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August 12, 2014

Why Smart, Capable, Fully-Equal Women Need Free Stuff

Because even though women ARE TOO! just as smart, capable, and hard working as our hate-filled, patriarchal oppressors, we are simultaneously helpless and incapable of figuring how to provide for ourselves:

Sanitary products are vital for the health, well-being and full participation of women and girls across the globe. The United Nations and Human Rights Watch, for example, have both linked menstrual hygiene to human rights. Earlier this year, Jyoti Sanghera, chief of the UN Human Rights Office on Economic and Social Issues, called the stigma around menstrual hygiene “a violation of several human rights, most importantly the right to human dignity”.

In countries where sanitary products are inaccessible or unaffordable, menstruation can mean missed school for girls (UNICEF estimates 10% of African girls don’t attend school during their periods) and an increased dropout rate, missed work for women and repeated vaginal infections because of unsanitary menstrual products. One study showed that in Bangladesh, 73% of female factory workers miss an average of six days – and six days of pay – every month because of their periods.

I'll tell you what other things necessary for people of all kinds to live and work and thrive.

Food isn't free, and it's about as basic as things get. Without it, people starve to death.

Shelter isn't free.

And we're pretty sure that clothes are a big "must-have" item in the workplace or classroom. But by all means, let's focus on tampons.

Dear Lord, please make it stop.

Posted by Cassandra at August 12, 2014 01:16 PM

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Comments

The UN is OK with mandating that we provide free food and clothing and water and shelter to people, too. In fact, they were just ordering Detroit to stop cutting off people for non-payment of water bills. That is also described as a violation of human rights.

So it's an overarching vision, although people like this woman and Sandra Fluke would like to draw your attention to the fact that women deserve more free stuff than men. That's how to achieve equality, you see.

Posted by: Grim at August 12, 2014 01:33 PM

The UN is OK with mandating that we provide free food and clothing and water and shelter to people, too.

Who is this "WE" you speak of, O Patriarchal One? :p (yes, I know it means "government" but last time I checked government doesn't have any money of its own).

I think everything should be free. What could possibly go wrong with such a scheme?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 12, 2014 01:51 PM

"O Patriarchal One." I like that. It has a nice ring to it. :)

Posted by: Grim at August 12, 2014 02:47 PM

Well, you need a fancy name to go with that beard... ;p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 12, 2014 03:01 PM

Those rights of the UN’s, gathered together from under the rocks and out of thin air, are not to be taken seriously, I think. This was evident when their own Charter for Human Rights was made ridiculous by the Islamic nation members’ (OIC) inveterate contraventions of about half the rights listed. What we have here is a pretense to legitimization – 'human rights'. Otherwise it’s an international criminal enterprise; an organization providing sinecures for the too stupid and too lazy to steal. The organization could not stand a financial audit without the lot of them ending up in prison jumpsuits. Far as I can make out the two greatest hoaxes perpetrated on enlightened, modern, and post-modern hominids are the UN and Ophila.

Posted by: George Pal at August 12, 2014 03:05 PM

George, George, George... you ignorant slut :)

When Oppressed, Misunderstood Indigenous Peoples commit heinous acts of racism, sexism, or just plain Otherism, it's a beautiful and natural expression of vibrant, global culture and ethnicity.

So a few of them starve, are beaten to death, fed feet first into plastic shredders, buried into mass graves, mutilated... whatever.

The salient point here is that it's not Underserving Fascist Oppressors (aka, "white males") who are doing the killing, mutilating, etc. Honestly, it's worse for one of Them to cut off an Oppressed Persyn's water for lack of payment than a gazillion mass murders.

Sheesh. How about some *perspective* here????

Posted by: Barack "The Lightworker" Obama at August 12, 2014 03:22 PM

I cannot find a single instance of a feminist solution to a problem that doesn't involve more government, bigger government or wealth transfer from this group to that one. If anyone knows of one, please let me know.

Posted by: JustMe at August 12, 2014 03:34 PM

I cannot find a single instance of a feminist solution to a problem that doesn't involve more government, bigger government or wealth transfer from this group to that one. If anyone knows of one, please let me know.

To be fair (and that's important) I can think of several examples pretty easily: the division of home labor. I don't think they're trying to pass a law to force husbands to do more housework, just people's minds.

Here's another one: the whole BanBossy campaign. It didn't involve any laws or government or wealth transfer. Just an attempt to influence public opinion (they're hardly alone there).

There are some public awareness campaigns that I don't think fall under any of the categories you mentioned. Also, consumer boycotts and campaigns to try and get people fired for saying things they find offensive (these last two are things several conservative groups have done as well).

I find most of the feminist political agenda to be harmful to everyone (women included) and misguided. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that everything they want or do involves bigger government or wealth transfers.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 12, 2014 03:58 PM

...just *most* of it :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 12, 2014 04:01 PM

Why does this surprise anybody? Newsflash -- water is wet, liberals believe that EVERYTHING should be free.

Liberals may differ as to where they actually fall on the Marxist scale, but they are all just Marxists with differing levels of ideological purity and socialistic ardor.

So OF COURSE everything must be free in a Communist utopia. Wealth must be redistributed so that all workers and peasants are in the top one-percent of the wealthy. Money is evil, after all, and those who work for filthy lucre are enemies of the people.

Currency is an invention of the capitalist, running dog oppressors, and we will all just equally share all services and community owned property with one another.

Posted by: a former european at August 12, 2014 08:30 PM

OF COURSE everything must be free in a Communist utopia. Wealth must be redistributed so that all workers and peasants are in the top one-percent of the wealthy.

I, for one, will never sleep well at night until we are all one percenters :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 12, 2014 08:39 PM

Birth control--not the free kind, just the technological ability to produce it and distribute it without government interference. I think it will be a long time before the world comes to grips with what that does to the balance of power between the sexes. I'm not going to argue that there aren't serious disadvantages to a plummeting birthrate, or that the impact of birth control is 100% advantageous to women, but it's had a huge effect on women's ability to aspire to equal citizenship with men, which is my definition of feminism.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 12, 2014 11:37 PM

Can I be a 3%?

With change?
0>;~]

Posted by: DL Sly at August 13, 2014 12:07 AM

Birth control--not the free kind, just the technological ability to produce it and distribute it without government interference.

Bingo.

Every time I hear a conservative ranting about how he wishes we could turn back the clock to a time when women couldn't even have sex with their own husbands without back to back pregnancies (even well into their forties), I just want to scream.

I don't see 99% of these people having large families, which leads me to believe that:

1. They don't want that many children themselves.

2. They wouldn't want to live in the world they're constantly fantasizing about. But then, they've never had to, have they? :p

I actually wanted a larger family. My husband didn't, and that's OK. The ability to plan for children is not something we should be complaining about (or blaming on feminism). Unless of course we don't really believe that individuals should have the freedom to control their own lives and want government telling us what we can and can't do in this very private arena.

I've been married for 35 years now. When I was younger, I'm not sure I even had to be in the room with my husband to conceive. Just overhearing a dirty joke or an off color remark was enough.

With our second, we literally decided to try for another baby the first week of November. I went off the Pill that day and by Thanksgiving, already knew I was pregnant. The Spousal Unit was home exactly ONE night that month (he was in on a field exercise the rest of the time).

Being anti-birth control makes perfect sense if - as with devout Catholics - your faith commands you to avoid it. But I can't help noticing that all my female Catholic friends - even the devout ones - have used birth control to prevent pregnancies.

What I can't understand is complaining that couples have the freedom to determine the number of children they want to raise and intelligently space out births if they want to. The fact that some people misuse freedom is not a terribly convincing argument for handing control of such a private decision over to the government.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 13, 2014 09:56 AM

Not to argue against birth control -- although I think there are very good reasons why one might wisely choose not to use it, especially the hormonal varieties -- but your two conclusions do not follow from the absence of a large family.

There's a third explanation for not having large families, which is that there are medical issues involved. I would have liked a much larger family myself, but things didn't work out that way. The law would permit me to divorce and choose another wife, but that would violate my vow both in letter and spirit. That is not how I promised to love my wife, nor how she deserves to be loved.

So in my case, at least, it's just because I believe in the old ways that I have a small family. I suspect that is not terribly uncommon, no more than fertility issues tend to be. Thus, there is a danger you are being terribly unfair in assuming these people are hypocrites simply because they don't have many children. They may be being faithful in the face of a very high cost.

Posted by: Grim at August 13, 2014 12:32 PM

In the individual case that might be true. But in the aggregate, I doubt that fertility problems explains more than a bare fraction of today's small families.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 13, 2014 01:23 PM

There's a third explanation for not having large families, which is that there are medical issues involved.

Being both female and someone who has given birth twice myself, it's highly unlikely I would be unaware of that, don't you think? My own mother was told after I was born that I would probably be an only child. And you'd be hard pressed to find any woman who isn't very familiar with miscarriages and infertility issues.

Medical problems can explain some observations but the vast majority of couples, absent birth control, would have much larger families than they do now. Birth rates per female in countries where there's little/no birth control are between 2-3 times those in the US. This is even more remarkable when you stop to consider that we're better nourished and have better access to health care, so pregnancies are more likely to come to term here.

Thus, there is a danger you are being terribly unfair in assuming these people are hypocrites simply because they don't have many children. They may be being faithful in the face of a very high cost.

Assumptions of all kinds can be terribly unfair. If I were making an assumption about only one or two individuals, you might be right. This is why we don't apply stereotypes to individuals.

But I'm not doing that. I have yet to see a single example of a blogger who makes this argument (and I was not thinking of you when I commented, as that would be not only openly insulting - something I hope I am not inclined to - but would also require me to ignore what you have said in the past on this subject) who has a large family.

Not a single one.

Not saying they don't exist - and my example of devout Catholics was designed to make precisely that point. Just that I have yet to encounter one, and this is an argument I pay close attention to.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 13, 2014 01:28 PM

Being both female and someone who has given birth twice myself, it's highly unlikely I would be unaware of that, don't you think?

I thought it was a curious omission, yes. But that you might not have thought of it was the kindest explanation, the one that shows the most respect for your character, so I assumed it. If in fact you meant to assert that your opponents are probably hypocrites, of course you have the right to do that.

Likewise, I don't pay nearly as much attention to contraception issues as you say that you do: in fact, the only time I ever discuss them with anyone is when we talk about it either here or at the Hall. So I don't know who you are thinking about; perhaps if I did know, I'd agree that they are hypocrites!

Still, it seemed like a point that ought to be raised. There can be a good reason for childlessness, and that shouldn't require you to avoid opposing birth control if you have principled reasons.

Posted by: Grim at August 13, 2014 01:52 PM

...that you might not have thought of it was the kindest explanation, the one that shows the most respect for your character, so I assumed it.

There was another kind explanation: that I wasn't in fact assuming what you thought I was assuming :p

There can be a good reason for childlessness, and that shouldn't require you to avoid opposing birth control if you have principled reasons.

I'm not quite sure what you're arguing here. If you're arguing that one is not a hypocrite for using birth control for medical reasons while arguing that other people shouldn't have access to birth control, I'm going to have to disagree.

It happens that I have directly challenged several of the bloggers I'm referring to, and they openly admitted that they use birth control because they didn't want more children (or don't want children yet, but don't wish to give up having sex).

This strikes me as eminently reasonable so long as one isn't simultaneously arguing that other people shouldn't be allowed to do the same. So there's another example of a kind explanation that didn't require suggesting that I was being terribly unfair.

And yes, I think doing what you say other people shouldn't be allowed to do is hypocritical. It's right up there with wealthy Democrats who say they want to be taxed more because income inequality is unfair and "robs" the poor and middle class, then proceed to take every tax loophole offered to them (or dodge taxes, or simply refuse to pay them).

All of which reminds me of the classic prayer attributed to St. Augustine:

"Lord grant me chastity and continence... but not yet."


Posted by: Cassandra at August 13, 2014 02:19 PM

Likewise, I don't pay nearly as much attention to contraception issues as you say that you do...

At the risk of overgeneralizing, I don't think most men think about contraception much. But then most men don't have to - most contraceptives are used by women. Consequently, contraception is one of those things men don't have to worry about much by virtue of having male plumbing. It's hard to understand why someone cares so much about something you don't personally use or need to use.

I've said this before, but I also don't think most men understand on a gut level what it feels like to have to worry about getting pregnant when you're not ready for a baby. The "worst" consequence most guys will experience is having to support an unplanned-for child financially. Good men will try to be good fathers, but they won't be expected to stay home and take care of that child every day, and they won't have to be pregnant for 9 months, or experience childbirth, or see how having small children affects their ability to earn a living.

That's not their fault, and it would be very strange if their experiences did not affect their thinking on issues related to pregnancy and birth control. I've heard men talk about having a baby here at VC as though it were "no big deal", as in, "I don't understand the fuss."

But I'm pretty sure they wouldn't talk this way if a pregnancy affected their lives in the same way it affects womens' lives. Just as I'm pretty sure most women really don't understand on a gut level the sense of duty responsible men feel and the sacrifices they make for their wives and children.

I have never assumed it was entirely my husband's job to support us, but he did. His thinking (and mine) were affected by our experiences and society's expectations for men vs. women. So I'm not saying this to be insulting, but rather because I think it's broadly (no pun intended :p) true that we're more likely to appreciate the dangers and difficulties associated with X when we have direct experience with X or when society pressures us to do X.

This is a powerful argument for marriage: that it gives us a more balanced view of the world than the one provided by whatever personal rabbit hole our experiences provide.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 13, 2014 02:34 PM

Yeah, my experience of being scared of pregnancy was limited to about five minutes of my life. It occurred right after my wife showed up with the positive pregnancy test, and I had to suddenly face up to the fact that I had absolutely no idea how to keep a child alive -- let alone raise one!

Five minutes later, I had a celebratory beer and the world was fine again. Been fine ever since.

Posted by: Grim at August 13, 2014 03:21 PM

Infertility is neither here nor there. Some people won't conceive no matter what (I'm one of them). Birth control is important to the vast majority of people will probably will conceive otherwise. It affects the power balance between men and women when it comes to the ability to continue to earn a living rather than depend on someone else for support. That's why I cite it as an important factor in feminism. When bearing children becomes a matter that both partners must agree on, they quickly find out that they have to compromise on how life with children will be handled between them, unless they're willing to do without children. That changes things enormously for anyone who wants children (still, I think, a majority).

Posted by: Texan99 at August 13, 2014 09:17 PM

When bearing children becomes a matter that both partners must agree on, they quickly find out that they have to compromise on how life with children will be handled between them, unless they're willing to do without children.

I have often wondered if at least part of the declining birth rate is due to the fact that fathers can't take it for granted that their wives will stay home with the kids? It often works out that way, but it's certainly not a given anymore.

I think this has had some positive effects: fathers who do stay married are much more hands-on and engaged in rearing their children, and I can't see how this isn't a good thing. A father's love, attention, and guidance are good for kids.

On the minus side, the lines of authority or responsibility aren't always as clear-cut, and some things fall by the wayside. There is a certain efficiency in, "I'll run the home, you go slay dragons and earn the money." On the other hand, I see my husband playing with his grandchildren with such delight and often think (just as I did when *his* father did the same with my boys), "I wish he had been able to do that with our sons when they were growing up."

I'm not saying he was a bad father at all. He was gone a lot - he worked very long hours and deployed 4 times for a whole year and in between there were countless smaller deployments. But he's so good with children, and really seems to enjoy them. It's fun watching him unbend a bit, shrug off his cares and just be silly.

I wish he had had the freedom to indulge that side of himself a bit more, just as I sometimes wished I had had a little more freedom. I look at my kids and think the way they do things isn't bad at all. In some ways, I think it's better and in some, not as good as the way we did them.

But then life is full of tradeoffs!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 13, 2014 09:45 PM

"I have often wondered if at least part of the declining birth rate is due to the fact that fathers can't take it for granted that their wives will stay home with the kids? It often works out that way, but it's certainly not a given anymore."

Or, on a related note, with the fact that women are inclined for the first time to say, "I'm not ready to have kids if you're not ready to help take care of them. If you're serious about wanting children, step up and show it." Many potential fathers aren't, and many potential mothers wait until they're ready to decide to do it on their own--which sometimes is too late, and certainly results in fewer children on average.

The fact that there's a choice whether to have kids now (without giving up on sex) means that the kids won't happen unless both parents are more flexible than they used to have to be.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 16, 2014 02:40 PM

Great blog, and an interesting thread. Observations:

- yeah, lefty libs want many things to be free, but no one really wants feminem (sp?) hygiene to be a public discussion.
And in any case, just like birth control, it's relatively cheap in this country.

- I'm unable to fathom anyone that actually argues against 'birth control,' aka family planning.

- 'life is full of trade offs'
> priceless.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at August 18, 2014 04:19 AM

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