Newton’s Third Law, abortion and ‘toxic masculinity’

Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Given the current state of affairs in our nation, it’s apparent to me this postulate applies not only to forces in nature but to ideologies in politics as well.

As I listen to the rantings of people trying to widen the racial and gender divides in this country rather than trying to bridge these gaps in a way that honors our country’s motto, E Pluribus Unum (“Out of Many One”), I worry the political polarization in this nation will intensify, since extremism tends to beget more extremism in the form of an “equal and opposite reaction.”

Take the abortion issue for example. Despite the existing protections afforded women under Roe vs. Wade, New York state recently passed a law legalizing abortion up until birth in certain cases permitting non-doctors (including licensed mid-wives) to conduct these procedures if the women’s “health” is endangered or if the fetus isn’t viable. Under the new law the definition of “health” has been expanded to include age, economic, social and emotional factors.

Although I support a woman’s right to choose in most cases, this was, in my opinion, a reckless move by New York and Pro-Choice advocates. They have poked the proverbial hornet’s nest, needlessly enraging Pro-Life proponents and ignoring the statistical fact 81 percent of Americans believe third trimester abortions should be illegal. Ironically, in certain circles, there appears to be more concern about preserving the lives of convicted murderers these days than protecting the lives of innocent children about to be born.

The ratcheting up of rhetoric among certain factions of the feminist movement, has also, in my opinion, brought America to a tipping point where there’s likely to be “an equal and opposite reaction.” As a woman whose paternal grandfather immigrated from Lebanon, I support equal pay for equal work and the affording of women, regardless of ethnicity, every opportunity to realize their true potential. I don’t support, however, the villainization and symbolic neutering of men to achieve these objectives.

The differences between men and women should be celebrated, not condemned especially to the extent these traits are additive to or complementary of one another.

In 1998, Dr. Nirao Shah, a Caltech PhD, decided to study the sex-based differences in the brain that regulated specific behaviors by males and females as they related to mating, parenting and aggression. At the time, the idea that the difference between men and women was neurologically based and not exclusively the result of cultural influences ran contrary to popular opinion. However, new technologies have generated an increasing volume of evidence that there are fundamental differences in how men’s and women’s brains are wired and, therefore, how they function. Yes, in fact, little boys do strongly prefer toys with wheels and most little girls find plush toys more attractive.

The “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men,” recently released by the American Psychological Association, insist “traditional masculinity”, marked by “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful.” This assertion is predicted by many to lead to a wider divide in the arena of gender politics as more Americans worry about how the condemning of traditionally masculine traits is likely to harm and marginalize young men in our society.

Call me a traditionalist, but I would rather have a masculine man helping me defend my family or nation than a male who has been shamed by his biology and relegated to cowering in a corner or, as a real-life illustration of Newton’s third law, decides to take his “toxic masculinity” out on an unsuspecting woman due to pent-up anger and frustration.

Shelly Aldean is a businesswoman in Carson City and a former member of the Board of Supervisors.


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