Why ‘pro-life feminist’ is an oxymoron
Sunday January 22nd 2012, 2:26 pm
In today’s Fairfax op-ed section, Anne Summers writes expansively on how feminism and ‘pro-life’ positions on abortion are mutually exclusive. Of course, she’s dead right.
First, the term ‘pro-life’ is nonsensical. Every normal human on the planet is ‘pro-life.’ To suggest otherwise implies that there’s some ‘pro-death’ people out there who would like to see the termination of the human species in toto. Such is clearly not the case; it is our primary evolutionary purpose to make more copies of ourselves and thus continue the existence of humanity. Genocide is hardly the desire of any normal person.
The actual meaning of the term ‘pro-life,’ as used by fundamentalist Christians, is ‘anti-choice.’ This is to say that said fundies are authoritarians, bent on denying to women the choice on how and when they operate their reproductive organs. Authoritarians deem themselves superior to all others, believing they are more qualified to rule the lives of those they deign to regulate than the poor, feeble plebs themselves. Christian anti-choicers appear to derive their sense of authority from Christian doctrine that they are ‘chosen people,’ though to me, it is utterly gobsmacking that anyone, by mere virtue of their espousal of belief in an imaginary friend, should somehow get the right to tell others how to live their lives. ‘Pro-life’ is thus a disingenuous fundie buzzphrase which is politically loaded and should be eliminated from the stylebooks of all proper newsgathering operations. The term has no place in neutral reportage. It’s right up there with the oxymoron ‘unborn child,’ since no child exists, nor ever has, that has not first been born.
Feminism is a response to patriarchal domination of women in all their affairs, from women earning their own incomes and owning their own homes to determining when, and indeed if, they will bear children. Feminism is all about women’s self-determination and independence. Feminism is as such anti-authoritarian in its very core. Mind you, it is not only possible but everyday reality that feminist women may not choose abortion for themselves. The point is that it is their own choice to bear children- it is not a decision imposed upon them by some authority, be that patriarchy, church or state.
All that said, it is an absolute logical impossibility for one to identify as a ‘feminist’ while at the same time advocating state control of reproductive choice. ‘Anti-choice feminist,’ deconstructed, translates directly to ‘Authoritarian anti-authoritarian,’ a straight-up oxymoron.
Now, as regards the prompt for Summers’ op-ed bit today (as well mine), that being Melinda Tankard Reist’s threats to sue Dr Jennifer Wilson over her ‘No Place For Sheep’ bit in which Wilson asserts that it is in fact fundamentalist Christian doctrine which drives MTR’s anti-choice posture, a question is prompted: If it is not Christian doctrine informing MTR’s anti-choice stance, what exactly is informing it, given there is no reasonable secular or medical objection to abortion that would justify state interference in women’s reproductive choices?
Only Mrs Tankard Reist knows for sure- and she’s well and truly prepared to use financially ruinous legal threats to make sure no one ever finds out.
Melinda Tankard-Reist is not the internet nor sex police
Monday January 16th 2012, 9:39 am
Unsatisfied that she’s completely unable to police Australians’ sexual behaviours, sex-hating anti-porn activist Melinda Tankard-Reist has paid her local Dennis Denuto to send a threatening letter to the No Place For Sheep blog, shaking her rattle & wailing that if NPfS doesn’t delete all posts about MTR, she’ll sue for defamation:
MTR threatens Sheep with legal action if we don’t censor our posts about her immediately
Posted: January 14, 2012
Just got home to find a letter from the lawyers of Melinda Tankard Reist demanding I withdraw all my posts about her or very bad things will ensue.
This is pretty amusing when you read some of the things MTR writes about those she does not approve of.
She’s going to have to sue a few more blogs than just mine, because I’m not the only one who’s written that she’s a Baptist, and attends Belconnen Baptist Church. It’s well in the public domain.
And how bizarre it is that someone who is a devout Christian is so cagey about her faith and her practice? Why not be open about her religious faith? Christians usually are. What does she have to hide?
At least I know now why Rachel Hills didn’t ask those questions, or if she asked the questions, didn’t publish any answers!
“Write about my religious beliefs and I’ll sue you!” Now that’s novel.
If you want to see just how cagey MTR is about this watch this interview with ABC TV’s Jane Hutcheon when Hutcheon asks about her religion and how it affects her work. She tries to follow Jesus, she says, but she doesn’t want anybody focusing on her religion because that will distract from her work.
Well, we might all be about to find out just exactly what MTR’s religious faith is, because she’s going to have to come clean if she wants to sue me.
Just when you think things can’t get any more bizarre…
Apparently MTR is upset that she’s been identified as a member of a Baptist church congregation (which is, admittedly, somewhat embarrassing). MTR has admitted in an interview on the ABC that she’s in fact a Christian. So, what’s the problem? Nothing as far as I can tell, beyond the fact that VERY public figure MTR is unable to control criticisms of her.
MTR is about to learn some very hard lessons:
1. You cannot control the private sexual behaviours of the population at large
2. You cannot control speech on the internet, even that critical of you
3. Bullying with impotent legal threats will attract the ire of tens of thousands of internet users
4. Bullying to suppress speech will invoke the ‘I am Spartacus‘ effect, where many thousands of internet users will repeat the message one is trying to suppress, in solidarity against the bully
5. Repetition of the speech one is trying to suppress is known as the Streisand Effect, where many, many more people will become aware of the speech you are trying to suppress than would have been aware of it if you had not tried to bully your critics into silence
I have offered NPfS space on mgk for the purpose of mirroring their posts about MTR and any threatening lawyeresque letters related to the same, fulfilling the ‘I am Spartacus’ and ‘Streisand’ effects.
You want to try to bully me into silence, Melinda? Have a go. Ain’t my first fuckin’ day at the rodeo- and I’m not afraid of you or your conveyancer.
UPDATE: The Age has done a bit:
Tankard Reist – who briefed lawyers to warn off liberal blogger Jennifer Wilson – says it’s not being called Christian she objects to, but the claim that she is ”deceptive and duplicitous about her religious beliefs”.