Women’s lack of culpability in the areas of sex, relationships, and reproduction – it’s a Western Civ thang.

There have been a series of blog posts on several sites I read responding to the Donald Trump abortion comments in which he stated that if abortion were illegal, then a woman who has an abortion should face some sort of punishment.  Pro-life activists, many of whom are Christians, came out forcefully against Trump on this.  The pro-life movement has long held that doctors who perform abortions, but not the women who have them, should be held liable for murder and punished.

So the question has been raised on these blogs as to why, if they really believe that abortion is murder, pro-life Christians would oppose punishing women for having abortions if the procedure were illegal.

As I understand their arguments (and I may be wrong), here is Dalrock’s theory as to why (my interpretation):

Pro-life Christian men are behaving in a cowardly fashion because they are afraid to confront women on their sin due to the fact that they want women to like them more than they want to do what is right.

And Zippy’s theory (again, my interpretation):

Pro-life Christians either don’t really believe abortion is murder or they believe that women lack moral agency and thus should not be held liable for breaking the law.

I think there is more than one reason; different people within the pro-life sphere probably have different reasons.  However, I think there are two more reason which probably are much more at play in the wider pro-life movement than what Zippy and Dalrock have posited (not that they are wrong).  Before I get into those reasons, we need to establish one thing.

The Western mind has great difficulty holding women culpable for their actions in the realm of sex, relationships, and reproduction, and even when the woman is clearly the perpetrator of a crime in these areas, if possible she will be portrayed as the victim.  I do believe this is something inherent to the Western mind, something we all sort of realize at this point but which we have a really hard time not doing because it just feels so natural to us.  Other people groups do not seem to have any trouble holding women culpable for their actions in the areas of sex, relationships, and reproduction.

This is a Western civilization thing, NOT a Christian thing.  This is part of the entire culture around us and possibly always has been.  Let’s look at a different example briefly.  I was browsing through our local newspaper and reading the Chelsea crime blotter for the week.  There is very little crime here, so there were only two incidents listed in the crime blotter, both of which I have copied below from the Sun Times News:

3/30 – 10 pm., officers responded to the 400 block of East Street for the report of a domestic assault complaint.  Upon arrival the officers were waived into the residence by a male subject later identified as the suspect, a 27 year old Chelsea man.  The suspect stated that his wife was acting “crazy” and had “assaulted him”. The suspect showed the officer some signs of scratching, some of which were bleeding.  The officers made contact with the victim, the suspect’s wife and she stated that there was an argument over him taking her cellphone because the suspect felt that his wife was not paying attention to him. There was an altercation in attempting to retrieve the phone from him; which resulted in injuries to both parties involved, none of which required medical attention.  Officers determined that both parties participated in the assault and the situation required one of the parties to be taken to jail for the evening so that the situation could deescalate.  Due to the fact that there was an 18 month old child in the residence, it was decided that the male suspect would be transported to the jail for the evening.

4/2 – 12:40 pm, a complainant came to the Chelsea Police Department who stated that he was in his kitchen with his wife and she proceeded to tell him to leave the house, he complied and stated that he needed to get some clothes and his wallet.  After he told her that he would leave she punched him in his left arm.  The victim stated that he then went into the bathroom area of the house and she forced her way into the bathroom and the fight continued causing the shower curtain to get ripped down and she began to hit him another 6-8 times in the arms and chest area.  The victim then decided to leave the house and walk to the Chelsea Police Department for some counsel.  Officers made contact with the suspect, a 38 year old Chelsea woman, and took her statement on the incident.  It was decided that the suspect would be transported to the Chelsea Hospital where she would be evaluated by medical personnel in lieu of going to jail.

Notice the use of the words “victim” and “suspect” in story 1.  Even though the police determined that both parties participated in the assault, the woman was still the victim and the man was still the suspect.  And he was taken off to jail.

In story 2, the victim and suspect labels are correctly assigned, but notice that even though the woman was the suspected aggressor, she was taken for medical care instead of taken to jail, even though the story does not indicate that she was ill or injured.

So.  In the Western world, people know that women will generally not be held culpable for their actions in the area of sex, relationships, and reproduction.  Pro-life people know this, too, and I think they see their primary objective as being saving babies by any means possible, by hook or by crook as the saying goes.  Their objective is (probably) to get Roe v Wade overturned so that abortion may be outlawed.  Although they may not be able to articulate it, they are probably worried that if they start talking about punishing women, the Western mind will automatically snap shut and not even consider what they are suggesting (outlawing abortion) and so they’ll never get anywhere and more babies will die.

So my theory is that pro-life people say they would oppose punishing women for having abortions in the unlikely event that abortion were outlawed because they are either:

  1. being purposefully vague or outright lying on this issue because they believe that doing so will lose this battle but ultimately allow them to win the war or
  2. more comfortable just living with the logical contradiction of saying abortion is murder but then not holding women accountable for it due to some quirk of the Western mind when it come to women’s moral culpability in the area of sex, relationships, and reproduction.

Honestly, I think #2 is the most likely.  Most people – men and women – act on feeling more than anything else and don’t sit down and analyze the logical (or illogical, as the case may be) underpinnings of their feelings. All that the average pro-life person knows is that:

  1. she/he hates abortion because it kills babies and yet
  2. feels really, really bad feelings about holding women culpable for their actions in the area of sex,relationships, and reproduction.

For extremely analytical people (as perhaps Zippy and Dalrock may be), this is probably bizarre to even contemplate – how can one hold an illogical belief??  But I would assert that it is true that people hold such beliefs nevertheless and that this explains much of the response to Mr. Trump among the pro-life masses.

42 thoughts on “Women’s lack of culpability in the areas of sex, relationships, and reproduction – it’s a Western Civ thang.

  1. In case it isn’t clear, let me hasten to add that I’m being descriptive here, not prescriptive. Just because it’s what people have always done or what they naturally feel inclined to do doesn’t necessarily make it right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do get into trouble in this corner of the internet arguing that women have agency. They have always had it. What is new is that most people will not allow them responsibility. It has gotten so bad that one maember of the House of Lords has proposed closing all the women’s prisons. Nor a good idea. There are nurderers int there.
    Trump shouldn’t back pedal on this. He should amplify. Who else commissions the operation?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems to me that in areas outside of sex, relationships, and reproduction, the Western mind has much less difficulty assigning women culpability for their actions. If Mr. Trump stated that female shoplifters should be punished for their crimes, I don’t think it would cause much controversy. There is something about sex, relationships, and reproduction and female moral agency that makes Westerners profoundly uneasy. I suppose evolutionary psychologists would say that this tendency conferred some sort of wide-scale reproductive advantage for our Western ancestors and that is why it exists today, but I really don’t know about that. As a Christian, I’m more inclined to say that it’s just the way our sin nature plays out among our people; other people groups express their sin natures in their own ways. Christ died for all.


  3. Another thing: I believe it is useful to point out this quirk of the Western mind for the following reason.

    Nearly all of us will find that we are susceptible to it. I know I am. Going just by my gut reaction, I hate abortion because it kills babies yet I feel bad and uncomfortable feelings thinking about punishing women for having abortions. Sometimes it is useful to be able to do some self-talk in these areas, like saying to yourself, “I have bad feelings about allowing women to take responsibility for their choices in the areas of sex, relationships, and reproduction. My feelings are not logical or consistent with my deeply-held beliefs. It is okay to feel these feelings but then to do what I know is right.”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “I have bad feelings about allowing women to take responsibility for their choices in the areas of sex, relationships, and reproduction. My feelings are not logical or consistent with my deeply-held beliefs. It is okay to feel these feelings but to do what I know is right.”

    This phenomenon of being able to experience multiple feelings or reactions towards the same target (ambivalence) is what makes this such an important post, Sunshine.

    It is a higher-ordered type of thinking that ALL adults (men and women) can obtain and can go wrong as a function of psychopathological disordered development. (Bad parenting)

    You have to teach your children this. If they dont obtain it by around 12 (I don’t like school because of my mean teacher. I like school because of my friends. But I have to go and study because it’s what is required of me) than something has gone wrong.

    The fact that women may have more trouble with this particular part of life is not relevant. It’s what grown ups do.


    • Hi Scott,
      I have to do a LOT of meta-cognitive social stories for the kids I work with who have autism. In addition to teaching them social language, I have to teach them WHY they would even engage in social interactions that they don’t find pleasant. I write a lot of social stories like this:

      The principal says good morning to me in the hallway.
      It is polite to say good morning when someone greets me.
      I do not want to say anything.
      I can say “good morning” anyway.
      I don’t like saying good morning but I will say it to be polite.


      I wanted the Batman Legos.
      My friend took the Batman Legos.
      I am angry.
      I want to bite my friend.
      It is okay to be angry but I do not bite people.
      Biting hurts.
      I will say, “I’m angry!”
      I will say to the teacher, “I need a break. Can I sit in the cooling-off spot?”
      Then I will say to my friend, “Please give the Batman Legos to me when you are done.”

      I think it’s become second nature to me to talk myself through my own uncomfortable feelings about things I don’t like but have to do because I’ve had so much practice helping kids with autism do it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • love this. my daughter is aspie … and these sound similar to conversations we have all the time. all.the.time. over and over and over 🙂


  5. I have a lot to say about this, it seems, and today is a good day for me to say it since my children are visiting relatives out of town for spring break and today I am stuck on the couch with a migraine instead of working outside (where I’d much rather be).

    I would like to address a genre of comments I saw on one of Dalrock’s threads. In trying to suss the “why” of Christian leaders not wanting to hold women culpable for abortions they freely choose to have, some commenters assert that the pastors do so out of financial greed. In other words, the claim is that the pastors know it’s wrong but don’t want to offend women and lose their tithe money.

    I think this is incorrect. I have been around evangelical circles for a very long time now, and I believe these pastors are sincere and not motivated by money. They sincerely believe abortion is murder and would give up any riches to stop it from happening. The problem is, even more than being logically consistent on the issue of abortion, they want to protect women but their protection instinct has gotten out of whack – way out of whack, to the point where they are inadvertently hurting women by covering over their sin, thus allowing women to continue in unconfessed sin, rather than calling them to repent and be forgiven by God. They want to protect women, which is noble when rightly done, but they also (as Dalrock has explained) want so badly for women to like them, which is less noble.

    But the general masses aren’t like this. They (we) are just muddling along, propelled forward by our mostly unexamined feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps incentive they have not.
        “Things” normally OK enough they are.

        In olden days, people with “issues” starved they did


      • Sunshine,
        This is a hot button topic and the current climate is polarizing men and women instead of bringing them together.


  6. We may be looing at the same issue but, I don’t believe that it is limited to sex and reproduction. The worst story that I have heard was about a woman who ran over a nanny pushing a stroller in a crosswalk. She bargained it down to a misdemeanor. She killed the nanny and put the baby in critical condition.
    In this society, there seems to be an eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not criticize women.” . We have gone overboard with it in the coming of feminism.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sunshine, you may be interested in a woman commenting over on my blog that seems confused about many spiritual things. I don’t know if I’m helping her understand what I’m trying to get across….

    It may not help your migraine though :/ so feel free to pass on adding your thoughts!
    Love this post.


    • Hello Dragonfly,
      My headache has eased up now, thank goodness, so I spent the afternoon making a nice dinner for Philip and me since its our last one before the girls come back from spring break. 🙂

      I’ve read through some of the comments on your site. Do you think maybe it’s a religious difference? I know some traditional Latin Mass Catholics embrace a kind of almost ascetic lifestyle and are very serious and reverent in the way they live. The sort of fun-n-flirty suggestions Mrs. Doyle makes might not make a lot of sense to a Catholic traditionalist, perhaps? Just a thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hm the traditional Catholics we know understand submission doesn’t mean oppression though. It doesn’t mean never expressing your concerns to your husband’s.


  8. “Even though the police determined that both parties participated in the assault, the woman was still the victim and the man was still the suspect. And he was taken off to jail.

    “In story 2, the victim and suspect labels are correctly assigned, but notice that even though the woman was the suspected aggressor, she was taken for medical care instead of taken to jail”

    I remember when we used to discuss these things at your old place, you never believed me when I suggested that men would be frogmarched to jail in these domestic dispute incidents.

    Do you believe me now?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. One possible defense for not prosecuting women for abortion is that their pregnancy hormones are raging when they make the decision, and they’re also assumed to have a man pushing for it. So it’s a mitigating factor in the same way that other cases of doing something under duress might be.

    And for that matter, if you prosecute the doctors, do you need to prosecute the mothers, simply from a practical point of view?

    Regarding domestic violence, police started giving a “p***y pass” in the 1990s when they found the arrest rates were far different than the conviction rates–it’s mostly an argument that either men can be far more damaging, or that juries refuse to convict women.

    But now since we know that women are every bit as tough as men–they’re in combat infantry donchaknow?–I expect the “p***y pass” to end. About the same time Hell freezes over, and not the one down the road from our hostess.


  10. Drti,
    In my youth, it was gneraly accepted that men and women were even up when it came to fighting. The Duluth model changed all that. It made the men the agressor in all instances.
    It’ws unk but, how do we turn it around when people don’t want to hear the truth?

    Another thought about prosecuting doctors vs. women. It’s easier to prosecute the suppliers than the consumers. Most law goes this way.


  11. As I stated on my blog, the way the conservative Christian right responded, by claiming that women don’t know they are killing their babies, confirms that they think women are childish idiots who cannot even understand the concept of alive or dead. Its an insult to women, who should respond by using their collective power to run some of these ‘conservative Christians’ into the ground. Can you imagine a pastor standing up in front of his church and telling everyone the women are too stupid to understand alive and dead? Unfortunately, however, there are many women out there who either not aware enough and don’t understand they have been insulted, or will gladly take whatever pass they can get and save it for future use. The Christians that run the pro-life movement have shown their hand: that the pro-life movement, to them, is no more than a piece to be moved across the political chessboard, which makes them no better than the pro-choicers (or, pro-murderers).

    On the more grass roots level, yes, church men are afraid of their women. I recall a conversation I had with another gentleman in the men’s group I had been attending. After a long hiatus I rejoined and was involved in a conversation about an upcoming ‘Ladies day dinner’ that involved the men serving the women of the church meals. When I queried about the dinner in which the women served the men of the church meals the only response I got was: “Don’t even go there man. Just, forget about that and don’t even ask about it.”. Suffice to say, I don’t go to that men’s group anymore. If the men are afraid to ask about being served dinner by their wives, they sure as hell aren’t going to confront them about their sin.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Did I read you correctly? It’s either self service or men serving women? What the heck?
      The next time it’s men serving women, invite bears.


      • This particular dinner was men-serving-women. There was no dinner planned for the men, self-serving or otherwise.

        This is the mens group that got shuffled around the church until we ended up in a tiny break room, barely big enough for the six or so men in it. Goes to show the priority husbands and fathers have in most modern churches.


      • SnapperTrx,
        If you think that you are getting the short end, you probably are. It’s too bad they don’t understand the Golden Rule.


  12. the way the conservative Christian right responded, by claiming that women don’t know they are killing their babies

    Difficult to buy that response it is.
    Wonder if thought it through they did

    Liked by 1 person

  13. There is definitely a cultural component in play that affects how we in the West treat women concerning punishment. It is especially pronounced when it comes to those areas you have mentioned, Sunshine.

    Fortunately, prolonged exposure to Western women has burned most of that out of me at this point. I can’t say I miss it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Donal,
      Not you too? I had hoped that you would be the last to express such sentiments.

      Those of you who would benefit from reading this, likely won’t. Anyway, What I interpret as Donal saying is that men can’t live with women who refuse to accept responsibility. It simply can’t work.


      • Why this hope Fuzzie? I now treat women as they should be treated: moral agents deserving of full scrutiny. I don’t White Knight like I used to- that is not the same as saying I don’t (or wouldn’t) enjoy female company. It just needs to be the right company.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Donal,
        Are you finding women willing to be moral agents? If not for a relationship, how about to just socialize?
        From my POV, I am finding a lot who duck responsibility although they are fully capable of stepping up.


      • Donal,
        You are my barometer. I presume that all is right with you and if you’re not having success, the system is broken.


  14. You keep saying that this is endemic to ‘Western Culture’, when you should and could be more specific – this is endemic and is sourced from ‘Anglo’ culture, as well as the long term goal of disenfranchising all western nations and dissolving the bond between the people, the land or nation, and the state . Also, ‘Political Homosexuality’ the policy of endorsing and entrenching homosexuality in society for political purposes, as ‘change agents’… policies devised in the 19th century, not in the 1960’s.
    None of this is new, the people who conceived these policies and the people who fought and warned against what would happen if these people were allowed to succeed and move ahead with their plans for society, wrote books explaining everything – the paper trail, the dates, the persons, the tactics, etc. All these books were burnt or swept under the rug – only very famous authors, already well published, or tenured scholars who understandably used veiled and convoluted language, such as Carol Quigley, survived to today – (and even Carol Quigley’s books, despite being an insider, were entirely rounded up and pulped, as he explains.)
    I know of this because for many years I owned a successful international Antiquarian books business.

    Whenever I stop and allow myself to be amazed and how sick things have become, I reflect on the fact in actuality things are in a period of respite. So many years ago, not many… you wouldn’t care about these issues because you were more concerned about not starving to death, not being killed and robbed by a looting mob, not being shipped to a far off shore to die killing people who differed on your Anglo American way of life and your plans to spread ‘free trade’ and democracy… in the English, not American (pre 1870’s, when there really was an American) sense of the term.


  15. as my friend, Amir, has said often (here’s just one place he said it http://www.singlemind.net/?p=7881#comment-225495):

    ” This is because while those otherwise conservative Christian women–who sit on the fence–know that abortion is fundamentally wrong, they want it legal “just in case” their children have an “oopsie” like they did. They won’t carry the picket signs. They won’t be carrying signs that say, “If I wanted a politician in my womb, I’d f*** a Senator.”. But they won’t be voting pro-life when push comes to shove, either.”

    while we feel bad, we (general ‘we’) also want that ‘out’ just in case we or someone we love ‘needs’ it. and if one’s daughter or sister or granddaughter ‘needs’ that abortion, we certainly don’t want them to be convicted of a crime the likes of murder b/c, well, they’re so sweet and innocent, it was just once, it was a mistake, we don’t like the boy who got her that way, it’s not fair to the baby, she needs to live her life before having a baby, it’ll ruin reputations, etc … anything to justify her choice and to protect it and to protect the reputation of all involved.


    Liked by 1 person

  16. There is a drawback for women for all this. While they are not held responsible, it’s hard for men trust. A while ago, I teased a fellow commenter about inviting Russian ladies to his place. He lives in the outback of Australia and was complaining of the heat. I thought they would be so happy to get away from the cold that they would bake him cookies. I ended up having to apologize to him. One hint of trouble and everything he has worked for all his life goes down the drain. He can’t afford to trust women.

    Liked by 1 person

    • On the old blog, our hostess cautioned men that not all women are treacherous. This is true but, the nature of treachery is that it is unexpected and can’t be prepared for. The subject of the original post enables treachery. While not all women are like that, enough are to make men very cautious.

      Liked by 1 person

      • i totally get that. when you’ve been proven one thing over and over, it becomes a muscle-memory type-of-thing thing. there may be a woman who is not treacherous, but your knee-jerk reaction is that if she isn’t now, she has such great potential to become such that one cannot trust her.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Notice the use of the words “victim” and “suspect” in story 1….

    To be fair to the articles this is partially a legal distinction. In the first case, the male was arrested, making him the suspect, officially. In the second case, the female was arrested (then taken to a hospital instead of jail), so she is the suspect. It’s legalese.

    Liked by 1 person

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