Saturday, October 9, 2010

Catholics can shovel it just as well as anyone else

One of my Facebook friends posted this blog post from the National Catholic Register by Matthew Archbold. Archbold quotes, at length, this interview at the New York Times with former Planned Parenthood head Gloria Feldt. (And it is important that Archbold frame his post for his Catholic audience by associating Feldt with Planned Parenthood, naturally.) Regarding women who "flee the work force," Feldt states:
They make it harder for the rest of us to remedy the inequities that remain. We have to make young women aware of how their choices affect other women. It should be acceptable criticism to point out that, although everyone has the right to make their own life decisions, choosing to “opt out” reinforces stereotypes about women’s priorities that we’ve been working for decades to shatter, so just cut it out. And, the “individual choice” women have to become stay-at-home moms becomes precarious when they try to return to the workplace and find their earning power and options reduced. If we could see child-rearing as a necessary task and not an identity, and if we could collectively recognize that facilitating it benefits us all, we would go much further in guaranteeing women’s choices than we do when we are expected to uncritically celebrate every individual’s decisions.
Now, Feldt makes some valid points here. It is certainly true that women who return to the workforce after bearing children will not earn as much or have as many options as women who make different choices, and it is in every woman's interest to be aware of this fact when they deliberate about having children. And Feldt does clearly state that "everyone has the right to make their own life decisions."

Archbold, of course, wants to portray Feldt as some kind of monster:
So let’s get this straight, the former head of Planned Parenthood is telling women to STOP being so selfish and think of someone other than themselves and their kids? Seriously?
In short, she wants you to think of Gloria Feldt’s feelings rather than your kids.
If you thought feminism was all about giving women choices, well it turns out you were wrong. Feminism is about doing what Gloria Feldt wants you to do.
So now it looks like the Planned Parenthood folks are not only doing their best to to make sure women don’t have children but now they’re saying that if you do mistakenly have children you should at least be 21st century enough not to take care of them.
Read those four paragraphs again, carefully. Does Archbold make a single true assertion in any of them? No:
  • Feldt would like women to think not only of their own kids but also other women. (Since when is thinking of others a bad thing?) 
  • Feldt is not saying that women ought to think about Feldt's feelings. 
  • Feminism is not about doing what Feldt wants us to do. 
  • And Feldt is not saying that people shouldn't take care of their children. She is saying that child-rearing is a necessary task the facilitation of which would benefit us all, is she not?
Archbold, are you a freaking idiot, or are you just irresponsible? What is your problem?

Archbold's assertions are not only false, they are laughably absurd. Think about it: why on earth would anyone actually demand that you not take care of your own kids? If you're willing to believe that feminists want us to neglect our children, then you already believe that feminists are monsters. Do we really have to assure everyone that they're not? Sure, there may be feminists here and there who actually believe that children ought to be neglected (and surely there are a few conservatives out there who agree with them), but are they typical of feminists in general? From the fact that the Catholic Church has been crawling with pedophile priests, I could just as easily infer that Catholics love to molest children, couldn't I? Why does Archbold enjoy sexually assaulting children? I might ask.

No one in Archbold's audience will take issue with anything he says. But it's obvious that Archbold is dealing not with feminism but a caricature of feminism, a straw man. Archbold takes the comments of one feminist, distorts them, and then claims that the distorted version is typical of feminism in general.

Hey, Archbold: I'm a feminist, and you don't have a fucking clue what we stand for.

Such are the products of bullshitters. Catholics can shovel it just as well as anyone else, can't they?

Update: I wish to thank Feldt for posting a link to this analysis. I'm happy to help.


  1. Catholics can also stifle it:
    New statistics show that about 10 percent of priests were pedophiles in the USA, and Bishop Accountability in Boston estimates there were 10,969 priests perpetrating on children in the USA and still counting.
    Not information the Catholic Church is helping distribute to the public.
    City of Angels Blog, which I write as a journalist and victim of this crime, has reported on this epidemic of pedophilia in the Catholic Church since Jan. 2007, read the statistics article we published Sept. 14, 2010 here:
    I know from experience the Church is doing all it can to stifle the whole truth on this story.

    And that is no bullshit.

    -Kay Ebeling

  2. Kay, this is a bit off the topic, but I am happy to link to your work. Thank you for the comment.


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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson