Saturday, February 4, 2012

How Free a Choice?

Is sex sexier when conception is possible?

Or, is sex more fun when it’s just about fun?

Does the risk of conception excite? Does it add meaning to the action? Does it make sex more satisfying?

Or, is sex more pleasurable when the pleasure is not compromised by an ulterior purpose?

Lately the airwaves have been filled with talk about sex. It hasn’t been about Anthony Weiner or John Edwards or Tiger Woods. It hasn’t centered on the prurient and the salacious.

It’s been all about abortion. And breast cancer.

Abortion is not a sexy topic. Neither is breast cancer. Together they cannot possibly be stimulating anyone’s loins. Surely sex is sexier when conception, not abortion, is at issue.

National opinion is divided about abortion. Some favor it; some hold it in extreme disfavor. There is no division of opinion about breast cancer. Everyone wants it to be cured.

The abortion issue involves the difference between male and female roles in conception.

Human conception differs slightly from its non-human mammalian cousin. Among non-human mammals sexual congress is nearly always dedicated to the task of conception.

Zebras and giraffes, whales and wildebeests copulate, experience pleasure in the act, but are never doing it for fun.

Were they not subject to a biological imperative to reproduce they would probably not much care about sex.

Human beings function differently. Since human females do not advertise fertility human males and females are designed to want and enjoy sex in ways and at times when conception is not possible.

This does not mean that human sexual experience has nothing to do with conception. It means that humans have found a way to overcome a complicating factor: human females do not go into estrus.

It is fair to add that some sexual techniques also function as a kind of population control. Human beings have found clever and pleasurable ways to limit the number of children they have.

Let’s call these techniques foolproof contraception. You know what they are.

When it comes to conception and gestation we know that some pregnancies make it to term, while some do not. More do than don’t but God occasionally intervenes to produce miscarriages or spontaneous abortions.

The ongoing dispute over abortion does not revolve around God’s will but around the question of whether human beings ought to be able to end a pregnancy that God, given his druthers, might allow to go to term. Of course, if a pregnancy is aborted you cannot know for certain whether it would have gone to term.

Be that as it may, abortion, or, more euphemistically, choice is a feminist issue. For some feminists it is the issue. Deviate from the feminist dogma about abortion and you are likely to find yourself excoriated in the media, shunned from polite society and rejected from all normal human intercourse. You might even be uninvited from your speaking engagement at Yale.

For today’s feminists abortion has become a central, even the central issue. Feminists take it as a dogmatic truth that women should be able to have abortions on demand.

Some will say that women do not have a right to abortion on demand because that amounts to playing God. The feminist position seems to be that women should be able to walk away from the reproductive consequences of coitus just as easily as a man can.

For feminists abortion is an equality issue. They are opposed to the flagrantly unequal role that men and women play in the gestation. 

Since women bear the greater burden in gestation, they are a right, feminists insist, to make a unilateral decision about when or whether to terminate a pregnancy. If feminism cannot equalize the burden of pregnancy it can at least give women a free choice about the matter.

Feminists want to equalize men and women because they are afraid that women who bear children will choose to spend more time with their children and less time on their careers. This would, almost by definition, not be a free feminist choice..

Feminists are looking forward to a brave new utopia, a world where all tasks are shared equally, from childbearing to childrearing and from dishwashing to management consulting.

Women are told that abortion rights gives them the freedom to choose when to have children, but, in truth, feminism only sees their decisions as free if they postpone childbearing in favor of career advancement.

In consequence today’s young women, steeped in the dogmas of modern feminism, are more likely to delay and defer childbearing and thus are more likely to have more difficulty getting pregnant and having children.

The only real way that a woman can prove to feminists that her choice is truly free is by deferring childbearing.

If she freely chooses to marry young and to have children young a woman will be taken as a sellout to the cause. If she adopts more traditional roles she will be considered a dupe of the patriarchy.

Free to choose is a catchy slogan. In practice it deprives women of their freedom.

Belonging to a cult will cost you your freedom, even when you joined seeking liberation. And you will definitely lose the freedom to think for yourself.

Last week the directors of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation learned it the hard way.

I think it fair to say that the Komen Foundation does God’s work in the fight against breast cancer. You would think that that would suffice to establish it as unimpeachably pro-women.

When it decided to cease making grants to Planned Parenthood it discovered that all of its contributions to the fight against breast cancer were for naught when weighed against its heresy on abortion.  

The Komen Foundation decided to defund Planned Parenthood for two ostensible reasons. One, PP is being investigated by Congress. Two, Komen wanted to direct its resources to organizations that offer mammography. Planned Parenthood does not.

Those who have rushed to defend Planned Parenthood have insisted that only 3% of its services involve abortion. Those who are less enamored of the organization point out that 38% of PP’s revenues derive from abortion. Nowadays it performs more than 300,000 abortions a year.

As soon as the directors of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation announced their decision to defund Planned Parenthood, they discovered, to their chagrin, that they did not have the right to choose what they would do with their money.

They did not have the right or the freedom to say No to Planned Parenthood.

In the great scheme of things it did not involve a lot of money. Komen was going to deprive PP of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The organization normally deals in the hundreds of millions.

It made up the lost revenue very quickly by soliciting its supporters. New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg covered half the sum with a flick of his checkbook.

Lurking behind the issue is the larger question of government funding of Planned Parenthood. While Komen provides half a million the federal government provides PP with half a billion dollars a year.

You recall that the House of Representatives has already voted to defund PP. The bill did not make it to the Senate, but the threat is out there and looming.

To be clear, Congress was not banning Planned Parenthood from providing abortion services. It was refusing to use taxpayer dollars to pay for them.

Feminists understand that it would not take too much for the political scales to tip in the direction of Congressional defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Those who oppose the defunding of Planned Parenthood, whether by Komen or the government have declared it a women’s health issue. Several Congressmen expressed an appreciation for the work Planned Parenthood does for women's health. They suggested that it divide into two organizations, one providing health services, the other providing abortions.

Congress would then fund one and not the other.

Planned Parenthood has refused the offer.

Thus, the real issue is the availability of abortion.

And then there is the will to ideological conformity. Feminists who set out of a witch hunt against the directors of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation were also showing what happens to those who stray from the feminist reservation.

As you know, Komen got the message and backtracked from its new policy.

James Taranto said yesterday that the incident revealed: “feminism's gradual transformation into a totalitarian ideology. Totalitarianism politicizes everything, so that neutrality is betrayal--in this case, neutrality on abortion is portrayed as opposition to ‘women's health’."

Feminists and other liberal ideologues think nothing of pressuring a private Foundation to compromise its freedom to disburse its funds as it wishes. 

Liberal causes are like the Hotel California: “Y0u can check out any time you like/ But you can never leave.”


n.n said...

Shame! Shame! Shame!

How dare anyone interfere with their dreams of instant gratification. Whether it is a house, a car, a cell phone, or a human life, it is their right to choose. No one has the right to intervene when their pleasure is at stake.

The issue of merit is not when dignity is assigned to human life; but, who chooses to assign it justified by how it affects their bottom-line and enjoyment of their individual dignity.

The problem is not principally that Planned Parenthood offers abortions; but, that it operates to normalize this and other deviant behaviors. Unfortunately, those behaviors are associated with instant gratification, and people have been taught that is their priority.

Incidentally, it was those dreams of instant gratification that underlie our present crisis. Perhaps it was just the inevitable progress which follows with each generation rebelling against its predecessor. Perhaps, but the evidence suggests it was nurtured and can be traced to common causes.

Planned Parenthood is both a symptom and disease.

n.n said...

It is not money that is the source of all evil. The same nonsense would occur if chickens or eggs were, once again, considered a currency for exchange.

It is not religion that is the source of all evil. At least not the predominant religion in America, which acted as a moderating influence when individuals were tempted by dreams of instant gratification.

If there was a common cause, then it was the inconsistent principles associated with a secular society, which has nurtured and fueled the progressive corruption of individuals and society.

The "old" guard is merely protecting its castle.

Tilda Tally-ho said...

I'm not opposed to a woman's right to choose abortion; but that does not equate to supporting Planned Parenthood, much less sending tax dollars their way. So much spin, so little critical thinking.

Ari said...

Is sex sexier when conception is possible?

Say what you want about going to the range and shooting at targets....

There's just something about firing a live round at a living target...

(If you know what I mean...)

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Nice analogy, Ari... very high concept.

Ari said...

Dr. Schneiderman,
Well, I've got four kids. I know of what I speak.