden or just……fill in the blank. My wife and I experianced 7 miscarriages. We finally adopted 2 baby boys after 2 years of going through the acceptance proccess. Abortion has never been a right it has always been a convienence. What are your views on the death penalty or plowing down of forests? Most liberal abhore the though which seems to be truly sad. (You may be different) A murderer, rapist and tree havemore rights than a life growing inside you.

I thought the femenist movement was dead. NOW has to have under 200,000 members. Women absolutely have the right to equal jobs and pay. Its over now though…….

Sorry about my spelling on the last rant. If Palin is not a feminist because of certain beliefs than Tomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas are not African Americans for precisely the same reason.

What I don’t understand is how if a pregnant woman is murdered, it’s double homicide. But yet she can have an abortion and that’s fine. It’s like the baby is only a person if the mother wants it. What a disgusting world view.

In addition, the woman has a right to choose…to not have unprotected sex.

Obama supports infanticide.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIdbYjmbFzo&feature=related

Palin enjoys misrepresenting Obama’s votes on the born alive bill and clearly is indebted to a GOP friendly contractor.

http://www.truthout.org/100908WA

I don’t know what the situation is like in the USA,

but In Great Britian Westminster tells its electorate how much it needs more people in the country via mass immigration yet they have set up pregnancy ‘advice’ centres in every town and have so far presided over 6 Million abortions to date.
they are proposing to Sterilise British school girls.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=514542&in_page_id=1770

They are creating a new race of People.

http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/865

i think the use of the word ‘sterilise’ is entierly misleading in this case – the implants concerned would act as a form of five year contraception, in effect handing over reproductive responsibilities to girls when they near adulthood. However, i think this policy is incredibly presumptuous and morally unsound; as this would effectively result in state control of the reproductive rights of millions of girls in their formative years. And this is exactly what the pro-choice movement has been trying to prevent. The state does not, and should not, legislate on moral issues and personal choice – so surely girls who are deemed responsible enough to have sex legally should also be considered responsible enough to have dominion over their own bodies.
To me, this seems like the easy way out for the health service and the government, as despite a veritable deluge of feedback from young people and proffessionals alike, they repeatedly fail to provide a satisfactory standard of sex education; the harder, more time consuming yet MORE EFFECTIVE and ENDURING form of securing that future generations are equipped for their adult sexual lives. A cop-out if there ever was one. As when they do reach maturity and the effects of the implant wear off, they are left floundering without the tools they need to ensure their own safety.
it is also likely that this would lead to an upsurge in teenage STIs, since the main current incentive for the use of condoms seems to be to prevent pregnancy. When this is no longer an issue, many are likely abandon its use in favour of unprotected sex.

No contraception is fool-proof, and if this sex education is not provided, it is likely that many abortions will just be deffered from foolish, confused yet protected teenagehood into slightly less confused, unprotected adult hood. This is the government not wanting to deal with the base causes of teenage pregnancy, and quick-fix, totalitarian reproductive policies like this stink all too much of eugenics.

No, even if one believes that a person comes into being at conception, one mayn’t reject the right to choose *entirely*. One can simply argue against it far more strongly. Because a fetus’ ‘rights’, whatever they maybe, must be taken *alongside* the rights of the mother. Especially in cases of rape, incest and where the mother’s health is at stake.

No, really, we mustn’t. If a foetus is a person, then the intentional killing of that foetus is murder. We don’t allow mothers to kill off their teenage children because they’re worried about their mental health, or because the child reminds them of the child’s father, who was violent and abusive, we don’t kill teenage children because we think they’ll have a fairly crappy life, and we don’t kill teenage children because of some kind of congenital abnormality. If a foetus is a person, then the only case in which it is justifiable to kill the foetus is as a side-effect of a medical procedure to save the life of the mother (cf. the separation of conjoined twins) – not just the “birth has more medical risks than abortion” piece of sophistry that is used to obtain abortion on demand under current UK law. If a foetus is a person, it’s really very easy.

If a foetus is a wad of cells, it’s also easy. Mother’s body – mother’s choice.

In reality, the current law, with its uneasy compromises, age limits and hedging, is a result of the fact that most people think the truth is somewhere in the middle. A foetus isn’t a person, but also isn’t a non-person. Just found out you’re pregnant, and don’t want to go through 8 more months of pregnancy? There’s a way out. Six weeks to go, and you’ve decided you can’t face bringing up a child? You’ll just have to tough it out for the next six weeks or so, and if you still feel that way, then here’s some information about adoption.

It’s an uncomfortable compromise, and doesn’t alter the fact that being a woman who is pregnant but doesn’t want to be is a pretty sucky position to be in, whatever your local laws surrounding “reproductive choice” and whatever decision you make.


The problem is that we have no way of knowing, scientifically, when personhood starts.

“Personhood” isn’t even scientifically definable. It’s a moral and legal statement, not a scientific one.

[On contraceptive implants for teenage girls] However, i think this policy is incredibly presumptuous and morally unsound; as this would effectively result in state control of the reproductive rights of millions of girls in their formative years.

Well, the state does control the reproductive rights of teenage girls. It says that you’re not allowed to do it until you’re sixteen.

so surely girls who are deemed responsible enough to have sex legally should also be considered responsible enough to have dominion over their own bodies.

That seems like a reasonable enough statement to me. But if these same “responsible” girls are going to be turning around and asking for state handouts because they can’t afford to support their children, then maybe the state does have an interest in preventing their pregnancies.

That aside, I agree that this is an astonishingly bad idea, largely because it will be seen by many teenagers as a licence to have unprotected sex, with the obvious results for STIs.

Tommyboy:

Adoption is a viable option but some women have decided that they would rather not be inconvienced. Ok, I support your right to make that decision but don’t try to sound high and mighty about it. Simply say I choose to terminate the life growing inside me because: I do not want to carry the child 9 months.

Believe me, that is absolutely A-OK with me and a whole lot of other people I know. I have no desire whatsoever to echo the hand-wringing euphemisms spouted so constantly in the media.

I do not want to bear the burden or just……fill in the blank.

However, I would appreciate it if you would do others the same courtesy and not suggest that pregnancy is simply an inconvenience. Those of us who have had to face the prospect of it know only too well that the burden and the responsibility are HUGE. Your implication that one would need some further justification for abortion than ‘not wanting to take on that burden’ suggests a tendency to be somewhat high-and-mighty about women’s reproductive choices and specifically, the task of motherhood, yourself.

Having said all that, I am sorry you and your wife had to go through the experience of so many miscarriages. It is terribly unfair that some women hate the idea of having children and yet get pregnant, while others struggle to conceive.


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