Tuesday, July 19, 2005

"Common Sense Has Found An Advocate"

As its name suggests, the Independent Women's Forum is a congerie of crypto-misogynist dimwits who are incapable of independent thought and honest debate. Ever alert for a chance to indulge in obscure and laborious forms of sanctimony, they've decided that we have, as a society, failed to model our family lives sufficiently on those of penguins.

[T]he mating practices of the emperor penguins of Antarctica, the harshest land on earth, can put today’s American courtship and child-raising customs to shame. Penguins are completely monogamous (no commitment-phobes!), and they get together for the most important reason on earth: raising the next generation. Once mated, Ma and Pa Penguin take turns cradling their egg, and then their little one, on their feet so it won’t freeze on the ice beneath, while either Ma or Pa heads off 70 miles to the nearest ocean to fill up with fish, much of which will be regurgitated to the little one. Icy winds, blizzards, exhaustion, near-starvation: sorry, but kids come first in the penguin family, which is always a two-parent family, because penguins know that every child needs both a mother and a father.
I bow to no one in my admiration for penguins. Still, I'm not sure I want to pattern my life on theirs, no matter how fulfilling it might be to vomit half-digested herring into my child's gaping maw.

However, if Fallen Humanity did decide to emulate penguins, I note that we'd apparently have to do away with work-related gender distinctions. The division of labor seems admirably balanced among penguins, which makes them rather postfeminist, I'd say. They're not as radically anti-male and anti-family as seahorses or spiders, but they're not quite ready for Phyllis Schlafly's stamp of approval, either.

"Penguins know that every child needs a father and a mother." Of course, this is something a lot of otherwise appealing animals don't know. I suppose we may now cluck our tongues disapprovingly at elephants. And certain monkeys should probably be imprisoned or executed.

Another small problem with this argument is that penguins don't mate for life:
In only one aspect does penguin family life seem less than ideal in human terms: once the kids are sufficiently grown, their parents separate, to find brand-new mates the next mating season. "Grow Old Along With Me" is not their song. But isn’t that about equivalent to the human parents who don’t get along but bravely stick with the marriage until their offspring turn adult?
Since a four-year-old with ADD could identify the logical flaws in that paragraph, I won't insult your intelligence by pointing them out. I'll merely say that if protecting these magnificent birds is ever invoked as a reason not to drill for oil in the Antarctic, I suspect that the cynical jackals at the IWF will suddenly be far less taken with their moral virtues.

By the way, did the IWF piece remind anyone else of John Cleese's lecture on molluscs?
[T]he great scallop...this tatty, scrofulous old rapist, is second in depravity only to the common clam. This latter is a right whore, a harlot, a trollop, a cynical bed-hopping firm-breasted Rabelaisian bit of sea food that makes Fanny Hill look like a dead Pope. And finally, among the lamellibranch bivalves, that most depraved of the whole sub-species - the whelk. The whelk is nothing but a homosexual of the worst kind. This gay boy of the gastropods, this queer crustacean, this mincing mollusc, this screaming, prancing, limp-wristed queen of the deep makes me sick!
Link via Alicublog.

UPDATE: Matt from Tattered Coat has the punchline.


Hecate said...

Love it. No way am I modeling my existence on creatures who live at the South Pole.

Matt said...

By the way, did the IWF piece remind anyone else of John Cleese's lecture on molluscs?

Not initially, but now that you mention it, Yes, yes it does.

GrrlScientist said...

So .. is this the time when I can brag about the general social superiority of birds to mammals? Okay, I thought not.


Phila said...


Feel free! You won't get any arguments from me.

PublicOrgTheory said...

P - Good to see you out there and posting again, and good to see you picking up on Matt, who runs a tidy blog. I'll be seeing him tonight, and I'm sure you'll be part of the conversation.

Kate said...

If we did live like the penguins at least we'd be better dressed, which I'm sure our European friends would appreciate. No more slovenly Americans running around Rome in ratty shorts and white tennies. Instead we'd all be in tuxes. Not so bad!

Phila said...


Give him my regards! I just stumbled on his Plame rebuttal and was very impressed with it. Definitely headed for the blogroll...

So many blogs, so little time...

Thersites said...

Did they mention the part about some penguins forming homosexual pairs?


The Independent Women's Forum started in the 1990s as I recall when it seemed Phyllis Schlafly wasn't riling up the wingnuts like she once did.