Why I put “feminist” in quotes

Readers may have noted that, in my previous post on anti-contraception mythology, I put quotes around the word “feminist” in the context of writers who mistakenly or dishonestly accuse anti-abortionists of being anti-contraception. 

I didn’t want to get into it there, because it was off-topic, but I’d like to address it.  There are some, in fact, probably many, who assert that one cannot be a feminists and take a position against abortion.  (Check out this fascinating article which addresses this issue).  I not only disagree, but I will go so far as to take the near-opposite position: One cannot be a feminist and support abortion. 

Here’s the definition of a feminist:

feminism n (1895) 1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests — feminist n or adjfeministic adj

Embedded in that definition, specifically, the second part, is the implication that one cannot work against human rights issues that affect “women’s rights and interests.”  I don’t think that there is a credible argument that girls, even very, very tiny ones, are not counted as women in this definition. 

Abortion destroys life, both that of boys and girls.  Life is unquestionably a right and interest of the live-er.  Therefore, abortion is anti-feminist. 

Now, I’m exaggerating a little bit for effect.  I understand that there are some people, including the writer I cited above, who disagree that a fetus is a life.  I can’t, in good conscious, lump that belief in with the above (although I will assert that it is both entirely wrong and requires the believer to over-look an absurd amount of evidence to the contrary).  The argument that even if it is a person, it is still OK, is, however, deserving of the quotes.

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2 Responses

  1. Abortion destroys life, both that of boys and girls. Life is unquestionably a right and interest of the live-er. Therefore, abortion is anti-feminist.

    Life is not unquestionable right. When you take the life of another, by murder or your fault in some jurisdictions, you forfeit your right to life. Or when you attack someone and they defend themselves with lethal force…etc. The counter examples are numerous.

    Your second premise is false and therefore your argument invalid.

    Abortion is most certainly not anti-feminist. Stripping the rights to act autonomously (as most pro-life/anti-choice people advocate) is a decidedly un-feminist position.

    Feminists fight for, as the definition says, [more] rights on behalf of women’s rights and interests. My addition would be a more accurate connotation of the definition of a feminist, as most feminists do not fight for less rights, but rather more rights on their behalf.

    “The argument that even if it is a person, it is still OK, is, however, deserving of the quotes.”

    Ms. Thomson’s article is a good read, take a look at the entire work here.

  2. My tag-fu is still weak. The link to the article is:

    http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm

    Please pardon my link fail.

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