Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Interesting Times...

I've been completely crap at blogging lately - don't give up on me - I will return to regularity as soon as my exams both start and finish!

Anyway, all this extra time has allowed me to ruminate about feminism in a way that is probably deeply detrimental to all my revision. I was reading a book the other day that was talking about prudential morality - i.e. moralities that are based on the premise that we should act according to what it is in our interest to do.

This got me thinking. If it were a woman who happened to be deciding what it was to act according to her interests, what kind of behaviour/needs would she have? Immediately, I thought of security. What women doesn't think that security is in her interests? Dworkin (Andrea) asked us to imagine a day without rape and that kind of world needs security, above anything.

But then I thought - what am I thinking? My whole conceptual understanding of what is in a woman's natural interest, what her basic self interest would be, is based on a framework of a world dominated by men. The only way we can think about the self interest of women is to think of what their interest is *now*. Naturally, would a woman's first interest be security? I don't think it would be, but I have no way of finding out. The whole concept of women and what is in their interest has been created by men. My linguistic framework has been developed in a male-oriented society. My conceptual understanding of these issues is distorted.

In light of this, I think we need to find a new theory of human nature for women. And figure out what *would* be in a woman's self-interest. Assuming she is in fact self-interested, which let's face it, she may not be. Perhaps I shall devote my final week of revision to that...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Responsibility Ethic

I'm sick to death of claims that men just cannot help themselves when it comes to women. The most recent example of this is John Prescott (Deputy Prime Minister) and his affair with his diary keeper.

Admittedly, I haven't always been completely supportive of Tracy - I don't necessarily think that selling diaries of your sex life to the mail is quite the best way to salvage pride/dignity/your career - but I am more than willing to stand up for her and say that the affair was not solely her fault and she does not have to take full responsibility for it. And it never ceases to amaze me that there are a number of women out there who are prepared to absolve J.P on the grounds that he simply couldn't resist the fact that he was found attractive.

Okay, we may all get our heads turned at one time or another, that someone we admire finds us attractive. But still. How many of us would happily absolve ourselves of all responsibility for any - ahem - activity that then occured? Especially if we are in a position of professional responsibility? India Knight, of the Sunday Times, seems to think that John Prescott can be absolved of all responsibility this way.

For christ's sake - history grants men moral standing, political rights etc, it must believe that they are capable of making some choices. Kant created a whole moral philosophy based on reason and restraint. If men are indeed so bloody stupid that they really *just can't help themselves* in what are really fairly simple circumstances, then they shouldn't be allowed to do any of the things they do now. They should be kept in cages, and when they wee on the carpet, have their noses rubbed in it.

On the assumption that men are just as capable as women of making decisions and choices based on reason, I move that we drop the idea that men just can't help themselves and allow them (make them?) to take some responsibility for the choices they make. Exempting men in general from responsibility makes it easier for people to start claiming that they "just couldn't help themselves" when they rape someone for wearing a short skirt.

Yet another case where generalising on gender is far from constructive.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Rising Tide of Insanity

Hmm. Reading yesterday's post I realise I don't sound quite as... *sane* as I would otherwise have liked. I put this down to hurtling headlong towards exam time and the difficulty in managing to express opinions about abortion without drifting into crazed territory.

To clarify (hopefully), I am not expressing the opinion that if women are in relationships that they should not even *talk* about their choice with their partner, I am just suggesting that in the final instance, due to the very nature of childbirth, pregnancy etc (i.e. that men can't take the foetus into their own body and go through pregnancy and labour, thus freeing up women who would rather not be pregnant), it is the choice of the woman. Regardless of how the rest of the world views her reasons.

On a different note, it turns out that rape convictions may be as low as they are in the UK because of sloppy evidence collection (i.e. for DNA). Having read some literature (academic) on the attitude of some (most?)of the police and indeed, lawyers etc towards rape victims, this does not come as a huge shock, despite the fact that the article seemed to written with astonishment. If perceptions towards rape victims border on disbelieving/scornful, then it's hardly likely that people are going to bother following up all the leads with the efficiency one might suggest that the situation merits. I realise that I am not being fair to the whole of the police etc, but it only takes a few to let the side down... And to be honest, it seems like it might be more than just a few. Time to pull ourselves together.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

How inhuman can you get?

It seems the UK Life League is out in force again, this time posting delightful photographs of terminated foetuses.

I just don't understand what these people think they're doing (and no, that is not a cry for enlightenment). Pro-life should really be more accurately renamed anti-choice or even anti-woman. There may well be women out there who feel that they would never have an abortion themselves, but the idea of using that subjective position to get rid of that choice for every other woman out there seems barbaric and counter-intuitive. I'm going to get a bit academic now and point out that there is no way in any valid political conception of the good that making that sort of choice (to ban abortion) would stand up. And yet, in empirical politics, it certainly seems to.

If we can't ban pornography, why the fuck should they be able to ban abortion? Oh yes, because one is something men can get off to, whereas the other is to do with a woman's autonomy over her own body (or really, both are, but probably fewer men get off on heavily pregnant brood mares). Heaven forbid we should do anything to impede a man's ability to wank whenever he so chooses.

Anyway, got off track slightly there. Ahem. What really gets me is the underhand methods that are used to make the anti-choice point. Firstly they ignore the fact that pro-choice is not synonymous for pro-abortion in every instance. No-one is saying that when a woman gets pregnant she should automatically go down to the clinic to terminate her pregnancy, simply that she should have the choice to decide what she does for herself.

At University we banned Life from advertising as a neutral and impartial pregnancy advice line. We phoned up a lot and surprise surprise, we were always advised to keep the child and to not even consider having an abortion. Women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant are often (if not always) particularly vulnerable and need someone to listen to them and discuss options with them. They do not need advice, from either end of the spectrum. Especially when that advice takes no heed of their current circumstances or capabilities. And even more importantly, when they are getting biased advice from someone who is claiming to be neutral. It seems extremely underhand and immoral.

I've always had some difficulty with the idea that men should be able to have a say in abortion debates. I don't want to deny that men should be able to have an opinion, but it seems more academic and abstract from their point of view - this is something that is not going to have an impact on their body or their future in that same direct way. As women who have been pregnant know, it is at that time that you most fully appreciate how important that choice is, and how thankful you are to be able to make it, whatever you decide. No doubt many men go through this with their partner, but in the end, I'm in favour of the last choice being that of the woman. If there are men in our lives, they should be able to trust us to make a responsible decision (it's not like this is something you decide on impulse) and if they're outside of our lives, it has nothing to do with them at all.