Wednesday, August 10, 2011

For The Ladiez

I am unsure what spelling should be used to denote the somewhat sleazy tone of voice wherein the 's' is ladies is replaced by a more 'z' sound. Should it be "ladiez," "ladyz," or perhaps "ladiezzz"? Anyway, there is some statistical evidence that Wednesday evening belongs to you ladies out there, so I hope you have a good one. This blog post is also dedicated to the wonderful women with whom I am priviledged to interact, especially those of you who read my blog!

One of my favorite things about Facebook is how often links to interesting, thought provoking articles appear in my newsfeed. A while back I found one to an article encouraging women to view the emancipation resulting from the Women's Movement as more than simply a license to engage in sexual liaisons as freely as society has traditionally let men. As I often advocate that, although I believe that men and women should be held to equivalent standards, I do not believe we should automatically assume that where they differ we should get rid of the existing standard for women and replace it by the existing standard for men, this article is somewhat in line with my own beliefs. For evidence of this, click on the "gender roles" tag this post has then read almost any of the other articles that I felt also deserved this tag.

That said, I am enough of a liberal to believe that if people want to participate in some sort of all-around consensual sexual behavior then they should be able to, baring preexisting commitments to the contrary. Of course, I am enough of a conservative to also believe that our society places an undue amount of pressure on people to participate in such behaviors and ends up artificially normalizing them and stigmatizing perfectly valid sexual choices such as abstinence before marriage and monogamy. Anyway, here is the article to which the rest of my post refers, I suggest you read it if you wish to understand what follows, which is almost exactly the text of an overly-large Facebook comment I made on the link.

While I agree with what seems to be the overall premise, that liberating women should not be equivocated with making them sexually available, there are some points I'd like to see addressed.

1) Comparing sex trafficking to one-night stands seems analogous to comparing slavery with working the register at McDonalds, and is a little disturbing.

2) The article sets up women as historical, "moral gatekeepers of society," then continues, "[n]ow, many of us are raped, sexually abused, or endlessly harassed by the time we reach our early 20's." Setting women up as moral gatekeepers seems patently ridiculous, and hearkens back to a tradition of blaming mistresses and prostitutes for wrecking marriages by being available to tempt the appetites of men, who are apparently unable to control their desires, for some reason. In short, it ignores the ability of men to make their own moral decisions, which is both insulting to men, and unrealistically harsh to women. After all, the prostitute is not the one to have taken vows of marriage. Furthermore, the second part of the sentence implies that since women have been freed to make their own decisions regarding their sexuality, the world has become more dangerous for them. This simply seems disingenuous, I would venture to say that if crimes against women are more prevalent nowadays mostly because it is a recent development that they have been recognized as crimes against women. Historically things like domestic violence and even rape have been viewed as perfectly ok in certain contexts. Ironically, the increased awareness of these forms of brutalization may actually be BECAUSE women now have the ability to act as moral gatekeepers, not of some ideological societal conscience, but they are finally moral gatekeepers of their own well being. That said, I recognize that this article is addressing a primary audience of women, so extoling moral accountability in men may not be the highest on its agenda. However, it seems reasonable that it should encourage women to value moral accountability in the men with whom they interact. For example, instead of emphasizing the importance of women saying "no" to the many sexual advances that they receive, might not the article encourage women to associate with men who respect the initial "no" and do not repeatedly make sexual advances?

3) Finally, the article seems to imply that birth control leads to abortions. Let me make clear that this is statistically unsupported. Societies where contraception and abortions both show increases are societies where the average family size is experiencing a decrease. Or, to put it another way, if people are trying to get smaller families some of them use contraception and others use abortions. If fertility (average family size) is constant, then increases in contraception use lead to decreases in abortion rates. Birth control is not perfect, but if people are going to have sex, and there is strong statistical evidence that lots of people do make that choice, then it is far far better that they choose to use birth control. When people decry the "ineffectiveness" of birth control it seems to be an invitation for people who might have otherwise had relatively safe sex to forgo using contraceptives and this is a very bad decision to be encouraging.

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