Saturday, May 4

Kid Stuff

Kathleen Parker, "Prude or prudent? the debate over access to Plan B". May 3

ANYONE else wishing that the Bureau had shown 1/10th the public relations doggedness about the Anthrax Letter Bomber?

Anyway, "Pulitzer" Parker's fingerprints are all over this one:
They lost me at the word “women.”

Yeah, in 1971.
As so often happens in contemporary debate, arguments being proffered in support of allowing teenagers as young as 15 (and possibly younger) to buy the “morning-after pill” without adult supervision are false on their premise. 
Here’s an experiment to demonstrate.
Couldn't we have an example of the arguments you're demolishing first?
Question 1: Do you think that women should have access to Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, to be used at their own discretion? Yes! 
Question 2: Do you think that girls as young as 11 or 12 should be able to buy the morning-after pill without any adult supervision? Didn’t think so. 
Question 3: If you answered yes to Question 2, are you a parent? Didn’t think so. 
Perhaps a few parents answered yes to Question 3, but not many, I suspect.
Because nothing improves an experiment like providing the answers to your own questions. Unless it's admitting you're making shit up.
Yet, repeatedly in the past several days, we’ve heard the argument that any interference with the over-the-counter sale of Plan B to any female of any age is blocking a woman’s right to self-determination.

IKR? I had to roll up my truck window at a stoplight Thursday to drown out the group of ladypeople next to me chanting "Nine-year-olds are women, too!"
Fifteen-year-olds, where the Obama administration wants to set the limit, are girls, not women. And female parts do not a woman make any more than a correspondingly developed male makes the proud possessor a man.

Question 1: If someone says so-and-so "is acting like a child" do we assume he means a petulant 9-year-old? Yes! Or a sullen teenager? No!

Question 2: So is it possible that maybe "girl" is not an empirical category, but a cultural term whose meaning is determined by the circumstances? Didn't think. So.

This sort of public argument, where on one side we have a problem, and people trying to solve it, and on the other persons like yourself hurling imaginary noodles at a wall, is one of the reasons laws have to be specific. No one could possibly  think that one's fifteenth birthday, or fiftieth, confers some sort of wisdom. Dear God, how much time do you have to spend around the average 18 or 21 year-old before you despair of the future of the race?

But, then, how much time do you have to spend reading WaPo opinion pieces to despair of the present? Child! seems to be your only argument here.
The dominant question is legitimate: Even if we would prefer that girls not be sexually active so early in life, wouldn’t we rather they block a pregnancy before it happens than wait and face the worse prospect of abortion?

Ah, yes, the Reasonableness Ploy. "Sure, sure, the world is in such a sorry state these days that my moral pronouncements no longer magically solve things, as they used to. So meet me halfway for admitting it."
The pros are obvious: Plan B, if taken within three days of unprotected sex, greatly reduces the chance of pregnancy. If a child waits too long to take the pill, however, a fertilized egg could reach the uterine wall and become implanted, after which the drug is useless. 
You see how the word “child” keeps getting in the way.
Yeah, because you keep throwing it out there.
There’s no point debating whether such young girls should be sexually active. Obviously, given the potential consequences, both physical and psychological, the answer is no. Just as obvious, our culture says quite the opposite: As long as there’s an exit, whether abortion or Plan B, what’s the incentive to await mere maturity?

Twelve words. That's how long the Reasonableness Ploy can be sustained before we get to Sex Education Turns Girls Into Sluts.
What about the right of parents to protect their children? A 15-year-old can’t get Tylenol at school without parental permission, but we have no hesitation about children taking a far more serious drug without oversight?

Y'know, we just spent a week hearing how most five-year-old gun owners behave responsibly...
These are fair questions that deserve more than passing scrutiny — or indictments of prudishness. A Slate headline about the controversy goes: “The Politics of Prude.” More to the point: The slippery slope away from parental autonomy is no paranoid delusion. Whatever parents may do to try to delay the ruin of childhood innocence, the culture says otherwise: Have sex, take a pill, don’t tell mom.

Once and for all and forever, Ms Parker: you've heard this argument since puberty, as I have. It's well past time to quit pretending that we're having a moral disagreement about teen sex. It's time to quit pretending that the Evil Sexualizing Culture isn't your culture, one you celebrate when it's producing consumer crap those "children" can't live without. Or, for that matter, those guns you can't keep track of. Go fight with the 1950s. Go picket 7-Eleven for carrying Playboy. Times change. Life moves on. Sex is now widely seen as enjoyable.

Better yet, go tell the parents. Go tell 'em that your argument against "ineffective" gun control laws goes double for social moralizing aimed at controlling a pastime considerably more popular than shooting people. At least in most countries. Go tell 'em that if they want to avoid having a fifteen-year-old daughter who needs Plan B they should have one with access to birth control and the knowledge to use it. Tell 'em if they want a "child" who isn't sexually active they should stick to rearing something they can spay or neuter at a young age.


Kathy said...

As usual, Parker's blibber-blabber is sheer gibberish. If a girl is able to conceive, she's technically a woman, whether she's full-grown or not. My daughter started puberty at ELEVEN years. Eleven. Imagine One's 11-year old daughter getting pregnant.

Oh, I guess I feel a little squicky about the thought of her having sex at 11 (she's 15 now), but getting preggers at that age is dangerous- far far more dangerous than the drug Plan B.

R. Porrofatto said...

It's well past time to quit pretending that we're having a moral disagreement about teen sex. It's time to quit pretending that the Evil Sexualizing Culture isn't your culture, one you celebrate when it's producing consumer crap those "children" can't live without.

Exactamente, padre. Regardless of whether the culture is or isn't "telling" 15 year-olds to have sex, their post-pubescent hormones certainly are, with the volume turned way up. Parker can ignore this completely in order to pander for dollars to the puritans, but here's hoping she doesn't have any teenaged daughters who read her columns--they might get pregnant just for spite.

Anonymous said...

Plan B costs $50 anyway, so if people don't want their kids buying it make sure their kids don't have $50, problem solved.

The whole point of having it available OTC without age restrictions is so that the *17* year old who might not have photo ID, or the *19* year old, or whatever, can get it without being given any guff.

Fiddlin Bill said...

The Parkers want pregnancy to be a punishment. That's the bottom line. Let's hear Ms Parker actually defend that position when it comes to, errmmm, children.

bob_is_boring said...

Ha, Puritans are hilarious.

What? Oh. I meant "terrifyingly reactionary."

Li'l Innocent said...

I always am amazed at the way people like Parker can shut their eyes to the possibility that it may be one of those "adult supervisors" who involved The Child in unprotected sex in the first place.

And then I am reminded of the time Kate Millett, one of the Founding Mamas of the New Feminism in the 1970s, was on the old Cavett Show opposite (in every sense of the word) Midge Decter. Millett, whom I knew slightly, was describing her childhood with her alcoholic father, who when drunk was violently abusive toward her mother, herself, and IIRC, her sister.

Decter responded to this description by telling Millett that she was either exaggerating or lying to back up her feminist philosophy, that no man in this day and age behaves that way. It was astonishing. Decter seemed to believe what she was saying.

Emma said...

I think the suggestion that sex spoils "innocence," childhood or not, is psychotic. I display an embarrassingly dog-like enthusiasm for water slides, for example, despite the fact that I have had sex on several occasions.

Everyone knows that teenagers only ever have sex when access to contraception is easy and bypasses parental oversight, which is why there were only fourteen total documented cases of teen pregnancy before the year 1968. That also explains the reason rates of teen pregnancy have been skyrocketing in the last few years.

I really like the idea that only parents are allowed to have a vote on issues that affect American citizens younger than 18 years of age, and I would like to continue the trend:
+ Only women are allowed to vote on abortion rights
+ Only gay people are allowed to vote on marriage equality
+ Only black people and women are allowed to vote on voter’s rights referendums
+ Only Mexican immigrants are allowed to vote on immigration
+ Only shooting victims are allowed to vote on gun control

I am really, really liking this, actually.

I also think this lady’s argument would have been far more effective if she had replaced every instance of "child" with "teeny tiny baby girl-princess who still likes Barbies, and purple things, and don’t you remember when you taught her to ride a bicycle, Dan, and the day she got her braces off she cried she was so happy, and remember that birthday party for Kelly Johnston in the 8th grade, she took her cake home and gave it to her grandmother — that was only, what, three or four months before Nana died, wasn’t it? — oh, God, Dan, what are we going to do?," and then started singing "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof.

Kathy said...

I think the suggestion that sex spoils "innocence," childhood or not, is psychotic

You have put your finger on a very very important point. Sex is a nice thing, but not much more significant (physically) than taking a dump, or puking (if you don't like sex).

The religious swine have made it into a sin. A terrible, sometimes mortal sin (!) that must. be. punished. ... Punished with disease, pregnancy, death and/or children. Only the priest and the church can sanctify doing the dirty.

And they can't allow sex to be made less sinful thru the use of protection, contraception,

Margaret Nolan said...

Ms Parker has three sons...enough said. Makes her an expert on adolescent girls, nest-ce pas?

Li'l Innocent said...

KWillow, can't say I agree that sex is no more physically significant than taking a dump. Acts of elimination are solitary. From the female POV, the only one I can speak from, the act of letting someone else into your body is pretty physically significant. So is the possibility of getting pregnant. (Maybe it helps to be old enough to have started one's sexual career pre-Pill, when you were taking the risk every single time, to perceive that one immediately on the nerves?) Also, I think sex may be among the largest areas in most people's lives where the physical, mental, and emotional realms are inseparable. At least, if one is of an age to be under the magic tutelage of hormones.

Kathy said...

Li'l Innocent: yes, I went overboard on the hyperbole, didn't I? I'm also fond of italics, bold, and all-caps too. Doghouse is curing me of those faults.

Anonymous said...

"controlling a pastime considerably more popular than shooting people" ... not among white Merkins !