a bird and a bottle


Connecting the Dots

Two unpleasant news items today: first, via Feministing, I learn that pregnancy discrimination is up. Then I head over to the NY Times and bump head-on into an article about the antis’ increasing reliance on the argument that abortion should be banned because it is bad for women.

And then it struck me: these two news developments are inextricably related.

Here’s what I mean: pregnancy discrimination is up because there is little government mandate not to discriminate against pregnant women. Sure, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act says that where Title VII applies (larger employers, usually), employers cannot discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, but that leaves a whole lot that’s not covered (smaller employers, cases where it’s not discrimination but requests for extra benefits related to pregnancy). The slight nod of acceptance regarding pregnancy discrimination — it’s still not considered unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy even if it is against federal law — links directly into the thinking underlying the Times article: women are not rational actors when their fertility is concerned, and pregnancy is the prime example of that.

In the case of the anti-abortion rhetoric, the thinking goes that women who are pregnant and who are considering abortions cannot fully understand the consequences of their actions for their own mental health or for their families (when the Supreme Court accepted this argument in its recent Gonzales v. Carhart decision, I threw up a little in my mouth). If the Supreme Court’s decision is any indication, that way of thinking, in all its condescending and backwards glory, seems to be gaining adherents. And it’s fed into by the pervasive notion in American culture that pregnant women are somehow less human…less intelligent, less able to make decisions. Why, if that’s the case, then it all but makes sense to discriminate against them at work!

See what I mean about those dots being connected?

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Oddly enough- as I was sent over to this blog by a tag titled “connecting the dots” I find an interesting link in the whole chain with another alicublog post– http://alicublog.blogspot.com/2007_05_20_archive.html#3172038079817721027

— in which it is noted (and other links included) that women are outpacing males in higher education and that “something should be done about it” (condensing and paraphrasing whole sets of nuanced position so read for yourself, you may come to different conclusion).

Sure, on the one hand, the fact that women are getting more college degrees than men and performing in college better would seem, at first blush, to act as a counter argument that women are not rational actors.

But the sense in the various links is that somehow society has created a situation that is imbalanced and wrong, and the failure of men to get degrees is a social ill.

What I’m trying to say (and I think Roy makes the point better) is that instead of celebrating women’s success and achievement, the whole feel is that an argument is forming that should limit women’s educational options so that more men attend and complete college.

Comment by Everyman

[…] Connecting the Dots Two unpleasant news items today: first, via Feministing, I learn that pregnancy discrimination is up. Then I head over […] […]

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Hey man, an of-topic comment. Make the font size of your blog a size larger. It hurts the eyes…:)

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Comment by Razib

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