Saturday, December 18, 2010

How Women's Rights Could Actually Save The Planet

Oh dear Peter Preston in The Guardian. Talk about missing the point!!

The thing is that YES - solving the problem of runaway climate change is dependent on limiting and reducing the population. But NO that doesn't mean adopting a China-style one child policy or running around like crazed eugenicists sterilising anyone without a degree. And it also doesn't mean doing away with child benefit. Because (surprise Peter!) child benefit is not paid to encourage people to have children. It's not a reproduction bribe. Who the hell would decide to raise a child for 18 years in return for £15 a week? It's paid to help parents afford to raise their children well. Once you've fed, clothed, housed, educated and entertained your child you're not necessarily going to have much change left to treat yourself to nights out and designer clothes...

But here's the good news. There are millions of women around the world and right here at home who desperately want to have less or no children, to have children later in life and to control their own fertility. Furthermore some of us crazy feminist types actually think it is their right to do so and to be given access to the tools and education to enable them to make those choices in their own lives. We call them reproductive rights.

Free access to and information about contraception - including condoms which also prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs - and abortion are basic rights that every woman should have. All we have to do is provide them.

Of course it's harder than it sounds. We're not up against "crazy" lefties insisting that benefits be made available to enable parents to afford basics for their children. We're not up against "polite" society's refusal to discuss legislation which would force limits and restrictions on women who wanted to have larger families. We're actually mostly up against religion. Organised religion has worked tirelessly to deny women access to contraception, abortion and even to basic sex education and information about how their bodies work and the options available to them to control their own fertility. Religions benefit from encouraging their adherents to have large families, and this plays straight into a huge patriarchal structure that has attempted for centuries to control women, treat them as breeding factories and keep them in the home raising the next generation of brainwashed disciples.

The planet has much to gain from limiting and reducing the population but the mechanism for this needn't be controlling women's fertility - it can be empowering them to control their own fertility.

3 comments:

Sarah Louise Murison said...

This is brilliant Kate. Right on the nail. The perfect response.

Only one tiny quibble with last paragraph. We not only "can" address population issues through the empowerment of women, we must. It is a pre-condition.

The empowerment of women and girls has been repeatedly linked with the achievement of a whole slew of social and economic goals. Just as economic equality correlates with a range of broad benefits for all, so does gender equality.

The UN has loads of data on this, for example its annual Human Development Report, and State of the Worlds Women.

Whatever one might think of the UN, it does have good statistics, and has explicitly stated that the one thing that would consistently lead to reduced poverty (tightly linked with reductions in fertility) is the education of girls, and yet few governments really drive this priority. Very often for religious reasons, totally agree, but also widespread cultural prejudice, conservatism and straight-out male supremacism, often rooted in religion but sustained independently of it.

JENNIFER DREW said...

Peter Preston claims he is concerned about climate change but in fact he advocates eugenics as the supposed answer. Nothing new there Preston because did you not know that our male supremacist society has always practiced control over women's reproductive and sexual rights. It is called male domination over women and girls.

Eugenics is a cover word for powerful white men defining which women, girls and of course not forgetting marginalised men will be subjected to sterilisation because these groups supposedly reproduce inferior children.

Oh and by the way Preston last time I checked males play almost a 50% role in reproduction - but that fact has apparently bypassed your understanding of the issues.

I was not aware women themselves reproduce a child/children, especially since our patriarchal society claims that women have men's babies - meaning of course women are empty vessels waiting to be filled with a man's child. But of course male supremacy was never concerned with factual biological reproduction but instead continues to 'reproduce' (sic) lies that only men are the ones who actually create a foetus, whereas the woman's body is merely the recepticle for the man's foetus. Hence the common misogynistic claim that 'a woman has a man's child!' Wrong - a woman gives birth to her child whereas the man fathers a child. But Preston you aren't concerned with that fact are you?

What would work Preston is for male supremacy to be dismantled and for women's sexual autonomy and ownership of their bodies and sexuality to finally be recognised by men, particularly white powerful men. Women have for centuries been subjected to male domination and male control over their bodies and sexuality because as if you didn't know - women's sexuality and bodies exist for male use/abuse. This is why women's reproductivity continues to be controlled by men in men's interests.

So Preston when are you going to tell men they do not have 24/7 sexual rights to women. After all you claim to be concerned about climate change do you not?

Oh but I forget you just want child benefit to cease, which of course will benefit the white powerful men but not women. How convenient then that yet again we have another man demanding men's interests and men's pseudo rights must supercede women's rights and women's ownership of their bodies and their sexuality.

As I said above - men not women are still the ones who control women's sexuality and women's reproductivity.

Tendryakov said...

I have commented on your article on Pickled Politics.

http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/11111

I had more to say, but they're not really that interested there. I have to confess to being a white male (pinkish, that is), but at least I'm not middle class.