Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O
Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.
“I also don’t like how in some regions of the world women don’t enjoy the same types of freedoms that women in the United States enjoy. However, I realize that we had to work hard to obtain the equality we enjoy today. Because the societies that do not treat women as I would like to see, have been around for centuries, I don’t feel my involvement or opinion will make any difference in their lives.” April
On the subject of women’s rights. I agree with April that whatever rights we have, are the result of years of struggle, and they were gained through political action by women, whether as part of feminist movements or through individual acts.
The truth of the matter is that we have become complaisant about women’s rights in the West.
Yes, we do have equality under the law. We have the vote. We have the right to work alongside men. In some countries, not all, we have a right to make decisions about our own bodies when it comes to the pro life/ pro choice debate.
However, there are also conservative backlashes against women’s rights and those who are working to curtail and limit them, even return women to former voiceless and right-less state.
The economic uncertainty that the global recession has brought about has affected women more than their male counterparts.
There are voices even at the highest levels advocating a return of women to the homestead.
Women are yet to achieve equal pay for doing work equivalent to men. The discrepancy is mindboggling considering that we are now in the 21st century.
Because there are more women than men in part time employment, and because the recession has hit that sector worse, women’s unemployment has soared.
Feminist advances that were supposed to benefit women have also had the opposite effect in some cases when captured and exploited by neoliberal ideology, as argued in this article for example: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/14/feminism-capitalist-handmaiden-neoliberal
The rights we have, were painstakingly gained for us, and there will be those who will try to demolish them. Not perhaps with a big loud bang, but in time, like water: patiently, slowly hollowing out your freedom, one drop at a time.
I said this before, but I think it is worth a repeat. Prepare your mortar, and get ready to patch it back up. It’s a constant back and forth and there is only one way to deal with it: “Constant Vigilance!”
But we cannot do it on our own. We all – women and men – have to stick together and ensure that the advances we have gained will stay here for the future generations. More than that, we need to keep working at transforming theoretical equality into effective gender equality.
Through everyday acts, as well as through broader movements, every small step forward is a plus. So we need not despair and do what we can.
Every downpour starts with one droplet. Be that droplet.
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Will respectfully disagree with you, dear Vic. On most everything. In my 30+ RCAF years, I have not once witnessed a woman earning even one iota less than her male equivalent.
As for a woman’s “right to her body” as a euphemistic rationale for therapeutic abortion (i.e., killing the unborn child), what comes to mind is Lenin’s quote that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. I am not accusing you of lying, BTW, but of repeating the politically correct “truth.”
In my book’s planned sequel, I intend to coherently argue that the aetiology of abortion as a contemporary social phenomenon is a gender analogue to that of the Holocaust.
I express these sentiments with civility, but I know of no way to sugar coat them.
On the earnings ??? but on the abortion,I too feel almost like you but my reasons may defer completely. Another topic friend, I get too emotional in this sort of discussions.Oh Vicky, you sure know how to pick them woman!
You leave me breathless with this but I’ll come back,promise.
I just want to also add quickly that her in the United States, women are actually more of HEAD OF HOUSEHOLDS than men, this is due to the high rate of single parenthood as a result of divorce or the men simply abandoning families.
One would hope in a society as this, wages would be fairly distributed, considering the magnitude of responsibility we shoulder in our world.
I’ll still come back Vicky 🙂
Oh, I haven’t forgotten about the awards, Dotta. I owe you, Vic, and others a response.
I’m still waiting buddy 🙂 How are you?
Doing nicely, thanks, m’lady. And you?
Thank you, navigator.
Thank you so much, Dotta. Indeed, I do not shy away from difficult topics. I know that this is one issue that many will feel strongly about, but the key message for me is that we – each of us – matter.
Look forward to reading your thoughts when you return to the topic.
Thank you for your comment, navigator. I know this is a topic we disagree on. I rely on official statistics and governmental reports for my statements re inequality of pay and women’s unemployment after recession, and also – having not been born in the West – I am also relying on experience and observations of societal arrangements not confined to the UK and the US.
We are much closer to effective equality in the West than the East.
To my knowledge, the only countries that can rightfully claim to have achieved effective equality are Scandinavian ones which not only have managed to improve women’s lives as a result, but have also made it possible for men to have a better life-work balance by legislating accordingly and changing the gender narrative so that fatherhood is regarded to have an equal standing to motherhood as well.
To me these are positive developments that benefit society as a whole.
I am not in favour or against abortion. What I am in favour of is people’s right to make their own choices. In this regard I take Locke’s view that our bodies are our own property and for anyone else to dictate what we do with our own bodies is akin to slavery.
I would never expect for anyone to sugar-coat their opinion. Your honesty is appreciated – I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you, Madam Vic. I do feel welcome here and will not belabour the topics at hand for the present. Perhaps we shall someday solve the calculus of human existence together.
Great article Vic. I’m not sure of the situation in Australia as far as wages go. I think that in professions such as teaching and nursing wages are the same for men and women. I’m pretty sure it would differ when it came to things like company directors and the like.
I also, though I try not to feel compelled to say something when someone calls an abortion, murder. I can’t help myself but give Navigator 1965 some facts. There is a lot more to the issue than that of the perceived middle class American experience. The facts – In round figures there are 44 million pregnancies terminated annually. In 2012 half of these were unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortions increased by 44% in 1967 to 49% in 2012. Deaths of the woman from these unsafe abortion decreased from 69,000 in 1967 to 47,000 in 2012.
Of these 47,000 deaths only 19 deaths were in high income countries.
112,000 abortions were prevented by contraception.
Making abortion illegal only leads to an increase in unsafe abortion. Therefore pro choice is the only way to go. Why? It is a human right and unsafe abortion is a major health problem. In Africa 97% of abortions are unsafe and in South America 95%. These statistics (World Health Organisation burden of disease study) clearly show that the majority of abortions are performed in the developing world. I wouldn’t even hazard to guess why a woman in Sub-Saharan Africa undergoes an unsafe abortion but I’ll bet it isn’t because of “me” and even if it is IT IS HER CHOICE.
Thank you for your very civil articulation of abortion statistics, which I appreciate. Barring exceptional situations such as clear and present danger to the mother’s life, I cannot accept that discretional therapeutic abortion is anything other than a human atrocity.
Pregnancy is not a disease. Whether by divine intent or by evolution, pregnancy is the intended outcome of (hetero) sexual activity. It is fundamental to the survival of the species.
In terms of unsafe abortions, I find that argument to be moot. Yes, women should not be subject to unsafe abortions. As a general rule, they should not be subject to abortion at all. The solution is not “safe” abortion clinics on every street corner; it is no abortion unless indisputably essential to preserve human life.
In terms of “safe” abortions, please see consider this short piece by respected Canadian newspaper columnist Barbara Kay: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/01/18/barbara-kay-on-abortion-too-controversial-to-question/ .
I have little doubt that the circumstances differ significantly for women in the developing world, and I am as sympathetic to their circumstances as I am to any women facing an unwanted pregnancy in the developed world. I completely support birth control as a means by which to avoid unwanted pregnancy. However, abortion cannot be justified as a means of retro-active “birth control.”
Having given the matter consideration, I can no more rationalize discretionary therapeutic abortion as an issue of a woman’s (non-existent) “right to her body” as I can for the National Socialist issue of “racial purity.”
I will be arguing that these are gender analogous examples of Freudian thaumaturgy that act at the social level. That I can (or will) be making such an argument should give moderate pro-abortion advocates pause for thought. Once so analyzed, the core of the pro-abortion movement’s claim that abortion is an issue of women’s rights and women’s reproductive health becomes morally and intellectually untenable.
I accept the argument that modern society does not respect, cherish, and care for women as it should. I find the absolute worse offenders in this to be the ardent feminists—radical, ideological, gender, gynocentric, or whatever their faux intellectual fashion du jour happens to be.
Respecting and cherishing women must, by necessity, be predicated upon being truthful about what it means to be a woman. Above all else, this centres around pregnancy or the possibility thereof. The survival of the species demands it. I hold it to be an act of cowardice to refuse to except this fundamental truth.
Apology if it appears that I am coming on a little too forcefully. This is a topic that all too often does not get the treatment it deserves due to political correctness and the threat of being vilified if one dares to express a dissenting view (though not from the delightful Ms. Briggs). I thus tend to write with a direct candour on the topic.
Sincere best wishes to you, Madam.
In an ideal world I agree there would be no need for abortions and maybe one day this will be the case with good education and an influx of aid to poorer countries to assist with birth control measures. I also agree that women should be aware of possible problems which can result from terminating a pregnancy.
I am not a feminist so I don’t speak from that viewpoint. I also would never choose to have a termination myself however I don’t consider that I have the right to tell other people what to do. What I do care about is the health both mental and physical of both the pregnant woman and the child if it is taken to term. I believe that it is not easy decision for a woman and it will be one that she lives with for the rest of her life and if she chooses to take the path of termination it is done for good reason. (We have heard of the case of the doctor being sued by the unterminated adult because he didn’t terminate the pregnancy.)
If we go back in history there is evidence of terminations being carried out in ancient times by chemical and other non-surgical means. The first surgical abortion was recorded in Egyptian times. Christians were against abortion and Moslems also though the punishment meted out differed between classes. If you were in the ruling classes and the man’s seed needed to be propagated the punishment was much greater that for abortion in a lower class level. Despite it being illegal it has been shown throughout time that abortions are still performed but underground, unsafely. Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol – the same applies here.
Talking of gender – it seems a male issue that they want to be replicated.
My last point is it really boils down to when you consider something to be alive. But that would get us into a whole heap of new arguments.
Nice debating with you.
I appreciate the time you’ve taken to bring these facts and points to my attention. This is a topic that is difficult to engage in without deep passions coming into play, and I do appreciate your kind civility in this.
So that I don’t abuse Vic’s hospitality, perhaps I can leave it at my agreeing wholeheartedly with your ideal world, and that I am working towards this, however humbly. Always available at email@example.com should you be interested.
Thank you, Irene for such a comprehensive comment – it is a great contribution to the debate, and I would like to thank you as well for taking the time to research and share those statistics. I am in agreement with you regarding the prevention of unsafe abortions and I do believe that legislating in favour of women having a right to make decisions regarding their own bodies can only have a beneficial effect overall.
Vic, Completely agree, but with one caveat. What is termed the “right to her body” does not exist in any constitutional instrument that I am familiar. In accordance with the rule of law, women enjoy the right to the security of their (physical) person, and they enjoy the right to liberty. The first right clearly demands that no woman be subject to rape, which I distinguish from sexual assault. Indeed, common decency demands this in the most vocal of ways.
The right to liberty in its individual (and not collective) sense means that a person can act of their own free will (within reasonable limits), and that they must accept responsibility for the repercussions of those actions. Didn’t bother to show up for work on a regular basis? Then your are responsible for getting your wages docked, being demoted, or being sacked.
It is the same for pregnancy. A woman who engages in sexual activity of her own free will is exercising her right to liberty. Should pregnancy result, she must accept responsibility for this as the outcome of her own actions. (Not suggesting that there is no reciprocal responsibility for guy.)
Thus, in lieu of the “right to her body,” I maintain that there exists in constitutional law her right to individual liberty and to security of the physical person. In the case of pregnancy without serious medical complications, I hold the feminist position to a woman’s “right to her body” to be a fraudulent interpretation of the human rights and freedoms as a means to rationalize discretionary therapeutic abortion as a means of retro-active birth control.
I don’t see my position as being contradictory to the one of Locke which you mention, given that it respects individual liberty. It’s a question of insisting that people be responsible for exercising their rights.
I doubt that abortion is at any time a “therapeutic” experience in any sense, navigator.
And – let’s say that a woman does get pregnant and with good reason requires for that pregnancy to be terminated. It is in that moment when the question of private property with regards to the body can be posed. Would it be appropriate for the state – society – or another individual – to prevent her from having that pregnancy terminated. Would that not be an interference with her body? It most certainly would, no matter what justification may be brought to the table as to the “moral” grounding of that interference.
What your theory seems to be implying is that a woman only has a right to her body for as long as she is not pregnant, and that thereafter her body becomes the property of the multitude and whatever they would dictate she can and cannot do with it.
This to me does not sit well when in comes to respecting individual rights.
I must respectfully disagree, Vic.
The state declaring that abortion is illegal is not intrusion; it is abortion that is the intrusion, and it extends to the physical realm. Pregnancy is not a disease, but the natural outcome of physical intercourse. Pregnancy is natural; induced abortion is unnatural.
Is it my “right” not to be overweight if I over eat and consume too much beer? Is it my “right” not to get cancer if I smoke a pipe frequently? How can it be rationally argued that a woman has a “right” to not be pregnant if she partakes in intercourse? Let’s ignore the cases with complications and go to the heart of the pro-abortion argument. I find that the essential arguments for abortion simply do not survive critical scrutiny.
There is no inherent right for a healthy pregnant woman to have an abortion. There never was. Feminist courts claiming this does not make it essentially true. The US Supreme Court, for example, could find that the moon was made of green cheese. This wouldn’t make it so.
What’s disturbing is that the unified construct of gender narcissism that I have developed (and continue to refine) and will be articulating in my two books both predicts ideological feminism’s unrelenting demand for unrestricted abortion (a position not shared by all feminists, obviously) as well as explains why its arguments do not survive scrutiny.
Perhaps we should agree to disagree until I have fully refined and published my overall thesis. We know where one another stands on the issue for the time being. I should declare that I would not be publishing the thesis as a popular narrative of discovery were I not confident as to its veracity. It isn’t a case of me opposing abortion (although I do as a general rule), and so coming up with the best argument against it that I could.
The construct has appears to have a remarkably powerful Occam’s Razor aspect to it. And amongst the many thing it appears to coherently explain is ideological feminism in all its aspects, including its insistence upon and arguments for abortion in general.
It will be a most disconcerting thesis. It predicts this, too. Regardless, I remain your devoted follower.
It is you choice to over eat and consume too much beer. It is also your choice to smoke a pipe frequently if that is what you want to do. It is your choice to have sex. It is also your choice to use protection. Unfortunately, birth control does not have a 100% guarantee and when it fails it is the choice of those involved not to go through with the pregnancy, and since it is a woman who would have to take the pregnancy to term, it is primarily hers.
As you say, this is one issue on which we will have to agree to disagree.
I agree totally. I have to admit I had done the research for this a month or so ago for something else so I had it to hand but it is an issue that I feel strongly about on a couple of counts.
I juts read your other comment and I agree with your argument, especially regarding how difficult it is to make that decision. Very good link to the idea of prohibition. May have to borrow that one in the future. Thank you.
Interesting debate and clearly some impassioned positions people have. @Navigator I would ask do you believe suicide should be illegal?
Hello. Being the only navigator around, I assume this is for me. I haven’t given the question any significant amount of thought in my life, as I’ve always believed suicide to be a tragedy which is socially verboten. What a fragile and beautiful thing life can be, and how heart wrenching that it be destroyed by anyone, let alone one’s own self.
I am inclined to say yes, it should be illegal. Life should only be terminated in the most exceptional of circumstances, and when there is no viable alternative.
Were we to do otherwise, how many lives would be ended due to a bout of depression or in the knee jerk response to some significant life event, such as a high school romance breaking up?
Hi Navigator. You are consistent – I suppose where my line of thinking was going was to do with freedom of choice. So even if we disagree with someone’s opinions or beliefs, surely we cannot deny them the right to act upon those?
Now one school of thought is that we can’t/shouldn’t prevent people acting on their opinions unless they are damaging others. And i can see how this makes sense in a simplistic sense i.e. don’t stab people with knives it hurts. But what if i find peoples beliefs morally hurtful – should they desist with these beliefs or at least the practice of them when i am around?
I am not entirely sure where I stand on this issue, but I feel that the individual has a right to make decisions that effect themselves regardless of other peoples moral judgement. So where this leaves this discussion is that if you believe a fetus is a person then you have to believe that abortion is murder, if you believe a fetus is a collection of cells then it is not.
IP (I suppose that this could stand for “Intellectual Property” too),
I can’t accept that line of reasoning. I don’t know if you ever took a course in geometry in high school, but I find I have the sort of mind that likes to think geometrically. Not necessarily angles and proofs and Pythagoras per se, but in the sense that everything makes sense and does not logically conflict with something else. It is logically beautiful and eloquent.
Here’s what I have trouble with:
“So where this leaves this discussion is that if you believe a fetus is a person then you have to believe that abortion is murder, if you believe a fetus is a collection of cells then it is not.”
I disagree with Vic, in that I reject the validity of moral relativism. That disagreement is behind us for the time being, but the issue applies here. Let’s do an Einstein-like thought experiment on this: identical twin sisters marry identical twin brothers. Both women become pregnant. One believes that abortion is morally wrong as she is carrying an unborn person within her; the other believes that abortion is merely a woman’s medical decision, as what is inside of her is simply a lump off her own tissue.
Yet the foetuses, we can reasonably assume in this situation, are genetically identical. How can one be a person and the other not when they are absolutely identical, simply because of the mothers’ differing beliefs? It is a logical absurdity. The moon doesn’t suddenly become made of green cheese just because I choose to believe it is so.
Now let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that philosophers determine that there is no way to know definitively whether or not foetuses are persons. In this case, we have a 2 x 2 matrix of possible outcomes. Person/not_person v. birth/abortion. I would suggest that the two worst outcomes in terms of natural law / human rights are: abortion when the foetus is a person, and not aborting if the mother doesn’t want a baby AND the foetus is not a person.
Under the doctrine of doing the least potential harm, forbidding abortion is the correct course of action, as the worst possible outcome (which we must guard against) is destroying an unborn child. And this assumes that one cannot know whether or not a foetus is a person, which I am not convinced is true.
Without being in any way judgemental to women who have had abortions, I find that every argument advanced for non-essential (mother’s life, etc.) abortion is ultimately found to be vacuous in that it cannot survive scrutiny. My heart goes out to the young women who join support groups for women who regret their abortions, as it appears to me that these women cannot but have come to the same conclusion I have.
What a terrible emotional burden for any woman to bear. Our society portrays itself a caring about women and their rights, but this simply isn’t true. As for why this is so, I believe I can explain it by the end of my second book.
Apology for the length of the post.
Thank you, Interested party. I am as curious as you are to see navigator’s answer to your question.
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