Monday, September 18, 2017

The All Powerful and Omni-Potent Cult of the Sperm ...and other emotionally satisfying myths

The Myths of Science and Their Agenda 

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Aristotle was a smart guy.

One day he squinted down into a handful of his own semen and noticed an army of tiny little wigglers vainly trying to go someplace. I have to admit, the guy must have had great eyesight.

From this evidence the man derived the Theory of the Omni-Potent Sperm, which is still alive and, well, living with us today.

Men, asserted Aristotle, are the source of all life.

They ejaculate their wondrous seed into the fertile, but dead soil of the Woman, and behold, life. All else was irrelevant.

From this handy theory -- the original example of junk science -- Western Civilization (wasn't it Gandhi who said, when asked what he thought of Western Civilization, that he thought it would be a good idea?) derived the law that gave into the hands of men the full and unquestioned custody of children, the product of their excessively valuable loins. It was a question of property riveted to a proper respect for the miraculous process of impregnation. 
Birth? That was just delegated work of little value. Women did it, for gosh sakes, how much could it be worth?

Sex? That was work a man could get into.

This was, of course, long before the time of such useful cognitive tools as economic theory and biophysics. But this is the source of the laws with which we still live today.

When they were struggling for their rights, women faced a legal reality that denied they had any right to their children -- thanks to Aristotle and his handy handful of reproductive juices. So they punted. They compromised with another legal fiction: men and women each should have a 50% interest in their biological children. As will most compromises, this one has not worked either.

Even though economic theory existed, no one thought to apply it. Even though the biological realities were better understood, they were ignored. After all, what does law have to do with reality?

The social tinkering of generations of We-Know-What's-Good-For-You theoreticians had so deadened us to the verities of individual rights that we did not even notice. And lawyers? As we all know, they are for the most part so toxic they are likely to turn into politicians.

But it is never too late to change.

The Cult of the Omni-Potent Sperm is actually pretty funny when you summon the images of that scene into the mind: a group of jerks jerking off while their economy (yes, they had one) continued to function on the wealth produced most exclusively by the disfranchised. Women and slaves were the working population. Men who could vote did not work -- unless jerking off and talking are forms of labor. They did become politicians (and, presumably, lawyers). Women were slaves, but they didn't get the use of the title. Slaves, after all, could buy their freedom in that day in age; women could not.

While ancient Greeks might not have understood the economic theory whereby they asserted ownership of the source of wealth, they certainly understood how to do it. 
We will now consider the economic realities of the biological investment the two genders of humanity make in offspring. We will now dispose of the Cult of the Omni-Potent Sperm once and for all. The Cult has had its long run, but it is time to get real.

The Tangled Web of Human Biology Why fatherhood is not about DNA

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Fatherhood is not about DNA.

Fatherhood is about a relationship -- including the wiping of noses, hugs, long nights of rocking, changing diapers and all forms of support including financial. It is about being a good example to your child through the acts that make up your life.

Fatherhood is a lot like motherhood when practiced well. 

Adoptive parents know they are mothers and fathers without sharing any DNA with their children.

How did we come to confuse the issues? Blame government indifference to just outcomes for individuals.

Expect no more justice on parental issues than you find in the tax code. To those who wield power, reducing the call upon public money for the support of single parent children has a higher priority than justice or truth. Women using welfare services are forced to name the biological "father". You can hear practically the judge thinking, "Well, if he isn't the father of this one, he is the father of some other kid on welfare."

That is the first problem. The second is much deeper. At the foundation of the morass is the fact we have mistakenly equated two human relationships that are substantially different: motherhood and fatherhood.

There is a saying that goes, "While you know who the mother is, the father is always in doubt." This is not said to insult women -- it is a logical extrapolation of the facts of biology.

Women get pregnant. Their bodies respond to the baby within by making huge changes. Hormones, impacted by the baby's presence, go into overdrive -- causing emotional and physical changes in the mother-to-be. Her breasts ready themselves for lactation as her body prepares for the stresses of birth. We see pregnancy. In Norse legend, laboring women were counted as warriors. 

Mothering is also a cultural role, but it has always primarily been a biological role that is complex and consuming. A new mother may be inept at the realities of caring for her baby, but nature has prepared her for that role as well as it can with all of its evolutionary wisdom. On this primary biological reality is based the survival of our species.

Fatherhood is cultural, a late adaptation not shared with other primates. Men do not experience hormonal changes. They do not give birth; they become fathers by simply being fathers as they see that role practiced around them, especially through their own life examples. Fatherhood is therefore practiced differently in various cultures while motherhood is a human universal. The Madonna and Child speak to all humankind.

Nature provides no kick-start for the process and exacts no essential physical or psychological payment from men. Their costs are all cultural. Sperm, the means of DNA transmission, are source so worthless that men have to pay to give it away in most cases. Given the number of abortions today, some might call it toxic waste. Recipients may even expect it to be delivered with various frills, for instance dinner and a movie.

Which is no comfort at all to men paying support for children they have never seen and with whom they have no biological relationship. They are not fathers in either sense.

And if the question of DNA testing were only to relieve them of an unjust burden justice would be simple.

We now have access to a technology that has enabled us to document the genetic aspect of all relationships. But the uses we are making of that technology tells more about the inconsistencies and injustices of our past than it does about what we need to do to create a better future for ourselves and our children.

Some few women are probably lying. Most women in this situation are just mistaken. Our best bet may be wrong in any specific case.

But that is not the issue.

In some cases men undertake a fatherhood role in the life of a child assuming they share DNA. In some number of cases they might have assumed that role anyway. Babies are enchantingly attractive and being a father is an honored role in our culture. Babies come with mothers who can also be wives and lovers. For whatever reason, men become fathers. Fatherhood should be a relationship, freely entered into and responsibly carried out, as all relationships should be founded on choice and not coercion, truth and not lies.

But a history of hugs, wiped tears and years of cherishing cannot be cancelled by any test. Fatherhood is not made by biology but through love and human honor. 

DNA testing has made available to us a powerful tool for justice. Men who have not become fathers should not be forced to support children with whom they do no share DNA. But fathers, men who have seen their love reflected in the eyes of a child, do not abandon their child because that would be an unpardonable breech of trust.

Confessions of a Guerrilla Writer: Adventures in the Jungles of Sex, Motherhood, and Domestic Violence

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

I first encountered the reality of domestic violence after I learned to read but before I understood what it meant to be dead. Proper parents did not confront their children with the stark realities of death, violence or abuse. My parents, a college professor and a mathematician, were all that was proper in that regard. Therefore the hushed conversation I overheard when Father came home unusually early looking very upset and not at all like his usual assured self. I was shooed out of their bedroom and therefore took up my usual listening post just outside the door in the hallway. Yes, I was an insufferable brat. But I had ascertained that you learn interesting things by listening. 

On this occasion I hear my father’s voice speaking low and rumbling with pain talking about a bloody event. The estranged husband of one of the office employees had shot down his wife. Their voices dropped so low I could not hear and then rose. I heard the shock in my mother’s tone. The tiny drops of red on his formerly crisp white shirt now made ugly sense. 

We call it domestic violence. We urge women to ‘move on,” “be positive,” and “stop asking for it.” We talk down to the victims even while we fail to make it safe for them to leave. Then we blame them for enabling the abuse. We protect the ‘rights’ of the violent in preference to protecting the lives of the innocent. 

In this way we fail as individuals and as a nation to say NO to violence. Therefore, with the inevitable logic of causality we say yes to continuing generations of fear, deceit, violent abuse and death. 

There are lots of ways to spell stupid. 

Two generations ago a woman named Rosa Parks took a seat on a bus denied to her by the law. Seated beside and around her were attorneys and activists who were mandated to protect her person and her rights. We celebrate Rosa Parks as a hero for freedom, and so she is. 

What are we saying to women who fight back to change the system? I will tell you. We say, “You are too smart to do this.” “Get on with your life.” “You can do nothing so don’t try.” 

It is not surprising that there has been no Rosa Parks for domestic violence. No one would or could endure the danger and abuse it would take to create such a case. Therefore changing our cultural practices makes it essential that women who have been abused stand up for their rights and challenge the powers that be. To do that we need to recognize the kind of courage it takes to do that and give them support. 

I know. My own daughter has tried to speak out and the powers that be agree on one thing. She must be silenced. They offer her no support only sappy advice about moving on; advise they would never offer to a victim of any other kind of institutional injustice. 

More women die today of domestic violence than die of prejudice. More lives ad maimed and distorted; more damage is done to each of us and to the future we are trying to build for our children. Supporting women who speak out from all walks of life is the moral duty of anyone and everyone who is committed to changing the stark reality of domestic violence. That means not treating battered women as flawed but understanding that it is our system that commits them to lives of terror and fear. 

When women speak out we should see what they could accomplish for others by forcing change to take place. We should thank them, support them, and encourage them with all that it takes to say NO to violence and YES to human relationships free of violence, coercion and fraud. 

I am prouder of my daughter than I can say. It has taken indomitable will to withstand both abuse and the institutions and individuals who continue to enable abuse. 

When the reality of domestic abuse changes it will happen because of women like my daughter and not because of the legions of politicians and attorneys who trade on their pain. 

It will happen because we are not going to just take it any more. 

A Free Market Solution to the Question of Gender

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Barry Loberfeld’s saucy rant, combining diverse elements of philosophical argumentation counter seasoned with a tart touch of law and a few grains of biology is both unconvincing and pointless. 

Back to the basics. 

Individuals own their own bodies. Women and men both should be able to control their bodies and the products of those same bodies. This is not the world we live in today, however. It is also not the world our culture claims by tradition. But it is the future and the philosophical and moral viewpoint that the Freedom Movement is, at least formally, dedicated to affirm. Arguing about the gross injustice that exists today, a mixed market of draconian statism and bad social policy dragged here from history, is a waste of time. 

The real question is, what would Freedom look like enacted in this area? 

Let us first consider the easiest case, and the one instance where I agree fully with Mr. Loberfeld. 

Men should not be become fathers against their will any more than women should become mothers in the same case. But in actual fact very few men pay support for children conceived in such instances. Few men help pay the transaction costs of abortion. Virtually no men pay even a fraction of the costs related to contraception. Note that this is a pragmatic clarification aimed at the present status quo. 

The status quo is wrong – but not for the reasons opined by Mr. Loberman. The fact is that along with the very marginal financial support mandated in law men who are bioDads get tremendous power. Many women have been prohibited by courts from relocating if the bioDad objected. Women in this situation do not infrequently find themselves confronted, years later, with demands that the bioDad, unknown to the child, be allowed an active role in the child’s raising. Often these men have had no contact and paid not a cent of support. This is allowed by the courts, distorting the lives these women have chosen to lead. Women have been forced to pay off bioDads to simply get them to go away. Again, a pragmatic clarification of the status quo. 

Men should not be fathers against their will. Neither should they be able to force this relationship on a woman and child simply because of biology.

But the ranges of cases are much greater than this one posed by Mr. Loberfeld. Remember the provision that the pregnancy happen with consent? The unappetizing fact is that many women presently on welfare became pregnant before the age of consent and were impregnated by men much older. Therefore there was no informed consent. But still the courts recognize fatherhood without the consent of the woman. Rapists have also asserted, and been granted, rights of fatherhood. 

If the individual has the inherent right to bodily sovereignty then no court should be able to grant to any man fatherhood without the consent of the woman. Marriage has always been a contractual relationship that assumed that children would make the husband a father. That there are grave problems with marriage law is unarguable. But I will not take up that point here. 

In the case of non-consensual impregnation not only should there be no fatherhood there should be recognition of liability by the bioDad. Liability should be not to the child, but to the woman. Unchosen motherhood is a diminution of choice. It should be an actionable torte. 

In a free, world where responsible individuals acted responsibly and could act upon their inherent rights, women would insist that the costs and potential liabilities related to consensual intercourse and contraception be shared. They would have the power to do so. Relationships are a market open to all of the pressures of any market. 

Women would be able to write any marriage contract they wanted, without the interference of the State. Men and women could sign, or not sign, and be held to the contract in the same way we each have to pay for anything else we want. Most unmarried men are actually subsidized in this regard. Women bear the costs of gynecological visits, contraceptives, abortions, and the overwhelming share of the costs of raising children, both monetary and non-monetary. 

The irrationality of law has disregarded the biological reality that men and women are very different. It ignores the fact that there is a market in relationships, assigning a ‘one price standard’ to marriage that is clearly not in keeping with a free market. And also egregiously, they have limited women’s rights to negotiate for a benefit from selling sexual access and the right to parent a child. Therefore instead of a range of sexual options, a long gradient from companionate marriage to prostitution, we have only marriage completely in the ‘white,’ legal, market, and only prostitution in the, ‘black,’ illegal, market. Payment for sex and other contractual transactions are unenforceable by State fiat. In adoption we see women forced to give up babies for just their expenses. By controlling children the State has effectively made all mothers slaves on a governmental plantation. All of these are violations of a woman’s right to control of her body and life. 

In ignoring the biological realities the State and culture has tried to assign equal values to very unequal things. But the mechanisms of markets tell us the relative values of these things. Sperm is so cheap you have to make home deliveries and pay for the privilege of giving it away. An ovum, ready to be fertilized, costs thousands of dollars. A newly born and healthy baby can cost a couple adopting on the free market from $20,000 to $100,000. 

Ideas are the foundation of freedom. Within the context of thought we see and know and begin to act on the rights that are inherent in each of us. It is time that women were manumitted from the bondage that has shackled a thousand generations. And it is time that the Freedom Movement understood what those rights really are. 

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster is the president of The Women’s Institute for Individual and Political Justice, based in Santa Barbara. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Benevolent Individualism. If you are interested in further information contact the Institute contact us either through the contact page at or through our newsletter, FreedomFems, Home Page