Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Diabolical Practice of Attempting To Prevent Childbearing By Physical Preparations

Daniel Defoe's terminology, but today's American wingnuts would largely agree. Contraception is deplorable, perhaps even diabolical. An article in today's New York Times discusses all this in great detail and with many facts. Notice this: The anti-contraception stance of the wingnuts has finally entered mainstream awareness!

It's about time. Some of us (ahem) have been warning about this for a few years now. But instead of rehashing my old posts I will give you a few snippets from the New York Times article and some of my thoughts on this whole thing. So get a drink and relax. This may well be the last time anyone invites you to enjoy something without a baby popping out of you as the consequence. - Let's see if anyone notices how the last sentence assumes the reader is a woman and let's see how many of the same remember that Colbert talked to the Washington press corps as if they were all men.

But I digress, because it's Sunday and I'm enjoying myself here. Tut, tut. Bad Echidne. Enjoyment of Sundays is limited to stuff one can do on ones knees in a church. At least in the world of wingnuts. Here is R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on the destructive effects of the contraceptive pill:

But then, from this perspective, the pill began to do terrible damage. "I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a greater impact on human beings than the pill," Mohler continued. "It became almost an assured form of contraception, something humans had never encountered before in history. Prior to it, every time a couple had sex, there was a good chance of pregnancy. Once that is removed, the entire horizon of the sexual act changes. I think there could be no question that the pill gave incredible license to everything from adultery and affairs to premarital sex and within marriage to a separation of the sex act and procreation."

As Amanda points out in her excellent analysis of this article, the benefits of the pill have been immense for women. For the first time women have been free to decide whether they want to have children or not and when to have them. Perhaps it is this aspect of the pill that really bothers Pastor Mohler, given his other writings about the proper role of women and so on.

But Pastor Mohler is certainly correct in pointing out that contraceptives allow a separation of the sex act and procreation, and this is what the extreme religious clerics deplore today, and not only in their own lives (or perhaps not at all in their own lives) but those of everybody else. Everybody. Else.

It is all of us, whatever our religion or the lack of it, who should follow the wingnut rule of perfect abstinence outside marriage (thus banning gays and lesbians to enternal celibacy) and the use of no contraceptives within marriages (thus banning a lot of us into trying to support seventeen or eighteen children on one income, for the other parent surely must be supervising those dozens of children). And no, you can't have abortions.

And what are the arguments for this worldview? The New York Times article points out a few wingnut explanations for their desire to sew up or plug your genitals: That sex is bad in itself. That extra-marital and pre-marital sex are a sin and make you unhappy and suicidal. That marital sex with contraception amounts to objectification of the wife as a source for sex (but the husband somehow escapes objectification). That sex is dangerous and can give you diseases. That the total surrender to sexual love towards your partner requires that you hold nothing back (including your sperm from the man and the nine months plus delivery from the woman). That the contraceptive pill kills babies. That the human race won't bother to have enough babies to survive unless forced to do so.

None of that list points out how pleasurable sex is and how it is a way of showing love and caring towards another human being. Amanda argues quite convincingly that what the wingnuts really want to do is to ban pleasure in all of its forms and sex is one of the main sources of pleasure in this troubled world of ours. But this banning doesn't apply to the people in power. They can have their secret hookers and mistresses; it's the ordinary people who should not orgasm unless pregnancy ensues.

I'd stress that it's a war against women's rights to have pleasurable sex much more than it is against men's rights to the same, though men also needs to be punished by having to support more and more children if nothing else. Still, many of the anti-contraception wingnuts very much dislike a woman getting off without being saddled with an unwanted pregnancy:

Last month, Senators Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton — an anti-abortion Democrat and an abortion rights Democrat — introduced legislation that would require insurance companies to cover contraceptives. In part, the idea is to force Republicans to support contraception or be branded as reactionaries. The conservative counter was that giving even more government backing to emergency contraception and other escape hatches from unwanted pregnancy will lead to a new wave of sexual promiscuity. An editorial in the conservative magazine Human Events characterized the effect of such legislation as "enabling more low-income women to have consequence-free sex."

Note how the pregnancy is seen as the correct punishment for sex? Suddenly the fetus is no longer something absolutely wonderful, something to be elevated to a position equal to or greater than a child but a punishment. And a punishment to low-income women, not low-income men. - By the way, unintended pregnancies and abortions have risen among the low-income women during the Bush years of reduced funding for contraception. Should I now assume that the anti-contraception forces in the Republican party are happy to see the proper punishment applied?

This is indeed a war against pleasure, and especially against the right of a woman to have sex when she does NOT want to get pregnant. Given that most couples have sex fairly often an attempt to live along the wingnut rules of no-contraception-and-no-abortion would soon see our birthrates explode to levels unparalleled outside very poor countries. We would also see an explosion in the rates of sexually transmitted diseases, because barrier contraceptives do provide some protection against them. But all this would be fine with the anti-contraception wingnuts, I assume. That's the kind of world they'd like to inhabit. Plenty of children to make into workers and soldiers and congregants, women with no time or energy to say a word about anything political and men who work their lives away to pay for their enormous families. Few could afford education for their large families. Not much world left over for other creatures to exist.

I've actually read one wingnut who argued that things wouldn't be this bad because wars and famines would drastically reduce the numbers after a while. Now that is a really moral wingnut for you: let's give birth (with much pain and effort) to lots of unwanted children and then let's kill them off. Better than contraceptives, right?

I am not telling wingnuts what they can do with a willing adult partner. Why do they believe they have a right to regulate my life to such a degree? Well, a vote to the Republican party is a vote to the people who want to stand by your bed and observe what you and your partner get up to. I wish more people remembered this during election time.