A brief rundown of the story so far: Newsweek ran an article on infertility for which they interviewed Joseph Isaacs, the president of Resolve. People objected vehemently to the article’s content. Isaacs apologised and tried to explain. People objected vehemently to the apology’s content. Isaacs wrote to Newsweek to try to clear things up. The letter failed to clear things up. I heard about all this several days late and probably as many dollars short, and decided that even though the Internet had apparently wagged along perfectly well for the past couple of weeks without the benefit of my two cents on the matter, it couldn’t possibly continue to do so for any longer.
Caught up with all that? Right. Onwards…
Since it’s been a loooong week (massive backlog of stuff left over from my week off last week, on top of the baby having stomach flu), I suspect this is not going to be one of my more incisive and articulate posts. It certainly isn’t going to be one of my most popular – not only am I weighing in on a contentious issue on the side of the person being hung, drawn, and quartered, but I’m doing so at the stage of the discussion where everyone is thoroughly fed up with it and just wants to forget the hell about it already. So I will try to keep this reasonably short. I wanted, however, to make three points.
Firstly, never, never, never underestimate the ability of the press to fold, spindle and mutilate your most carefully judged words. It is quite possible that the inaccuracies in the original interview were indeed solely due to incompetence on Isaacs’ part; that Newsweek’s role was simply that of faithful and accurate transcriber of the material they were given; and that, if any of the Internet’s incensed infertiles had been the one interviewed instead, they would have done an impeccable job of making sure Newsweek got everything right. But, you know, I wouldn’t put money on it.
Secondly, people seem to be getting astonishingly angry over things that Isaacs never actually said. A simple statement that particular behaviours can increase the risk of infertility does not automatically equate either to sweeping generalisation or to moral condemnation. I searched Isaacs’ words for any statements along the general lines of "And since women have total control over their fertility, anyone who does follow this advice is absolutely guaranteed to be able to get pregnant whenever she wants to do so", "If you do do anything to increase your risk of infertility, then you are a Bad Evil Woman who should be stoned in the streets for your lewd and uncontrolled behaviour", or "It follows from this that if you are currently suffering from infertility, then it is All Your Fault. Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah." And, since this is not something you could have guessed from reading people’s comments on the issue, I’d just like to make it clear that I didn’t find them.
Thirdly, there are plenty of men out there suffering devastating grief as a result of infertility. To imply, as the Galloping Cat did, that being male automatically makes one unsuitable to be in charge of an infertility organisation is not only deeply sexist (or do I mean shallowly sexist?) but outrageously insulting to these men.
And that’s all I got to say about that.