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CSotD: The Secondary Sex

Nate Beeler leads off in a flood of cartoons on the latest strategy of Right-to-Life extremists to force the Roberts Court to reconsider Roe v Wade.

I like the piece in the first place because it combines a terse statement of the actual strategy with a metaphorical description of the primitive instincts that inspire it.

I bristle over extremist discussions of the “patriarchy,” particularly when people natter on about “old white men,” which makes me wonder if they’ve ever met any old black men or old Latino men, because I don’t think European men are any less enlightened and socially progressive, as a group.

Nor is it a conspiracy. It’s just … a thing.

And Republican women in Alabama’s legislature voted for that extremist bill and Alabama’s woman governor signed it into law.

This is no time for easy, divisive generalities.

However, the cave man analogy that puts women in a subservient role is right on, and for a number of reasons.


Pat Bagley lays out the attitude in which a fetus is given greater status than “the host entity,” and, while he’s applying it to the heartless, condescending misogynistic attitude of right-to-life fanatics, there’s some interesting History of Bad Science behind it.

There is a reason that, in the Bible, Onan is accused of “spilling his seed.” The idea of sperm as “seed” is very much part of our culture, which is why women without children are described as “barren” or “infertile,” the same descriptors you would use to describe a field in which seeds did not sprout.

It is not until relatively recent times that science realized that sperm is only half a seed and that women contribute more than a fertile field in which the male seed can grow. And while the new laws are clear about fertilization and emplantment and so forth, our culture continues to view women as “host entities.”

Which brings up my other appreciation of Nate Beeler’s cartoon, because I highly suspect the idea that cavemen abducted spouses is a crock of bad anthropology. Hunter/gatherer societies tend to be at least matrilinear if not matriarchal, for practical reasons.

It is only with the advent of civilization that these fertile receptors began to be traded like horses or cattle, and used to shore up family contracts and royal treaties.

Revealing insight: It was believed, even into the late 19th century, that a man’s “seed” could sprout in that fertile field years later, just as a “volunteer” corn plant can pop up in a field that has now been planted with wheat. Hence the importance of the virgin bride: If other seeds had ever been sown there, you had no guarantee that her future children would be the products of her husband.


Ann Telnaes foregoes her usual caricatures and draws road signs that do, indeed, tell us where we’re at.

I like it in the first place because it indicates how widespread this movement to limit women’s rights is: I’ve seen far too many postings on social media that suggest this is the work of “hillbillies,” an elitist slur that distances we-the-enlightened from them-the-peasantry.

The insult itself aside, it’s not just the South and it’s not just people of limited education. If it were simply the “hillbillies,” there’d be no fear of letting the Supreme Court have a look at their extremist legislation.

I also like the way her format allows her to compile a list of reasons this benighted movement is in opposition to decency and fairness.

In particular, she evokes the coat hanger without depending on it.

There have been any number of cartoons that feature the coat hanger front and center and foremost, but evoking the coat hanger is like evoking the Holocaust or calling someone a Nazi — if you do it too often, if it’s your whole argument, if it becomes reflexive, it can lose its impact, it can cease to horrify.

It must never be forgotten, but don’t let it become a trivial historic reference.

Some of us have experienced it, ourselves or in the lives of our loved ones.

Never again.


And tread cautiously, too, in noting that the majority of Americans oppose a ban on abortion, though even in the Bible Belt, it hasn’t got majority support.

Because someone voted those puritanical busybodies into office, and, while Roe v Wade was decided by a 7-to-2 majority, the Supreme Court is not required to follow popular opinion.

My opinion and your opinion will have no more weight in the matter than will that of Merrick Garland, because neither of us is on the Supreme Court and neither is he.


Though Ruben Bolling points out the absurdity of fetal personhood, and it’s possible that even a conservative court could be persuaded to see the legal insanity of this claim.

I like the notion of a pregnant woman getting a ticket for driving in an HOV lane and taking it to the Supreme Court. I’d want her to lose, of course, but I’d chip in to pay her legal costs.


I also like the dark humor Matt Davies brings to the heartlessness of this entire matter.

It’s not funny, the impediments to treatment that are being placed in the paths of victims of rape by these stone-hearted Christians, and, while the new term “Talibama” puts too much emphasis on the regional matter, they do invoke a Sharia type approach that conflicts with the entire New Testament.

But if you are not in the mood for the Dancing Bug’s satire or Davies’ gallows humor, perhaps you can find some comfort, and even hope, in David Fitzsimmon‘s vision:


Maybe this was what we needed, and if the pussy-grabber was able to inspire a nationwide march over his disrespect of women, perhaps this direct, hateful, insulting assault on their rights will bring them to the polls, including the “I’m not a feminist, but …” crowd.

Male and female, of course. This isn’t “their” problem.

It’s ours.

Because “them” and “us” is what got us here.



Community Comments

#1 Bill Williamson
@ 10:41 am

I am in agreement with the illustrious Prime Minister of New Zealand when she said, “I do not understand the United States of America”. From up here in America’s attic, your governments look deranged even when compared our own strange legislature’s antics. There is no law at all up here regarding women’s right to choose and all our political parties have agreed not to discuss it anymore. It avoids all the insanity you guys are experiencing.

Love your daily column, Mike.
Cheers, Bill

#2 Mary McNeil
@ 4:09 pm

“The sacred sperm must be carried to term.”

#3 Mark Jackson
@ 5:54 pm

I believe the point of “old white men” is not that white guys are relatively unenlightened but that black and latino guys, old or young, are not in general the ones in our society with the power to make their lack of enlightenment oppressive.

I do agree that the patriarchy is a thing, although not with the adjective.

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