Video: Is Abortion to be Solved by Controlling Male Sexual Behaviour?

This video is a response to a widely-shared, much discussed, and controversial Twitter thread. Within the discussion, I reference a few articles and books:

New York Times: He Asked Permission to Touch, but Not to Ghost
GQ: Why Sperm Counts Are Dropping for Men Today?
Oliver O’Donovan, Begotten or Made?
Mark Regnerus, Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy  (my review)

If you have any questions for me, please leave them on my Curious Cat account. If you have found these videos helpful, please tell your friends. If you would like to support my continued production of them, you can do so on my Patreon account. You can also get the audio of these videos on Soundcloud or iTunes.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Audio, Culture, Ethics, On the web, Podcasts, Questions and Answers, Sex and Sexuality, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Video: Is Abortion to be Solved by Controlling Male Sexual Behaviour?

  1. BILL MURPHY says:

    What a terrifying vision of the future of relations between men and women. My initial tongue in cheek reaction to the headline “controlling male sexual behaviour” was that, if you could control that, you could control anything. The controllers of such a society would make the Gestapo look like your favourite aunt. Even Hitler and his minions envisaged the sterilisation of only an undesirable minority of the population, not all adolescent males. Most people would be busy reproducing the Master Race.

    Indeed, the obvious logic of such a society would involve the creation of “Lebensborn” institutions where men are purely sperm donors and the women are womb providers. You would, under liberal market criteria, want a career structure for the womb providers and suitable compensation for the most healthy sperm donors.

    I recall the old Communists in my trade union back in the 1980s rapsodising about “The Planned Society”. Plainly they wanted a society where everyone had a job, education, healthcare, etc and they ran the show. But, if you have a planned society, you need to control the quantity and quality of its most basic component, human beings. Thus you resort to crude oppression (Chinese one-child policy) or crude incentive (Mother Heroine of Soviet Union for producing ten children).

    None of the alternatives to a Christian vision of society look hugely appealing once you highlight the unspoken motives behind the cheerleaders.

  2. Jennifer Mugrage says:

    I am a mother of three and I know a few Mormons. My first reaction after reading the Twitter thread in question was that I don’t believe the author is really a mother of six OR a Mormon. I think she led with that just get pro-lifers to listen to what she had to say as believers rather than as skeptics.

    It is hard for me to imagine that someone who has given birth to six human beings could make the following assumptions:
    – Unwanted pregnancy = DEATH. We have pretty good prenatal care available in our society. Our infant mortality rate is pretty low. So is our maternal mortality rate.
    – “We” don’t care about “physical punishment” inflicted on women. Yes, pregnancy and childbirth (and actually female fertility itself) are uncomfortable and dangerous in a host of ways. BUT. They are not being handed down as a “punishment” from one human being to another. They are part of the natural order. And as for whether “we” care about all this, see my comments above about our huge societal efforts to mitigate the risks and discomfort by providing good pre- and post-natal care, not to mention good care during the birth process.
    – Pro-lifers “shame and blame” women when we oppose abortion. Actually, we spend most of our time helping and encouraging them. Has she ever met any actual pro-lifers? Or did she get this straw man from CNN?
    – Nobody is trying to hold men to account for their irresponsible behavior. Social conservatives, which is what pro-lifers tend to be, are the ONLY ones trying to hold men responsible … by advocating for strong marriages and no bacchanalia outside of marriage. As you described in your video. The group encouraging irresponsibility in men, by pushing the sexual “revolution,” overlaps almost completely with the pro-abortion crowd.

    If the author really is a Mormon, and really has given birth to six human beings, I can only imagine that hers has been a really tragic story. She must have had physically and emotionally difficult pregnancies and births, with little to no support from her family or church and no support, and possibly abuse, from her husband. She must have been too exhausted to feel any joy in her children when they were babies. She must resent their presence now. I can’t imagine any other way she could write about pro-lifers, men, and especially babies the way she does. I don’t say this as a slam. I realize that this kind of situation is both common and tragic.

    • Thanks for the comment, Jennifer. I wondered about many of the same things that you mention. It is very sad to see a mother of six holding such sentiments.

      Unfortunately, I suspect viewpoints like hers are increasingly encouraged in their spread by the Internet fuelling some fairly poisonous positions. I’ve seen a number of women becoming extremely anti-male in their viewpoints over time, as they have reacted against men online. I’ve also seen the same thing from some men, who have become ensnared by some fairly misogynistic online cultures, in reaction against mainstream feminism and feminists. In a healthy society, there would be many influences to bring them back to a more balanced position, but on the Internet we can always surround ourselves with more extremists and we can also easily heighten our reactions against some other side regarded as altogether beyond reason and morality.

      • Jennifer Mugrage says:

        The other reason I doubted her claims is that this whole view of pregnancy as a problem, and childbearing divorced from the context of a stable family, is pretty alien to the usual Mormon way of thinking. Their concept of heaven is, after all, a huge happy family living together on one planet.

        That’s why I think that, if she is sincere, she must have encountered some pretty serious abuse in a context that also makes loud claims of being pro-life and pro-family, such that she now thinks of people who say such things as wanting to control women. I wish I could introduce her to some of the terrific people who man (or, “woman”) crisis pregnancy centers in large cities here in the U.S.

        I almost wonder if she doesn’t actually hold this position in real life. Sometimes we start to build an argument, and it becomes more extreme as we follow the internal logic of the argument. I found her reasoning pretty persuasive at the beginning of the thread, before I realized where she was headed.

      • Here’s an interview with her from eight years ago.

  3. Hi Alastair, please excuse me chipping in with with a response to Jennifer. Much of what you wrote. Jennifer, resonates with me – I just don’t seem to be in the same orbit as Gabrielle Blair! I get the impression that she thinks that motherhood is something that you slot in as best you can alongside other important (?!) things – for instance I just discovered from a Google search that she has a blog called ‘Design Mum’, an award-winning site which was (for instance) named as Website of the Year by Time Magazine in 2008. I’m sorry I don’t know how to post a link here, but I’m sure you can Google it. (And I’m sorry if I am giving you information you already have!)
    I think that Gabrielle probably is a Mormon and a mother of six children. I did wonder if what she wrote says more about her and her husband than it does about everyone else, but then many people seem to agree with her, so maybe I need to re-think that a bit! I also wondered if her husband thinks he is blessed to have such a wife, or whether he is trying to work out how on earth to keep up with her – or a bit of both. I must stop speculating now…
    Alastair, I loved your comprehensive commentary on the many complex aspects of Gabrielle’s twitter thread and especially what you said about Gabrielle’s hint at the legalisation of enforced vasectomies – and I had best stop here and murmur to myself a few times,’ Whatever you do, don’t mention Nazi Germany’…

    • Time Magazine award was in 2010 (not 2008)

    • BILL MURPHY says:

      Hey, Christine, no need to mention Adolf H and his vile sexual regime! I have already mentioned him in my comment above. It is a measure of how quickly a regime can destroy a supposedly “Christian” society. Hitler came to power in January 1933 and the Lebensborn program for the breeding of Aryan children, as you might breed superb racehorses, started less than three years later at the end of 1935. Obviously such an atrocity could not spring from zero in a wholly healthy society. The modern “gay liberation” movement had started in Germany decades earlier and the chaos created by the First World War further loosened sexual mores.

      “Founded in 1935, Lebensborn was designed to halt the high rate of abortions in Germany which rose as high as 800,000 a year in the inter-war years because of a chronic shortage of men to marry after World War I.”

      • Hi Bill, Thank you for your response and for the links – I will check them out. I’m sorry I did not check your earlier post before making my remark about Nazi Germany. It’s just that I find it difficult to know when to stop when I start talking about Nazi Germany, so I thought I’d better not start! Back in the sixties, as part of my studies, I spent a long time listening to German people talking about Hitler and the Nazi regime. It’s so easy to pile all our hatred onto Hitler, but a leader cannot lead without followers, and I was very interested in the followers, too. As Alastair said, abortion is evil. I think that Gabrielle Blair’s suggestion of the legalisation of enforced vasectomies is also evil, and I find it chilling that so many people seem to agree with her. However, my reflections on this draw me closer to our Lord, the Giver of Life, and my heart now sings. ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation…’

  4. Jennifer Mugrage says:

    Christine, thanks for the info. No, I did not know any of it before. I am not even on Twitter … I read the thread by following the link from Alistair’s post.

    You may be right that the post says a lot about her and her husband. We can infer that she is married to a selfish man whose attitude and actions make pregnancy feel, to her, like a burden imposed on her by oppressors rather than one willingly accepted out of love for husband and child. And the fact that many other people agree with her doesn’t necessarily negate that. As we all know, childbearing years are hard, and if you live with a man, or in a community, that does not cut you a lot of slack during those years, they can be hellish. Apparently many women live there.

  5. Jennifer Mugrage says:

    OK, I read the 8-year-old interview, bracing myself for horrors, and … wow. Does not sound at all like the same woman. Makes me think you must be right about the amplifying effects of the Internet.

  6. Pingback: Alastair on Themes of Household and Sexuality – A Pilgrim's Missives

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