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15 November 2012 @ 10:06 am
[Rant] Politics Without Should  
(TW: abortion and the politics thereof.)

(Additional warning: serious business.)

Recently, I tweeted this:

"If you’re pro-life, you’d better also be pro-welfare. If you vote pro-life but against welfare, you’re actually pro-child-misery."

I assume this requires no explanation, but here's a brief one. Women know when they shouldn't have a baby. Many of them, when that is true, seek abortion. If your vote prevents them from getting it, you've forced a child to be born in a bad situation - just to name two examples, that child is at much higher risk of poverty and at much greater risk of living in a household affected by domestic violence. (Yes, you've also inflicted a great deal of harm on the woman herself, but if you're pro-life, you're okay with that. So we're focusing on the child, here. The person you claim you want to protect.) Welfare is one of the means we use to protect children in bad situations. If you simultaneously vote to stop abortion and to cut welfare (and, I might add, other government services), then what you're really saying is, "I'm absolutely in favor of children suffering. I'm entirely willing to increase the number of children in harm's way in this country, and I'm also entirely willing to make sure there's no help for them. Because that's easier and better for me."

In short: congratulations, you're a fucking asshole.

So tweeting this was interesting. I got a lot of FUCK YEAH type replies. I also got some replies from righties. And my discussions with them all fell apart at the same place.

"But the woman should take responsibility!"

"The woman should work to support her kid!"

"The man should stay and help raise his child!"

Yup. Every conversation fell apart as soon as the righty used the word "should."

Here is a true fact: fuck should. Should has no place in policy. We make laws about what is actually happening, not what would happen in an ideal universe, because, newsflash: we don't live in an ideal universe.

So I would point out that hey, this isn't how the world actually works. In reality, men leave. In reality, women can't simultaneously support their kids and pay for childcare on a minimum-wage income. In reality, a woman forced to have a child is in a bad situation, and it is likely to get worse, and if we have a law that put her in that place, that's on all of us. (And in case you think I'm just talking about abortion, and if we just allow abortion we can cut the safety net no problem: until we fix education, racism, abuse, addiction, and poverty, among other major issues, we've still got to step in. Because we owe it to our fellow humans not to let them suffer needlessly when we can help. The end.)

And the social conservative would either step out of the conversation entirely, or go into a sort of a critical error of the brain, except the blue screen of death in this case was just the repetition of the words "personal responsibility" and "should."

Social conservatives appear to think that if they just make laws that perfectly reflect their ideal universe, that universe will somehow be willed into being.

This hasn't worked yet. It's never going to work. It's fucking stupid. And these conservatives actually already know that. (Proof: most of these people are Christians, and Christians are supposed to be into peace and against killing, and yet I never once heard any of them argue that we should abolish the military.) They're just using their talisman words, "should" and "responsibility," to avoid confronting the fact that they, themselves, are personally responsible for the suffering of children.

So this has resulted in the formation of my new rule of political discourse: If you can't phrase your political argument without the word "should," you can't participate in the discussion at all. Seriously. Go away. You're done with politics; you need to take up model airplane building or knitting or something. (Tell the plane that the parts SHOULD be easy to put together! Tell the wool that it SHOULD NOT tangle!)

It's time for people who make some attempt to see reality to design policy.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
I am never merry when I hear sweet music: BSG: argh my ovaries!paper_tzipporah on November 15th, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
I love everything about this post.
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 16th, 2012 07:40 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Imaginary Researcher: Allison Cameron - hollow_arthannahrorlove on November 15th, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
You deserve all the high-fives today.

Tangentially, I still find it somewhat amusing that Juno and Knocked Up came out the same year as 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. None of which I can honestly recommend to you, for very different reasons - the first two probably not being to your sense of humor, the last one for its utter bleakness and truth.
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 16th, 2012 07:42 am (UTC)
Oh my god, I googled 4 Months, and WHOA, you are entirely right that that is not my kind of movie. (The other two I already knew were not my kind of movie, on account of there's no superheroes OR spaceships.)

But, yeah, the narrative surrounding accidental pregnancy is FUCKED UP, is the conclusion we can draw from this.
(no subject) - hannahrorlove on November 16th, 2012 12:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 16th, 2012 07:43 am (UTC)
Arguing with people who disagree with you when you have only 140 characters to express yourself really hones your viewpoint. Thank you, conservatives of Twitter! Sort of.
Not your everyday Viking angel: Excused from Saving Universesshadowvalkyrie on November 15th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
*loves* Incredibly well said! I want to print this out and put it on each and every single politician's desk as mandatory reading!
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 16th, 2012 07:44 am (UTC)
Feel free! They wouldn't read it, though, is the thing.
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 16th, 2012 07:46 am (UTC)
I just - I mean, it's like fantasy politics. Which, fine, I understand the point, but that has nothing to do with ACTUAL politics. Or it shouldn't.
jenna_mariannejenna_marianne on November 15th, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC)
I think hiding underneath the "should" argument is the ugliness of 'and if you don't do as we think you should, you should be PUNISHED'

Also, hiding underneath the 'SAVE THE BABIES' rhetoric is CONTROL WOMEN & SEXUALITY

Really liked this article by a former pro-lifer
How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement

[ETA since I can't html]

Edited at 2012-11-15 07:01 pm (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 16th, 2012 07:55 am (UTC)
Oh, definitely. I think of this as the Punish the Dirty Sluts style of legislation. It's obvious that what most pro-life people want is to Punish the Dirty Sluts, or they'd be pushing contraception (a much easier way of preventing abortion!) instead of fighting it, they'd be passing laws to provide support to pregnant women and families with young children (to make it easier to have babies, even unplanned ones!) rather than trying to eliminate the safety net.

Which is why I take it as given in this that pro-life people are fine with hurting women. Most of them actually want to hurt women; like, that is a desired outcome. My point to them: if you don't vote for widespread welfare, medical care, and other entitlements, you are ACTIVELY CAUSING CHILD HARM. You've decided that Punishing the Dirty Sluts is worth harming children, worth perpetuating all the misery that poverty and abuse cause, worth risking starvation, neglect, and harm for the next generation.

In other words, oppressing women is more important to them than feeding children.
(no subject) - firesprite1105 on November 16th, 2012 10:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Innocent Bystanderfiresprite1105 on November 15th, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
I agree 100% with every word you just said.
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 17th, 2012 05:58 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Moony McMoonsomethe_moonmoth on November 15th, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
*wild applause*
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 17th, 2012 05:58 am (UTC)
*bows, blushes*
Portdesertport on November 15th, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
Yes. This. Thank you.
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 17th, 2012 06:03 am (UTC)
Thank you!
roseclawroseclaw on November 15th, 2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
I would just like to add my "FUCK YEAH!!"
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 17th, 2012 06:11 am (UTC)
THANK YOU FOR YOUR FUCK YEAH. (We could all use some more FUCK YEAH.)
laurajacquez on November 15th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC)
May I also suggest banning the word "just", as in "Why don't they just--"


should. just.

those fucking words.
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 17th, 2012 06:19 am (UTC)
Hee. In my massive unposted posts file, I have two posts, one on how much I hate should, and one on how much I hate just. (Unless - did I actually post that? I CAN'T REMEMBER.) My hatred for just actually came from trying to conceive. If you're a lesbian trying to get pregnant, by the second month you will have had your fill of these statements:

1. Why don't you just do IVF?
2. Why don't you just adopt?
3. Really, you should just foster. Why are you trying to bring MORE children into this world?

Annnnnnd if you're me it will lead to a lot of ranting. (Why, yes! You're so right! I NEVER THOUGHT OF IVF OR ADOPTION. And, indeed, I will go right from the first successful IUI to IVF - provided you agree that the next time you get a foot infection you just cut off that foot. I mean, sure, there are times it makes sense to go right to IVF, but if you're in that situation, you KNOW THAT. And you have DONE THAT. Ugh, sorry, got distracted. I've got a lot of rant stored up inside.)
joycejoyce on November 15th, 2012 09:32 pm (UTC)
You're awesome.
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 17th, 2012 06:22 am (UTC)
Why thank you!
lacking in glittertawg on November 15th, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
Just chipping in to say that, yup, I completely agree with you. 'Should' quickly takes debates into ridiculous areas, and when you counter the should-statements with "But that's not actually how things work out here in the real world," the response is so often, "Well, it should be". *sigh*
tried to eat the safe banana: Politicsthefourthvine on November 17th, 2012 06:24 am (UTC)
Yes. Yes, it should be. BUT UNTIL IT IS...

And then their brains short out. (Another one that causes it: asking, "So what are you doing to make that reality?")
(no subject) - gaudior on November 17th, 2012 03:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
nomicitacitanomicitacita on November 15th, 2012 09:49 pm (UTC)
when people start busting out the 'should' argument, i like to ask them if they're foster parents. because they SHOULD be helping to care for these children, they SHOULD be taking responsibility for their actions. (once you bring this up, the conversation will quickly dissolve into them making frantic excuses about how they're, 'too busy' or, 'too poor' or whatever, at which point you can chuckle a little at their obvious hypocrisy)
formerly a fearless temp: working girlfearlesstemp on November 15th, 2012 10:24 pm (UTC)
I love this post! It baffles me that the left often gets characterized as pie-in-the-sky dreamers, when to me it's the right that seems to base policy decisions on the idea that we're living in a fantasy world, and see any policy acknowledging the fact that life is full of shitty situations as somehow an endorsement of shitty situations.