After immediate survival, the number one goal of human beings is to be fruitful and multiply. This is true of humans everywhere on the planet, no matter the continent or culture. It has been so true that beginning in the 20th Century, humans have multiplied themselves right out of water, food, and land in many places. Including places in the US.
A couple hours ago this thought struck me: When humanity is threatened, women become incubating chattel.
This thought arrived in the middle of reading The Stand by Stephen King. I was reading about a situation in the book where four men were gathering their own little harem for private use in the aftermath of a devastating plague.
Post-apocalyptic situations in which population has been decimated and society completely breaks down are excellent fictional tools for highlighting all sorts of things about human nature and the human condition. And despite The Stand’s central focus on a supernatural war between ultimate good and ultimate evil, there is still plenty of time devoted to these interesting topics.
When I had that thought I posted above, immediately following was one of those moments when a connection snaps together in my brain. Two seemingly unrelated things suddenly have a bridge built between them. In this case the two things are:
1) When humans are concerned about building up the population, the equality of women suffers as a result. This is because women are not only necessary to the procreational act like men are, but they must also carry the fruit that is being multiplied. It’s not difficult to rationalize all sorts of limits on women when they are required for this fundamental job of insuring the continuing existence of the human race. When that job becomes less important, the lot of women improves.
2) In the United States the population is undergoing a significant shift. Demographers estimate that sometime around 2050 white people will become a minority in terms of absolute numbers in the US population.
The connecting bridge between those two things is the resurgence of the war on women in this country. Issues that most of us considered resolved once and for all a few decades ago are now being brought up for debate again. They are being debated by white men.
I’ve been shocked this last year as not only women’s health and abortion issues have been put up for debate, but that birth control is apparently now on the table for discussion as well. The ability to control reproduction and plan families, rather than leaving it all to chance, is what allows women to become equal partners.
As a society we have generally accept this as true. And because we aren’t worried about humans dying off any time soon, it has been easy enough to make changes in public policy that have made family planning not only possible, but an expected way of life.
Except, white people are now feeling threatened. Those brown people keep having babies at a higher rate, and keep entering this country at a higher rate, overwhelming us white folks who have been procreating more conservatively in recent decades.
I don’t think it’s coincidental that white conservatives are suddenly refighting old fights at a time when it is becoming clear that their days as a majority in this country are numbered. I doubt that this is done on a conscious level for most of them. It’s a reaction growing out of a fear that is submerged in the dark swampy areas of our brains.
Us white folk need to bring this all out into the light, where the fears and sense of threat can be illuminated and dealt with. The population shift is going to happen. We need to get over it. Returning women to the status of incubating chattel is not an acceptable solution.