Saturday, 5 May 2012

Womb Wars.

Since the beginning of 2012 we have heard the usual blather about welfare 'reform' (a most dodgy word in political language) with the defenders of family values reserving a particularly cold place for single-mums. The Conservative Party have pushed for a cap housing benefit at £26,000 on commonsense grounds of "fairness". Of course, this isn't nearly enough for the gutter-press which would like to see the whole benefits system scrapped followed by the swift return of workhouses. It would hit large families hardest even if they have managed to find cheap housing outside of London. There are now pushes in Newham to boot the poor out of London altogether. Clearly the London City-State is just for the ultra-rich to swan around in limousines. The next kick was to single-mothers in a bid to make them pay for trying to get child support from their former partners.

Even though it makes far more sense to cap private rents in London, at least in the short-term, as everyone knows that the rent is too damn high! Of course it isn't enough to cap rents, there needs to be serious public investment in affordable housing. And yet the Conservatives have no time for this discussion. It's just assumed that the problem is that they haven't gone far enough. But there's plenty of ink and phlegm to be wasted on calls for an end to dependency culture. There's even been time to entertain nonsense about morality legislation. We've seen Nadine Dorries, that arch-custodian of the sacred foetus, go after sex education in the wake of failure on her campaign to sledgehammer the right to choose. This is the politics of reaction at work again, it has nothing to do with any moral values. Whenever politicians talk of 'family' you should expect an attack on women to follow.

This is where class and sex converge, where feminism and leftism are conjoined at the hip. Everyone knows the word "proletariat", but not every rascal with a Marxian phrase book know that the term is derivative of the Latin for "offspring". Terry Eagleton reminds us that it referred to those who were too poor to serve the state with anything other than their wombs. Too deprived to contribute to economic life in any other way, these women produced labour power in the form of children. Society demanded reproduction, not production from these women. The proletariat was originally outside the workplace, not within it, just like the single-mother living on benefits. But the work these women endured was a lot more painful than breaking boulders. The average worker is a woman in the world today, as it was in the days of Marx and Engels when Britain was the workshop of the world.

As the workers' movement suffers in this time of regression, so do women. We can see this in America. The Georgia House has passed a 'foetal pain' bill that stipulates women must continue to carry to term a stillborn baby as pigs and cows do. The lot who think its proper that a women should die in back-alley abortion clinics to save a foetus have seen victories recently with 'Let woman die' bills. There are businesses spying on potential employees and judge them in accordance with their use of birth-control. This is the nation partly founded by Aaron Burr who hung a portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft in his office and insisted that his daughter be educated at the same standard as a man. And we expect this of women for no reward. It's not like we recognise motherhood as work, so many of us don't think the raising of children has any worth at all that we support cuts to child benefit. It's just something women do for free, like a lot of wonderful things.

We've seen people like Rick Santorum pop up, an Opus Dei Republican who believes that life begins at erection. The sort of lunatic who is opposed to abortion in cases of rape. This comes from a man with no kind of social conscience at all. He wants to legislate what consenting adults do in the bedroom. The state can intrude into that area, but not emancipate individuals from wage labour. Santorum's rotten mind fixated on the rigidity of hierarchy and the strength of authority. It is no coincidence that Santorum's politics consist of a return to theoconservative values with the state as a nanny for the rich, a bludgeon of the poor and of the foreign. It isn't coincidental, the opposition to the vital freedom, for women, over their rate of reproduction fits neatly into this platform of sadism. It's about making sin fun again for a privileged few in a way.

As noted by Peter Singer if abortion was illegal then it would be poor women who die from botched abortions in droves whereas well-off women can travel to another country in search of the treatment. Think of the number of people who travel to Switzerland in order to commit suicide. Clearly, the value of life only applies to some in the world of Nadine Dorries. The sacred foetus trumps mummy almost every time I'm afraid to say. Of course, when mummy can fly out to another country and hire a doctor to perform the procedure without a coat-hanger then a blind eye will be turned. Furthermore, as women gain greater control over their lives economically then they're less likely to get pregnant. In a society where there are greater opportunities, better education and better pay for women there will be less children born but there will be less abortions too. Primates like Mr Santorum are unable to see this, men like this have no right to claim to be "pro-life".

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