Advocates of birth control and abortion frequently fly the banner of “women’s reproductive health,” as if the prevention and termination of pregnancy were intrinsically therapeutic–which is to say, as if the capacity to become pregnant were a disease or defect. The same logic would treat the freezing of eggs as a therapy and the normal decline of a woman’s fertility with age as a disease or defect.
We understand how these technologies can be construed as liberating for women. But just as our hypothetical osteotomy advocate is no friend of the wee, reproductive-choice feminism can also be seen as a form of misogyny.
One more point: This column has noted in the past how the pill, now ubiquitous and generally seen as benign and liberating for women, was also harmful to women. By giving them control over the reproductive process, it absolved men of responsibility. By promising consequence-free sex, it expanded male sexual options. As a result, it became harder for women to demand commitment either as a precondition of sex or in the event of unintended pregnancy. That contributed to the decline of marriage, the rise in illegitimacy and the demand for abortion.
Imagine if cosmetic osteotomy caught on, so that a significant percentage–let’s say one-third–of short men were having the procedure. That would have similar systemic effects. The average male height would rise considerably, while the number of short men would decline. Short men who were content to live in a society with a natural height distribution would feel more isolated and diminished, increasing the pressure on them to get stretched. Men of average natural height would find themselves slipping below average, as former 5-foot-6ers shot up to 6-foot-2. At that point even tall men would have to have the procedure in order to maintain their advantage.
It would be like the arms race, only with legs.