I Can Be Reasoned With

I’ve been thinking about Stupak, and compromises, and patriarchal religious groups inserting themselves into the legislative process. I’d like to propose an alternative compromise to Stupak and the others currently in the legislative mix. No, it’s not perfect; but I think it speaks to the perceived needs of some of the anti-choice power brokers in the debate. Plus, it’s short! Only two stipulations with two corollaries. (And no, I have no idea what format bills usually follow. This is a blog post. Work with me.) Ready? I propose:

1. No abortions of pretend children.

Because you know who is really easy to love? Pretend children! They can be anyone you want them to be! That pretend boy can be the son you never had – who, manning up enough to stifle his tears, says at your funeral: “Everything important in life I learned from my father!” That pretend girl can be the daughter you might have taken to the daddy-daughter dance, where she would have worn a clean white frilly frock and looked up at you adoringly, pleading, “Twirl me again, Daddy. Please?”

I think we can all agree that pretend children – those who have no concrete existence whatsoever, but who, as hypotheticals, obligingly receive adult projections about childhood – should not be aborted. Heck, a pretend child is always safe, affordable, desired, and convenient. A pretend child shows up on your terms. And when you’re tired of a pretend child, he or she is whisked off to become someone else’s problem. Awesome! Who but a tar-hearted monster could want to get rid of a pretend child before she even has a chance to twirl in her pretty frock?

However:

Corollary to 1: Actual human fetuses are not the same things as pretend children. (Hell, actual children are not the same thing as pretend children, but that’s a whole ‘nuther post.) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Democrats For Life, etc.: do you see the difference? Actual fetuses are particular and concrete, do not exist in ways unthreatening to the woman in whose body they live, do not lend themselves to easy moral absolutes, and do not yet at this point want to twirl with you at any daddy-daughter dance. Whatever else we end up talking about, can we PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE FREAKING begin by agreeing on this, please? Do you need me to explain it again? No? FANTIDDLYASTIC. THANKS. COMMON GROUND IS A BEAUTIFUL THING.

2. The Best Caregivers for Pretend Children are Pretend Mothers

It’s not easy being nothing more than a projection of someone else’s wishes, and pretend children have got to be taught how to do it, from… their pretend mothers!

Pretend mothers bond with their pretend children in ways you and I cannot understand, but can only observe with rapt piety. Is that pretend baby boy hungry or thirsty or tired? Ask his pretend mother; she will know. (Well, I mean, not know-know, obviously. It’s not as though she has a unique set of circumstances requiring constant prudent judgment, let alone set of specific skills that are a credit to her. I just mean that she will know, in the same mystical and precious way that the apple tree “knows” when it’s spring or a lamp “knows” how to give light. Things do what they’re designed by someone else to do, you get me?)

She’s hard to spot – the pretend mother, I mean – because she takes up so little space. Or perhaps I should say she takes up just enough space to remind us that good mothers don’t take up too much space. Occasionally we’ll catch a glimpse of her, yielding and compliant; suffering even the worst indignities with a shrug, a good attitude, and heroic self-sacrifice for which she never asks for credit. “Little old me?” she asks, smiling demurely and looking at the floor, revealing the lines around her eyes that have come from years of smiling beatifically. “Oh, heavens. It was nothing.”

And in fact it was nothing because – being pretend – she doesn’t actually need social support, or an income, or to be assigned work that bears some relation to her unique interests and skills, or recognition for that work, or the ability to exercise any control over her own circumstances. She doesn’t even really exist! You gotta love that about her!

HOWEVER:

Corollary to 2: Actual human women are not and never will be pretend mothers. Pretend mothers don’t exist. Actual human women are actual humans, whether or not they have children. Religious anti-choice conservatives, are you prepared to say otherwise and see what that gets you in terms of political capital? No? GREAT. FINE. AWESOME. I ASSUME THAT WE AGREE. THANK YOU.

I think we are making real progress.

316 thoughts on “I Can Be Reasoned With

  1. Hey, FYI, I edited this after posting and deleted a whole bunch of it. So if you caught the earlier version just and find yourself thinking, “Hang on, I know she had another item on there…” you’re not imagining things!

  2. You don’t understand! My pretend child is going to come up with a cure for cancer and Alzheimer’s! WHY WOULD YOU WANT ME TO KILL MY GENIUS PRETEND CHILD?!?! YOU MUST HAVE NO SOUL!

  3. @crookedfinger — It’s because card-carrying feminists love diseases of all sorts. It’s on the back of the card, fine print, right under “culture of death.”

  4. Pretend children are always The Next President of the United States of America.

    I noticed this in 8th grade when we were having the obligatory “current events” debate in social studies. It pissed me off then, and it still does now.

  5. why yes, i do love diseases! this is why i have a giant microbe version of polio next to my bed. he is cute! i cuddle him! because i cannot hug my pretend child, obvs. :(

  6. I swear, in your first sentence, I read “inserting” as “inseminating.” Though with my dirty mind, “inserting” is giggle-worthy enough.

    Hrm. Pretend children will Love You Forever, and take care of you in your old age. How dare you kill your Only Chance at Love? (TM the anti-abortion protesters at my local PP)

    I’m with you.

  7. Where can I get one of these pretend children? I mean, I have a couple actual live human children but these pretend children sound so much better. And less talky-backy. Can I trade?

  8. I tire of the argument of pretend children in abortion cases. It would be just better if they would just come out and say it straight: “Women should not have control over their reproductive health. They should pop out babies and like it.” I’d respect them a lot more, honestly.

  9. MY miscarried fetus was going to be the next Einstein, but I decided one day that a little involuntary manslaughter was just the thing and killed it with my shameful, dirty, unreliable, messy, non-default lady body.

    It takes a fundamental misunderstanding of human biology to believe that meaningful human life begins at conception. The huge majority of conceptions are aborted automatically and unavoidably far before we could possibly be aware. This makes the fundy God/s/esses of the world the leading killer of fully human preshus babeez.

    If the draft were reinstated, I would have to opt for conscientious objector status to AVOID killing actual living babies as well as fetuses. And I have no say at all in my tax dollars sponsoring the murder of children in war as it is now. If the Hyde and Stupak amendments stand, they should sure as hell make wars that kill real children unfunded by my tax dollars.

    Oh wait, it’s FINE to actually murder living children in cold blood, especially if the menz mostly do it. It’s just when a woman tries to be seen as something other than a FUCKING INCUBATOR that morality enters into it.

  10. April, it’s easy! If you can dream them, you can have them! I have thousands of pretend children, NONE of whom I’ve aborted because they never existed in the first place!

    I don’t think, though, that you can trade your actual children for pretend children. The way it’s supposed to work, as near as I can tell, is that you can turn your *actual* children into *pretend* children by trying to become a *pretend* mother. And then there’s a bit where you happily sacrifice your very being for everyone else in the family — but I’m not entirely clear on the specifics of that. And then after that everyone’s smiling and happy with no behavior problems. Simple!

  11. It’s just when a woman tries to be seen as something other than a FUCKING INCUBATOR that morality enters into it.

    SEC.
    ON.
    DED.

    !!!

  12. I cannot support this imaginary legislation until it addresses the critical issue of pretend abortions. Where is the consideration for the woman who gets, like, 50 abortions because she was given the HPV vaccine which made her into a super slut and also her doctor gets a kickback from Culture of Death Inc. for every abortion performed, and also the woman is embroiled in an improbable ethical soap opera I mean dilemma wherein the biological father of the endangered pretend fetus is actually an in vitro lab mix-up except that father was also swapped in the hospital at birth and anyway the baby was supposed to be a surrogate for another couple that no longer wants it and they only wanted it to use as a bone marrow donor for their other child and also we have future technology where we can detect serial killer predisposition genes and the fetus has a Hitler mustache and there is definitely the possibility that the woman may cry at some point in the future for some reason that is possibly related to her 50 abortions?

    ADDRESS THAT, FEMINISTS! I’ve got, like, twenty more frightening science fiction premises FROM THE NOT-SO-DISTANT FUTURE designed to up-end your so-called rhetoric, so you just wait here while I go fap another out.

  13. And April, I just snorted coke out of my nose at “less talky-backy.” I too have real children, and eight year old twins mean a whole lot of body-centered humor, if not back talk. My Pretend Children never joke about farts or watch Ed, Edd and Eddy.

  14. Harriet Jacobs, it’s possible I might have had to just cross my legs to keep from peeing in my pants from laughing so hard while reading your comment.

  15. I actually like my real children, talky-backy though they are, and suspect I would not have room for them if the pretend children showed up, what with the twirling and all. Or would we get a pretend bigger house, too? One with room for all the twirling?

  16. I believe A Sarah wouldn’t have her bladder control problems if it weren’t for her actual human children, if she gestated them herself. In any case, Pretend Mothers don’t have stress incontinence.

  17. My pretend child is the corn on my big toe. He has way more cells than a fertilized egg and qualifies as “human life.” Cornholio (we just call him Corny for short) really is a chip off the old block. I just love that little guy. He’s still not old enough for a game of catch yet, though.

  18. Are we keeping the pretend abortion getting woman who is the only woman allowed to get abortions? You know that sweet innocent 13 year old (pretend) child who never once thought about sex and was saving herself for marriage until she was violently raped on her birthday in her princess themed room? You know the one, the only exception to the anti-abortion rule? We’re keeping her and allowing her to have her pretend abortion, even if it’s a pretend baby she was about to have who was going to be pretend president, right?

    I just want to check up on those rules.

  19. Raped and in mortal physical peril, I believe. We’ll need a heart condition, please. One that she’s been facing in a brave and inspirational fashion all these years. She should need to be talked into an abortion, because she really thinks God might pull off a miracle on behalf of her and the pretend fetus.

  20. Also, somebody start playing the Law & Order SVU theme music. Our pretend abortee can’t possibly make her Very Important Decision without it.

    Am I just getting creepy now? I think the word “abortee” tipped me into pretend creepy.

  21. A heart condition that is only getting worse because her heart is literally breaking, of course.

    Not creepy Harriet, just abort-tastic!! *jazz hands*

  22. Is the SVU theme music different than the others in the franchise? Is there no dum-DOOM buhpa buh duh duuuuuuhhh?

    /urgent pressing question

  23. Guys, I’m having trouble figuring out if I even exist now… COULD *I* BE PRETEND???

    If I am, I’m totally leaving pretend work early.

    Hmmmmm.

  24. @Harriet Jacobs:
    “Also, somebody start playing the Law & Order SVU theme music.”

    CHLUNG-CHLUNG.

    MY imaginary baby was going to invent time travel. I hope you are all prepared to deal with the inevitable paradoxes regarding this non-abortion.

  25. Harriet Jacobs: “We’ll just need to float a grainy photograph of Christopher Meloni across the pretend abortee’s room, to make sure she gets the full effect.”

    Aaaaaaaaaaaand I just fell out of my chair. AWESOME.

  26. Also, everybody please remember that, though she will survive, our dear pretend aborte’s life will forever be ruined after the abortion.

    We need to make sure everybody gets regular updates on our pretend aborte’s suffering, lest anybody think she might actually and up happy again at some point.

  27. You guys, we need to take this pretend abortion act on the road. I don’t see how it could possibly go any way but right.

    I hope Christopher Meloni googles his name one day, and really doesn’t know what to think.

  28. It is true that we live in a world of potential futures. It is not true that all of these potentials futures are open to all people. Because thinking like that kills the American DreamTM.

    No, A Sarah, they will not meet you on this common ground. They will not. And it is because of this that I despair.

  29. I hate to point this out, but the pretend thirteen-year-old will be more traumatized by the abortion than by bearing the precious life inside her to birth. This is because abortion is probably the most traumatic experience a woman can ever have, and is perpetrated on women by those who want to profit from our weakness. No one who really cares about women would ever allow them to have a terrible, horrible abortion.

  30. Are we keeping the pretend abortion getting woman who is the only woman allowed to get abortions? You know that sweet innocent 13 year old (pretend) child who never once thought about sex and was saving herself for marriage until she was violently raped on her birthday in her princess themed room? You know the one, the only exception to the anti-abortion rule? We’re keeping her and allowing her to have her pretend abortion, even if it’s a pretend baby she was about to have who was going to be pretend president, right?

    Uh, why do you hate the pretend adoptive parents of our pretend 13 year old’s pretend child? Don’t you realize that a sweet woman who’s never wanted anything other than to be a mother and her supportive-if-slightly-bewildered husband are just waiting to take that baby in?

  31. I’m kind of pissed of that the pretned father of my pretended children did not turn up to make said pretended children. Can I please have a amendment saying that all men is requierd by law to be the father of my children if I want them to? (this comes from the fact that I latley been reading to many “news artickels” about how horrible women is for not having babies befor age 20/25/30, and I “missed” the first two deadlines….

    (maybe to make it fair, only men that is drunk, dress inapropriate, walk home alone, walk home with women they trust, flirt, smile, leads a woman on, act inapropriate, MRAs, and others are requierd to father children?)

  32. So true, Eve, because goodness knows, a 13-year-old having a child is absolutely the BEST outcome possible, and she’ll have so much love and support from her friends, family, community, and the father of the baby, and that any statistics indicating that poverty is related to maternal age is total BS propoganda that is just for the purposes of KILLING BEAUTIFUL PRETEND BABIES.

  33. lauren, good question! I think as it stands now you’re not allowed to abort pretend gay children; but those pretend gay children can’t grow up and get pretend gay married. Because, honestly, what’s next? Pretend marrying a pretend goat?

    Pretend atheists… hmm… not sure. What do y’all think? I’m thinking that in the spirit of compromise we might need to put in something where they get pretend evangelized by pretend Kirk Cameron.

  34. And oh yeah, diapers and food will drop from the sky on her!

    @ facultades:
    (maybe to make it fair, only men that is drunk, dress inapropriate, walk home alone, walk home with women they trust, flirt, smile, leads a woman on, act inapropriate, MRAs, and others are requierd to father children?)

    I am LOLing at this :)

    Lilah Morgan is right, though, you guys. Giving the beautiful pretend baby up for adoption is obviously the best choice, since as we all know, women who make that decision never feel remotely conflicted about it AT ALL, and adoptive parents are always the most wonderful people imagineable. Well, it’s the best choices if the pretend 13-year-old is white, of course. Otherwise it’s misery, trauma, and breast cancer all the way.

  35. Pretend children are never gay. Real children only get gay because their parents raised them wrong or they were recruited by pervert teachers and gym coaches. Therefore, it is impossible to abort a pretend gay child.

  36. and the pretned adopted child will only be to happy when s/he finds out by mistake that his/her sister is her/his mother and did not want to raise her/him because she was to young…

  37. Nobody is gay! People only think they’re gay, but they really just need reparative therapy so they can learn to stop pretending.

  38. How can my pretend children take care of me in my old age if they’re busy curing all known diseases and being Emperors of the Universe?

    I also noticed that all aborted babies are the potential great thinkers, leaders, scientists of our time. It seems highly unlikely, given that plenty of already born people only ever rise to the height of their on mediocrity and then live lives of quiet desperation. Maybe we should be a little more concerned about how few opportunities we create for the already born, instead of the potential unique genius of little cells that haven’t been born yet. We should look at trailer parks and housing developments and see the Beethovens, the Einsteins, the Edisons, and the Shakespeares being denied their shots at greatness.

  39. Oh. My. God. Harriet, I truly hope along with your hope that Christopher Meloni googles his name. Like today. :D

    We should probably take this whole pretend life of abortion on the road, if we try hard enough we could probably make it musical.

  40. That should read “their own mediocrity” of course. I don’t enjoy this keyboard very much, I’m always either hitting two keys at once, or touching keys that don’t respond. Bleh.

  41. *smacks forehead* You are all correct, of course. As long as the pretend babies are raised by pretend mothers they won’t turn gay. My mistake!

    WHAT IF CHRISTOPHER MELONI HAD BEEN ABORTED? HUH HUH HUH?? Then he’d never even BE in the shower!

    Also, news flash: Margaret Sanger supported eugenics, which means that birth control is exactly equivalent to striving to create a master race.

  42. A Sarah, that’s horrible. Christopher Meloni is ALWAYS in the shower (as far as I’m concerned). Why would you even SAY such deplorable things???

  43. I feel we forget all the pretend grandchildren. They got pretend presidental, nobel prize winners parents and will surly outshine them. Because all pretend childern moves up and farward from their startingpoint. Had we all just pretend children, parents and so forth, then we would live in pretend heaven/nirvana ect

  44. Christopher Meloni, Christopher Meloni, Christopher Meloni

    (hope that helps boost the chance he’ll find this site some day… his popularity went up .01% at IMDB just now.

    ANYWAY: Alibelle, the 13 year old pretend pregnant girl will have to have been raped in her princess themed room by either a pretend total stranger or a pretend close relative who will be pretend thrown out of the house by a pretend mom who will guard her child against any and all pretend real threats.

    Given Harriet Jacobs’ scenarios above, it’s very likely that the pretend father of the 13 year old girl will ALSO be a pretend total stranger.

    I’m trying to figure out who will write the screenplay for the Pretend Lifetime Movie/ Pretend Oscar Nomination Biopic and who will get cast as what role. Maybe Sarah Palin will swap politics and book tours for a starring role.

  45. Pretend Children can’t win for losing. Either they are going to find a cure for cancer (and leave Will Smith and a shep mix the sole occupants of Manhattan) or they’re going to grow up to pretend join gangs and pretend snatch purses. (Thanks, Freakonomics!)

  46. A Sarah, regarding corellary no. 2, I finally broke with the super-orthodox religion in which I was raised when I read a Very Touching Religious Address in which we women were reminded that being Motherly was our most important goal/skill/purpose/whatev, but that even women who do not have actual babies can be Motherly! Because there was this woman who was 35 and NEVER GOT MARRIED OR HAD BABIES and then she was TRAGICALLY HIT BY A BUS AND DIED. But it was okay. Because before she died, she had made scrapbooks for her niece and nephew! So she was able to be Motherly, a little bit, that lucky (dead) woman, and that meant her life was worthwhile!

    I really wish I could say I was exaggerating or making fun in any portion of this, but it is an accurate recounting of the Touching Story in question. I still get a little frothy at the mouth when I remember it.

  47. Ugh, can I have a pretend daddy, too? I want the guy in tweed with a newspaper and a pipe (which never affects his health, voice or breath and makes him smell cheerfully of good tobacco) who rarely speaks, except to share an important life lesson or to compliment my pretend mommy’s cooking.

  48. Because there was this woman who was 35 and NEVER GOT MARRIED OR HAD BABIES

    Good God! Not the EXPIRATION DATE!!! :-O

    When I was little and my mom was around 29, her (male) doctor asked her if she was planning on having any more kids. She said “I’m not sure. I haven’t really thought about it.”
    Him: “Well, you’d better start thinking about it. You’re twenty-nine!”

    My mother, the twenty-nine year old dried up old hag, apparently.

  49. A Sarah, regarding corellary no. 2, I finally broke with the super-orthodox religion in which I was raised when I read a Very Touching Religious Address in which we women were reminded that being Motherly was our most important goal/skill/purpose/whatev, but that even women who do not have actual babies can be Motherly! Because there was this woman who was 35 and NEVER GOT MARRIED OR HAD BABIES and then she was TRAGICALLY HIT BY A BUS AND DIED. But it was okay. Because before she died, she had made scrapbooks for her niece and nephew! So she was able to be Motherly, a little bit, that lucky (dead) woman, and that meant her life was worthwhile!

    That’s like this piece that was really popular when I was doing high school speech and debate about a couple who met at an anti-abortion protest and got married. Then, after she found out she was pregnant, she found out she had cancer, but chemo would kill the baby! So she delayed chemo until she had the baby, and died, but it was cool because she was such a loving dead mother!

  50. Jessikanesis–to be fair, she was not only 35, she was dead, which does put a crimp on one’s reproductive options.

  51. (Okay, it’s not really like it, except in the “being sacrificing and motherly is the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER even if you’re dead” theme, but that’s where my brain jumped.)

  52. AnthroK8, it totally was a pretend stranger. It was a dark and stormy night…and you know the rest. This pretend child did not know her attacker, because in pretend world all rapists and criminals are strangers, very likely black, or they don’t speak english. Criminals are as othered in pretend world as possible to avoid anyone ever identifying with what might have lead them to a life of crime.

  53. If you can’t be a Pretend Mother, you can at least be a Loving Dead Mother. Your Pretend Children will be fine without you, guiding by your loving pretend spirit.

  54. Do the men know that they are killing thousands of pretend children every time they jerk off?

    Are we going to have to make a law about that?

  55. I am actually acquainted with a family in which the wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and did not seek treatment because she was pregnant. She died shortly after having the child. It was the seventh child in the family. She didn’t actually tell her husband about the diagnosis until after the baby’s birth. I just cannot get my mind around leaving one’s spouse to cope with seven children alone. I think if I were him, I would spend the rest of my life deeply pissed off at being dumped into that hell. I cannot even imagine growing up as The Sister Who Killed Mom.

    Yeah, it’s her choice. But it was a choice informed by a religious tradition in which her life was supposed to be all about sacrificing for her children. And somehow the potential viability of the fetus was even more important than the actual, present needs of her actual, present children.

    Every time I think of this, I feel ill.

  56. No, Snarkys, the non-white not-yet conceived gang member/criminals are Anti-Pretend Children. Pretend children are only white. They have to match their frocks. Even your ova can’t have privilege.

    But racism is totes over – Obama is President now, which just proves it. Somehow.

  57. @Starling: *sighs heavily* Yeeah. I share your ill feeling and I wish I could send exactly what you just wrote to all of my anti-abortion acquaintances.

    Culture of Life for you, right there. Full of loving dead mothers.

  58. Alibelle: of course, of course. Glad to have gotten those details hammered out.

    Also, the pretend daddy with the tweed jacket always helps build the winning Pinewood Derby car every year for cub scouts (and that, friends, is the biggest fantasy pretend circumstance of all…, the idea of a fast pinewood derby car).

  59. But A Sarah, what about all those pretend fathers who will be deprived the loving devotion of those pretend children by these evil pretend women and their pretend abortions? All those pretend fathers want to do is to have a child they love and care for, to coach in little league, to spend a few hours with on weekends when they aren’t too tired from their pretend well paying job or playing pretend fantasy football. Those pretend fathers are having their right to prove that their sperm works trampled on by pretend women who have pretend abortions. How dare these pretend mothers refuse to birth raise and care for pretend children that their pretend fathers can brag about at work.

  60. Oh, Alibelle, you mean she was pretend Napolied!

    I am pretend dying over here. I just finished practicing vocal shit and so I have musicals running through my head at an alarming rate, trying to change lyrics to make this into a knock-off musical spoof. I think “You Don’t Know” from Next to Normal should be the opener. Forgive the reaching rhyming and rhythms:

    Do you wake up in the morning without a pla-an for the day?
    Are you seven months gestated and just want it to go away?
    It’s time to pull the plug on that parasitical implant!
    It is time- it is time: for your womb to be vacant!

    You abort that hypothetical addition to your name!
    You are a selfish, useless, slattern slut, and you should be ashamed!

    You aren’t real! This person does not exist.
    She’s a figment of the frothing Right, but still they all are pissed!
    You aren’t real! You’re fictitious and a lie!
    But that won’t stop the legislation; is the Senate high??

    &etc…

  61. @Starling – that is horrifying and now I feel really oogy about my song parody. What a tremendous mindfuck for all involved…

  62. Well, it’s the best choices if the pretend 13-year-old is white, of course. Otherwise it’s misery, trauma, and breast cancer all the way.

    Of course it is. Because those black pretend 13 year olds are SO disadvantaged with their poverty, double minority status, and tendency to not get adequate care… Plus there’s the fact that those poor black pretend girls are hypersexualized anyway, so who cares if they get pregnant. It’s expected….

    *rolls eyes*

  63. As I mentioned in this space (SP) several months ago, my friend’s grandmother had a pretend abortion 85 years ago and is still vilified for it. (Apparently she unsuccessfully sought the abortion of the baby [the doctor refused to do it] who turned out to be my friend’s father, and OMG what a monster because how could she think of aborting such a lovely man*.)

    * he really was a lovely man, but what if he had been another Hitler or Einstein or maybe award-winning cupcake baker? Would any of those scenarios affect the advisability of a pretend abortion?

  64. I think we need a third topic on pretend birth-control and whether it is pretend abortion. do pretend mothers only do the dirty when they are planning on their pretend children? Or do pretend mothers control their ovulation so that they only are able to get pregnant when they want? Or are pretend mothers ready and praying for a pretend baby everytime they do the horizantal mambo?

    I’m confused, time for class.

  65. ‘Pretend Fantasy Football’ is cracking me up…

    Thankfully those pretend potential presidents won’t be pretend liberal socialists who will sanction pretend gay marriage. Because their pretend parents will educate them properly. Speaking of musicals, cue ‘You’ve Got to be Taught’ from South Pacific.

  66. @ PlusSizedFeminist:
    “Of course it is. Because those black pretend 13 year olds are SO disadvantaged with their poverty, double minority status, and tendency to not get adequate care… Plus there’s the fact that those poor black pretend girls are hypersexualized anyway, so who cares if they get pregnant. It’s expected….”

    Well yeah, and besides, who would want to adopt some dark-skinned baby anyway???

    ~sigh~

    @Lu — yeah this bugs me. We’re always aborting the next Einstein, doesn’t it ever occur to people that we could be aborting the next Hitler? Oh but of course, that assumes intellectual honesty ~snort.~

  67. Also @PlusSizedFeminist — I’m assuming you know I was kidding, but in the event that it’s not obvious, I was, in the spirit of the thread :) It doesn’t always come across that well via the tubes :)

  68. Dear A Sarah et al;

    I must inform you that I am calling “Bullshit” on this whole post. Let me mansplain.

    You CANNOT in fact be reasoned with because A) You’re a woman and B) there is no b, see A.

    Please stop pretending and resume using your uteri and various and sundry ladybitz in the prescribed manner.

    Sincerely,
    The Patriarchy

  69. Okay. You can take away my pretend children, but do not -DO NOT! take away my imaginary husband. He’s very intelligent, his family is quite wealthy, and he’s a tiger in bed.

  70. @ Alibhe,

    My imaginary household has a maid – and a nanny, who is lovely, but not sexy, so my imaginary husband is not tempted by her.

  71. “[This is a pretend being] she doesn’t actually need social support, or an income, or to be assigned work that bears some relation to her unique interests and skills, or recognition for that work, or the ability to exercise any control over her own circumstances. She doesn’t even really exist! You gotta love that about her!”

    I am not a pretend being. I am not a pretend woman. I am a big and fat and real woman.

    I need social support and income and yeah, I might “need” the rest of what you said, but I don’t always get what I think I need.

    I am totally anti abortion.

    I have twelve children (born in 13 yrs)

    I wouldn’t change them for anything – income, social standing or anything (and believe me, I could have)

    I am glad I didn’t

    Killing a human fetus is not an option for me. I exist. I am totally imperfect, out of control, without support and struggling. I am as much discriminated against as most of the causes you espouse here.

    (You want to be despised, rejected and treated as dirt – you try having 12 kids in 13 yrs – boy do you get the typical comments, everyone assumes I am brainless, stupid, oppressed and patriarchially bound. . . . as a fat woman with twelve kids I get *far* more persecution for my children then I do for my body size, and that is saying something)

    A human fetus is a human – and yeah, sure it is never going to be the perfect “white frilly-dressed” daughter or whatever. But is is a person. A small, despised and rejected person (just like fat women are big and despised and rejected)

    I want to stand up for the small and despised in our society. Just like those here want to stand up for the fat and despised.

    Human fetuses are as human are you or I.

    And dont make uninformed assumptions about them or their moms/dads

    I am mom to 12 living human fetuses. None of whom are perfect or ideal or who live up to society’s imposed standards. Just like I don’t.

    Thought this blog was about tolerance: tolerance of human beings – whatever their age, stage, size, gender, abilities or development.

    If you want to kill human fetuses cos they aren’t perfect or wanted or ideal – why don’t you go ahead and kill the fat, the disabled, the multigendered, the non white, the non comformists (since somewhere, someone in society regards us as equally unwanted, imperfect and non ideal).

    This blog is about tolerance and acceptance. Why do human fetuses somehow fall below your radar?

    You despise people who desecrate their bodies to have weight loss surgery (to get rid of unwanted tissue).

    But you accept those who desecrate their bodies to kill a human fetus (to get rid of unwanted tissue)?

    Something is rotten in the state of [Denmark]

    Bet you don’t publish this :-/ And all comments welcome if you do.

    Hx

  72. Actually, it is kind of strange that the most important thing about my imaginary husband is that he is very, very, fond of having sex with me, and yet we only have three pretend children.

  73. Actually, it’s kind of a buzzkill posting after Henrietta. My very sexy imaginary husband is really, really embarrassed now.

  74. “Bet you don’t publish this :-/”

    ~facepalm~

    “A human fetus is a human…”

    If fetuses are people, how come they’ve got 2 different words? How come they can’t vote? How come fetuses can’t drive cars?

    Words mean things.

  75. Do the men know that they are killing thousands of pretend children every time they jerk off?

    Yes. This morning I murdered about twenty million pretend Einsteins, Hitlers, Olympic athletes, US presidents and champion cupcake bakers by wiping them up with a dirty t-shirt and throwing them in the wash. I laughed evilly as I did it, too, and didn’t stop with the wicked sniggering until I was about halfway done with my shower.

  76. Bet you don’t publish this :-/ And all comments welcome if you do.

    We did.

    This blog is written from a feminist perspective. Thus we support a woman’s right to choose, regardless of whether or not we agree or approve of those choices. The caveat being these choices cannot seek to legislate away the rights of others to decide what’s best for their own bodies/lives.

    (You want to be despised, rejected and treated as dirt – you try having 12 kids in 13 yrs – boy do you get the typical comments, everyone assumes I am brainless, stupid, oppressed and patriarchially bound. . . . as a fat woman with twelve kids I get *far* more persecution for my children then I do for my body size, and that is saying something)

    There are many within the feminist discourse (I regard myself as one of them) who actively critique the way in which motherhood is framed within the movement.
    We seek to unpack the racist and classist rhetoric, particularly when dismantling the patriarchy is used as a justification. It is goes against the fundamental principles of feminism and marginalizes groups of women.

  77. Wait, since when did the fat/disabled/multigendered (?) people of this world require me to host them inside my body, directly affecting my health and physical state, after which they are my legal and moral responsibility for the next 18-odd years?

    Or does this ridiculous analogy forget the actual woman whose actual bodily automony is actually at stake, by any chance? I mean, nice work keeping up the “pretend” theme, but hey, guess what? WE, US, WHO ARE TYPING HERE, ARE NOT PRETEND PEOPLE. WE ARE REALLY REAL PEOPLE WHO REAL HEALTH CARE BILLS REALLY AFFECT.

  78. Henrietta, if you think that my post is about shaming real mothers of large families, then you read me as saying the opposite of what I meant. Whether that’s because I wasn’t clear, or because you misread, I’m not in a position to say. (Obviously my meaning was perfectly clear to me!)

    You’re an imperfect mother, and your kids aren’t perfect or ideal, and you don’t owe perfection or heroic self-sacrifice simply by virtue of your being female. Great! Me too! We are both members of the Imperfect Mothers of Recalcitrant Children Who Are More Than Just Projections Of Our Wishes And Don’t Always Do As They’re Told. Moreover, anyone who tells you you’re trash for having twelve kids is doing THE VERY THING that I’m criticizing in this post: paying lip service to children being oh-so-precious but not, when it comes down to it, being interested in dealing with *actual* children or *actual* mothers.

    As for the rest: well, we disagree, I guess, about fetuses being the same thing as real children. I hope we agree that neither fetuses nor children are the same thing as pretend children.

    Other beefs with the blog — what views are given space, and how those differ from your own — you’ll have to just ponder in your heart silently or risk bannination, same as everyone else.

  79. @ Henrietta,

    No, really, a fetus is not a person. I had a good look at the tiny little fetus I miscarried at eight weeks, and it really didn’t look like a person at all. I mean, I cried a lot, because I mourned the person that fetus would have become with another seven months in my womb, but I recognized that the tiny collection of parts was not a person, and that its death ( I really wanted that baby) was sad, really sad for me, but not as sad as the death of one of my actual, out-of-the-womb children would have been.

    I agree with Bumerry upthread – you want to rail at someone for killing fetuses, you go rail at God – he’s responsible for far more dead babies every year than all the imaginary abortion clinics you can think of.

    Also, you chose your children, You had a choice! Imagine if you were told, no choice for you – two ( three four five) children was the limit and you would not be allowed the reproductive freedom to have as many children as you liked. It cuts both ways – and I say this as someone who had four miscarriages and does wonder what those children would have been like – if you demand that you be allowed to choose your reproductive destiny, how dare you say that another woman should not be allowed to choose hers?

  80. Other beefs with the blog — what views are given space, and how those differ from your own — you’ll have to just ponder in your heart silently or risk bannination, same as everyone else.

    Okay, of course, a second after typing that I thought of all the possible exceptions — most of them having to do with being rightly called on privilege — so I wanted to flag that I realize the rule isn’t absolute. But the larger point holds also: that not all views are entitled to space here on this blog, and the abortion-is-pretty-much-the-same-as-deliberately-killing-a-fully-grown-child viewpoint is one of those. There are blogs out there which are ALL ABOUT fetuses being the same as children, and I’m sure they’d welcome another commenter.

  81. “If fetuses are people, how come they’ve got 2 different words? How come they can’t vote? How come fetuses can’t drive cars? ”

    How come 2 yr olds can’t vote?

    How come they can’t drive cars?

    We use the words newborn, baby , infant, toddler, junior, adolescent, teenager. . . . lots of words. They can’t vote or drive cars.

    Thanks for the thoughts, thinking things thru, and learning. But that is not an impressive argument :-) (no offence intended) imo

    Hx

  82. I guess I should have been more concise:

    “You despise people who desecrate their bodies to have weight loss surgery (to get rid of unwanted tissue).

    But you accept those who desecrate their bodies to kill a human fetus (to get rid of unwanted tissue)?”

    That is what I don’t get.

    Hx

  83. If this is too much like troll feeding, I understand and will desist.

    @ Henrietta — I don’t believe I’ve seen anyone at Shapely Prose despise the people who have WLS — just the people who market it as a cure for Teh Deathfatz (TM).

    Perhaps further reading in the archives will enlighten you as to the stance of all four lovely bloggers on WLS and other topics.

  84. “(no offence intended)”

    LMFAO.

    Nice.

    Sorry for feeding the troll, I could NOT help it.

    Rainne, I’m not sure about your comment — the OP was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek?

  85. (moving on)

    A Sarah, what is your stance on Pretend Mothers of Actual Children? Because it seems to me that Pretend Children do not need Pretend Mothers, being as they are all perfect and twirly and whatnot and not necessitating yielding compliant parents. It’s the Actual Children that require Pretend Mothers, surely? Because gosh, my Pretend Daughter is currently lying on her tummy by the fire reading the Narnia series, but my Actual Daughter is trying to climb my leg, bang on the keyboard and mash avocado into my skirt. If there’s a Pretend Mother around, I’d like her to help with the latter, please.

  86. Henrietta, I’m going to give you a little break from commenting so you can read some of the old entries and arrive at some clarity over your points of confusion. Nightgigjo’s comment is a good starting-point. Nothing personal: I just don’t know whether you’re a troll or a sincere commenter and I don’t have the time to investigate; and meanwhile this threatens to turn into a massive derail. Email one of the mods when you’ve done a bit of background reading, if you still want to participate (for reasons other than winning everyone over to your view of fetal life, that is.)

  87. Sorry Ethyl, cross-posted – now I’m not clear on what you’re not sure about? I wasn’t defending my Actualness against the OP, but against Henrietta. It seems to me that her post ‘disappeared’ the women carrying the fetii, thus relegating them to ‘pretend’ just as effectively as all those commenters who like to make up hypotheticals (as Harriet Jacobs skewered upthread).

  88. @rainne — Oh, I hear you. I still spend too much time every day trying to be, or feeling guilty for not being, a pretend mother of actual children. The reason I know I’m not pretend enough is that my children don’t behave exactly as I need for them to behave in order for me to get approval from society at large.

    Perhaps what I need is some sort of parenting book telling me that everything I’m doing is wrong. You think they make those? ;)

  89. Ack, sorry, to be clearer: by ‘ridiculous analogy’ I meant the analogising of ‘killing human fetuses’ with ‘killing the old/fat/non-white people of the world’. And now I really will move on.

  90. Ahhh, crud (speaking of not moving on): In my attempt to give Henrietta the break I promised, I accidentally deleted the second of her comments. Snarkys? Do you know how to bring it back? (I’m sorry!)

  91. Forget the fetus people. It’s the sperm people. These sperm people mean that in less than three years of regular, not-terribly-rigorous masturbation, I will have wiped the equivalent of Earth’s entire human population into yesterday’s undershirts.

    I cannot express the joy this brings me.

  92. Rainne, OHHHHHH so sorry, I thought you were responding to the OP not to Henrietta!

    Stupid hunger and glass of wine as I made dinner are making me not so clueful :)

  93. Ethyl, I’m not sure. It was just some puree I had in the freezer. Not labeled. I’m certain it’s delicious, though. :)

    (I actually did make mystery puree pie once.)

  94. A Sarah, hmm. Well, the flavor of ~real~ baby puree (as opposed to the lousy canned stuff you can get nowadays that’s mostly filler anyway) is more sweet and complex than blueberry, but if you have blackberry puree or plum puree it’d be a tough call, I think.

  95. This thread is cracking me the eff up. I think we need to ask about the 13-year-old imaginary girl’s boyfriend, the 13-year-old imaginary boy who plays football and is totally okay with her being abstinent but it’s okay of HE sleeps around because he’s a boy and that’s what boys do.

    Eugh… it’s gross to type that about 13-year-olds.

    @Lauren- It’s totally okay for boys to jack off because that’s what boys do. There’s not reasoning with them… it’s not like they’re sentient beings or anything.

    @Henrietta- You are allowed to have as many children as you like. But please be aware that you make a CHOICE to have them, just as those of us who choose to abort or not to have children have a CHOICE. It’s about treating the mothers as people with rights and brains, not about the hypothetical children (e.g. the point of this whole thread.)

  96. I have had one real child and I second, third, and fourth your point of view, A Sarah. I tried really hard to be a pretend mom to my real child, until I recognized that I would be teaching her to pretend for the rest of her life and never get in touch with her own humanity. But b’gosh, our culture ain’t terribly supportive of real moms. There’s a lot of overt and covert woman-hating amongst the fundies… but personally, I found the “but being a Natural Mother is so liberating!!” leftie movement even more stifling.

  97. @redlami — I know that in future, as I relax into that sweet post-orgasm quietude, I shall hear the soft and soothing voice of Alec Guinness:

    I feel a great disturbance in the Force. As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

  98. I am only pretend mom to a pretend dog.

    His name is Cranston, as in, “Cranston, what have you been doing while I was at work?! The house is a MESS!”

    But I can’t stay mad at the little guy, given that he is as adorable as a dog who does not exist could possibly be.

  99. “I feel a great disturbance in the Force. As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.”

    I. Am. Dying. Laughing.

    And with that, and with massive apologies again to people I have misinterpreted I am goin to bed!

    ~snickers~

    ~snickers some more~

    ~can’t stop snickering~

  100. Well yeah, and besides, who would want to adopt some dark-skinned baby anyway???

    Nope, no dark babies. Just little white or Asian pretend babies will do. Less hassle with pretend race issues. Plus, less hassle with the HAIR!!!

    Also @PlusSizedFeminist — I’m assuming you know I was kidding, but in the event that it’s not obvious, I was, in the spirit of the thread :) It doesn’t always come across that well via the tubes :)

    I know Ethyl. No worries.

    I think we need to ask about the 13-year-old imaginary girl’s boyfriend, the 13-year-old imaginary boy who plays football and is totally okay with her being abstinent but it’s okay of HE sleeps around because he’s a boy and that’s what boys do.

    OF COURSE!!! I totally forgot about that! Because you know, to solve pretend teen pregnancy, all we have to do is have pretend parents tell the pretend girls that they should keep their legs closed else they are rendered a slut, while totally not teaching pretend boys that they should RESPECT women and thus encourage them to “sow their wild oats” while they are young…..

  101. The Shapely Prose Enterprise:

    Kate – Spock
    Me – Uhura (I have the costume and have always wanted to be a telephone operator in outer space)
    Sweet Machine – Bones
    A Sarah – Kirk
    Fillyjonk – Scotty

    This is just my rough assessment.

    FIRE AT WILL.

  102. I think I see the problem; all my Pretend Children were like Dot’s and Glen’s from Raising Arizona which is probably why I never had any real ones.

  103. WHAT?!?! I’m like the least confident, least tech-savvy, least decisive, least-well-read-and-well-connected-in-the-blogosphere person in the bunch.

    On the other hand: An odd, halting way of speaking? Check. Dreams of a campy singing career? Also check.

    Hmm. I dunno, is there a Star Trek character who writes musical numbers, performs them, and then runs off to hide in her quarters because she’s sure she committed some major social transgression and she feels terrible? And then she tries to earn back everyone’s friendship by baking stuff for them?

  104. Hmm. I dunno, is there a Star Trek character who writes musical numbers, performs them, and then runs off to hide in her quarters because she’s sure she committed some major social transgression and she feels terrible? And then she tries to earn back everyone’s friendship by baking stuff for them?

    If by baking you mean sex, then it sounds like Kirk to me.

  105. Since we’re talking about that 13 year old’s boyfriend, I hope everyone is aware that he’s already dumper her. Why? Because, A) she’s no longer pure and B) she’s had an abortion and isn’t going to heaven anymore.

  106. Wow. I mean Wow. I blink for a minute and this wonderful huge thread pops up!

    Clearly you guys have never heard of the sin of Onanism! It is a grave sin to spill your seed in the earth, it is meant only for TEH WOMBZ (multiple because they had polygamy back then). SO. Pretend 13-year-old boyfriend clearly knows it is a sin to pretend masturbate. He will be abstinent until some pretend slattern slut temptress wears skimpy clothes around him and he JUST. CAN’T. CONTROL. HIMSELF. It’s the girl’s fault anyway, amirite?

    Ahem. Grafton, bonus points for the reference. =)

    Carry on.

  107. If by baking you mean sex, then it sounds like Kirk to me.

    Snort! That’s it. I just lost it. Snarky’s, you win my widdle internet heart.

  108. Last thing, I swear! Has anyone else heard of the pretend child known as Beethoven? His mother was a diseased prostitute who already had a lot of kids. But what if she had aborted him?!? Yeah, that’s one of the faves my old church used to pull out.

  109. That’s funny, I’ve always heard that I was the pretend child. This is of course responsible for any and all existential crises I do, have ever, or ever will experience.

    Can I have my therapist bill the anti-abortion lobby?

  110. That depends. Am I a pretend child, then, before being pretend aborted, or am I one of those mythical actual children.

    I’m also someone who could have had a pretend abortion. It’s just so confusing, my poor widdle wimminz’ brain just can’t take it all! Someone come and mansplain it to me!

  111. I lurves you all! I am pretend mother to two pretend dogs, Alistair and Sparky. They are both noble-looking Weimeraners in that gorgeous velvety gray. They gambol and chase sticks, when not rescuing pretend children from drowning or pretend bad guys. They sleep in neat curls on fluffy dog pillows at the foot of my bed. They never smell funny.

    My real dogs are pit bull mixes with mystery ancestry and questionable personal hygiene habits. They are not named Alistair and Sparky. They sleep in neat curls next to whichever bit of me least wants a fur-covered space heater. Their ears are always flipping inside out in an undisciplined manner.

    There is no practical reason to share this information, except that my real dogs make me much happier than Alistair and Sparky did, even after rescuing little Timmy from the well. Also, my other comments on this thread were depressing.

  112. FIRE AT WILL.

    Did this make anyone else laugh? Because I’m totally geek enough to remember that pun.
    Oh yes, I snorted.

    Also, I had a pretend abortion. I’ve been told I’m going to pretend hell for it.
    (What does that entail, orange crepe-paper flames and whatnot?)

  113. This thread has given me a case of Pretend Danny Elfman. Specifically the Oingo Boingo song ‘Insanity’, which has a couplet:

    Let’s talk of family values while we sit and watch the slaughter
    Hypothetical abortions on imaginary daughters

    Meanwhile, my Actual Baby is Actually Snoring. I think Pretend Babies do not snore.

  114. What happens to pretend children that aren’t actively wanted anymore? Because when I was in elementary school I wanted twenty kids and I don’t want to have the many pretend children anymore. Or as pretend mother do they have to continue existing anyway?

    The only actual children I have are feline. One is currently warning my lap.

  115. Winston Churchill’s mother was not only forced to give birth, she was forced to give birth in the middle of a party, with dancing still going on elsewhere in the building. So, always remember, your pretend birth could have been worse.

  116. Shiyiya, pretend mommies want as many kids as the supreme being(s)will give them, and will love and nurture each and every one as the perfect special snowflake sie is, and will never be tired or sick or frustrated (especially because the children are perfect, see above), and will have, as mentioned upthread, diapers and baby food dropping from the sky. So, no worries!

    You might want to wear a hardhat.

    @PlusSizedFeminist:
    “I know Ethyl. No worries.”

    I figured but better to be sure :)

  117. @Shiyiya, that’s a good question. Throughout my youth I’ve gone back and forth from wanting like 5 kids, to wanting 2, to wanting 1, then none, then 8, then none again. And I keep changing their names and birth orders. Does this mean that I continue to discard and recreate new pretend children, or am I just reusing the old pretend children, who are going to go through identity complexes because they never seem to be able to keep their names for more than a few months?

  118. I think I was a pretend baby, and for a long time, the story I had in my head about that shaped my views on abortion. See, I was very much an “oops,” and my parents weren’t married when my mom got pregnant. They got married about a month before I was born.

    In Pretend World, this is a perfect happy ending. My mom was Brave and Self-Sacrificing and chose to have and raise the Perfect Little Accident that was me. And my dad Stuck By Her and they Got Married. And a couple years later, they had a Little Boy. And my brother played Baseball and Football and Went Hunting with Dad. And my parents Loved Us Very Much.

    And I remember using that to explain why I was against abortion, because if my parents had made it work with an unplanned pregnancy, then other people could too, right?

    But then I realized that one of the things I’d hung onto when my self-esteem was in the toilet was that my mom loved me even as an oops, that she *chose* to keep me. Yeah, there’s that “C” word. I said it. So, as happy as I am that my mom chose to have me and my parents chose to get married and to keep my brother when he showed up, not as much of an “oops” as I was but still not planned, I wouldn’t want that forced on either of them.

    It’s real easy to look back on things that already happened and conclude that the right decisions were made because things worked out okay. But nobody has a time machine to jump ahead fifteen or twenty years and see how their decisions will work out. They just do the best they can with what they know at the time.

    And the pretend version of my family’s story is that everything worked out okay, and that much is true too, but the real story is more complicated than that, and the “happy ending” where my parents get along wonderfully and love each other with each passing year only happened after a whole bunch of badness. There was no guarantee, at the time, that things would have worked out. And while they worked out well, they certainly weren’t perfect. My parents fought a lot when I was a kid, and I carry some emotional scars from that, of course. And I don’t think my mom will ever forgive herself for being a real mom instead of a Perfect Pretend Mom that she felt like she was supposed to be and I’m pretty sure she blames herself for the issues that I, a Real Kid who grew up to be a Real Adult, have. (Thanks, A Sarah for the Pretend Mom/Real Mom thing. It explains a hell of a lot.)

    And at some point I realized the intellectual inconsistency of being grateful to my parents for choosing to keep me and being in favor of politics that would deny other people that choice.

    So, I’m glad my parents made the choice they did, but now that I’m an adult, if I had a friend in the same boat my mom was in, no way would I glibly tell her “Oh, marry him and have the kid, everything will work out fine.” I’d support that if it was what she wanted, but it’d have to be her decision.

  119. “It’s real easy to look back on things that already happened and conclude that the right decisions were made because things worked out okay.”

    QFT.

    Look, like a lot of people, I get really bristly when presetned with the “what if you/Beethoven/Jesus/whoever were aborted!” argument, and one of the reasons is that I share my life with a person whose mom made the decision as a teenager to keep him, get married, and try to make things work. And you know what? They didn’t work. His life ~sucked,~ and his mom was miserable and resentful, and his dad ran out on them both when he was a baby, and shit was very, very hard. And his mom probably ~should~ have gotten an abortion, and while I’m grateful to have found someone who makes me so happy, I can’t say that his mom made the right choice. And besides, I wouldn’t freaking know the difference if he never existed because I’d never get to meet him. Gawd the whole argument is so stupid and frustrating.

    So anyway, stick that in your crusty t-shirt forced birthers — I wish my very own soul mate had been aborted. So there.

  120. Ethyl wrote QFT, which I had to look up on AcronymFinder. I’m amused that the same three letters can mean either “Quoted for Truth” or “Quit F—ing Talking.” :) Or, for that matter, Quantum Field Theory. Hm…maybe it was Schroedinger’s Post and I won’t know if Ethyl is praising me or telling me to STFU until I open the box and see if the cat’s dead.

    (Ethyl, I know you meant the first–I’m just easily amused by acronym finder.)

  121. Y’know, back to the question of feminism and a “pro-life” political standpoint, KellyK’s story is really da bomb. You can be a feminist and think that abortion is generally not a preferred option, and be a feminist and think that there are few or no circumstances under which you would choose to have an abortion, but you can’t be a feminist and think that there is anyone in the world more qualified to make that moral choice than the woman whose body it is. Because the father isn’t, the government isn’t, Bart Stupak isn’t, and the Pope isn’t. Ultimately, the outcome of your choice isn’t predictable (see: Palin, Bristol) and the person who has to live with that choice is the one who gets to make it. It would be rockin’ awesome if we had a Magic 8 ball that could correctly predict the outcome of any given pregnancy (“Einstein!” “Hitler!” “Will wreck your car and send your insurance rates through the roof!” “Angelina will offer to adopt!”), but failing that, Bart Stupak should be permitted to make Stupaktic decisions only about those pregnancies he has the option of carrying to term.

    My sad story upthread of the Actual Woman who had breast cancer and died from it after refusing treatment during pregnancy? It freaks me out. I find it a scary reflection of the particular religious culture in which I was raised and in which she lived. But I would be much more horrified by anyone–including her husband, who is the one most affected by her choice–compelling her to get an abortion for the sake of her health. There should be no one who gets to make that choice except for the woman. And this is even if the choice is one I find squicky or scary or just plain incomprehensible. I’m one of nine children, which is pretty incomprehensible to a lot of people, but my mother’s reproductive choices are hers and not anyone else’s, even if people consider them environmentally irresponsible or religious-wacky or whatever. I get pretty pissy when people start making comments about Michelle Duggar, too.

    I think it was Voltaire’s biographer, not Voltaire, who said (not about abortion), “I disagree with what you [choose] but will defend to the death your right to [choose] it.” And I think that that’s a pretty good representation of the point of view of a feminist who thinks abortion is wrong.

  122. Starling wrote:

    My sad story upthread of the Actual Woman who had breast cancer and died from it after refusing treatment during pregnancy? It freaks me out. I find it a scary reflection of the particular religious culture in which I was raised and in which she lived. But I would be much more horrified by anyone–including her husband, who is the one most affected by her choice–compelling her to get an abortion for the sake of her health. There should be no one who gets to make that choice except for the woman. And this is even if the choice is one I find squicky or scary or just plain incomprehensible.

    That story horrified and saddened me too, both for how horrible that had to be for that family and for how that’s a choice that’s lauded, without people considering the fate of the Dad Who Has to Go It Alone or the Sister Who Killed Mom. On the one hand, yes, giving up your life for your kid can be a courageous thing. Sticking to your convictions at the cost of your life, the same. But valuing your own life and being there for your family are also good things, and it’s a messed-up culture that values one and not the other. Probably a culture that values Pretend Women–Sainted Martyred Mothers–but not so much the real ones.

    [snark]If the one-parent-of-each-sex family is so absolutely essential to sane, healthy children that we can’t allow same-sex marriage, you’d think a dead mom might be a bad thing for *those* kids. Again, we have to protect the Pretend Children who might grow up warped if they don’t have a mommy and a daddy, but let’s not worry about the Real Children who no longer have their mommy. [/snark]

  123. KellyK–
    Exactly. It’s a choice I consider wrong, but still not one I want to take over making for others, or have the government take over making for others. You’ll notice, though, that at no point have you or I proposed legislation requiring women to get abortions so they can pursue aggressive medical treatment for life-threatening conditions. We would like people to think. We would like people to start examining the cultural assumptions about how mothers ought to be. We would like to dismantle the social conditioning caused by the patriarchy. But we don’t want or propose or intend to tell women they can’t have twelve or nineteen kids, or that they have to get abortions when the state dictates them.

    Faced with the same situation (women making choices with which they disagree), the “pro-life” movement just wants to make those choices illegal. Because a) women are wicked, b) women can’t be trusted, c) women can’t get subtle moral points, or d) all of the above. And this is an anti-woman point of view.

    [/rant] Can someone bring back the funny, please? I suck at the funny. SnarkysM? Grafton?

  124. Faced with the same situation (women making choices with which they disagree), the “pro-life” movement just wants to make those choices illegal. Because a) women are wicked, b) women can’t be trusted, c) women can’t get subtle moral points, or d) all of the above. And this is an anti-woman point of view.

    Egg-freakin-zactly. I think you pretty much summed up one of my (many) bits of disillusionment with the “pro-life” movement. At this point, I’m very much pro-choice, even if I might be against the concept of me myself having an abortion. (Maybe with some caveats involving late-term abortions but I think most of those caveats went away when I realized that those were pretty much about Pretend Babies too and not so much about real women and real fetuses, one or both of whom usually have severe medical problems.)

    As for the funny, let’s go back to pretend children. My pretend children look just like me and the husband–only cuter of course. They’ve got my good teeth and his good eyesight (rather than the other way around). My writing skills and his math skills (though we’ll throw in my enjoyment of geometry and logic puzzles). And his blue eyes, despite the fact that there’s only a 50/50 shot of me even carrying that recessive gene, let alone passing it on. Because they’re pretend, and blue eyes are just freaking adorable.

    My real children, incidentally, also have blue eyes. They also have gray fur, weigh about 13 pounds each, and like to meow incessantly and eat my headphones and my knitting. Though this is less cute than the pretend children, it’s probably preparing me for real human children, who will also put everything in their mouths and cry incessantly.

    Not sure if the humor of this will survive the telling, but a running joke in my house when I can’t find something is that the cat ate it. “Thomas, did you eat my keys?” “Haley, did you eat my shoes?” So, one day, I ask this question as the husband and I are about to head out the door. “Haley, did you eat my shoes?” ::Kelly pets the kitty:: “Yes, I am blaming you. You make a good scapegoat because you don’t talk back.” And, right on cue, the most pathetic little “Meeooow” imaginable. Yes, I am a horrible mommy. Poor cat-children.

  125. I think I might have a leg up on the rest of the commenters, because I have a pretend nephew. His name is Leo, he’s eight years old, and he is kind of nerdy and adorable, with big black-framed glasses. He’s into all kinds of weird stuff, but my sister really loves him. She pretend-had him about 5 years ago.
    :)

  126. Kelly, I don’t think so, but my sister keeps his hair so long that who knows for sure? That Leo! I don’t know how he can see through his microscope with that hair in his eyes. But I think he’s going to win the science fair this year.

  127. As an Ooops-baby myself, the fact that my mother could have had an abortion and chose not to have- chose, on her own, withpout anyone forcing her to decide one way or the other- is something that I am very glad to know. It has helped me deal with the fact that the sperm-donor didn’t want me, and most emphatically so. It has helped me come to terms with the fact that he was never a part of my life, when he had no problem being a father to his other daughter with another woman.

    I am a wanted child. I want every child to grow up knowing this- whether their mothers wanted them and wanted to raise them, or they are adopted, but their birth mothers wanted to give live to them and then entrust their care to parents who also wanted them very much.

    In a world without choice, how can we keep children- all children- from never being sure if they are wanted?

    My mom chose me. This is something that will always give me strength. My dad chose to adopt me- make me legally his, before my brother was born, so I would be his first child- and that is something that still sometimes makes me cry, it is so amazing to be wanted like that.

    I am pro-choice, not only because I am convinced that noone has a right to control another persons body, but also because I want to live in a worl where children are wanted. (and I know thos will not protect all children from unhappiness, but I still think it is important)

    Without choice, there is not only no option to chose abortion, there is also no option to chose having a child. I want all children who are born to be chosen, wanted children.

  128. This thread is bleedin’ hilarious, and if a pretend friend ever comes to me wondering whether to have a pretend abortion I’ll direct her here quick sharp. The three real friends of mine who’ve made that choice had difficult, real sorts of things happening in their lives and didn’t need my input.

    Anti-choicers are to developmental biology as creationists are to evolution, except that they seem to have given up on trying to get Homunculus Theory back into the textbooks.

  129. When I cannot find my keys, it’s usually because the dogs borrowed the car without asking. (The real dogs, Jasper and Max, not the pretend dogs, Alistair and Sparky. Alistair and Sparky always get permission, and leave the gas tank full.) So I stomp around, saying, “Where did you leave my keys, Jasper? I hate it when you don’t put the keys back on the key hook.”

    Sometimes I wonder whether my dog-rearing behavior is a contraindication for having actual children.

  130. Both me and my sister are oops babies. My sister more so because my mother was pregnant with her before my parents were married. It worked out with my parents, who are still married 25 years later and I have no scarring from them fighting. I’ve never seen that as an argument against abortion though. The joke around my house is whenever my mom starts yelling at me or is annoyed with me I simply say, “Hey, you could have had the abortion, too late now.” She’s usually stops yelling then, but I’m never sure if she’s imagining how nice her life would be if she would’ve had the abortion, or if she’s happy she didn’t.

    I get really angry when I consider all the women who can’t have the abortion, all the people who want to make it impossible to get one piss me off. Having a kid isn’t simple, you don’t do it on a lark, it’s fucking hard, dangerous to your body and having a baby out of wedlock can destroy your standing where you live forever. On top of all that, having a baby can destroy your future, because our society has a fucked up view of motherhood and how women should handle it. I used to be able to see both sides of the argument but now, I can’t. I just see one group of people trying to live their lives, and another group making that harder.

    Also, for the funny, I was raised catholic and still identify as that even though I don’t go to church. The other day I was driving and saw a bumper sticker that said “You CAN’T be catholic AND pro-abortion.” I read it, and I disappeared, just poofed into the ether. I never knew I was an impossible paradox. But if it says it on a bumper sticker it must be true.

    Oh and also, my pretend children are neither seen nor heard, I don’t even know what they look like. It’s wonderful. I don’t need diapers to rain from the heavens because my pretend kids never ever poop. I think they might be in a cabinet somewhere, I’m not going to look for them.

  131. Thank you for articulating something so clearly that I’ve been struggling to put into words. It brings to light the ridiculous romanticizing and idealizing of motherhood and children in this culture. Anti-choice arguments are PRO-BIRTH, not pro-life.

  132. Now I have this mental picture of Haley and Thomas joyriding with Jasper and Max (I’m not sure what your dogs look like, so that part of the mental image is a bit blurry). Sunroof down, loud music blaring, catnip, chew-toys, tuna cans, and half-eaten steaks strewn all over the backseat.

  133. Jasper and Max are red-brown, short-haired, with white feet. They have charming smiles. They don’t ever leave a steak half-eaten, though. Perhaps a couple of well-chewed marrow bones? Max would have his head through the sunroof and his long floppy ears flapping in the breeze. I’m thinking they’ve got a half-finished 30-pack of tuna with the pop-top lids, and the catnip is in baggies that they stuff frantically in the glovebox when they see a cop car coming up behind them.

  134. I’m thinking they’ve got a half-finished 30-pack of tuna with the pop-top lids, and the catnip is in baggies that they stuff frantically in the glovebox when they see a cop car coming up behind them.

    and

    Does tuna come in forties?

    Oh. My. Must not spray Sprite Zero on keyboard.

  135. My pretend cat won’t come down to post bail, but Tiger probably will. And she still has that cute, innocent baby-face, so she might even get them to just drop the charges.

  136. Cranston, my pretend dog, is named after a pretend character played by a pretend character on 30 Rock. And Cranston is always the one who eats the last few Pringles, squeezes the toothpaste from the middle, and doesn’t replace the toilet paper roll. . .

  137. *poof*

    I WAS going to say, re: the comment about scar-foreheaded-boys upthread, that Lilly Potter is the ultimate pretend mom, with the giving her life for her son who then goes off to save the world, Tah-Dah! business.

    But I can’t, because, like Lauren and Alibelle, I just poofed out of existence. I have been made to un-be. Evidently the only Real Catholics are the Pretend Ones who never have a problem with anything Holy Mother Church has to say about what to believe and do and how to behave and are always in Good Standing with the Church and have never Sinned. Which makes you wonder what the sacrament of Reconciliation is all about anyway.

    Finally, from my non-existent state, I’m trying to say in faint tones that won’t manifest on this plane, that I’ve been variously weepy because this thread is so funny to weepy because of Kelly K’s first comment. And like Starling, I knew a kid whose mom had refused chemo and (despite a permission slip from the archbishop) chose not to terminate a pregnancy when she was very sick with cancer. The mom died, and I found the whole scenario gut-wrenching.

  138. I never knew I was an impossible paradox. But if it says it on a bumper sticker it must be true.

    The same thing happened to me when I was told that bisexuals don’t exist, and again when it was made clear that “real feminists” don’t look like stereotypical feminists (short, round, hairy). You get used to it after the first time or two.

    Let’s not forget the pretend woman who got a pretend abortion and became pretend sterile, and the awful, crushing, pretend mental breakdown she had when she realized that this meant her life would never have any sort of meaning except as an example for real women of what not to become.

  139. Anthro K8, you’re right—Lily is totally the ultimate Pretend Mom. (I’m not Catholic, so the bumper sticker didn’t make me go **poof**, but I’m hearing you okay, so I probably don’t exist either.)

    And I’m sorry my comment made you weepy.

  140. I think it was Voltaire’s biographer, not Voltaire, who said (not about abortion), “I disagree with what you [choose] but will defend to the death your right to [choose] it.”

    It was Voltaire who said, “The human race would be doing all right if it wasn’t for all this god-damned divine intervention.”

    That’s pretty funny.

    Also, nowadays you can take a pill to abort Winston Churchill’s pretend dog (the black one) and that’s maybe not funny, but is still nice.

  141. As a recovering Catholic myself, I can help y’all understand your tenuous hold on your existence: YOU don’t get to decide if you’re Catholic, silly girls. The Pope, and only the Pope decides who’s Catholic and who’s not. Just ask Patrick Kennedy (D RI).

    Holy See = Ultimate Grand Master Pubah ManSplainer.

  142. I should add, because that might be read as attacking someone’s deeply held beliefs, that I am flippantly and irreverently pointing out the position and understanding of those in the heirarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope is the single person most directly connected by the linneage of his position to the Christ, and most spiritually connected directly to God -according to the Pope and Church. The Pope is therefore the Ultimate authority on what God wants for His people. No ifs, ands, or buts. And if you think the Church has it wrong, or your priest has it wrong, you my friend are wrong, because God makes sure that the Pope is infaliable – according to the Pope and Church.

    My ultimate rejection of this absolutely fundamental doctrine is why neither I nor the Pope consider me Catholic anymore. In the Chursh’s eyes, I am a mortal sinner. Because I believe animals have souls, but not blastula.

  143. And here I thought pretend-dog Cranston was named after the Rhode Island town that gave Lois on Family Guy her accent*. Way to ruin my illusions, Alicia Maud. I’ll just have to go have a pretend abortion out of spite now, since that’s always the way to handle any problem—have an abortion on a whim! On your lunch break! With exclamation points!

    Bast

    *btw, there is no way in hell Lois is from Newport or Barrington, hoity-toity rich parents or no. Not with that Nasal Cveeeeeanston Whine. Of course, notice that I neglect how crappy that show is beyond the RI-in-jokes…

  144. @Bast

    Oh, I’m so glad you have pretend!abortions in your lunchbreak too! Of course, it could be worse. If we* had state health care THE TAXPAYERS would pay for all my lovely funtiems pretend abortions (I’ve had eleventy billion. I buy myself a pretend kitty every time I have one of my pretend abortions). I just love the feeling of having unnecessary surgery! I do it for kicks! It’s like a spa treatment! This is just the sort of thing that happens when you let women make decisions legalise abortion!

    *actually I do, because I’m the UK. So Uk residents ARE paying for my pretend abortions. Oops.

  145. IrishUp, is that the Kennedy who got an annulment after marriage and multiple children, but it’s okay for him to get remarried because he’s a Kennedy and he asked nice? If so, good point. That one really sticks in my craw.

    OTOH, I’ve never heard of anyone personally who asked for an annulment and didn’t get one. Because, you know, they were all nice people and Good Catholics who deserved one. Even the lady who had four children and yet her marriage never existed in the eyes of the Church for some reason. …. Actually, maybe that’s why; because she was no profligate baby-killer but rather a good Irish Catholic mom who found the right technicality. (Probably had something to do with her ex-husband being Jewish.) So, are her children pretend “legitimate” children, or what? It’s a conundrum.

  146. On Catholic and pro-choice:

    My grandmother is staunchly Irish Catholic. She had about 8 kids. When I was little, I didn’t really get why or how “Catholic” = “lots of kids,” and I just assumed my grandma LOVED kids, and LOVED being a mom.

    I remember one day I was hanging out with her while she made dinner. It suddenly dawned on me (I was about 8) that she made dinner, like, ALL THE TIME, that she was always cooking and cleaning. “Grandma, you must love to cook!” I chirped. She slammed her butcher knife down on the onion and said, “I HATE IT.”

    I had to spend some time wrapping my mind around that one — why would you cook for eight children and your husband if you hated it? Why would you do it every day? Why would you keep doing it when you’re old and retired? — and once I managed to figure out what I was pretty sure was going on, a feminist had been born.

    As soon as I hit puberty, my grandma started harping about boys and marriage to me. Not in a, “You should save yourself for marriage and also BE HETEROSEXUAL” kind of grandmotherly way. Instead, she’d launch in with, “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Ew, no way, grandma, gross.” “Good. DON’T GET ONE. And if you do, PLAY THE FIELD. DON’T SETTLE DOWN. But just don’t get a boyfriend in the first place. Don’t. Also, are you on the pill? You need to get on the pill.” “I’m twelve!” “GET ON THE PILL.”

    The day I called her to tell her I was engaged, the conversation went something like this: “Grandma, I have some big news!” “Oh, Jesus, you’re pregnant. Oh my god.” “I’m not!” “What did I tell you? I thought you were on the pill. Oh, this is terrible.” “I’m not pregnant, Grandma.” “You’ll just have to get an abortion.” “Grandma, you’re Catholic!” “But you’re not.”

    I think my grandma would have identified as pro-life, but I don’t think she was. I think she was imprisoned more than she was political. She never learned how to drive, never had a job, didn’t have any friends, and got beat frequently by her alcoholic husband, who would disappear (with his paycheck) for unknown gobs of time (you try grocery shopping for 8 kids when you don’t know how to drive). And I think of her every time I hear about pro-life Catholicism. I think, “Way to give my grandpa a field manual and rulebook for torture and isolation; he couldn’t have fucked up grandma without you.”

    The other side of my family is even better. They’re Spanish Catholic, and apparently, I’m descended from a Catholic priest.

    Apparently not a very good one.

  147. @AnthroK8:
    “I WAS going to say, re: the comment about scar-foreheaded-boys upthread, that Lilly Potter is the ultimate pretend mom, with the giving her life for her son who then goes off to save the world, Tah-Dah! business.”

    OOHHhhhh… HHmmmmm. Oh. Wow. Hm. That’s something I kind of noticed but seeing it written down there…..hm. Thanks for the interesting mental chew toy… :)

  148. I am far too wiped out from my insane working schedule to contribute anything, but y’all are TOO funny!

    Plus Ethyl’s pretend baby slayed me:
    MY imaginary baby was going to invent time travel. I hope you are all prepared to deal with the inevitable paradoxes regarding this non-abortion.
    Um, not literally, obviously. I am fairly sure that in cases of time travel murder, you are only allowed to kill your own grandfather.

  149. P.S. For heaven’s sake, why have we stopped talking about Christopher Meloni in the shower? Have you people no sense of priorities?

  150. AnthroK8: I do remember being slightly irritated with the mom-sacrificing-herself-to-save-her-son trope in Harry Potter… I think you’ve summed up why quite nicely.

    Starling, LilahMorgan et al reminded me: I was also slightly annoyed when the Bone Marrow Registry sent me a newsletter that included a story about how a guy knew he had to donate because that’s what his mom would have done… because she found out she had cancer when pregnant with him, but decided to forego treatment because it would kill the developing baby, and then it turned out she didn’t have cancer after all and everything was fine. Which didn’t seem very closely related to donating bone marrow to me. But I suppose they’re not going to turn down Inspiring Personal Stories because the writer has included something obliquely political, so I can’t really blame them for including it.

  151. I do actually know someone who was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time while pregnant with her third child, and refused treatment until she had the baby. She is now in remission and has always insisted it was her decision and she would never want anyone else’s choice either way to be taken away from them. But I guess that makes her an Actual Mother, instead of a Pretend Mother, because a Pretend Mother would know (as the apple tree knows when it is spring, indeed) that all mothers should do as she did.

  152. Harry Potter was already born, though. She didn’t die rather than let him die a-borning (or before). Does that make a difference? I am just asking. Literally; not trying to make a point.

  153. Oh, I have lunch-break abortions every day, whether I’m knocked up or not. Hell, I don’t even have a job, yet I make sure to take a lunch break so I can have my lunch-break abortion. Because that’s what we do, right? ;-)

  154. @Lu–I think it sort of plays into the same [senti]mentality that mothers should be happy to make any sacrifice of any kind for their children without hesitation, misgivings, resentment, etc. But yes, it does make a difference (except for those who believe that unborn and born children are morally equivalent). I think that probably most mothers would make the same choice as Lily, and I don’t think that the Harry Potter books are the best place to explore any ambivalence/fear/reluctance/resentment Lily might experience… but still, I found it vaguely irritating.

  155. GreyLadyBlast, I’ve just decided that Cranston is also a post-lunch-break-abortion therapy dog. So if you ever need some fuzzy consolation (or a run in the park) after everybody’s favorite three-martini pastime, just give us a shout.

  156. RE: Harry Potter

    At the VERY LEAST there was a PROPHECY about Harry (or the child Voldemort chose, whatevs). There was that. Hindsight is 20/20, but having a foresight that’s 20/20 is also helpful in making these major decisions. =) If I had a prophecy that said that my fetus was going to save the world I might go ahead and birth it. Just in case. ;)

  157. “If I had a prophecy that said that my fetus was going to save the world I might go ahead and birth it. Just in case. ;)”

    word.

    The part that bugs me most re: HP’s parents is how both died – but Lilly was the one who is immortalized as having sacrificed herself. And it’s treated just that way – it’s not so much that she was smart for using her inevitable death to temporarily defeat Voldemort, but that she sacrirficed herself so that Harry could eventually completely defeat him.

    Likewise, Lilly and James both went to Hogwarts, AND Lilly’s situation was closer to Harry’s in that she grew up in a Muggle family, but it’s only James who gets to have stories and friends and be an ass but still be loved in spite of being an ass.

    (um, sorry for continuing the derail)

  158. The part that bugs me most re: HP’s parents is how both died – but Lilly was the one who is immortalized as having sacrificed herself. And it’s treated just that way – it’s not so much that she was smart for using her inevitable death to temporarily defeat Voldemort, but that she sacrirficed herself so that Harry could eventually completely defeat him.

    Oh yeah, that’s something I’ve never really thought about before this thread, but I totally see your point. Lily is forever the sacrificial lamb and James is his son’s hero and example. BS.

  159. apparently, I’m descended from a Catholic priest.

    Apparently not a very good one.

    Depends how far back. ‘Bout a thousand years ago, Catholic priests were still getting married and having kids.

  160. I kept thinking about this thread and I have to say, I think I’m a bad mom to my pretend children.

    My pretend children are notorious bank robbers who call me Ma and give me a cut of the spoils. They also rob trains on horseback, which means that this pretend gang of three must be time travelers. Also, they’re all in their early 20′s, which isn’t possible unless I started having them when I was 11. Ma Heathen’s boys are a wild bunch, and the reward on each of their heads is substantial.

    I don’t think I’m ready for the responsibility of pretend children, sure the extra pretend money is nice to have, but look what I’ve driven them to. I think I should stick to pretend cats.

  161. Papal infallibility doesn’t apply *all the time* though. The catechism is quite clear on that. One’s own conscience applies *all the time* and it’s no good sinning and then saying “But the Pope said it was ok!”

    (I’m of the first generation to grow up in Ireland with legal contraception. I have strong views on choice.)

  162. Godless Heathen, your pretend children are the Beagle Boys? That’s kind of awesome.

    I’m a little confused on the pope. Can you be semi-infallible? Or intermittently infallible? Wouldn’t you just write down all the stuff during your periods of infallibility and rely on it when you were not infallible? Or maybe you wouldn’t know when you’re infallible, which essentially makes you a normal human being (albeit one with a higher confidence interval than normal).

    And what if your conscience disagrees with the Pope? Is excommunication good only for people who know they’re sinning and doing it anyway? (Doesn’t that make the idea of torturing Jews and Protestants beside the point?)

    Ferret Brain has one of the best series of articles about the weird, disturbing world of Harry Potter, and the implications of his mum’s sacrifice, particularly as it applies to the last scenes. It’s a series well worth reading, and it has a lot of swear words.

  163. Harriet Jacobs:

    The story of your grandmother is tragic, and I wonder how many other women were in similar situations. I wonder, looking back at grandmothers, mothers, etc, how much potential was there until something like poverty, abusive partners and no fertility control got in the way.

    The bit about the Spanish priest is rather hilarious.

  164. Apparently when God speaks directly through the Pope, He tells him so. The trick is everyone else working out when it’s God and when the Pope is lying through his teeth. But the *doctrine* is clear.

  165. KellyK and Starling: Our dog is also always blamed for things that disappear. Which is amusing with certain types of tangibles (“Sweetie, why did you eat my pajamas?”) and even better with certain types of intangibles (“What happened to that good mood you were in earlier?” “Dunno — the dog must have eaten it.”)

    Oddly enough, the only differences between my actual dog and my pretend dog are that my pretend dog is snugglier (the actual one is a border collie and not big on the snuggles), and my actual dog is on Prozac for an anxiety disorder. Given that my dog is on psychoactive meds, I think y’all can probably understand why I don’t have any children — even my pretend children end up with psychiatric problems. I think I must be doing it wrong.

  166. Given that my dog is on psychoactive meds, I think y’all can probably understand why I don’t have any children — even my pretend children end up with psychiatric problems. I think I must be doing it wrong.

    Hey, you’re getting your dog *treated* for the psychiatric condition–that sounds like “doing it right” to me. (Which I hope doesn’t sound like “Oh, no, you’d be great with kids, you should totally have some.” because that’s not where I’m trying to go. Just good on you for taking good care of the fuzzball and *yay* for psych meds, as anxiety disorder sucks.)

  167. So I finally have internet again but I’ve decided I would rather spectate this hilarious thread than try to match wits with you guys. I do have to say, however, that a) I am way more Spock-ish than Kate b) shouldn’t Kate be Kirk? c) Scotty?!?

  168. Other Becky–I think it’s only the pretend dogs who are free of health problems as well as not prone to chewing on stuff. My real dog Max had mange as a puppy and lost all his hair. The top coat grew back, but the bottom coat didn’t, and his belly is completely hairless and pink. It’s endearing, sort of, and gross, sort of.

    My dogs are the real-life equivalent of McGregor’s Goat (. . . was feeling fine. Ate three red shirts right off the line . . . ), although I have yet to lose pj bottoms to them. Shoes? Yeah. A sweater? Sadly.

    SnarkysM: My sister had all her child names picked out, but the only one we still remember is The Hulk. She always used to say that The Hulk would be the most popular little girl in her kindergarten.

  169. Oh, and I’m glad I’m not the only one with a pretend dog. Mine is a Bernese mountain dog named Bartleby and I like to send him to Chicago to get me take-out from Joy Yee.

  170. So I finally have internet again but I’ve decided I would rather spectate this hilarious thread than try to match wits with you guys. I do have to say, however, that a) I am way more Spock-ish than Kate b) shouldn’t Kate be Kirk? c) Scotty?!?

    As long as I can be Uhura!

  171. My pretend dog is called Professor Otto Von Bruno. I love him dearly but he is an absolute bastard for begging food, especially breakfast cereal. I actually have to put the box away because of his whining. If he was real he would drive me quite mad.

  172. Fillyjonk, Bartleby sounds great. And he can get that rice steamed in the bamboo trunk from Joy Yee, or one of their delish bubble fruit drinks, and wear it around his neck like a St. Bernard’s brandy keg until he gets home.

  173. Starling, “Bill Grogan’s goat,” no? My cousins had that music book when I was little.

    “da da da da,…. and flagged the train!” Right?

  174. So, while I side with the pro-choice side of the argument when it comes to abortion, I feel that both sides refuse to acknowledge the basic beliefs of the other side. If you want to understand all the idiotic behaviour that comes out of the pro-life movement, you have to understand where they are coming from.

    Imagine, for a moment, that you believe that life starts at conception. Sure, you have potential life before that (what with masturbation and ovulation), but they haven’t combined into that unique individual yet, but once you have that zygote, you have a person. Once you have that zygote, it’s not YOUR body anymore, it’s your body AND your child’s body connected to each other, with your child highly dependent on you.

    Most, if not all, people can agree that it is morally reprehensible to “abort” a newborn (kill it). Many also think that abortions in the third trimester, when the fetus can survive outside of the womb with assistance is equally morally reprehensible (but then, I know of people who believe that life does not start until the baby begins to breath). Now, the hard line pro-life camp believes that life starts at conception, drawing a hard and distinct line very early. It does, in fact, make sense to think of it that way because that’s when the DNA first forms. That’s when you might be able to think of yourself as a genetic individual.

    Now, in between a zygote and a 9 month old fetus is a very large grey area. No one can agree quite where to place the mark. Do we define individuality based on the ability to survive outside the womb, which moves ever earlier into pregnancy as medical technology advances? Do we define it as a certain level or kind of brain activity? A heart beat? Fingernails? Breathing? How many of you who are pro-choice have a solid definition of where life starts and where we should start protecting that life as an individual with rights and protections in our society. We all agree that before a certain point, there is no individual to protect and after a certain point, there is. Where is that line?

    I personally don’t have a good answer. I am very much pro choice, but I understand that if I believed that abortions were killing individuals, I would feel obligated to do everything in my power to stop abortion completely except for extreme life or death cases (like is done with conjoined twins). The pro choice arguments often completely ignore the perspectives of the pro life camp. To a pro life advocate it is NOT your body, it is an individual who is dependent upon you, like a small child is. That’s why the arguments from both sides fall on deaf ears. No one is really addresses some of the underlying issues.

    Without addressing these issues, we just have a shouting match where both sides refuse to listen to the patently ridiculous arguments of the other side, and where we just surround ourselves with supporters and preach to the choir. That’s not getting anything done. Joking around is quite fun, but I’d like to challenge some people here to try and tackle some deeper issues here. If you understand where pro life sentiment comes from, then suddenly it’s not the mad ravings of senseless lunatics seeking only to oppress you, but the rational beliefs of another human who happens to have a different set of metaphysical beliefs.

    Sorry for the long rant. I hope it isn’t too out of place after all the lighthearted joking about.

  175. @Brookswift

    Even if someone believes life begins at conception, that life has no right to use anyone else’s body without their explicit and continuing consent.

    The best way to stop abortion is to stop unwanted pregnancies and sadly, many of the antichoice camps plant themselves against public sexual education and easy access to birth control.

  176. brookswift, we are not going to settle the question of when “life” begins here. It can’t be answered. We humans all have different opinions, opinions that are colored by personal experience, political stance, and varying beliefs in the status of women. And we also will disagree on whether that’s even the salient question. So this:

    I believed that abortions were killing individuals, I would feel obligated to do everything in my power to stop abortion completely except for extreme life or death cases

    is a bit of a red herring. I would, too! Except, why do anti-abortion activists refuse to believe that many, many people, in good conscience truly believe that abortion isn’t wrong, and learn to accept that you can’t force people to stop doing something they don’t think is wrong?

    And why is it only abortion? Why aren’t they doing everything in their power to stop murder completely? Don’t they believe murder of grown humans is wrong, too? Is it that they think it’s a lost cause to get people to stop murdering other people, or is it that they think that it’s easier to stop women in particular from doing something they (these other people) think is wrong?

  177. brookswift,

    You wrote: “Without addressing these issues, we just have a shouting match where both sides refuse to listen to the patently ridiculous arguments of the other side, and where we just surround ourselves with supporters and preach to the choir. That’s not getting anything done. Joking around is quite fun, but I’d like to challenge some people here to try and tackle some deeper issues here.”

    I am feeling pretty squirmy that your post seems to assume that the joking around is possible only because people haven’t “tackled deeper issues”, or that this is the extent to which any of us working to get “anything done.”

    I absolutely understand where those anti-choice arguments come from. And I reject them wholeheartedly, after sometimes grueling and painful reconciliation of my faith and feminism. And after 25 years as a practicing Roman Catholic, and a whole bunch more of careful consideration and soul-searching, I’m laughing along with people about how (what has now become) the other side’s arguments seem absolutely absurd to me.

    I don’t think people are having this conversation because they don’t *get* the argument.

    That being said, Cranston and I are off for a walk and a latte.

  178. Re: RigPixie – I agree that contraception and sexual education are the best ways to lower the number of abortions. However, those come from slightly different places.

    Re: Lu – I know we will never settle the question of when life begins. However, we have common beliefs that allow to make laws based on morality, like murder or theft.

    Anti-abortion activists refuse to acknowledge anything outside of their own belief system as many pro-choice or anti-life are wont to do. You can force people to stop doing something you think is wrong by making it illegal and implementing stiff consequences for doing it. That’s the whole idea behind the drug war. Even in more mundane examples, like false advertisement: some people think that’s it’s a-okay to sell snake oil, others think that the dishonesty is wrong. We, as a society, decided to outlaw false advertisement in many products because enough people thought it was wrong to outlaw it (and it wasn’t always outlawed. Once upon a time, buyer beware was the maxim of choice).

    Murder of grown humans is wrong too, but in a way, murder of “babies” is worse because babies can’t even defend themselves. They are helpless, especially in the womb, where you can’t just adopt them out. They need the most protection there. You can be pro-death penalty and anti-choice. The death penalty applies to those who have given up their own right to life by forcibly taking the lives of others, but a fetus has done nothing. The pro-lifers are protecting those who need the most protection from their point of view.

  179. Alicia Maud,
    I’m sorry if I came off a bit strong. I live in a pretty far left town where even middle of the road opinions are branded as far right, so this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, as no one acknowledges how the other side thinks of things (all extremism is closed minded). We’re all human, and no one likes to think of themselves as evil. I disagree with the pro-life arguments as well, but I feel that there needs to be more reaching out (from both sides).

    I didn’t mean to say that the joking around was ONLY because of a lack of the tackling of deeper issues, I’d just read through the thread and didn’t find much in the way of a serious discussion on the topic. I could have easily missed a thread or two in the 250 odd comments posted before me.

    I think the point I should have been making is that it’s easier to have a discussion if you approach it from the beliefs of the other side as well as your own. I think it’s important to understand why some people can be pro-life and feel like they are absolutely right on the issue, as we do on the other side.

  180. brookeswift,

    And I admit I’m particularly sensitive to any posts/argument that suggest “well, you just haven”t considered the other side.” It always smacks of condescension to me (even if that couldn’t be farther from the truth) because, well, if it were true of anything in my life (that I hadn’t considered the other side)—and I mean ANYTHING—I would have countless fucktons of extra time on my hands, let me tell you. (I can hardly paint my toenails or buy groceries without agonizing amounts of careful consideration; I read every single comment and post here for almost two years before every posting a single response, for example. And as we speak, I’m relentlessly rethinking my overuse of parenthesis in this post.)

    I get what you’re saying—progress can sometimes be made in the grey areas, and reaching out can be productive. However, I think the spirit of the OP set the tone as a joking one, and that the conversation that followed can’t be seen as an indicator that people don’t take the topic seriously, in general. (:

  181. It doesn’t matter when life begins. You, the state, the church, my husband, and any fetus you care to name can borrow my uterus when I say so.

    I have two pretend dogs: an English cream miniature dachshund named Buffy the Badger Slayer and a Shetland sheepdog named Esme Weatherwax.

  182. We have considered the other side Brookswift, and your comment sounds so much like all the anti-choice people telling me, “Well, you’ve thought out over years your own opinion and belief system, but I’d rather you believe in mine, can’t you see my side?” Do you honestly believe that we don’t get why anti-choice people are anti-choice? Do you really think we’re all sitting around going, “they’re just being contrary”?

    I’d also like to point out, anti-choice people do not see exceptions in “life or death” situations and expect women to die rather than have a late term abortion. Hence the murder of Dr. Tiller.

    Also, being pro-choice isn’t extremist, and I think by saying all extremism is closed minded you’re being close minded yourself. You do not know why someone is extremist or the things in their past that led them there. Try and see their side.

    A big pet peeve of mine is people playing devil’s advocate.

  183. 1) How many of you who are pro-choice have a solid definition of where life starts and where we should start protecting that life as an individual with rights and protections in our society.

    2 different questions. I don’t know when “life” begins, and I never expect to. But I know that as long as a fetus is inside a grown human being’s body, that person’s rights and protections come first. This is 101 shit. No one can legally demand that a woman give up a kidney or part of her liver, even if someone else — even if her own child — will die without a transplant. But anti-choicers think her decisions about her own body should belong to someone else when the dependent maybe-life in question is the result of her having sex.

    2) Speaking of which, have you considered the fact that a lot of people who claim to believe abortion is murder actually hold beliefs far more consistent with a desire to control women’s sexuality? You can’t really have an intellectually honest discussion of abortion without factoring that in! Have you really tried to understand the other side’s position?

    3) And speaking of that, I wholeheartedly second Alicia Maud: I am feeling pretty squirmy that your post seems to assume that the joking around is possible only because people haven’t “tackled deeper issues”, or that this is the extent to which any of us working to get “anything done.”

    Except I’m feeling more than squirmy. I’m feeling fucking annoyed. This is not the thread — nor the blog — for debating abortion. It’s all well and good that you wish both sides would work harder at finding common ground, but I happen to believe there is no common ground, and since my name’s in the URL, I win. I don’t really give a shit if you think a blog with a consistent pro-choice viewpoint and consistently pro-choice comments is an echo chamber. You are free to quit reading if it bothers you that much. But you can seriously fuck right off with, “I’m totes pro-choice and just playing devil’s advocate, but what about the innocent baybeez?”

    A moderator has already made it clear on this thread that we are not interested in hosting that discussion. Can it, or you’re banned.

  184. BrookeSwift–
    No. What this thread is about is the ways in which a discussion framed in terms of the value of fetal life is actually saturated in attitudes about women, motherhood, children and child-bearing that are at best simplistic, and at worst anti-woman.

    If we really talked about fetal life, this debate would be framed by scientific research about brain function or viability. It’s not. It’s framed by the rhetoric of punishment and divine retribution. A person who truly believes that fetal life is equivalent to full-fledged human life does not accept any exceptions for rape and incest (since we don’t punish children for their parents’ sins.) He or she would permit abortion if the mother’s life was in danger only after a court hearing in which both parties (mother and fetus) were represented.

    That’s a consistent moral viewpoint, as far as it goes, although it fails to take into account that, since it is a minority viewpoint, its adherents are under the obligation of convincing the rest of the world that they’re right. (I would suggest to those adherents that an argument other than “God said so” might be in order.)

    But out in the political world, the majority of discussion about abortion focuses on women: whether we are wise or foolish, whether we are good or bad, whether we are guilty or guiltless. It harks back to the ancient story of Eve, who ate the apple and gave it to Adam, thus pushing mankind from Paradise by sexual sin. Eve’s punishment was to redeem herself in the suffering of childbearing. This doctrine is what pushes the idea that women who choose to have sex ought to take the consequences, while women whose choice is taken from them (rape or incest) should not. It equates motherhood with punishment, and, in a culture in which perfect motherhood is framed as self-effacement, is there any surprise in that?

    And since blaming women for sexual temptation and for being ejected from Eden is a fundamental tool of the patriarchy . . . . maybe this is worth discussing.

    So the mocking description of the kind of victim who “deserves” to be able to get an abortion (the 13 year old virgin rape victim) is not really off-topic, nor is it really a joke. We’re talking, not about fetal life or science or faith, but about the anti-feminist and anti-women assumptions that have fed into this debate to the point that I for one feel completely unwilling to have a cordial discussion with an anti-abortion advocate in which I have to spend the first thirty minutes asserting that women actually don’t need to be punished for having sex.

    Like A Sarah, I can be reasoned with, and I will have a nice talk with any anti-abortion person who is willing to agree that 1) children are not to be used by society to punish women for sex, and 2) people who believe they should be are not really people any of us should want in this debate.

  185. I didn’t say being pro choice was extremist. However, I do not believe that most pro-life advocates would rather have the mother die than her have an abortion. There are extremist murderers who kill doctors, yes, but that’s not the mainstream. I still stand by my statement that extremism is closed minded. By going all the way out to the extreme, you close off a lot of other stuff. It’s not necessarily wrong, but that is how it works. I do not know their side or what lead them there, but that doesn’t alter their current position.

    I play devil’s advocate because I studied philosophy and argumentation in school and find it to be very informative to the discussion.

    I also don’t advocate actually taking up the beliefs of the other side. You can’t really change people’s beliefs. You can gain perspective by understanding their beliefs and working from common ground. Obama’s great compromise in the life vs choice debate was to promote sex education and contraceptive measures to insure fewer unwanted/unplanned pregnancy. That’s the only compromise I can think of between the two camps.

  186. I happen to believe there is no common ground

    x2. I feel like the “common ground” discussion has been attempted in numerous places, and it never really goes anywhere.

    brookswift, I do agree that prolife arguments are sometimes characterized in such a way that it sounds like the speaker doesn’t really understand the other side. But my understanding of the other side leads me to be extremely pessimistic about the possibility of ever reaching compromise.

  187. Brookswift said: “Now, the hard line pro-life camp believes that life starts at conception, drawing a hard and distinct line very early. It does, in fact, make sense to think of it that way because that’s when the DNA first forms. That’s when you might be able to think of yourself as a genetic individual.”

    I’ve studied a bit too much developmental bio to actually be able to take this point of view anything like seriously. The DNA doesn’t “form” — it was already there. What, exactly, does happen at the moment of conception? Well, the sperm brings a calcium influx with it, causing a fertilization envelope to form, preventing any more sperm from entering, and triggering subsequent developmental events. You can also get those things to happen, including the first few rounds of cell division, by injecting an unfertilized egg with a bit of calcium. The actual pronuclei don’t merge until shortly before the first cell division. Effectively, by the time you have a “genetic individual,” you’re at the two-cell stage. If that’s actually a person, then identical twins only have half a soul each.

    So, while I have some personal moral problems with abortion (see my first post on the subject, upthread), I don’t respect the “life begins at conception” crowd. They’re ignorant and uninformed. If that were really true, then, to paraphrase an Episcopal bishop whose name I’ve forgotten, heaven is overwhelmingly populated by those who were never born. (Unless, of course, you hold the position that never born = never baptized = unworthy of salvation.)

    I know the perspective of the anti-choicers. I even share some of their opinions about the sanctity of life. I just think they’re flat-out wrong in their ultimate conclusions.

  188. Once you have that zygote, it’s not YOUR body anymore, it’s your body AND your child’s body

    Which is an opinion and not one based on any actual fact. Whereas the fact that actual experiencing women are impacted by pregnancy and suffer without access to abortion is, well, a verifiable fact. So, no, I’m not going to treat the two ideas as if they were equivalent.

    But then, the fact that you can refer to “aborting” a newborn tells me you’re not arguing in good faith anyway. Processes (like pregnancy) are aborted; people and things are not. “Abort” is not a synonym for “kill”. It just isn’t, and trying to make them synonyms to play on people’s uninformed emotional impulses is just … icky.

  189. This ‘when does life begin?’ question is a bit silly. Clearly, yonder blastocyst is alive. What seems equally clear to me is that it lacks certain fundamental aspects of personhood. This is problematic, as I am uncertain what all necessary conditions for personhood are, and if I meet those criteria myself.

    This personhood business is certainly an amusing topic for philosophical discourse, but it’s not significant to the abortion issue. Because what Kate Harding just said flatly trumps it:

    No one can legally demand that a woman give up a kidney or part of her liver, even if someone else — even if her own child — will die without a transplant.

  190. Starling, thanks for framing that out. . .I have always found it nearly impossible to explain why something is funny, or how, exactly a joke is functioning. I’m so impressed (though not surprised, given your comments, in general) that you explained so succinctly what has made all of this humor work…because of course the thread is about so much more than just a joke, and there are important reasons that it has at once hit on some bone-deep issues AND been f’in’ hilarious.

  191. “No one can legally demand that a woman give up a kidney or part of her liver, even if someone else — even if her own child — will die without a transplant. But anti-choicers think her decisions about her own body should belong to someone else when the dependent maybe-life in question is the result of her having sex. ”

    THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It’s not even POSSIBLE to be anti-choice unless one fundamentally believes that women and their sexuality are bad, less-than, evil, (insert othering and devaluing adjectives of your choice here). The only way you make this palatable to women themselves is by covering it over with Madonna/mothering/saintly/self-sacrificing memes.

    It’s bullshit cake covered in saccharine icing. The pillorying it has received here has been made of awesome.

  192. @ Brookswift said:
    I play devil’s advocate because I studied philosophy and argumentation in school and find it to be very informative to the discussion.

    Just – playing devil’s advocate is alwaysway more fun for the person who’s doing it than it is for the people who have to listen. The Devil’s advocate is never so much a font of information as zie is a font of intense annoyance for everyone within earshot.

    If I could give one piece of advice to the young ‘uns, and have a special magic spell to actually make it stick, my advice would be to never, never, never take up playing Devil’s advocate – because it never makes you look clever – it makes you look like someone who attempts to flaunt their intellect by making other people feel stupid.

  193. I had a patient once, many years ago, with some serious psychiatric problems. She was admitted to the hospital and while I was tapering her off of addictive medications I discovered she was pregnant. The pregnancy had occurred while she was intoxicated and she did not know who the father was; she had no means to support a child and could not even care for herself. She told me she intended to have an abortion and sought some emotional support for this. I gave my support.

    Because of her psychiatric problems I consulted a psychiatrist for help. She had complicated problems and needed and expert and I was not qualified. The psychiatrist went far beyond what I asked him to do. He opined that she should not have an abortion. He felt the abortion would cause her life long emotional harm and felt there was scientific evidence supporting this opinion (the opposite is true). Needless to say he had an agenda, one based on religion I think. I was infuriated, but did not confront him. In the end things worked out for my patient. Also, in the end the physician lost his contract (for other reasons, but I had my say).

  194. I play devil’s advocate because I studied philosophy and argumentation in school and find it to be very informative to the discussion.

    Ah. So the real lives of women are just a game to you. I suggest you stick to WoW. Nothing you’ve said has been informative.

  195. The Devil’s advocate is never so much a font of information as zie is a font of intense annoyance for everyone within earshot.

    This. This x 1000.

    I had a friend do this to me recently after I’d made a comment on a mutual friend’s lj about how the ‘when does life begin’ argument is a smokescreen for the denial of bodily autonomy to women. When I finally confronted her on why she was being an ass (after it finally occured to me that yes, even when it’s a friend doing the Devil’s advocate asswag, it’s still as infuriating), she said she was bored and if she’d just stayed in her own viewpoint she wouldn’t have had anything to discuss!

    Yeeeeah.

    I’ve actually been at a loss for words about it for some time now. Not anymore! Thank you, Kimberly O.

  196. Hey, gang, sorry, I was busy baking the best pumpkin pie ever and missed this. Brookswift, um, yeah, good eventual call on the disengaging.

  197. Agreed!

    Hey, Starling? You’ve really been knocking it out of the park here. I’ve copied and pasted a couple of your comments into a Word document because I want the pacifist pro-lifers I know to see them (and I’ll give you credit, of course. Or, well, I’ll give “Starling” credit, and they can think what they will.)

    And this thread in general has had some of the best, clearest, most nuanced and most thoughtful discussion of abortion I’ve ever read outside of a Katha Pollitt column.

  198. It’s bullshit cake covered in saccharine icing.

    Ha!

    I’m just sad that no one thinks of the five pounds of E. coli we all carry around with us. Do we stop and think what happens to that colony before we take antibiotics for our strep throat or walking pneumonia? No.

    I’m not even going to touch the government-sanctioned brushing of teeth – essentially bathing the innocent microbes in hydroxide and fluoride, and then literally and figuratively rubbing them out.

    My pretend dead bacteria, killed by clindamycin, would have grown up to exchange several crucial segments of DNA with antibiotic-resistant strains, and become super bacteria, killing countless pretend children along the way and altering the pretend future of the world.

    Please, won’t anyone think of the pretend bacteria?

  199. A Sarah–Thanks!

    Back when I was a sweet young high school student with a host of rigid conservative political opinions, I sat down with my best friend and her mother and asked about their support for abortion rights. I didn’t really understand how people could argue with the idea that killing babies or almost-babies was wrong. But I was a nice kid, and I really wanted to know how these good people whom I respected could hold such a contrary opinion. What followed was a fascinating summary of the ways in which controlling the reproductive rights of women was used to control women politically and personally.

    (I think this sort of thing is what BrookSwift was advocating, although I think the internet is a bad format in which to do it, and I also believe it’s best to skip the devil’s advocate thing and go to someone who sincerely holds the view counter to one’s own.)

    That conversation didn’t change my opinion all at once; it was years before I felt comfortable breaking with the very specific religious doctrine that condemned abortion as the murder of the unborn. But putting the arguments against abortion rights in historical context, and seeing how they are nothing but the sanitized remnants of institutional misogyny–well. It was eye-opening. Did you know, for example, that many doctors didn’t give women painkillers during labor well into the 20th century because Genesis says women are supposed to suffer in childbearing to expiate Eve’s sin?

    Oddly, I still think that choosing abortion would be a wrong decision in many, many cases. There are even entire classes of abortions I consider Wicked, with a capital letter–for example, sex selective abortions based on the idea that female children are less valuable than male children. Abortions aren’t necessarily morally neutral.

    But I don’t think we can have any kind of productive discussion about abortion rights without acknowledging that the traditional arguments against them are polluted by anti-women motivations. We also have to acknowledge that we are limiting the poor, while recognizing that the technology will continue to be available to those women with the means to pay for it. And we have to acknowledge that the religious opinions of a few are not a valid reason to curtail the rights, invade the privacy, and permanently change the lives of many, many women.

    –Starling, who cannot shut up

  200. Er, that thing about painkillers? Is why I am damned well having an epidural, whether I need it or not, if ever I have a baby. No offense to anyone who has chosen the no-painkillers version of childbirth, but I’m doing it as a kind of cosmic shout-out to all those women whose doctors thought they damned well deserved to suffer, since they were sinful women and all.

  201. Thank you all for taking the Devil’s Advocate to task.

    Also, I made the best sour cream apple pie tonight. At least I think it is, based on the fact that I, too, comment on Shapely Prose with other Bakers of Excellent Pies. It stands to reason.

  202. Er, that thing about painkillers? Is why I am damned well having an epidural, whether I need it or not, if ever I have a baby. No offense to anyone who has chosen the no-painkillers version of childbirth, but I’m doing it as a kind of cosmic shout-out to all those women whose doctors thought they damned well deserved to suffer, since they were sinful women and all.

    Avoiding suffering was precisely why I refused to consider an epidural under any circumstance. It would have caused me more mental and emotional trauma to have to deal with a Real Live Phobia during labor than any pesky discomfort the contractions might have caused me.

    Seriously. I could handle the IV (once they showed me it was all plastic), and the pitocin I didn’t want even though it was relatively necessary, but there is No Way In Hell any doc would have wanted to deal with me if they were trying to put a massive needle in my SPINE.

    But! Isn’t this a perfect illustration of The Varying Needs Of Women in the Same Situation? I thought so.

  203. When I transferred my intended homebirth to the hospital, they gave me narcotics. Lovely, lovely narcotics, they let me sleep between contractions. Didn’t need an epidural, but damn did I need the narcotics.

    (When you guys have your pretend labors to have your pretend babies, don’t pretend it’s back labor.)

  204. My pretend kids are grown already (so what if I’m only 27? It’s pretend!) and are going to pretend cook Thanksgiving dinner for me so I don’t have to do any pretend work.

    Pretend Buffy and Esme can have the pretend turkey giblets and some pretend gravy with their pretend kibble. It’s their pretend Thanksgiving too!

  205. IrishUp, you wrote:

    It’s not even POSSIBLE to be anti-choice unless one fundamentally believes that women and their sexuality are bad, less-than, evil, (insert othering and devaluing adjectives of your choice here).

    Then Starling wrote:

    Back when I was a sweet young high school student with a host of rigid conservative political opinions, I sat down with my best friend and her mother and asked about their support for abortion rights. I didn’t really understand how people could argue with the idea that killing babies or almost-babies was wrong. But I was a nice kid, and I really wanted to know how these good people whom I respected could hold such a contrary opinion.

    Starling, do you think as a high-school student you fundamentally believed that women and their sexuality were bad, etc., or was it more that your brain stopped at the “killing babies or almost-babies” until you talked at length to the pro-choice people you respected? I believe I have known several anti-choice people who were not anti-woman (just anti-thinking-as-hard-as-they-should-have), but they could have just had deeply ingrained, subconscious anti-woman beliefs (or just been lying). As a person who was once anti-choice (and presumably went to church with a lot of anti-choice people), do you think that anti-choice people always hold toxic beliefs about women and their sexuality?

  206. The Other Rachel:
    I certainly had toxic beliefs about sexuality and women’s roles while growing up. (And one good conversation did not make that go away; it took years of moral wrestling to get there.) I don’t know if disapproval of women is a required characteristic in anti-abortion-rights people, since I do think there is a small but morally not-outrageous group who believe fetus = equal human. It’s where that belief begins to interfere with the lawful choices of others that I think it gets out of hand–while it’s limited to peaceful but vigorous disagreement with the current law, it doesn’t bother me.

    I think that it is possible to be anti-abortion-rights and simply believe in strict rules of sexuality and a very orderly Divine Will without being particularly anti-women in the abstract. But, in the specific, it’s the women who are made to suffer, and the women only. Until I hear someone propose that the government offer a market-rate surrogacy contract to any pregnant woman who wishes to terminate the pregnancy, and then (after paying for her time and reimbursing her for medical bills) put the resulting child up for adoption, the anti-abortion-rights argument presupposes that we’re all okay with women being left with the enormous emotional and financial burden of an unwanted child in order to satisfy the moral scruples of an unrelated party. This is, practically speaking, very anti-woman, unless you believe that women are so benefited and improved by motherhood that the continuation of the pregnancy is in the ultimate interest of the mother (“For your own good, lady! Child-rearing builds character!”) Of course, you might say you believe that men, too, are benefited by child-rearing but don’t have the same opportunity.

    And this doesn’t even begin to address the genuine physical risks and difficulties associated with pregnancy.

    I think many people oppose abortion rights without engaging anything but the Pretend Einstein-Baby or Pretend Abortion-Happy Slut strawmen that are so common in this sort of political discourse. The underlying misogyny isn’t visible unless you look, and a lot of people don’t think to look. It’s like air–it’s present, it has weight, we breathe it in constantly, but people don’t actively notice it. As a teenager, I though, “Well, it’s a baby. And even if we don’t know exactly when it becomes a baby, better safe than sorry, right?” And I thought this without ever going any further along that road than a vague idea that unmarried teenagers who found themselves pregnant could doubtless locate some loving couple who would be delighted to provide a home for the babe. Babies are good! Babies come from God! We should want babies! Too much warm-fuzzy, not enough actual discussion of actual choices and actual lack of choices and actual effects on actual women.

    In my defense, I was very young and still prone to see things in black and white. My little world featured stable and dependable parents who would cheerfully have adopted the child had I become pregnant as a teenager. I would have been able to go to college. I had health insurance, and no concerns about my health. And it never really occurred to me that most women who are pregnant and don’t want to be aren’t doing it with all these nifty benefits.

  207. Starling

    I lurves you all! I am pretend mother to two pretend dogs, Alistair and Sparky. They are both noble-looking Weimeraners in that gorgeous velvety gray. They gambol and chase sticks, when not rescuing pretend children from drowning or pretend bad guys. They sleep in neat curls on fluffy dog pillows at the foot of my bed. They never smell funny.

    My pretend cats, unlike my real cats, would never dream of sneaking out of the door, eating apparently half the front yard, and then regurgitating it upon the newly refinished living room floor. They would not play Knock Shit Off of High Places to See If It Breaks, and would not toss kitty litter on everything in a six foot radius of the litter box. They would nuzzle up to people sweetly, purr, and play adorably with kitty toys, as opposed to biting, fighting with each other, and lovingly placing dead things in my bed.

    All the same, I like the real ones much better. Being bitten a few times makes the cuddly moments even sweeter.

  208. I am so never having another epidural. I am *never* handing control of my body over that way when I’m in labour again. Did it once, never ever again. There are tons of other drugs – because I am sure as shit never, ever, ever, EVER going to be in serious pain again while living with access to Western medicine, one lot of birth injuries is enough for a lifetime – and I am going to take them all as and when required by me. But I’ll keep the use of my legs, thanks. I might need to kick someone in the face at some point and next time I will be able to.

  209. And as to abortion – I don’t really care when life begins. I start to “feel” like I have a baby just as soon as I’m aware that conception has occurred, long before it’s appropriate to arrange antenatal care (possibly being raised in Ireland, where abortion is still illegal although it’s now legal to leave the country to obtain one, has something to do with this).

    That’s fine, but it doesn’t mean it’s right to force anyone to actually grow a baby and birth it, because it’s not the baby’s body it’s growing in, even if it *is* a baby, which, generally, it’s really not.

    And anyway, even if I wasn’t pro-abortion-on-demand, I’d be anti-coathanger.

  210. I’ve just baked the best imaginary pumpkin pie ever. I left it to cool down for literally a minute and as soon as my back was turned, Professor Otto Von Bruno, my imaginary dog had climbed up, tilted his head sideways and swallowed a good half of it. Utter sod.
    I wouldnt mind, but he is a whippet, so he won’t put on an ounce.

  211. And anyway, even if I wasn’t pro-abortion-on-demand, I’d be anti-coathanger.

    I see a t-shirt (or a bumper sticker) in the making!
    “I’m not pro-abortion. I’m anti-coathanger.”

    That was all kinds of awesome. Actually I saw a button once (was it here?) that basically said that exact same thing: it was a picture of a coathanger with a red circle around it and a red line through it.

  212. My real dog Jasper fell asleep on my legs in such a way that I woke up with painful tingly feelings in them. And now he’s whining that he wants to go on a walk, that demanding little canine. I’m sitting here with my caffeine and murmbling that I will get around to leaving the house dammit when I can feel my toes again.

    Okay, now he’s giving me imploring doggie eyes, and I can’t resist that.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  213. @Starling–Hee! No, I don’t have any real dogs, because real dogs cost real money to feed and care for. I have more pretend money than I know what to do with, but.

  214. I just wanted to jump in and say that today as part of Thanksgiving here in the US, I am deeply deeply thankful for this thread. You all ahve made me laugh, cry, think… you all rock.

    Starling, your description of your teenage self and your privilege is perfect. Other Rachel, this line
    I believe I have known several anti-choice people who were not anti-woman (just anti-thinking-as-hard-as-they-should-have)
    is one of the finest descriptions ever (and applies to so many things beyond the subject at hand). It has made me want to re-evaluate every deeply held belief I have in search of areas where I haven’t thought about as hard as I could have.

    Thank you all.

  215. I think some anti-choicers aren’t so much anti-woman as anti-Pretend Woman. They’ve internalized a lot of fear and hatred of female sexuality, but they don’t apply that to their friend Carol or Auntie Mildred. Instead, they focus on “those women” – you know, the whores who get themselves pregnant just to piss off Jesus and have abortions for fun. They claim abortion is murder, but they don’t actually want to jail women who have them, and they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that most women who have abortions also have wanted children.

  216. Not sure if I am still banned, but I thought this was helpful and thought-provoking

    “I believe I have known several anti-choice people who were not anti-woman (just anti-thinking-as-hard-as-they-should-have)
    is one of the finest descriptions ever (and applies to so many things beyond the subject at hand). It has made me want to re-evaluate every deeply held belief I have in search of areas where I haven’t thought about as hard as I could have.”

    It applies to FA as well as to the debate that is not being had here :-) I need to think hard about a lot of things.

    Hx

  217. Henrietta–
    You have my sympathy. I grew up in an enormous family, and I can’t imagine doing without a single one of my brothers or sisters. There’s a huge “ick” factor with abortion, in the abstract, and when you think about it in terms of your own choices. You are delighted to have the children you have, and you feel strongly that aborting any of the pregnancies that led to them would have been a wrong and wicked act. That’s really common ground for everyone–that women should be permitted to continue the pregnancies they want to carry to term, that we love and value the people who result from those pregnancies, that we are grateful they are here.

    Abortion, though, is never in the abstract, and the devil is in the details. I think that there are unquestionably abortions happening that I consider morally wrong–but I don’t see how we can possibly assign anyone except the pregnant woman to make the moral choice, since Society and Culture have a record of using that power (when they had it) as a weapon to attack the weak rather than a shield to protect the vulnerable.

    I have always appreciated the description Winston Churchill gave of democracy–as the worst form of government, except for all those other forms. Similarly, leaving abortion in the hands of the pregnant woman may result in wrong decisions, but the alternative is not to have the Divine Hand of God making the call. It’s to privilege the rich, oppress the poor, and to coerce and compel women to a subservient social role. So there is still wrongness that happens, but much less wrongness than has happened in the past.

    I’m glad you’re still here.

  218. Also, may I say, in general, that there is nothing like a little vigorous debate on major social issues between peeling the potatoes and doing the salad prep?

  219. I play devil’s advocate because I studied philosophy and argumentation in school and find it to be very informative to the discussion.

    Suprise! ::throws confetti:: You’re the next contestant on Derailing for Dummies. While I am grateful you decided to heed advice and disengage, here’s why we don’t play this game around these parts.

  220. KellyK: your story and the insight you have from it made me weepy-good, not weepy-bad.

    Starling, thank you so much for laying out so clearly.

    KimberlyO et al: Devil’s Advocacy gets on my tits like a cold cheesegrater. It seems to me me folks rarely become the Devil’s Advocate on an issue they are invested in understanding or when they really have a position to support. And they engage with people who have a Real rather than Pretend concern and… owie.

    Somehow, I feel like Devil’s Advocacy as a Virtue is one of those things that doesn’t so much privilege well-reasoned arguments supported by evidence. Instead I think it totally denigrates the idea that you can be emotionally involved in something AND have well-reasoned arguments supported by evidence. That pisses me off, of course, since emotional lady-brainz can’t argue is a song sheet we’ve all been sung to from before.

    Guess what, O General Council of Satan… I am fucking smart. And I am passionate about things. And I think about stuff. And if I have gotten engaged in a discussion, it’s because I *care* about the topic and I want to talk through it with other people who care. And I do not need, especially if you’re operating on 101 level when I’m in electives, you to help me educated myself on whatever the matter is. Jeez. Get involved because you care, either about the issue, or the people discussing it.

    I know people learn in different ways, and devil’s advocacy can be a useful learning tool for students. But I hate the idea of it so much that I don’t even teach with the “argue the opposite side” position. Usually, I will frame it as “oh I see… you’re saying X! Okay. Well, if you want X to work, how will you respond to the people who say Y? Because to address their challenge you will need to thing about Z.”

    I’m the reflexive consideration of your position and issues advocate. No henchpersons of Beelzebub allowed in my classroom, please.

  221. Wait, wait, wait. They play Don Johnson CD’s on a loop in Hell? I’m going to be giving some serious though to charitable causes and compassionate thoughts from now on. I’d heard rumour it was more of a Neil Sedaka thing in there, but this is a whole new level. Is there no end to Beelzebub’s lurid wrath?

  222. Snarkysmachine…I’m there right now. I have an apple in my mouth and I’m being turned over and over, closer to the flames of torment. Satan’s minions have their jacket sleeves rolled up and are wearing white shoes and no socks. It’s awfully like the eighties down here.

  223. This has been an amazing thread. I’ve always been pro-choice but have never been very good at articulating why when discussing abortion with pro-life acquaintances. I’m so very grateful to the smart cookies who have posted on this thread.

  224. That pretend girl can be the daughter you might have taken to the daddy-daughter dance, where she would have worn a clean white frilly frock and looked up at you adoringly, pleading, “Twirl me again, Daddy. Please?”

    Now there’s a horrifying image. Allah forbid I should have any daughters.

  225. I’m sure I’m going to kill the thread dead here, being as it’s been tottering in a frail way for a while already, but! I wanted to say that the interesting thing about epidurals during labor is that it ties in with abortion as a reproductive choice that can be used either to give women freedom or to oppress them. While one class of women less than 100 years ago were miserable for lack of abortion to control their fertility, other classes of women were undergoing nonconsensual abortions; and while women less than 100 years ago would have given their eyeteeth for effective pain relief in labor, modern medicalized labor has turned epidurals into something that is often used to effectively deny a woman agency and choice.

    Since they require a woman to lie still, they can inhibit labor and the effective descent of the baby, and often “Let’s get you an epidural” is followed a while later with “Welp, this baby’s not coming out! Time for a Cesarean!” Since labor and delivery staff have such a convenient option as an epidural in their arsenal, they often don’t know anything at all about nonpharmaceutical forms of pain relief and comfort for the laboring woman.

    I simplify, of course, but I think the underlying oppressive (and misogynist) issues are the same for both pain in childbirth without relief and excessive intervention during labor: women are not taught about how our bodies work (learning exactly how our bodies work is not even considered important enough for OBs to learn, rather, they usually focus on how our bodies can be made to comply with their agenda). We are not trusted to take the measures we need to make our labors as comfortable and safe for us as possible. And we are not offered emotional support and respect for our choices. A lot more of all those things, and there would be a lot less of the problems caused both by lack of intervention and over-intervention (just as listening to what actual live women need would clear up public policy on abortion rightdamnquick).

  226. Dang, stopped by to check up on what everyone’s pretend progeny were doing and found several fantasticulous take-downs on the Devil’s Advocate–a position I have always deeply loathed (especially from “friends” of my boyfriend). Thanks for articulating exactly why the DA is so odious–raising a glass to Kimberly O. and AnthroK8 especially.

    Thinking about what I do in the classroom, I often re-articulate things students say, and then ask them to account for other points of view, especially critics or perspectives we have studied. Or I point out a gap in their logic, and ask what accounts for that. But I’m hoping this is “figure your shit out so you can really support your point” rather than the dreaded DA. Sometimes, of course, it can also be “You’re being an irrational racist/sexist asshat, and I want you to shut up before you embarrass yourself in front of everyone else here and I need to apply the verbal smackdown.”

  227. Lapidary: As a fellow educator, I think what you’re doing doesn’t fall into the DA bin, but into the “be able to defend what you’ve said and think critically about it” bin. That latter being an increasingly rare skill (at least in the US — thanks, No Child Left Behind!), I think your methods are good. As you phrase it, you’re not actually arguing the other position, just pointing out that they need to take Y and Z into account when considering X.

  228. Marste
    I see a t-shirt (or a bumper sticker) in the making!
    “I’m not pro-abortion. I’m anti-coathanger.”

    That’s why I became pro-choice. Baby v. fetus, life v. choice, all too complicated for me. The facts of the matter are that you can’t prevent abortion by criminalizing it, only make it more dangerous. So if there’s no position I could advocate that would save the baby/fetus’ life/potential, I could at least cease advocating a position that would make the process more brutal and sometimes deadly for women.

  229. I really appreciate the comments on epidurals, etc, in childbirth. I think that it’s fascinating to see how quickly options that were created to free women are co-opted into a new and fantastic way to control us, instead. When breastfeeding meant that women couldn’t work, we were given formula. Which was turned into The Only Good Way to Nourish Your Baby Because Your Body Is Dirty and Imprecise (and your breasts won’t be as cute to the male gaze!) When problems with formula became well-known, breastfeeding became the only way to be a Good Mother. So choices instead become bludgeons with which to compel women to conform to cultural dictates set by the patriarchy.

    I’ve been really horrified by the tone and judgment implication of “natural childbirth” as I’ve heard it described by a few acquaintances. (No, it’s still your baby and you still love her or him if you get an epidural. I am willing to go out on a limb and assert that even absent first-hand experience.) Yet many of the interventions are also used as control measures. Amazing how a realm so distinctly feminine can be screwed around with by the patriarchy, isn’t it?

    New rule: Every time a woman says something derogatory about another woman’s childbearing or breastfeeding choices, a kitten dies.

  230. New rule: Every time a woman says something derogatory about another woman’s childbearing or breastfeeding choices, a kitten dies.

    I’m all for it, as long as we can still fling great big derogatory gobs of derision at the institutionalized practices that restrict said choices.

  231. Oh yeah, and isn’t it interesting that we don’t yet have effective pain relief for women in labor that is low risk and doesn’t mess with the ability to move around and push? Hmmmmm. Whacked-out priorities, thy name is patriarchy.

  232. @kristinc

    While I do not disagree with your larger point about co-opting what should be positive advances into systemic oppression, I am bothered by your parenthetical comment:

    learning exactly how our bodies work is not even considered important enough for OBs to learn, rather, they usually focus on how our bodies can be made to comply with their agenda

    I’m going to need a cite for that. I refuse to believe that all medical schools have stopped teaching female reproductive anatomy and biology, and obstetrical rotations have devolved into “how to fit in two c-sections before your tee time.”

    I’ve argued with medical professionals who believe that “doc good, midwife bad.” Reversing those is equally short-sighted.

  233. #
    facultades

    (maybe to make it fair, only men that is drunk, dress inapropriate, walk home alone, walk home with women they trust, flirt, smile, leads a woman on, act inapropriate, MRAs, and others are requierd to father children?)

    I don’t do any of those things, but maybe if you buy me dinner?

  234. kristenc:
    I am a huge fan of great big derogatory gobs of derision, so yes. Also, I think I should mention that these are Pretend Kittens.

  235. I’m going to need a cite for that. I refuse to believe that all medical schools have stopped teaching female reproductive anatomy and biology, and obstetrical rotations have devolved into “how to fit in two c-sections before your tee time.”

    Co-sign. I am all about some midwifery, but I am not interested in any practitioner who subscribes to the that “bad doctors, good midwife” trope. I believe there are valid critiques coming from both sides, but this is not one of them.

    If any rotation gets screwed it’s Psych, not Obstetrics, which is a specialty with mad frothing malpractice premiums. I think Psych is the first rotation and ObGYN is like one of the last. I should ask my pops before talking like I know something.

  236. Of course it’s simplistic to believe that obstetrics rotations consist of “how to do C-sections,” and that isn’t true; but astoundingly high numbers of doctors (and really, given that they’re DOCTORS, *one* would be an “astoundingly high number”) really have no idea what normal birth entails.

    They believe babies won’t come out if you’re on your hands and knees, they believe babies won’t come out unless you have an episiotomy, they believe once 6 or 12 or 24 hours has gone by there’s no way a baby’s coming out vaginally, they believe women don’t usually go into labor without being induced or never go into labor without being induced once they pass a magical number of weeks, they believe shoulder dystocia is impossible to resolve without Cesarean or cord-around-the-neck is a serious complication. They believe they can tell whether a baby will “fit” through the pelvis by doing a prenatal pelvic exam or a third-trimester ultrasound. They believe eating during labor is a bad idea. They believe waterbirth is dangerous.

    Not every doctor believes all these things, of course, but all of them have wide traction in the OB world, with doctors considered to be reputable and fit for practice, and that is a HUGE problem.

    In Natural Birth The Bradley Way, Susan McCutcheon tells this story which really sums up the problem perfectly: an older, experienced OB arrived at a birth, just in time to see the baby’s head emerge and then the baby turn to birth the shoulders. He was astonished and cried “look at that baby spin!” He had never seen a baby be born without manually turning it himself, because he had never given a baby the chance: he was taught that being turned by the doctor was something every baby needed at every birth.

    More damningly, medicalized obstetrics is built on the idea that being in a hospital, monitored by medical personnel as if we’re ill or an emergency waiting to happen, is a condition under which birth can progress normally. This shows a fundamental lack of understanding of mammal birth physiology and what Ina May Gaskin calls “sphincter law”: the idea that sticking your hand up a woman’s vagina every couple hours while she’s in labor, or worse, restricting her to a bed, won’t interfere with her body’s processes is just ridiculous.

    If obstetrics were built on an understanding of how the female body worked, it would sound a hell of a lot more like trained midwifery.

  237. And are there really great OBs who understand how the female body works during labor and birth? Hell yes. But they’re the exception, not the rule, and it seems to me like generally they gain their knowledge by “outside study” and not in med school and in fact have to contradict or challenge a lot of what they learned in school to gain their understanding.

  238. Right, because an anecdote about an “older” doctor in a book first published in 1985 totally encapsulates the state of obstetrics today. Sorry, I’m still not buying it.

    I was raised by an OBGYN. I know a lot of them socially. The doc I see as a patient was my dad’s best student. I didn’t go to med school myself, but I took reproductive biology courses just because they were interesting. I’ve never heard *half* of these myths you claim have “wide traction in the OB world.” A bunch of the others I’ve heard in the context of medical-establishment-beliefs-circa-1970-and-weren’t-they ridiculous.

  239. Oh, forgot to mention:

    I’ve also had three kids in the past four years. So I’ve been up-close-and-personal with modern obstetric medicine.

    Like I said, I don’t disagree at all that there are still huge problems with the way women are treated by the medical establishment. However, I disagree that the fact that most births take place in a hospital setting is one of them.

  240. @nightgigjo

    Avoiding suffering was precisely why I refused to consider an epidural under any circumstance. It would have caused me more mental and emotional trauma to have to deal with a Real Live Phobia during labor than any pesky discomfort the contractions might have caused me.

    THANKYOU for this. Seriously. Although I haven’t had any real kids yet, this is me. The idea of an epidural seriously terrifies me – way more than the thought of labour does! Of course everyone tells me that I will change my mind once I’m in labour, but needles in the spine? Not for me thanks! I can’t even have small ones in the arm without a topical anaesthetic, and I’ve only managed that much within the last year, after some intensive hypnotherapy.

    You’ve helped me see that I do not have to even consider the possibility of an epidural if I don’t want to. And that makes the idea of birthing a whole lot less scary. I will be telling everyone that no-one is to so much as mention the word epidural near me while I’m giving birth! Hooray for choice!

  241. I’ve never heard *half* of these myths you claim have “wide traction in the OB world.” A bunch of the others I’ve heard in the context of medical-establishment-beliefs-circa-1970-and-weren’t-they ridiculous.

    Well, I believe you haven’t heard them, but that just means you’ve been lucky. They’re alive and well today. You can see some of them in action at the blog My OB Said What?!

    The bottom line for me is that there are standard practices in obstetrics that aren’t evidence-based, which means they’re not coming from a place where doctors care to actually observe our bodies and learn (and teach) how they work.

  242. I think what she’s aiming for, and I’d agree with, is for you to stop saying “standard,” because they aren’t. Every med school is different every person is different, every patient is different. There is no standard, and a website about ridiculous things OBs say doesn’t prove that there is. It’s always easy to notice a pattern in shitty things people do, because that stands out more in your memory, it however does not make it “standard.”

    There are a lot of shitty doctors, this is not simply an OB trait, and that really doesn’t mean that OBs are trained in medical school to not understand real birth and to simply manipulate female bodies for their convience. In fact, that’s probably something that develops over time with doctors who are taking on too many patients and stop caring.

    It just sounds a lot like you’re saying, “I’m smarter and know more about pregnancy and birth than all OBgyns who went to medical school and have dedicated themselves to delivering babies. No OB could possibly understand pregnancy, even those who have experienced labour which is a lot since it’s a becoming a female dominated field of medicine. It’s just standard.”

    I just think it’s a mistake to talk about “Standard,” because as we know because men have been telling us what’s standard female behavoir for years, there’s rarely if ever an actual standard of practice for anything when it comes to the behavoir and understanding of individuals.

  243. Yeah, Alibelle nailed it. Kristinc, you’ve made your point. And I don’t really have a problem with the basic point about the medicalization of childbirth, but I do have a problem with the overblown generalizations. Please let it go now.

  244. Kate, I feel like it’s really unfair of you to characterize the point I’ve been struggling to articulate as “overblown generalizations” and then not give me a chance to respond without going against your wishes. I’m not a troll here, I’ve been a commenter in good faith for a long time.

    How would you feel if someone denied your points about the treatment of fat people in much of the medical community by saying “There are a lot of shitty doctors, this is not simply an MD trait, and that really doesn’t mean that MDs are trained in medical school to not understand fatness and weight gain and to simply ignore fat bodies for their convenience”?

    A major point of FA seems to revolve around exactly this idea: there’s a body of practice that accepts and perpetuates non-evidence-based medicine in favor of prejudice and “what everybody knows”. I don’t think pointing out that this phenomenon applies to birth is any more an overblown generalization than pointing out that it applies to fat people. I accept that this is not the place for a debate about birth if you say it isn’t, but it really stings being chastized for making basically the same kind of generalized argument people routinely make here.

  245. Kristinc, I didn’t suggest that you were trolling. And I stand by what I said. Here’s the kind of thing I’m characterizing as “overblown generalizations.”

    Astoundingly high numbers of doctors (and really, given that they’re DOCTORS, *one* would be an “astoundingly high number”) really have no idea what normal birth entails.

    And are there really great OBs who understand how the female body works during labor and birth? Hell yes. But they’re the exception, not the rule, and it seems to me like generally they gain their knowledge by “outside study” and not in med school and in fact have to contradict or challenge a lot of what they learned in school to gain their understanding.

    Astoundingly high numbers. OBs who understand the female body are the exception, not the rule. You’re making some really bold statements without backing them up. Yes, we sometimes do that with regard to fat here, but that’s because it’s primarily been a blog about fat, and there are links to sources for what we’re talking about all over the damned blog.

    Here’s the thing: I agree with you. I’ve actually read quite a bit on the subject, and am extremely pro-midwifery and pissed off by what I’ve learned about the way women are often treated during labor and delivery in hospitals. But several people upthread, including me, have said, “Hey, I basically agree with you, but you’re generalizing way too much for comfort here” — and you act like we’re curtailing your freedom of speech.

    It’s one thing to say that people in the medical community are frequently fatphobic, that finding a doctor who’s familiar with HAES is a challenge, and that both scientific research and reams of anecdotal experience point to a widespread problem with doctors treating fat patients disrespectfully. It’s another thing to basically be all, “It is impossible for fat people to find respectful doctors who will treat them like human beings! Doctors are ignorant jerks, period!” And what we’re saying is, that’s how you’re coming across, only on a different topic. No, it’s not exactly what you’re saying, and it may not be what you mean at all, but it’s how you’re coming across.

    I asked you to let it go because I honestly believe you’ve made your point extremely clear — and since you didn’t respond well to other people saying, “Hey, you might want to consider how you’re coming across here,” I figured there was no point in trying that tactic again. If you just want to fight for your right to insist that the sky is falling, I’m not interested. If you want to attempt to keep talking on an almost-dead thread, maybe you should listen to the people who are bothering to respond to you, and are all somehow reading you differently than you apparently mean to be read.

  246. Here’s the thing: I agree with you. I’ve actually read quite a bit on the subject, and am extremely pro-midwifery and pissed off by what I’ve learned about the way women are often treated during labor and delivery in hospitals. But several people upthread, including me, have said, “Hey, I basically agree with you, but you’re generalizing way too much for comfort here” — and you act like we’re curtailing your freedom of speech.

    I totally co-sign this. Definitely time to move on.

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