Thursday, February 16, 2012

Political Constructions of Self

Recently on PaleoHacks, someone asked the question:
If not birth control pills, then what?
I replied:
Well, the 'paleo' solution is to get pregnant when you are fertile.

Our society is so completely artificial. If earlier generations of females had spent their 20s doing everything but having children, the species would no longer exist.

Which someone responded to by saying:
I'm not here to produce babies any more than you are, August. "No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother." Margaret Higgins Sanger

Now, after noting the extremely weird teleological construction of her sentence, I thought about it for a while. Normally we see teleological constructions in religion. One expects the Creator to have made us for something, and while being fruitful and multiplying may not be the end all and be all of His plans, it rates high enough to be recorded as the first command.
No, this is a teleological construct of a different kind and I suspect it exists in her statement because she was fed a construction of self by a propagandist, likely disguised as a teacher.

Notice I didn't mention religion in my answer at all. Rather, I just wrote what makes evolutionary sense. Now, if a young lady spent any decent time thinking about the sort of person she should get married to (which also makes sense from an evolutionary perspective) she could quite reasonable expect to maximize her health and well-being over her lifetime. PaleoHacks is all about applying evolutionary theory to lifestyle in order to maximize health and well-being. The basics are don't eat any grains, legumes, or dairy- but from there there are all sorts of things to do. Sleep, proper levels of sun exposure, coming up with strategies for dealing with blue light at night. If you get wealthy enough, stop working in a cubicle and do most of your work while meandering around the city, to mimic the daily movement of hunter-gatherers. Some of these ideas are wacky, and may not even accurately recreate the environment of our ancestors. Also, we want the benefits of that environment minus the starvation, child-mortality, infections, brutality, and death. But I digress.

My suggestion isn't just based on evolutionary theory- we've got plenty of medical research backing this one up. This is healthier than any other option, and yet, someone appears to believe her very self under attack. She then follows up with a quote about choice, which makes no real sense because obviously a young lady should choose quite carefully about these things; I was not suggesting she just get pregnant by accident, nor do I think hunter-gatherers went around getting pregnant by accident.

I believe this is a defense of a false construct of self. This false construct says if pregnancy and children occur, the self will be diminished. I'm not here to produce babies doesn't make sense if the I is a human woman, the here is the earth, and babies happen to be a part of life here on earth. I'm not here to produce babies does make sense if the I is a political identity, here is whatever territory within which the struggle is taking place, and babies are those pesky things that take resources away from the political parasites.

I also ran across it at DarwinCatholic. Of course in addition to this construction, you've got to wade through the modern American Catholic's terrifying desire to be, well, reasonable.
Hopefully, as the current political furor over mandated contraception unfolds, it may begin to dawn on the bishops that their embrace of virtù interferes with virtue, but it will take a long while yet for the whole Church. Anyway, my willingness to remind the fairer sex that God may actually prefer children to the education/career track (a track might I add that has been very disappointing to me and to many) I get this:

This nonsense about a women's duty to maximize her years of fertility as if she were baby vending machine is exactly why many women my age have such a claustrophobic attitude towards the great goods marriage and family life.
My mention of fertility was this:
There are only so many years of fertility that a woman has, and it seems the secularists have won a great victory with this education/career nonsense encouraging an awful lot of women to waste that time in dubious endeavors.
Mentioning fertility is not the same as writing a lot of nonsense about maximizing years of fertility. It is the image of the 'baby vending machine', though that truly reveals this false construction of self again. Could a baby vending machine be a life affirming thing? Of course not. Indeed, how does affirming a part of her humanity, her biology result in her thinking about machines? It is modern life that has reduced us. Paperwork vending machines. The old political identity is there insistent that a lifestyle very likely to harm a woman is the one that makes her her.

Both should know better, and if I should hazard a guess, the paleohacks commenter will reach the right conclusion faster because she's learned via diet the lies we've been told. The Catholic is sadly, still too soft, and likely to wax enthusiastic about abstractions. The false construction of self finds that to be the sort of ground into which it can put deep roots, as I know only too well myself.


v/vmary said...

your dust-up with that person centered around just one word "paleo". She was taking it to mean the modern 'paleo' movement as exemplified by the people on PH, you were taking it as the strict definition of the paleolithic period. that's all.

the same dust-up between you and melissa centered around two words: "the clique" vs "my clique".

lots of seemingly bad feeling is generated because of innocent problems with reading comprehension. i like to point out the misunderstanding quickly and have it pointed out to me quickly with a minimum of fuss so as to avoid loss of face for the person who misunderstands.

i liked how you responded to melissa, which is why i clicked on the link to your site. i am banned from PH. if you want to reply to me, i only hang out at arthurdevany .com and keep up the good commentary!!

August said...


I doubt this is a misunderstanding of my use of 'paleo' alone. Reading comprehension may have played a large part, but even so, she had to misconstrue what I said and interpret it as an attack. Otherwise, why defend?
And what is she defending against?
What would be normal human life if we hadn't screwed it up. So there must be some conception of self attached to unhealthy ways of living.

justme27 said...

Exactly! Makes me want to jump up and down and say yes...

And I laughed. I've been gone from this blog for too long.