Why Women Shouldn’t Control the Circumstances of their Reproduction

by Mark Wilson

The opposition to women’s reproductive rights, where such a package of rights includes the ability of a woman to decide when, how, and why to reproduce, is pretty easy to explain. My theory covers everything from opposition to birth control to female genital mutilation.

We begin in a state of nature. All organisms have an evolutionary mandate to spread their genes on to the future. This isn’t merely just spreading genes to ensure the survival of the species, but a narcissistic evolutionary requirement that only the individual organism’s genes survive. This happens a lot with uncivilized animals. Male lions will kill offspring of other male lions.

From here, we move from a state of nature into a social contract, where a man’s children are exclusively his property, with no exclusive or coextensive rights in the mother, who is little more than an incubator. The property arrangement civilizes the evolutionary mandate; i.e., the law now endorses the notion that a man’s offspring (his genes) are his property. His genes must be perpetuated to the exclusion of others. Hence marriage and all the rights that come along with it.

Birth control, or any control by women of the circumstances of their reproduction, could lead to situations where the woman’s offspring is not also that of her husband. Hence the obsession with female (and not male) chastity: religion (and often, law) again creates a construct whereby a man can be secure that his children — which are, remember, exclusively his property — are his own. Birth control means that a woman could have a child not at the pleasure of the husband (which is just wrong, because the man gets to determine the circumstances under which his children, which are his alone, are born or not). Female genital mutilation ensures that sex is not enjoyable, and thus women won’t be sluts, ensuring that the husband controls the circumstances of his children’s birth. Medieval chastity requirements ensure that a husband’s children are his own. Anything that restricts women from sleeping around increases the probability that the children belong to the husband.

Rep. Akin’s comments last week only confirm the limbic system-based, reptilian belief that women should not control the circumstances of their reproduction. And that’s because men must ensure that their children belong to them and not to other men, and this is because of the evolutionary mandate to ensure that one’s own genes, and no one else’s, get passed to the next generation.