Tag Archives: abortion access

Women Are Human Beings, A Brief Investigation

23 Feb

Men, am I right?

The thing about men, as an overarching group, is that they basically suck. Especially white men. Because white people as a group also basically suck. My math is as follows, feel free to follow along and check. Keep in mind, however, that math was never exactly my forte. Honestly I am not entirely sure that what follows even qualifies as math but I’m going with it.


       If Men = Bad
       And White People = Bad
       Then Men + White People = Bad x 2

And then actually I can continue on this path of logic a little bit further and say that people on The Internet are pretty awful. But especially men. And most especially the white ones. And so it follows:

       If Men = Bad
       And White People = Bad
       And Also Internet = Bad
       Then Men + White People + Internet = Bad x 3

QED, right? I think so, too.


Yesterday I made the mistake of interacting with a man who I don’t know on The Internet. This always ends in tears. Or, in this particular case, me shaking with anger and having to pour myself a wee nip of wine to calm myself before heading off to work. (I work in a bar so this is entirely acceptable.) The gist of what happened is as follows:

  1. Dude comments on a link posted by a friend concerning the controversial Oklahoma Bill that would require women to receive permission from the man responsible for the sperm that helped create a fetus before being allowed to obtain an abortion. Dude claimed although the language was “objectionable” that what the legislator, Justin Humphrey, said is not entirely absurd. (Dude was nice enough to state that there should obviously be certain times when this rule doesn’t apply such as rape and domestic abuse.)
  2. I responded that the statement is in fact entirely absurd and then explained why, starting with assumptions I believe are made on behalf of the anti-choice camp and continuing on to highlight, quite rationally I might add, all of the financial and lifestyle changes that women alone have to endure in order to grow and then deliver a child oh and also our seriously fucked up national, and international, history when it comes to dealing with rape and domestic abuse.
  3. Dude said I needed to make a rational argument.
  4. My friend chimed in to tell Dude he ought to read Casey vs Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court decision that actually deemed laws such as these unconstitutional.
  5. I said that I had, in fact, made a rational argument.
  6. Dude responded that I had “ranted incoherently” and then decided to give me “pro tips” on how to behave in the future.

I bowed out at this time but not before a bunch of other people weighed in. The interaction went on and on and on. And on. At some point my friend Nick said the following:

No, you received a comprehensive breakdown of reasons why “because it’s my body” is a perfectly legitimate position. You didn’t want to confront it, called the woman voicing them incoherent and then tried to shift into a pointless rhetorical argument that you’ll just pursue until people get tired of it and move on with their lives.

Then you’ll feel comfortably superior… for some reason that only you yourself will ever truly understand.

As correct as that statement in fact was, it is really only the tip of the iceberg. So before I really get into it, let me just address a few things so that we can set them aside and move on. Myself and many other women, and certainly all the women I know, are incredibly sick of seeing old white men, and young white men for that matter, attempt to regulate our bodies through archaic, paternalistic legislation. We are also tired of having men tell us this legislation is actually not that bad and then, in an archaic and paternalistic manner, tell us exactly why. So let me say this here and now:

Abortion is necessary. Equal access to safe abortion services is needed. It is a right that all women should have, regardless of race, religion, income level, geographic location or circumstance surrounding the pregnancy. Women are not hosts, women are human beings. The argument that pregnancy means that we should somehow lose autonomy over our own bodies, our own lives, is not only absurd it is dehumanizing, disempowering and dangerous. And it is especially dangerous for low income women of color because wealthy, white women will always, I repeat always, be able to gain access to a safe, private abortion regardless of what the law says.

Women are tired of having to explain to men, over and over and over again, why exactly it is that we should have autonomy over our own bodies and why our feelings about a pregnancy necessarily matter more than theirs. The fact that this conversation continues tells me that the overarching norm concerning this issue is that women’s bodies should not be self-governed but that instead our bodies exist in the public sphere. This is simply not so. The fact that this conversation continues also tells me that women are not heard. Full stop. And that, friends, is the point of this post.


I am here to tell you right now that what exists inside of my skull is not a lady brain. It is a brain. A fully formed, fully functioning human brain capable of reasoning, of critical thinking, of debating, of retaining, analyzing and dispensing of all manner of complicated information. But what I hear, and what other women hear, is that what we have to say is simply not as valid as what men have to say. And that our space to say those things does not belong to us. We have to fight for that space every single time. And when we  occupy that space, we have to be as direct, as accurate, and as quick as possible in using it because any misstep becomes the meat of what we said. And even if there is no misstep, if we simply state a dissenting opinion, we are dismissed as ranting, as incoherent, as harpies, as cunts.

This has been happening to every single one of us since the day we were born, whether we realize it or not. And it happens much more to women of color than to white women because white women do it to women of color. The thing, though, is that it does not only happen at the hands of legislators in Oklahoma or anywhere else, or at the hands of random men on The Internet, but also at the hands of our friends and family. I have said this before and I will say it again: misogyny is insidious. And because it is insidious, it is internalized not only by men but by women as well. I left that interaction yesterday feeling as though my sanity had been taken from me. Feeling as though, for lack of a less “in” term, I had been gaslit. I made the argument to this person that just because he refused to engage with my analysis does not mean that my analysis ceased to exist. But the fact of the matter is that again and again men define the terms. This person was only willing to have an argument on the terms that he delineated, that fit snuggly within a set of rules that he had written and that could potentially change at any time. Any deviation from the desired debate or conversation was deemed irrational, incoherent and rambling. That is the reality in which myself and all women live.

Plain and simple: we do not control the conversation even when we’re the subject of it.

This ill-advised interaction I had with this Internet presence is actually symptomatic of a much larger issue, larger even than women’s right to control their own bodies. It is symptomatic of a world in which a woman’s voice matter significantly less than a man’s. It is symptomatic of a world in which men have the power, through sheer force of will and institutional misogyny, to dictate the terms of conversation and to require women to either fit within those confines or feel like a hormonal, crazy, rambling bitch. It is a world in which we second guess our own thoughts, interpretations and experiences. It is a world in which I say about men on the regular:

He doesn’t like women. Yeah, he likes to fuck women. But he doesn’t like women.

That is where I live. That is where we all live. So seriously Internet Guy, I am going to do to you what you did to me. I am going to silence you. You ready?

Here’s the deal. You are, quite simply, wrong. Making an argument other than that women should 100% be in control of their own biological processes is illogical. Whatever way that you choose to defend your ill-conceived position, is incoherent, irrelevant and a waste of your time and mine. You do not know how to argue. And you do not get to determine the terms of this discussion. In conclusion, the reason that you, and men like you, work so hard to keep women down is that when it comes down to it we are, in fact, superior specimens. We can make life. And we also have the right to choose not to make life. Get with it. Your opinion on this issue does not matter.


Post Note: If any of you are doubting this analysis, if any of you think that the way our world works is not in large part dictated through a lens of misogyny, then explain to me how Donald J. Trump is our President. And if you tell me that it’s because the DNC screwed Bernie Sanders over, think a little more.




Individualism and Abortion and Gun Rights, oh my!

4 Jan

Did you guys read this article in the New York Times from yesterday (January 3, 2014)?  It’s about abortion restrictions.  It’s basically like an abortion restriction round-up from the last two years AKA all the articles that made me and my friends REALLY mad (plus Wendy Davis!)* smashed up together into a two-page summary.  So, yea, if you need to be reminded of all the shitty things that happened in terms of women’s access to abortions, then read the article.  I mean, I know there is nothing I like better than reading about that shit first thing on a Saturday morning.  Anyway, I just have a few little things to say about it.

Just to get this one thing out of the way: it makes me so fucking angry.  I wish there was a way for me to record myself saying those words because there is an intonation that I think is incredibly important to really getting the message across.  You must seethe when you say it.

As one does, I have been thinking quite a lot about individualism.  I think this country has gone absolute bat-shit crazy about individualism.  God forbid you mention the idea of relying on others and you’re a communitarian, or, as some would say, a socialist (although the two words actually mean different things).  Personally, I wear the badge of communitarianism happily and proudly.  I like it because it doesn’t completely dismiss the importance of the individual, but it says that traits held by individuals are largely formed by the community that surrounds them.  So like, I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t grown up where I grew up and around the people whom I grew up around.  I think this is a belief that is held by most people if you ask them (as long as you stay far from words like ‘socialist’ and ‘collectivist’).  When you step up to the policy and governmental level, however, getting anywhere close to the idea of communitarianism is hugely problematic.  Remember the whole “you didn’t build that” fiasco with Obama and Romney during the 2012 campaign?  I think that Obama’s sentiment, that the business built by someone is reliant upon the foundation laid before them, is pretty much communitarianism.  It isn’t dismissing the importance of the individual’s contribution to society.  Instead, it emphasizes the fact that the opportunity to build the business wouldn’t have presented itself had the infrastructure — be that physical, political, or cultural — not been previously created.  We are all connected to what came before us and what comes after.  Basically, we don’t all start from scratch.  If we did we would just be running around and around on a defective hamster wheel, getting nowhere and seriously in need of WD-40.

This is all connected, I promise.  Just bear with me.  So we have, on the national stage, this ridiculous idea of the individual that is connected to the American Dream which, if you ask me, no longer really exists.  That unquestioned devotion to the boot-strappers mentality is part of the poison that has leached throughout our entire national conscience.  It’s like a fantasy to think that we live in a society in which someone can come and make something out of nothing.  And you know what?  Sometimes the fantasy is borne out.  But that story is becoming more and more rare.  Economic mobility in the United States is less likely than it was in previous generations.  According to a chart created by Miles Corak, professor of economics at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs in Ottawa, among “developed” nations, the United States has the highest level of inequality and one of the lowest earnings elasticity (or the lowest intergenerational mobility).  And yet we still cling to this idea of individual opportunity, that we all have a chance to better our lot, without paying any attention to the role played by opportunity.  Our parent’s wealth, our geographic location, the color of our skin, the levels of education attained by those before us, our debt loads.  These things all matter.  We do not each exist in some weird vacuum, unaffected by what came before and yet capable of achieving our wildest dreams if only we work hard for them.  Other things, things beyond our control, matter also.

So, now here we go.  Now this is where it all starts coming together.  We have this idea that we love, as a nation, of individualism and opportunity, except for when it comes to social issues and then we think, or at least some of us think, that what happens inside the body or home of our neighbors is our business.  Many of those same people who got mad at Obama for suggesting that infrastructure mattered to the success of the Republican candidate also think it is their moral responsibility to regulate what a woman decides to do with her own body, with her own pregnancy.  Many, though not all, of them are also the same people who cling crazily to their guns.  Not even literally, in some cases, but what the guns represent.  This idea of the rights of the individual and the need that each person has to protect him or herself from the government because the government, in all its lumbering bureaucracy, is coming for them.  Seriously, people, if we couldn’t manage gun control after Newtown, and if we couldn’t all laugh Wayne LaPierre off the stage for his suggestion that “the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” AKA lets arm guards at all school to protect the kids (with no real attempt to explain who in the world would pay for it) then the guns are safe.  But that’s not even the point.  Here’s the point.

I see a serious disconnect, as many people do, between gun rights and abortion rights.  I know that maybe this is like comparing apples and oranges, but it seems to me that a lot of the states that are protecting their guns and limiting women’s access to abortions are, well, the same damn states.  So let’s take one second here.  I read this article in the New York Times a few months ago about this face-off in Dallas between a group of three women associated with the gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America having lunch and talking about stricter gun control and a large group of men and women, members of Open Carry Texas, standing outside the restaurant strapped with shotguns, hunting rifles, AR-15s and AK-47s.  The Open Carry people had no intention of hurting the women physically, what they did want to do was intimidate them.  Which they did because there were roughly 24 of them with long-guns strapped to their backs.  I don’t know anyone who would willingly, and without fear, walk out of a lunch meeting and then through a large, intimidating group like that.  Both groups, it can be argued, were exercising their various rights, but only one group had the ability to kill members of the other.  This is where individualism, I think, should be curtailed.  When your individual choice has the potentiality of impacting the individual choice of another person.  My ability to choose to have an abortion in no way impacts another person’s right to choose not to, but someone else’s decision to carry a gun could potentially end my life.

I know, I know, people are going to say that I am choosing to end the life of whatever is growing inside my body. Honestly, I am more concerned with myself, or with other women, than I am with a ball of cells.  Maybe that is heartless but it’s true.  I am more concerned with the life that is as opposed to the life that may be.  I guess all of this is to say that I am confused.  Why are your guns okay but my morals are not?  Why can you build an empire without any consideration of those who paved the way for you because you are an individual and therefore the only unit of import, and yet you can regulate what I do within my own womb?  Why are you as an individual more important than me?  And how does my decision to end a pregnancy impact your life in any way?  The answer:  it doesn’t.  You don’t get to have your cake and eat it too.  You want to argue individualism and rights?  Fine.  But be consistent.  Don’t be so arrogant as to think you know what is better for half the population.  And while I am at it, if you are going to try and regulate abortion access, why do it across class lines?  The result of the way the “right to life” people have approached this issue is to make access more difficult for those women living in rural areas, for those with full time jobs, for those with limited money and transportation opportunities.  Jennifer Dalven of the ACLU said, “Increasingly, access to abortion depends on where you live.  That’s what it was like pre-Roe.”  I would argue that it also depends on what you have, or don’t have.

Listen, if people are going to argue that the American Dream is still around, that we all have the ability to achieve whatever it is that we want, stop erecting roadblocks for women, and specifically for poor women, and more specifically for poor women of color.  Either that or just come out and say it:  you want a country in which only people that look like you can achieve the American Dream because, from where I sit, that is exactly where we’re headed.

*Did anyone else stay up really late during Davis’ filibuster in the Texas Senate?  Seriously, having live feeds of Senate buildings is genius.  Also, I cried.  Just in case you were wondering.  I was so impressed by her and her colleagues, so speechless by the tens of thousands of people watching and so excited to be Twitter communicating with other people who were watching it I really just couldn’t even stand it.  Who knew government could be so engaging?