Several times in reading the paper “Roe v. Wade: A Study of Male Ideology” by Catharine MacKinnon, I asked, “What are you arguing? What’s your beef, exactly?”
But her point, I think, is something like this. Sexual relations are by their nature inherently violent. Therefore, by bringing reproduction under the rubric of privacy, the Supreme Court has prohibited the state from regulating or punishing what are in fact unjust and wicked deeds. What is supposedly private or personal should by right be political.
This opinion takes an important insight to grotesque extremes. Yes, sexual intercourse normally involves the man dominating and possessing the woman, and the woman submitting and surrendering. There is an aspect of violence here, but in this case, when not abused or perverted, it is holy and good. It’s what excites both, and what promotes the bond of marital love.
The absence of this dynamics is precisely one reason for why premarital sex does not work: the woman holds back and refuses to give herself over, especially since she does not consent to bear his children; the man focuses solely on basic pleasure; and the couple fails to become one flesh. And for that matter, one soul, as this hinders the beginnings of love in them. But deliberately obstructing charity is a sin.
There is indeed no equality here, but there is not supposed to be, and the inequality is perfectly great and to the benefit of both the man and the woman.
MacKinnon’s other problem has something to do with “refusing to have sex.” I don’t know what she’s talking about. Rape is everywhere outlawed. There is no law that compels sex. Many women successfully refuse sex even to their own husbands for years on end. Her complaints seem petty to me. Perhaps she is recommending that a man be imprisoned by the state for consensual sex with a woman simply upon the woman’s request. But this is both implausible and unjust.
It may be simply that MacKinnon hates and fears sex. Ok, fine. But why does she feel compelled to try to ruin sex for everyone else?