Just as we all benefit from these resources, we all benefit from healthy babies that have the best chance to become future contributors to society. Why should being rich or having a certain type of job be a prerequisite for health care security? Why should everyone else have to live in fear of what could happen and whether we can afford it?

I find this whole situation preposterous. It goes beyond the middle-class squeeze: it’s disrespectful to women. A woman’s reproductive options are dangled over her head: access to contraception is threatened; abortion rights are constantly under attack. When a woman gets pregnant, unless she is wealthy or covered by private insurance, there is little help for her to raise children without going into debt. And the medical bills start piling up before she even start pushing.–Mira Ptacin

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23 thoughts on “Regular People Should Never Have Sex, I Guess

  1. To some, people who get pregnant without having prayerfully and maritally prepared for it are reckless and/or stupid.

    There’s a local political type I follow and he’s (because, obviously a dude) ALL AGHAST over the matter of abortion, but he doesn’t seem to give a shit about making sure women have prenatal care, much less how the woman or child will eat or obtain medical care or child care.

    “Pro life”, just not pro-living.

  2. I’m elsewhere engaged in a discussion about the merits of PP, where people have said “if a doctor kills only 3% of his patients, why would anyone go to him?” (Never mind that I’ve already pointed out that many doctors have a much HIGHER M&M percentage than 3%–a good surgeon, for instance, still loses around 12%–and that doctors aren’t all male.)

    Every time that I point out that I, a pro-life person, support Planned Parenthood for the rest of what it does, they insist that I should instead be supporting a pro-life charity that does the same thing.

    Trouble is, there aren’t any. Because, you know, while we like to think of abortion ending we also say dumb-ass things like “my idea of reproductive choice is choosing not to have sex.” (An actual quote in response to my talking about preparing women to exercise safe, responsible reproductive choice prior to conception.) So you can’t get many “pro-life” clinics who will also prescribe the pill. So many donors and pro-life folk are anti-oral contraceptive because they say that life begins at conception and by preventing the already fertilized egg to implant you are “pre-aborting”. This is the sort of thing that makes my head hurt.

    On the wake of this conversation I was discussing it with my husband because I’ve recently become exposed to more and more men–single, childless men!–who have turned Abortion into the New Godwin. No matter what the hell we’re talking about they bring it back around to abortion. I’ve had multiple conversations about RULES OF FICTION WRITING circle back to Abortion is EVIL with this one guy. And I’m wondering why so many men have decided that this is a crusade they’ll take up. It’s like me caring about circumcision. I mean, I do in the abstract but I don’t have any reason to be affected by it personally. But these men, it’s everything to them.

    Tim has a theory about how it’s because it’s an opportunity for them to feel like a hero in one facet of their lives. And being a hero is easier than being human. I suppose that must be true. All in all, I can say that in all of these conversations whenever I bring up pre-natal care, post-natal care, job training, nutrition, all that kind of stuff, they start to glaze over and then start spewing stuff about Abortion Is The New Holocaust. Which irks me. Because if it is, then why aren’t you taking care of the mothers? That’s like saying to Hitler “all of this killing of the Jews is just terrible” and then shoveling coal into the trains’ engines.

  3. Yes, I have to believe it’s less about the issue(s) at hand and more about how it makes them feel to crusade thusly. And, in some cases, I also believe it’s still about control.

    Kind of pathetic, really.

  4. I wonder whether guys go to that issue so quickly when they are interacting only with each other, or whether it’s something they just bring out when they feel that there are women around who ought to be kept in line.

  5. My only reply to guys who try to talk to me about abortion is that it’s none of their business. Until they grow a womb and have to face the reality of being pregnant, they have no opinion that counts at all.

    It’s not subtle and misses a lot of important issues, but it shuts them up at least. And if I’m really lucky they go away also.

  6. I do think there’s something of the hero to it. But I just don’t think you can overestimate how deeply entrenched the idea that women’s bodies belong to the men in their lives are. I think a lot of men are anti-abortion not because they think they’re rescuing women from some terrible decision, but because they imagine they’re stepping in to prevent a woman from doing something their man doesn’t want them to do. If a man puts his dick in you, by god, it’s his decision about whether that’s going to lead to pregnancy and therefore a baby, not yours.

    I think a lot of these guys think they’re sticking up for other guys, whose babies those are. It’s why they seem to so completely erase women from the discussion. Or women’s agency anyway.

  7. This main guy (comments on my blog sometimes) is forever mansplaining to me about everything. Last week he tried to mansplain to me what Geek Culture is like. Me…who went to her first Trekker con at 12. Who saw Jedi on opening day. Who rpg’d her way through high school and coded when she wasn’t rpg’ing. But you see, my lack of a penis renders me unable to comprehend geek culture.

    Dude has no wife. No kids. Yet he feels the need to start talking about how many BABIES HAVE BEEN MURDERED. It’s all about the “babies”, ostensibly, yet I increasingly feel that that’s a code. They care not about the ‘babies’ but about how the ‘babies’ can be used as a tool to punish the women. Women who are not smart enough to make decisions without male guidance.

    Since I’ve been interacting more with the Calvinists I’ve realised that their affinity for being anti-abortion fits in nicely with their Punishment narrative. It doesn’t matter how many times I point out that the number of abortions have been steadily decreasing, that the best preventative is nutrition, health care, education, opportunity. Does. Not. Matter. Because ultimately it is about how obviously delightful it is to see people punished.

    Meanwhile, I’m consistently amazed at the number of women who move in these crowds that message me behind the scenes and thank me for speaking up for the women because they themselves had an abortion once. It’s happened at least a half-dozen times.

  8. Yeah, it’s a cliche, but it’s one with a lot of basis in reality that some folks really treat abortion like you’re skipping out on your proper punishment for sex. I think this is especially obvious in who the anti-abortion poster girl for abortions are–someone like Lila Rose, posing as a young (often underage) girl with no children who gets pregnant out of wedlock and is “looking to avoid the consequences”–vs. who the average abortion-haver is–a married or partnered woman who has children who can’t afford another child. You see they’re much more interested in making sure that the minority of women who are young, single, and “avoiding consequences” be taught a lesson than they are in saying “Well, shoot, if a mother is having an abortion because she can’t afford another child, might we lower the abortion rate by improving women’s job prospects and financial situations?”

    But since I think you’re right that they seem to have this block about listening to women, I doubt they seriously consider why women have abortions and what kinds of non-invasive actions that don’t strip women of our autonomy they could take, since that would mean paying attention to the things we tell them.

  9. Coble, is it your impression that these women don’t confront their men directly on this issue because they believe in male headship of the household, or for reasons of maintaining peace in the household, or because they are afraid to let the men know what they think, or for some other reason? Because it might be really useful for the men (collectively) to understand this.

  10. My impression is that the men can be divided into different categories, obviously, but the categories most visible as “pro-life” are the ones with men who are essentially insecure in their ability to provide or head a household. They mask that insecurity by clinging to absolutes (ie. Christianity is the best choice for everyone; women are to submit to men; abortion is murder). Those absolutes give them an authority they cannot command otherwise–out of respect, force of personality, force of intellect.

    Women make them feel inadequate. Ever been to a church where the women are so obviously the breadwinners, the decision-makers, the authority? It’s more prominent in some denominations than others, but it’s a very key dynamic. Here they are, guys who mow lawns in the summer while their wives bring home the actual living money from working seventy hour weeks as nurses. The Bible says the men are supposed to head up their household and give sacrificially of themselves to support their wives. But it’s much easier to live this way, letting the wife do all the work while they undertake the massive task of making sure the TV doesn’t go to waste. So, they are EXTRA loud about a “woman’s place”, etc.

    Ever wonder, for instance, where these guys find the time to hang around a clinic during business hours? Or the time to travel to rallies in a neighboring state?

    So anyway…the women in these scenarios get awfully used to paying lip service to submissive marriage while all the while knowing that they essentially married a sperm donor. But they don’t want to upset the apple cart. 1. Divorce is wrong in their eyes. (a true submitter, like me, will tell you that their husband is not fulfilling his role and can be divorced as essentially being unfaithful.) 2. There are ALWAYS kids. 3. The same culture that created this dynamic makes the women feel sexually inadequate. That’s why there is all this faff floating around in some churches about Great Married Sex. It’s actually a technique to keep women in line even though their husbands aren’t holding up their end. Sure, we are all supposed to be great partners and look our best, etc. but honestly. Who, after working a 12 hour nursing shift and coming home to fix dinner for everybody, really feels like giving her husband oral sexon command? (Google Mark Driscoll Oral Sex). So why divorce him when you won’t do any better?

    And why tell him at all when you just CANNOT handle another kid on top of raising him and the three children you already have?

    And just so you know, this is a very real scenario I’ve seen multiple times. At least a dozen involving abortions and a hundred and fifty without the abortion angle.

  11. This is something that makes me so aggravated with a lot of conservative men (and some of the more crunch granola liberal men whose idea of “natural is better” leads them to some strange ideas about reproductive technology): If you’re pretty regularly having sex and you have a kid or two, there’s a reason you have not had more. Look at the 19th century, when people really, really didn’t have access to birth control or other good methods of family planning and look at the number of pregnancies women had and the number of children and miscarriages that resulted.

    Even if you have a “big” family by today’s standards–four or five or six kids (and let’s be honest that most of the men I’m talking about do not–they have two or three kids)–you don’t have an honest-to-goodness no-access-to-some-form-of-birth-control large family.

    And yet, these “anti-abortion” men, who also crow on about how birth control pills are abortion, don’t ever seem to look at their own families and say, “Oh, weird, we only have two kids.”

    I think it’s because, subconsciously, they know the true nature of the gravy train they’re on. They’re the “head” of the household in which the only power they have is the power the person with the purse strings grants them. They rock the boat, she might not be so willing continue to pretend.

  12. I wasn’t clear enough about what I was asking. I absolutely understand why a woman in these circumstances might not tell her husband about an abortion. But why doesn’t the woman say, when her husband is going on about it, “gee, I can think of things that would make some women feel they had no option but to have an abortion,” or “I can see how it would be easier for some women to have their babies if they had better access to medical care,” or whatever. You know, making it about generic women and not about themselves, but bringing a woman’s point of view to the discussion.

  13. @Katherine Coble, I have to ask where you got the following statistic: “a good surgeon, for instance, still loses around 12%.” That’s absurd, and the casual manner with which you state it is even more so. The problem when people arbitrarily concoct figures, particularly in areas where there is already an underlying weakness or fear, is that society latches on and culls them into fact. And with misinformation spreading so rampantly on the internet these days, I wish people would be a lot more responsible about the things they tout as matters of truth, when they are, in fact, merely fabrication.

  14. @t.r.u. It was told to me by my uncle, the former chief of surgery–now chief of staff– at a major Midwestern hospital. I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that he would know better than most.

  15. ” wasn’t clear enough about what I was asking. I absolutely understand why a woman in these circumstances might not tell her husband about an abortion. But why doesn’t the woman say, when her husband is going on about it, “gee, I can think of things that would make some women feel they had no option but to have an abortion,” or “I can see how it would be easier for some women to have their babies if they had better access to medical care,” or whatever. You know, making it about generic women and not about themselves, but bringing a woman’s point of view to the discussion.”

    You were clear. I just wasn’t clear in my answer which is the same. You do NOT contradict certain conventional wisdom within that society. Especially if you are a woman. You just…you don’t.

    1. Never contradict a male pastor or a Sunday school teacher.
    2. Never contradict your husband in front of other people. (It’s okay to run him down behind his back when it’s “just the gals”, but in mixed company…NO.)
    3. Never express an opinion contrary to the socially-accepted ones for Abortion. Lesser “protected topics” that are still at least third-rail adjacent include public schools, prayer in schools, the pledge of allegiance, the amount of money spent on Vacation Bible School.

    They just aren’t done. To put it bluntly, for a woman in this culture to say that type of thing to her husband would be like you serving your husband a cheeseburger and a milkshake. It just is NOT done.

    Even if there’s sense in it. It’s a type of herd immunity.

  16. @t.r.u==As interested as you are in documentation, do you have a documented source for your contradiction of my statistic? I’m genuinely interested and emailing my source for clarification. I’m assuming, knowing him, he’s discussing overall mortality and morbidity in areas such as oncological surgery where, regardless of the surgeon’s skill, the patient will eventually succumb. Not the surgeon’s fault, but still a dead patient.

  17. @Katherine. The problem with your statement is that it is (whether intentional or not) grossly misleading, in part because of its lack of specificity (in a discussion about reproductive rights, you expect people to extrapolate that you’re referring to oncological surgeons, which is a subspecialty far different from “surgeons” at large — and which include, say, ob/gyns, general surgeons, ENT surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, etc., etc., — as you referred to them?), and in part because of your failure to elaborate on what it means to “lose” someone: having a patient die while in surgery, which is what your statement seems to imply, at least to me, is a much different scenario from a surgeon prolonging life in a patient who is terminal regardless of treatment.

  18. All right, this stops right here. We have a shared presumption of goodwill here and there are ways to disagree without insinuating that someone (in this case, Coble) is so wrong that she’s ruining all of society with her flip disregard for how idiotic and easily led people are or something and thus owes you sources.

    Example for how to do this right:

    Coble: 100 people will die of eating cookies today.

    You: No, look, E. Keebler says in Cookie Times last month that this number has been grossly inflated by combining cookie and cracker deaths and passing them all off as cookie deaths.

    Coble: Oh, I hadn’t seen Keebler’s research. That really changes my understanding of the dangers of cookies. Thanks for sharing.

    Everyone’s point is made. No one feels condescended to. The frith of the community is maintained. I am happy. And Ernie Keebler goes on to kill again. All is well.

    If you don’t want to participate in a comment section that functions this way, this is not the place for you.

  19. @Aunt B. My comments were fair, and I’m entitled to my opinion: that people should be careful about disseminating false information, particularly in areas where it is more difficult to access data (the population at large doesn’t generally have access to medical M&M reports). That you feel justified in writing your pseudo-script in how you think the dialogue should have gone is laughable. Worse still is your hyberbolic misrepresentation of my comments: I never suggested that Katherine was “ruining all of society with her flip disregard for how idiotic and easily people are led.” I simply recognized that stating “a good surgeon, for instance, still loses around 12%” on the heels of a quotation that talks hypothetically about a doctor who “kills only 3% of his patients” (note the word KILL) is the kind of sound byte people latch onto. And it is wrong. And in a medical world where patients have very little power to begin with, there is no need to mislead or scare them further. So try as you might to condescend to me, my point still stands. You’re right about one thing though: a comment section that does not allow for varying opinions expressed in a fair and lucid manner is not the place for me. Peace, ya’ll.

  20. Seriously, if you think that your condescending assholish behavior is “fair and lucid,” please, do let the door hit you on the way out.

  21. In related news, if the things we write here do really influence society at large, I’d like bodily autonomy and cookies. Just saying.

  22. I do my best to preserve the bodily autonomy. And cookies….my freezer is so full of cookie dough I have no room for grown-up frozen things like, you know, chickens and bread and whatall.
    (husband+new promotion to head of department+fundraisers+egalatarian support of all fundraisers=crapton of cookie dough.)

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