Last week, I discussed how the weird belief of “ensoulment at conception” is used to justify banning abortion: If personhood depends on having a soul, and if we start life in the womb with one, then deliberate abortion at any stage of pregnancy is murder. Since the whole dualistic idea of souls is suspect, to say the least (basically Plato’s after-life beliefs grafted onto St. Paul’s attempts to square Jesus’ teaching that “some who stand here will not taste death” with the reality — they did), then falling back on alleged “souls” to make banning abortion okay is a pretty dodgy tactic.
But I’m convinced that the vast majority of lawmakers who pass anti-abortion laws aren’t that stupid, and they put “souls” up there with the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. I believe “ensoulment” is just a smokescreen for the time-honored belief that women are second-class citizens, and that men have the God-given right to control women’s bodies and minds. I gave a couple of examples last week, including how women were thought in ancient Greek times to be merely the receptacles in which male sperm would be nourished and cared for until birth, no female ova involved.
Aristotle, who may have been the first to formalize this belief, was following in the footsteps of his predecessor Hesiod (c. 750 BC), contemporary of Homer, who rhapsodized about an all-male Golden Age: “They lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting …They dwelt in ease and peace. ” Their idyllic lives ended when Zeus punished Prometheus for giving the bros the gift of fire (an eagle ate his liver overnight, which grew back the next day), simultaneously punishing men for accepting the gift by giving them “an evil thing for their delight” — women.
It was downhill from then on. The Abrahamic religions reinforced women’s subservience to men — well, they were led by men, after all, who had good reason to keep women in their place. From the mythical Moses endorsing the primary role of men (women are marriage transactions in the Torah, and sexual slavery is endorsed); to Mary’s unwitting impregnation; to arch-misogynist St. Paul preaching that “wives should submit to their husbands as to the Lord”; to Mohammed saying, over and again, that a woman is worth half a man. (A 2-to-1 ratio apparently adopted by SCOTUS’ six men vs. three woman). Not just Judaism, Christianity and Islam; Buddha was a deadbeat Dad, according to the Tripitaka.
Of course, we all know that men prefer large-breasted women, don’t we? (No.) So girls looking for mates should be doing everything in their power to attract men with their “greatest charm, a symmetrically rounded bosom full and perfect,” natural or otherwise, from padded bras to this:
Even practices in what looks like women doing the oppressing can be traced back to an underlying belief in the superiority of men. For instance:
- Foot binding. Only outlawed in China in 1912, aristocratic girls whose feet had been painfully bound when young were more marriageable because, as adults, they couldn’t walk on their own and had to be helped, thus demonstrating their obedience and dedication to their husbands.
- Female Genital Mutilation: The removal of a girl’s clitoris and labia and sewing up of what remains of her vulva, while usually performed by older women on young girls, is all about controlling a woman’s sexuality: her groom can be assured his bride is a virgin. Not forgetting that the obscene “surgery” makes sure she can’t enjoy the independent pleasure of orgasms.
Where to stop?
- It took 144 years for Jefferson’s noble claim that “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence to embrace women, who were only granted — by men! — the right to vote in 1920.
- 63 years ago, the FDA approved an oral contraceptive for women. How about a pill for men, a simple formulation of testosterone and progestin to stop sperm production? Hah! Why should we men have to take a daily pill? We don’t have to go through nine months of pregnancy and the rigors (and risks) of child-bearing. (Not incidental: the US has three times the maternal mortality rate of most other high-income countries.)
- Then there’s our pussy-grabbing ex-POTUS to Harvey Weinstein to Anita Hill (I still believe her!) to the Taliban to…
Nah, I’m done. Banning abortion is all about men controlling women.