Empowering dads in Turkey?

That’s one way to interpret this bit of news, I guess. Apparently, artificial insemination is illegal in Turkey, but now they have also made it a crime to get artificially inseminated abroad.

A spokesman at the Department of Health, Irfan Sencan, said the regulation was covered by article 231 of the criminal code, which makes it a crime to conceal the paternity of a child.

I do not understand the rationale for forbidding artificial insemination on basis of that article, because obviously, artificial insemination can be done with semen from a known sperm donor, like for example the husband of the woman. Adultery is a criminal offence in Turkey, but that wouldn’t technically rule out artificial insemination from donors other than the legally wedded husband, I guess.

I can imagine -although I don’t agree- forbidding artificial insemination on the grounds of pro-life arguments, namely that with artificial insemination, there are a lot of unfertilised egg cells (“potential humans”) that get tossed out (and why don’t we see pro-life activists protesting at fertility clinics then? another matter!) but that doesn’t seem to be the issue in Turkey.

As Pinar Ilkkaracan, a prominent women’s rights campaigner in Turkey, put it:

“it would be a misinterpretation of a law intended to protect the inheritance rights of children.”

“We spent years fighting to improve the law so that it would properly protect women’s autonomy over their bodies and sexuality.

“This is completely against the philosophy of the reformed penal code,” .

Obviously, this is not a step forward when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.

But I think it might actually hurt men too. I don’t know enough about Turkish society, but if it is true, as it is with many countries in the region, that it is a bit of a disgrace not to be able to reproduce, then I can imagine the following:

  • Since infertility of the woman is a ground for divorce, it will put those women who can’t conceive naturally at risk for being divorced and maybe outcast because they are denied this particular option which might very well enable them to conceive
  • It makes it impossible for men to conceal their infertility, which will stigmatise them

I would like to hear better informed voices about this.

Anyway, I think it’s a darned shame if people who are so motivated to have children are denied access to methods that would enable them to do so.

Possible First: ‘Sex Not Specified’

UPDATE: The recognition has been withdrawn. (Thanks, Rachael.)

Norrie May-Welby (who primarily goes only by ‘Norrie’) has just been legally recognised as neither male nor female. Norrie is thought to be the first person in the world to achieve such legal recognition. Here’s Norrie, describing why this is important:

Those concepts, man or woman, just don’t fit me, they are not my actual reality, and, if applied to me, they are fiction. At 48 years of age, I’m less inclined to just humour other people’s delusions about gender and try and conform to one of their expected options.

If I need to show identity documents, I certainly don’t want details that are false, for this will only cause trouble when officials realise I don’t match my documents.

More generally, Norrie notes, “There seemed no sense in having such a changeable and transient quality as gender nailed down as a permanent mark on identity documents.”

Norrie’s blog is here.

BBC Documentary Series: Women

I’ve finally managed to watch the first episode of the BBC’s excellent programme, Women. Episode One is Libbers, and it’s devoted to 2nd Wave Feminism– great archival footage and wonderful interviews done for the programme with such people as Susan Brownmiller and Kate Millett. (Actually, there were some moments in the interviews that just clunked, like when the interviewer started asking about clitoral orgasms when people clearly didn’t want to discuss them– but such moments were rare.)

Next up: Mothers. I haven’t seen it yet, though it aired last night.

“So you think it’s only because…”

It’s only just hit me how frequent a certain form of misinterpretation is for feminists. Some of these are real examples I’ve encountered recently, others are variants on real ones. I’m sure you can supply more.

1. So anti-porn feminists think it’s only because there’s pornography that rape exists.
2. So you’re saying that it’s only because X is a man that he was invited to speak at conference Y.
3. So you think that there wouldn’t be any differences between men and women if it weren’t for pink and blue toys.

What’s fascinating to me is that these often come from people who are otherwise careful, subtle thinkers– the sort perfectly capable of recognising the distinction between citing one contributing factor in a complex collection of causes and giving a necessary and sufficient condition for something.