Monday, November 24, 2014

The All Powerful and Omni-Potent Cult of the Sperm ...and other emotionally satisfying myths

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Aristotle was a smart guy.

One day he squinted down into a handful of his own semen and noticed an army of tiny little wigglers vainly trying to go someplace. I have to admit, the guy must have had great eyesight.

From this evidence the man derived the Theory of the Omni-Potent Sperm, which is still alive and, well, living with us today.

Men, asserted Aristotle, are the source of all life.

They ejaculate their wondrous seed into the fertile, but dead soil of the Woman, and behold, life. All else was irrelevant.

From this handy theory -- the original example of junk science -- Western Civilization (wasn't it Gandhi who said, when asked what he thought of Western Civilization, that he thought it would be a good idea?) derived the law that gave into the hands of men the full and unquestioned custody of children, the product of their excessively valuable loins. It was a question of property riveted to a proper respect for the miraculous process of impregnation. 
Birth? That was just delegated work of little value. Women did it, for gosh sakes, how much could it be worth?

Sex? That was work a man could get into.

This was, of course, long before the time of such useful cognitive tools as economic theory and biophysics. But this is the source of the laws with which we still live today.

When they were struggling for their rights, women faced a legal reality that denied they had any right to their children -- thanks to Aristotle and his handy handful of reproductive juices. So they punted. They compromised with another legal fiction: men and women each should have a 50% interest in their biological children. As will most compromises, this one has not worked either.

Even though economic theory existed, no one thought to apply it. Even though the biological realities were better understood, they were ignored. After all, what does law have to do with reality?

The social tinkering of generations of We-Know-What's-Good-For-You theoreticians had so deadened us to the verities of individual rights that we did not even notice. And lawyers? As we all know, they are for the most part so toxic they are likely to turn into politicians.

But it is never too late to change.

The Cult of the Omni-Potent Sperm is actually pretty funny when you summon the images of that scene into the mind: a group of jerks jerking off while their economy (yes, they had one) continued to function on the wealth produced most exclusively by the disfranchised. Women and slaves were the working population. Men who could vote did not work -- unless jerking off and talking are forms of labor. They did become politicians (and, presumably, lawyers). Women were slaves, but they didn't get the use of the title. Slaves, after all, could buy their freedom in that day in age; women could not.

While ancient Greeks might not have understood the economic theory whereby they asserted ownership of the source of wealth, they certainly understood how to do it. 
We will now consider the economic realities of the biological investment the two genders of humanity make in offspring. We will now dispose of the Cult of the Omni-Potent Sperm once and for all. The Cult has had its long run, but it is time to get real.