Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Abolition of Woman

THE BOOK,The Abolition of Man,” by C.S. Lewis, starts with his criticism of the  fashionable intellectual view that values are purely subjective. This debunking of values — which were largely shared by most great civilizations and religions — leads, almost inevitably, to a dystopian future: a political and economic system with the aim of universal genocide. That book comes originally from scholarly lectures, and so may not be easily readable; Lewis also fictionalized his observations in his novel, That Hideous Strength.

Some may consider this to be an antiquated opinion, surely contemporary thinkers want nothing more than a better life for us all? But perhaps a hundred million people were killed in the 20th century by revolutionary regimes who also claimed to want build a better future. But consider the aims of “deep” environmentalists: they believe that the world’s population must be quickly eliminated, with needed deaths in the billions. A bad intellectual fashion can have a huge body count: ideas matter.

I am not being alarmist, for the same intellectual trends continue today, and politicians have eagerly taken up the cause.

Recently, the influential feminist Shulamith Firestone was found dead at age 67. She was famed for her 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution. Quoting from the book:
So that just as to assure elimination of economic classes requires the revolt of the underclass (the proletariat) and, in a temporary dictatorship, their seizure of the means of production, so to assure the elimination of sexual classes requires the revolt of the underclass (women) and the seizure of control of reproduction: not only the full restoration to women of ownership of their own bodies, but also their (temporary) seizure of control of human fertility - the new population biology as well as all the social institutions of child-bearing and child-rearing. And just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally. (A reversion to an unobstructed pansexuality Freud's 'polymorphous perversity' - would probably supersede hetero/homo/bi-sexuality.) The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least the option of) artificial reproduction: children would born to both sexes equally, or independently of. either, however one chooses to look at it; the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general, and any remaining inferiority to adults in physical strength would be compensated for culturally. The division of labour would be ended by the elimination of labour altogether (through cybernetics). The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.
Although it was written decades after Lewis’ books, The Dialectic of Sex continues the same themes in surprisingly close detail: the need for a revolution via force or the threat of force, the institution of a totalitarian government, the aggressive use of new technology, the promise of utopia, all leading to universal genocide, or in her words, “the elimination of labour altogether.” Under Firestone’s system, women would not be free to be women, and eventually they may not be allowed to exist at all. Man, and Woman, would be abolished.

Underlying this is a hatred of biology: the revolution would be complete when “The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.” Likewise, Lewis’ antagonists in That Hideous Strength have an extreme hatred of biology. Should we decry the tyranny of the ant colony, or two birds in a nest with their eggs?  Why then the hatred of the natural human family, imperfect as it is?

Underlying much of the contemporary agenda is a Gnostic-like hatred of the material world, which has bad consequences. See the article, Rapture and the Gnostic Tendency: this kind of thinking ultimately leads to the desire for genocide. How many millions of unborn children have been abolished because of Firestone’s influence?

But slippery slope arguments are logical fallacies. Arguing thusly with someone can get them to actually want genocide. Be aware that very many people support the basic aims of Firestone’s program, but few know the radical goals of those who actually are implementing it. What alternative can we offer? According to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, “The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things - to love and to be loved.” Clearly there is a difficult road ahead of us.


  1. Wow, Mark. Comparing reproductive rights to genocide? I've enjoyed your photographs for some time, and although I know our views differ highly, this really pushes it over the edge. I think I'll be removing your blood from my reader. Thanks for the photos.

  2. Dear Brent,

    It is a shame that even though you like my photography, you reject my opinions in this matter. However, be aware that whatever skill I might have in photography springs from the same source as do my opinions in political things such as these.

    Whenever I comment on current affairs, I try to dig as deeply as I am able, looking for the core ideas of the modern world, and their originators. As Tip O’Neill famously said, “all politics is local,” which tells us that political leaders ought to restrict political rhetoric to very simple and personal terms, while avoiding the big ideas which actually lead political action. If we restrict our understanding to only local politics we fail to discover the big picture. I always find it helpful to ignore the politicians and instead read what influenced the politicians in the first place.

    Please note that Firestone does not mention “reproductive rights” in the snippet of her writing I present here. She does mention these things:

    1. Revolution — possibly violent
    2. Dictatorship
    3. Denial of rights of perceived opponents
    4. Elimination of sex difference, aided by technology
    5. Elimination of any notions of motherhood
    6. Children will be taken from their parents
    7. The “elimination of labor,” which could mean something quite brutal
    8. Hatred of families and natural biology

    Writing as a radical socialist, I doubt that Firestone intended to recognize individual rights for anyone, since class identity replaces any notion of individuality in her system. History shows us that “oppressor classes” are dealt with severely and unmercifully in this kind of system, and these kinds of systems killed perhaps 100 million in the 20th century. But the bloodshed of legal abortion, following Firestone, has caused far more deaths.

    One of the core doctrines in Catholic moral theology is that we ought to act in harmony with nature, most particularly with human nature, which includes our human reproductive faculties. Yes, I know that it is extremely difficult to do in our contemporary world, but that does not mean that it is not a goal we should strive for. Firestone’s program is in complete opposition to this view.