Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Eggmen

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman
to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics,
though she is still forbidden
to resort to physics or chemistry
H.L. Mencken

Those who in principle oppose birth control
are either incapable of arithmetic
or else in favor of war, pestilence and famine
as permanent features of human life
--Bertrand Russell


Soon, thoughts on sin as pertains to the Republican frontrunners, but tonight, just a quick riff off of some political news this week:

Republican hopeful Rick Santorum thinks contraceptives are dangerous to society and that sexual relationships should "be procreative", and of course he is toeing the Catholic party line here. When his super Political Action Committee Donor
Foster Friess said (on contraception) that women used to just hold an aspirin between their knees, he is speaking from a privileged point of view.

The great tragedy of life is how little we know about our fellows (or how little we care to know.) The problem is not that too many women are trying to contracept, but that so few are.

More like it, girls from wealthy families would take an "abortion holiday" abroad in the case of trouble, but that was hushed up; once finishing school was completed, they could marry (or not) the erstwhile father . The real problem for our society is a glut of unmarried mothers and hungry and under-tended children; over 20% of our children live in poverty. Too many orphans and foster children no one wants because, just like at the animal shelters, everyone wants the cute little kitten. The problem is not too much contraception, but too little.

I know more than my fair share of good Catholic girls who got knocked up as a career move. Yes folks, it's 2012, and this is the way things are and always have been. Since they were not immaculate conceptions, that means boys were not using aspirins, either.

Baptists and all the rest follow the same policy: Some stopped taking birth control pills or stopped their rhythm method and -- voila! -- a miracle baby! Hey folks: birth control pills are 99% effective (when used as directed) -- do people really believe when their partner "gets pregnant" this was divine intervention? I guess if they figure they are going to hurtle to infinity on the back of this offspring, oh, and go to Heaven, yeah, I guess they can suspend their disbelief long enough.

This works for 20-year-olds as well as those in their 40's; I've known both, and the behavior transcends socio-economic class.

Nothing locks in a husband like a child, or so many women think. This is not news for anyone, is it? The problem today is, jobs are growing scarce for the laboring class (as well as for everyone else) -- men end up addicted or in prison, and the women are left to work and tend to their offspring, a division of labor which means someone gets the short shrift.

The unmarried mothers of Lorain, Ohio, were featured in a New York Times story today, continuing that paper's agenda that marriage is demode. They report the 60% out of wedlock birth rate in Lorain, a Cleveland suburb, and suggested that marriage is passe (
Young Mother's Describe Marriage's Failing Allure). NO! These women wanted to be married, and their pregnancies were achieved via intention or ignorance.

The paper failed to mention Lorain's poverty mindset grown over many generations since subsidized housing projects grew there several decades ago. Lorain suffers the same rust belt fate as so many of its sister cities, but the Times was remiss not to provide some historical perspective on its subjects.

Pregnancy as a way out of the family system has a long pedigree. The reasons why women have not achieved parity with men are manifold; in many cases, these mothers -- though working at Walmart while taking classes at community college -- are doing better than their children's fathers.
They followed the archetypal script, but no one is there to save them.

The reasons for the current failure of that game are many: Economics, education, social structure and general lack of access to information. The pro-lifers are vehement in their concerns that all fetuses be brought to term, but I doubt many in the market for adoption would like to take on a crack or an AIDs baby of different ethnicity from their own. No -- it is the blue-eyed blond baby which is the coup for most of that group.

Likewise, the pro-lifers are not too keen on guaranteeing or extending the social safety net which is necessary to ensuring the well-being of these one-down babies. Having worked with students of varying exceptionalities, including fetal alcohol syndrome, I can say the lifetime limitations imposed by their disabilities are profound.

Some memories from working in a high school dropout-prevention program in the late 80's will close this piece:

While doing intake for the program, I traveled to impoverished areas of my county I did not know existed, and encountered some raw mindsets which I could not fathom. I remember one reticent heavy white girl who met me out on the broken-down porch and warned me that her mother didn't want me there.

She quickly told me why she wanted in the program: Her siblings were drug addicts and young mothers who lounged about the tattered room all day watching t.v. She said at first she thought that would be really fun, but realized that their lives were full of boredom and she wanted out before that became her fate. In order to join, her mother had to sign the release; she would not. In retrospect, she probably wanted or needed the funds which would come from a third daughter pregnant and on the dole. She was running her own puppy mill.

Another was Angie, a sweet 10th-grader who wrote and shared her poetry. She was always neat, clean and demure. The topic of sterilization came up in her biology studies one day. "Angie, do you know what that means?" She replied that was what one did with baby bottles. I explained that this was different sort of sterilization, and she listened raptly, her enthusiasm barely veiled.

"You mean, there's something I can do to not get pregnant?" I was taken aback: "Well, there are other methods less drastic that you could also use ..." The last time I saw Angie she said stoically, without a shred of self-pity, that she was walking home on the tracks a few months before when her uncle raped her; she was now pregnant, and would be leaving school.

Her mate in the program from her school, Quanda, was Angie's opposite: Pretty, she played on the school basketball team and had a fine athlete's body. She was a girl all business, but one day she spoke in subdued anger of Angie's predicament, and about how hard her carpenter father worked as a single custodial parent to care for her and her sister. She said that he was her template and that she had no use for most of the boys out there, and that if she never found a man like her father, she was not going to marry.

A few years ago, we went around the classroom and everyone was to answer the question: "What is your proudest achievement?" One young woman said that she was in her second year of college, and had not had any babies. Her response earned her some applause.

The problem for our country is way beyond access to contraception.

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Blogger Underground Carpenter said...

Hi Lisa,

Good post and killer cartoon. The Mencken quote is pitch perfect.
As an old man, I've got no skin in the game and my dog won't hunt either. But I side with the containment vessel, I mean, woman, because I'm no fan of slavery of any kind.

Saw this on Bartcop:

"Rick Santorum for president?  Santorum is a little too conservative for me - he thinks life begins at erection."
      --  Bill Maher

Then there's Fred:

When machismo flourished, women might have ten children. The husband measured his manhood by the number of his unrequested gifts to posterity, as if copulation were a rare and extraordinary talent.
--Fred On Everything

The new word verification is a huge PITA. It takes me 5 or 6 tries to post a comment these days.


Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 6:54:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thank you for your comments. Yes, our HUMAN problems far exceed the church's financial concern of restricting access to birth control (to ensure future little tithers.) It is an entire problem of mindset.

Men speak of wives "letting them have all the sex they want", and for them, that is a good thing. Intimacy and understanding is not the thing, but rather, a welcoming sperm vesicle. Start there.

Yeah, Blogger is acting up recently for me, too, in the same way -- the 1st wd. verifications are often illegible.

Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 11:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

p.s. -- I'm taking wd. verification off for a while. Let's see how that goes ...

Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 11:12:00 AM GMT-5  

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