This short essay, written by blamer TwissB in response to yesterday’s anti anti-abortion bill post, is so swell it deserves its own page. TwissB is, as the kids say, (or used to say 5 years ago), teh awesome. Wow, you say, I wish she had a feminist reference website! Well, your wish is my command. Yay!
And even now another ERA silly season is in full swing as legislators in various states (e.g. Florida and Virginia) are being assured by ERA enthusiasts that a constitutional prohibition on sex discrimination against women will “NOT regulate abortion”! While they alternate these assurances on odd days with pro-choice marches on even days, one can only marvel at so much misplaced energy.
So, it’s time to offer a radical alternative.
Balkanizing primary sex discrimination into a swarm of separate issues as current Official Feminism does denies women a coherent way of rebelling against it. Primary sex discrimination is men’s invasive, subordinating attack on women’s reproductive organs through pregnancy regulation, prostitution, and pornography – the perfect target since nothing misogyny can do to hurt that organ unique to women can inflict the slightest pain on men. Consider any of those “but women are different so it would be discrimination if you treated them the same as men” bits of Aristotelian holy writ and sure enough the uterus or its related gotcha parts and functions are cited as the pretext for any acts of restriction or dehumanization men want to be free to inflict on women.
When it comes to anything men regard as “sex,” the right to treat women differently is taken for granted. Primary sex discrimination is protected by a gentlemen’s agreement. It is enough to trot out abstractions like the interest of the state, men’s natural needs, or the First Amendment to turn the cruelest attacks on women into unchallengeable institutions.
Difference arguments are more overtly made in cases of secondary sex discrimination in employment, for example, or military service assignment, or single sex schooling. Legal practitioners know that there is nothing in the Constitution to prohibit sex discrimination against women, but only Justice Scalia dares to say so.
Disparate impact is tertiary sex discrimination which can be ignored by courts and legislators or remedied as men’s advantage is perceived.
If women were to make a concerted attack on primary sex discrimination – pregnancy regulation, prostitution and pornography, I think we’d wreck the men’s game. It would tie the liberal and conservative cats’ tails together and hang them over the clothesline. But it would also challenge women on the left and the right to quit collaborating with men in reducing the most anti-women practices to political entertainment for men.