Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's All The Feminists Fault

Feministe documents and dismantles another episode of everything in the world is the fault of feminists. Complete with pining for a return to 1950s race relations and the by-gone era where women didn't speak out, this one truly has it all.

The part that raised my eyebrow particularly, however, was this discussion of autonomy:
I believe that Planned Parenthood, NARAL, et al. are in a sense responsible for instances like the Kitty Genovese case.

NARAL sorts are, in a nutshell, saying to the larger community:

"Don't impose your morals on me. Get your rosaries out of my ovaries. It's my choice. I'm autonomous. No man's gonna' tell me what to do..."

The weary response of the community is to say (specifically, here, to the young women in society):
"OK. OK. Alright, already. I won't butt into your life. Do whatever the heck you want. Go get your &*%#$ abortion. Go, sleep with a dozen men per week."

Genovese was left to die by a society that had gotten the message, so to speak, that truly modern sorts don't meddle in one another's affairs.

To put a finer tip on my point, the upshot is that men and women are told, more and more, to disassociate from one another. In a world where no one harasses one another, also no one counsels or helps the other.

Aside from her assailant, Kitty was autonomous in the ally.

It's ironic, because feminist theorists have been at the fore-front of critiquing the formalist notion where "autonomy" is equated with hands-off laissez-fairism. Think C-Mac's (can we call her C-Mac?) critique of the "right to privacy." I'm also reminded of Mary Ann Glendon's discussion of the right to be "let alone" in the context of abortion cases:
won the right that had been understood from its earliest appearance in the American legal system as "the right to be let alone." And let alone she was. No one . . . had been willing to help her either to have the abortion she desired, or to keep and raise the child who was eventually born. [from her book, Rights Talk

Martha Minow has discussed the formalist belief that within a classical liberal paradigm, one has no obligation to save a drowning man (but one can be sued if one attempts and does it incompetently). The notation that true autonomy cannot come without some sort of societal intervention, be it in the economic sphere (living wage, decent working conditions), or the sexual sphere (access to contraception, protection from harassment) is one that is being explored, hashed out, contested, and debated vigorously inside the feminist community. By contrast, the belief that freedom and laissez-faire are identical is the war-cry not of the left but of the right. Whatever one might have to say about the feminist community, this seems like one sin that cannot be laid on their heads.

2 comments:

Disenchanted Dave said...

I was just discussing feminist conceptions of privacy with a friend last night. Feminists are right to worry about private impunity. People like Phyllis Schlafly actually argue that the police shouldn't be allowed to intervene in "private" domestic violence disputes.

Incidentally, Minow wrote a great permutation card that I really loved in high school. Something about using legal/rights rhetoric to force concessions from oppressors using Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as examples. The argument was that appealing to prevailing norms can compell the powers that be to recognize that their own lofty principles require them to act justly.

I don't have the cite, but you should be able to find it on Lexis (it was a law review). I remember that it had the words "enunciated," "British," and "searing," in addition to the names I mentioned above. Those keywords should be enough to make it easy to find.

Matthew Cole said...

Re: above posters

I really can't express in words how terrifying Phillis Schlafly is.