Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Dick Cheney of Daughterhood Speaks

by Ken Houghton

In my continuing attempt to move from depressive back to manic—or, perhaps more accurately, catch up on some blog reading while the new system at work runs more slowly as the old one—I finally caught up with this piece from a bird and a bottle* on Caitlin Flanagan, who says:
I’ve never had an abortion, and at this point in the game, I never will. Nor do I have daughters, so this is not an issue that will affect my own life in any immediate way.

Going to the article, we find that
Caitlin Flanagan is the author of To Hell With All That (2006). She is at work on Girl Land, a book about the emotional life of pubescent girls.

I note for the record that Flanagan, per another bio, has twin boys.

However, I do know some things about what she wrote that make this father of two daughters tremble:
  1. Her claim that "[a]n ultrasound image taken surprisingly early in pregnancy can stop me in my tracks...a beating heart, a human face, functioning kidneys, two waving hands that seem not too far away from being able to grasp and shake a rattle [emphasis mine]" is dubious.

    Kidneys begin functioning in month three, while hands are not well-formed until Month Four. An ultrasound at 14-16 weeks is not really "early" in the pregnancy, and certainly not "surprisingly" so.

  2. Flanagan seems to believe that men have no role in or reaction to the abortion decision.

    Let's quote her again:
    Nor do I have daughters, so this is not an issue that will affect my own life in any immediate way. [emphasis mine]

    As noted above, Flanagan has twin sons. She has just declared that they will never be affected "in any immediate way" by an abortion decision. In Flanagan's world, abortion is a Women-Only Issue. Men have no involvement, and no responsibility.

  3. Flanagan will never adopt, but holds up adoption as a 100% certainty.

    All they are asking, in a societal climate in which out-of-wedlock pregnancy is without stigma, is that pregnant women give the tiny bodies growing inside of them a few months, until the little creatures are large enough to be on their way, to loving homes.

    Nor do I have daughters, so this is not an issue that will affect my own life in any immediate way.

    and see if you can come to any other conclusion than that Caitlin Flanagan, who could certainly afford it, would never consider adopting a daughter, even if it were a way to give one of those "little creatures" a "loving home."

    This is Risk Management at its most pernicious: you take the Risk (carry the child to term, be threatened with prosecution if anything goes wrong, and then give it up for adoption) and Flanagan will do the "management" (bemoaning the fact that one more child didn't get a "loving home," while not providing a solution).

  4. Finally, let's look Flanagan's Amanda- (and Bean-) approved punch line:
    And a thousand arguments about the beginning of human life will never appeal to me as powerfully as a terrified pregnant girl desperate for a bit of compassion.

    Got your back on that one, girl. It's a Noble Sentiment. Just to be clear, that's the compassion that she can't get from her parents or your son or you, as the mother of that son, right??

Flanagan comes across as if she regrets not having been a brood mare. Consider the hinted twinge of "regret" in her declaration that she doesn't have daughters (though, as noted above, she expresses no willingness to adopt one), as if she had "other priorities."

Does Flanagan believe that her life writing "about the conflicts at the very heart of modern life—specifically, modern domestic life as it is lived by professional-class women" is somehow incomplete comnpared to those "discontented mothers and regimented wives"?

Is she someone who thinks that "being unafraid to take on self-indulgence and political correctness" is really "seeing things that a woman ain't supposed to see"?

Are her "witheringly funny observations about the sexes and their discontents" something she compares "subtle whoring that costs too much to be free"?

You know where I'm going with this, don't you, tbogg readers?

*found via Bitch, whose blog, following up to Tom's post below, needs to provide a feed that Google Reader recognizes, from my selfish POV.

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