06 December 2012

CC08 - Sex Selective Abortion

A Tool of Gendercide?

Recently, Mark Warawa, a backbencher of the governing Conservative Party of Canada, put forth a private member's bill in the House of Commons (M-408) asking the House to condemn sex-selective abortions.  Sex selective abortions, for the uninformed, is the act of terminating a pregnancy for no reason other than the sex of the fetus.

The rhetoric that is being used to support this motion is the idea that female fetuses are the primary target of sex selective abortion, and thus, as part of our society's focus on eliminating violence against women (since women are, apparently, the only members of society who should be exempt from violence), this should include the defense of female fetuses from the sexual violence of sex selective abortion.

Now, I will accept that there can be a cultural impetus for male preference when it comes to children, particularly in China and India, but I do not accept that this is a wildly practiced act in western countries and cultures.

However, as to be expected, the Opposition parties, the NDP and the Liberals, are slamming the motion as a 'back door attempt to reopen the abortion debate."

Now, there are two sides to this debate, and from where I'm standing, both sides are heavy on ideological rhetoric, short on reason, and seem to be missing a major point.

On the right, we have the Conservative back bencher who is advocating for the prohibition of sex selective abortion.  The justification being that sex selective abortion is used to discriminate against female fetuses and is, therefore, a kind of 'violence against women', something liberal western democracies seem rabid about preventing.

Now, there seems to be two schools of thought about this proposition, the first being that the motion is genuine, and is a sincere attempt to help prevent sexual discrimination against females.

This is something I must challenge, as I think the case has been made time and time again that the whole idea of preventing 'violence against women' or 'sexual discrimination against women' is inherently sexist and discriminatory by the very nature of the intent.  It can be argued and reasonably demonstrated that by advocating against "violence against women" or "sexual discrimination against women" one isn't interested in preventing violence or sexual discrimination in and of themselves, but instead ensuring that only men are the victims.  These positions are explicitly pro-female, and implicitly in support of violence and discrimination against males.

The second school of though about the back bencher's motion is that this is a sneaky attempt to get the foot in the door with banning abortion, and that using the "protect teh wimminz" hysteria as justification is simply a way to use emotion to blind people against the encroaching tyranny.

Again, I don't think this is a rational assumption either.  The idea that the government is just aching to stick its fingers into everyone's pregnancies and will use any means necessary to do so is hyperbolic and ridiculous.  The House isn't half filled with Snidely Whiplashes with dastardly plans.

I think it far more likely that the truth is somewhere in the middle, that abortion is seen by some on the right as a violation of a fetus' right to life and that sex selective abortion just adds bigotry into the mix.  Murder is bad enough, they seem to think, but sexual discrimination AND murder...that's a hate crime.

On the left, though, we have near unanimous opposition to the motion.  The opposition is based less on the principles involve, I think, than it is on simply political wrangling.  After all, the NDP wouldn't be a good opposition party if they ever agreed with the Government.

One group that is oddly opposed to the motion, though, are feminists, and this is where I think it gets really interesting.  One would think that they'd jump at the chance to support a motion that apparently is motivated by preventing violence against women, but they claim that the right of the woman to choose is absolute, even if it means that those women are choosing to sexually discriminate against female fetuses.  This ignores the whole issue of how choosing whether to have an abortion or not is a right that only women have, which inherently makes it sexually discriminatory, particularly when it's held to be 'absolute'.  I would go more indepth about that avenue of thought, though, but I don't think it's completely relevant to this issue.

A more sinister interpretation of the feminist position, though, isn't that sex selective abortion is abhorrent to them, and that they have to hold their nose when accepting it in order to support a woman's right to choose for herself.  Instead, consider that there are feminists (a quick browse through Radfemhub can easily support this point) who advocate for the eugenic cleansing of males from the populace, and the whole idea of sex selective abortion makes them giddy with glee.  If they cannot legislate a ban on male children overtly, then perhaps they can simply abort males into extinction.  Feminists who advocate for aborting male fetuses simply because they're male would be unable to do so if sex selective abortion was prohibited.  Sex selective abortion can be used as a tool for 'gender-cide', as Mark Warawa contends, but he seems to miss the point that male fetuses can (and presumably are) be aborted simply because they're male.

China and India may have a cultural bias against female children, but western society has a demonstrable ideological bias against males, and I think the concern over sex selective abortion being used as a tool to kill off female children misses half the problem.

20 August 2012

CC07 - MRAs Behaving Badly

When Activism Gets Stupid

A few weeks ago, I challenged JtO, in a comment on one of his videos, to stop saying things with which I agree.  I think my exact phrase was "Dammit, JtO, why don't you ever say something I can disagree with?"  My point being that he usually speaks sense, and there is very little with which I could take issue in his positions.

Anyone who knows me personally will know that I love to debate issues, and I will point out any flaw I can find in any reasoning from any person who chooses to share his/her opinions.  To me, this is the way that I distinguish good information from bad, how I separate sound conclusions from unsound.  Any idea worth accepting is an idea worth challenging, and a major part of my character as a sceptic is to challenge ideas to which I'm exposed.

So, I tended to seek out questionable statements or conclusions made by JtO (and others, of course, I don't just pick on him.  I've rifled through the posts of GWW, RockingMrE, and TheIgnoredGender, among others, all looking for errors in reasoning that I could point out.  After all, any idea that cannot withstand some criticism, isn't worth accepting or believing in) over the dozens of videos and articles he's written.  And, like many of the other MRAs to whom I am subscribed, I've been unable to find any serious flaw in his reasoning or conclusions.  So, in a sideways compliment, I exclaimed "Why can't you ever say something I can disagree with?!"

It seems he's taken that comment to heart.

Well, that's a little hubris on my part.  I don't know if he even reads my comments, or if he did/does, remembered that one in particular.  But, it seems that JtO has put forth something that I can actually oppose.

In his most recent video, he talks about how well the Men's Rights Movement in Vancouver is going, and how they're hosting an anti-misandry summit at the end of September that they're calling "Mancouver, 2012".  In this video, he refers to Christy Clark ejecting men from the political process (which I think is the far more pertinant issue) but only briefly.  The point of the video is to promote a petition from VancouverMRA (the activist group of which he is part) that asks the government to officially rename Vancouver to Mancouver.

Now, I'm a bit confused by this.  On one hand, if this is a publicity stunt designed to draw attention to the Man-couver 2012 summit, or simply satire made in response to some other undisclosed petition by feminists that is just as ridiculous, then it's pure genius.  However, when I asked him to clarify, and by his own statements in his comment section, JtO  continuously asserts that they're perfectly serious.  It's not a joke.  Men built Vancouver, and thus, it should be called Mancouver.

The snowball rolled on from there.  Calls for renaming cities all across this country, such as Manilton and Manmonton, and even the country itself, Manada, poured in.  It started getting silly and absurd, and through it all, JtO was asserting that they were perfectly serious.

Now, I don't know if by "perfectly serious" he means "completely legitimate".  He seems to accept that the premise of the whole thing is ridiculously silly, but when told so, he simply answered with "Yes, but have you signed the petition?"

Like I said earlier, there are only two options that I see, and at the risk of setting up a false dichotomy, I'm going to lay them out here.  If there's a third option, I wanna hear it, but these are the two that I see, and to me they're mutually exclusive.

The first possibility, is that he's being completely facetious, that this is a publicity stunt or satire designed to illustrate the absurdity of a similar petition or claim being made by another source (of which I am unaware).

The more I read through the comments section, the more I am inclined to believe this possibility.  As one of the comments stated "It's [the petition] a reminder to a flaming bigot that men built the city that has her in office."  I think, from context, that this commenter is referring not to the mayor of Vancouver, but the Premier, who, as I alluded to earlier, has been banning men, from other politicians all the way down to the serving and custodial staff, from her political meetings.

The second possibility is that he's dead serious, that he denies any role that women played in the development and sustenance of Vancouver as a city, and thus feels completely justified in demanding that it be renamed to reflect this.

When I challenged the absurdity of this assertion with the statement "Lets swap the roles and see if this is just as absurd. If feminists were to advocate renaming the city "Femcouver", would it still be justified? I think not." he replied, "Rename it Femcouver? Absurd, females didn't build the city."

In the end, it seems reasonably clear to me that this is a simple tongue in cheek action, that, despite his assertion to the contrary, isn't a serious initiative.  He doesn't honestly believe that Vancouver should be renamed Mancouver.

My issue with this whole endeavour, though, serious or satirical, is that it will likely jeopardise any credibility the MRM has.  The first petition to government from this group (to which I am privy) and it focuses on the arguably irrelevant detail of the city's name?  It makes us all look like fools.

I draw the analogy with the people who wanted french fries to be renamed "Freedom Fries" when France refused to support the US in war.  They were never taken seriously again, and I fear that this will be the future for MRAs if this plan goes on.

Even as a publicity stunt, this carries with it danger, I think.  If this draws people's attention to the MRM, even peripherally, do we really want this petition to be the first thing people learn about us?  It seems like all it will succeed in doing is making people think that if the name of the city is the biggest issue we care about, then we're not worth listening to anyway.

The issue doesn't stop there, either.  An MRA from Edmonton recently exclaimed excitement and glee to me about a news story on the CBC talking about how the Fringe Festival posters were 'vandalised' and 'defaced' with advertisements for the Edmonton MRA group.  While it means that the MRM is being talked about on the CBC, it also means that it's being associated with vandalism, no matter how benign.

Now, while the recent campaign of postering in Vancouver that resulted in a feminist assaulting a construction site safety officer didn't even make the back page of the community newsletter, the simple stickers used by the Edmonton group made it to the CBC.  Not to mention that the posters put up by both the Vancouver and Edmonton groups are regularly vandalised and defaced.  This goes to show that bad behaviour by feminists is ignored, but bad behaviour by anti-feminists is Front Page News™.  We're already fighting an uphill battle, in my view, after fifty years of feminist doctrine influencing public zeitgeist, and we need all the public goodwill we can get.  It seems to me that these initiatives, the petition to rename Vancouver, and the vandalism of unrelated advertisements in Edmonton, do nothing to further the goals of the MRM beyond garnering publicity, and that publicity is gained at what cost?

After all, how can we expect to be taken seriously or respected if we do not behave in a serious or respectable manner?  For us at this time, bad behaviour, even relatively harmless bad behaviour, has a disproportionately harmful effect that, in my opinion, far outweighs any benefit such behaviour may generate.

29 July 2012

CC06 - Circumcision

Circumcision.  Particularly, infant circumcision.  That's right, this post is about the wilful mutilation of an infant's genitalia.

In late June of this year, a German court in Cologne declared that the act of circumcising infants was illegal and banned the practice.  This story was shared around the Men's Rights community to much celebration, such as the National Coalition for Men, because the wilful mutilation of a baby boy, against his will, is a perfect example of the misandry in society.

At the beginning of the July, John the Other, a well known Men's Rights Activist, a regular contributor to A Voice for Men, and a Vlogger on Youtube, posted an article titled "Promoting the Mutilation of Infants" about how a writer for the Huffington Post named Sheryl Saperia had authored an article in which she cavalierly declared that circumcision wasn't mutilation and that everyone needed to shut the hell up about it.  It was even titled "Male Circumcision is Not Mutilation.  Period." declaring before it even starts that anyone who opposes circumcision on the grounds that it's malicious and causes irreversible harm is just plain wrong.

The dictionary defines mutilation as "an act of physical injury that degrades the appearance or function of any living body."  Seems to me that circumcision does both.

Now, I don't read the Huffington Post, mostly because drivel like this is published by it, so I didn't know about this article until after JtO alluded to it in his article for AVfM.  So I looked it up, and immediately several things jumped out at me about it.

The first thing she declares is "neither the right to security of the person nor to gender equality should operate in such a way as to proscribe male circumcision on the grounds that it is comparable to the justifiably prohibited custom of female genital mutilation (FGM)."

There is so much wrong with this sentence, I don't even know where to start.  She is basically saying that cutting off the foreskin isn't anything like cutting off the labia, and therefore doesn't qualify as 'security of person'.  She also seems to say that gender equality doesn't apply because female circumcision is justifiably prohibited.  The implication, of course, being that male circumcision isn't justifiably prohibited.  Then, by using the term 'circumcision' for the male and 'mutilation' for the female, she immediately sets the tone for the whole article.  To her, male circumcision is clinical and sterile and medical, whereas female circumcision - ahem - I mean MUTILATION is violent and cruel and gratuitous.

She goes on to list how the WHO characterises the two surgical procedures, and how the WHO says female circumcision is so much worse than male circumcision.  She says that there's no strong medical evidence that shows male circumcision as harmful, and thus opposition to it is unjustifiable.  She says that Jews and Muslims must circumcise their sons by religious mandate.  She even compares the prevention of the circumcising of Jewish boys to genocide, which is patently absurd.

In the end, she makes a dozen or so arguments in favour of mutilating the penis of an infant only days after he is born, and every single one is based on negative reasoning.  She not once says why we should circumcise a boy, but instead lists dozens of reasons as to why we shouldn't not circumcise a boy, meaning that she holds no reasons to support circumcision beyond rebutting objections to it.

But every single one of her rebuttals misses the most important point, the point on which my personal objection to circumcision is based, and the point that shows the circumcision issue is paramount to the Men's Rights Movement.

Not once does she even consider whether the infant has the right to decide his own fate.

I made this argument in a forum in which JtO's original article was linked, stating that I was disgusted with how nearly every person who challenged the position that circumcision of infants was wrong did so from the perspective of "You can't oppose male circumcision on the grounds that female circumcision is bad, because they're different."

These people consistently seem to miss the point.  We oppose circumcision not because female circumcision is wrong, but because the infant doesn't choose it.


But Sheryl Saperia doesn't see it that way.  She only sees circumcision as it relates to women, religion, or law, but never to the infant to whom the penis belongs.

Unfortunately, the MRM isn't free from this attitude either.  The following is a list of each argument I was presented in favour of circumcising male children by an MRA, and my associated rebuttal.

  • Male circumcision is not mutilation, it's a simple procedure to enhance penis hygiene and to avoid foreskin complications. You cannot compare that to the horrible female genital mutilation which causes a life time of pain and an elimination of sexual pleasure. Rebuttal: Despite being demonstrably false, this argument is irrelevant. The opposition to circumcision isn't based on the alleged harm or benefit of circumcision.
  • It is my right as a parent to choose for my son. Rebuttal: You do not have the right to make this decision for your child. By doing so you deny his humanity, his bodily sovereignty, and his will.
  • Circumcision during the first week after birth is painless, and totally risk free if done at a hospital by a competent surgeon. Rebuttal: Again, this is an unproven hypothesis, in fact there's evidence to show that it is in fact quite painful, judging from how the child wails in sheer terror and agony during the procedure. Regardless of this fact, this argument is again irrelevant. The opposition to circumcision isn't based on how much pain it causes.
  • Parents make decisions regarding medical treatment for their children all the time. It is part of their duty as responsible care givers. Parents authorize the administration of vaccinations and medicines to their children without their consent, authorize surgical procedures such as tonsillectomies and dental correction. Circumcision is no different. Rebuttal: This is where we wander into the argument for the relative harm and benefit of circumcision. The right of a parent to authorise surgical procedures to be done on their child is based only on correcting harm. The foreskin is not dangerous, it is not poisonous, and it will not cause the child adverse health effects any more than healthy tonsils will. Advocating circumcision on your son to prevent disease is like advocating a mastectomy for your daughter to prevent breast cancer. There is no need to excise healthy tissue.
  • Denial of my right as a father to choose for my son is an example of the state taking away the rights of men. Rebuttal: The state taking away your right to choose is no different than you taking away your son's right to choose.
  • I cut his nails, clean his hair, and brush his teeth. He cannot do it now, so I must do it for him. Rebuttal: The cutting of hair and fingernails and bathing and brushing of teeth are all maintenance procedures. Hair and fingernails grow back. Bathing and dental hygiene causes no harm. These are not comparable to the irreversible procedure such as circumcision.

In the end, there is no good medical reason to circumcise an infant.  If there is ever a medical need to do so, it would occur after the fact, as a response to a medical need, not as a preventative measure.

But that's just medicine.  As Sheryl Saperia so eloquently stated in her article, there are religious reasons to circumcise baby boys.
In my mind, this is no reason.  Religious doctrine is rampant with illogical and harmful practices that are only done because "God Said So".  Again, for me, this comes down to choice.  Indoctrinating an infant into a religion is paramount to child abuse in my mind, and when that psychological abuse is coupled with physical harm, it becomes even more reprehensible.  If a child chooses to follow in his parent's religion, then he can choose the physical consequences of that decision at that time.  But responsible parents should be teaching their children HOW to think, not WHAT to think, and the same goes for choice.  Teach them HOW to choose, not WHAT to choose.

I've even heard many women support circumcision because they believe that a circumcised penis is prettier.  This is the truly offensive position.  Advocating for the mutilation of an infant for the purely aesthetic preference of women?  That's outrageous!  Consider if the roles were reversed, if we surgically altered our females at birth simply to make them more attractive to men.  Besides, Her Body, Her Choice applies for women.  Why not His Body, His Choice for men?

In the end, the issue of male circumcision (which should rightly be called male genital mutilation) is a central issue to Men's Rights Activists because it is the perfect example of how the rights of males are often routinely denied or ignored simply as a matter of course, and even some MRAs aren't immune to this bias, as demonstrated by the flawed assertions illustrated above.

What we must start asking ourselves, I think, is why we are so invested in the ritualistic mutilation of our baby boys.

I was going to end this post with a meme that I once saw that perfectly encapsulated this whole argument, but I can't find it, so instead I'll describe it.  It shows a picture of a baby boy strapped to a table with the shadow of a pair of scissors falling over his body.  The caption reads "His Human Rights Start When, Exactly?"