Just in case you were wondering…

As a result of Pink News’ founder Ben Cohen’s repeated online needling (latest being that I wish to oppress people’s freedoms of religion, specifically liberal and progressive Jews) one of his friends has also engaged in a two week goading.

I gave up when he posted a photograph of a man wearing fake breasts in order to be able to nurse a newborn child and talked about hiring wet nurses and denied the importance of a mothers’ loving care but nonetheless he has relentlessly continued to attempt to needle, goad and provoke some sort of intemperate comment as well as assert my homophobia.

Nothing new to see here then.

However he has gone on to write this lovely opinion piece in some obscure publication called “The Columnist” which I’ve never previously heard of. It’s entitled “Caroline Farrow IS homophobic – there I’ve said it now”. Hope this bumps up their hits a little.

A brief precis “Gay people have a right to have children. Caroline denies this, ergo she is homophobic”.  I hate gay people, want to oppress them, deny them their rights and I really should consider quite how hurtful this point of view is.

I’ve engaged with this line of debate ad nauseum, the only thing I have to say is that I am sorry if people do feel hurt by my beliefs that a child shouldn’t be deliberately deprived of a loving mum and dad, but it really doesn’t follow that I hate, despise or wish any harm on the LGBTQ* community.

A few other points of note. I’m really not as important or influential as Skylar thinks I am, flattering though it is to have an entire column and headline devoted to me.

One glaring problem is this article is that Skylar claims I cited a discredited 22 year old Australian study to claim that babies of IVF are more likely to suffer neonatal death. When I read this I scratched my head in bemusement having no memory of doing such a thing. If you read the blogpost to which Skylar refers, I linked to a Guardian article from January 2014, and stated that it is believed that babies born from IVF may suffer from more health complications. That’s a very different prospect to specifically citing a named study or claiming neonatal death. *

Another problem is this. I don’t believe that anyone straight or gay has the ‘right’ to adopt children. Anyone wishing to adopt children needs to go through the appropriate channels. While I would not campaign to restrict the ‘rights’ of any section of the community to adopt – not believing that adoption is a right, equally I support Catholic adoption agencies who will only place children with heterosexual couples in accordance with Catholic doctrine. Believing that where possible a child should be placed with a mum and dad and enjoy complementarity in parenting isn’t discriminating on the grounds of sexuality. An element of discrimination (i.e. choice or preference) is always used when deciding where to place children and which set of circumstances would provide an optimum environment. Deciding that a male/female household would be preferable to male/male one or a female/female one is not saying that individuals are inferior on the basis of their sexuality, but that children benefit from having where possible, both male and female parenting roles. Let’s spell it out – shouldn’t an adolescent girl have a mum to turn to for explanations about intimate issues in puberty, where possible? Doesn’t a young boy need a strong male role model as well as his mother?

I’d also be interested in whether or not this piece is potentially libellous. Whether or not I am homophobic is not something that a random stranger who knows nothing of my real-life friendships can pass judgement on and were he to be influential or important, I wonder whether or not I could cite that this is an attack upon my good name and reputation? In any event, 2,000 words devoted to proving my ‘homophobia’ and inviting others to comment, doesn’t seem the most insightful analysis, especially when one considers that outside of Catholic circles (and probably inside most of them) most people haven’t got the foggiest idea who I am and neither do they care.

Onwards and upwards. It all goes to prove my original point. Saying that a baby needs a mum and a dad or that marriage was between a man and woman never used to be contentious or proof of wanting to hurt people. Neither would it merit a 2,000 word opinion piece on a UK website or be thought worthy of opprobrium. What happened?

* Just before hitting publish I noticed that Skylar has in fact corrected his original piece about the IVF study and apologised for which I am grateful.

13 thoughts on “Just in case you were wondering…

  1. You should not waste your valuable time and energy on such evil-minded people, who choose to promote the worst evils and attack those who uphold the truth. Satan no longer has to hide; he is out front now as he has so many followers to do his bidding. And don’t adopt their false terminology either, replete with false premises. Shake the dust from your feet. God bless you and your family.

  2. But the problem is that catholic ‘truths’ are not really true; they are assertions made by the powerful hierarchy of a powerful institution. They are, at best, religious theories (as my very catholic father-in-law claimed) or, objectively, simply fantasies drawn out of the interpretation of a ragbag of ancient texts, given extra ‘spice’ by religious or mystical tradition.

  3. It seems that by Skylar’s definition many of us who have never feared nor disliked an LGBT person (or whatever terminology is currently in vogue – I sort of dislike labels), at least not for their LBGTness, are unwitting and unknowing homophobes. I never knew I was one…… Take heart Caroline – your writing always comes across as reasoned, reasonable and accepting of debate, unlike some of the vitriol and offence-seeking that seems to dominate the internet nowadays. I do wish that some of your detractors would, instead of maligning you for simply holding a different view, would respect your courage and integrity for raising your hand when put on the spot at QT and then having to face questioning unprepared (and we know that panelists get some advance warning of topics) in front of a unreasonably hostile audience.

  4. Reading stuff like Skylar’s makes me nostalgic for second wave feminism. Man lectures woman on nature of motherhood and oppression. Yep. That’s a new one, isn’t it? There’s a nasty vein of misogyny in some of the commentary on same sex ‘marriage’. Quite apart from the personal attacks, the desire to ignore the realities of women’s bodies and their specific role in giving birth and raising children is profoundly anti-women.

    The reaction to you looks completely ridiculous from an onlooker’s point of view, but it must feel awful to be on the receiving end. Courage and may God bless you.

    1. You’ve captured the heart of my misgivings here Lazarus. What Skylar is saying is that a woman’s role is nothing more than physical reproduction. She is merely a vehicle to be used.

      This is why Manif pour Tous objected so vociferously. They knew that after same sex marriage follows the logical blurring of genders.

      1. Hi Caroline,

        That’s actually not what I’m saying at all, and I would like you to point out to me where I’ve said it or what I’ve written that you’ve interpreted that way.

        I am a feminist and, having studied and researched gender and women’s studies extensively in university, have a fairly broad background in the second-wave. What Lazarus is accusing me of, essentially mansplaning motherhood and oppression, is actually a complete distortion of what I’ve written. Calling into question the biological determinism you rely upon, which has been used to socially construct oppressive gender norms which have negatively affected women’s lives for millennia, is not mansplaining motherhood. It is explaining a deep flaw in your argument, at least from the perspective I’m writing from.

        “…To ignore the realities of women’s bodies and their specific role in giving birth and raising children is profoundly anti-women.”

        I would argue this statement itself is profoundly anti-woman, as it (at best) implies that because women can physically birth a child they are superior parents and reinforces notion of the separate spheres, emphasising a neo-Victorian morality popularised by Jill Knight and Mary Whitehouse in the 1970s and 1980s as a curtailment of the second wave. You’re tying parenting to biology, and by stating that there’s a “specific role” women have in “raising children,” you’re reducing women to their ability to procreate and allowing men a free pass to dismiss childcare (and all the labour we associate with it in the domestic sphere) as “woman’s work.”

        I am deeply troubled by the assertion you’ve made, Caroline, that I’ve written or implied a woman’s role is nothing more than physical reproduction. I have not. I *have* argued that biology and physiology does not a parent make. But that goes for men and women. Two women are just as capable of raising a successful son or daughter as two men or a man and a woman, or indeed a single man and a single woman.

        Just wanted to clear this up, in which you have both implied I reducing women to incubators. I did no such thing.

    2. Hi Skylar

      Hope Caroline won’t mind my tackling you here, but since you have quoted my comment directly, I’d like to take up your point.

      From your reply, you seem very much to be coming from the queer theory constructivist view of sex and gender. That does seem to be the normal approach of many of you who hold such views on SSM, although often accompanied by an ad hoc ‘strategic essentialism’ when it suits your argument.

      That’s precisely why I suggested that the essentialist insights of second wave feminism are helpful here. Misogyny isn’t something that men can disavow by a simple proclamation of being a feminist: it’s something that is structural in male psychology and something that we (men) need to be constantly on our guard against. You and a coterie of other men have been attacking (as Caroline herself admits) a fairly minor figure in the criticism of SSM who, unlike other better known critics such as Peter Hitchens or Brendan O’Neill, is a woman. In your article, you dismiss women’s experience of childbirth as ‘straight privilege’. (What is the physical experience of childbirth and child loss like for a woman? Neither of us know. The difference between us is that you dismiss it as irrelevant.)

      On a personal level (your baiting of Caroline) and a theoretical one (the exclusion of women’s experience of childbirth in favour of a straight male’s opinions) you seem to be indulging in the traditional male sport of shutting women’s voices down. A sprinkling of Butler and declaring yourself a feminist aren’t really much of a defence to that. In the current phrase, I really think you should ‘check your privilege’.

      1. While I 100% agree that “misogyny isn’t something that men can disavow by a simple proclamation of being a feminist” and that it is structural, you’re missing intersectional arguments about the nature of structural homophobia (say, in the Catholic Church, which I wrote about back in December http://www.columnist.org.uk/2013/12/17/why-pope-francis-shouldnt-be-the-advocates-person-of-the-year/). I’ve actually written a piece critical of Peter Hitchens before, albeit in defence of Britain (http://the-curious-american.com/2013/10/25/land-of-hopeless-tories-why-peter-hitchens-is-wrong-about-britain/comment-page-1/). I have routinely spoken out against Brendan O’Neill on a number of issues.

        I do not dismiss women’s experiences of childbirth. What I dismiss is this notion that the act of giving birth is 1) a woman’s primary mission and/or obligation on this earth and 2) the trump card for who makes a “gold star” parent. I’ve never dismissed Caroline’s own experiences, but rather the evidence she uses to support her assertions of heterosexual superiority in parenting. That’s an important distinction. Caroline doesn’t rely on a personal narrative, but (contentious) research. I’ve relied on Caroline’s own words.

        I have done nothing to shut Caroline’s voice down. Challenging homophobic views does not mean I’m trying to shut her up; far from it. I tweeted this blog not long after it was published in good faith and in the belief she deserved a right-of-reply, and I rest certain she will continue writing about her beliefs. But if Caroline can continue to speak and write against equal marriage and espouse her view that straight couples make more ideal parents than gay couples, than she must expect some criticism.

        There are two reasons I chose to write about Caroline. The first is that we engaged in a prolonged debate on social media. The second is because she accused Ben Cohen of “punching down” in a previous blog. Well, I have even less of a profile than Caroline, so I’m “punching up,” as it were. She can’t rightly complain about bullying by the mainstream media when I’m but a humble writer just beginning his career at a start-up.

        What you’re essentially arguing, Lazarus, is that I cannot or should not challenge Caroline Farrow on the issue of parenting and childbirth because I am not a man and cannot understand, so I should check my male privilege (which I do routinely) and silence any criticism. I could make the same argument about Caroline’s straight privilege, telling her that she has no right to decide what is or isn’t homophobic. Checking privileges can happen on so many fronts, in so many ways.

        Welcome to intersectionality.

      2. Just as a point of note Skylar I do reference my own personal narrative repeatedly as the mother of 4 children.

        I’ve experienced that bond and know that it cannot be easily replicated. Some compensation needs to occur for the removal of a baby from their mother. Hence you were advocating methods of substituting or replicating a breast feeding mother. Another piece of research published today has demonstrated how a woman’s brain undergoes changes in pregnancy in order to help her better reinforce the bond between her and her baby post birth.

        My husband is a great dad but frankly when the kids are babies, he doesn’t possess (as he admits) quite the same instinct or interpretative ability, which cannot just be learned. A mother is biologically programmed to respond to her baby’s cues. I’ve been driven almost insane by a baby’s cries when I have been driving the car and unable to attend to them. Another piece of research demonstrates how babies’ cries are deliberately pitched & programmed to affect the mother and how her brain will cause a stress reaction. Same stuff as the dopamine hits from mother/baby binding.

        Actually the topic of same sex marriage is not a pressing issue, there is other far more interesting and urgent stuff I’d like to address.

        This kicked off following the Question Time brouhaha where I had not been planning on discussing the issue. Again the BBC WHYS show I was asked to do. The thing is with Catholic Voices is that we all speak on various issues as and when asked. Other colleagues have also spoken out.

        I haven’t chosen this topic, rather it’s been thrown upon me.

        I engaged in a debate initiated by Skylar and Ben. Anyone who says it’s okay to take a child from their biological parents must be able to justify this beyond nebulous gender theory and provide rock solid proof of outcomes, none which exists.

        Even if same sex parenting were at some point to be shown to be on a par with heterosexual marriages, in terms of outcomes, you would never convince me that a baby does not need their mother. I know this intuitively from my own experience as do most women and science is bearing this out.

        Regardless of your profile, writing a 2,000 word article on a magazine blog, stating your opinion as fact, using my photograph and with an inflammatory and incorrect headline is irresponsible as is comparing me to white supremacists.

        At best you are saying “she hates gay people because she thinks they are inferior parents” which is a misrepresentation of my stance.

        This does smack of bullying I am afraid. Plus it’s really noticeable that the entire coterie making snide comments about me on Twitter and engaging in back-slapping about putting me firmly back in my box, or attacking an alleged victim complex are all gay males.

        You really think that you could have loved and raised my newborn babies in the same way that I could? You could provide the same or better level of care? All they needed was someone to feed, clothe and cuddle them. Sorry but that shuts down and denigrates my experience as a mother.

  5. Oh look! A man calling himself a feminist as he attacks a woman and lectures her on intersectionality! What a surprise!

  6. There’s a subtle distinction here, which is apparent in Skylar’s response of 1.17pm It’s not that heterosexuals make better parents because they are heterosexual or that homosexual ones make poorer parents because they are homosexual: there will be brilliant and appalling parents of both orientations. The most important question is what is the best thing for the child and there would be a good case – in natural law if by no other argument – that the ideal default should be for a child to have the opportunity to have both a father figure and a mother figure in their lives; ideally a female mother figure and a male father figure. Like it or not men and women are different and bring different gifts, qualities etc (learned or instinctive) into parenting. Furthermore the ideal, for the child, would be that the father and mother figure are the birth mother and father. This is not to impugn those who take on that socially invaluable role played by adoptive parents, or foster carers or those who laudably care for children in, let’s say, less than ideal situations. you might not intend it, Skylar, but you do come across with a focus more on the interests of the parent (or would-be-parent) rather than the child, and I think it needs to be the other way around.

  7. A few months ago I was on a parliamentary committee at the Scottish Parliament, defending a legal definition of marriage that correctly corresponds to the authentic, biological, extralegal, pre-political nature and purpose of marriage.

    Sitting next to me was a woman I now know to be Ruth Hunt, who works for an organisation called “Stonewall”, a pro-homosexuality lobbying organisation which I believe receives much of its funding from the state.

    I was asked about whether teachers could be trusted to teach children about “same-sex marriage” accurately and impartially. I said that they could, but only if they could first understand the genesis of “same-sex marriage”, that is to say if they first understood gender theory, queer theory, critical theory and cultural Marxism, and could treat the matter objectively.

    What was interesting was that Ruth Hunt actually acknowledged that she understood what I was talking about, adding other references to Michel Foucault I believe, whilst laughingly dismissing my point. However the general point seemed to be lost on the committee themselves, who clearly had never heard of these things.

    So these activists who push “same-sex marriage” as a matter of “equality” know that there is a much deeper underlying ideological agenda here, that is not really to do with gay rights, equality or marriage, but really is about the idea that gender is a construct, moreover an undesirable construct to be abolished and undermined by the full force of the law.

    Authentic marriage is a real threat to the “gender agenda” because it is the explicit and public recognition of the reality of male and female, moreover male and female as positive, healthy and necessary realities, of motherhood and fatherhood as distinct and positive roles. It is a very real challenge to their ideology, which is why it is the focus of their machinations.

  8. “Caroline Farrow IS homophobic – there I’ve said it now”.

    I’m a bit confused. What is he expecting? A medal or a prison sentence? Why would he not say it?

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