A Pro-Patriarchy Argument in All Its Glory

In case anyone is still unsure exactly what the many lawsuits against the contraceptive coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act are about (hint: not religious freedom), a lawsuit filed in Missouri this week provides a refreshingly clear picture.

Republican State legislator Paul Wieland filed suit requesting that he and his wife be allowed to opt out of the requirement under his coverage in the state health plan because it “violates their religious beliefs as Catholics and parents of three daughters,” says the National Catholic Reporter. Wieland’s lawyer argues that if a closely held corporation like Hobby Lobby is allowed to opt out of the mandate, so too should individuals with objections to contraception. “If the corporations don’t have to do this for their employees, certainly Mom and Dad don’t have to do it for their daughters,” said Timothy Belz of the Thomas More Society.

Finally, an unvarnished pro-patriarchy argument in all its glory.

The Becket Fund (the other conservative public interest law firm named after a martyred Thomas who was dispatched by a King Henry after an epic church-state battle) picked its plaintiffs with canny eye for obscuring the true nature of the suits: a hard-working entrepreneurial Christian couple who merely objected to the provision of “abortifacient” emergency contraceptives in the case of the Green family in the Hobby Lobby suit and the humble, habited, self-sacrificing nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor in their eponymously named case. No so with More and Wieland: He man. He pay bills. He say.

Not surprisingly, the plaintiffs in two of the most high-profile Catholic suits against the mandate—Little Sisters of the Poor and Priests for Life—announced this week that they had rejected the Obama administration’s latest accommodation and would proceed with their suits. (And which Priests for Life helpfully compared to a government “plan to arbitrarily imprison children between 2 and 4 years old, and imposes on businesses the obligation to inform them of such children among the families of their employees.”)

This, too, lays bare the true nature of the suits, since the plaintiffs are no longer being asked to send the form to their insurers that they argued would “trigger” the provision of contraception. It’s not about being too close for comfort to contraception in a way that violates the (widely ignored) Catholic ban on birth control and hence their religious freedom.

These groups simply don’t want any woman who works for them to get contraception through any kind of scheme linked to their insurance—even if they have nothing to do with it—because it undercuts their moral authority as men to regulate the reproductive behavior of women under their purview.

Maybe it’s most helpful here to take the long view when trying to understand the stubborn insistence of the Catholic Church that any woman in its sphere—Catholic or not—falls under its authority. According to social anthologist Jack Goody in his book The Development of Marriage and Family, the church’s insistence on policing the sexual morality of everyone in the society around it goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. From its founding as a sect within Judaism until well into the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church imposed it rules regarding sex and marriage on society in order to weaken pagan practices and t0 capture inheritances (that would have otherwise gone to family members) in order to strengthen the church. “By insinuating itself into the very fabric of domestic life, of heirship and marriage, the Church gained great control over the grass roots of society itself,” he argues.

Today we see the Church clinging to the faint remnants of that social control, with women’s access to birth control as its pawn.

12 Comments

  • bbailey1956@cableone.net' nmgirl says:

    When I read this yesterday, the article said two of Wieland’s daughters are adults.

  • dkeane123@comcast.net' DKeane123 says:

    “If the corporations don’t have to do this for their employees, certainly Mom and Dad don’t have to do it for their daughters,” – Seems like an airtight case to me. Are you going to give a corporation more power over adults than parents do with their kids?

  • midwestconservative@gmail.com' Christopher Johnson says:

    So. The Little SISTERS of the Poor are part of the “patriarchy.” Got it.

  • lulu_44@hotmail.com.au' TheRealReginaPhalange says:

    Yes, women can perpetuate a patriarchal system – its called internalized misogyny. Just like self-hating, closeted gay people can perpetuate homophobia.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    They belong to the Catholic Church, genius. You think it’s run by women?

    Your little cutseyism–“Got it.”– actually made you look even dumber than if you’d just stated it plainly.

  • rfisher8211@gmail.com' RobFIsher says:

    “He man. He pay bills. He say.”

    You entitlement junkie. You gold digger. You no get to say.

    I’m not seeing a problem here, unless you’re making the case that you should get state sponsored free stuff due to your obvious cognitive linguistic impairment.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    By your logic, it would be ok for parents to pray away whatever ailment their child has without seeking medical care…since they are responsible for paying (or not paying) their child’s bills. Why force parents to send their kids to school or educate them? In fact, why not even allow parents complete control, life-or-death control, over children until they turn 5 or so?

    Yeah…that was pretty much the way our society operated until about 200 years ago. Thanks, but no thanks, there were good reasons we moved our society away from that model.

  • johnf4303@hotmail.com' John F says:

    See also
    Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control and Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About It 100 Years From Now
    Conservative bishops and Congressmen are fighting a rear-guard action against one of the most revolutionary changes in human history.
    February, 2012

    http://www.alternet.org/story/154144/why_patriarchal_men_are_utterly_petrified_of_birth_control_–_and_why_we%27ll_still_be_fighting_about_it_100_years_from_now

  • pastordavidf@verizon.net' Palamas says:

    “From its founding as a sect within Judaism until well into the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church imposed it rules regarding sex and marriage on society in order to weaken pagan practices and t0 capture inheritances (that would have otherwise gone to family members) in order to strengthen the church. ”

    From its founding in the middle of the first century until the first quarter of the fourth century, the Church was hardly in a position to “impose” anything on society. Yeah, I know…details, details!

  • jmcg02908@verizon.net' CitizenWhy says:

    The Catholic church’s claim to moral hegemony over EVERYONE is part of its theory of Natural Law, a philosophy raised to the level of Christian doctrine (along with the Trinity) by the popes and not by any council of the church. According to the church’s position on natural law. the pope is the final and supreme and solo interpreter of what is and isn’t against nature. Anny ruling on any practice as being against nature, since its nature and not church doctrine, is binding on all people of all religions and on all governments. Where it feels strong enough it will organize Catholics politically to impose the pope’s rulings on the entire country. Under Reagan it got the US to prevent the UN from distributing condoms as part of an aid program.

  • jmcg02908@verizon.net' CitizenWhy says:

    Yes, indeed. See my point on the Church’s natural Law doctrine, which is the real basis of its imposition of its beliefs on all.

  • jmcg02908@verizon.net' CitizenWhy says:

    Sure, why not. Corporations rule.

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