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joined 2022 July 02 13:09:19 UTC


User ID: 12



1 follower   follows 1 user   joined 2022 July 02 13:09:19 UTC


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User ID: 12

Hmm, it looks like I don't even need to learn new markup...


The Dobbs megathread is over a week old now, and never did reach 2000 posts, so I think it's probably safe to let it lapse... that said, I have been thinking a lot about one of these charts over the past week, and wondered what you all might make of it.

I hate the labels "pro-life" and "pro-choice," for what I think are well-trod reasons. A majority of Americans favor some restrictions on abortion. A majority of Americans oppose a blanket ban. Setting the poles of the debate at "all or nothing" creates duelling purity spirals that tear apart all the reasoned and nuanced discussion between those positions. But one of the most famous "pro-choice" essays in the philosophical literature, where Judith Jarvis Thompson introduces the violinist case, concludes:

I do argue that abortion is not impermissible, [but] I do not argue that it is always permissible... [A] sick and desperately frightened fourteen-year-old schoolgirl, pregnant due to rape, may of course choose abortion, and... any law which rules this out is an insane law... It would be indecent in the woman to request an abortion, and indecent in a doctor to perform it, if she is in her seventh month, and wants the abortion just to avoid the nuisance of postponing a trip abroad.

By contrast, if you check the Republican Party platform, it states unequivocally:

Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

The Democratic Party platform is arguably more equivocal, but "every woman should be able to access...safe and legal abortion" does strictly include abortion for women who are 40 weeks pregnant:

We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion.

Back to the Gallup poll--check the chart called "Trends in Preferred Abortion Label, by Gender." In May of 2022, a historical high of 61% of women identified as "pro-choice." This is just three years after 2019's poll, in which a quarter-century high of 51% of women identified as pro-life. This change is substantially underwritten by a rather abrupt explosion of "legal under any circumstances" women, and collapse of "illegal in all circumstances" women. Just at a guess, timing wise the polls go

low support for unconditional abortion -->

Kavanaugh -->

rising support for unconditional abortion -->

Coney Barrett -->

all-time high support for unconditional abortion

In other words, people tend to default toward pro-life type positions (or pro-life type positions just get more consistently pushed), but dropping abortion into the news cycle shifts people quickly back toward pro-choice type positions. And "all-time high" may be a little misleading, as the mid-1990s saw similarly high "legal under any circumstances" support from women (37% then, 38% today).

I know that many of you did not live through the 1990s, or were too young to be aware of the culture wars, but culturally it was an era of fairly strident feminism. Hillary Clinton was personally responsible for some small part of that, but so was Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), to say nothing of Hollywood. Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991) deliberately appealed to feminist tropes, "girl power" was, if not coined, at least popularized in that era (the Spice Girls played some role in this, though more recently they have disavowed the slogan, for presumably CW-adjacent reasons). All this is in turn downstream from the feminism of the 1980s and 1970s, or maybe arguably a culmination of those influences. By the 1990s, though, all the fresh-faced feminists of the Summer of Love had grown up, gotten jobs, had children, and otherwise installed themselves into positions of influence, even if only as reliably Democratic voters.

There is a lot of debate about "wave" feminism and what each "wave" entails, but whether these numbers indicate a new "wave" of feminism, they seem to indicate something. The salience of "women's issues" is particularly great in a nation where women consistently outnumber men at the polls, by fairly wide margins. So for almost one woman in five to go from labeling herself "pro-life" to "pro-choice" in the space of three years seems like an important shift, even if drilling down into those numbers reveals more nuanced attitudes that are mostly within historically-attested ranges.

Since Dobbs has moved the issue to the states, where there are fifty wildly-diverse legislative and judicial bodies prepared to fuck things up in a million new and exciting ways, this is likely to go on for several years at least. I anticipate media amping the feminist signal (here is a young adult books editor calling for abortion books in a since-deleted tweet, for example) akin to what we saw in the 1990s, building on the memetic success of the execrable and behindhanded "Handmaid's Tale." What is unclear to me is the payoff.

Painting with a broad brush, if we think of first wave feminism as receding once suffrage was secured, and second wave feminism as receding once it eliminated legal barriers to women's social equality, third wave feminism arguably came for the "systemic" bits, the left-over oppression that persisted in civilization's social and political habits--like "gender identity" and "gender roles." Each wave of feminism contains seeds of its successor (all are a part of the same ocean) but still there are clustered trends. So what's left for feminism after that? More specifically: what difference between men and women remains to be erased? And how does "legal abortion under any circumstances" capture it?

(My own hasty guess is something like "finding ways to eliminate the biological differences between men and women," but I see the face of transhumanism on tortillas and burnt toast so possibly I am not a reliable analyst in this regard.)