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May 25, 2005

The object of the game
Posted by Patrick at 02:04 PM *

One advantage of joining the staff of Making Light is that I can now pull particularly good bits of Teresaness out of the depths of the comment section and repost them to the front page. Like this, discussing the actual agenda of the “Dominionist” right wing:

These guys are going after mechanisms of social control. For instance, if they genuinely wanted to reduce the incidence of abortion and unwanted teen pregnancy, they’d support birth control education, which they don’t. If on the other hand you want to make women less uppity, fear of unplanned pregnancy is a great way to do it.

I firmly believe there’s a correlation between the advent of reliable and widely available contraception, and even more of one with access to abortion, and the loss of turf suffered by those light-in-the-upper-window gothic romances best characterized as “boy gets girl, girl gets really big house.” Right around the time Roe vs. Wade was decided, those novels began to be supplanted on the paperback racks by bodice-rippers starring sexually active heroines who got out there and seized control of their own destinies.

In the older gothic romances, even a heroine with a nominally successful career will generally toss it aside in favor of wuv, twoo wuv, in the form of marriage to a wealthy man. It made sense at the time. A career is a much less attractive gamble if at any point over a twenty-year period you can get shot down by an unplanned pregnancy. Access to abortion changes that. Doesn’t mean you like the idea. But you conduct your life more boldly if you know it’s an option, because you’re not risking catastrophe if you don’t have your fallback position already in place.

Why did the sedate Fifties explode into the freewheeling Sixties? An overall rise in income had a lot to do with it. Turns out that as soon as people have resources to spare, they start getting up to all kinds of weird stuff.

I’m convinced that social control is a lot of the motivation behind the attack on Social Security. It’s a lot easier to be brave and independent and entrepreneurial if there isn’t a little voice in your head telling you that if you screw up, you’ll die in a poorhouse. That goes double if you’re female, or a person of color, or a member of some other deprecated category. Reinstating the fear of an impoverished old age would do wonders to clear the field for well-funded white guys with good connections, and thin out those pesky innovators who do so much to make life less predictable for large corporations.

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