I need to sit down too

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/masculinity-reduction-surgery

I really like Simcha Fisher’s blog. She’s a mother of  six (I think) and a staunch Catholic. She’s made me laugh out loud. This article, on the other hand, is disgusting and outrageous. Purportedly it’s about the rise in men getting cosmetic procedures, but Simcha uses this trend as a springboard into an unrelated issue: vasectomies. This is the article’s logical progression:

1. More men are getting cosmetic procedures.

2. This is because in the 50’s, vasectomies began being offered to men.

3. 1 in 6 American men are “neutered” (Simcha’s diction, not mine).

4. These “men,” having lost their “manhood,” are now comfortable with the idea of getting plastic surgery themselves, to enhance their appearances.

That’s not all. Let me quote a couple of her more choice observances:

Good night, America. Sorry, Ben Franklin. It was a pretty good country, but it’s over now.

[E]xplain to me how it is that one in six American men can voluntarily have his manhood made meaningless, and then have any motivation whatsoever to appear to be a man in any other way. I know that there’s more to men than two little vasa deferentia. Virility isn’t everything. But it’s not nothin’, either. And giving it up intentionally—paying someone to do this to you!—is the saddest, sickest, most terrifying symptom of despair I can think of.

Ooh, sorry, neutered guys, did that hurt your widdle feelings? THAT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT A MAN.

Um. WHAT!!?

I scrolled down to the comments and read, with increasing shock, only one reader’s minor beef with Simcha’s absurd position. I didn’t read all the way down, to be fair. I was too enraged. The horchata I was  absently stirring boiled over.

There are so many offensive ideas lurking in this article that I don’t  even know where to start. For one, right off the bat, I object to Simcha’s idea that “feminine” equates with “wanting plastic surgery.” That’s patently untrue. There are easily more women who get cosmetic procedures done than men, but also the pressure on women to look good in a certain way can hardly be exaggerated. It’s in all the magazines, on every TV channel. That pressure is on men too, for sure, but to a far lesser degree, and while it’s rising, it just hasn’t been around long enough to have inculcated men in the same way it has women. That’s my opinion. There’s more pressure on men to make money and have expensive material goods. And to be good at drinking whiskey neat. In my opinion.

The MAIN beef I have with this parochial, narrow-minded, condemnatory pedagogue is, of course, equating a vasectomy with a loss of manhood. Does that mean that women who get tubal ligation (ha, I almost wrote litigation)– does that mean that they are no longer women? By Simcha’s logic, does that make them masculine? Is Simcha, to get personal, more of a woman than I am because she has a bajillion kids and I only have one? That sounds about as ridiculous to me as saying she’s more of a mother than I am. Or is Simcha less of a woman because she is uninterested in plastic surgery? That would follow by virtue of the fact that she says men are becoming more feminine by getting this procedure done, because afterward, they’re more likely to get plastic surgery. I’m sorry. It’s a little hard untangling the frayed threads of vitriol.

God. I won’t even touch the Catholic issue of birth control (I can’t believe that the pope had to deliberate and finally issue a statement that condom use was okay if it was between married partners in order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS– wow, how generous, thanks Pope)– I’m not going to talk about my beliefs about birth control, because I don’t feel argumentative– but what I am infuriated about is Simcha’s self-righteous claim that men who get vasectomies are not men anymore. What. A.  Bitch.

Because she’s Catholic, I know that Simcha’s equally against women getting their tubes tied, as well as the pill, iuds, vaginal rings, diaphragms, and of course, condoms. (I saw on a Catholic brochure not too long ago a blurb about the evils of condoms. It literally read, Condoms are Satan’s lies. I was delighted and promptly went home to create my own list of Satan’s lies, which included wall-to-wall carpeting and my blender.)

Here are a couple facts about vasectomies:

  • They cost $350 to $1000.
  • They are an outpatient procedure with a duration of 30 minutes, on average.
  • They are sometimes reversible.
  • 1 in 2,000 vasectomies fail.

Here are some facts about tubal ligation:

  • It costs anywhere from $1500 to $6000.
  • It is a major surgical procedure.
  • The risks of postoperative complications are higher than for vasectomies.
  • 1 in 200-300 tubal ligations fail.

The only thing worse than a parochial, narrow-minded, dogmatic individual is a parochial, narrow-minded, dogmatic, creative individual. Because then what you end up with are extrapolations of control mechanisms. That means that some brainy individual has wasted her grey matter on interpreting a set of man-made rules and is now finding new and inventive ways of foisting them on other people around her. The last thing we need these days is more control mechanisms. Actually, the last thing we need these days is more self-righteous, insulting interference in to someone else’s seriously private business.

 

9 Comments

  • Eff yeah, Pohlig. The world doesn’t need more people like Simcha (as the nauseating comments would declare) but more people like you – smart, articulate, thoughtful women who can offer the world an informed rebuttal. Jaysus…who ARE these people? What she “likes about men” is a liberty women have been denied of in society since the beginning of time. Poor Simcha: according to her logic, menopause will be the end of her.

  • I love you, Heather, Bri. Joy Unluck Club!

  • Agreed. I was very dissapointed with her article. Nothing that she talked about defines being a man. And by extension,I wouldn’t want to have the traits she must think define womanhood. I grew up thinking that men and women were completely different and ordered by God to have completely different behaviors and interests and thoughts, but now I think that was all a bunch of BS.

  • Thanks lady! I was relieved to see your comment on her site; it seemed that most everyone agreed with Simcha! Which astonished me. I agree with you about men and women; there aren’t significant differences in our interests and behaviors– not so significant at all. I will never define womanhood as being fertile. There’s a few words for that. Primitive, narrow-minded, and cruel. A word that doesn’t come to mind is feminist, which is what she says she is.

  • Briana wrote:

    Preach it, Pohlig, preach it.

  • Rebecca wrote:

    I generally appreciate Simcha’s articles, but here she is making a common (among both left-leaning and right-leaning thinkers) error in gender theory, which involves reducing one’s gender identity to a particular characteristic or capacity; this is problematic because in reality gender is “disseminated” through a variety of different attributes and if it can be reduced to anything, that would have to be chromosome difference. Which is not altered by vasectomy. Nor is it altered by sex change operations. Or by carrying a purse, or wearing pink, or shooting a gun, or being rational, or being emotional, or any of the other things that people try to identify with one or the other gender as being somehow definitive. What irks me is how many people who are supposedly “experts” in gender theory exhibit similarly sloppy (and insulting) thinking.

  • I agree that her arguement is all over the place. She makes no clear point. I read it over twice and I feel like there are so many holes in her article. It just seems like somehting is missing. She says that men are SUPPOSED to be hairy, fat, messy etc. So is her angle that masculintiy means to be natural? And if so, then what about men who are just naturally tidy, mostly hairless, and thin? It’s obvious that she’s throwing around her opinion because she’s uncomfortable with the “v” word.

  • This is just a wierd rebuttal. She’s the mother of nine, and the Catholic Church calls vasectomies self-mutilation. It’s not her own uncomfortablitlity. It’s the Catholic Church who says it’s wrong. And the post was on a Catholic blog. What did you expect?

  • Am I less of a man because I enjoy reading your posts? I came first to the running one and then this. The intersection of religion and societal attitudes always interests me, especially since the radical right likes to blame the decay of American society on its secularization (along with all those unprivileged socioeconomically). I think the best line is: “The only thing worse than a parochial, narrow-minded, dogmatic individual is a parochial, narrow-minded, dogmatic, creative individual.” Does this explain the popularity of a Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, or Bill O’Reilly? Although, I don’t find any of the particularly creative…

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