Yet another feminist report urging repeal of Canada’s abortion laws is hardly headline news. But, throwing into the report the proposal that women should be allowed to steal, commit welfare fraud and disregard individual property rights to provide food, clothing and shelter for their children, ensures that the report receives maximum publicity.
Both sets of proposals, and many more, are contained in A Feminists Review of Criminal Law; commissioned and recently released by Status of women Canada.
The 200-page plus report is hardly light reading with its strange blend of jargons, legal and feminist. It does, however, provide an interesting insight into the current state of feminist thought – a state of confusion, to say the least.
A few years ago, feminists asserted that there are no differences between men and women and, therefore, equal treatment before the law, was both equitable and essential. Today, however, differences are admitted – when it suits. Only women get pregnant, so abortion is a right and individual women should be the only ones to exercise that right. Biological factors, such as post-partum depression and pre-menstrual syndrome can be used to “excuse” some crimes. Post-partum depression is a defense against the crime of infanticide, for example, and these experts want this criminal category retained.
You may be surprised, as I was, to learn that infanticide is a charge peculiar to women (a man killing a newborn child would be charged with murder). Pleading post-partum depression (a period, after the delivery of a child, when a mother’s balance of mind can become disturbed) can be a successful defense to an infanticide charge.
Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a new way of describing mood swings during the menstrual cycle. Feminists are struggling with this one, since they prefer not to admit to biological differences between the sexes. Yet PMS is a woman’s health problem which cannot be dismissed lightly – certainly not by feminists who frequently charge that such problems are frequently ignored by a (male-dominated) research community. In this report, the authors merely call for more research into such phenomena and note that PMS has not yet been used as a defense in a criminal case in Canada. It has been, successfully, in Europe.
Before the critical letters start coming in, let me add that I’m not denying the existence of PMS – I have some experience myself – nor am I ridiculing those who suffer from it. I am pointing out that the whole discussion is fraught with danger for those who would prefer to ignore essential sexual differences.
The report, the reader is informed, is written from the perspective of “integrated feminism.” That is defined as
….affirming differences between women and men, but without the acceptance of a ‘natural’ role for women and without the attribution of inferiority to women’s difference. The fundamental questions asked are: how can the criminal law be used as a weapon against patriarchy, and at the same time be reduced as a weapon of patriarchy?
Would matriarchy be an improvement?
It gets worse. Here is the “integrative feminist” perspective on abortion.
While abortion might not be practiced at all in a feminist society, the position now is that women must have the power to choose to have an abortion or not. A number of feminist scholars have linked the issue of abortion to the broader question of sexuality in a context of gender inequality. Women do not have control of sexual intercourse, the most common cause of pregnancy. Nor do women control the social meaning of birth control. Women therefore need the power to make decisions about abortion: not so they can have control over their sexuality, but because of their lack of control.
Even such high-profile feminists as Laura Sabia have been forced to issue their dissent from the above statement. And it served as ideal cannon fodder to such as Claire Hoy, who commented in a Toronto Sun column, that these experts:
Paint a frightening picture of male conspiracy which, if they weren’t trying to be serious, would serve as a terrific parody on the paranoia of radical, man-hating feminists.
“Man hating” may be carrying it a bit too far, but it does show that the quarrel is over power. And it seems that women who have assumed that heterosexual relationships (we can’t say marriage) are the natural way to live are sadly deluded. “Coercion,” we are told, is “implicit in heterosexual intercourse in a society in which women are subordinate.” Why? Because it is “the power differential between male and female that intrinsically makes any sex act an act of force.”
Well, there’s really nothing new or shocking in these statements. If, that is, you’ve been keeping up with the feminist “literature” lately. And, really, I don’t mind them saying it (after all this is a free society), but I do object to these kind of statements being paid for out of my tax dollars. The money spent on this report would have been better spent helping some of the women who, we are told, have to steal to feed their children.
Pick right or else
And there’s nothing new in their reasons for wanting more access to abortion. We read the standard argument that access is uneven across the country, discriminating in favour of the wealthy. That is sung to the constant whine that getting abortion is like winning the lottery, you have to pick the right doctor.
In that light, read what follows and note the use of the words “life and death” (they’re not referring to the unborn child):
Some feminists have noticed that ‘our right to decide’ has become merged with an overwhelmingly male professional’s right not to have his professional judgment second-guessed by the government.
This is particularly important with respect to the debate about life, since the major anti-abortion argument is that the foetus is a human life. Whether or not the foetus is a form of life, the issue is who should have the power to make decisions about what will happen to it: the State, an anti-choice minority, the medical profession or women themselves? Feminists would entrust women with these decisions, including, and perhaps especially, if they are life and death decisions.
Claire Hoy says this report is a “serious” attempt to discuss the issues. I can’t help thinking that the report’s rhetoric sets back the aim of the women’s movement to be taken seriously. A cynic would say that given enough rope, they’ll hang themselves.
What irks me is that there are thousands of women in Canada who can look at the issues, make reasonable and persuasive arguments and come to appropriate conclusions. Where is the equality in funding to enable them to promote their views in the public forum?
This government, like the last, does not take equality seriously: it doesn’t fund both sides of the argument. This being so, I would suggest that we stop paying for these feminists “think tanks.” Let those who support such absurd reports as A Feminist Review of Criminal Law put their money where their mouths are and fund them themselves.