This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face

The latest insane flurry of right-wing efforts to roll back women’s reproductive rights and push women out of civil participation and public discourse has left many liberals certain that come November, Republican women will leave the fold in droves. I am not so sure. There have already been and will continue to be some defections among women who are slightly right-of-center, but the trickle will not become a flood. I do hope history will prove me wrong, but I doubt it will happen in this political climate.

It was Golda Meir, an Israeli Prime Minister, who famously remarked that peace will come to the Middle East when Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews. Regardless of where you stand on the Israeli-Palestinian question, Meir made an astute observation about human nature: that plenty of people, particularly in a highly polarized political climate, prefer to hurt those they hate even at the cost of bringing a greater disaster upon themselves and those they love, rather than opt for a solution that makes things better for everyone. In other words, hatred can become prioritized over self-interest.

Very recently, a scientific study reached an unsurprising conclusion that variations in political philosophy hearken back to primal psychological and cognitive differences — and that, in particular, conservatives are more inclined to respond to negative stimuli than liberals. In other words, as the current events amply demonstrate, conservatives are singularly focused on the Other, and the perceived need to curb, paralyze, neutralize that Other — which includes “overeducated” and presumably loose women. In terms of reproductive rights, this will translate, I’m afraid, into conservative women being perfectly willing to vote away their own and their daughters’ rights for the sake of abridging the rights of all other women, who, in their view, do not deserve them.

To say that right-wingers are hypocritical on social issues would be a gross understatement. The overwhelming majority of conservative women violate their “virginity pledges” and use birth control. They — even outspoken abortion protesters — also have abortions. And yet, they enthusiastically harass doctors and patients, and vote in politicians with a proven record of trying to curb women’s bodily autonomy and freedom of choice. The reason is simple: they hate the rights of others more than they appreciate their own. Moreover, since they perceive their own hypocrisy as merely a belief that they are exceptional (as I’ve written previously), they lack the empathy necessary to understand that an attack on “other” women’s autonomy represents an attack on their own, as well. They figure that if they need an abortion and there are no longer any obstetricians in Buttfuck, Kansas willing to do it, they’ll just take a vacation in one of those liberal cities they love to hate. They’ll see a show, have a nice meal, do a spot of shopping and back in his home town, continue to support politicians who advocate legislation whose practical effect will be to force poor women to serve as human breeding cattle for those “deserving” couples whose exceptional circumstances, you see, justify them not going through the trouble of pregnancy and childbirth despite wanting to have more children.

Conservative women have exhibited this behavior for a long time, and I believe, most of them will stick to it come November. They see the liberty of others as a greater threat than efforts to reduce them to chattel. And they are not likely to wake up from their Two Minutes’ Hate until it’s too late. If they wake up at all, that is.


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14 thoughts on “Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face

  1. You’re exactly right. Conservatism is a negative philosophy — it is defined more by what it’s against, rather than what it is for.

    What follows below are some comments from Ann Coulter about women’s right to vote which perfectly prove the point you are making here:

    “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.”

    The never-married Coulter apparently doesn’t think she’s a woman or she has the insane idea that they’d make an exception for her. She also obviously does not consider that there are many men who vote stupidly as well.

    Coulter, like Phyllis Schlafly before her, are women born to privilege who have learn to manipulate the old boys’ system to work for them and have absolutely no empathy for women not of their class.

  2. mutantpoodle on said:

    I think you’re right, but the real issue is what the other 70% of women in this country do. Socially conservative women aren’t turned off by the war on contraception – some of them are on the front lines – but single women tend to like their contraceptive choices served with a dose of MYOB, and most of them – even if persuadable on economics – are hugely turned off by this display. Their the female voters the GOP is, or should be, worried about.

  3. I think you are generalizing conservatives and especially conservative women. The argument that most, if not all, conservative women are acting against their own self interest with their opposition to the HHS mandate is really basic and lacks an understanding of the conservative argument.

    If one honestly listens to the conservative argument against the HHS mandate they would realize that it isn’t against contraception at all. No one has proposed an out-right ban on contraception of any sort. What conservatives are arguing for is the freedom of institutions to be free to decide what the will spend their money funding. Just like you expect the freedom to spend your money the way you chose, institutions like the Catholic Church ought to have the ability to do the same. There is no difference between an individual and an institution because an institution consists of like minded individuals. To use government to constrain an institution is to use government to constrain individuals.

    The HHS mandate constrains institutions from exercising their ability to choose what they will and will not do. It limits their liberty. Females who argue this point are not arguing against their own self interest. The female may be very concerned about her reproductive health and oppose the mandate simultaneously while still maintaining logical consistency. The removal of the mandate would send us back not to the 1600s like some left of center commentators, using hyperbole, would have you believe. Instead, it would send us back to the month of January 2012.

    I admit that there are some conservatives and perhaps some female conservatives that are in favor of banning contraception; however, they are a very small minority of conservatives and almost non-existent in today’s conservative leadership.

  4. Clough82:

    Although my post was not really about that, I do feel compelled here to go off on a tangent somewhat.

    The controversy you are referencing is over the obligation of employers to include certain coverage in their policies of insurance that are provided to employees as compensation for work, and for which employees give up a sizeable chunk of their paycheck anyway. (Schools don’t just provide insurance to students, either. Students have to pay for it, over and above their tuition – and in many jurisdictions, a student may not even register for class without having health insurance.) So when you and other conservatives say that employees should pay for contraceptives “themselves” and not expect “others” to pay for them, what exactly do you mean? If you go to your local Lowe’s and see an R-rated movie that your boss doesn’t approve of, are you paying it with your money or his money? When he pays you a salary, is he being forced to subsidize your immoral R-rated-movie-watching lifestyle?

    The fundamental issue here is at what point in the employer-employee relationship the money that’s paid as compensation stops being the employer’s and becomes the employee’s. I happen to think the transformation takes place as soon as the employee has earned his or her paycheck – even if the money is still physically in the employer’s account, even if the paycheck hasn’t yet been cut. But that’s just the liberal in me talking. The conservative view of labor, that I have seen emerge in the past several years, is that the economy consists of hard-working, benevolent “job-creators” on the one hand and lazy, leeching job-consumers on the other; that jobs are basically a form of welfare; that workers don’t really deserve to get paid (because if they did anything that was actually needed, they’d have their own businesses and be millionaires); and that they are lucky to get anything for working, no matter how little. That is the philosophy underlying the latest coverage controversy – with a side serving of positively medieval vilification of sexuality. And of course, the argument that is now used to decry contraception coverage as a form of oppression and forced subsidy of prostitutes, can be used for anything else. The same “men of God” might as well have been testifying in Congress how paying their employees actual money is a violation of their religious freedom, because money can be used to pay for all sorts of things that they do not approve of.

    There are lots of things that limit what we can and cannot do, thereby abridging our liberty. I can’t kill bad people because it’s illegal. You can’t urinate in the middle of the street, because there are laws against indecency that punish that kind of conduct. An employer is forced to pay his employees and can’t rape or beat them. Labor laws like that limit employers’ liberty. Not every liberty, however, is constitutionally guaranteed — even if you are a “job creator”. Not every abridgment of “liberty” is unconstitutional or antithetical to American values — least of all the “liberty” to treat one’s employers like serfs and control their private lives.

    As for conservatives supposedly not being against sex or contraception, politically speaking – the news tells me otherwise. From legislation designed to subject women to invasive, unnecessary and humiliating procedures as a prerequisite to abortion, to decrying Griswold v. Connecticut (the decision that struck down a statute that made it a criminal offense for a doctor to talk about contraception with married couples), to criticism of cheap contraception as supposedly enabling poor people to forget their place and go at it like rabbits “without consequences”, to laws designed to impose financial and legal pressures on single mothers to give up their children for adoption – all of this is an assault on women’s reproductive rights and ultimately women’s autonomy. The fact that most individual conservatives freely avail themselves of medical advances that avert unwanted parenthood is contradicted by their apparent desire to control those things in everyone else.

  5. Culturally conservative women aren’t as common as conservatives would have you believe, and if Republicans keep up the nonsense, they’ll all go the way of the dodo bird. Young people want no part of it.

  6. The payment of a wage and the personal usage of that wage is very much different from what the HHS mandate imposes. I agree employers should not and do not have the ability to mandate what you use your earned wages for. On top of all that, no employer tries to force employees to use their wages anyway. However, the HHS mandate forces employers to directly partake in the subsidizing of contraception. To use your movie analogy, the church realizes that it cannot monitor or force people not to view R rated movies. Instead, the government is forcing employers to pay for a third party that will be providing the majority of the movie ticket payment. Before this mandate religious institutions could choose to self-insure without any contraception provisions or purchase a private insurance company that does not provide contraception payments for its recipients. Due to the mandate, Religious institutions are now unable to do just that.

    Now I can understand that you may see religious institutions having the ability to withhold contraception as being unfair, but in reality that isn’t true. One, contraception can be purchased elsewhere. Secondly, employers use to have the choice of providing healthcare coverage for their employees. They were able to choose what coverage the felt comfortable paying for. By doing this, they risk losing some employees that really want health insurance and or contraception coverage. Likewise, employees have the freedom to choose where they will work. If they want to work at Georgetown university than they have to forego health insurance payment for contraception. If they really want to work at a job that does provide contraception insurance then they must choose to work somewhere else. You might say that it is unfair, but in a free society these are the realities we must deal with.

    The free market that I described above meets both the employers and employees wishes the best way possible while avoiding force. It doesn’t view employees as mere lazy welfare recipients. On the contrary it respects every worker and employer and trusts that these individuals will make the best decisions for themselves.

    • mutantpoodle on said:

      This mandate does not apply to religious institutions per se, but to subsidiaries that are not primarily religious in nature. The mandate came about because people in medicine determined (and have for a long time) that contraceptive coverage is a basic women’s health need – just as preventative coverage is for everybody. It may be that said contraceptives are used for non-contraceptive purposes, and maybe they are, but that is truly none of ANYONE’S business.

      The policy you are suggesting requires women who work for Catholic organizations to have health care coverage that is inferior to that of their colleagues elsewhere, without decreasing the cost to the affected institution – they aren’t paying for it, after all.

      The Catholic church (and every other “offended” religious institution) has lived with this form of mandate for over a decade in many states. Someone cynical might suggest that their objection is not moral, but political.

  7. The Catholic Church is not required to get involved in secular activities such as education and medicine. If it does, it can’t make up its own rules as to how its new extra-religious employees are to be treated. Where would such theological discretion end?

  8. First question: are you Pro or Anti Choice?

    Second: How do you feel about all the new laws being enacted that modify existing abortion laws? For example, Texas requiring women to go home and “think about it for 24 hours”, and Arizona (and now Kansas) doctors being able to lie to parents about any potential health risks that baby may pose?

    • Clough82:

      But it’s not really a free market, is it? Employers are a little bit more free in our market than workers, and they have greater resources to have legislation enacted that makes them freer still at the expense of others. This is particularly true of employers who pay no taxes on their income.

      Also: frankly, I fail to see the distinction. “Forcing” an employer to supposedly “subsidize” something they don’t agree with encompasses “forcing” that employer to pay in freely negotiable currency. Don’t forget: there was once such a thing as a truck system, and there have been employers who strictly controlled every tiny aspect of their employees’ lives. The argument they made in justification of it was essentially the same: that being the ones to provide their employees with a livelihood, they should have the right — nay, it’s an “obligation” — to determine how that compensation is spent. I would hate to see that system come back.

      Melissa Limasse:

      Frankly, I think “choice” is the wrong term that came to define the controversy. There are bigger issues here, namely the ability of doctors to practice good medicine and patients’ rights to medical privacy. As the late Justice Blackmun — who was privately against abortion — wrote, this is a decision made between a woman and her doctor. Therefore, I am appalled that legislatures — and particularly those legislators who impede the teaching of science and are proudly ignorant of how reproduction even works — are enacting laws that require doctors to commit malpractice, or legally absolve malpracticing doctors of liability. The stupid yokels who push these laws don’t understand how easily it can be turned against them on medical issues other than contraception or abortion.

  9. Rick:
    Historically the US has considered all religiously run institutions as protected under the 1st amendment. Why is everyone who has commented on this blog so committed to erasing the historical definition of the religious freedom? Do we really want a policy that will force these institutions to go against their deep moral convictions or stop educating children, stop operating soup kitchens, stop operating hospitals, stop providing shelter to the poor, stop providing adoption services for those children who have been abandoned, etc. ?

    It may seem like a fair trade-off if all contraception was about to be banned, but any reasonable person knows that that isn’t true. Yet, it seems so many would rather force the church from providing vital services for so many (a service they do out of good will, which is so rare in this world) or go against their teachings in order to provide a small amount of females with FREE contraception. Contraception that can be purchased elsewhere for a relatively low cost.

    On another note, contraception isn’t a right. There is no legal provision providing for free contraception. If you think there is, I’m sorry, you’re wrong. Rights are those things individuals can do on their own without the help of anyone or government. The freedom to speech, the freedom of action, the freedom of thought, etc. There is no right to healthcare, marriage, contraception because you can’t get those things without having someone else provides them for you. Unless of course you are a doctor, you can take care of yourself, but that falls under the freedom of action. If you are not a doctor you are not entitled to use the force of government to force a doctor to treat you for a price you want to pay or free (disregarding the doctors wants and needs). Contraception isn’t free, it must be created and paid for by someone. Using the government to force someone to pay for your contraception is wrong and is a violation of individual liberty.


    You are absolutely right, this isn’t a free market. Businesses should not be given the upper hand through tax subsidies or regulations that they have with government currently. However, the answer to secure a more free system is not to make business or religion less free, but to stop the handouts. That starts with voters not trying to vote in politicians who will give them free stuff or force others to give them free stuff. Vote in politicians who support free people and free markets.

  10. “Do we really want a policy that will force these institutions to go against their deep moral convictions or stop educating children, stop operating soup kitchens, stop operating hospitals, stop providing shelter to the poor, stop providing adoption services for those children who have been abandoned, etc. ?”

    Come on, don’t exaggerate. You know this has nothing to do with keeping the church from educating children, operating soup kitchens, etc. As for forcing institutions to go against their deep moral convictions, what about the church forcing those convictions on employees who don’t share them? Religious freedom also includes freedom from religion.

    I don’t know what the answer is here, but it’s not right to insist on religious freedom and at the same time impose your religious convictions on others.

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