The sacred sperm and the holy roll

Max Sawicky sawicky at
Mon Aug 23 14:48:49 PDT 1999

Sorry for previous post. I was about to respond, a door near me slammed, and the machine sent the message. No shit.

Anyway, speaking of Monty Python, at this point I was wishing a 200 ton weight would fall on this thread, but below is a new wound in the pure-pro-choice position into which I would like to put a little dash of salt:

SP: >> Meeting your argument on its own ground raises an interesting point. If a pregnancy is reducible to a mere "biological contingency"--just another lifestyle choice--then what of a man's rights vis a vis an "avoidable biological contingency" that *he* wants no part of? I'm not suggesting he ought to be able to compel a woman to abort a pregnancy (or carry it to term); that is clearly an unreasonable invasion. But by your standard--a life free of "gender-specific burdens"--shouldn't he be able to legally renounce his interest in, and responsibility for, any child issuing from a pregnancy unwanted by him? The financial and emotional responsibilities of fatherhood being a gender-specific burden and all.

This had not occurred to me before. It goes to the more general debate to the effect that measures for equality can be harmful to women, in light of certain unavoidable roles and/or responsibilities. Alternatively, special treatment invokes the legitimacy of the whole panoply of gendered institutions. I won't try to resolve that little matter, but only raise the problem in this special case.

If all power is to decide is properly vested in the woman, the man has no right to demand the woman give birth or not give birth. O.K. But if this is so, isn't the man thereby relieved of any responsibility for the woman's decision, either way? If the man is solely responsible in the event birth is chosen, isn't this inconsistent? If abortion is a mere private medical decision, then every preceding roll in the hay is purely a recreational choice. No responsibility for consequences ensues. All power to designate fatherhood is vested in the mother, and all such designations are only realized upon agreement by the man. All Moms become analogous to Murphy Brown or Madonna. Unfortunately, few of them will have anywhere near the same financial resources.

I see the potential for a whole new base of support for feminism, but I'm not sure it would be welcome.


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