Friday, March 10


Well, I knew Michael Medved can be a real wanker when he chooses, but I have often said that he is one of the most intelligent and articulate of the wingnut talk radio hosts.

Just now the issue was the lawsuit of a Michigan man asserting "a constitutional freedom to 'choose not to be a father' under the equal protection clause."

Mat DuBay says he told his girlfriend he didn't want to have a child, but she kept assuring him that she had a medical condition that would prevent pregnancy. She got pregnant, and now he wants the right to refuse child support payments.

Medved's take? Traditionally, to advance civilization, women (not men) were held responsible for saying the all-important "no" to sex. That's because women had to bear most of the burden of bearing any child that resulted. Presumably, men aren't supposed to be held accountable for their sex acts because nature needs hard-charging sexed-up guys to keep procreation going and thus the continuation of the species. So a guy isn't responsible for birth control, the gal is. And if she doesn't want to be forced to bear a child as a result, she should holler a decisive "no" when the guy suggests (or forces?) sex. If she fails at either (or if the birth control method fails), it's up to her to deal with the consequences. Unbelievable. I couldn't believe my ears.

Every day I hear something on the radio or TV that reminds me how determined wingnuts are to roll back the clock to some never-existed Pleasantville. When I was a teen, I heard at church, from my mother, from the Girl Scouts, from the Reader's Digest, from Seventeen, from EVERYWHERE that it was my responsibility as a girl to "just say no" to any boy who tried THAT. Boys could be excused, of course, for trying because it's their nature. (Nowhere in my world was there any voice to allow that just perhaps sex is a primal force in a woman's life, TOO.) If an unmarried girl got pregnant, she was branded a slut (even if no-one in polite society used that word). Yes, in my deep-South family and environment, the term "fallen woman" was still used. The boy (or man) was almost sneakily admired for the display of his virility. The pregnant girl was either compelled to marry the boy (if he was willing) and live a life of atonement forever, or go away to a home for unwed mothers or a distant relative's and have the baby, which would then be either given up for adoption. Or, if the mama chose to raise her child herself, she would almost certainly move to another state so as not to embarrass her family and to give herself a chance at a new start.

Now that was the situation in my world, which was relatively privileged, in its genteel, frayed Southern way. How a girl who had no leverage (a family who could cause trouble for) with the boy, no money to pay to move away, no money to raise the child by herself (she would probably would have been thrown out of her home if she was forced to remain in town), no support system, etc. could manage, I can't imagine.

In both those Americas, you can see the attraction of the coat hanger. Many women (not just girls) were desperate enough to choose that option with all its risks, and some died, but the wingnuts aren't willing to address that point. It's too icky. (The whole abortion issue is a reactionary response to the icky.) So if the wingers get their way and abortion is banned throughout the nation, what do they expect? Are they truly prepared for a deluge of dead women, for a sharp jump in the number of poor-single-mother-head-of-households? Can they not anticipate an increase in the births of impaired children since many of these mothers will be unable to afford prenatal care? And since profound birth defects will not be allowed as a justification for abortion, the numbers will be even higher.

I hate the idea of abortion. I'm the mother of five children, and I treasure every single one. I love babies, and pregnancy is the most incredible of adventures and delights for me. I taught LaMaze childbirth classes for more than a decade. But it has never occurred to me that my experience is universal. I don't suppose for a moment that I or anyone else could possibly have the ability or the right to judge the situation of another person. And I'm constantly, humbly aware that if I judge another, someone will be judging my own actions.

As a woman, I can still remember the long conversations I had with myself in college: what would I do if I got pregnant? It would be unthinkable to present myself unmarried and carrying to my conservative, religious, family. It would "kill" my mother. But I was in love, and confident that if anything happened, we'd get married. But WHAT IF? That's a question that many girls in my day debated within themselves; it kept some from having premarital sex, but certainly not all, and I'll bet not many American women have missed that internal deliberation at some time or another, even married ladies. Most women, I'd bet, would have to admit that they at least considered an abortion in their worst-case fantasy, even if they decided in their hearts that it wasn't an option for them. WHAT IF it wasn't an option at all, no matter what? Consider that, ladies.

But I digress!

Now I don't know of any passage in the Bible that supports the idea that men just HAVE to have sex, and women have to say no. It's a ridiculous concept. If these men all are compelled by nature to have sex (do they have no will in this scenario?) and the women are supposed to be so afraid of having a baby because they'll "bear most of the burden" that they'll all refuse the men's advances (unless they're married? Have you thought about that, Michael? Do wives have the right to refuse sex to their husbands if they're afraid of having a baby?) and since sex outside of wedlock is a sin, it would certainly seem as if Christianists would be hastening to marry off their sons at the first sign of concupiscence.

There's plenty of sex in the Bible. In one passage, God directs a propher to take a harlot as a wife to make a point. He tells one brother to go impregnate his brother's widow (that's sex out of wedlock). Two of his favorite kings, David and Solomon, had more than a thousand wives and concubines. David lusted so greatly for another man's wife that he sent the guy into the heat of war with a suicide mission and took his wife. Yet God really, really loved David, not because he was some pious puritan, but because David had an absolute faith in God. I don't mean some right-wing denial of reality; I mean David just plain believed God; he disobeyed him sometimes, but he didn't doubt him. If the wingers did, they'd follow his Word instead of rewriting it.

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