Philobiblon: Is 'Red' America destroying itself by removing its women's autonomy?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Is 'Red' America destroying itself by removing its women's autonomy?

Just been reading a couple of brilliant posts that I've got to share:

The most interesting male feminist blogger on the web (that I know of), Hugo Schywzer, has a great post about the reality of the pressure of sexual double-standards on students' lives as first-generation immigrants in America:

It is Brumberg who first drew my attention to statistics about menarche, marriage, and the loss of virginity. She points out that a century ago, girls menstruated for the first time at an average age of 16 and got married at an average age of around 21. Today, girls menstruate at an average age of just under 12 and get married for the first time at just over 25.
...Here's where it gets interesting. A century ago, the time between the onset of puberty and marriage was but five years; today it's close to fifteen. If a contemporary young woman is trying to "wait" until marriage to lose her virginity, she is waiting -- in a very real sense -- three times as long as women did in her great-great grandmother's era!

And of course that same pressure on women's viriginity is being applied across American society.

And that is happening at the same time as access to birth control and abortion is being restricted, indeed when the government is trying to take control of women's bodies. (Heo Cwaeth is - and good on her - determined to fight; in that posts she powerfully draws together a number of events to find that the US government has declared war on women.)

I am now dedicated to learning how to fight in myriad ways, and you can bet your bottom dollar that any attempted rapist will be short at least one dangling participle at the end of the exchange. I encourage you to do the same. I have volunteered my home in a blue state as a safe haven for my already enslaved sisters in South Dakota, and soon to be enslaved sisters in other red states. I encourage those of you who can to do the same. We have been told for millenia that emotion is bad, only reason is accepted. We have then been presented with "reason" that is merely the systematized emotion of others. Let the pharisees call their hate "reason," it's time for us to act. I ask you, what's more reasonable than responding to the very real threat of physical violence than learning how to inflict injuries of your own? What's more reasonable than opening up your home and your life to runaway slaves?

That leaves me thinking about what the fundamentalists are doing to America, and if they really get it. Yes, they are trying to take utter control of women's bodies (and minds) and turn them into Stepford wives. And they think that will produce some sort of Fifties Brady Bunch idyll.

But what is it going to do to the economics of America, or at least these states? If you force women (and men) not to have sex outside marriage (for fear of pregnancy, if nothing else, having restricted and often ended access to birth control) they will, inevitably, marry young.

And that will stop them getting education, stop them participating to their full capacity in the workplace, in short cost them vast amounts of money. To consider a British study:

A 24-year-old mid-skilled woman giving birth would, she found, earn a staggering £560,000 less at today's prices over her lifetime than a childless counterpart. Giving birth at 28 would only cost £165,000.

Now of course that is a loss to the individual woman, but it is also a loss to society.

This isn't the 1950s. To compete economically, to maintain a "developed" lifestyle, you need a highly educated, flexible workforce operating to its full intellectual and creative potential. If you greatly restrict the contribution of half of them - and as we know from the Third World, when you restrict the education of women you tend to cut the educational attainment of their children - you are going to be very ill-equipped to compete.

The American "red" states, where the fundamentalists wield real power, might be sending themselves back to the Fifties in more ways than one. They might in effect be, by choice "under-developing" themselves, taking themselves back to poverty and "Third World" economic status.

Wonder what the right-wing extreme capitalist types with whom they are politically aligned make of that?

UPDATE: Moving this to a third continent, to demonstrate what having babies does to the income and employment prospects of women, read Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony (who is in Australia).


Anonymous david ware said...

Are the "red" states trying to get themselves back to the fifties? One could make a (slightly facetious) case for South Dakota never having left that decade. Their recent enactment of the strictest anti-privacy/anti-abortion law in the nation suggests that a majority of their lawmakes (and by implication those who voted 'em in) are impervious to the tides of not only modernism but also of common sense. Sigh.

3/13/2006 07:20:00 pm  

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