Shrage in NYT on ‘forced fatherhood’

Lauri Shrage With the prospect of father’s day ahead over the weekend, Laurie Shrage (left) has a piece for the New York Times confronting the issue of ‘forced fatherhood’, and whether (in limited contexts, namely, those in which women can in fact access contraception and abortion services) women’s reproductive autonomy is unfairly greater than that of men. In an instance in which a woman becomes pregnant without the consent of the male partner to the pregnancy (e.g. due to contraceptive accident), she suggests that we have an unfair case of ‘forced fatherhood’. In such cases, a man is required to undertake the significant (at least) financial responsibilities that he has not voluntarily undertaken.

Shrage writes:

‘just as court-ordered child support does not make sense when a woman goes to a sperm bank and obtains sperm from a donor who has not agreed to father the resulting child, it does not make sense when a woman is impregnated (accidentally or possibly by her choice) from sex with a partner who has not agreed to father a child with her.’

Policies that require biological fathers to take on such financial responsibilities are punitive, she argues, and can be viewed as a way of controlling sexual behaviour (in the way that inability to access abortion punishes women for being sexually active).

Moreover, rejecting this policy that requires the biological fathers to undertake financial responsibilities could open up ways of conceiving fatherhood that move beyond biological relationship (I like this point: as my two siblings and I write our father’s day cards, only one of us will be celebrating our biological father, but he’s a father no more and no less to each of us!).

This raises many interesting questions about what grounds parental responsibilities, and has -unsurprisingly – generated considerable response from the feminist blogosphere.

Here’s my take on the objections that have come up (after the break):

Read More »

Watch the Makers Documentary Online!

A while ago I complained about a TV series that seemed to be glorifying a bunch of rich white men as the people who made America.

And a short while ago Fem Phil posted about the PBS documentary, Makers: Women Who Make America.

In case anyone missed it on TV, you can watch the whole thing (yup all 3 hours) here or here.  (The first link doesn’t contain commercials, as far as I can tell.  Apologies if the video doesn’t work everywhere. I tried searching Youtube as well but couldn’t find another version.)

And if anyone ever followed Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy, she is still occasionally throwing out a blame or two, in between blogging about the various ailments her horses suffer from. She points out some irony regarding the commercials for the documentary:

“Despite the title, during the station break a voiceover described the doc’s subject as “women who ‘helped’ shape America.” Women are helpers, yo, just in case this film causes you to forget that for a moment.”

And in classic Twisy fashion, she helpfully suggests,

Here, Voiceover, let me “help” you kiss my entire ass.

(If it’s not obvious, I miss IBTP.)

I haven’t watched the documentary yet, but I’m hoping it’s good.  Twisty links to a few articles on it in her post.  And Chris Hayes talked about it some on his Feb 9th show–you know, the one where he devoted the WHOLE TWO HOURS to the women’s movement (both local and global, past and present.) The show, while containing a few awkward kumbaya moments, had some of the best dialogue I’ve seen about how to address the women’s movement without slipping into American-centric white middle class feminism. (If you can watch MSNBC shows, you can watch it here by hovering over “recent shows” on the left and finding Feb. 9th.)


Melissa Harris-Perry (left) and Sarita Gupta (right) on Up with Chris Hayes

Charlotte Witt on Baby Boxes

Feminist philosopher Charlotte Witt has an excellent piece in the Boston Review.

There is a hidden political dimension to the debate over children’s right to know. The debate presupposes a bionormative view of the family, which holds that families formed via biological reproduction are the gold standard or Platonic form of the family. The implicit bionormative assumption emerges in the thought experiments above. When we ask about children placed in baby boxes (and subsequently adopted), our intuitions might favor the notion of a right to know. But when we consider families formed by biological reproduction, our intuitions do not line up to support such a right. Rather, we think that the mother who is estranged from her family of origin, or who does not know who or where the father is, has the right, and, indeed, the obligation, to determine what to tell her child about family and ancestry, and what not to tell her. It is a question of the child’s welfare, not the child’s rights. In the case of families that do not meet the bionormative standard, however, we are more likely to favor a child’s right to know. This indicates a tacit priority granted to biological or genetic ties.

Who is Notre Dame?

More on the Notre Dame lawsuit regarding the federal contraceptive coverage rule from Kathryn Pogin and Bridgette Dunlap at the Huffington Post.

The claim to RFRA’s protections for “persons” would seem to rest on one of two theories: either that the term “person” should be read to include a corporation, or, that the corporation represents as-of-yet unidentified human persons, as when a church sues on behalf of parishioners. Notre Dame’s court submissions exhibit confusion on this point, referring to Notre Dame both as having a “conscience” in the singular (suggesting the former), and as having plural “consciences” (suggesting the latter). . .

Regardless of who the lawsuit envisions as the protected belief-holder(s), we believe the proposition that Notre Dame can hold one unified religious belief is antithetical to the very purpose of a university. Notre Dame’s administration appears to disagree. Should it appeal the dismissal of the lawsuit or refile once the contraceptive coverage rule is finalized, the plaintiff should plead who or what is the person that holds the beliefs alleged. Perhaps more importantly, it should inform the members of the Notre Dame community, and those considering joining it, who can rightly claim “We Are ND.”

Catholic Hospital Argues Fetuses Are Not Persons

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against St. Thomas More Hospital in Colorado. Lori Stodghill, who was pregnant with twins, died from a heart-attack shortly after she had been admitted. Her husband filed a suit in which his lawyers argue that a cesarean-section could have saved the twins, and so ought to have been performed.

Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

You can read more here.

Adventurous Person Needed as Surrogate for Neanderthal Baby [Req: Womb (>=1)]

Scientists seem to have moved on from their Jurassic Park-esque dreams of “Raising the Mammoth” to a Jurassic Parkesque dream of raising a real live Neanderthal…inside a real live human’s womb.


If you think you have the right qualifications (a womb and, according to one of the scientists involved, an “adventurous” spirit,) you can fill out an application here.
(The application is a spoof)


What is not a spoof, however, is this quote from the same scientist dude (who might have been the inspiration for the scientist in the movie Bats–check the list of quotes for the joke):

… everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there’s one way to find out.”


Shout-out to my friend Nick for the tip on this one!

Conference: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice

Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice 3rd Annual Conference

When: February 15-16th 2013

Where: Norman, OK



Tumblr: takerootrj AT

Email: info AT

National Sponsors:
• National Advocates for Pregnant Women
• Provide
• Trust Women Foundation

Some of the featured speakers include:
• Loretta Ross
• Lynn Paltrow
• Lorena Garcia

Mission: The conference’s mission is to provide an introduction to reproductive justice for students, academics, practitioners, advocates, and members of our community.

Some days, I just can’t.

I do not know how to describe how disturbed, how heartbroken, how frustrated, and most of all, how angry I am at the moment.   (Trigger warning for the full story, and especially the video itself. )

A chilling video leaked by an Anonymous cell this week has added a new twist to a sordid tale of alleged rape that has shattered the peace of a close-knit Ohio football town.

The disturbing 12-minute video, posted online Tuesday by the hacktivist group “Knight Sec,” shows teens making jokes about the events that reportedly transpired on Aug. 22.

One teen appears to be refer to the victim as “deader than” Trayvon Martin, and adds, “she is so raped her p**s is about as dry as the sun right now.”

I am horrified by what happened in India. I am also horrified that being charged with rape apparently isn’t much of a detraction from one’s political candidacy there. I am absolutely sick and tired of how rape is treated like a joke, again, and again. I am so far beyond over the way our reverence for athletes and loyalty to our favorite teams enables silencing, suffering, and double standards again, and again, and again. I am tired of victim blaming. I don’t even know where to start on American politicians talking about rape. I am incensed that there was controversy at all about the Violence Against Women Act, and even more so that it wasn’t reauthorized.

I simply don’t have the right words at the moment.