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Oryoki Bowl
February 03
Quaker buddhist, kinda quirky, loves cooking and knitting and movies. Dr Who fan, Scandinavian-aquarian and cat lover. Would love to be paid to travel around the world and write about local healing cultures. While eating and drinking and dancing. One day I will have a health cruise in the fjords.


MARCH 4, 2012 1:58PM

Do Conservatives have Daddy Issues?

Rate: 21 Flag

Why all the fuss about  a woman's pelvic health?  The recent outrage against the Komen foundation was not about access to breast cancer screening- it was pairing preventative health care with reproductive freedom.  Financial concerns about the cost versus benefit of providing preventative healthcare aside, surely not a single person would balk at providing a vaccine that could prevent breast cancer.  Even if the relative risk of breast cancer is low, it is because the breast does not reside in the pelvis- and the relative health of breasts is not directly related to sexual congress.  Pelvic health for women, however, most likely is. 

The issue may be one of religious objection, but not for the reasons conservatives cite.  It is still the oldest dilemma, right up there with the emergence of the oldest profession- the right of men to preserve their legal power and inheritance rights through marriage and childbirth within marriage.  Almost all laws are ultimately founded in the time honored belief that a man (and by extension, his penis) has the inalienable right to not have to take responsibility for a child from a woman he is not married to.  But why?  

The primary issues of women's health from about age 12-40 are related to reproduction- menstruation, infection, fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth.  Whether or not a woman has one partner or many, once sexual activity begins she is vulnerable to a host of infections- from "honeymoon cystitis" (urinary tract infections caused by sex), yeast infections (can be spread by men, not only a woman's issue), vaginal commensal bacterial infections (also spread by sex but not STDs), vaginal and urethral bacterial infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, trichomonas (parasite spread through sex) and vaginal viral infections such as herpes, warts, cancer from HPV infection, and, now, HIV.  

Additionally, influences from genetics, diet and environment impact menstrual cycles causing such issues as migraine, anemia (from blood loss from heavy flows), mood disorders, fatigue, digestive problems, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, low back pain and acne.  Of course, there are the occasional worse problems such as blood clots and gall bladder disease, also related to the high estrogen that young women produce.  

I am pretty sure that the concerns about providing health care related to health issues- and also work issues, as menstrual disorders and pregnancy do impact a woman's ability to perform on the job- is not the issue.  If forcing every woman to take "the pill" would guarantee a pleasant, efficient and agreeable female workstaff it would likely be written into the worker employment contract. Thankfully, it doesn't, and the use of "the pill" is really ultimately a private decision between a woman and her doctor.  It is certainly not the best choice for many, and is also not the only form of birth control there is.  Contraception is not the only reason to use "the pill", either. 

Personally, I think there is a deeper and uglier and more fundamentalist reason for this outcry: the death of patriarchy as the preferred power structure in the developed world.  Patriarchy is just what the word says: power by the fathers.  Land, money and social laws are all geared to favor and support the heterosexual married man.  They allow him unequal dominion over those around him, and create a system to concentrate wealth and maintain it within his blood lines.  

But the modern world has gone and mucked it all up.  We have DNA paternity tests now, so that despite casting aspersions on a woman's character a man can actually still be proven to be a cad.  Our laws for divorce and child support are still evolving, but men can no longer legally duck out of paying for a child they have fathered- even if they only "knew" the woman for five minutes.  Because, you see, unwanted pregnancies can ONLY result from sex between men and women.  They never result from spontaneous gestation, masturbation, sodomy or homosexual sex (three of these things have historically been illegal).  History reveals to us a long, rich tapestry of tales and traditions about the lengths to which men go to both avoid detection as a father, and to prevent unlawful fertilization of his daughters' and wives' wombs.   And when I say history, I mean, as of right now. 

Patriarchy cannot work if only a few players on the team are married with children.  The emergence of equal rights for non-men* (in some countries, that is also based on race, ethnicity, religious and property as well as penis ownership) has been devastating for the paternalistic plan.  The only power structure remotely able to challenge patriarchy in terms of wealth and influence has been the very institution that promotes it: the Catholic church (insert other major world religion here).  Whether one is catholic now is irrelevant, the history of Europe and the Western world (and many colonies) is written through the force of laws that extend back to the time when everyone was catholic- by choice, or not.  The church loses its legitimacy without patriarchical power structures, and patriarchy has been losing a lot of steam.  

Certainly, the issue of birth control in health care is not one of tubal ligation, vasectomy or even IUD placement in women who have already had children.  Only recently have IUDs become more available to younger women, as the risk of PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) has been reduced and thus has a much lower chance of impacting fertility.  All infections impact a woman's possibility of becoming pregnant and maintaining a pregnancy safely, and having a healthy child.  An older woman, having had her children, will be often be prescribed a hysterectomy when her "pelvic issues" become bothersome enough.  

So, what's all the fuss? Is it that there is no longer a steady supply of virgins, waiting to snare a man who has made his fortune and now wants to make some sons?  Is it that there are too many women who may have had a pelvic infection (from sex with OTHER men)?  Or is it that by controlling their fertility, women have found they are no longer dependent on men for the rights, liberties, freedoms and happiness that comes with being unmarried and childless?  Is it that there are too many young men who are fathering children they will not provide for (relative to the cost on public health services)?  

Remember, behind EVERY unplanned pregnancy is a penis.   That penis could be attached to ANYONE, and that person may not be playing the patriarchy game.  It divides society into men who are fathers and men who are cads.  As there is only one kind of temporary contraception for men, condom use (though some vasectomies are reversed, that is not considered temporary), there is no way to control the legions of cads slipping through society and knocking boots with the modern, independent women- not all of whom are on the pill or Depo or having an IUD.  There is no way for them to control potential fatherhood 100%, other than from vasectomy and abstinence.  And no one has suggested that yet. 

A man without property, prospects or respect for these laws is a dangerous thing.  But, he is still a man- and entitled by nature to do manly things, with designated females- who are denied rights by law.  Times have changed, and those rights have made property, marriage and divorce law very, very tricky (see Anna Nicole Smith trials for her late husband's estate).  The state of the economy may or may not be in shambles, but the truth is that women are eschewing marriage in favor of having their own education and careers- and sometimes rejecting fathers for their children. Women are outpacing men in almost every area with respect to education and career growth.  This requires time- and is done better by not having children until later.  The men of the younger generation have less to offer when it comes to financial legal control, economic superiority and  family security.  Women no longer need to be married to own property.  Birth control evens the playing field for women in a way that it cannot for men.  

Religious objection over contraception is just the smoke and mirrors to disguise the deeper objection to the loss of patriarchal rule.  Legislation being introduced that would demonize voluntary single parenthood hits closer to the truth.  Health services paid for by insurance does neither come from the tax payer's pocket- or the employer's.  They are earned by the employee, as part of a compensation package to provide reasonable health care at all stages of their life.   Control over your own pelvic health is not only reasonable- but part of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Turns out, women want that too. 



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You make good points about patriarchy. My description would have been not "daddy issues" but "control issues," but they may have the same root.
It's sexual fascism with a side of weak men who see a woman exhibiting agency over her own body as a form of rejection.
Thanks Cuss- I think it resounds on that on many levels. The history of the ProLife movement is of uneducated men who are doing worse financially than their fathers- and the average woman (this has long been documented).

Markham- I can see how that can be seen as rejection, it is certainly part of the screed of the modern pick up artist, the legions of misogynists who reject a woman's right to refusal. I think there is a movement now from a band of gamma males (though they'd say beta males, but even they have more self respect) that want to be able to sue attractive women for sexual harassment by their sheer presence- or force them to cover their bodies which exude uncontrollable sexual attraction. They are only specifically referring to "attractive and well endowed" women.
On Haley Rose's blog a couple of days ago I called it womb envy. I see it as being frustrated because these men, used to being in control, are not happy that women are allowed to tell them "No" when it comes to having their baby. The woman is taking the power and is able to tell a man that they are not going to gestate his DNA into the next generation, so their immortality is threatened. I've heard stories about young men who keep score of how many pregnancies they create with different women. And we hear about men who contest abortions because it is their baby, which I feel if you're going to tell a man he got you pregnant then you have to deal with the fall out of that. So I can see this as a theory to be looked at.

Being cursed with a sense of fairness, I can see where that would be a scary prospect, to have to count on someone else to give you something that you really, really want. Of course, I have also had a lot of people tell me no because they feel I'm not worthy. Most of them nice Christian people. Go figure.
Of course you're correct in your analysis and that's why I maintain that the Republican Party and even conservative Democrats want and need a war with Iran because the subsequent developments, meaning the emphasis on military preparations, maneuvers, engagements, etc., not to mention the backlash in terms of potential domestic terrorist attacks, will create an environment in post-modern society that solidifies the national security apparatus in the US, focuses national attention on the martial virtues and their requirements, and negates the freedoms and liberal lifestyles of the legions of these newly empowered young women, and liberal social programs of all kinds under the force of necessity, of the clear and present danger. A shooting war, heightened tensions, the increasing jingoism of the right, including the independents and centrists who will be caught up in the environment of high anxiety and dread, is the perfect remedy for the decline of the patriarchy. We must wait and see what happens.
So pray for war, and rescue the patriarchy. With a Forever War being especially the most favored outcome...wink
Jejune- and may I further add, a war is fought over land, women and cattle- with religion proscribing who should or shouldn't get any. It's not killing if it's someone else's child. If you aren't sure who your children are, you might be more reluctant to send them to war or deny them food and shelter.
What an incredibly thought provoking piece.

gosh so much to think about here.
loved this, for its historical accuracy and its ability
to chill my very bones:
"whether one is catholic now is irrelevant,
the history of Europe and the Western world
(and many colonies)
is written through the force of laws that extend back
to the time when everyone was catholic- by choice, or not. "

i like the way you lump all religions together. haw! you
hit it, just right...the Penis making one last
power play in a world
we simply gotta accept
has wimminz in it.

They are a bother.

(arg. i learned much about the pelvis. all i can
say is: i am glad i am a boy!)

Whatever church we are talking about is corrupt.
It is corrupt because it does not focus
on the living experience
of Union with God. Gawd.
The tao. Uh, boo-dah.
The Satori.
this is religion's rightful realm,
in the soul,
not the body.

The church loses its legitimacy without patriarchical power structures, and patriarchy has been losing a lot of steam.
Check out the NYTines this morning---turns out Karen Santorum's fella, back before Rick---was her OBSTETRICIAN!

This was in Karen's pre-papist days. The guy was 60. She was 20.

Ain't love grand?

No Daddy issues here. . . . .

(And no---I am not making this up)
Very well said OB. Thanks for this.
This should be published in the NY Times! And I have to admit the turtles wisecrack was going through my head as I read it. You should have published this on a weekday when they had a full staff. it would have been an Editors Pick. Oryoki the next time you write something like this consult with me before you title it. You want people researching these issues to be able to Google this.
Jack, you can always PM with suggestions for key words for SOE, I am not so great at that. I do, however, believe that Conservativism of all stripes is based on issues of paternity and patriarchy.
This is, I believe, the basis of Masonic rites and law, as well as similar organizations. God, the Father and Architect of Civilization.

I am also pretty darn sure this is why conservatives despise the OWS movement- it is antithetical to all they hold sacred.
Yeah, it's about control. Which is why I think we shouldn't call it birth control. These products are are family planning devices (something men and women both benefit from) and hormone therapy medications.
Bellwether- it's true, semantics has a big part in this. Abortion is birth control, but not contraception. Hormones are primarily used to prevent pregnancy, but sometimes to facilitate it. Family planning is something that some folks think should only happen in the context of marriage. And pelvic infection can happen to any woman at any time of her life for many reasons.

As far as I'm concerned, this issue is primarily symbolic.

And the political discourse has revolved around who is going to over play their hand.

More specifically, this is simply an issue of who is going to directly pay for something. This would not be an issue if we didn't have an arbitrary and inefficient system of funding health care as an employee benefit. And Churches finding themselves becoming large employers by participating in non core activities. If they are going to participate in society in a fashion that involves non religious activities (health, education), they have to comply with laws that may conflict with their faith. In fact, Americans allow religions quite a bit of freedom from regulation in matters regarding direct worship.

Obama intelligently responded to a symbolic, non issue with a non solution. That is, if the cost of contraception was a serious issue, then simply mandating that insurers cover it 'for free' wouldn't work. In fact, generic birth control pills are available for $9 at Walmart, Target, etc. Less than any co-payment I have ever dealt with. But the costs will be paid by someone.

What surprised me:

1. Rush handed Obama a huge gift with his unforced blunder.

2. That he still uses the term 'feminazi'. This was stale 15 years ago.

As far as the Patriarchy, I dunno. We are already on third wave feminism.

When largely symbolic culture war issues spring up, passions run amok. The Republicans were grasping at straws, trying to fire up their base. In the process, they blundered into a primitive sexism that fired up a much larger group of men and women.

Republicans have been decisively routed on this issue. The smart course of action is to pour just enough gasoline to allow them to self immolate. Too much and we may find ourselves in another cycle of over reach.
Nick- sure enough, though I think the issue of birth control is just symbolic of the larger (and historic) subject of legal legitimacy. We no longer refer to out of wedlock children as bastards, fewer and fewer single mothers give their children up for adoption, and fewer and fewer single mothers are forced into "shotgun marriages". Pregnant teens are not always shipped out of sight to go "live in the countryside" or wherever they were sent before. Instead, all these "illegitimate" children are being born, and demanding equal rights as those children who are born into conservative families. Health care is only one aspect of it, so is access to housing, education, and employment- the other recent social issues that have caused major "class" warfare in American politics.
The conservative voices always always always sing the same song of "keep it in your own family" and "your church should take care of that for you". Masonic societies were created to foster a larger network of men, who would help support the success of each other- which also meant each other's children- when they realized that as individual laborers and workers they would never amass the wealth, power or influence of the aristocracy. "Birth control" is only one of the latest issues. So is the right to publicly funded schools. Young women delaying marriage (but still engaging in sex) is blamed for displacing men from education and jobs. Now we have a the largest amount of unemployed young men we have had in a very long time, and young women are not stepping aside so they can have their jobs. Conservatives are voting against equality for women, gays, lesbians, non whites in order to preserve their own social dominance.

Do they attack Obama entirely because he is black, or liberal, or because he was raised by a single mother? We certainly hear all sorts of things about her character, and the fact his father was a foreign black man (I am aware they were married). He represents the successful male of the future- multicultural, multi ethnic, egalitarian- and independent of the current model of inherited male power. Can't say that about The Bushes, The Romneys, The Hunstmans, The Pauls, The Santorums- or the Kennedys for that matter. Gingrich hasn't focused on those kinds of issues, he also can't win, but he does benefit from the attitude that rich white men should stay in power at every level of society. And if creating a straw man about prescription contraception is the way to divert from the other abuses they have heaped upon society- like mortgage fraud, military culture gutting our economy, lower education standards, harder to pay for health care, fewer job openings- then so be it.
Kate- all that's true, and still true, though I was just trying to pare down the list as to why women would want hormonal contraception- or contraception at all. It's a whole other issue about how nature or god's plan for women and childbirth is a potentially life threatening issue every time she gets pregnant. Historically, women dreaded and feared pregnancy, and women of means were expected to leave their husband's bed to avoid pregnancy. He would either abstain, or more likely, have sex with the staff or some prostitutes. Those women had no rights, and also died in childbirth, but they were those darn sluts that Limbaugh was bitching about. Watch Downton Abbey, it covers the class and sex and legitimacy and inheritance issues quite well.
I have to check my calendar every now and then to make sure it's 2012 and not 1912. When I pay too much attention to certain things in the news, I get my centuries confused.
I'll add to Cranky's comment, with which I agree, of course, the thought that whenever religion can be used as the authority to control people and politicians can ride along "serving" their constituents (provided the religion contributes mightily to Caesar's war chest), people are gonna get screwed whether paternity issues enter in or not.
A very well reasoned piece about issues too many have not wanted to face for too long.
You've hit the nail right on the head with this, "the death of patriarchy as the preferred power structure in the developed world. ". Yes the issue is to hold on to the power of men over women for ugly and fundamentalist ideas over their bodies.
All this crazy talk is the result of right wing ideologues just going too damn far, and now they're being slapped back.