Editor's note: Some of the links in this post are audio clips — click on them to listen to Dr. Lionel Tiger in a new window.
At "Contraception Is Not the Answer", Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League introduced Lionel Tiger (his real name, I swear) as "an honest scientist" who was NOT coming from a religious conservative perspective. Every other speaker at the anti-contraception conference was from a conservative group or religious institution and obviously pushing an ideological agenda. But Lionel Tiger (and bears – oh my!) is the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University. He was there because of his book "The Decline of Males", which Amazon describes as a counterpart to feminism ("masculinism") that chronicles the decline of men and the ascendancy of women — due to reproductive technology.
Tiger's presentation "The Decline of Males: How Contraception Alters the Status and Identity of Men" was controversial with the anti-abortion crowd for a few reasons. He may have published a study about the effects of contraception on the behavior of monkeys, which was discussed by an earlier presenter, but he made some very bold statements that clashed with the beliefs of the crowd. Ian wondered before the conference whether Tiger's title was an unfortunate one, but it turned out to be perfectly appropriate. Shortly into his lecture, Lionel Tiger (who, by the way, has written a book with someone named Robin Fox) launched into a speech about the absurdity of intelligent design and the need for everyone to understand evolution. This first departure from the anti-abortion script was met with icy silence by the audience.
After getting back on track, Tiger continued to explain that changes in society were rooted in contraception. "The consequences of contraception are enormous. One sex can control conception – women." Now, maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I thought it takes two to tango… two people to have sex, which means two people to conceive. And aren't condoms considered contraception? So, men can be responsible and contribute to the decision whether or not to conceive.
According to Tiger, the unintended consequences of contraception include legislators fearing women as a voting block, school being geared towards girls, boys being punished for their restless nature and inability to listen or express feelings, women working and not staying at home to raise children, men being seen as dangerous and blamed for domestic violence, and universities becoming feminized institutions because "women can't rely on Prince Charming" – all of which affects males negatively.
Geez, talk about gender stereotypes. He even goes so far as to criticize society for taking measures to stop violence against women, giving examples of a doctor questioning women in the emergency room about their injuries, colleges giving rape seminars, and universities having women's studies programs without any men's studies. It's true that men can also be victims of violence, but that does not negate the significance of domestic violence – which hugely and disproportionately affects women and children.
One of my favorite moments (which was probably the audience's least favorite moment) was when Tiger acknowledged the importance of Roe v. Wade and told the crowd that reversing it and making abortion illegal is "not necessarily likely to happen and if it did it would create endless problems". Although the fact that he thinks so because then men would be put in a difficult position shows you that even when he gets something right, his motivation and reasoning is still wrong.
The "good old days" when women couldn't have careers and stayed at home to raise lots of kids, when men controlled everything and had all the opportunities, may look rosy and wonderful in hindsight, but that view doesn't show the discrimination and restrictions that were rampant in society then. Men aren't oppressed by feminism; despite the advances in our society, men still make more money and have more opportunities than women. Besides which, it's impossible to go back in time. I, for one, don't understand why anyone would want to.