Sunday, March 05, 2006

Control and Sex

I earlier linked to Digby's post about the South Dakota ban on all abortions except when the woman's life is threatened by the pregnancy. In that post Digby quotes an example of the type of abortion which would not be allowed under this ban:

Meanwhile, outside the twisted imagination of Senator Psycho there, we have reality:

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: One patient she saw was this woman, probably in her early 20s. She would not reveal even her age. With a low-paying job and two children, she said she simply could not afford a third.

"MICHELLE," PATIENT WHO TERMINATED HER PREGNANCY: It was difficult when I found out I was pregnant. I was saddened, because I knew that I'd probably have to make this decision. Like I said, I have two children, so I look into their eyes and I love them. It's been difficult, you know; it's not easy. And I don't think it's, you know, ever easy on a woman, but we need that choice.

Too bad. She shouldn't have had sex. Three kids and no money are just what the bitch deserves. Her two little kids deserve it too for choosing a mother like her.

Digby then received a response from someone who is anti-abortion, and posts some of that answer:

I don't really get it. I am supposed to feel sorry for this woman? Does Digby expect me to sympathize with her? I hope not, because she's a selfish woman who was thinking only of herself.

That's right. You read that correctly. She couldn't afford to have another child so she terminated the pregancy. That is selfish. She wanted to have her fun and get laid, but she didn't want to have to deal with the possible consequences of her actions and guess what people? When a man and a woman have sex and the make [sic] is capable of producing sperm and the woman is capable of producing eggs, there is the possibility of the woman getting pregnant.

Digby makes the wisecrack about her not having sex. I can only take from his comment, that he is like so many other's of the same ilk who believe we're all like jungle animals and have to hump when the mood strikes. Of course, that isn't the case. People don't walk down the street and just bump into each other and start screwing (unless it's a Cinemax movie). We have the mental capacity to be able to take care of such business in private. We also have the ability to abstain. Nothing is going to happen to us if we don't have sex.

And if you're in a position like this woman, a low paying job and two kids already. Guess what? Don't fuck.

As human beings, we have the cognitive ability to think before we act. The choices we make carry consequences. And we have to accept responsibility for those choices. If we choose to smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day, we have to accept it when we get lung cancer. If we drink and then drive, we have to accept it if we kill somebody in a car wreck. If we eat at McDonalds every day, then we have to accept it when we gain weight. It's about choices. Having sex is a choice. It's as simple as that. Saying, "I can't afford it" when a woman learns she is pregnant because of that choice is not accepting the results of that choice.
Personally, I believe abortion is a moral issue, not a legal one. Therefore, contrary to my personal feelings regarding abortion, I don't support South Dakota's law. As pro-life as I am, I find this law to be too draconian. That's not going to stop me from calling out this woman as a selfish person who is concerned more with making herself feel good then dealing with the consequences of the choice she made.

Read Digby's answer to this wingnut blogger. It is a good one.

My take on this wingnut post is that it is an excellent example of one particular right-wing mindset, the type that believes there is a cause-and-effect pattern for all events in this world and that this cause-and-effect can be totally controlled by any individual.

The thinking goes like this: Work hard and you will be rich! Therefore, if you are poor you did not work hard. You deserve to suffer. Have sex and you deserve to get pregnant! If you are now pregnant and don't want to be, don't come and complain to me! Smoke like a chimney and accept that you will die. Don't expect me to pay for your medical bills. Work for an asbestos company and of course your lungs will ossify! What are you moaning about?

There is a certain appeal to this way of thinking, because it makes the universe clear and simple and it assigns the individual enormous powers of determination. If you only do the right thing everything will be sunny and happy and good and you will deserve that BMW you are driving around, polluting the environment. Did you notice the little crack I introduced into the smugness of the sentiment in that last sentence?

Because life isn't quite that simple, and the law of consequence doesn't run as simply as this wingnut wants it to. When we introduce complications, though, we tend to lose the ears of the wingnuts. That is one law of consequence that is always valid, sigh. But still. It's worth discussing the real universe in more realistic terms, for the rest of us.

Take this blogger's example of the nice cause-and-effect chain about drinking and driving and then going out and killing someone with the car. Yes, this could happen, and it is the reason why we make driving under the influence of alcohol a crime. But then I might go out for a walk totally sober and get knocked down by this drunken maniacal driver. What did I do wrong? Where was my control over the situation?

Perhaps the wingnut blogger could amend the philosophy by allowing for some of us to be wholly innocent. We just happened to get killed by a drunken driver, ok. But what control did that leave me over my life? After all, the idea behind this philosophy is that people can control the bad things that happen to them. And what about the child born into poverty? How did that child deserve poverty?

Ok. Now we have two sets of people: Those who should be in control over their own urges and who can decide if they are going to get pregnant or rich or dead, and those who are hapless victims. This is the worldview of quite a few wingnuts, too. But let's add even more layers of complications.

Let's introduce the woman who already had children she couldn't quite support and who chose to have an abortion. The wingnut blogger wanted her to abstain from sex and called her selfish for not doing so. But suppose that she has a husband or a boyfriend who has just been fired from work, whose mother is dying from incurable cancer, who is severely depressed. This partner wants sex, just not to feel like dying, to feel warm and alive for one single moment. And she refuses the sex because it would be selfish to give him that comfort. Er, wouldn't it?

Did you notice how the selfishness of this woman happens in isolation in the wingnut story? She just goes to some store where they sell sex, buys some and swallows it. There is no partner, no social relationship, no questions of the kind I created in my imaginary story above. Selfishness is a difficult thing to measure, you know, and almost every choice we make can be viewed as selfish from some point of view.

Or perhaps she simply really needed sex, really needed the little heaven we people can experience on this earth otherwise so deficient in heavenly things. Working two jobs (as I imagine), dragging the children from home to daycare and back again, worrying about getting the groceries late at night, worrying about the bills and the rent, worrying about the cockroaches and the asthma the children might get, worrying about the future and being tired all the time. Perhaps she really really needed to go to heaven for a minute or two, even if there were no condoms in the house.

I have no idea if any of this is true, but I can imagine. The wingnut blogger doesn't seem to be able to imagine anything. Sometimes I think that this might be the main difference between the wingnuts and the rest of us.

Is that enough complexity for you? I might add another layer by asking why death sentence isn't ok if a woman knew that she might die giving birth. Nothing in the cause-and-effect story would make it wrong to just let her die. If people who choose to smoke should accept their deaths, why not women who choose to procreate? Why not have all the people with AIDS just die? They knew how dangerous AIDS was before they engaged in some risky activity.

The truth of course is that our choices do matter, but they matter in a probabilistic sense, not in the sense of being meted awards and punishments by some cruel wingnut god. And humans are human, which means that none of us can control everything in our lives. Not even wingnuts can do that, though they would love to control other people's lives.