David Thompson
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August 03, 2015

Comments

Chester Draws

Many cultures -- and the Anglo-Saxon was one of them until recently -- do not regard a baby as alive until it "quickens". A miscarriage before that point is regarded more as an inconvenience, since no life was involved and the mother scarcely troubled by the whole thing.

That has now, thanks to the relentless pressing of the pro-Life brigade, coupled with the Papal insistence based on medieval medical beliefs that "life begins at conception", become somewhat old=fashioned. However there are those of us who maintain, quietly, that a two-month fetus while alive is not yet human in any meaningful way. (And, yes, Mrs Draws has early-period miscarried so I know that I still feel this way despite having been through it. And so does Mrs Draws, come to that.)

Now because all cultures are worthy of respect, I would hope that Ms Williams respects our belief that an early period miscarriage not only is not shameful, it is barely worth a second thought.

My mother had a reasonably late miscarriage, over 50 years ago now. It was the source of some disappointment and stress, mixed with a bit of grief, but very little shame. She has certainly never particularly covered it up, which is how I know about it.

Even a still-born baby, a much more traumatic event, is not the source of much shame these days, And certainly not in my experience any more shameful for the wife than the husband.

I think Ms Williams must live on a different planet from me.

Jen

Most miscarriages have nothing to do with the mother's 'lifestyle' so unless she's smoking 40 a day and knocking back shots every night why would anyone shame her? Silly question. They don't.

ACTOldFart

I think we have reached peak feminist-paranoid victimhood.

Watcher In The Dark

How useful are words like "shame" for they can be applied to anything in order to rouse a smidgen of sympathy from the dolts who read this sort of stuff and believe it.

David

I think we have reached peak feminist-paranoid victimhood.

I fear there’s always more.

BD Sixsmith

Williams assumes that internal shame must have an external source: if, as there is no reason to doubt, women like Mrs Zuckerberg feel that they are "defective or did something to cause" their miscarriages it must be due to social pressure. But this is false. A friend of mine recently saw a man leap to his death in front of her and feels shame at having been unable to prevent him. Is there a "suicide witness culture" that provoked these feelings? No, they just express the problems that the human consciousness faces with as it attempts to make sense of tragedies. The same is true here.

Joan

The Guardian’s Zoe Williams confidently declares,

I have zero confidence in Zoe's confidence.

JL

All good to Mr and Mrs Draws, but early-term miscarriage can be quite distressing for some women in ways that have nothing to do with the pro-life movement (or Zoe's supposed shaming, for that matter).

Joan

Are we living in the sixteenth century, in the court of Henry VIII?

As far as Guardian feminists are concerned, yes. Otherwise they'd have nothing to write about.

David

As far as Guardian feminists are concerned, yes. Otherwise they’d have nothing to write about.

They do seem to inhabit a world that bears little relation to the one I see. So far as I can make out, the women I know aren’t rendered weepy and unhinged by spellcheck software, eating dinner, chatting at barbecues or the existence of tiny cakes. And yet these things apparently bedevil our fearless and empowered Guardian columnists. The ones who see themselves as our educators.

brilton

"All good to Mr and Mrs Draws, but early-term miscarriage can be quite distressing for some women in ways that have nothing to do with the pro-life movement (or Zoe's supposed shaming, for that matter)."

Is true. We are all individuals, and how any of us react to anything in life is down to our life experiences, and our own psychological makeup. You can't just put groups of Venn diagram collectives into a particular homogenous bag. And that extends to any issue that you can care to raise. Everyone is different.

rxc

"the shame involved in being female" ->self schadenfreude - pleasure derived from the misfortunes of someone else, that other person being one's own self.

Seb

I'm not.

Min

Does Zoe know the difference between shame and sadness?

R. Sherman

I suppose it is possible for a mother or father to feel shame as result of a miscarriage if they know or believe that their own behavior led to it. However, in such cases that shame is self-induced. It is a personal guilt which may or may not be an accurate assessment of the situation. To say, however, that such guilt or shame is a)ubiquitous and b) limited to females and c) imposed by some culture is just offensive. It is an attempt to appropriate and politicize and what are, in the final analysis, intensely personal moments.

David

I have zero confidence in Zoe’s confidence.

I read it and felt I must have missed some other article in which Ms Williams actually establishes as real at least some of the things she assumes – emphatically but seemingly based on bugger all - in the piece above.

I get that a lot with Guardian comment pieces.

PaoloP

@Chester Draw

You are entitled to your opinions, of course, but I'm sorry I have to correct you on a couple of points:

- practically all Christian peoples, until recently (a few decades ago) held abortion "abhorrent" - Anglo-saxons very much included (see Lambeth Conference in 1930) - and exactly because the baby was considered alive well before he/she (not "it") "quickens".

- the medieval common view (see, for instance, Aquinas) was that the soul was infused **after** conception: the current Catholic teaching in this regards is based - among other reasons - on perfectly up to date scientific facts.

En passant, I'd like to remark that, even if you do not acknowledge a 2 months fetus as a human being, it's undeniable (I think) that the parents are responsible for the possibility of his/her reaching further levels of development: if they don't, this little human won't be. In particular, I wouldn't be here if my parents didn't protect my growth: this little fact is a bit impressive on me, poor medieval soul that I am. Retrospectively, on the other hand, when I look at my children I feel somewhat comforted in my view that I hadn't the right to say they couldn't come in this world.

My respect,
Paolo (Italy)

Ten
the women I know aren’t rendered weepy and unhinged by spellcheck software, eating dinner, chatting at barbecues or the existence of tiny cakes. And yet these things apparently bedevil our fearless and empowered Guardian columnists. The ones who see themselves as our educators.

A telling aspect of the narcissist is that the primal loss of core personality manifests in latter obsessions with fabricated, manufactured identities.

And identities need form and, um, substance. This superiority they project tirelessly, lest the mask drop. Exposure hurts way too much.

james

Does Zoe know the difference between shame and sadness?

@Min: nicely put.

My wife had an early stage miscarriage. She was upset- even though she accepts that these things are not uncommon.

Even though it is 20 years ago, it occasionally crosses my mind and I think of the different personalities of our four children and what might have been.

Shame? The idea of it never occurred. There was only sympathy from the small number of friends whom my wife told.

mojo

"... the shame involved in being female in the first place."

Ok. Stop right there...

dicentra

Don't forget that a woman who miscarries suffers a precipitous drop in pregnancy-hormone levels and so is at risk for a type of post-partum depression.

Screwed-up brain chemistry rarely induces feelings of euphoria or inner peace but rather drops one into a pit of self-loathing and despair -- quite apart from any external input one might be getting. All the moral support in the world won't fully offset the mental anguish of biochemical depression.

A woman who miscarries repeatedly will often feel defective and unworthy of motherhood -- not because of the culture but because of the emotional rollercoaster from dashed expectations and roiling hormones.

Zoe can step off, the little harpy. Her need to fill column-inches are a plague on the world.

Henry

Er isn't that going to upset quite a lot of women? Seems like an incredibly stupid article for Zoe Williams to write.

In other, quite alarming news, it seems a Canadian man is being prosecuted for simply disagreeing with a feminist. I think the charge is "criminal harrassment"

(another piece on the same unbelievable story)

It appears the police told prosecutors he said nothing threatening or sexual to the feminist in question, but Canadian law says that all that is necessary is for someone to "feel threatened" or some such.

Q30

Zoe? Honeychile? "Projection" ain't just a room in the back of a movie theater.

Ugh.

JuliaM

Meanwhile, new radical acts emerge...

" It turns out that in many ways sewing your own clothes is a radical act; a chance to escape the constraints of the fashion industry, whether in style or size, and an opportunity to express yourself exactly, rather than choosing from someone else’s expressions."

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

It's also a way to deprive Bangaldeshis of jobs and impoverish them further.

(I saw a link in one of my German-language podcasts about the growing popularity of this sort of thing in Germany, where they've come up with the new-to-German word "Crafting" for it. I couldn't be bothered to download the program since I figured it was going to be a bunch of greeny types talking about how this is supposedly good for the environment.)

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