It's Blog for Choice Day next Friday, and I'm getting a head start by answering what the phrase "Trust women" means to me. Actually this is kind of tough. I mean, this is hardly the first time I've written about what it means for me to be pro-choice. Look here, for example. Or here. And here. For a start. Anyway.
Dr. George Tiller used to say that - "Trust women", I mean. He was one of the few doctors in the US who'd do dilation and extraction procedures, before he was murdered. He was murdered after surviving an ATTEMPTED murder years ago. And that's passing over all the threats and harassment he endured.
And it's a pretty big loss indeed.Access to abortion at any point in a pregnancy is tough enough, as 87% of counties don't have an abortion provider, and the D&X procedure? Forget it. And a good part of what's going on behind that is the fact that abortion has turned into a political issue in the past two centuries. The pro-life camp throws a few arguments out there along the lines of "Abortion = Murder" but now there's also the rhetoric of "Women deserve better than abortion." On a policy level, the anti-choice crowd knows it can't just overturn Roe, so instead it does things like introduce legislation in states that would require doctors to notify the parents of minors before performing an abortion, presumably because someone under 18 isn't mature enough to go through with an abortion. (This passes over the fact that without an abortion, a pregnant minor would give birth. And this minor who wasn't mature enough to have an abortion is mature enough to take care of herself through nine months of pregnancy and give birth and then possibly raise the baby? OK then.) That or ultra-sound laws, or mandatory waiting periods, both of which The Onion lampshades brilliantly.
But even beyond women seeking abortions, non-pregnant women who aren't interested in having children, women who want their husbands to get vasectomies, women who want tubal ligations for themselves, they too get second-guessed in this culture. If I say I don't want to have kids, I've had just about enough of people saying, "Oh you'll change your mind."
And it doesn't end just because a woman chooses to have the baby.
What's going on in the world of reproductive health in this country does not at all suggest to me an ethos of "trust women." If we did start applying that mindset, things would be looking a lot different. Now what would a world where we "trusted women" look like? Besides an end to ultrasound laws, I mean?
I think for one thing, if I read an op-ed that reeked of so much paternalism, sexism, and just a touch of racism that you won't even find the original op-ed anymore, and if that op-ed offended me so much that I felt compelled to write an essay on exactly how it was paternalist, sexist, and just a little racist that op-ed was, then the guys would try to see it my way. They would not mansplain to me how women are more likely to be raped or how I'm just being hypersensitive or how that author's making it clear that he's not PC.
If I told my father and brother that the word "slut" is damaging to women because there's no true equivalent for men, they would not be citing words like "horndog" and "womanizer." (NB: These words might be insulting to men, but with these epithets, the men still get to keep their sexual agency. They're not disparaged for being sexual, but rather for taking sexual advantage of OTHERS. The word "slut" denies the woman any sexual agency, it treats her like a piece of meat that she just "gives up" to others. It's not really about women having more sex even though the woman is being punished just for being sexual. It's at once convoluted and objectifying. /tangent)
Readers? What would it look like for you if we started trusting women?
- It's Blog for Choice Day. This is my entry. It's tagged.