One of the reasons I like to read Pandagon is to get a far lefty view of events, movements, and ideas (more posts on this to come). I'm fascinated by the hyperbole associated with every strawman argument presented, particularly when it is something I'm familiar with or is pertaining to an article I've already read.
I understand this technique; it prevents one from having to deal realistically with one's opponents on an issue one feels strongly about and do not want to have to consider alternatives from one's chosen viewpoint.
This is largely why their version of a pro-choice perspective fascinates me. I've long heard pro-lifers argue that those who are pro-choice are really just pro-abortion, but I've never really jumped on that bandwagon because I figured most people simply aren't that extreme. When someone says they are pro-choice and that it means they support a woman's choice for reproductive freedom, I like to think they aren't lying.
Then I started reading the comments at Pandagon and discovered that, well, that's not necessarily true.
Take this post on Amanda's favorite feminist group, Feminists for Life of America. This group really seems to irritate the Pandagonistas because they claim to be feminists while being against abortion. I suppose there is a strain of feminism which believes it's impossible to be both for women and against abortion, and they are hellbent on ridiculing anyone who says otherwise. This is a recurring theme on Pandagon. Or, as Amanda puts it:
Part #9 in a continuing series on the anti-feminist, anti-choice organization Feminists For Life. Serrin Foster pretends to address feminist concerns about abortion bans; I make fun of her and shoot down her lies.
Notice that there's no room for disagreement on the issues of feminism and "choice," but only one view: feminism = abortion whenever and wherever a woman feels like it and don't you say otherwise!
The topic of this screed is What about all those kids in foster care? The compassionate Amanda obviously thinks this problem would be solved by more abortion so that people wouldn't "bring more unwanted babies into the world." And pro-lifers, who haven't adopted 20 kids a piece (along with never using birth control, another strawman argument frequently set up), are obviously lying and hypocritical when they say they are concerned about children, because they haven't solved the problem with the abundance of hard to place/adopt children in the U.S. Here's how Amanda sees this condundrum:
This heart-wrenching concern for the woes of parents who want to adopt but have to go without is at the core of many an anti-choicer’s worldview. Massively increasing the number of unwanted children bouncing around without stable homes is but a small price to pay to address the concerns of white, middle class couples who can’t get healthy babies that look like them. The end game is reviving the practice of hiding teenage girls in group homes if they got pregnant and then forcing them to give up their babies for adoption before coming home to act as if nothing happened. In fact, that’s what the network of “crisis pregnancy centers” will morph into if Roe is overturned—a series of intake places to separate the teenage girls likely to give birth to babies desired to adoption from those who aren’t white enough to pass muster. They've already started, in fact. No doubt this increased the number of the desired white, healthy newborns up for adoption, but no one who actually cares about girls and women would desire a return to this traumatizing practice. It’s not worth it.
Yes, better to encourage all those teenagers to have abortions that they'll end up regretting or questioning their own decision-making power over later.
I found this "all they want are white babies" argument to be both offensive (what else is new here?) and hypocritical. In previous posts, Amanda (and the commenters) have sneered that pro-lifers are hypocrites because they aren't "doing enough" for pregnant women and new mothers. Now, she links to a home for pregnant teens and assumes that (a) all the mothers are white and (b) all the babies will go up for adoption.
Next, Amanda attacks Serrin Foster for using her father as an example of a child raised in foster care who obviously went on to have a good life.
Ah yes, we’ve covered this ground before but it bears repeating: Supporting a woman’s right not to make a baby doesn’t mean you hate every single person who was a baby before. If the notion of roads not taken bothers you to the degree that you want to ban abortion, then you also should be fucking desperately right now with the hope that you’re not leaving any child unconceived. If you’re not fucking right now, I can conclude you want me dead. That Serrin Foster has a dad—who knew?!—is not evidence that women should have our right terminated so we can become baby factories.
This is a strange argument, considering what some of her commenters said both at her blog and at mine about their mothers aborting imperfect children, then giving the commenter a brother or sister that the commenter loves. Maybe Amanda can address these commenters in her next Feminist for Life tirade, because they obviously believe that one life (the one they know) is more valuable than the one they weren't given the choice to know.
There's a certain desperation to Amanda's argument that if one is pro-life one must procreate endlessly or else one is a hypocrite. Aside from the silliness of this strawman, it simply doesn't deal with the realities involved. And that, of course, is the point: to make pro-life arguments look ridiculous so that the "pro-choice" supporters don't have to think about what they are advocating.
As interesting (if one considers sarcastic strawmen interesting) as Amanda's post is, the comments got even better and more exact.
There was the commenter who compared adopting children with adopting animals.
There were the many commenters who assumed adoptive parents are all racist (especially if they are white and want white children).
There were commenters who, on the one hand, excoriated adoptive parents who wanted children who were their same color, and, on the other hand, applauded race-conscious selectiveness of adoption agencies. These comments tended to run along the lines of "if a white couple adopts a black baby, the couple is obligated to teach the child his/her 'culture.'" This argument was particularly perplexing, given that the child's culture would be the way he/she was raised, not merely a by-product of that child's skin color. As my British mom used to say, you're not half-this or part-that. You're American. That's your culture. But according to many of the posters, it is important to remind the adopted black child of a culture he/she wasn't raised in.
I have no problem if these same children decide as adults to go look up their birth heritage. If a Korean baby grows up and decides to find out about the history and traditions of Korea, that's a good thing because that adult has a choice to do that. To artificially inject that culture into the child's life is another thing.
The most surprising part of the comments, for me, was that so many supposedly pro-choice people were distinctly anti-choice when it came to adoption (and later in the conversation, women who choose in vitro fertilization over adoption). For all the talk about giving women the right to make their own decisions, it became quite clear that most of the posters didn't consider adoption to be anything other than a selfish decision made by people who were shallow and self-centered. I found this incredible, given the hoops adoptive parents have to go through in this country to adopt any child.
Do I consider adoptive parents to be angelic and above reproach? Of course not, but there are plenty of birth parents who aren't stellar, either. This doesn't mean that I think killing all the babies before birth is a better solution.
One poster, Ex-Fed, put it best:
As an adoptive parent, I don’t like adoption being used as a tool by opponents of legal abortion.
But nor do I particularly like the flood or presumptious, spiteful bullshit from people who presume that they know all about my outlook on race, class, and children just by knowing that I am white with Asian children.
Of the people who are perfectly comfortable pontificating or sniping about how I should have adopted a [insert ethnicity] child instead, or an older child, or a child with minor or major disabilities, I wonder — how many of them have adopted or fostered a child?
The funny thing is that even many people who normally would accept the proposition that it is nobody else’s business how one builds a family — same sex couples, non-traditional families, etc. — are quick on the trigger to complain about how nasty people are if they want a healthy baby, or an infant, or a baby through a process that doesn’t involve the domestic legal system or hostile state social workers.
I can’t imagine thinking that I would only accept and love a baby of a particular race. But that sort of decision strikes me as the essence of what is nobody else’s goddam business.