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November 20, 2002

WENDY MCELROY notes the gap between reproductive rights and reproductive responsibilities:

The idea of responsibilities without rights is taken to such absurd lengths that even men who do not father children are held responsible for them. Consider the case of Morgan Wise, as chronicled by journalist Cathy Young. Blood tests proved that only one of "his" four children were actually his, yet the court ordered Wise to continue all child support payments and prohibited him from contact with the children. His role in that family is now the biological equivalent of an ATM machine. Wise's case is unfortunately hardly unique.

TAPPED still has its panties in a wad over the Martha Burk fertility-control "satire" issue, which McElroy also mentions. But I repeat: a non-lefty white male wouldn't be allowed to claim "satire" as a defense for writing something similar about fertility control in women -- any more than he would be allowed to claim "Halloween" as a defense for appearing in blackface.

UPDATE: TAPPED has another post on this, and -- even after a long and cordial series of emails with Armed Liberal, who shares TAPPED's view -- all I can say is "you guys just don't get it." It's not about Martha Burk. It never was about Martha Burk. (Though if you think that calling Burk's piece "satire" changes the face of feminism you're showing your ignorance. There are other writings by academic feminists calling for the elimination of men and similar absurdities in dead earnest, though at nearly midnight I'm not going to run them down. But as a guy who once edited Catharine MacKinnon, I know a bit about this stuff). It's all about a double standard. Your "admit you were wrong about the satire" point is (1) utterly inconsistent with my original post; and (2) a conscious or unconscious effort to dodge the real issue, a double standard about speech that everyone knows exists, but that the left dare not admit -- because its whole existence depends on both the double standard, and not admitting it.

ONE MORE UPDATE: (A mere 7 hours later -- I need help) Armed Liberal emails:

I'm sure we're both toasted on this; I certainly agree that we're just looking at the same data and seeing a different pattern.

I'll leave you with two final thoughts...

...one of my touchstones is that ultimately the people worth arguing with - which is a way of working together to build something - have an untimate regard for and respect for others. I don't think Hillary Clinton has an iota of it. Nor do I think that John Ashcroft or Michael Eisner do. Part of what I'm trying to sell here is the notion that you can argue with people, and even oppose people and do it with some measure of mutual honor. (I probably did a bad job on this with McElroy today)

The other is that this is important because the thing we're both fighting (and I think we're both fighting on the same side, if in a different way) against is a system - think 'Brazil' - that is ultimately about draining people of their self-repect and of their regard for others and for anything except brute power. So we have to fight it on different and better terms.

I agree with every word of this, but -- to prove his first point about seeing things in different terms -- I don't see these concerns as implicated at all in my treatment of the subject. It's been quite odd to receive angry emails from people I respect and just not see why, exactly, they're so angry over this issue -- and why they don't seem to get why I'm unhappy at all, either.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Barry Deutsch has been emailing me challenging whether academic feminists have really called for the "elimination of men." I have a pretty strong memory of reading suggestions that women abort male babies and pursue research into parthenogenesis as a way of ridding the world of patriarchy. But it's been quite a while since I spent much time on that literature. In short order, I was able to find references (such as one in Mary Ann Warren's "Gendercide") to the idea that women should stop having male babies so as to eliminate patriarchy. Deutsch says this isn't enough for him, but I'm not inclined to spend hours in the library to make him happy.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, Brian Carnell seems to have the goods, though I wonder if Deutsch will find a way to claim that this doesn't count either.