Monday, December 11, 2006

Life devalued by the abortion debate?

(Note: the following post was created using dictation (voice-to-text) software; please watch out for misinterpreted words/phrases)

There is a meme that I have seen going around that has started to bother me. There are certain pro-life organizations that are claiming that the legalization of abortion has caused people in the United States to have less respect for human life. I think that this is not only wrong, I think that they have it backwards.

Just today I saw a pro-life supporter claiming that there have been millions of innocent children murdered through abortion. I'd like you to think about that. This person is claiming that the United States government is specifically protecting people who have committed millions of murders, and this person isn't alone. Other people make similar claims, and most of them would be insulted if you questioned the sincerity of their beliefs.

Nevertheless, do they act as if they truly believe that abortion is murder? Would they be writing letters, making political contributions, waving protest signs, etc., if they felt that millions of murders were occurring?

The way I see it, there are two choices: either they are claiming that millions of murders deserves nothing more than angry protests, and attempts to change the law to restrict those murders, or they are cowards, unwilling to take a stand to stop those murders.

Of course, I believe that "abortion is murder" is simply a catch phrase for them, and they haven't really thought out the implications of it. If they have thought out the implications of it, and still make that claim, then they are claiming that millions of murders warrants nothing but political action, or they are lying.

The interesting thing here is that almost all of these explanations lead up to these people creating a culture in which life is not valued... at least not in the arena of political speech.

Obviously, if life is only worth angry political campaigns to protect, then they are saying life isn't a very valuable. If they are too cowardly to take a stand to stop millions of murders, they are again saying that life isn't too valuable. If the are willing to throw around hit claims about murder without thinking about them, then they don't consider life worthy of careful, rigorous thought. And finally, if they are willing to call something murder, when they know full well that it isn't, they are cheapening the word "murder", and turning the concept of life into cheap political rhetoric.

Speaking of rhetoric, there is one rhetorical device that I hate. People will ask questions like, "Once we have taken God out of the public schools, how can we be surprised that students are willing to kill their classmates and teachers?"

When someone says something like that, they are pretending that we already know that the first thing mentioned has a direct effect on the second. But we don't need God in the public schools to prevent killing; even if religion was required for people to have good, sound, moral principles, parents can teach their children about God. They don't need help from the public schools.

Nevertheless, I'm going to use that rhetorical device right now. You can decide for yourself if it is fair or not.

If someone is used to hearing that this country allowed millions of murders to occur, is it any surprise that these same people can blow off a news story saying that 600,000 people have died as a result of the invasion of Iraq? If millions of murders are worth nothing more than letter writing, political action, and protests, why would 600,000 deaths-not even a million-be worthy of concern?

Maybe the abortion debate has caused human life to be less valued ... but if so, I don't think it's happened the way the pro-lifers claim.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Feminism and the ruination of sex

Over at Pandagon, there's a discussion going on about another blog where there's a claim that feminism has damaged sexuality in some way... as if feminism was to blame for guys believing that women want to be romanced, rather than just, well, "taken" might be the best word.

It raised some thoughts. See, feminism has affected my sex life. I heard a lot about the crap women put up with in the sexual arena. Being felt up in crowds; being leered at, having crude comments made; being groped at random, and having the guy insist "oh, it was just an innocent misunderstanding"; being raped, sometimes by guys they desperately wanted to trust.

I got the wrong message out of that. The message I got was that women lived in a world made terrifying by sex, and therefore, the worst thing you could do was desire to do sexual stuff to a woman unless she wanted you to.

Now, it is pretty bad to do sexual stuff to anyone if they don't want you to; I specified women only because I don't have any interest in doing sexual stuff with men. The problem is, you can't always tell what a person wants. My solution was not to try.

Well, if you don't try to make a move on a woman, she assumes you don't want to, and she's not all that likely to make a move on you if she doesn't think you're interested. It's a bad situation from both ends.

There were two things that I needed to get straight in my head.

First, the issue with women is not that they're surrounded by sex; it's that their boundaries aren't respected. Most women are okay with their boundaries being nudged in a careful, respectful way. It wasn't that I shouldn't make a move on a woman; it was that I should do so in a way that left her in control of the situation, not just in the moment (i.e., that I'll stop if she asks) but in the future (I'm trying to find what she likes, and what she feels comfortable with, and I'll respect those boundaries as best as I can).

For those guys who aren't motivated by being gentlemanly, let me point out that this also makes a woman feel safer, which generally shortens your seduction time. Women don't tend to want to get naked and busy with you until they feel safe doing so.

The scary part for me, at that point in time in my life, was that I had to learn how to try without feeling like a rejection meant that I'd done something horribly wrong. Because the only way you learn to make a move is by trying to make a move, and the only way you find out that you were moving too fast, and mis-reading the signals, is by moving a little too fast, and realizing you mis-read the signals. The solution was to make my moves slowly enough that I could back off with minimal embarrassment if I read the situation wrong.

The second thing I had to get straight in my mind was this: sexuality is a gift. If I want to have sex with a woman, I'm offering her a fine and wonderful gift.

Does that sound egotistical? I suppose it might, but it's the right way to look at it, in a variety of ways.

First off, offering a gift means that the recipient can say yes or no to it. It's not really a gift if you're trying to metaphorically shove it down her throat.

(The earthy part of me wants to point out that there's also a literal warning for guys there... if she's giving you head, *she* gets to control how deep. Don't you dare ruin it for her next guy by making it awful for her!)

Also, while you might be disappointed if your gift is rejected, you shouldn't be sulky or whiny or petulant or even annoyed. If she's not allowed to say "no" without it bugging you, you were making it so her "yes" wasn't able to be as freely given, either.

Second, while this is a gift that is good for both the giver and the recipient, giving a gift means you think it will, first and foremost, be happy making for the recipient. You don't give a gift solely out of hopes of the rewards it might bring you.

Third, giving a gift means you'll care about the gift itself; you'll do what you can to make it nice, and you'll appreciate and value the gift you're giving.

In short, you won't think that sex is dirty, or nasty, or feel less about the woman who wants it; you'll love what you're doing, so long as it's making you both happy, and not hurting either of you.

This last bit... I have to admit, it stems from a strange feeling of mine. I think a lot of men of older generations (I'm 40, so I'm talking guys born near WWII and older) got the idea that sex was dirty, and one of the reasons they were so worshipful of women was that women would let them do this dirty thing, yet still make men feel good about it.

I don't know why I got the feeling that this idea existed; it's not explicit anywhere. So why do I feel that a lot of men felt that way? It's hard to express, but part of it plays into the whole virgin/whore dichotomy of ages past, where there were women a man would fuck, and women he'd marry. You can't think sex is a fine and wonderful thing, while thinking that the women who also love sex are dirty sluts.

If you don't think what you're offering is good, beautiful, and even noble, then why are you offering it in the first place? If it's not a lovely gift, then isn't it pretty icky to be seeing if someone you care about wants it?

Anyway: realizing that the main issue about women was control of their boundaries, and realizing that sex should be seen as a precious gift, were the things that made me into the much more sexually confident (and active) man that I am today. I don't know if this has any relevance to anyone else's life, but hey... sex is supposed to be personal. These are my answers; maybe, if you need to, you'll find some answers of your own by thinking about them.

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