Monday, June 27, 2011

In Which Scatx and I Talk About Some Stuff

[Trigger warning for misogyny and violence. Emails in which we discuss media reactions to the new book by Mara Hvistendahl, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, have been shared with Scatx's permission.]

Scatx: I'm sure you are all over this like peanut butter on toast, but just in case: Ross Douthat's newest column, "160 Million and Counting." Why, New York Times, do you pay this man? WHY? Best part: The bottom where it says, "Paul Krugman is off today." I think we can ALL see that.

Liss: Have you seen this one? Jonathan Last in the Wall Street Journal: "The War Against Girls." Very interesting (by which I mean NOT INTERESTING AT ALL) that there are dudes using this book (which is purportedly NOT anti-choice) to make anti-choice arguments. Anyway, I hope men keep talking about this, so they can tell us ladies what to do!

Scatx: Wow—I can't even bring myself to read all of that. Skimming made me want to barf on my shoes. I feel for the author of the book—the WSJ guy makes it clear that she knows that her writing about this will be used by the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Also: The colonialism of this whole thing is so problematic. The blatant disregard for systemic misogyny (which is, you know, a product of systemic misogyny). Seeing abortion as the problem instead of a symptom of larger inequalities and prejudices. I just don't even know how to think through all the elements at play. Of course, there was that new Gallup poll showing that, here in the US, we still love having baby boys more than we love having baby girls, just like in 1941 (when abortion was illegal). I'm sure that won't get the same level of press from anti-choice advocates that they love to give to India and China. GAH!

Liss: There's an article by Ujala Sehgal at The Atlantic that makes the point about cultural double-standards pretty well. And then there's the issue of infanticide, which is being conveniently left out of some of the posts who want to attribute "unnatural selection" exclusively to the West "exporting abortion technology." P.S. Here's another dude talking about it! Wheeeeeeeeeee!

Scatx: I was wondering about infanticide (I have written on it as a historian of the colonial period and remember studying it back when I was going to be a classicist). I just went to a huge women's history conference and was on a panel about it. It was interesting because there is (and always has been) so much infanticide in societies where contraception is limited or unavailable and slut-shaming and/or "bastard"-shaming is rampant. It is obvious to me that even if we were suddenly to all agree that abortion is morally wrong, it will NEVER stop. Nothing in history ever has shown that making abortion illegal will stop it. Nothing. Ever. Not paying attention to that kind of history, that overwhelming and in-your-face reality that we can see across millennia, boggles my brain to no end. The only way to end the boys-over-girls problem is for people to stop thinking that there is something better about boys. That's it.

Liss: Absolutely. And, of course, for us—the collective us, the global us—to stop actually providing material benefits to being a boy or having a boy. Plus all the other stuff that's wrapped up in the gender binary, and in the heterocentrism that hears "it's a boy" and axiomatically thinks "he'll have a wife," and in the poverty and lack of education and void of female role models and religiosity that feed gender prejudices and and and… I see why it's easy to say "damn feminists and their abortion exporting!" becomes such an easy refrain in lieu of embracing a vast challenge with such a complicated array of interrelated solutions.

Scatx: Plus, this bullshit of "we are against abortion to protect GIRLS" is so infuriating. Grown women literally can't be less of this story. Is there ANY other way for them to write pregnant ADULTS out?

Liss: Probably.

[H/T to Shaker Bonny_Swan for the WSJ piece.]