A professed pro-life feminist’s attempt to co-opt feminists of the past.


By Lilandra           Lilandra is a username taken from a little known comic book character. In real life, her children are named after comic book characters, so her geek credentials are impeccable. Her husband is a large ape, cyber-viking, biker, who opines about religion and knows his place in a cladogram.

A “New Wave Feminist” pro-life advocate posted  three strategies aimed at abolishing abortion that she believes will, “make abolition a beautiful reality.” They are…

1. “Pro-Life Feminists”

What does make an impression is when women who are self-described feminists adopt a pro-life position. It blows people’s minds a little bit. It’s the thing that started me on my road to conversion. Groups like Feminists for Life of America remind people that our early feminists were dead-set on freeing women from tyranny, not just passing the tyranny on to their children.

The site she links to and is the vice president of argues to tradition, but not to the right wing religious tradition you would expect -at least not overtly.  The presidential election has shown how that fails to persuade anyone who isn’t already a zealot.  Instead, it quote mines feminists of the past.  The site and its publication “American Feminism” uses every appeal to emotion possible to push its pro-life propaganda.

Quote Mining, Appeal to Authority and Tradition…

They called it “child-murder” (Susan
B. Anthony), “degrading to women”
(Elizabeth Cady Stanton), “most barbaric”
(Margaret Sanger), and a “disowning (of)
feminine values” (Simone de Beauvoir). How
have we lost this wisdom?

It is impossible to rip these quotes out the context of how different abortion was compared to the medical procedure it is today.  All of the options available to women with an out of wedlock pregnancy were “degrading” and “barbaric”, because of the religion-based judgmental attitudes of the past. Among the options for women being consigned to religious asylums or left with the option of enduring unsafe and illegal abortions. The feminists of the past called attention to this. As a result of their courage, religion has lost much of the ability to dictate with the aid of the government to women what they do with their own bodies.

2. “Pro-Life Doctors”

Groups like the Association of Pro-Life Physicians and the American Association of Pro-Life OBGYNS help women find pro-life physicians. The more doctors refuse to perform abortions and respect their patients enough to tell them the truth, the fewer abortions there will be.

Convincing doctors to deny women with unplanned pregnancies a safe abortion, will only increase the number of illegal abortions and forced births to women who aren’t in a position to care for a child. For all the preaching about being a true feminist, note how she would turn back the clock to denying a woman a medical abortion.

3. Premarital Chastity

Of course, you can never get everybody to stop having premarital sex. But back in the olden days of yore, when there was a standard – and when if you got caught having sex before marriage, you would get your butt beat and get sent off to Ye Olde Forbidding Nunnery & School For Wayward Girls – there were a lot fewer teenagers having sex. You see, when you lower and then completely eradicate the standard, people – surprise! – fail to live up to that standard.

What follows is the gist of her holier than thou argument.  It is solidly based in controlling normal sexual behavior, and punishing people who challenge religious authority.  It harkens back to an era of The Magdalene Asylum Laundries when the church was something to be feared.

Turn of the 20th Century English Magdalene Asylum

The first Magdalene Asylum opened in Dublin in 1765 with the mission of reforming “fallen women” like prostitutes and wayward girls.  Throughout the 19th century they spread to Europe, Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States.  The last Magdalene Asylum closed in Ireland in 1996. An estimated 30,000 women in Ireland alone went through the asylums.

Although the Catholic Church wasn’t the only religious sect to set up these “homes” for unwed mothers and exploit their physical and maternal labor in the guise of charity, it was largely responsible for institutionalizing this practice throughout 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Women in these asylums were subjected to slave labor, imprisonment, having their children sold and forcibly taken away from them, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse. So yeah, women were still having premarital sex, they were just being imprisoned, exploited, enslaved, shamed, and abused by the church for it.

The third strategy of premarital chastity in the post  is the most irksome, as it is an appeal to return to the ignorance of reproduction practiced in the storied past whitewashed into being wholesome.  In reality she neglects to mention the most effective ways to prevent abortions -sex education and better access to contraception. Women don’t need to be in the dark about their reproductive rights or abdicate them to a higher authority.  If we treat women with the dignity of educating them about the responsibilities and safe practice of sex rather than instilling in them the mindset of a grown child, there will be fewer abortions and no illegal abortions.

The way religion has co-opted reproductive rights and perverted it in the past is still evident today in this woman’s post.  It is what makes pro-life organizations like “Feminists for Life” so wrongheaded, it prevents us from moving toward a more enlightened future where abortion is more rare and largely unnecessary.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Rodney Nelson says

    The more doctors refuse to perform abortions and respect their patients enough to tell them the truth, the fewer abortions there will be.

    We saw how well that worked when Savita Halappanavar needed an abortion but the doctors let her die rather than give her one.

  2. kelsey isabellekelly says

    Her strategies do nothing but show how “pro-life” and “feminist” are a contradiction in terms.

  3. sc_954fdb3b0391214baa55099d81041d31 says

    lately I seem to think “pro-life” and even “anti-choice” are too nice as terms for people like this :/

    • says

      This is a good point. She identified herself as pro-life in an anti-abortion sense. That is the way I used the word too. You kind of walk a thin line if you use anti-choice, you look like you are re-framing.

        • says

          I got de-friended once for trying to explain to someone that if they were pro-choice but simply didn’t like abortion – they were still pro-choice.

          She got really mad at me, accused me of misrepresenting what she said even though I was actually quoting her and well – that was the end of that. I think she had a very high tolerance to double-think and her pro-life stance that just assumed choice was double-plus good.

          To be kind though, I think this issue is just SO emotional for many people that it has the power to break their brain. I mean, it’s not even unheard of for pro-life protesters to use the clinics they protest in order to have their own abortions. In one case, the woman, who was about to have an abortion – call the other women in the waiting area a bunch of slut-murderers. (I wish I could find the link to the story someone posted about that. My apologies. I suspect though, to be fair, that doesn’t happen very often.)

          I think it would be beneficial to call people who are anti-abortion, but pro-choice (in the legal sense, that you HAVE a choice) would make that distinction.

          There are people who are, honest to goodness, pro-abortion – but, at least in my experience, that is the minority of the pro-choice crowd – with most being some sort of variety of attitude toward pregnancy and balance between a girl or woman’s bodily autonomy and the life of the fetus as various stages. Very few would find the starvation of an induction at 30 weeks of a healthy pregnancy ethically sound, for example, and the medical community has ethical standards that preclude that.

          I know that I would have difficulty making the choice to have an abortion, even in some circumstances that others would have absolutely no ambivalence. However, the idea of forcing someone else to maintain a pregnancy, especially at an early stage, seems pretty darn evil frankly.

  4. twist says

    I like how she seems to advocate physical assult as a deterrent for pre-marital sex. Yeah, the world was so much better when women (not men, although presumably they would have been having pre-marital sex as well unless all these women were having sex with each other) got sent away to be abused for having sex outside of marriage. What a wonderful, egalitarian, pro-woman, feminist time that was. Taking away women’s reproductive and sexual freedom is such a great way to empower them.

    I don’t think the word feminist means what this person thinks it does. I’ve had about enough of the forced birthers recently. Seeing them try to paint themselves as the ones who really care about women really raises my blood pressure, and seeing them try to present their backwards, women-as-livestock ideas as feminism makes me want to scream.

  5. lpetrich says

    I find it curious that she didn’t use the “look who would be aborted!” argument. But that same argument can be turned against anti-abortionists:

    In the little town of Braunau am Inn, Austria, near the German border, a certain Klara Poelzl has discovered in the fall of 1888 that she is pregnant. She and her husband, a minor customs official named Alois Schicklgruber, decide that they don’t want to have a child at that time, so she gets an abortion.

    Guess who?

  6. Randomfactor says

    when if you got caught having sex before marriage, you would get your butt beat and get sent off to Ye Olde Forbidding Nunnery & School For Wayward Girls –

    Unless you’re male.

    • says

      It’s also amazing how healthy premature babies were at that time, and how ill they are nowadays. Healthy babies after only 4-5 months of pregnancy!

    • smrnda says

      And she pulls that quote out like it’s a good thing. Having sex before marriage isn’t a crime, so it should not be punished.

  7. says

    when if you got caught having sex before marriage, you would get your butt beat and get sent off to Ye Olde Forbidding Nunnery & School For Wayward Girls –

    Because that’s totally feminist. All feminists support shipping girls who try to make decisions on their own off to slave camps. Yeah.

    • says

      It’s not just anti-feminists. There is evidence that shaming girls and woman who have sex contributes significantly to their choice to have an abortion.

      According to the Guttmacher Institute (the same study that is quoted on Feminist for Life’s homepage) a quarter of girls and women who have abortions reported “Do not want people to know I had sex or got pregnant” as one of the reasons they decided to have an abortion.

      So yeah, that sort attitude is pretty darn anti-feminist and counter-productive to her stated goals.

  8. says

    A lot of well-made points. The whitewashing of history sticks out at me for topics like this. For the most part, I think things only look worse today because we’re made more aware of what’s going on. Secrets were easier to keep in the “good old days” and thus appearances were easier to maintain.

    I’m too jaded to buy into the nostalgia they’re trying to sell.

  9. moarscienceplz says

    Hi Lilandra,
    Have you seen the British TV series “Call the Midwife”? It aired recently on PBS, and I’m sure it will be repeated in a few months. It is a very touching show that deals with British attitudes to childbirth in the 1950’s, including the Magdalene Asylums. I think any anti-choicer who watched it and who is capable of any decent amount of empathy would be forced to do some serious re-thinking.

    • bobo says

      I heard about the show on RH reality check podcast. There was a case of a woman who had 22 pregnancies, and had NEVER had a period in her life! Didn’t know what menstruation was!

  10. F [disappearing] says

    The premarital chastity argument is all kinds of wrong. the “standard” itself was all kinds of bullshit, and was only held by and applied to certain people of certain classes in certain places in certain time periods. But like with so many things, people like to claim or give the impression that it was always such-and-such a way until now.

  11. smrnda says

    I think it’s almost a proven fact that people didn’t have less premarital sex back when it was shameful to do so, only that society chose to arbitrarily and subjectively punish *certain people* (like women, not men) for doing it.

    • says

      I remember being struck by a response Miss Manners had for a host who (it’s been over ten years since I read this so the exact details are somewhat fuzzy) either didn’t hold with premarital sex, or had parents visiting who didn’t hold with premarital sex. Either way, the host was expecting a large number of guests to be staying at their house, and knew that two of said guests were in a relationship, but they didn’t want to room the two guests together because they were not married.

      Miss Manner’s response was to follow the Victorian custom of assigning rooms to suit the host’s sensibilities, but to ignore any nocturnal movements from the guests.

      In other words, it happened all the time. People just didn’t talk about it.

  12. says

    @moarscience
    No. It sounds interesting though. I have briefly read some of the women’s stories that survived the Magdalene Asylums. The indignities that were heaped upon them were terrible.

  13. Ysanne says

    Ok, so I get the pro-life (or rather, anti-choice) part. But where the hell is anything feminist in this whole mess?

  14. says

    Thankyou for this great post. It amazes me that women can promote inherantky misogynyistic worldviews as a viable way of living. The force birthers are quite a dangerous setback to feminists and indeed women everywhere.

    On a side note: Have you see The Magdalene Sisters? (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magdalene_Sisters#section_1) a 2002 Peter Mullan film about the Magdalene Asylums? Fascinately terrifying.

    -Rayne
    My Blog: Insufferable Intolerance http://www.statik-media.com/Ness/

  15. karenwinter says

    Great job, Lilandra!
    I just put a link to this in the comments of the original article. Hope the author reads it!

  16. stevefarrell says

    The funniest thing about the “New Wave Feminists” is that they truly think temperance gals like Susan Anthony and Liz Stanton would be swilling cocktails with them if they were alive today.

    Personally, I wish every prolifer were a hyperreligious, obese drunk like Kristen Walker Hatten. People like her essentially handed Obama his second term on a silver platter. By alienating everyone with a lick of sense with their callouser-than-thou pronouncements on rape victims and sexually active females, they’ve made sure that pro-lifers now have all the political heft of 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

  17. says

    So yeah, women were still having premarital sex, they were just being imprisoned, exploited, enslaved, shamed, and abused by the church for it.

    That third point more than the others, I think, really demonstrates that this woman is no feminist. You could perhaps be a feminist and advocate for such treatment of women, but there is something from this picture that is missing. Yep, it’s the menz. (Or are all these women lesbians having sex with other women? In which case, there is no need to fear them getting pregnant!) Where are all the men/boys being sent off to similar “schools”? Odd that she is only suggesting the girls be sent away.

  18. bradleybetts says

    “and when if you got caught having sex before marriage, you would get your butt beat and get sent off to Ye Olde Forbidding Nunnery & School For Wayward Girls”

    Yeah, sounds much better than the current state of affairs. /sarcasm.

  19. says

    Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  20. says

    I wish to express some thanks to the writer just for bailing me out of such a instance. As a result of looking out throughout the the web and coming across advice which were not pleasant, I thought my entire life was done. Existing without the answers to the issues you have resolved through your entire write-up is a serious case, as well as ones that could have negatively damaged my entire career if I hadn’t encountered your web site. The competence and kindness in playing with all things was precious. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a solution like this. I’m able to at this point look ahead to my future. Thanks for your time so much for your reliable and result oriented guide. I won’t think twice to endorse the blog to anybody who needs to have guidelines on this problem.

  21. says

    My husband and i have been so more than happy when Ervin could complete his investigations through the entire precious recommendations he made through the web site. It’s not at all simplistic just to happen to be releasing key points that many some other people could have been selling. Therefore we do know we now have the website owner to thank because of that. The type of illustrations you have made, the easy site menu, the relationships your site aid to promote – it’s got all awesome, and it’s making our son in addition to us feel that the matter is pleasurable, and that’s highly mandatory. Many thanks for the whole lot!

  22. says

    Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful info specially the last part :) I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  23. says

    Simply wish to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post is simply nice and I can assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

  24. says

    Hi, I think that I saw you visited my blog so I came to “return the favor”.I am attempting to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  25. says

    I’ve been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  26. says

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return.

  27. says

    I’ve been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  28. says

    Fantastic beat ! I wish to apprentice whilst you
    amend your web site, how could i subscribe for a blog website?
    The account aided me a appropriate deal. I had been tiny bit
    familiar of this your broadcast offered bright transparent
    idea

Trackbacks