NRO’s John Derbyshire Opposes Voting Rights for Women

Derbyshire told Alan Colmes on his radio show today that women should not have the right to vote (emphasis is in original):

John Derbyshire, a British-American conservative authorand columnist for the National Review, has written a new book titled We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism. The book contains a section called “The Case Against Female Suffrage.” Yesterday on his radio show,Alan Colmes asked Derbyshire to articulate his argument.

“What is the case against female suffrage?” Colmes asked. “The conservative case against it is that women lean hard to the left,” Derbyshire responded nonsensically. “They want someone to nurture, they want someone to help raise their kids, and if men aren’t inclined to do it — and in the present days, they’re not much — then they’d like the state to do it for them.”

Colmes then pressed Derbyshire on whether women should have the right to vote. “Ah…” Derbyshire sighed, attempting to dodge the question initially. “I’m not putting forward a political program here,” he said. But then Derbyshire slowly began to open up:

DERBYSHIRE: Among the hopes that I do not realistically nurse is the hope that female suffrage will be repealed. But I’ll say this – if it were to be, I wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep.

COLMES: We’d be a better country if women didn’t vote?

DERBYSHIRE: Probably. Don’t you think so?

COLMES: No, I do not think so whatsoever.

DERBYSHIRE: Come on Alan. Come clean here [laughing].

COLMES: We would be a better country? John Derbyshire making the statement, we would be a better country if women did not vote.

DERBYSHIRE: Yeah, probably.

Derbyshire reasoned that we “got along like that for 130 years.” Colmes countered by asking if he also wants to bring back slavery. No, Derbyshire responded, “I’m in favor of freedom personally.” Colmes noted that freedom didn’t extend to women’s right to vote, however. Derbyshire said, “Well, they didn’t and we got along ok.”

I’m looking forward to seeing the conservative commentary on this — especially from Derbyshire’s colleagues at NRO. So far only liberal bloggers have anything to say about it.

Author: KATHY KATTENBURG

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39 Comments

  1. I'm not up in my political pundits and have no idea who Derbyshire is, but it would seem like such a view would push him to the fringes of conservative punditry.

  2. Decided to come beat this horse a bit. I've been reading articles by Derbyshire on his web site and columns at the NRO. Odd character. Novels, non-fiction books on Reimann, self-published stuff. His mathematical non-fiction has gotten awards so I assume it's quite worthy, but at the same time his article Will Obama Kill Science? is a horribly simple-minded understanding of the current state of the “nature/nurture” debate.

    That piece really isn't about science, it's about one tiny piece of research, which he thinks is best exemplified by that old book The Bell Curve. You see in Derbyshire's world, all the liberals (and cultural Marxists, a term he uses) are trying to shut down any research that doesn't show people to be the same, again exemplified by The Bell Curve, and if that happens we will have shut down the search for the Truth. Since identifying how various groups are different is the sum of all interesting science. Curse those liberals!

    This seems to connect to the opinions expressed in the quotes here in that he has these ideas of what people are like, and apparently he's very drawn to ones that group people by gender and ethnicity — at least that's all he cites. Haven't read his works, but I bet he doesn't go study up on differences that don't fall along these lines.

    In the quotes here, women all want to nurture, because that's how women are you know, and simultaneously they want someone else to take care of “their” kids. How they want to nurture and yet not take care of their kids is a bit confusing, but I'm sure he'd make it clear to us given the opportunity. Perhaps women are also lazy or have no ability to follow through with their desires? (Not as rational as men, I suppose, but I probably am putting words in his mouth now, though it's certainly suggested since in Derby-Land women are driven by these biological needs that few can resist so as to vote like men.)

    And, of course, women don't want to take care of “their” children. Derbyshire's a big fan of biology, so he might want to be reminded that it takes two to create one of those things we call children, so there really aren't any children that are just from women (artificial insemination exempted, I suppose).

    But men aren't inclined to help out much. I find that interesting as I pick my son up from school and drop him off. Naturally, it's just the two of us when my wife has a meeting or trip. When the Vice-Principal calls, it's me who goes to find out what he's done and when the nurse calls, it's me who takes care of him. Perhaps I'm the exception that proves the Derby Rule, however.

    But is Derbyshire upset with the men who created this child they don't want to help take care of? Seemingly not. It's “their” kids after all, “their” being women.

    The real killer, however, is indeed in what Colmes points out (at least as quoted here). Derbyshire thinks he's a believer in freedom and yet doesn't really want any groups of people to vote unless they more often agree with him politically. That thought is the death of democracy and freedom. Women vote differently than him, and so they really shouldn't vote. Who else? He doesn't want slavery, but African-Americans vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Perhaps the world would be a better place if we took away their votes as well? Jews?

    Derbyshire actually hints here that women are incapable of voting well, due to this supposed need to nurture and simultaneous laziness. (I feel like someone needs to create “Need to Nurture” t-shirts.) And this highlights one of the reasons some people do get worried about research looking into differences between the sexes or different ethnic groups. It's because people such as Derbyshire aren't trying to get a complicated, in-depth picture of the human race. They instead like to seize on some result that matches what they think and then use that to justify what they already believe.

    The large majority of scientific studies that find differences between groups of people don't find anything categorical (some developmental work with children might be an exception; there are certain things that kids really don't get at all until a certain age, then, bam, they all get it). Instead, they find a higher correlation between one variable (attitude, intelligence measures, problem-solving behaviors, linguistic features, whatever) and another, such as gender identification. Both groups display immense variability, but on average there's a slight sway one way or another. The partisan then grabs that as evidence of what women are like and recommends cutting these funds or doing away with this program or whatever. Because now “it's based on science”. But of course that's a silly way to understand the result.

    Then, a few year's later there will be a follow up study which shows that it wasn't gender identification which was the best determining factor, but some other feature, often behavioral, which happened to be more common in the women who participated in the study. In other words, it wasn't a gender thing at all, but a cultural one that may or may not be common across cultures.

    But it's too late, because the program was cancelled.

    This doesn't mean that research on gender and ethnicity shouldn't be done. In fact it is done all the time. I'm just spelling out why some have political reservations about it.

    Rant done.

  3. I don't see that as a rant at all, paca, but a very insightful comment. I agree completely (your discussion about the dangers of research being misapplied actually dovetails with a discussion on one of mikkel's recent posts that I recently had with HemmD.)

    At any rate- Mr. Derbyshire, please go away…this is decidely not helpful. LOL

    What's funny though is that I think one core part of what is saying has some validity and I suppose it's causing him frustration, but he's obviously promoting a very incorrect solution. What I'm referring to (and apparently Ann Coulter has also expressed this) is that there does seem to be a tendency for women, particularly single mothers, to vote Democratic (obviously this is subject to the general caveat about research as it is true of the demographic group overall but certainly not all individuals in the group.) And I think he touched on a truth too when saying that this is perhaps because many men are not taking adequate responsibility for providing for their kids, and the women feel that they need much more financial support in order to raise the families that end up primarily in their singlehanded care.

    Of course that's one place where Derbyshire misses not only the bullseye, but the entire target- if that's the problem, then he should be placing blame on the men, not taking away rights from the women. And there's plenty of blame to go around for that particular societal problem, since many women aren't choosing reliable mates with which to raise families in many cases either.

    Anyway, I basically see this as a mirror image of the 'What's the matter with Kansas” or “clinging to their guns and Bibles” commentary, but with a proposed solution which is completely wrongheaded and inappropriate. I think ideological liberals and ideological conservatives both feel frustration with groups of voters whom they feel aren't voting 'correctly' or can't be convinced to vote the way the ideologue thinks they should. Rather than take the harder task of figuring out how to be more convincing toward such groups of people, the hard core ideologue seems to want to write those people off (though I'll acknowledge, I don't think any liberals have actually advocated revoking voting rights for Christians or gun owners!)

  4. And there's plenty of blame to go around for that particular societal problem, since many women aren't choosing reliable mates with which to raise families in many cases either.

    If Corporate America wasn't busy sending every job that paid a decent wage while not having a master's degree to the third world and importing foreign labor like it was going out of style, there would be far larger pool of “reliable mates” available. It's amazing what a steady job that pays a decent wage can do to improve the desirability of a male in the eyes of females.

  5. The conservative position on the vote has always been pretty straight-forward, only men of property should be entitled to vote…

  6. I'm not talking about 'desirability of males', DQ. The societal problem that I'm referring to is a tendency for people to ignore the need to find a committed mate before having children.

  7. The societal problem that I'm referring to is a tendency for people to ignore the need to find a committed mate before having children.

    It's not that they are ignoring it, it's more the fact that there are no quality mates available.

    Why would an employed female nurse marry an unemployed or marginally employed factory worker even if he is the father of her child? He is as much of a burden as the child if not more…

    Now if he was employed in a steady dependable job that would be a different issue, he would have the habits of the employed and a steady dependable income…

    There are very few social problems that steady jobs with a decent income will not resolve, or at least put a serious dent into…

  8. This goes back to the health care debate and how women are more compassionate towards the suffering of others in general. This is just another gyration of MedMob in its many forms of snakes on the medusa's head of keep-profiteering any way they can.

    It's amusing. What's next? Shall we return to the telegraph machine?

  9. No comment of my own. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the comment by pacatrue and reply from CStanley, followed by others. This is TMV at its best.

  10. … there does seem to be a tendency for women, particularly single mothers, to vote Democratic, Obviously this is subject to the general caveat about research as it is true of the demographic group overall but certainly not all individuals in the group.

    There is an implied assertion in the above that either you are not aware of, or feel is not a problem. I'm hoping it's the former.

    I was going to do a snarky reply, but maybe I should give you a chance to look that sentence over again.

  11. This idea that the world would be a better place if women didn't vote because women tend to vote to the left of men is one that isn't as uncommon as it should be. CStanley noted that Ann Coulter said it a while back, and I believe I've heard it from Phyllis Shafly in the past. As pacatrue points out, this could be said for black people as well, or in all honesty, about any group other than white, male, cis, able-bodied people. Pretty much every other demographic, when parsed out, votes slightly or heavily on the Dem side. One of Ms. Coulter's arguments was: what's wrong with the Democrats that they can't get 50% of white men to vote for them? My answer: what's wrong with Republicans that they can't get anyone else?

    pacatrue, CS — love your comments. One of my pet peeves is when people take good science and twist it to support whatever it is they're trying to prove, and evo-psych is one of the worst culprits at that. It often comes down to huge logic failures like “[XYZ behavior] in bonobo chimps means that women are evolutionarily programmed to be gold diggers”. It looks like Derbyshire is drawing similar conclusions.

    “there does seem to be a tendency for women, particularly single mothers, to vote Democratic”

    Well, yes. It's not necessarily that they're looking for a handout or filling a desire to nuture though, and I think it would be a mistake to ascribe that reason. I know that as a women, I vote Dem because it seems like the policies on the other side of the aisle don't particularly support women, or at least those of us who think we're as good as men at making our own decisions or as deserving of rights. See the right's positions on things like contraception, abortion, sex ed, sex in general, “traditional family values”, no-fault divorce, community property, affirmative action, etc.

  12. How far back does this go?. . . .I do not know anything about this guy or what his background is but would imagine that one would not have to scratch very deep to link him back to the first chapter in the Bible, Genesis where women are suppose to be submissive to men. . .This is old time patriarchal tribalism in its lower form and this guy is drudging the depths of that density. . . .

    I was in African at a remote tribal trust land, and a young girl child was in the hospital. She had been bitten by the most deadly of snakes, the black mamba. The girl child lay in bed frightened and alone. She had been bitten on the foot but the leg was gangrene to above the knee and with each day was progressing. . .Surgery was needed but her father refused to allow the surgery. . . Each time he was approached for permission of the surgery he only say; ” Sins of the Mother, Sins of the Mother, Sins of the Mother.”. . . .He was from a very isolated ancient tribe that had not experienced any contact with the greater world. . . The roots of the man that wrote this article roots back to days long gone.

    We would do well to observe the man that wrote this article as a throwback of tribalism and ask it that is the direction we want to go? Do we want to return to Sins of the Mother?

    But at a whisper, i think it is wonderful and maybe the last chance for the survival of our species to re-balance and return to a more nurturing society. . .I have long sense given up the war of the sexes and viewing either sex as too much or not enough in the truth of the form. . .both are just as needed. . .but nowadays as we have arrived on the front step of the 21st Century to find we are living in ugly in our dominate culture. . .Each day we see the parched terrains of greed and narcissism. . .me and mine. . .them and other. . .hoarding of resources. . .disregard for the natural world. . .empty ammunition shelves. . . .boy children being killed in our large cities. . .and on and on. . .Each of you know what i am speaking about. . . the media, the pundits have become the global mirror and the more they reflect what we are doing the more they become like us, and all to often what passes as news and politics is fanatical tirades of self-interest and base ugliness. . .

    I am ready for a more nurturing world. . .bring in gentleness. . .bring in nurturing. . .bring back some true beauty to our world. . . .

    we so need to transcend the splits of us and them. . .Republicans and Democrats. . .and learn one simple concept. . .Honor. . .why Honor? Because honor has the maturity to embrace the and withstand the tension of the opposites. . . I do not advocate for a society based on male or female rule. . .but if we must base it on a form, then i would choose a Maternal Society” where every child whether male, female, black, white, red, or yellow are embraced and guided with the dream for each to become and live their highest potential. . .

  13. Colbert had a really nice piece related to this that Joe Windish linked a few weeks back related to the Sotomayor nomination. For much of American, being white, non-Hispanic, is considered neutral. And it's everyone else who has cultural biases. I think the same thing is going on in Derbyshire's ideas.

    In his mind, men are the sort of default. Women are driven by this nurturing need and it's affecting their votes, making them vote poorly. But men apparently aren't affected by such biological desires, or, if they are, it's not a need which causes a problem, unlike women.

    If women, and mothers in particular, really do continually vote in a way different than men, perhaps what's going on is that men are not taking into account the needs of the entire community that they are a part of. The votes of dads are an incomplete picture. And finding some way to balance the needs of mothers and fathers will bring the best government, instead of just hoping the needs of women would go away.

  14. Well, yes. It's not necessarily that they're looking for a handout or filling a desire to nuture though, and I think it would be a mistake to ascribe that reason. I know that as a women, I vote Dem because it seems like the policies on the other side of the aisle don't particularly support women, or at least those of us who think we're as good as men at making our own decisions or as deserving of rights. See the right's positions on things like contraception, abortion, sex ed, sex in general, “traditional family values”, no-fault divorce, community property, affirmative action, etc.

    Roro, I can appreciate what you're trying to say but as a conservative woman, I simply don't agree that those policies that you feel the Dems have which 'support' women have been helpful for women in most cases. I think legalized abortion on demand (which is the de facto situation now) as well as no fault divorce and the general 'sexual revolution' atttidudes of society have led to a breakdown of the ethic of family responsibility which men were always previously held to account for.

    That's not to say that there weren't problems before these societal changes- there were serious problems, but of a different nature. I feel we've pretty much exchanged one set of problems for another, which is generally what happens when you misdiagnose the crux of the problem. When males dominated politics and public policy, they institutionalized a lot of practices which were completely unfair to women- but instead of creating policies which actually level the playing field by promoting more responsibility among men for impregnating women, the women's lib movement basically opted for door number two, creating policies which ostensibly allow women to become just as irresponsible as men (but then our persistent societal belief still defaults to women being the caregivers of the children that result from sexual liasons, and by and large men still can walk away or at least have a much lesser long term responsibility.)

    From a conservative female perspective, instead of looking toward government policy which would allow me to terminate a pregnancy which might result from a sexual relationship at a time when I wasn't prepared to rear children, I sought out a life partner with whom I felt assurance of lifetime commitment, with whom I could welcome the children that would result from our union.

  15. If women, and mothers in particular, really do continually vote in a way different than men, perhaps what's going on is that men are not taking into account the needs of the entire community that they are a part of.

    To give the conservative perspective on that though, instead of ignoring that these 'needs' exist, the conservative movement should attempt to convince women (and anyone else with that kind of nurturing/high empathy attitude) that nongovernmental options are better sought than governmental ones in most cases.

  16. Love this comment, paca!

  17. Yes, agreed. If there's going to be any sort of biological pressure towards voting, I assume the exact methods to meet the goals would be up for debate.

  18. CStanley — I think we might have to agree to disagree on this count. I personally feel that contraception, legal and safe abortion and divorce are the best things in history to happen to women, and I mean that with no exaggeration. I realize that these things have come with their share of problems and moral ambiguity, and I also understand that this view is not mainstream, and that's fine.

    You told your story, which is a great way (probably the best way) to go about things. I personally had a few very rough patches as a teenager, and while I was always an over-acheiver in school, I did exhibit some self-destructive behavior, including sexual experimentation from a very young age. For me, the most responsible thing would have been to stop the self-destructive behavior, but the second most responsible thing (which I did), was to make sure that I was as protected as possible from disease and pregnancy. That way, once I was over my teenage angst, I wasn't left stuck to a partner that would never make me happy nor provide for me, nor was I left to go it alone as a single teenage parent. This meant that I could go to an excellent university, get multiple degrees, get an awesome job, and eventually meet and fall in love with the person with whom I want to spend forever and have a big, happy family. If some day, goodness forbid, my husband desides to hit me or our (future) children, or to cheat on me, I'm extremely happy that I and the kids won't legally have to stay with him. Sometimes there is more than one way to be responsible.

  19. Yes, I figured we'd at best have to agree to disagree and that's fine, roro. What bothers me is when some feminists truly can't even see it another way and believe that women who hold conservative political views are actually voting against our own interests, when in reality we just disagree about what our interests are (it's sometimes a bit like conservative African Americans who get labelled as Uncle Toms, as though they're not authentic in their 'blackness' or they're thought to have been cowed into their support of the white hierarchy.)

  20. Some one must have told John this joke and he took it too seriously: There are 2 lines up in heaven one reads “FOR ALL THOSE MEN THAT HAVE DOMINATED BY WOMEN, PLEASE STAND HERE” this cue goes back 22 miles!!!
    The other reads “FOR ALL THOSE MEN NOT DOMINATED BY WOMEN, PLEASE STAND HERE.”
    Theres only one guy in this line. Someone from the other line says “What the hell you doing over there mate?”
    To which the reply was “oh the wife told me to stand here!!”

  21. If women did not have the right to vote. . .do you think these issues would make headlines today?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/womens-rights

    this is the third time i have posted this link and the comment is not being shown. . .so if there is a repeat that is why. . .

  22. Oh ordinarysparrow, you seem like such a lovely person, truly. While I object to the idea that women are nurturers and therefore vote in certain ways, there is the wonderful point that you made in your first comment: being nurturing should not be considered a negative quality. If women are nurturing and men are not, maybe that's a problem with men, and not with women.

  23. Fair enough, CS. Certainly I’ve run into feminists who are so convinced that their own path is the only “correct” one that they will say things disparaging stay-at-home moms, or those who choose to abstain from sex until marriage, or those who choose to keep an unintended pregnancy; I disagree strongly with these sentiments. On the other hand, I do understand where they are coming from in a certain way, but I wouldn't characterize it as voting against your own interests, as it's not up to me what your interests are. I would say that allowing women the right to bodily autonomy does nothing to inhibit your rights to live as you choose, but not legally allowing women these rights does inhibit other women. There's nothing in feminist doctrine (at least not 3rd wave feminism) that says that any woman has to or should get an abortion or use contraception or work outside the home or leave a failed marriage. The point is that women's situations are all different and individually changing, and these options should be available to them should they need them.

    Shorter: instead of saying “You are voting against your personal interests”, I would say “I am not voting against your personal interests but you are voting against mine”. Hope that makes sense.

  24. From a conservative female perspective, instead of looking toward government policy which would allow me to terminate a pregnancy which might result from a sexual relationship at a time when I wasn't prepared to rear children, I sought out a life partner with whom I felt assurance of lifetime commitment, with whom I could welcome the children that would result from our union.

    Do you have access to any statistics or other convincing evidence that men were more responsible about children and families before 1973? Can you support your apparent belief that after Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade made contraception and abortion legal, and after laws that made divorces very hard to get were changed, men became more likely to walk out on their families, cheat on their wives, abuse their wives, gamble away their earnings, be alcoholics, be unreliable, not be able to find work, end up in prison, etc., etc., etc.?

    The circumstances you describe are certainly ideal ones in which to have and raise children. But what about all the women for whom it doesn't work out that way? Sometimes a woman seeks out a life partner with whom she feels assured of a lifetime commitment, and at some point while both are still alive, her lifetime partner walks out on her. Or he has affairs, or he starts to verbally and/or physically abuse her. Sometimes marriages don't work out, even though people enter into them with the best of intentions to make them work out. Sometimes two people are absolutely certain that they love each other, are committed to each other, and will never fall apart, and they do, anyway. Staying in a marriage where everything that makes a marriage meaningful is gone — things like love, respect, communication, honesty, kindness — can be unbearable. Living the entire rest of your life without love, and knowing you will never have love because you're forced to stay in a loveless marriage, is no fun at all. (This is deliberately understated irony, if it's not clear.) Is that better for the children than having the legal right to end the marriage?

    If women are to be legally barred from divorce, or if divorce is to be made much more difficult to get, will women have to prove that their husband is abusing them in order to be granted a divorce? Will divorce only be allowed for extreme physical abuse? Will rape be considered rape if a woman's husband does it? Will women have to stay in loveless marriages because they don't have financial options?

    Another thing that often happens is that a woman never finds a lifetime partner with whom she feels assured of a lifetime commitment. I mean, this way of phrasing it makes it sound like a woman goes about finding a marriage partner the way an entrepreneur might go about researching business opportunities — funding, potential partners, location, you know. Some people are very pragmatic about getting married, I know. Others want to fall in love and want to feel that even when that relatively short-lived teenage feeling ends, that it will not really end but rather evolve into something deeper and permanent. And the problem is that many women never find that one man where she can check off all those boxes: Love him, check; feel sure he loves me, check; feel sure our love is based on our shared values and who we are as individuals rather than a fleeting physical attraction, check; know he'll never leave me, check; know I'll never want to leave him, check; he has a great education and a great job and always will have, check; he is responsible and I can always depend on him, check. It feels like a miracle to me when all those boxes can be checked off and actually remain checked off, because it's so rare. It's incredibly rare.

    Similarly, if contraception and abortion are returned to their illegal status, and the only way a woman can prevent a pregnancy that would have disastrous consequences for her in any number of ways is to not have sex, that presumably would mean that until a woman was well beyond childbearing age (just to be on the safe side, you know) she would not be able to have sex. Imagine that. Women up to the age of 50 or even beyond who abstain from sex because they don't have a viable life partner.

    Even if a woman does find a viable life partner, that does not automatically mean that she and her viable life partner can have and welcome children. Some women have physical or emotional or psychological problems that make it quite inadvisable to have children. Some women — and even, believe it or not, some men — don't want children. Some couples decide together that they don't want children. Maybe they don't like children. Maybe they grew up in very large families where they were the oldest and had to take care of 11 siblings younger than themselves and feel like they've been parents all their lives and they don't want to be a parent anymore. Sometimes it works out the opposite, that children who grow up taking care of many siblings want to have large families too, but you know what? Not always.

    So what are couples like this to do? Swear off sex for the rest of their lives together because there's no contraception and no abortion?

    There is, of course, another alternative. Why not allow women to have the full panoply of life choices, knowing that (a) it's the right thing to do in a society that values individual freedom and autonomy and that disapproves of government intrusion into people's personal and private lives and decisions; and (b) women are reasonable creatures (in Katha Pollitt's phrase) who are smart enough, mature enough, and responsible enough to make their own moral and ethical decisions for their own lives.

  25. Thank you roro80 for your kind words. . .this has been an interesting discussion and so appreciate how each side made their points CStanley, Precature, and you Roro80. . . .

  26. How does a woman get to have nongovernmental options if the government passes laws to prevent her from having those options?

    I don't understand that concept. There's a basic contradiction there.

  27. Women rock. They are God's most wonderful creation. Most are smarter than I am. Most are more mature than I. And most definitely look better. I vote. Why shouldn't they?

    With the exception of a few biological, psychological, and physiological exceptions, women are equals to men. My wife and I are complete equals. Wouldn't have had it any other way.

    As far as the divorce and abortion conversation……
    I stand against frivolous uses of both.
    93% of all abortions are for reasons other than rape, incest, and health.
    Oddly enough…..93% of all divorces are for irreconcilable differences.

    One could postulate, then, that 93% are irresponsible morons who marry for the wrong reasons, have sex for the wrong reasons, or both. Why worry about safe sex? I can get an abortion. Why worry about getting to truely know a potential mate? I can always get a divorce.

    Once again… Divorce and Abortion….The liberal cure to reckless behavior. (among many others)

    This guy is an idiot. He doesn't represent conservatives.

  28. This guy is an idiot. He doesn't represent conservatives.

    In which case the NRO (one of the foremost 'conservative' media outlets) should fire him and hire another Conservative Pundit.

  29. Shorter: instead of saying “You are voting against your personal interests”, I would say “I am not voting against your personal interests but you are voting against mine”. Hope that makes sense.

    Yes, I do understand why you'd have that perspective (and it's one which I can respectfully disagree with much more so than the sentiments we initially both acknowledged from some feminists.)

    I think both you and Kathy have attributed some views to me though which are not accurate in regard to where I believe the legal lines should apply. That is most likely my own fault as I conflated various views that I hold about what is 'good' with what I feel should be 'legal' and didn't clearly spell out the difference. Short version is that I see a bright line on the issue of abortion because of the fact that another life is involved (I don't see this as an issue of bodily autonomy, IOW- and the choice to not bear a child IMO must be made before sexual intercourse, not after a pregnancy has already ensued.)

    Even though I'm fairly sure you don't agree, I hope you can see that distinction. On other issues like contraception, I personally oppose it (artificial conception) but would never ask for my view on that to be imposed on others. I do think it should get more of a fair hearing though, and that's in part where my disagreement with the statement that I quoted from you comes in. I think some forms of sex ed for kids, for instance, undermines the ability of parents and religious leaders to teach a moral framework for sexuality and the rationale against artificial contraception. Of course even with that situation, I think strong parental relationships can overcome the societal influences and still transmit values, but I don't think it's true to say that certain liberal policies are just neutral for people like myself who hold to more conservative views. If the governmental policies were truly value neutral, then I'd agree- but I've certainly seen some sex ed courses which go beyond neutrality and attempt to teach that all sexual exploration is good and healthy.

  30. Do you have access to any statistics or other convincing evidence that men were more responsible about children and families before 1973? Can you support your apparent belief that after Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade made contraception and abortion legal, and after laws that made divorces very hard to get were changed, men became more likely to walk out on their families, cheat on their wives, abuse their wives, gamble away their earnings, be alcoholics, be unreliable, not be able to find work, end up in prison, etc., etc., etc.?
    Basically, there were FAR fewer children being raised by single parents (who are now mostly women), so I think that alone shows that men were forced to take more responsibility under the older construct. Does that mean that I think things should have been left alone? Absolutely not. Men who were physically present in the home but violent or abusive toward wives and children, or those who remained married on paper but were not providing any emotional support to their spouses, or those who were ostensibly the head of household but squandered their wages and didn't really provide for their families…all of that went on in many cases and remedies needed to be sought. I am simply saying that 'no fault divorce' was not the correct remedy, because that along with a lot of other societal factors has led to an extreme weakening of the marital contract…so that it is now almost meaningless and doesn't protect women from ending up supporting children singlehandedly.

    It's basically one of many instances when the baby got thrown out with the bath water. The institution of marriage itself, and legal support of it, initially protected women's rights in many ways. We've lost that aspect of it even as we were trying to correct the instances where it wasn't working properly.

  31. Similarly, if contraception and abortion are returned to their illegal status, and the only way a woman can prevent a pregnancy that would have disastrous consequences for her in any number of ways is to not have sex, that presumably would mean that until a woman was well beyond childbearing age (just to be on the safe side, you know) she would not be able to have sex. Imagine that. Women up to the age of 50 or even beyond who abstain from sex because they don't have a viable life partner.

    Leaving aside that I don't see that as the tragedy that you do (I know of nuns who have deliberately made the choice for celibacy because it has enabled them to focus on other aspects of life that are more fulfilling to them- but of course once again I'll point out that I would never impose that on someone who didn't want to make that choice), you are assuming that I believe contraception should be illegal and that's not my view. See my comment to roro above.

  32. How does a woman get to have nongovernmental options if the government passes laws to prevent her from having those options?

    I don't understand that concept. There's a basic contradiction there.

    In case I haven't already clarified it in the other responses, the only choice that I believe the govt should prevent is the option to abort because that goes beyond bodily autonomy. Once another human life is involved, it's no longer about her own body (I'm sure we won't agree, but again I ask you to at least accept that there is a difference between that and prevention of pregnancy, which I don't believe the govt should be disallow.)

  33. duplicate post

  34. “One could postulate, then, that 93% are irresponsible morons who marry for the wrong reasons, have sex for the wrong reasons, or both. Why worry about safe sex? I can get an abortion. Why worry about getting to truely know a potential mate? I can always get a divorce.”

    Hmm…well, perhaps for the same reason I don't put a nail gun to my hand and pull the trigger just because I know I have excellent health insurance and they'll fix me up: both divorce and abortion are messy, painful, expensive procedures that pretty much suck.

    This idea that someone's made a mistake and therefore should have to live with it forever and ever amen is so bizarre. It's like accidentally throwing a baseball through your kitchen windown and, instead of cleaning up the glass and putting in a new window, saying that because you were irresponsible and broke the window you should have to live life with shards on the floor and the rain coming through the sill. Sure, you're likely to cut up your feet and catch a cold in the winter, but you should have thought about that before you made the irresponsible choice to play baseball in front of the house.

    My point, sans the analogy: even taking your premise that 93% divorce and abortion are the direct result of irresponsible behavior at face value (which I don't — but just for the sake of argument, let's say I do), how is it more responsible to maintain the bad situation than to just fix it? If you realize 10 years down the road that you've married the wrong person, how is more responsible to stay with that person forever, ruining both your and hir chance for love and happiness for the rest of both of your lives? If you realize via an EPT pregnancy test that you've made a terrible mistake by having sex with some jerk who has since dumped you while not having enough money or support to raise a child, how is it more responsible to bring that baby into the world? Like I said above, there are different ways to take responsibility for mistakes than leaving the proverbial window broken and stepping on the shards as penance. “Take responsibility” is a fundamentally different concept than punishment, which seems to be what you're advocating. It should be no surprise that in both of these situations, the one who gets punished the most is the woman.

  35. It seems a key question in this discussion between yourself and JD is whether easier divorce and abortion is a cause of bad decisions, or only a remedy to them.

    I don't know enough to really say, but my guess would be that they tip towards your argument: The majority of people who make bad choices about sex and marriage would make those bad choices if divorce and abortion were heavily restricted, and so they'd just spend the rest of their lives cutting their feet as penance. But I'm sure there will be some who marry more easily than they should for divorce. Seems like something that's very hard to research as it's a counterfactual in a really, really complex system.

    Going back a bit in the conversation, it's worth reminding ourselves that the old nuclear family is not the only way to live a happy and healthy life. Many African-American communities for cultural, legal, and historical reasons have been rather matriarchal. It seems possible that such a system could work just fine if it were supported throughout the society. Of course, glass ceiling issues, for instance, make this system more difficult to function well.

  36. You missed my point, Roro.
    I know that things happen beyond your control. When a woman (or man) is beaten by their spouse, or is subjected to infidelity – a divorce is warranted. When UNCONTROLLABLE situations result in a pregnancy, then abortion could possibly be warranted. Although my wife and I had this conversation, and she said in the off chance she were raped, she'd keep the child, because it wouldn't have been the baby's fault (another reason I love her so much).

    The basic argument which you missed, was that people run to divorce and abortion rashly, many times without thinking out the repercussions.
    Most divorces (for irreconsilible differences) are avoidable. All marriages go through a “rough spot”. Instead of working through it, half just give up.

    Did I say that people purposely put themselves into those situations? No.
    Can people prevent those situations through better choices of sexual partners, contraception, or better choosing their mates? Absolutely.

  37. It's definitely my bedtime, but I thought I'd add one more response here.

    I didn't miss your point, JD. I just fundamentally disagree with it. Basically, neither you nor I is in a position to judge which are the divorces or abortions (or whatever) for the “right” reasons; likewise, neither is the government, nor churches, nor whatever other body or person outside that particular situation in a position to make some sort of judgment on whether or not the particular course of action is justified. Therefore, we must allow — from a legal perspective — those who are in the situation to make that decision. (Note: this is actually a conservative point of view — get other people and the government out of my business). Yes, some people will make poor decisions to start a marriage, as some will make poor decisions to end a marriage. That is not *my* choice to make, nor yours, nor the government's. My point is not that it's good to give up on a marriage that could be worked out, but that whether or not it can be worked out is fundamentally not something that I nor you nor anyone else is capable of assessing.

    Essentially, the issue is that we cannot — and, from a moral perspective, should not — do anything to hinder the free excersize of these rights. We can absolutely council those we know personally in whatever way we want. We can talk with them, support their feelings, point out where they may be making rash decisions. We can even work to get our views on the subjects known to more through collective action or joining an organization that works on these issues. But we cannot take away the ability of people we don't know, people whose situation is fully unknown or unknowable to ourselves, to do what is right and correct in their own lives, based upon the poor decisions of others (poor decisions *according to us*). Some will make mistakes in this process, because humankind is flawed. Some will make mistakes in our eyes, that are not mistakes in theirs.

    Sorry so ramble-y. It's friday night!

  38. You make a very good argument, Roro. Well said.

    The root of all of this is accountability. The lack of it is destroying our nation's common fiber.
    It trickles down into every facet of our lives. No one wants to take responsibility for their own actions.
    Divorcees blame each other – when the finger should be pointed back at themselves since both were selfish.
    People want to be sexually free, but do not wish to accept pregnancy.
    Latch-key kids kill each other in schools and there was no one at home to teach them basic morality.

    And so on. Don't you see that influence going on in our country? Man…. I do, and it kills me.

    Legally, can we prevent some of this? I hope so.
    Don't grant marriage licenses without a “learner's permit”?
    Don't grant abortion without some serious counseling the outlines alternatives?

    I just don't know. But I know that if we do nothing, the downward spiral will continue.

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