A few years ago one Robert Byrn, a 40-year-old professor of criminal law at Fordham University, took it upon himself to represent all human fetuses between the fourth and twenty-fourth week of gestation scheduled to be aborted in New York municipal hospitals. Byrn was himself represented by attorney Thomas Ford, who made the following statement: "The fetus might well be described as an astronaut in a uterine spaceship". As Ellen Frankfort aptly comments:
It takes a certain kind of imagination to assume guardianship for something lodged within another's body — a rather acquisitive proprietary imagination that fits right in with the conception of a woman as a spaceship and the contents of her womb as an astronaut.
The astonishing Byrn incident and the analogy made by his attorney merit some attention for the light they throw on the deceptions of male myth. Since an astronaut is perceived as the captain of a "vessel", there is a desire to see a fetus as controlling the woman. Moreover, the image of the astronaut in a spaceship is interesting also because in this image the "captain" is very much controlled by other males outside the spaceship (for example, politicians, economists, scientists, flight surgeons, engineers). This makes the analogy particularly "appropriate" in its perverse way, for the fetus is maintained in control of the woman by males outside (for example, politicians, legislators, priests, doctors, social workers, counselors, husbands, "lovers"). Moreover, the analogy involves deceptively circular reasoning, making it doubly appropriate in this doublethink context. For here, a biological event — the presence of the fetus in the uterus — is imaged as "like", that is, imitative of, a technological event — the presence of an astronaut in a spaceship. This elicits an obvious question: Is the astronaut in the spaceship an attempt to imitate the situation of the fetus in the uterus? Elsewhere I have shown that there is (unacknowledged) evidence in ethical writings on abortion of a widespread male tendency to identify with fetuses. This merits further analysis.
There are clues about the source of this fetal identification syndrome (which is
frequently fatal for women unable to obtain needed abortions) in Frankfort's
description of Byrn as "a childless man who seeks to guard unwanted fetal
tissue". Males do indeed deeply identify with "unwanted fetal tissue", for
they sense as their own condition the role of controller, possessor, inhabitor of
women. Draining female energy, they feel "fetal". Since this perpetual fetal state
is fatal to the Self of the eternal mother (Hostess), males fear women's
recognition of this real condition, which would render them infinitely
"unwanted". For this attraction/need of males for female energy, seen for what
it is, is necrophilia — not in the sense of love for actual corpses, but of love for
those victimized into a state of living death.
Frankfort's description of Byrn as "childless" also merits scrutiny. For it is the
condition of all males to be childless, and there is evidence that this condition is
experienced as disturbing to those who are obsessed with reproduction of the
male self (which should not be confused with any genuine desire to care for and
energize another being). Indeed there are male authors who are very willing
(perhaps too willing) to attest to the anxiety of males over their childless state.
Philip Slater, for example, writes of "this vulnerability of the male in the sphere
of worldly immortality which gives rise to the concept of the 'external soul', so
prominent in magic and mythology".
According to his view, a woman need not guess whether something of herself
continues on in a new organism, for she can see the child emerge from her own
Thus if one translates "soul" in these stories as "that part of me which will
live on after I die", the woman initially holds her "soul" within herself. It is
only the man whose "soul" always resides outside of himself.
Thus "as men have been lamenting for centuries, his immortality is out of his
According to this view, then, males identify the "immortal" soul with biological
offspring, and women should feel fortunate in their roles as incubators, shells,
hotels, youth hostels, homes, hatcheries for human souls. I have already
suggested that it is dangerous for women to accept reductionist theories about
the male propensity for "womb envy". Thus it should arouse suspicion that
Karen Horney's "womb envy" theory (with which she countered Freud's
proposition of "penis envy") has been eagerly adopted by some liberal males (for
example, Philip Slater). The problem with such a theory is that the implied
criticism stops short of being a genuine feminist analysis. Hags must learn to
double-double unthink (Andrea Dworkin's phrase) — that is, to go past the
obvious level of male-made reversals and find the underlying Lie. Thus it is a
pitfall simply to reverse "penis envy" into "womb envy", for such theories trick
women into fixating upon womb, female genitalia, and breasts as our ultimately
most valuable endowments. Not only disparagement, but also glorification of
women's procreative organs are expressions of male fixation and fetishism.
These disproportionate attitudes are also demonically deceptive, inviting
women to re-act with mere derivative fetishism, instead of deriding these
fixations and focusing upon the real "object" of male envy, which is female
creative energy in all of its dimensions. Male hatred of women expressed in such
fetishized forms hides the deeper dimensions of envy, which remain
unacknowledged. Thus we hear one male say of another's "project" or invention,
"That's his baby." We also hear men describe the books, papers, articles of other
men as "pregnant" with meaning. Such deceptive expressions provide clues to
the deeper levels of deception. They suggest that the procreative power which is
really envied does in fact belong primarily to the realm of mind/spirit/creativity.
Yet this envy is not necessarily a desire to be creative, but rather to draw — like
fetuses — upon another's (the mother's) energy as a source. Thus men who
identify as mothers (that is, supermothers controlling biological mothers) are
really protecting their fetal selves. They wish to be the fetuses/astronauts and
the supermothers/ground commanders, but not the biological
vessels/spaceships which they relegate to the role of controlled containers, and
later discard as trash.
Ultimately these two roles — male fetus and male supermother — are connected
(even identical), since both roles are contingent on a parasitic relationship to
women. The male "mother's" spiritual "fecundity" depends upon his fetal (fatal)
fettering of the female to whom he eternally attaches himself by a male-made
umbilical cord, extracting nutrients and excreting waste (as he does also with
"mother Earth"). The penis, of course, is both a material and symbolic
instrument for the restoration and maintenance of this umbilical attachment.
It is impossible to miss symptoms of this male fertility syndrome in the multiple
technological "creations" (artificial wombs) of the Fathers — such as homes,
hospitals, corporate offices, airplanes, spaceships — which they inhabit and
control. Moreover, these male-constructed artificial wombs are ultimately more
tomb-like than womb-like, manifesting the profoundly necrophilic tendencies of
technocracy. Here Erich Fromm's description of necrophilia is applicable,
although misleading. Writing of the 'Futurist Manifesto' (1909) of F.T.
Marinetti, he states:
Here we see the essential elements of necrophilia: worship of speed and
the machine; poetry as a means of attack; glorification of war; destruction
of culture; hate against women; locomotives and airplanes as living forces.
What is described here is a mechanization of life, a robotizing regression, the
patriarchal pathology, which exposed itself in the mid-seventies in the Heavenly
Homosexual Hitching as a metapathology. But Fromm's description is deeply
deceptive, for, although some essential elements of necrophilia are noted, the
core cause, "hate against women", is mentioned only as a detail on an itemized
list, rather than being shown in its prior causal relationship to the other times.
woman hating is at the core of necrophilia.
Thus it was utterly appropriate that the American spacecraft in the Celestial
Spectacular of 1975 was named "Apollo". For Apollo was the personification of
anti-matriarchy, the opponent of Earth deities. His name is said by some to have
been derived from 'appollunai' meaning destroy. Jane Harrison points out
that he is the death-dealer, most deadly of all the gods. She also shows that
he is a woman-hater. Moreover, Kerényi points out that Apollo's real
enemy was a female creature, a dragoness named "Delphyne" — a name
connected with an old word for womb. Apollo killed her immediately after
his birth. With perverse appropriateness, his temple was built at a place
called "Delphi", functioning as his artificial womb. Significantly, upon this
temple was engraved the maxim: "Keep woman under the rule."
Although Apollo was fathered by Zeus and had a mother — Leto — he could well
be described as "not of woman born". Fittingly, he was born in a place of
Not-Earth, a floating island in the sea named Delos. Fittingly, too, he
encouraged matricide. Slater observes that "the myth of Apollo seems to express
an infinite process [sic] of doing and undoing, of affirmation and negation of the
maternal bond." The more accurate term of course would be procession, for
this is a deadly circle.
It should also be noted that the myth of Apollo functioned to legitimate male
homosexuality in ancient Greece: "Apollo had relationships with many youths,
the first of whom was Hyacinthus; the summer festival Hyacinthia
commemorated this relationship." Another scholar cites an inscription
hewn on the rock wall beside the temple of Apollo Carneius on the island of
Thera (Santorin) in the Aegean. It reads: "Invoking the Delphic Apollo, I,
Crimon, here copulated with a boy, son of Bathycles." We read that "the sacred
place and the name of Apollo make it plain that . . . we are being told about a
sacred act, steeped in solemnity and honor."
The mythic associations of the "union with Apollo" displayed in the space
spectacular were deceitfully manipulated. Clearly, the culture does not plan
spectaculars to legitimate "gay liberation". The astronauts and cosmonauts were
obviously "family men" with "family pictures". What was legitimated was male
power bonding, while the erotic component in male mating was concealed and
denied. The fact that the erotic component was present on a mythic level but
concealed made the apparently nonerotic power bonding message more
effective. While overtly promoting the oppressive ideal of the nuclear family,
this space spectacular subliminally appealed to erotic fantasies allegedly taboo
in heterosexist society. This deceitful taboo titillation tactic is employed widely
in patriarchal propaganda, reaching hysterical heights in the hidden messages
The products of necrophilic Apollonian male mating are of course the
technological "offspring" which pollute the heavens and the earth. Since the
passion of necrophiliacs is for the destruction of life and since their attraction is
to all that is dead, dying, and purely mechanical, the fathers' fetishized "fetuses"
(re-productions/replicas of themselves), with which they passionately identify,
are fatal for the future of this planet. Nuclear reactors and the poisons they
produce, stockpiles of atomic bombs, ozone-destroying aerosol spray
propellants, oil tankers "designed" to self-destruct in the ocean, iatrogenic
medications and carcinogenic food additives, refined sugar, mind pollutants of
all kinds — these are the multiple fetuses/feces of stale male-mates in love with a
dead world that is ultimately co-equal and consubstantial with themselves. The
excrement of Exxon is everywhere. It is ominously omnipresent.