The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 54.0°F | Overcast

Cartoon is sexist

To the Editor:

The political cartoon that appeared in the Dec. 6 issue of The Tech concerning "some little poverty stastistics who grew up" vastly trivializes the painful issue of abortion and misrepresents the realities of reproductive counseling to the point of nearly libeling Planned Parenthood. Its appearance in The Tech makes me wonder about the social sensibilities of whoever selects cartoons to appear on the editorial pages.

The fact that a few great people have risen from the depths of poverty does not negate the fact that over the ages most of those born into abject poverty live and die in abject poverty. The assumption that everybody who is born poor has a chance to grow up to become Jesus Christ, Moses, or Ludwig van Beethoven is just plain wrong. This is not to say that every poor woman should have an abortion, just that exceptions do not the rule make. In any case, middle-class cartoonists have little standing to pontificate upon the moral dilemmas faced by the thousands of poor, uneducated (usually single) women each year as they face the prospects of having yet another mouth to feed.

The cartoon also greatly misrepresents the type of counseling that Planned Parenthood undertakes. In those instances where Planned Parenthood is federally funded, they are generally allowed to tell a pregnant woman that it is her legal right to have an abortion at the time they are counseling her as to her legal options. Other legal options of course include adoption. I have been assured by a spokeswoman at Massachusetts Planned Parenthood that in Massachusetts, they would not recommend an abortion except in highly unusual circumstances, although it certainly would be given as an option; and Massachusetts Planned Parenthood receives no federal funding.

Finally, one cannot resist noting the added unspoken sexism that crept into the cartoon on a more subtle level. It is the woman who is facing the moral dilemma, but who are all of the "little stastistics?" Men. The implicit message of the cartoon is that we should keep poor woman pregnant because, who knows, one of them just may give birth to a really great man. As the cartoon unwittingly shows, men have historically made the rules by which woman can and can't have children, and men have reaped the net benefits of those rules.

The cartoon as a whole represents repressive sexism at its worst; The Tech's printing it out of context in any sort of debate only helps to perpetuate the effects of that sexism.

Charles Stewart III->

Assistant Professor of Political Science->

Editor's note: Editorial cartoons are written by individuals and represent the opinion of the author, not necessarily that of the newspaper.