Currently when boys in the United States of America turn 18, we have to register for a thing called Selective Service in order to access some of the rights and privileges of citizenship that girls get by turning 18, and also to not be charged with a felony. This means we get put on a list so we can be drafted into the military and sent off to our deaths if that need ever arises. I don't remember doing it, but I must have because I've gotten federal financial aid. Because women are now allowed to serve in any position in the military, there's a growing movement to replace this blatant sex discrimination with an equal-opportunity human rights violation by making them register for Selective Service too. The thought of abolishing the damn thing altogether doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone in power.
Valerie Hudson, however, argues in a recent editorial that the current status quo should be maintained, with men and women both eligible for military service but only men eligible for the draft. I expressed that same opinion once. My reasoning was that men were more evolved for war-type stuff, so while I would never cite evolution as a reason to forbid women from being in the military or doing whatever else their hearts desired, it seemed like a good enough reason to minimize unfairness by not forcing them to be in the military. I didn't think it was fair to force men either, but it was more reasonable because of evolution. Now I just think Selective Service and the draft should be abolished altogether. What's Dr. Hudson's logic, though?
"And I draw that line," she writes, "not for the reason tradition would give us: That women are weak or delicate creatures that must be protected. After all, most women in the world are not protected in any sense of the word. Would you enjoy living as a woman in Afghanistan, where 87% of women report having been assaulted? Or in Liberia, where the chance of dying incident to pregnancy is 1 in 8? Most women in poor countries do the lion’s share of the work of the household each day, and are given fewer calories to eat despite the fact that their daily work load forces them to expend far more energy than others in the household, including men. They watch their children die of preventable diseases and malnutrition because the powerful men of the country could not care less about such lowly matters. In truth, if women were weak, delicate creatures, the human race would have died out millennia ago.
"No, I do not oppose Selective Service registration for women because of their delicacy. I oppose it because a sex class analysis would reveal that women already sacrifice more for their country than men do, and women should not be asked to bear even more. There should be parity between men and women in the work of protecting our country and giving it a future. Selective Service registration for women would undo that parity, placing an unjustly heavy burden on women, and making their load far heavier than that of men."
She then proceeds to point out that far more women become mothers than men serve in the military, and far more women have died in childbirth than men have died in war. She notes that "The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is now more than double what it was 30 years ago (it’s now 17.4 per 100,000 and rising)." I didn't know that. I thought I lived in a first world country. I did know that black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and twice as likely to lose their babies, but since systemic racism is a myth and hospital staff (as I can attest firsthand from my experience with Logan Regional) treat all patients with the respect and dignity they're entitled to, these facts can only be explained as unfortunate but meaningless coincidences.
"And this doesn’t account," she continues, "for the 'mommy tax' on a woman’s lifetime earnings of having a child, which can amount to more than $1 million. The greatest risk factor for being poor in old age in the United States is to be a mother (and not a father). And the COVID-19 pandemic has made especially clear the profound economic cost dealt to working women - when the nation needed an army of mothers to step up, they did so at great cost to themselves." These facts, like the foregoing ones, are ----ed up. They speak to the profound sickness of a capitalist society that punishes people for valuing their families over increasing their employers' profits (which of course disproportionately affects mothers because pregnancy and childrearing responsibilities disproportionately affect mothers). Many things need to be reformed and many employers need to be put in their place. Capitalism is not pro-woman, pro-mother, or pro-family, it's pro-profit, full stop.
"But socialism is -" Did I say anything about socialism? Did I? No, I didn't, so don't change the subject.
I have been accused (by a man) of "denigrating motherhood" because I reject the fallacious analogy between motherhood for women and priesthood ordination for men that some people in my church are so fond of, and I suppose I'll be accused of it again after saying what I have to say next. Ahem: With a few possible exceptions, I actually don't believe that women or men deserve to be venerated just for reproducing. Yeah, the miracle of life is cool and all, and pregnancy is a significant sacrifice, but being fertile says nothing whatsoever about your worthiness or competence as a parent. It's literally the least important part of parenthood. Many people have given birth who really shouldn't have. Some parents abuse, some parents neglect, some parents warp their children for life with their unconscionable stupidity, some parents try to cure their children's autism by making them drink bleach, and so on. Have you ever read about Donald Trump's father? When I did, I realized that Donald Trump never had any chance of growing up to be a decent human being. I actually feel bad for him.
After attending my sister's temple sealing a few months ago, I reflected on the oddity of focusing so much on the commandment "Multiply and replenish the Earth." First of all, it's a bad translation that we keep repeating verbatim because we'd rather sound "scriptural" than make sense. In order to be replenished, the Earth must once already been plenished. This phrasing kind of implies that Adam and Eve were actually the sole survivors of a disaster that killed billions. Well, Lillith was there too, but the nuclear fallout turned her into a demon.
God: Multiply and replenish the Earth.
Eve: Uh, you do realize we need about five hundred breeding individuals to ensure a viable, genetically diverse species, right? You do realize our kids will have to -
God: Don't worry, I'll perform a miracle to make it not incest.
Narrator: But he didn't, and that explains the state of humanity today.
(I was going to say the narrator was voiced by Morgan Freeman, but then I remembered that he also played God in a couple of movies, so that felt weird.)
For sure, my church devotes plenty of time and energy is given in other venues to telling people to be good parents and advising them on how to do so, but taken at face value, this commandment to make babies for babies' sake just seems odd. A couple who has four kids and sells them all for drinking money is following this commandment, while a couple who adopts twelve kids, moves heaven and earth to meet their needs, and teaches them to be productive members of society is not. You could, of course, argue a broader and more figurative definition for "multiply and replenish", but then it would have to also include many things that have nothing to do with parenthood at all. I wouldn't object to that, but it seems like a stretch.
While reproduction is, as Dr. Hudson points out, obviously crucial to the future of the United States and every other nation, it's a group effort that transcends any individual birth. Not every person brought into this world improves it just by existing. I think of Derek Chauvin's mother, who recently told him at his sentencing that the day he was born was the happiest of her life. She isn't wrong to love him even though he's an abuser and a murderer, and she couldn't have possibly known he would turn out to be an abuser and a murderer - though she is wrong to deny that he's an abuser and a murderer when the entire world has seen his handiwork - but the fact remains that this country would have been a better place without him in it. I'm not going to thank his mother for giving birth to him anytime soon. Actually, come to think of it, if your child murders someone, the Earth's population has a net increase of zero and your attempt to multiply and replenish it has been retroactively thwarted. Let's hope they only murder one person and you have backup children who are better behaved.
Anyway, I guess I kind of agree with Dr. Hudson and kind of don't. The facts she points out should anger any reasonable person, but I don't venerate people for reproducing and I think her overall argument is moot because Selective Service and the draft should be abolished altogether.
BONUS: Recently I showed my true misogynistic colors. I am ashamed of myself.
Social media rumor has it that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is running a pilot program to find out if women can count.
This comment should have won the LDS internet as far as I'm concerned.
In other LDS Twitter news, the unofficial smattering of far-right vigilantes known as #DezNat has fractured, with founder J.P. Bellum and many others deleting their profiles after @ExposeDezNat started to publish their identities along with the racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and more violent than usual things they say when they think nobody is looking. I'm immediately reminded of cockroaches fleeing when someone turns the light on. And then of course the joke writes itself: "What's the difference between a cockroach and a DezNatter? One is a repulsive little insect that spreads filth and disease, and the other one is a cockroach." I'm sure not everyone who uses the hashtag is evil. But the movement is evil. If these people really believed they were doing good, they wouldn't need to be anonymous and they would have nothing to fear from being exposed. I think that's self-explanatory.
In Facebook news - I use Facebook a lot more than Twitter, and first learned of the above stories through Facebook - I posted this a week ago and am repeating it here to get twice as much mileage out of the effort spent writing it. Quote:
Of all the provocative, edgy, and just plain rude things I've written that could have landed me in Facebook jail, do you want to know why I finally did go to Facebook jail?
Utah is in its worst drought in at least 1200 years. The governor is considering banning all fireworks (which he should have already done, but this is a state where we trust people to do the right thing of their own volition despite their demonstrated constant refusal to do the right thing of their own volition). The Deseret News reported this, and Deseret News readers responded the way Deseret News readers always respond when someone dares to suggest that they aren't the center of the universe. But I was mature about it. Instead of starting arguments, instead of pointing out how stupid and selfish and contemptible they were, I joined in and mocked them by commenting, "No. I have a constitutional right to burn down my neighbor's house."
Facebook's Community Standards police, who for a decade or so have consistently refused to do anything whenever I reported blatant hate speech, pornography, or fake profiles, decided that this obviously sarcastic comment in a context that anyone old enough to read could grasp in five seconds was an "incitement to violence", and banned me from posting or commenting for 24 hours. I disputed the decision and they upheld it. So now I know the whereabouts of the very few unfortunate people who fail to meet the almost nonexistent standard of intelligence for real law enforcement.
I mean, the stupidity here is astronomical. It's incomprehensible. It's mind-bending. And I say this as one who had no faith in humanity to begin with. Kim "I've been a cop for 26 years and I can't tell the difference between a gun and a taser that look completely different, weigh completely different, have the trigger in different spots, and are holstered on opposite sides of my body" Potter looks almost as smart as a banana slug compared to the evolutionary dead-ends who (don't) enforce Facebook's Community Standards.
In conclusion, please get bent, Facebook.
As I was composing this, it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn't toss around such rude and derogatory language, but on the other hand, you can't tell me this post wasn't a work of art. I'm very pleased with how I organized the words to express myself. That's what I love about writing and being good at it. I was also very satisfied and overjoyed with being able to draw such a natural comparison to police officers and get in a few more well-deserved jabs at them. Three police cars with flashing lights pulled up to my apartment complex this evening moments after I'd left, and I wondered if maybe they were coming after me again for doing nothing wrong whatsoever again, and I knew that if they were I for damn sure wasn't going to respectfully sit there and take their abuse again. But I came back an hour later and they were gone and my roommate hadn't noticed them, so you won't see me in the news this time.
On Friday, the people that Logan Preferred Property Management hired to prune the tree that was dropping things in the yard next door showed up an hour before they were supposed to and woke me up with a chainsaw at 7:19 in the morning. Given how long it took me, through no fault of my own, to get to sleep in the first place, and given that this was not my first time waking up during that sleep cycle, it kind of ruined my day. I contemplated whether I would get in trouble for explaining to Logan Preferred that if this ever happens again somebody is going to get hurt, but I didn't so that has nothing to do with why the police showed up. I contemplated how much better my life would have been that day if they'd been killed in a car crash on the way over. And then I forgave them because they were probably just doing what their boss who lacks the mental capacity to understand concepts like basic human decency or reading a clock told them to do. Their boss is still overqualified to be a police officer.
Saturday was much better. I spent most of it at Summerfest, the annual arts faire that was canceled last year for mysterious unknown reasons. I went alone, but Shalese who was in my ward last semester brought her boyfriend over and sat by me while I was listening to music, and that was nice of her but I was afraid she felt so sorry for me that she would ask me to tag along with them for a while, so I was relieved when that didn't happen. Then I ran into Riley from my ward and then we were rudely interrupted by my ex-coworker Audrey (previously referred to on this blog under the pseudonym "Dory" because of her memory problems) and her husband and her parents and her sister, soon to be joined by two brothers and a sister-in-law, and they were going to get food and I wanted to get food so I went with them for three hours or so. I'd never met Audrey's parents, though I'd seen them in a picture. I once told her they were both very attractive, and she said thank you, and then I asked what went wrong. Her mom said they'd heard a lot about me, and Audrey quickly assured me that it was all bad. No duh.
Food is the only thing I've ever bought there. It's overpriced, of course, but it's part of the experience and good for my mental health to be able to throw money around, and actually the Kettle Corn is the best part and it's not overpriced, it's a real bargain. Not like paying $12 for three ant-sized tacos at all. I never buy any art. Most of the art, from what I can tell, is reasonably priced when you consider the work that goes into it. I just can't afford such luxuries. I hope I can someday. Until then I just go to wander around and look at booths from the corner of my eye or wait until the vendors are distracted, because I don't want to get their hopes up that I might actually buy something. I recognized many of the booths and vendors from years past as if they were old friends. One I didn't recognize was an Asian woman whom I overheard asking an Asian customer if he was Japanese. He said he was Vietnamese. She said, "We all look the same," and they both laughed. He said he could tell Koreans apart from other Asians and she was eager to know how. I felt privileged to have heard that conversation.
Summerfest was located on the fairgrounds this year instead of the Tabernacle grounds. It was a much better location with a lot more space, and the stream running around the edge came in very handy. As I and Audrey's family dipped our appendages in it, three little girls kept drifting through on inner tubes, but then on the third pass one of the tubes was empty and one of the girls was running along the shore, and she jumped onto it but her legs dangled all the way off and I guess they were dragging on the rocks because she kept saying "Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!" well past the point where I assumed she would stop, and in that moment my heart shattered for this poor little girl who just wanted to have some fun with her friends but got pain instead, because that's what life is and God only knows what far worse things it has in store for her as she gets older and discovers how dark and unfriendly the world can be, which, if she's lucky, she can scarcely imagine now in her childish innocence, and I wished I could jump down there and help her but I didn't want to get arrested or shot on sight for touching a little girl, so I just kept an eye out for her later to reassure myself that her legs weren't bleeding and she was having fun again.
Having an excess of empathy really, really sucks. I have to actively suppress it a lot of times or I'd never be happy.
Folk Art & Material Culture
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.