Category — no more forced pregnancies
Here is the best argument, maybe the only one needed, to support the birth of every possible child, wanted or not, no matter how horribly conceived or damaged or unprivileged: Every single one of those human lives could turn out to be awesome. A bad start doesn't mean shit when it comes to whether or not you can love and be loved, succeed at any of the zillion things that are out there, or make a positive difference in this world.
Neither I nor anyone else I know with half a brain could, or would want to, argue against that. So why, then, isn't everyone "Pro-life"?
Well, here's the thing: You don't have to support forced pregnancy in order to support the idea that every life possible should be lived.
You can firmly believe that the more lives we make possible, the better off the world is — that that rape-victim's child might invent FTL travel or cure cancer — the question is HOW do you want to make those lives more possible?
Some people answer that question by saying, "Well, the woman who's body and life that is on the line here, and whose free will and civil rights are intimately involved in the decision of whether this new life can go forward? FUCK HER. Enslave that bitch, ruin her health, steal her future, destroy her opportunities and treat her like a criminal if she doesn't bend to our will and devote the rest of her life to singlehandedly creating, feeding, teaching and raising that new person."
That's not, I say with my teeth clenched tight, "being pro-life". That's being pro-burning-one-life-to-start-a-new-one, and of course it has the glaring logical flaw that that life / liberty / happiness you're destroying is just as valuable as the one being created!
(I say "just as valuable", but one could very easily argue that it may be more valuable, for any of the following reasons: It's a thinking citizen with freedom, rights, and who is actively contributing to society, rather than simply draining resources as all newborns do for oh, over a decade. It's got a ton of immediate potential to create, discover, earn, cure cancer, etc. It is fully conscious, above the age of reason, and knows that it's being mistreated and having its rights stomped-upon, unlike a fetus. And given that that existing adult life wants to not continue its pregnancy, there are any of a host of reasons why the new life may be worse than the one it's replacing, which means that by valuing "new / young" over "here / grown", people making this argument are not only not working to make humanity better, but actively pushing to make it, overall, over time, worse. In fact, it's not just "a woman" or even "all women" that are damaged by forced pregnancies — it's everyone; as quality of life is decreased for our whole society. The current incarnation of the "pro-life" movement is actually in favor of burning down the entire concept of free democratic life AND proliferating worse genetic and environmental traits in order to increase the quantity — without consideration of quality — of viable fetuses. BRILLIANT.)
So here's where things get sticky: With the false dichotomy. "You can't support the maximal creation of new lives, even in crappy circumstances," it goes, "Without supporting infringing on the rights of existing women. You just can't."
LISTEN: What if you made the circumstances better?
What if you did everything you could to improve the situations of women stuck with pregnancies they don't want? To make it as easy as possible for them to bring their children to term?
- Money to raise, feed, clothe, and babysit so the women can work and live.
- Programs to finish and continue their own schooling once they're mothers.
- Active, easy, open adoption programs — because if, as you say, live children are better than aborted pregnancies no matter how bad the circumstances of the newborn would have been, then aren't they almost always, if not always, better off with parents who want them, no matter how horrible, than they are not existing? What's the rationale behind insisting that it's ok for a woman with no income and a drug addiction, or no education, or an acute mental-health issue from sexual trauma, to raise a baby, but it isn't OK for a poor couple or a gay couple or a single person or whoever actually wants one to raise a kid? Yes, some kids will wind up with bad parents. Just like they do right now. Focus your efforts on responding to and protecting kids in trouble, adopted or not, and stop pretending that the way to solve child abuse is to make sure that only rich people can adopt!
"But all that costs so much money," some jerk will whine. NO IT DOESN'T — it's called an "investment"; it pays off in mad dividends; and you fund it to start with by taking all that money, time and effort you've been wasting on oppressive tactics (and maybe some of the money you've been wasting on something else stupid — like, oh, marijuana convictions, or corporate welfare) and putting it here instead. Shut up about the money, seriously…if making more births possible is something you believe in, find the money.
If those things above existed, think of how many lives you could save. Because trust me, no woman wants a D&C — they're horrible. (I've never had one, thank goodness, but I know plenty of people who have, and just reading about the experience will make your hair stand up.) Of course some people would still choose them, but by making the alternatives easier and better, you'd preserve existing, productive, full-grown lives and do a lot to ensure that the new lives had a better start than they would have as a forced pregnancy.
If a woman doesn't want to carry a baby to term, it's flat wrong to make her. Women are human beings with rights, and the fact that some people don't like that being women gives them the right to decide when children are born is, to be blunt, too fucking bad. I say this as a woman, a human being, and a qualified representative of reason and intelligence. Those who disagree are free to do so in person, where I will say it as a martial artist. (Yes, hmph.)
Should society encourage the birth of babies? (Overpopulation aside*,) Of course it should. It can encourage that in a myriad of healthy ways that support and create new life by encouraging mothers to choose to take that route — and simultaneously giving those new lives a much better shot at being good, cancer-curing, FTL-discovering ones – by making birth and/or motherhood a less terrible option.
What we can not do to encourage it is remove and criminalize the other options, stripping women of their rights to control their own bodies and lives. A society that does that is not in any way a free one — in fact, half its number is made up of slaves, of people who could be forced at any time, physically or otherwise, into being breeding stock, shackled into poverty and ill-health for life; or even killed as a result.
The false dichotomy, the "If you're pro-new-life then you must be pro-forced-pregnancy" argument, is just stupid and needs to die.
There are plenty of sane ways to be pro-life. People should try some.
*Overpopulation, and the other reasons why we don't just want to proliferate like mad as a species, are very good supports for widely-available birth control. Birth control (which is also a civil and human right that women are entitled to) prevents a great deal of less-viable pregnancies from ever happening, and thus does a ton to improve humanity as a whole, and as long as we're not dangerously declining in population, is absolutely harmless. However, it doesn't prevent pregnancies by rape, accident, and other circumstantial things that make them unviable, and therefore widely-available birth control is not by itself enough of an answer to the forced-pregnancy problem.
June 8, 2013 No Comments
Luke McKinney's new article — a follow-up to his infamous piece on "straight white male" being sexuality's lowest difficulty setting (you may remember John Scalzi's still-famous article expanding that idea) – on 5 Gamer Comments That Give Straight White Guys a Bad Name had me screaming and clapping while simultaneously laughing coffee out my nose.
As Scalzi points out in his blog today, this IS written on Cracked.com, so it's got a marvelous left-handedness where you know that some of the people being called assholes in this article — in lovely metaphor-laden smackdown style — are going to be reading and commenting on it…and boy, do they. I've stayed off the comment thread myself, mostly because all I really want to say is fuck yes, Luke. Way to hit a second home-run just to prove you can!
…It's really impossible to pick a "best" part of this to quote, but…
"People want to bang you = easy life" is the worst sexual equation since David Carradine's work with knot theory.
But seriously? I think it's incredibly important that topics like this one be handled with loud, raucous, stabby humor whenever possible. It's hard to speak accurate truth to power, sure; but it's even harder to make power hear it, and those people who can take truths and wrap them in you-can't-ignore-me linguistic molotov cocktails are treasures of humanity. It's precisely why comedians and satirists are so vitally important to every movement, and I'm chest-burstingly proud that the No More Forced Pregnancies-related movements have voices like Luke (and Scalzi) on their side. <3!
June 1, 2013 5 Comments
In short? Forced pregnancy. To wit, infographic:
May 22, 2013 No Comments
And the only reason we hear about this case is that the autopsy report which pronounced her death after 70 lashes a "suicide" caused some public outrage.
This is not rare.
Also, fuck all of them; I was fourteen. This makes me want a gun (or ten) and a plane-ticket.
February 25, 2013 No Comments
You know how I love me some big, fat, obvious truths-that-need-saying.
Well, here's another one, and it's about incidences of violence. For all that the individual cases (school shootings! another one! cop shootings! another one! rapes! murders! assaults! lookee, another one!) are talked about and reported on — usually when there's something crazy about them that sets them apart from the pattern – the pattern itself, the biggest, most obvious pattern in all cases of violence is rarely discussed.
If coins landed heads over 80% of the time, do you think that we, as a scientific society, would have anything to say about that? Or would we go on insisting that there was no correlation, nothing to see here?
Yet, the vast, vast majority of all violence is committed by humans who share one characteristic — one which, if the odds were random, they'd only be about 46% likely to have.
(And don't you, if you share that characteristic too, dare get defensive: To say–no, admit–that the vast majority of perpetrators of violence are male is NOT the same as to say that the majority of males perpetrate violence, which they certainly don't. We are saying "all squares are rectangles", NOT "all rectangles are squares", okay?? And to react as though what's been insinuated is that all or most men are violent is sloppy thinking and I will slap you with a fish for it.)
The article quoted a bit below has some great and useful information on that account, specifically regarding male violence against women — which is not all violence, or all male violence, but is a good way to highlight the statistical pattern going on here and the severity of it, and the effect that ignoring it as a pattern is having on our culture, and on almost all cultures really.
But that's a point that's been made well enough that I figured I'd make a different one.
I'm about to make myself real popular here, so get ready. I have a modest proposal for you:
1. Violence against women is a pattern, and a cultural problem.
2. Gun violence is a pattern, and a cultural problem.
3. Removing access to guns for free citizens is problematic for a few reasons, one of which is that it removes the ability of the weaker ones to defend themselves and each other from the perpetrators of violence and oppression; another is that it's difficult and expensive to determine who to allow and disallow from ownership.
4. Perpetrators of violence, using any weapon, against anyone, anywhere in the world, are WAY more likely to be men than women (see every fact ever).
Make it illegal for men — only men — to possess guns.
- Worried about "the government" taking over? Well, worry no more; almost half the population can legally be armed! And women are, while far less likely to be unnecessarily violent, historically badass about protesting and resisting government oppression.
- Worried about helpless kids in schools and elderly people on the street? Worry no more! Armed and trained nuns and schoolteachers and little old ladies make perfect defensive weaponry, with none of the risk that they'll make the problem worse.
- Unsure about enforcement, about "keeping guns out of the hands of criminals"? This will be a zillion times easier if the rule is simple*. Heck, I give science a decade before guns can "tell" if you're a woman and only work in female hands.
- Worried about using open gender-discrimination this way? Don't be! This is only the flipside of the already-existing open gender discrimination that violence as a phenomena already exhibits. When one goes away, the other can too — easy as pie!
- Concerned about the gun industry in general? Imagine the economic bump when it's legal and acceptable for every adult woman to own at least a handgun, and when every young girl needs training and access to a range for regular practice!
- What about hunting, you say? Easy! Women can hunt with guns if they want, and men, who are always on about needing to keep their sKills sharp, can use bows and spears and shit that actually poses a challenge. It'll be good for them!
- Also, not a fan of the systemic cultural violence against women? Well….how long do you think harassing women in bars or attacking them on streets, in busses, and in their homes will stay the popular activity it is, after they start capping motherfuckers for it? (Male allies are nice, and I'm glad they're starting to become A Thing, but personally when it comes to deterring rape, I can't argue that Smith & Wesson's disapproval of your violence against me is a leeeeetle more compelling than knowing our friend Bob would hate you if he ever found out. ;)
*I'm not addressing the issue of transgenderism in its various forms here, not because it wouldn't be an issue that would need fair addressing, but because I think it's out of scope for a simple initial presentation of a radical and half-tongue-in-cheek idea.
Now, some facts from an awesome article re-written recently; emphasis throughout is mine.
So many men murder their partners and former partners that we have well over 1,000 homicides of that kind a year – meaning that every three years the death toll tops 9/11's casualties, though no one declares a war on this particular terror (another way to put it: the more than 11,766 corpses from domestic-violence homicides since 9/11 exceed the number of deaths of victims on that day and all American soldiers killed in the "war on terror").
A woman is beaten every nine seconds in this country. Just to be clear: not nine minutes, but nine seconds. [Also to be clear: In the US, not any of the many countries where it's *legal*. --me] It's the number-one cause of injury to American women; of the two million injured annually, more than half a million of those injuries require medical attention while about 145,000 require overnight hospitalisations, according to the Centre for Disease Control, and you don't want to know about the dentistry needed afterwards. Spouses are also the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the US.
"Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined," writes Nicholas D Kristof…
Unlike the last (male) head of the International Monetary Fund, the current (female) head is not going to assault an employee at a luxury hotel; top-ranking female officers in the US military, unlike their male counterparts, are not accused of any sexual assaults; and young female athletes, unlike those male football players in Steubenville, aren't likely to urinate on unconscious boys, let alone violate them and boast about it in YouTube videos and Twitter feeds. … No female bus riders in India have ganged up to sexually assault a man so badly he dies of his injuries, nor are marauding packs of women terrorising men in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and there's just no maternal equivalent to the 11 percent of rapes that are by fathers or stepfathers. … No major female pop star has blown the head off a young man she took home with her, as did Phil Spector ... No female action-movie star has been charged with domestic violence, because Angelina Jolie just isn't doing what Mel Gibson and Steve McQueen did, and there aren't any celebrated female movie directors who gave a 13-year-old drugs before sexually assaulting that child, while she kept saying "no", as did Roman Polanski.
February 11, 2013 3 Comments
Wonderful article at Pandagon, written in response to the gaggingly awful one at Cracked (which no, I'm not linking to). The latter was making the tired (yet somehow still reasonable to some people) claim that the whole reason we have misogyny in the world is that men just want to get laid so much more and so they do all kinds of crazy things to try to "impress" women by, um, oppressing them. Topic quote:
I don't believe that men build civilization to impress lazy women who keep saying no to sex, because we don't understand what it's really like to want it. I believe men built most things because women were shut out of political power, job opportunities, and education for most of history, and instead forced into servitude towards men in the home. I believe my theory has a lot of evidence for it, in the form of all of history.
But I really loved this bit at the end, because it gets to a point that's really hard to find your way to if you start from anywhere socially-acceptable: The point where we discuss how, you know, women DO want sex, and some of them in fact want it quite often and/or a lot and/or care quite a bit about the sexual attractiveness (not just the "being a good provider"ness) of their sexual partners. I loved how this was put:
More importantly, men get to feel hornier because they're socially supported in this. The whole of society is geared toward titillating men and discouraging female sexual desire. It's inherent to the Nice Guy® complaint, where men are entitled to feel physical attraction, but a woman who wants more than "nice" is shallow. It's evident in the way men and women dress, with women always mindful to wear stuff that makes them sexually attractive, whereas men have the opposite problem, and have to avoid being too sexualized lest they seem feminine. Naked women are draped over every inch of public space, and the internet is full of visually interesting porn for men, but our society barely can imagine what it would be like to try to attract a female eye. [...] It's easy for men to know right away how to be sexual, whereas women are still largely expected to figure it out for themselves—and even that's a recent invention, because pre-feminism, women were mostly just expected to do what men wanted. To a large extent, that's still true, but we're at least getting a few glimmers of liberty for women, but in many ways, the past few generations of women are real pioneers in trying to figure out what sex means when we're actually allowed to want it, even a little.
But even with the small amount of freedom we have, it's worth noting that a 30-year-old woman who admitted obliquely to having had non-procreative sex in Congress created a month long, nationwide scandal. Until that kind of pressure disappears completely, we can't even begin to measure what the "natural", unadulterated female sexuality would look like, and how it would compare to the celebrated and constantly titillated male sexuality.
Either way, stop blaming sex for misogyny. If all men wanted was women to fuck them more, the English language wouldn't even have the word "slut" in it.
April 3, 2012 Comments Off
NMFP: Defining the edge-case, and why the recent anti-abortion laws ONLY make sense as a way to enforce pregnancies
This poignant article describes [what it's easy to think of as] an edge case in the abortion battle: A married woman who wants to keep her baby, but who is faced with knowing that if she does, it will be born with horrific disorders that will cause the child immense suffering for as long as it is able to live.
There's a lot to address here, so I'm going to step through it one thing at a time, and try to be as plain and clear as possible.
First, this is not really an edge case: There are a million reasons a woman might want or need to terminate a pregnancy. More than a million – as many as there are individual circumstances. The anti-choice camp has done a great job picking a term for everyone to use — "abortion" — and defining that term narrowly, so that every time we hear it, we think of irresponsible unmarried women who totally could have their children but are just cold bitches and don't want to. (And I'll spend some time later arguing why this isn't the clear-cut immorality it sounds like either, but for now we'll skip it.) Look at how the woman in this article reacts when she realizes that the term "abortion" applies to her case too:
She started with an apology, saying that despite being responsible for both my baby’s care and my own, she couldn’t take us to the final stop. The hospital with which she’s affiliated is Catholic and doesn’t allow abortion. It felt like a physical blow to hear that word, abortion, in the context of our much-wanted child. Abortion is a topic that never seemed relevant to me; it was something we read about in the news or talked about politically; it always remained at a safe distance. Yet now its ugly fist was hammering on my chest.
It's important to remember that the thing we call abortion — a pretty ugly word for it, too — is the same procedure, governed by the same laws, in all these cases:
a woman who's addicted to drugs and knows she can't birth a healthy baby or care for it
a woman who has lupus, has severe diabetes, has a family history of horrible life-threatening complications from childbirth, or for any other medical reason knows she can't birth or care for a healthy baby
a teenager, career woman, mother, or older woman who was raped or coerced into sex
an intelligent young girl with a bright career ahead of her who fell in love with an intelligent young boy, also with a bright future, both of whom could lose their scholarships and careers for good thanks to a broken condom and a snafu trying to get ahold of the morning-after pill
a woman like the one in this story who desperately wants her child, but finds out that that child has no chance of living anything like a good life, if it lives at all
a woman who knows that the process of having her child will kill her, depriving her other children of a mother
a girl barely into womanhood whose abusive family-member got her pregnant, or who was impregnated while being whored out by her family
…All the same; all "abortions".
We need to learn to say that word, if we say it at all, very, very carefully. Personally I prefer "ending/terminating a pregnancy", which feels more neutral (to me), but putting the thought into it matters a lot more than which word(s) you use. We can't forget that the termination of a pregnancy is a 100% individual decision based on completely unique circumstances every time; in that sense, there are no edge-cases, because every case is an edge case and must be decided on its own merits.
Second thing: Imagine for a moment that you have to make such a decision, either as the woman or someone close to her. What's the last thing you'd want to be, if your goal was to make the best possible decision, morally, ethically, and for your family?
Right. The last thing you'd want to be is rushed.
My doctor went on to tell us that, just two weeks prior, a new Texas law had come into effect requiring that women wait an extra 24 hours before having the procedure. Moreover, Austin has only one clinic providing second-trimester terminations, and that clinic might have a long wait. “Time is not on your side,” my doctor emphasized gently. For this reason, she urged us to seek a specialist’s second opinion the moment we left her office.
That's on the same day, same doctor-visit, that this expectant mother found out that her child wouldn't survive. How much shit can you take in a day and still make good decisions?
But wait — we don't want women to make good decisions in this case, do we? We just want them to stay pregnant…because even if there's no possibility of a good life, a healthy child, or any possible outcome from that pregnancy other than pain and suffering…at least it keeps that woman oppressed more than she would have otherwise been. As a person in power, I have SO much less to fear from a dead woman, a grieving woman, or a woman sinking all her money into palliative care for a disabled vegetable of a child, don't I?
And YES, that is horrifically fucking ugly, AND IT IS ALSO TRUE. Prove me wrong and I will thank you.
My counselor said that the law required me to have another ultrasound that day, and that I was legally obligated to hear a doctor describe my baby. I’d then have to wait 24 hours before coming back for the procedure. She said that I could either see the sonogram or listen to the baby’s heartbeat, adding weakly that this choice was mine.
“I don’t want to have to do this at all,” I told her. “I’m doing this to prevent my baby’s suffering. I don’t want another sonogram when I’ve already had two today. I don’t wantto hear a description of the life I’m about to end. Please,” I said, “I can’t take any more pain.”
An argument that gets made a lot by the anti-choice side is that they're "just trying to prevent suffering". This is patently false. A fetus can die, but it does not suffer, because however physically developed you want to claim it is, it does not have emotional memory. A girl or woman, her partner and parents and friends, however, do; and furthermore the things surrounding childbirth are some of the trickiest, hardest, and most potentially painful events this life holds.
To fuck those things up in horrible and irrevocably injurious ways for the thinking, feeling adult participants and then claim that you're "preventing suffering" because a clot of tissue (that in a year might have finally developed the ability to burp and shit) doesn't have to die is absolutely. Bone. Stupid. To make that argument shows without a doubt that you have no idea what suffering is, or any ability to think past your own nose enough to actually empathize with anyone.
The doctor and nurse were professional and kind, and it was clear that they understood our sorrow. They too apologized for what they had to do next. For the third time that day, I exposed my stomach to an ultrasound machine, and we saw images of our sick child forming in blurred outlines on the screen.
“I’m so sorry that I have to do this,” the doctor told us, “but if I don’t, I can lose my license.” Before he could even start to describe our baby, I began to sob until I could barely breathe. Somewhere, a nurse cranked up the volume on a radio, allowing the inane pronouncements of a DJ to dull the doctor’s voice. Still, despite the noise, I heard him. His unwelcome words echoed off sterile walls while I, trapped on a bed, my feet in stirrups, twisted away from his voice.
It really bothers me that more medical professionals aren't refusing to cause this suffering, too. As the one notable loud voice calling for civil disobedience on Scalzi's blog points out, it's far from unusual for doctors and nurses to be used as political weapons…but that doesn't make it any less a clear violation of "do no harm". And just think what this world could be like if the medical community would lock arms and refuse every time a power structure tried to force them to do harm?
Just think of it. Wow.
But what good is the view of someone who has never had to make your terrible choice? What good is a law that adds only pain and difficulty to perhaps the most painful and difficult decision a woman can make? Shouldn’t women have a right to protect themselves from strangers’ opinions on their most personal matters?
It's a very obvious good, if you're defining your goods instrumentally, and you have a sexist view of the world: It keeps more women pregnant and saddled with raising children, and therefore out of politics and science and religion and business and academia and other places they might sneakily be making a difference.
In fact, attacks on abortion specifically have a very powerful impact, because the women who want to terminate their pregnancies are precisely the ones whose lives will be the most negatively impacted by those pregnancies continuing. For every ten woman you deny birth control, you may wind up with five who do less with themselves than they would have but still lead good lives; for every ten women you deny an abortion, though, you have a much higher percentage whose lives are impeded, ruined, or just plain ended.
I think the last sentence in this article, by the way, is a perfect example of how these issues get minimized, even by the people they so profoundly impact. This is about so much more than the right to not be influenced by a stranger's opinion. This is every bit as visceral as the right to not be dragged away in the night, to not be imprisoned without cause, to not have unapproved medical procedures done to you against your will. This isn't about being told you can't wear a certain t-shirt in school or at work. This is about being told that you must remain pregnant, no matter what you think or want, no matter what sound medicine says, and no matter how much suffering doing so is going to bring to you or anybody else.
I feel pretty okay about my ability to protect myself from a stranger's opinion, generally speaking. I can tell a stranger to fuck off, or choose not to care what they think. But when the stranger has me under the thumb of an oppressive tyrannical power they hold to not just influence, but outright decide, my reproductive status? THAT scares me.
And the mere concept that protection against that might not be a right that I have makes me want to grab people and scream, "First world country?
March 21, 2012 Comments Off
This is kind of a big post for me: I'm coming out of the closet, as it were, with my stance on a big issue. I also intend this post to be a jumping-off point from which I do more with this issue, because I really feel that more needs to be done.
The issue is forced pregnancy. And my stance on it is that I think it exists, in most societies including the modern American ones, and I'm sick of seeing it, and I'm sick of it not being called out for what it is.
I started to mentally identify forced pregnancy as an overarching issue some years ago, but I wasn't comfortable speaking up about it, especially in such loaded terms. But having given it considerable thought, I believe that:
- Many smaller societal issues are in fact part of this larger picture; and
- People need to start pointing at the bigger picture and calling it what it is, because recognizing what it is will be key to gathering the motivation to fix it.
And I'm willing to do that now, scary or not.
I'll make more arguments, and in more detail, later — probably, I think, as part of a new section of the site, as there's a whopping amount to talk about and I don't want to confuse the already arguably pretty eclectic webpage I've got going here. Here are some of the basics of what I'm thinking and where I'm going with this, though:
- The core assumption of sexism, that women are lesser than men, is most directly and forcefully denied by womankind's ability to bear children (or more pertinently to the warlike mentality in play here, womankind's ability to end the fucking human race in one generation if we chose to not bear children).
- The only way that sexist people can feel safe, therefore, is by ensuring that "the spice must flow", as it were — by ensuring that reproduction continues and continues to be as controlled by not-women* as possible.
- You might expect these people to be more interested in using science to remove women from the childbearing equation, then, but there are several reasons to not go about it this way:
- It's hella difficult and expensive to do.
- Someone then has to raise those children, an incredibly time-consuming (life-consuming, in fact) and expensive process itself, and one for which no substitute for actual motherhood has been or is likely to be found.
- Bearing children is itself a great repressor of women: Childbearing women spend nine months physically vulnerable; undergo a major surgery for which the complication and mortality rates are fairly high; and then feel mortally obligated to sacrifice their goals, careers, health, and finances for the rest of their lives to care for those children.
- As a result of the above, women with children are far, far less politically and socially dangerous than women without them. So if your goal is to keep women oppressed in society, then ensuring that they have children, and especially that not much exists in the way of social and financial help for them in having and raising those children, is a great tool for you.
- You might expect these people to be more interested in using science to remove women from the childbearing equation, then, but there are several reasons to not go about it this way:
- Therefore, the vast majority of all sexist activities are in fact some version of the same story: Get as many women as possible to become pregnant as often as possible.
- So if you've ever wondered why the more overtly sexist branches of society are staunchly against all forms of birth control, no matter how safe, and no matter how much knowledge they have of the glaring overpopulation problem the human race faces…now you know.
And there's a lot more to it than that: I've seen nuances so layered and sneaky that it'll make your guts churn — television shows, modes of dress, turns of phrase, everything; a whole societyful of physical, political and psychological manipulation to make and keep women pregnant — details that would make Margaret Atwood's head explode. And I intend to talk about them all, and loudly, because in all seriousness I have had it with this truth hiding under everyone's noses and nobody saying it.
Nobody (that I've heard**) says "that's forced pregnancy" when a state limits or outlaws abortion, or when a major religion flexes its political muscle to keep women from having access to birth control.
Nobody talks openly about what a nightmarish concept forced pregnancy IS and how unforgivable it is that our first-world society is still doing it and still acting like it's somehow OK.
But from now on, *I* will say so. It probably won't make me popular. I don't care. Readers of my site, whom I love dearly and have no wish to piss off, are entirely free to skip the posts on this topic if they really don't want to hear about it.
But I hope they won't. Because it's true, and it's important.
No peace without justice, and no justice without truth.
*I'll use phrases like not-women (instead of just saying "men") now and again, and though it may seem silly to you at first, please bear with me; I have a reason. The relevant polarization in issues like this is between those who are sexist (who believe that women should be subjugated as part of how the human race works) and those who are not. We live in a sexist world, where over 90% of all possible societies we could grow up in are sexist and have been sexist for as many generations back as we could count. Therefore, due to upbringing, tradition, and culture, many women are sexist. (I used to be, so I know this firsthand.) Also, of course, just to complicate things, there are men in the world who are not sexist (just like there are white people who are not racist; just because you benefit from oppression doesn't necessarily mean you're in favor of it (though it does make it harder to understand why you shouldn't be, of course.) Because of these factors, I hate referring to the conflict of sexism as one between "women" and "men", because it isn't. It's between a large oppressed portion of the population, and their oppressors. I don't think that the people fighting to end this centuries-long, globe-spanning oppression can really afford to lose the support of the men who are with them, or to ignore the damage done by the women who are not, by framing their battle as a "battle of the sexes". It isn't a battle between the sexes. It's a battle against discrimination and really horrible treatment based on sex, and what side you're on depends on what you believe and how you act, not what's in your pants. So I apologize if my language-bending to keep that point clear gets annoying to anyone.
**It feels important to say right in this first piece that I'm not any kind of scholar or expert on women's studies — quite the opposite, in fact, as I have a degree in Super Logical Western Analytical Dead White Guy Philosophy. So when I say things like "Nobody's saying this!", I'm referring to society and the media, at large and how I encounter them, with my only-slightly-deeper-than-average penetration into things International, fringe, feminist and forward-thinking. It's extremely likely that people working in the trenches and typewriters of the sexist battle have been crying "forced pregnancy" for years or decades or even longer — and as part of my pledge to start crying it where I see it too, I'll be doing more reading on that as well. But please don't take my enjoinders on the society I live in to be commentary on the body of work produced by feminism, women's studies, or trench-fighting anti-sexists, because I've had very little (more in recent years, but still relatively skimpy) contact with those groups and their writings. This project is something I came to myself, gradually, and decided recently was something I had to do and say, regardless of what else others have done (because obviously more needs to be done, and having recognized that and recognized that I'm probably a capable person to pitch in, I feel that I have to).
February 27, 2012 9 Comments