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Blondesjon's avatar

Why are Americans so concerned about what others do with their own bodies?

Asked by Blondesjon (32492 points ) January 25th, 2009 from iPhone

From abortion, to drug use, to the gender you share your bed with, it seems that Americans are simply not happy to live and let live. Even the way we eat has begun to be regulated.

Why are we so up in arms about what others do with their own bodies? Why do we even accept this?

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60 Answers

chelseababyy's avatar

The thing is this. If we weren’t meant to have abortions and get tattoos, that stuff wouldn’t have been invented. However, I do think people shouldn’t abuse abortion. I’ve been through it. It’s not a birth control. You know, if you get stuck in a rut, or if you were raped or something like that, I’m all for it. But that doesn’t mean you should go around getting pregnant because you’re too stupid to play it safe, and have 2, 3, 4 abortions. That’s just bullshit.
I know a lot of people who don’t accept it. You know, there are all these protesters going around being all “Pro-Life”. What I would like to know is if they have ever had an abortion, or are they just judging others because they don’t think it’s right. What happens if someone is raped, should she be FORCED to keep her rapists baby? I don’t think so. That’s just absurd. It’s your body, you should be able to do with it as you please, if that means abortion, so be it, and if you regret it, well that’s your own mistake.

XrayGirl's avatar

because those things you mentioned are dangerous and wrong.….. simple.

jrpowell's avatar

Because some people {looks up} think that they know better than everyone else and think they are perfect. And they want us to live in their image.

forestGeek's avatar

I’ve always wondered this myself too? Maybe because some people feel their beliefs of what is right or wrong are being threatened?

bythebay's avatar

@chelseababyy: You said “The thing is this. If we weren’t meant to have abortions and get tattoos, that stuff wouldn’t have been invented.”, this is a wildly childish statement; but I think I understand what you’re getting at. It’s not our place to judge what another human being chooses to do to his/her body; unless it directly affects us in some way.

miasmom's avatar

So, how do we know that drug user isn’t going to get in car and have an accident and kill one of us when they are high?

bythebay's avatar

@miasmom: that’s exactly what I mean. Someone having a tattoo is probably not going to affect me; but if they’re impaired and cause an accident that’s an entirely different story. The possibilities for interaction are endless.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I think it’s partly due to the fact that we’re still a really young country, compared to almost everywhere else and we have a very – overall – religious government.

Perchik's avatar

Originally I held similar viewpoints, but now i feel like our government needs to step in. People are stupid. We don’t always know what’s best for us. Even when we do, it might endanger other people. Abortions need to be legal, because people are going to do it anyway. I’d prefer that people not do it at all, but if people are going to do it, I’d prefer it be in a clean hospital with trained professionals.
Drug users are fine when they’re at home, but what happens when they get in a car? or buy a gun[while sober] and then [under influence] freak out and think the world is after them and go insane?
Gay marriage does not need to be against the law. That’s one thing I’ll concede, we give people extra rights based on marriage, gay people should be allowed to marry.

But food we eat needs to be governed. Have you looked around ? People are big, unhealthy, and it makes our country look bad. It pisses me off that we have people in our country who eat more at every meal than a lot of people in the world eat in a week. We need to fix that. It’s embarassing.

miasmom's avatar

@bythebay I didn’t mean to sound confrontational, I was actually going off of what you had said, the question was meant for the others.

I think that drugs and alcohol have a way of interfering with innocent peoples lives and that is a problem.

bythebay's avatar

@miasmom: I didn’t take it that way, no worries! I just think there’s such a fine line between choices we make and the effect it may have on those other than ourselves. Eventually, our actions almost always impact others.

nocountry2's avatar

We care what others do with their selves because when they don’t take care of themselves (mainly via drugs and unhealthy eating habits) WE have to pay for it. So much taxpayer money could be saved if people learned to take better care of themselves.

Furthermore I wonder if all pro-lifers have read Freakanomics, which present very strong correlational evidence of the impact Roe V Wade had on the decline of murder and crime (less unwanted children growing up abused and unloved, turning into criminals).

bythebay's avatar

@nocountry2: Ding, ding…good answer!

nocountry2's avatar

why, thank you….I do think that the greater access to information the Internet is providing will speed things up

Blondesjon's avatar

@nocountry2…If it’s a matter of tax money, wouldn’t it be easier to repeal those laws and make drug abusers and ‘bad’ eaters responsible for their own decisions? I do think it might be cheaper than policing the habits of an entire nation.

alot of wasted manpower there

nocountry2's avatar

No, because they end up hurting other people, that’s why we have the laws in the first place. Drug abusers steal and kill, and end up in jail, which costs a LOT of money. Unhealthy eaters end up in the emergency room, and if we don’t help them and let them die we are murderers, so we help them – which costs a LOT of money. They are also overall less productive in the workplace, need more drugs for their conditions – all of this costs a lot of money. That’s why when it’s clear not all people are smart enough or strong enough to take care of themselves, the government should step in with preventative measures – like Roe V Wade, and taking transfat out of food, etc.

Blondesjon's avatar

@nocountry2…While I certainly agree we can’t have a nation of hopheads driving around, I can’t see where a complete stranger who is overweight, having an abortion, or sleeping with a member of the same sex hurts you or anyone else.

bythebay's avatar

What if that complete stranger is on public assistance and is receiving health care or financial assistance as a result of their weight issues or contracts sexually transmitted diseases that result in a need for additional healthcare…?

nocountry2's avatar

@blondesjon – I don’t disagree that abortions or same-sex relations hurt anyone, as I stated above there is evidence that in fact they help. Overweight or unhealthy people (smokers too) require more healthcare which affects my taxes, so while that does not literally hurt me, something that affects me economically gives me a right to care about it.

Blondesjon's avatar

@bythebay…That’s my point. Isn’t it cheaper and easier to eliminate these social programs and make people financially accountable for their own decisions than to try and police them. When the government is dictating what you can eat…I mean, doesn’t that make you even a little uncomfortable?

bythebay's avatar

@Blondesjon: The entire social support system and it’s abuses make me very uncomfortable. Do I think they should be eradicated; that’s a broader question than can be answered here.

Blondesjon's avatar

@bythebay…Though it is true I have’nt been on Fluther very long I think all of these wonderful jellies are more than capable of answering broad questions.

and correcting my abhorrent, run on sentences

bythebay's avatar

I have no doubt that the very verbose and capable jellies can tackle the question. The real question is just how long before it deteriorates into a political mud slinging contest the minute people started pointing fingers?

Blondesjon's avatar

@bythebay…How long indeed.

critter1982's avatar

I agree with your statement for the most part. It’s not our individual right or the governments right to push morality on somebody else. The one issue I do take with your question is abortion. I’m not advocating that people cannot abort their children in cases of rape and incest. I would find it difficult to force women to spend 9 months of their lives constantly reminded of the hell they were forced to go through. The problem with abortion IMO is not a case in which the aborter is only effecting her own body. It also pertains to another living being in her body. The issue I take in particular is with the government and their lack of clarity pertaining to unborn children. In one scenario the government recognizes that unborn children are human beings and in other scenarios they don’t. In one scenario you have people getting abortions without repercussions. In other instances you have pregnant women being murdered and the murderer going to jail for the murder of 2 people, the woman and her baby. How is it that the regard for life can be based simply on a situational analysis and the mothers desire or lack thereof to retain or deny her child the right to live?

@nocountry: I have read Freakonomics and did happent find the section on abortion intriguing because I am a statistical person. There were a couple problems though with his statistical analysis. First, he made the assumption that their was a direct and linear corellation from abortions to criminal activity. Second, he made it difficult to pick up other factors that might have influenced crime rates during the 1980s and 1990s, like the crack wave that waned during that period. He also should have counted arrests on a per-capita basis, but instead counted overall arrests. After adjustments for these factors the abortion effect statistically disappears. (Read Oops-onomics, it contains some fairly well organized contention). I’m not saying it’s right its just the other side of the story.

Snoopy's avatar

@Blondesjon The confusion w/ the question, IMO, is that not everyone will fall all one way or all this way on abortion, gay rights, food regulation and drug use….

To say it is just a matter of being concerned w/ what others do w/ their body is an over simplification.

Thus you are getting some answers that are focusing only on one of your topics, not all 4 (or more)

tinyfaery's avatar

Because this country was founded by a bunch of puritanical hypocrites.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Snoopy… I don’t see any confusion with the question at all. I simply threw out some examples of how our bodies are regulated. LURVE to all of the great answers that have been given and will be given.

you folks are awesome

amanderveen's avatar

I sometimes suspect that some people (not just Americans) are so concerned about what others are doing with their own bodies because it’s easier to point fingers at others than to look at how they could better themselves, especially when you’re talking about something that isn’t hurting anyone else (i.e. gay marriage or tattoos).

As for the drug use or obesity issues, I don’t believe that regulating the behavior legally is going to solve the problem. Both potentially burden our social systems, but penalizing the behavior isn’t addressing the cause of the behavior.

I truly believe that treating addiction as a medical and psychosocial issue (which it is by the time someone becomes a junkie) would be much more useful in the long run than just throwing someone in jail for a bit and tossing them back into the same environment afterwards. Once the physical addiction is dealt with, the social/emotional issues that encouraged someone to turn to drugs have to be looked at, as well. It’s fine and dandy to say “don’t use drugs” but then completely ignore the abuse, poverty and other issues that made drug use such an appealing alternative in the first place. If those issues aren’t addressed, you’ll constantly have people self-medicating with illicit drugs and committing crimes, winding up in the ER or otherwise burdening the system. I agree that selling the stuff is a legal issue, but using it is a medical issue.

I also believe that our medical system would not be nearly so burdened if we focussed more on preventative care rather than just waiting for bodies to break down before we address the issue. Obesity falls into this category. Our society pushes pills to cover symptoms rather than fix the problem. Then you need more pills to address problems caused by the other pills you’re taking. People ask their doctors for prescriptions they don’t need, just because a commercial convinced them they need them. Miracle diet plans are foisted on us when it would have been much more expedient to coach people who were developing bad habits before they got so badly out of shape that other medical issues start coming to the fore as a result. Realistically, it is not fair to tell someone who is obese to just stop eating and get their butts off the couch. Obesity is a much more complex issue than that.

Perhaps what I’m getting at is that our problems are complex and that it’s much easier to oversimplify someone else’s issues and tell them what you think they’re doing wrong than it is to really look at the heart of the problems we have, to work with each other and try to develop realistic solutions. To do that, we’d have to truly get to know each other, which might mean recognizing some of our own weaknesses in others who have fallen along the way.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Maybe it’s because a lot of people want to group things of “choice” such as drinking, tattoos, drug use, weight, with things of “not choice” such as age, race, sexual orientation, in terms of protected status.

bythebay's avatar

@amanderveen: That was a well crafted and thoughtful response.

amanderveen's avatar

A brief point about regulating what people eat: I personally don’t trust our North American governments to regulate what we eat when they refuse to regulate what potentially hazardous chemicals companies put into all of the everyday products we use (including foods) and even refuse to force companies to adequately label what is in the products. There are literally hundreds of chemicals currently used (legally) in products sold throughout North America that are outright banned in the EU because they are suspected of causing real health risks.

Blondesjon's avatar

@amanderveen…Very true. This statement could also apply to the medicines that we take or what’s pumped into the air we breathe and the water we drink.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think it is a world problem, not just American. Governments want to legislate everything, from what we put in our mouths to how we raise our children. I feel personal accountability is preferable to legislation. Drugs are illegal but people are still finding them if they want them. When abortions were illegal, it didn’t stop them being done, just made them more dangerous. So legislating against something is not all that successful anyhow. I do think the government should stop financing the lifestyle of all except those who are physically or mentally incapable of working for a living. It was recently suggested that since many workers have to be drug tested when they show up for work, the same should be true of those who are subsidized by the taxpayers, not a bad idea I think.

chelseababyy's avatar

@bythebay, I didn’t mean for it to come out childish, but hell, it’s true.

bythebay's avatar

@chelseababyy: I didn’t mean to imply that you were childish, but there are many things that have been created or invented that are not necessarily good for anyone. Human creation/invention isn’t always driven by necessity.

chelseababyy's avatar

True, very true. And I totally agree with you. Lots of things that are around shouldn’t be but they are. And I do think we should use certain things to our advantage, but still not abuse and overuse them.

DrBill's avatar

Because some people are so stupid, rules have to be made to regulate everyone.

Mizuki's avatar

It is the Christianity leaking into public life—then into the bedroom. They care about what you do in the bedroom, but not the board room. They care about the unborn, until they are born. They talk pease, but make war. They talk tax cuts, but raise taxes through inflation. They want us to vote, but don’t count the vote.

Some one free us from the Chains of Christianity! Give us a country where we can be free from Bronze Age Mythology being interpreted as literal words of God!

SCOTTY——BEAM ME THE FUCK UP!

Blondesjon's avatar

@DrBill…Who decides which people are ‘so stupid’? What if you’re not in good standing with the group that decides? How long before you are labled? What about when ‘so stupid’ is joined by ‘clumsy’ or ‘ugly’ or any other ridiculous reason to strip you of your personal freedom?

I never refer to anyone as stupid…too many others out there smarter than me

rooeytoo's avatar

@Mizuki – Amen to that!

chelseababyy's avatar

You know, this country was founded on Freedom. I don’t get how people can judge, tell us what we can and can’t do. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me.

Stupid is a STUPID word.

judochop's avatar

Since when were Americans the only ones concerned with these things?
I kind of thought that Americans were moving forward, slowly but surely.
@chelseababyy This country was built on freedom not founded on freedom. This country was founded on war, plauge and lies. The only freedoms you were allowed were the ones outlined in the consitutional amendments.

Blondesjon's avatar

@judochop…I agree that Americans aren’t the only ones but, we do seem to be the most up tight about what others are doing.

judochop's avatar

@Blondesjon…No we are not the most uptight, not even close to being the most uptight.
Not even close at all.

Blondesjon's avatar

@judochop…We are the most uptight of the countries that crow about how free we are.

Of the countries that use liberating others personal freedoms as an excuse to flex our military muscle, we are.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I’m American, and unconcerned with what other people do with their body. I might have opinions, and think some people are absolutely disgusting, but I don’t try to force an image onto those people.

judochop's avatar

Cough, cough (shakes head side to side as in to say no).
Have you read over the other countries views? I also do not feel that we are the ones flexing our military muscle with the exception of this war and this war only.
No offense but do watch much of the news or read much of the news?

Blondesjon's avatar

@judochop…I think that while you were trying to decide which clever way to alert me to the fact that you are right, you missed my point. I agree that most third world, totalitarian, regimes are brutal and comletely out of line on a basic human level.

I’m trying to say that among the “world superpowers” we are, by comparison, very uptight about what our citizens do in private.

what is this “nooz” of which you speak

chelseababyy's avatar

So true. We get harped on for what we do to ourselves on our own time. We are looked down upon by people for how we live our lives.

laureth's avatar

For people who think that people don’t know what’s good for them and that the government should step in and tell them: what makes you think that the government knows better? The government is made of people – the same people who, individually, apparently don’t know better and need help deciding what to do. And the government is put in place by voters – who are the same individuals who “don’t know better” and “need help.”

judochop's avatar

There are other superpowers that run the same kind of gambit. You can check the “nooz” yourself. I’m not trying to change your mind. Your opinion is your opinion as is mine.

Mizuki's avatar

It is always the small government conservatives that want the gov to police the bedroom…..So I beat them to it and bought my husband a police man uniform….this is where it gets scarey!

Blondesjon's avatar

@laurethVery well put.

Fire breathing, Tokyo leveling, lurvezilla for you.

justus2's avatar

Your examples about the gender in the same bed is a great one, no one should care about that, the drugs to an extent, and depends on which one, if you have a few hits of marijuana then that is usually fine for most people and they function fine, the drugs that mess up your mind it is a different story, if you do the bad ones and you live in your house alone and thats what you do I think it is sad and stuff but it isn’t affecting anyone else, if you have children that is different because you need to set an example for them, or if you are going to go driving then don’t be on drugs because that impairs your ability to drive and you wouldn’t want to cause an accident and kill someone because of your stupidity of driving while you are messed up, and the example about abortions, simple it is not just your body when it comes to an abortion, it is your baby’s life and if you are stuck in a rut and can’t take care of it then give that baby a chance at life to live and put it up for adoption, don’t take its life away without giving the child the chance to live and decide if they love life or not.

critter1982's avatar

@justus2: That is the longest sentence I have ever seen.

justus2's avatar

@critter1982 Yes I had a lot to say. lol

Ron_C's avatar

I am shocked by tattoos, disgusted by abortion, and cringe at piercings. The thing is that I don’t have to look at them or support them therefore I have no say in what others do. The only thing I have a right to object about is when other’s actions infringe on my life or paycheck.

There are certain things that I find absolutely repulsive like the new found right of eminent domain that allows municipalities to seize land and sell it to developers. That is a direct violation of the bill of rights. If a piece of land is needed to complete a necessary public project like a water treatment plant, it should be a last resort issue. To actually steal the land and sell it to a private developer puts the law back into the medieval times.

It is just not right. It may not be my land and I may even profit from the theft, but theft it is and for that I will become involved in other people’s lives.

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