I have, on a few occasions, during my career as a pro-life advocate, been mistaken for one who promotes the other side. A TV talk show host invited me to come on her show to neutralize a previous guest of hers who was, to her chagrin, pro-life. A group of pro-abortionists asked me to host a pro-choice taping for them. I have even had the delightful experience of being a target for conversion by a well-known American pro-lifer.
I attribute this comical confusion to the fact that I am a university professor and, as such, obviously must favor abortion. I recall the Toronto media erroneously typing the distinguished British philosopher, Elizabeth Anscombe, as being pro-contraception merely because she wore pants and smoked cigars. There is never a scarcity of material for me when it comes time to instructing my logic students on the fallacy of accident. I did not think that I was the type to be so typed. But I was egregiously wrong.
So it is easy for me to imagine being mistaken for a pro-choice feminist and interviewed on the air. There are advantages to such miscastings. It allows me to shock people without compromising the truth. My interview with a radical feminist host might develop as follows:
RF: Good afternoon Dr. DeMarco, we are pleased to have you on our show.
DD: I am pleased to be here.
RF: Now let’s cut to the chase. How would you characterize, in one word, the achievement of the feminist movement?
DD: A catastrophe.
RF: What? You are joshing, I hope. I was thinking more along the lines of blessing, victory, triumph, Godsend.
DD: Well, maybe there’s a stronger word, but the movement had no chance for success from the beginning.
RF: You must be joshing. Just look at the gains we’ve made in terms of equality, freedom of choice, salary equity, just to name a few. Women are no longer doormats, no longer subservient to a patriarchal system. They are, more than ever before in history, autonomous and in control of their lives.
DD: The movement was doomed from the start because its members set out to imitate they very attitude it condemned. That’s why it ended up condemning itself, although without the degree of self-consciousness needed to recognize that fact.
RF: You’re not kidding. Maybe you’re crazy. Would you mind please explaining you’re completely idiosyncratic view for us?
DD: I would be only too happy to oblige. What radical feminists detested in men, and rightly so, was an uncaring, selfish, and domineering attitude that put the individual self above everything else. This attitude was commonly denounced as male chauvinism. It represented a behavior that was both misogynistic and uncivilized.
RF: That’s right.
DD: But radical feminists adopted the very position they denounced in men, namely, a me-first attitude that went as far as even countenancing violence. Consider the image of the clenched fist breaking through the symbol of the female and the justification of rage.
RF: But we were just asserting our rights. We never countenanced violence.
DD: What do you think abortion is, but the violent destruction of unborn human life?
RF: Abortion is a choice.
DD: Yes, of course, but if you completed your sentence you would find that it is a choice for violence.
RF: It is a choice for reproductive freedom.
DD: It is desperate choice for freedom by means of a violent act that results in the death of the unborn child. Many women who have had abortions have testified that they deeply regretted their decision and wished they had the freedom to go back and undo it. Some lose the freedom to have the future child they want because of complications caused by abortion. For others, abortion brings about a rupture in the relationship with men.
RF: You are being unduly negative. You do not represent real women.
DD: Allow me to quote Dr. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, surely a real woman, and one who defected from feminism because she could no longer tolerate its contradictions and hypocrisies: “paradox: intent of abortion has been to free women, but it has imprisoned them. Abortion devalues and debases women’s bodies – strips them of their character… Abortion has not heightened respect for woman’s bodies, but only confirmed their status as objects to be used.”
RF: But you are a man and do not know what it is like to be a target of abuse.
DD: For the most part, men apologize for abusing women. This is what society demands that they do. They do not try to justify it as a “choice” and then set up workshops to exploit others into agreeing with them.
RF: Speaking of apologizing, I must apologize to our listeners. I thought I had invited a university professor who was progressive and sensitive to women’s needs. What we have here is old-school male dominance.
DD: I am, indeed, sensitive and progressive, and am familiar with many women’s groups who have come to denounce abortion and warn other women that abortion is not the road to freedom, but a trap. We should be as critical of female selfishness as we have been about male selfishness. Anything else is “sexism,” a disposition, I understand, that you deplore.
RF: Well, this is an unexpected twist.
DD: Furthermore, “autonomy,” that you mentioned earlier, is an illusion. No one is autonomous. We need each other. And the greatest of all needs is the one that an unborn child has for its mother. If you deny need at that point, in the name of an imaginary autonomy, I fail to see how you could not deny all other human needs. Abortion and euthanasia share the same underpinning.
RF: I want to thank my guest, Dr. DeMarco, I think. Maybe he is neither kidding nor crazy. But he does remind us that we have a lot of work left to do.
DD: At last we agree.
Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.