I’ve spent the last while trying to process this unbelievably misogynistic word-turd in the Irish Catholic by John Waters. I’ve read enough Waters to be desensitized to his odious views by now, but this was so terrible, so nakedly anti-woman that I just had to respond.
In the lede, Waters quotes a letter from a correspondent, which he subsequently describes as “very good” and its premise “entirely reasonable”:
‘What is the difference, in human rights terms, between a situation in which a distraught male goes in to his doctor and says that his partner is making him suicidal and that he fears that unless he/she (the doctor) arranges to have the partner killed he will kill himself, and a situation in
which a distraught female goes to her doctor and says that her unborn child is making her suicidal and that she fears that unless he/she (the doctor) arranges to have the child killed she will kill herself?”
From the outset, we have an equivalency between the life of a foetus and the life of a woman or girl. Indeed, further on, Waters states that,
“there can be no moral distinction between the idea of killing an adult woman and killing an unborn child.”
Having firmly established that women are not full human beings, Waters bravely goes on to make an impassioned plea for mercy for disenfranchised cis white men everywhere.
At a superficial level, the refusal to publish the letter might be deemed ‘sexist’, but this would amount to a naïve understanding of things, since it has long been obvious that ‘sexism’ is a concept available only for the protection of females
John, “reverse sexism” is not a thing, anymore than anti-white racism or heterophobia. Sexism and other “-isms” only have impact when perpetrated by the institutionally poweful group, i.e. men against the disenfranchised group, i.e. women.
From October 2012 to the present – approximately 300 Irish men have ended their own lives, roughly one for every day of this debate.
Indeed, the spectre of male suicide in this country is a deeply tragic one, however, nowhere does Waters address issues that may be at the root of this-austerity, economic woes, inadequate mental health services, homophobia, expectations of conformity and rigid gender roles, to name but a few. No, Waters does not truly care about these men or challenging the status quo, the suicide statistic is merely another weapon in Waters’ crusade against feminism.
And yet, discussion about male suicide – as a discrete phenomenon, which it is – has been accorded the tiniest fraction of the energy given to the theoretical idea of a pregnant woman wishing to kill herself because she is pregnant.
“Theoretical idea?” I can assure you, John, that there is not merely “theoretical” about women for whom the idea of carrying a pregnancy to term is a scenario end their own life. However, since abortion is merely an academic exercise for you, I doubt you’ve contemplated this.
If all that wasn’t suitably horrendous, Waters goes on to do the unimaginable and cross his Misogyny Event Horizon:
We have been conditioned to think about the idea of pregnancy as some kind of imposition on a woman and her life. This idea actually runs back through Irish culture, predating even the earliest clamouring for abortion rights.
When you’ve been pregnant, John, in your womb for nine months and faced all the attendant risks it poses, come back and talk to me about it being an imposition.
It is related to the victim-status claimed by and ceded to women in Irish culture, which has long disguised the true nature of power structures in the domestic realm of Irish life.
HA HA IT’S ALMOST AS IF WE HAVEN’T BEEN LIVING IN A PATRIARCHY FOR CENTURIES
Because women are prone to more extravagant shows of emotion than men…
Oh, he DID NOT
our society is far more willing to concede their demands than it is those of males.
Not only that, but, almost regardless of how much we claim to repudiate abortion, we refuse to criticise or question the women who seek this remedy for themselves. We will condemn the abortionist who wields the knife, the politician who implements the abortion-facilitating law, the campaigner who demands the change, and so forth.
But the person who obtains the ultimate ‘benefit’ from all this activity is regarded as some kind of enfeebled innocent, upon whom the ‘necessity’ for an abortion is always thrust by unfortunate circumstances, for which the woman has no responsibility herself. Even the priests and bishops who lead the moral crusade against abortion will never speak a word against those on whose behalf abortion is being sought.
You can almost visualise Waters hunched over his desk, frothing with misogynistic hatred. These words could only be written by a creature that truly despises women and their sexuality.
Do you think women who avail of abortion aren’t stigmatised, John? Why do you think it’s been TWENTY-ONE years since the X case and we’re only legislating for it now? Why don’t most of the women who’ve had abortions in the UK feel they can be upfront with their GP about it? Why are women and girls slipping off in silence to the clinics in the UK without whispering a word to a soul? Why, when the women of @TFMRIRE went public on the Late Late for the first time did I see tweets in my timeline calling them “murderesses?” I think it’s fair to say that women who have abortions are pretty fucking stigmatised.
Let’s revisit this sentence:
But the person who obtains the ultimate ‘benefit’ from all this activity is regarded as some kind of enfeebled innocent, upon whom the ‘necessity’ for an abortion is always thrust by unfortunate circumstances, for which the woman has no responsibility herself.
In John Waters’ world, no woman or girl is ever raped. No woman ever endures a pregnancy that will endanger her life or do grievous harm to her health. No woman has ever experienced fatal foetal abnormalities. No, in John Waters’ Good Catholic Ireland, a women who has sex must be prepared for the “consequences”, and abortion is the preserve of brazen harlots who don’t deserve human dignity.
As Waters ploughs on to his conclusion, he makes a stab at a semblance of analysis:
There is no reason to assume that a pregnancy ought to be anything other than a source of joy to the woman involved. In the vast majority of the very limited number of cases in which this is not so, the factors underlying the difficulty usually relate not to objective circumstances but to either intuited societal disapproval
He actually acknowleges that every woman or girl may not be thrilled to be pregnant! Incredible! He also concedes that we need to change society! YES, YES, YES! Let’s dismantle patriarchy, ensure that everyone has access to sex education and contraception and OH WAIT HE DOESN’T WANT THAT AT ALL
selfishness on the part of the woman involved.
Yeah, no let’s not do that, let’s shame the sluts for being slutty, I mean that’s so revolutionary and totally not what we already do!
This article, and Waters’ oeuvre as a whole isn’t concerned with abortion per se. I’m sure Waters’ anti-abortion sentiments are genuine, but what really seems to be at the fore is a sort of rage against women, against difference; middle-class, middle-aged, white Catholic men like Waters are having their position and ways of thinking challenged, and they don’t like it one bit. John Waters is hankering for a simpler time, when the world made sense to him, hence his rage. Let’s stride purposefully in the opposite direction.