The present age…prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence…for in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane. – Ludwig Feuerbach
I’m doing a regular Q & A column tomorrow, but every so often I get a question whose answer is complex enough (and general enough) to justify a full column; this is one of those times. The author also very cleverly flattered me, ensuring a thorough answer.
I was wondering why you have not mentioned the birth control and Planned Parenthood controversy that has been going on, specifically the GOP attacks on its existence and availability. I realize that it has been widely covered, but I would be (selfishly) interested in your thoughts, since they are usually quite logical and minus any hysteria or posturing. I’m also pretty alarmed by where the GOP is heading with their pronouncements–if all the career girls are to be stuck in the kitchen cooking, how much worse will the sex-loving girls have it? I’m a current career girl and previously a sex-loving girl, so doubly-damned. BTW, your articles on rape and the role of prostitutes in mopping up excess male sexuality were truly a light bulb moment for me. Literally, I had NEVER once thought that out, but once explained, I could only marvel that I’d never seen it before. And I’m a firm third-wave feminist, well-read and far too well-educated about biology to believe that nonsense about how gender is just “conditioning”…yet I was so blinded by what “everyone knows” I never thought about the function that prostitution plays in a healthy society.
In a recent article for Smithsonian, Teller (the short, silent half of Penn & Teller, my all-time favorite magicians) explains “how magicians manipulate the human mind”, and points out that a number of their principles are also used by non-entertainers for less benign reasons. Two of these principles are involved in the whole birth control “controversy”; one is misdirection, and the other what we might call “false choice”. Misdirection is when the magician (or politician) gets his audience to look someplace he wants it to look in order to draw attention away from someplace he doesn’t want it to look; magicians accomplish this by showmanship, comedy or lovely assistants, and politicians by manufactured controversies they can loudly posture about. “False choice” is the principle that if a person is given a choice, he believes he has acted freely; a magician uses this when he asks you to pick a card from a doctored deck. As Teller points out, “You think you’ve made a choice, just as when you choose between two candidates preselected by entrenched political parties.”
The whole birth control “controversy” is nothing other than a smoke screen (on which both parties collaborate) to draw attention away from the real issues, such as the collapsing economy and ever-increasing police state. We don’t have two parties in the US any more; we have two chapters of one party, the Big Centralized Government Party, and their differences are purely cosmetic. That’s why I cringe when I hear women buy into the idea that the GOP is their enemy…it certainly is, but so is the Democratic Party. They both want women safely denuded of rights and placed in farms where we can be kept “safe” and docile; all they differ on is which holding pen is best (kitchen vs. cubicle). And though one might say that Republicans want us forced to produce babies, one might also say the Democrats want to imprison the babies we do have in government indoctrination centers (i.e. crappy public schools) where they’re taught to shut up, sit down and do as they’re told…and both want those kids arrested if they disobey or “make trouble”. They both spread “sex trafficking” myth to suppress whores, both support ever-expanding police and government surveillance powers, both have refused to consider ending the drug war, both support universal criminality, and both support “end demand” schemes which criminalize men and define women as retarded adolescents.
So though I’ve touched on the controversy a little on Twitter and mentioned it obliquely in columns, I don’t think it would be productive to discuss it as an isolated phenomenon…because it isn’t. The closest I got was probably in “Legislators Gone Wild” last March, in which I pointed out that a lot of the misogynistic legislation (from both sides of the aisle despite the claims of Democrats) is a predictable backlash against the anti-male policies of the past two decades, which have created a huge pool of resentment in mostly-male legislators (as any practical psychologist could’ve told them it would).
I’m really glad you found the articles on rape (and prostitution’s role in preventing it) enlightening; I’m afraid they’ve allowed anti-sex neofeminists to brand me a “rape apologist” (a propaganda term explained in my column of one year ago today along with many others), because the only way they can keep the believers in line is to teach them not to think about it. The idea that seeking to understand the causes of a crime, and to discover inobtrusive preventative measures that work, is somehow “apologizing” for that crime, is a favorite of totalitarians everywhere; anything that interferes with criminalization, punishment and police suppression must be shouted down as “soft on crime”. Demonization of human beings who harm others ignores the fact that they’re human beings, and just as flawed as everybody else. Those who desire to suppress a particular group (men, blacks, the poor, etc) don’t want their followers thinking too hard about why the members of that group commit anti-social behaviors (i.e. crimes), and they oppose anything that discourages members of the target group from committing crimes, because if they don’t commit crimes the state has no excuse to brutalize them and lock them up. In a very real sense prohibitionists of all types are pro-crime, because they WANT people of the group they hate beaten and caged, not helped to stay straight.