[C]oncerns about long-term health effects are quite sensible. But [after quoting one of my commenters] I don't see any justification for the feeling that it's not "right to sidestep" something that's "part of being a woman." I suppose it could be some esthetic judgment that argument won't much drive; but setting aside esthetics, why on earth should we want to accept natural but painful or unpleasant things?Screetch. I have an aesthetic judgment. Please, use the spelling "aesthetic." Humor me on this one, Everyone in the World. Back to Eugene:
Disease is a part of being a human. Headaches are part of being a human. Excruciating pain in childbirth is part of being a woman. They are bad parts.And to mention the most obvious: death.
A good part of being a human is being able to prevent disease and to ease pain. Why embrace the harmful, painful, or uncomfortable parts of human nature, and reject those parts of human nature — our species' intelligence and resulting scientific acumen — that diminish harm, pain, and discomfort?Then, Eugene makes a post out of one of the comments, some doofus who conflates pregnancy and menstruation:
It's been amazing seeing my wife and other women deal with her first pregnancy. Immediately upon announcing to the world she's pregnant, my wife was part of the "in crowd." Every mother--whether she knew my wife well or not--could smile and talk about morning sickness, or finding out the baby's gender, or feeling bloated, etc.Oh, for the love of.... like it's a big, fun sorority. I'd rather be able to use my own body to write my name in the snow. You know, you can't do that with menstrual blood. Not too damned easily anyway. So Eugene responds to this Human Meaning expert with:
So, it is not aesthetic. Humanity derives meaning from shared experiences, and deleting one of the most universal and central of all female experiences can subtract perceived meaning from people's lives. In that regard it is very important.
Humanity does derive meaning from some shared experiences — but not all. Shared experience that you bond over: pregnancy. Shared experiences that you don't bond over: hangnails, nearsightedness, tooth decay. Shared experiences that people sometimes seem to bond over, but that I'm sure they'd be much better off without: various illnesses or operations that some elderly people stereotypically discuss with each other, but which they'd be glad to avoid without any worry about lost "meaning."Aw, come on, that's typical smartest-guy-in-the-blogosphere Volokh getting it as right as any guy should even want to get it. But screw him, right? He's a guy.
My sense is that menstruation falls within the second (or, less likely, third) category of experiences rather than the first. To many women, pregnancy is a harbinger of their joy in becoming a mother, an affirmation of their fertility (something many women worry about before they become pregnant), a sign of a growing bond with their husbands, and more. Menstruation, it seems to me, is far removed from that...
But let's hear from some people who actually menstruate, and have been pregnant. When you menstruate, do you feel that you're part of the "in crowd"? If you chose to stop -- not because of menopause, which is a marker of age and of lost fertility, but voluntarily and reversibly -- would you feel "out"? Do you smile and talk to your friends about the cramps, the mood swings, and the like?
Hey, all you law students writing the parody lyrics for next year's law revue shows, start here:
... and just let it... flow....
So, the women -- I mean the people who actually menstruate -- hear the call and go after our Eugene. I'm tracking this down via Robert J. Ambrogi, because he linked to me (though he did also go on to confuse me with another Ann). So over at Feminist Law Professors, Ann Bartow is being mean to Eugene:
I think Eugene needs to be educated gently and incrementally...Yikes!
Somehow I picture him showing up for the first class wearing one of these...Wow! What's with the violence? Eugene is the one who thinks it's okay not to have your period. Why aren't you PMSing after the pregnancy-jealous, out-crowd doofus?
Taking a more gentle approach is the -- inaptly named -- Christine Hurt:
[P]regnancy and childbirth make women part of a very large club whose members have something very important in common.... Menstruation is similar. When girls begin to menstruate, they do join sort of a club, but it's much more underground....Oh, good lord. I think the pill is about liberation. If there's a health issue, it should be taken seriously. But if there is no health problem -- and consider whether all this excessive menstruation in the modern world is itself a health probem -- then go ahead and free yourself from all the pain and mess and inconvenience.
I do think that the natural end of menstruation usually comes with some sadness. It is an end of an era. Some women may be liberated by the end of that era....
I don't think this pill is really about discomfort, hygiene or convenience. I think it's about casual sex....
I have more to say, already recorded on video. Oh hell, I'll just give it to you, to be contextualized later:
ADDED: Eugene tries to understand why Bartow got so pissy:
What sort of feminism is it that faults people for asking actual women about their experiences, and for trying to start a public conversation in which women's opinions are actively solicited, on the grounds that the questioner should instead have gone to the library or taken up the time of his colleagues?Dr. Helen thinks Bartow is violating her own research-before-blogging principle. And what a repressive principle that is!
UPDATE: To see the video clip in context, watch this segment of the new Bloggingheads.