The Family as Calf Shed

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Andrew Sullivan links to a great quote from Nobel laureate and ex–Czech president Vaclav Havel, who's pleased about the same-sex partnership law his country recently passed:

"I was most intrigued in the debate by the absurd ideology advocated by the Christian Democrats and Klaus, who argue that family should have advantages since, unlike homosexual couples, it brings children to life. This is the concept of family as a sort of calf shed in which bulls can inseminate cows so that calves are born," Havel said.

And, come to think of it, maxims like the demeaning "no man will buy the cow if he can get the milk for free" do suggest a certain fondness for livestock analogies among those who style themselves "pro-family."

NEXT: Cell Phones. Again.

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  1. Fred Phelps is firing up the learjet and finding Czechoslovakia on the map.

  2. “no man will buy the cow if he can get the milk for free”

    Why should a woman brand one bull when she can have the whole herd?

  3. I’ve always been a little concerned by the whole “milk for free” analogy as it’s passed around by abstinence-only groups. It seems to imply that women should use sex to lure men into marriage, or that, conversely, that men should marry for the purpose of having sex. That strikes me as a terrible basis for a mature relationship, not something that Christians should approve of.

    Oh, wait, St. Paul said that men should marry for sex, too. Nevermind.

  4. wingnutx,
    He’ll have a hell of a time since Czechoslovakia dissolved about 13 years ago.

  5. It seems to imply that women should use sex to lure men into marriage, or that, conversely, that men should marry for the purpose of having sex.

    It also implies that men are vile creatures who can either love and respect a woman they’re not married to, OR have sex with her, but certainly not both.

    Both sexes come out looking loathsome in this analogy. Though you could use it to promote legalized prostitution–“No man needs to buy and raise a cow when milk costs less than three bucks a gallon.”

  6. when milk costs less than three bucks a gallon

    Peak moo?

    *ducks*

  7. Throw in Sen. Santorum’s man-on-dog and you’ve got a whole menagerie.

    Yet more grist for the mill of the “secret sin” theory of politics: Politicians seek to ban what they are ashamed to admit they want to do.

  8. Was it Santorum who went on that rant on how all real farmboys got some experience molesting farm animals? I know it was some Republican in Congress.

  9. “‘This is the concept of family as a sort of calf shed in which bulls can inseminate cows so that calves are born,’ Havel said.”

    Havel paraphrased that line from Ayn Rand. (She used horse terminology rather than cow terminology.) Check her essay on the Papal encyclical regarding birth control in The Voice of Reason.

  10. Friends don’t let friends link to Andrew Sullivan.

    Given the big celebration of the shepherd’s life so recently in Brokeback MountainI don’t see that there’s much of a gotcha here against sexual conservatives (or whatever you want to call them) who might use a barnyard analogy once in a while. Is it demeaning for a financial counselor to tell someone not to count his chickens before they’re hatched? I mean, isn’t he calling his client a dumb fucking rube, after all?

  11. Back when people lived and worked with animals on a daily bases, metaphors based on animals where extremely common in everyday speech. Now days, few of us have any day-to-day contact with any animals except cats and dogs so such similes seem odd.

    The folk wisdom encoded in the “milk for free” saying does accurately capture the realities of life in a time before antibiotics, high tech birth control and an economy where brains and not muscles rule. It was foolish for women to risk illness, death and economic ruin by forgoing any formal commitment from a man. Even if only one in ten men wouldn’t “do the right thing” that still presented a considerable risk for the woman.

  12. I find this whole topic udderly offensive.

    *ducks*

  13. Kwix: dang, somebody had better tell Fred ASAP!

  14. “no man will buy the cow if he can get the milk for free”

    Funny story: When I was 17 and my mom tossed me that line, I asked her if she still thought it was a problem when the cow was producing more than she could handle and that both parties would gain from the exchange. I know I used the phrase “mutually beneficial voluntary transaction.” I shit you not.

    Yes, I was raised by a pack of wild economists.

    (Interestingly, the boy involved in that situation ended up sticking around and buying the cow, but we had no delusions about it at that age. Then again, we spent the night we met locked in a laundry room bitching about the U.N. while everybody else at the party was getting some, so maybe we were just very weird kids.)

  15. No woman will buy the pig when she can get the sausage for free.

  16. Kwix said,

    He’ll have a hell of a time since Czechoslovakia dissolved about 13 years ago.

    Even better.

    – Josh

  17. Maybe, Pirate, but its a very rare pig who won’t share his sausage with just about anyone.

  18. Men are pigs! Want some sausage?

  19. The analogy assumes that free milk and purchasing the entire animal are the only alternatives. But of course the milk can be sold piecemeal.

    (is he joking?)

  20. I think it was Al Bundy of Married With Children who put it thusly:

    “Why should I go out and buy milk, when I have a cow at home?”

    Was it Santorum who went on that rant on how all real farmboys got some experience molesting farm animals? I know it was some Republican in Congress.

    I thought it was some guy named “Horsely,” believe it or not.

  21. Was it Santorum who went on that rant on how all real farmboys got some experience molesting farm animals? I know it was some Republican in Congress.

    It was Neal Horsley, an anti-abortion activist. On Alan Colmes’ radio show, no less.

  22. Why buy the cow when you get the sex for free?

  23. Anyone who thinks you get free milk via the mistress route doesn’t get out much.

  24. Traditionally, of course, marriage was *entirely* about creating and raising “calves,” and not at all about love, or some facsimile thereof.

    Traditionally, of course, people lived short, disease-ridden lives full of drudgery and superstition.

    Make of that what you will.

  25. Traditionally, of course, marriage was *entirely* about creating and raising “calves,” and not at all about love, or some facsimile thereof.

    Traditionally, of course, people lived short, disease-ridden lives full of drudgery and superstition.

    Make of that what you will.

  26. “Then again, we spent the night we met locked in a laundry room bitching about the U.N. while everybody else at the party was getting some, so maybe we were just very weird kids.”

    Who said bitching about the UN and sex are mutually exclusive?

    “Oh, FU-U-U-UCK… Kofi Annan”

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