"Pro-lifers want to control women's bodies" - Okay, but........why?

(Splitting off from the other abortion threads a bit):

It’s often said that the real motive of pro-lifers is not to preserve unborn life, as they claim, but rather, “to control women’s bodies.”

Okay, let’s say that is the case - but why? What do they get out of controlling women’s bodies? Does it provide them with a thrill - a pleasure strong enough to rally hundreds of thousands of people to the March for Life every year and also to keep a multi-decade-long fight going against Roe, and enough to rally voters around Trump because he promised anti-abortion SCOTUS nominees during the election, and to keep the whole pro-life campaign going vigorously with numerous demonstrations, organizations and donations? Is the lulz *that *strong?

Furthermore, a great deal of anti-abortion advocates are women (from looking at the March for Life photos, it looks like the majority of marchers are women, year after year.) 47 percent of American women are pro-life. Do *these *women get lulz from…women’s bodies being controlled?

Finally, from a political standpoint, why wouldn’t conservatives want liberals and minorities to have *more *abortions (and thus reduce their future voters?)

I don’t accept your premise. Who is claiming that there is a secret primary agenda to control women’s bodies? The pro-life side are sincerely pro-life, that’s their primary motivation. The point is that the necessary consequence of a pro-life position is to be anti-choice, to seek to limit a woman’s bodily autonomy.

No, they want to punish women for having sex. That’s why lawmakers say abortions should be painful

Here is one example.

The politicians pander to the voters who make themselves feel good and justify their bronze-age superstitions by declaring another group of people to be dirty dirty sinners. It’s probably related to how you can influence southern whites by lip-servicing the idea that they’re better than southern blacks.

So that women can be vessels for man’s holy seed.

I find it difficult to deny this conclusion. While there are certainly people whose primary reasons for being pro-life don’t include that motivation, it seems apparent that many, many do whether they admit it to themselves or not.

Giving some benefit of the doubt, it may sometimes take the form of a puritanical outlook on sex rather than punishment, but I think there’s a sizable block that simply resents people having sex for pleasure outside of what they consider “proper” conditions. This seems to fit with the (otherwise inexplicable to me) faction that seems to want zero abortions, yet also doesn’t support many forms of contraception, easier access to contraception in general and comprehensive sex education.

Including the pro-life women at these rallies?

Sure, lots of women want other women to be punished for sexual behavior that they consider “immoral”. Partly because internalized sexism and misogyny affects women as well as men, and partly because many women are also influenced by racial, class, and/or religious bias to believe that other women’s abortions are bad because those women are bad/inferior.

See, for instance, “The Only Good Abortion Is My Abortion”:

N.B. I’m going to use “woman” somewhat loosely in multiple contexts in this post without much disambiguation. On one hand, I’m using it as shorthand for people the abortion issue directly affects: people with functioning wombs, of which it is worth noting not all of whom are women, and is a class that not all women fall under. However, many of the social issues I’ll discuss transcend the direct effects of the issue at hand and have ramifications for women as a perceived political/social class, distinct from the exact group of people the policy itself harms.

Here’s the thing, almost none of them have some like… master plan. I guarantee almost nobody is squatting in the shadows, cackling like a goblin, saying “mwahahaha just another step in my MASTER PLAN to control people with functional wombs!!!” This argument, like the definition of patriarchy, isn’t some argument about what some shadowy cabal is explicitly planning to do to women.

It’s an argument about what the undercurrent of their position is, especially when taken in concert with the particular arguments they use, the attitudes they hold, and the other positions they support. As well as an assertion about the ramifications of policies engineered to enforce these attitudes.

When viewed under this lens “but women do it too” isn’t really a sensible counterpoint. Of course individual women can be complicit in, and in some cases actively supportive of, institutions and actions that oppress women as a collective group. All oppressed groups contain members who facilitate or support their own oppression, whether they mean/want to not. This doesn’t mean “oh, these poor women, they know not what they do and act against their own self interest!” But it doesn’t change the fact that that they are reinforcing institutions that harm women as a class, even if they’re in a position where they as an individual wouldn’t be harmed by the specific policy. In fact, I’d argue that all of us women are, in at least one aspect of our lives, doing or arguing for something that undermines women as a class, it’s a nature of the system, that doesn’t mean we can’t criticize those things because almost all of them are things women do or defend.

A lot of this rhetoric owes itself to both radical and marxist/socialist feminism (which are two groups that are not identical and sometimes at odds, but have similar ideas about the origins of the oppression of women in the modern context). Both radical and socialist feminism view the classification of women as entities whose primary role and definition is reproduction and tasks surrounding reproduction (such as housekeeping) as one of the roots of female oppression. Socialist feminism departs from radical feminism here because radical feminism largely views this as the defining aspect of womens’ oppression (which is why so many radfems are trans or sex work exclusionary), whereas socialist feminists view this as part of the redefinition of womens’ roles under the rise of new economic systems and another means to create a class divide (see the book Sylvia Fedricci’s Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, which is not quite a Marxist text but contains many of these arguments). In both viewpoints, of course, this is seen as something to be eliminated, albeit they take very different routes towards addressing this.

Under such a framework, the explanation for a lot of sexism takes form. Note that while some radfems may claim this as foundational, most wouldn’t deny that many of these attitudes have multiple causes, but merely this is the primary cause. For instance, social policing of womens’ sexual promiscuity as “sluts” is the manifestation of social forces requiring women to only engage in reproductive behavior on society’s narrow terms – controlling their social roles and bodies, in essence. Similarly, victim blaming for rape and social expectations about women being more “on the hook” for worrying about birth control stem from women being the ones expected to be the custodians of reproduction on society’s own terms.

Note that this is a very nuanced viewpoint with a lot of foundational theory, as well as historical and statistical evidence that’s difficult to cover in one post. There are aspects of these viewpoints I’m leaving out. Including the importance bits that contextualize the treatment of women who cannot produce children in such a system.

Regardless, under this viewpoint where women are oppressed in large part (or fundamentally, if you’re a radfem) due to their societal role centering around their reproduction, then control over the terms under which women may elect whether or not to reproduce is an attempt to leverage that role against women. By defining when women may elect to reproduce, we’re not only requiring women to engage in this definition (as they have little choice whether to engage in motherhood now), we’re also renegotiating their freedom of engaging with it on their own terms.

Women have even less freedom to engage with their social role as babymakers. It’s controlling their social role, their lives, and yes, their bodies.

They want to control women’s sexuality.

Men want to control it for obvious reasons and women want to control it because they feel threatened by single women that are sexually active. (Or home wreckers as they see them).

And partly because some people would love to control everything and everybody. Often, these same people treat any instance where the universe does not behave the way they would want to as a personal offense. Always, they are quick with a criticism, but praise is rare and likely to be of the “damned with faint praise” type.

More evidence - these states push abstinence based education, though it demonstrably leads to more teen pregnancies than real sex education. Why would they support something that leads to a bad result? Because they get to teach that premarital sex is a sin.

As for women supporting the oppression of women - I went to the wedding of my former step-nephew, who was a religious fanatic. It was in a fundy church in California. On the stage was the minister and his wife. The wife had no apparent religious training. The wife would hardly let the real minister speak - especially when she went on about how the wife must obey the husband in a good Christian marriage.

It’s a simple as this.

Plus the added side benefit of giving themselves the perceived upper hand morally, which is what people spend a lot of time doing.

Everything else is just hyperbole.

Nope. A lot of people deny that pro-life people are really motivated by the fate of the fetuses/unborn babies and do assert that their true motivation is to control women bodies. Or to put women at their place. Or to punish women for having sex. This is a really common statement, especially on this board.

Like what? How is it in my interest that women won’t be sexually active?
As in :

  1. Prevent women from having an abortion

  2. ?

  3. Have plenty of sex

What is the second step?


I fail to see how it’s inexplicable. They’re religious. Their religion tells them that both contraception and abortion are wrong. So they oppose both, naturally. Where’s the mystery?

And it’s the same with sex ed. They don’t want their children to be taught anything else than what their religion mandates : sex is only between a man and a woman, properly married in church, and the reason for sex is reproduction, as mandated by god. No mystery here, either.

I note that article claims it isn’t about pro-life for the politicians, and then cites politicians who support the bill making claims that aren’t compatible with the pro-life concept.

I would argue that there is a distinction between the politicians and the general public. I think politicians are less likely to care about the pro-life aspects, and more likely to be in it for political reasons. The pro-life position is just a requirement for one of the political parties.

I also think that politicians or other public figures are more likely to be hypocrites on the subject, personally espousing pro-life talking points but privately being okay with people close to them having abortions. We’ve seen it happen. Politicians will have affairs and tell their mistress to abort. They’ll help their daughter abort.

I think it is wrong to assign any single position to everyone on the pro-life side.

A statement backed by substantial evidence, as we’ve already discussed elsewhere.

It’s no mystery, true. It’s irrational, but it’s understandable.

But the upshot of this is that in practice their beliefs lead to a much higher rate of unwanted pregnancies which leads to a much higher rate of abortions (legal or illegal). However, rather than acknowledging this link - which would involve acknowledging their culpability in it - they simply blame the pregnant women and girls for having sex in the first place. Thus they get to be on the side of God (because God wanted them to do all those things) and they get to feel superior to those sinful fallen women. I see it all the time.