Science is a way of acquiring and structuring knowledge in order to more accurately predict things. The process of science starts with a question, progresses to a theory about the answer to the question, and then tests the theory. If the evidence supports the theory that theory is useful for making predictions. That’s science.
People who have no questions have no use for science. Even people with secular orientations may have no use for actual science, because they have their questions answered. Scientists are restless. And it’s difficult to do good science, because it’s difficult to know when assumptions are influencing the question, the experiment, the selection of data, or the result.
So, bearing this in mind, I’ll say that the basis of feminist theory has been valuable for me, personally, in correctly predicting things.
Things like the rush to shoot our families up with Gardasil, for example. My experience is that you don’t need a marketing campaign or government coercion to do things that are really good. We cancel recess so the kids can learn more in a classroom, so they can earn more after college so they can afford to go on vacation because it’s like recess. All the part between the two ‘recess breaks’ requires sales and coercion. Recess sells itself.
Gardasil doesn’t sell itself. First of all, shots never do. But the whole sales pitch falls apart as soon as you look at it. “So, why are we getting the shot?” “It prevents Cancer.” “Kewl, all Cancer?” “Well, no, and actually, our lawyers say we can’t SAY it prevents Cancer, because it doesn’t.” “Okay, then what does it do?” “It prevents you from acquiring several kinds of virus associated with cervical cancer.” “Okay, great. I didn’t even know you could get cervical cancer from viruses…virii? How would you get the virii? Viruses.” “You get them from sexual contact.” *long pause* “Any kind of sexual contact?” “Well, no, and we’re not going to be discussing that. But some kinds of sexual contact. And you have to have the shot before you have the sexual contact, so we’d like you to get it before you start being sexually active. Like at 12.” *even longer pause* “You want us to get a shot at 12 because some forms of sexual activity we might possibly engage in in the future might give us a virus ASSOCIATED with cervical cancer? Is there a camera somewhere? Howie Mandel?” The conversation deteriorates after that.
But you don’t need that. All you need is feminist theory. Many years ago I was part of an anti-rape program on a college campus. We pored over volumes of data from Public Safety about sexual assault on campus, trying to find a pattern that would enable us to fight it more effectively. We looked at times of day, and shrubbery, and lighting patterns and a dozen other variables, and people came up with solutions ranging from seminars to whistles in the women’s showers. Eventually they decided to lock the women’s dorms more thoroughly. I looked up from my statistics and said “We have assaults all over campus, at all times of day, and against all kinds of people. The one thing every ONE of these assaults has in common is that the perpetrator is a man. And your solution is to lock up the WOMEN?”
When you tell me our women and girls are going to be subjected, wil or nil, to a painful (and dubious) medical procedure, my experience tells me there’s assault going on. The history of medical ‘research’ is full of these population experiments, and they’re usually directed against minority and disadvantaged populations. Drug manufacturers aren’t stupid, after all. If the suit hits the fan they want the government as their bailment and the victims as powerless and voiceless as possible. On the villain ‘to do’ list those are easy and early check-offs.
Feminist theory enables me to predict it. That’s where the “science” enters into it. The science is on our side, when we’re cautious about the marketing.
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