Sunday, August 26, 2012

Apologies for Ranting

So here's the thing, politics makes me unhappy, especially because when any politician speaks, and I mean ANY politician, I can't help but think "where are your sources?  Why am I supposed to believe you when you're not an expert on this?  You don't have a PhD, you haven't done any empirical work, you've decided that there is 'a way to solve this problem' without asking what the problem actually is."  These are all signs of bad scholarship, and it doesn't matter how wonderful your theory is, if your methodology is flawed: bad data, incomplete data, non-realistic approach to the question, no research into related issues, etc; your solution is going to be flawed.

But when the issue turns to women's health, I get scared.  The reason is simple.  When do we think it is reasonable to make decisions for other people?  Generally, there are two cases, when we think that they are not mentally competent enough to make decisions for themselves, and when we think that they are a threat to our society.  For example - dotty old people and children often need other people to make decisions for them, and we want those people to be trustworthy so that they don't abuse the fact that they have power over these people, because, essentially, these people are no longer citizens, they no longer have the rights and protections due to citizens.  Terrorists, murderers, pyramid schemers, they fall under the other definition.  They are actively attempting to destroy our social stability.  (Most of the time people of one party think that members of the opposing party also fall under this definition: 'lefty pinko commie,' 'militant right-wing fascist.' etc.)  But under which definition do women fall?

When we make decisions for other people, take away their choices - whether to buy health insurance or to decide what to do with their own bodies - we are saying that they are not competent enough to make decisions for themselves.  It's a slippery slope.  Telling someone that their decision is wrong is not the same as taking away their right to make decisions for themselves.  Everyone makes mistakes, and some of those have dire consequences, but have we banned SUVs because it's easy to run over children in them?  Or skiing because you're lucky to get out of it with only two broken legs?

In a lot of YA dystopians the main idea is that someone else makes decisions for you, like whether or not you can love, or other odd things, but where it gets scary is not when they whole society is being controlled like this, but when one subset of the society is being told that they are not smart enough to make decisions for themselves.  That's when things turn bad quickly.  Us and them, chains and ovens.  So be careful when you think it's alright to tell someone else that they don't get to choose.  Be careful that it doesn't end up turning around and biting you in the butt.

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