Friday, March 14, 2008

On "feminist hysteria"

The National Post, which has lately distinguished itself by publishing some of the most notorious whackjobs of the wingnut-o-sphere, ran true to form this week with a feminist-bashing screed by regular columnist Barbara Kay. The subject was Bill C-484 (which I'm getting as tired of writing about as you are of reading about), and in particular, the blogospheric reaction to the passage of the bill through second reading, which Kay characterized as "hysterical feminists overreacting":
"Those women who hate the bill may be a minority, but they are noisy, if not exactly rational. Hear them roar — yes, hysterically — on the blogosphere: “Dear Liberals: You f****** suck” and “every one of [you] should be marked for political death” reflects the betrayal that furious feminists see in the critical support given to C-484 by 28 Liberals — Liberals!!! — who dared to vote with the Conservatives."
(I was amused to note that one of the "women" whose unattributed heading Kay quotes is Canadian Cynic. D'oh!) Anyway, that's not exactly true; the women who "hate the bill" aren't a minority. In fact, outside of the Conservatives, only one female MP voted in favour of the bill. It passed by a razor-thin margin of 13 votes, meaning that if Parliament is indeed representative of the electorate, C-484 is hardly a widely-supported bill.

Kay predictably flogs that dead horse of an Environics poll, commissioned by fetus-fetishizing outfit "Life Canada", which apparently shows that 72% of Canadians favour this bill. Unfortunately, a poll on "fetal homicide" legislation commissioned by "Life Canada" is about as credible as a study on the dangers of smoking commissioned by Macdonald Tobacco. So I've already wasted too many keystrokes on that steaming nugget.

Ms. Kay winds up with a neat non-sequitur inferring that those against the bill are all for letting murderers get off scott-free:
"Such is their logical desperation, they prefer to advocate that murderers escape justice rather than admit that an unborn child is a human being."
I don't know about you, but that's the kind of hyperbole that I'd characterize as "hysterical".

What Ms. Kay neglects to mention in all of this is that the bill actually does nothing to protect pregnant women or their fetuses, deter violence against them, nor impose more justice. It concedes that the fetus is an individual apart from its mother by recognizing a second crime in attacking it -- that's all. Which is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse takes off -- it would certainly be more constructive to protect pregnant women (and by proxy, fetuses) from being attacked in the first place.

The loss of a wanted pregnancy is certainly tragic and traumatic; the future baby that someone has hopes and dreams for does have its own intrinsic value. But pregnant women and their fetuses would be much better served by legislation targeting the issues that lead to violence against them in the first place -- poverty, substance abuse, spousal abuse -- rather than a token nod to the fetus after it's been attacked. Better safe than sorry.

As for "feminist hysteria", any legislation so obviously useless in the context of what it claims to do -- protect and deter -- justifiably arouses suspicion about ulterior motives. That's not "hysteria" by any definition -- it's called "vigilance" and it's the price of all freedom, including the reproductive kind.