As a white male of comfortable pecuniary status, I feel it is my right—nay, my duty—to act as moral arbiter during these ethically dubious times. Throughout history, it is true, the wealthy, white male has always been at the forefront of social progress: it was the wealthy, white male who granted the vote to less wealthy, white males at the inception of public democratic representation; the wealthy, white male legislated women’s right to suffrage; and who outlawed institutional forms of racial discrimination during the civil rights movement if not the wealthy, white male? It is thus, as a regressive conservative, that I welcome the wealthy, white male, Stephen Woodworth—and his attempt to broaden the discourse on universal human rights—to Western University.
To inform the uninformed, Stephen Woodworth is a member of Canadian Parliament representing the electoral district of Kitchener. He is a proud Western alumni, having graduated with a law degree in the late 70s. Last winter, Woodworth called for a much needed national debate on the rights of the unborn. After all, in his own words, “the only way to protect the inalienable rights of all is to protect the inalienable rights of each.” We in Canada have a profoundly antiquated understanding of personhood, as the Kitchener MP explains; 400 years ago, the day’s intellectuals (if one can even describe them as such) determined that only once a child has been wholly birthed is that child considered human. How is it that we continue to act upon this arbitrary definition of humanhood to this day? How can we continue to decree that some humans are in fact inhuman and, in doing so, strip them of the sacrosanct rights we’ve allocated all members of society? These are the questions that Woodworth intends to answer in his address to Western students on November 13th (at 7pm in room 1200 of the Spencer Engineering Building).
The conservative MP mentions that his crusade has been met with controversy in a number of circles. In fact, even at Western—one of Canada’s supposed bastions of intellectual and social progress—there have been attempts to silence Woodworth’s message; a petition (espoused ideologically with the women’s rights movement) calling for university administrators to cancel the MP’s scheduled visit managed to amass over 200 signatures. Even in a press conference earlier this year, Woodworth relayed an account of his own persecution: “Ah, but you’re just a man, so why should we pay attention to your concern for honest and just laws?” he was asked. How absurd! It takes but a brief retrospective glance to see that it is men (of the wealthy, white pedigree in particular) who have passed nearly every honest and just piece of legislation in recorded history! Given this, how have we come to decide that wealthy, white males are ill-fit to speak on matters concerning women’s reproductive rights? What sort of democracy so readily dismisses an opinion on the basis of the opinion-holders innate class? I believe Woodworth would agree that men are increasingly marginalized within discussions where masculine opinions are sorely needed.
Naturally, the discourse on fetal rights (and by extension, women’s reproductive rights) is one which readily lends itself to masculine subjectivities. I have heard it said that this is a topic which men cannot comprehend, as men’s material circumstances do not generally allow for childbirth, and men’s lived experiences do not align with a feminine internal reality, but I must discount these notions as hogwash. Perhaps men lack the physical or empathetic means to fully understand the fairer sex’s disposition—this I do not know—but men undoubtedly carry a natural advantage in rational or ethical deliberation; while I understand that biological explanations of human essence have fallen out of favour in many academic publics today, I advance that the discipline of humourism is pertinent to issues such as women’s reproductive rights. Men’s humours, while generally in balance, tend to stem from the liver or spleen, affording them an ambitious and utilitarian constitution. Women, I believe Woodworth has claimed, have difficultly balancing their humours, due primarily to their monthly cycles; thus, feminine humours emanate from the gall bladder or lungs, resulting in an excess of black bile and phlegm, causing the sex to adopt an irritable and passive temperament. Paying mind to the history and humoral disposition of wealthy, white males, there seems little reason to preclude them from discussions of women’s reproductive rights, particularly when the loudest voices on the topic speak from such emotional platforms.
It is men’s humours in particular which lend them the appropriate means to deliberate upon the issue of personhood. After all, Woodworth has “concluded that modern medical science will inform us that children are in reality human beings at some point before the moment of complete birth,” and naturally, scientific discourse is no place for the empathetic reasoning affiliated with feminine humours. It is clear that ethical speculation has failed us in this debate if we continue to prize one human’s rights over another. Hence, this is an issue that can be resolved only through instrumental, scientific discourse. The question of humanhood is a cut-and-dried matter answered by centuries of empirical examination undertaken by wealthy, white males; as Woodworth argues, what makes a human is not up for moral or philosophical contemplation. It perhaps goes without saying that Canadian legal and social policies should be informed primarily by way of scientific developments in the private sphere. Along these lines, the opinions of those who still act upon Canada’s archaic notion of humanhood are to be discarded as relics of a barbarous and unscientific era. To paraphrase Simone de Beauvoir, one is not born, but rather becomes, a human (at some point during gestation).
Woodworth’s valiant cause, as mentioned above, seeks to protect the inalienable rights of all, and what better way to achieve this goal than to repeal the reproductive rights granted to half the population on the dubious basis of ethical rationality. With this declaration, I emphatically welcome Stephen Woodworth to Western University. Lord knows that today’s public institutions require a stronger presence of wealthy, white male opinions.
Dan Perdic is a fourth-year honours MIT student and a proud regressive conservative, who believes “Can I Borrow A Feeling” is the greatest love ballad ever written.