A few days ago, I was part of an infuriating argument on Facebook about abortion. It started out with much civility: a pro-life person asking nicely for people’s views, and people responding with their own views. But it was largely men who responded (myself included), and when a couple women chimed in to point out the gender disparity, the response ended up being something like, “So you’re saying I can’t have an opinion because I don’t have a uterus?” The conversation only continued to plummet further downhill.
But at some point early on in the discussion, one of the commenters asked the question, “But what about rape?” It’s a common question when discussing abortion. In fact, it has come up quite early on in almost every discussion I’ve ever had about abortion. What do pro-life people think about situations where a woman is raped and now is pregnant with her attacker’s child? It is a question, however, of which I’ve grown tired. It generally does not progress the discussion, and I think it holds the potential to be hurtful. So I’d like to ask people to stop asking that question, and talk about the reasons why they should stop.Continue Reading
There has been a recent controversy in the atheist movement about some comments made by Rebecca Watson about sexism. I really don’t wish to explain the whole thing and thus bring that argument to my doorstep, so I’ll just refer you to the summaries of the events made by Jen McCreight, PZ Myers, and Phil Plait. But essentially, one issue that has been brought up as a result is the fear of rape that many women have. As a straight white man, it is difficult for me to truly understand this fear, and the precautions that women take as a result. I can’t say that I’ve ever been nervous at the thought that I might be sexually assaulted. (Although I’ve often felt nervous about walking behind a solitary woman on the sidewalk, for fear she might be fearful of me! Nobody likes pepper spray in the eyes.) I try to sympathize with women on this, and I try to be a decent human being about the whole thing, but it is difficult, and I understand why many men don’t get it. But walking home today, I had an experience of my own that I think might be roughly analogous to it. I hope that some women can chime in and let me know if the analogy is actually apt.Continue Reading