Thursday, August 24, 2006

Plan B and sex cults

I've gotten a little behind on the latest outrages surrounding Plan B, the for-some-reason-disputed anti-conception (NOT anti-implantation) pill. So until my officemate told me, I was not aware that a deputy FDA administrator, Dr. Janet Woodcock, had expressed concern that the pill would take on "'urban legend' status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults." SEX-BASED CULTS. Because a) that's what adolescents do and b) that's what happens when you deal with urban legends. Watch out, Mythbusters.

Now, a lot of people have pointed out that for a right-winger to oppose a pill that can actually prevent abortion, he or she would have to either be a total hypocrite or an anti-sex pervert. This quote lends credence to the latter, though it hardly rules out the former. But let's leave that aside for now. Here's the problem I have with Woodcock's statement, beyond its immediate absurdity: Since when do cults spring up around things because of their availability?

I mean, I suppose it's one thing when you're talking about a "cult film," for instance. A film does have to be available in order to achieve cult status. But think about a cult like Heaven's Gate or Jonestown -- they thrived on promising their followers the unattainable, and if you look at the risk factors for cult recruitment, it's clear that they victimized people who felt they had nothing except that promise. For an even better example, think of the classic South Pacific cargo cult. A cargo cult is not started by people with plenty of food, smokes, and various exciting loot. A cargo cult comes from the availability and subsequent, sudden unavailability of cargo. Even if adolescents were as prone to the random creation of naughty sex cults as they are in Woodcock's dark fantasy world, it seems obvious that removing or restricting access to contraception is the best way to make those cults a reality.


Blogger John said...

I’d just like to say I admire what you’re doing and I hope many more people find your blog and read and think and begin to question.
I have only just found your blog and will read on some more.
Very interesting.
Thank you.

August 26, 2006 6:21 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'd read before about the sex cults thing; your point on availability is one I hadn't thought of.

I also strenuously object to the government opposing something good because of something extraordinarily bad that might come of it. The philosophical mindset of mutually assured destruction does not apply in medicine! Just because you can think of a possible effect does not mean that it is even remotely likely to happen--and definitely doesn't mean you should ban the thing itself.

Also, I will totally blog more after the move. You won't have to shoulder the burden alone!

August 26, 2006 2:51 PM  
Blogger jess said...

John, thank you!

Laura, true, but I feel like we've already thoroughly railed against the perversions of "falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus" and variations thereon that dominate (one side of) this discussion. Not that we shouldn't keep bringing it up when they make that mistake over and over, but the sex cults issue gave me something to talk about besides the fact that the anti-reproductive-rights folks are still pulling out the same tired, lame, flimsy, irrational arguments to cover up their real (and perhaps subconscious) agenda.

When you start blogging more after the move, is it going to be all about, like, logical fallacies in Deleuze and Guattari?

August 28, 2006 6:47 AM  
Blogger Veronica said...

What's preventing the formation of these underaged sex cults, now?

December 07, 2006 8:34 PM  

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