In my opinion, the most culturally revealing issue currently discussed in MHRM circles is that of male reproductive rights. The current paradigm of reproductive rights is a morally indefensible double standard wherein the female is valued for her humanity and the male for his utility.
It is one wherein the female gets to decide when the male is exploring his humanity and when he is reproducing, and one wherein she is under no obligation to inform him which act he is engaged in. It is one wherein the female can use her reproductive power to legally impose involuntary servitude on the male for the purposes of financing her reproductive decision.
What virtually everyone in the MHRM sees as a self-evident and fundamental human right is nevertheless vehemently argued against by the majority of people in this society. And in MHRM circles, there is a general unspoken belief that if we find an argument that is more elegantly constructed, or imbued with some higher order of reason, our point will be acknowledged and accepted. As a result, many well-reasoned arguments have been made to support male reproductive rights.
My favorite entry into this discussion was fielded by John Hembling, who recently addressed this topic with a nice article, and Paul Elam and Girlwriteswhat have also provided excellent videos on the subject.
So what can I possibly add to the discussion?
The limitation we face doesn’t exist with respect to the quality of our arguments. The limitation exists in the values of those with whom we argue, and this is an important distinction to understand. The fundamental problem with addressing this topic is that the discussion occurs across two different value sets. Neither side feels heard after the debate because neither side spoke to the other’s values. Thus, any discussion on male reproductive rights is incomplete without deconstructing the value underlying opposition to the topic’s validity. Regardless of how well-reasoned an argument, if those judging it have a deeply rooted cultural value or belief related to that argument, it will result in a bias.
All MHRM arguments on male reproductive rights hinge on a value of female responsibility, every single one of them. Our society does not value male reproductive rights simply because it does not value female responsibility. Those arguing against male reproductive rights cannot conceive of such a thing, fundamentally because they cannot conceive of female responsibility.
Female non-responsibility is the embedded bias in those evaluating any MHRM discussion on male reproductive rights, and it is the limiting factor for progress in this area. Structuring better arguments in support of male reproductive rights is therefore irrelevant, because the limiting factor is a culture that does not value or even expect female responsibility.
For those new to the MHRM, we value female responsibility very highly. We believe it is only natural to expect equal responsibility and accountability from men and women. We expect men and women to take responsibility for their choices. We expect them to take responsibility for their safety (no, we don’t blame victims), and we expect them to take responsibility for their actions, criminal or otherwise. We view women as human beings possessed of all the same cognitive faculties of higher reasoning as men, and we thus see no reason to hold them to a lower standard of responsibility.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of our society does not share our views. Our society does not believe in female responsibility. Neither traditionalists, nor indeed the vast majority of feminists, believe in female responsibility. The feminists might claim to, but their activism proves otherwise. The part feminism played in entrenching cultural female non-responsibility is something I’ll comment on at length in my next article.
As a value, female non-responsibility is pervasive and might well be considered the fuel that feeds our fires, and the light that guides our way. The cultural preeminence of this value would put cold fusion to shame if it could be harnessed as an energy source. It’s the psychoactive ingredient that makes the blue pill potent, and it has our society teetering ever more dangerously close to a complete overdose with each passing year.
And at this point, rehab is going to be a bitch.
So it is fully predictable that attempting to promote a human rights agenda that hinges on a value of female responsibility is virtually guaranteed to fail. Depending on our culture to understand arguments that hinge on female responsibility is like depending on the Westboro Baptist Church to understand arguments that hinge on cultural sensitivity. These are non-universal cultural values. Not everyone gets it.
This is made clear by the following unfortunate reality of Western culture. Where male reproductive rights are concerned, our society is faced with a choice between female responsibility and male slavery …
… and it chooses male slavery.
I’m not going to deconstruct any of the most common arguments made against male reproductive rights. If you’re interested, watch any of the semiconscious individuals on YouTube espousing these arguments and you’ll see the value of female non-responsibility in action.
Among those opposing male reproductive rights, two groups have emerged. Among the first group are those who believe imposing involuntary servitude on a male is preferable to expecting a female to take responsibility for her body and her choice. Among the second group are those who essentially understand this is immoral, but nevertheless view the problem as an irreconcilable paradox because they can’t wrap their minds around the concept of female responsibility.
Feminism is to blame for this cultural stupidity, because feminism casts women as an oppressed class of non-responsible victims. With pregnancy seen through this filter, our culture essentially sees a pregnant woman as one who has been victimized, even if the pregnancy was of her own choosing. This effect works in tandem with a “patriarchal” reproductive contract still upon us that takes a dim view of men not “taking responsibility” and providing reproductive security for women.
In other words, feminists have amplified female non-responsibility as a cultural value while holding men to the patriarchal paradigm of hyper-responsibility.
Where reproduction was concerned, the “patriarchy” was fundamentally little more than a social contract between female reproductive power and male labor and productivity. Love was often a catalyst for the acceptance of this contract, but in many cases it was not necessary. This system was designed to deploy male responsibility in the form of productivity, in order to enable female reproductive security during a time when the world was much more dangerous than it is today. By trading his labor, the male was able to reproduce. This reproductive philosophy has served our species for centuries.
The patriarchal paradigm was also one wherein technological limitations meant that sex would result in pregnancy, and pregnancy would result in childbirth. Females, just like males, were responsible for the sex act that bound them to the chain of causation culminating in parenthood. As such, female responsibility played no uniquely important role in the patriarchal reproductive paradigm, and their culturally acceptable non-responsibility was never made apparent in matters of reproduction.
A womanizing man was looked upon very dimly, because he was essentially breaking the patriarchal reproductive contract. He was accessing female reproductive power for his own pleasure, without contributing his labor and responsibility as called for in the contract. Don Giovanni from Mozart’s famous opera was sent to hell in the finale essentially for engaging in this behavior. Thus, the patriarchal contract always considered it a repugnant act not to provide reproductive security for a pregnant woman.
Modernity arrived and erected three important reproductive boundaries. The first is a boundary separating a sex act and a pregnancy. This boundary is made possible by inexpensive and reliable contraception. The second is a boundary separating a pregnancy from a childbirth. This boundary is made possible by widespread access to safe abortion. The third is a boundary separating childbirth from parenthood. This boundary is made possible by the availability of adoption. In other words, modernity ensured that pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood would now all be arrived at by choice.
The emergence of these choices, exercised at the discretion of women, meant that female responsibility would play a uniquely important role in the new reproductive paradigm. Unfortunately, as stated above, our society neither values nor particularly expects female responsibility, so females gained reproductive choices while the commensurate responsibilities that would normally accompany those choices remained with males.
The feminist movement purported to move society beyond the patriarchal reproductive contract, but the feminists merely vociferously attacked their own half of the contract while ensuring the other would be enforced. The feminist movement has never fought for female responsibility, but only for female choice. They claimed their choice along with their body, but rejected any accompanying responsibility, and no cultural force expected them to take it. Male responsibility was expected and assumed, and as a result no boundary was made between female reproductive choice and male reproductive responsibility. Thus, our society still uses the patriarchal reproductive contract. Feminists have merely breached the female terms of it.
To put this in perspective, Lindy West’s recent tirade about fighting the patriarchy conspicuously left one fundamentally important male rights issue off the list. Care to guess which one? It isn’t particularly surprising given what I’ve just discussed, since feminists are loath to advocate anything that might involve female responsibility.
I’ll make the necessary addition to her list, since I’m sure it was just an oversight.
“Feminists don’t want men to have to take responsibility for the reproductive decisions of women, the assumption that men are responsible for women’s reproductive security is part of patriarchy.”
Isn’t that right, Lindy?
If “my body, my choice” was to be the paradigm replacing the patriarchal reproductive contract, then it should have followed that a woman would gain the power to choose how to deploy her reproductive power, and a man would gain the power to choose how to deploy his labor. Since our culture doesn’t expect female responsibility, however, it simply compels male responsibility and labor in order to facilitate responsibility-free female reproductive choice.
My personal view on this issue is a simple one. Males in this culture can expect reproductive rights when females in this culture are expected to be responsible for their decisions.
Don’t hold your breath.