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November 13, 2002

MARGARET ATWOOD UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus has found that Martha Burk, currently busy trying to achieve gender integration at Augusta National, has made some fertility-control proposals of her own. Call it A Handmaid's Tale in reverse.

UPDATE: Here, via The Corner, is the article in question. Excerpt:

So how do we control menís fertility? Mandatory contraception beginning at puberty, with the rule relaxed only for procreation under the right circumstances (he can afford it and has a willing partner) and for the right reasons (determined by a panel of experts, and with the permission of his designated female partner). This could be easily accomplished with a masculine version of the contraceptive implants some judges are now trying to force on some women by court order.

Controlling menís fertility would not be a hard restriction to enforce. The fertility authorities could use a combination of punishments for men who failed to get the implants and for doctors who removed them without proper authorization. The men could be required to adopt one orphan per infraction and rear her or him until adulthood. The doctors, could lose their licences or, in extreme cases, go to prison.

Sounds pretty creepy to me. In the Corner post linked above, Kathryn Jean Lopez says that this is exaggeration for effect. Perhaps. But I can only imagine the response in, say, Ms. if some conservative male engaged in similar exaggeration where women's reproductive rights were concerned.

UPDATE: A bunch of people have emailed me this CNN transcript with this portion highlighted:

SCHLUSSEL: You wrote in Ms. Magazine where you believe in forced sterilization of men. And not only that, but you think that men should have to go before a committee before they have kids. That's worse than China.

CARLSON: Actually, Martha Burk, it's interesting...

BEGALA: Let her defend herself.

CARLSON: No, but I want to put it on the screen. We actually have the piece you talk about, how your moral code is offended by discrimination against women. You don't say -- you don't seem to be upset about women's colleges and the Girl Scouts.

I want to show you your article. It's entitled "Sperm Stops Here"...

BURK: In "Ms. Magazine."

CARLSON: ... in Ms. Magazine. "How do we control men's fertility?" Mandatory contraception beginning at puberty with the rule relaxed only for procreation under the right circumstances and for the right reasons, et cetera, et cetera."

Pretty authoritarian even by the standards of feminism.

BURK: Hey, if they're going to restrict abortion, buddy, we've got to do it this way.

However, if you scroll down, you do find her saying that it's a "spoof." No doubt, though with the likes of Burk it's hard to be sure sometimes. But I repeat my point above -- non-lefty white males aren't allowed such spoofs, which probably wouldn't even be printed in a mass-circulation magazine, and which would certainly produce an outpouring of indignation after the fact. It all goes back to Dale Amon's point that political sensitivity varies more with the speaker than with what's spoken.