Friday, January 29, 2010

Abortion and the War against Nature

I went down to DC for the March for Life last week. Trip preparations before and catching up with work afterward have taken up much of my time these past couple weeks.

Just ran across this excellent piece by former atheist Jennifer Fulwiler reflecting on her former pro-abortion views, specifically on the source of the anger that energized them.

My peers and I were taught not that sex creates babies, but that unprotected sex creates babies. We absorbed through cultural osmosis the idea that every normal person will have sex at some point in his or her life, and that the sexual act, by default, has no significance outside the relationship between the two people involved. In this worldview, when unexpected pregnancies came up, it was seen as a sort of betrayal by the woman's body [emphasis added]. My friends and I lamented the awful position every woman was in: Unexpected pregnancies were like lightning strikes, and when one of these unpredictable events did occur, there were no good options for dealing with them. Abortion wasn't ideal -- even we acknowledged that it was a violating procedure that was hard on a woman's body -- but what choice did anyone have? To not have the option of terminating surprise pregnancies when they came up out of nowhere would mean being a slave to one's biology.

Betrayal? But pregnancy is a woman's body working properly! So our cultural situation sets women at war with their own biology, their own selves. This conflict comes out most pointedly when Ms Fulwiler considers the disparity between our society's "two critical lists":

In every society, there are two critical lists: acceptable conditions for having a baby, and acceptable conditions for having sex. From time immemorial, the one thing that almost every society had in common is that their two lists matched up. It was only with the widespread acceptance of contraception in the middle of the 20th century, creating an upheaval in the public psyche in which sex and babies no longer went hand-in-hand, that the two lists began to diverge. And now, in 21st-century America, they look something like this:

Conditions under which it is acceptable to have sex:

  • If you're in a stable relationship
  • If you feel emotionally ready
  • If you're free of sexually transmitted diseases
  • If you have access to contraception

Conditions under which it is acceptable to have a baby:

  • If you can afford it
  • If you've finished your education
  • If you feel emotionally ready to parent a child
  • If your partner would make a good parent
  • If you're ready for all the lifestyle changes that would be involved with parenthood

As long as those two lists do not match, we will live in a culture where abortion is common and where women are at war with their own bodies.

She makes a great metaphor for the precarious position in which our erroneous culture places women:

In fact, I started to see the catastrophic mistake our society had made when we started believing that the life-giving potential of the sexual act could be safely forgotten about as long as people use contraception. It would be like saying that guns could be used as toys as long as long as there are blanks in the chamber. Teaching people to use something with tremendous power nonchalantly, as a casual plaything, had set women up for disaster.

Bullet-blocking devices may be more representative of the actual situation. In any event, the imagery of an abortionist inserting devices into the most sacred natural place, the womb, could not be any more explicitly mechanical, unnatural. (Biochemical interventions may be more visually subtle, but are no less invasive.) How could we be more blind!

As many have observed already, radical feminism is far from being pro-woman. The war on women is underwritten by our scientific culture that conceives the human relationship to nature (and by extension, all relationships) as being primarily about power and domination (yes, that's where Marxism comes from). It's not for nothing that one of early, more frank writings of one of the fathers of this "scientific" culture, Francis Bacon, is called, "The Masculine Birth of Time." Bacon writes,

My intention is to impart to you, not the figments of my own brain, nor the shadows thrown by words, nor a mixture of religion and science, nor a few commonplace observations or notorious experiments tricked out to make a composition as fanciful as a stage-play. No; I am come in very truth leading to you Nature with all her children to bind her to your service and make her your slave.

That our culture is anti-woman is a commonplace of political correctness. That abortion (along with contraception) is the main weapon of the culture's war against women is PC anathema, but nonetheless the truth.1


1. Capra's 1990 film Mindwalk has an excellent exposition of the mechanism of science and the ascent of the masculine at the expense of the feminine. But notice the schizophrenia of the unmerited dig at Phyllis Schlafly (at about 40 minutes), who fought to maintain whatever is left of unique feminine privileges in American society through her opposition to the so-called Equal Rights Amendment. Several years ago, I contacted Schlafly about the quotation attributed to her and she denied she had written that "God's greatest gift to mankind is the atom bomb." It seems that for the makers of Mindwalk in this case, a political grudge takes precedence over intellectual consistency—or even integrity.

Benjamin Farrington, The Philosophy of Francis Bacon (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1964), 61.

Note:I've started to restore the pictures to the blog, starting with the Pan's Labyrinth review. I'll continue on, beginning with the more significant graphics I've used. If you'd like me to get to one in particular, please request with a comment to that post—the system copies all comments to me via e-mail.


Anonymous said...

Of course the Western/Christian war against nature was recently dramatized in the Avatar film.

The techno-invaders, having already "created" a dying planet were compelled by their techno-imperative to invade Pandora.

At a very basic level the film was very much about the "culture" of death versus the culture of life.

It was therefore interesting to see the entirely predictable right-wing group-think response to the film, especially by "conservative" religionists.

They all came out in support of the "culture" of death--NO exceptions.

Lawrence Gage said...

Thanks for your comments.

Certainly most of the conservative responses to the film were disappointing. Still I don't think the message of the film was so simple. Actually the film exemplified the philosophy that drives the Western war against nature, and as I've written here. But of course the windows were all dressed with the "Dances with Wolves" back-to-nature scenery, so most people didn't look deeper.