A new abortion law in Virginia would require that any woman seeking an abortion – for any reason, including victims of rape and abuse – be subject to non-medically necessary incredibly invasive trans-vaginal ultrasounds.
There’s been major media attention given to a comment made by a male billionaire funneling millions of dollars into a SuperPAC that’s a major player in the presidential campaign that, ‘women practiced birth control by putting an aspirin between their knees’ in his day so why should contraceptive coverage be an issue? He’s since apologized for that comment because “the joke bombed.” Which it did. But, really, that unfunniness was not the main problem with that one.
There was a congressional hearing about mandating the coverage of contraception in health care in which women were precluded from testifying.
And then there’s the constant panels of ‘religious leaders,’ that are all predominantly male, commenting on whether or not the employer’s convictions regarding contraception should be folded into the insurance plan offered to his employees.
Look, I get that reproductive rights are a touchy issue. I’m touchy about it too and I’m also trying to focus on non-tantrum based civil discourse so I’m going to try to be reasonable here.
But really, right now, what I’m thinking is, “WTF is up with the amount of dudes involved in this conversation?” It’s not that I think that men are irrelevant. Of course they’re relevant. And they are very much involved in reproduction and should be involved in decisions regarding their children and potential children. But dudes can never be pregnant and that is hugely significant here.
Let’s set aside the fact that women actually have to feed and house another human being for 9 months and that the whole pregnancy deal is often a life altering experience – maybe it alters your employability, maybe there’s gestational diabetes, maybe there’s bed rest, maybe there’s PIH, maybe your *ahem* insurance doesn’t cover the related expenses and finances become tough – and yes, it’s your lady insurance, not necessarily the insurance of the wang responsible, maybe there’s an issue with maternity leave that alters your career path, maybe a million other things, and maybe none of those things. But you know who is not physically going through those things and has the option of geographically or emotionally checking out of them? Hint: It’s dudes.
Motherhood is treated as this very important, nigh sacred thing in our society. “Oh my God! How could you let your baby cry it out?” “You didn’t breastfeed – um? Breast is best…:” “What kind of negligent mother doesn’t take copious amounts of perfect pictures of this birthday party she’s meticulously planned months in advance for her child?” “That mother allowed her children to walk home from school / use product X / meet person Y / go to school Z and look what happened!!!!1!!! It’s all her fault!”
But also, “I’m his/her mother, I know best.” “We need to let mothers choose school lunches, not the government. I would be livid if someone took away my kid’s PBnJ!” “It’s not the government’s place to regulate, it’s a mother’s choice.” “Fellow mothers, we should be supportive of each other and know that we are each doing what we believe is best for our families. Stop with the judging.”
So it’s all about respecting women, women’s accountability and agency, and women generally except for women’s actual lady parts. Then some cadre of authoritarian almost exclusively dudes gets to weigh in because it’s “the sanctity of human life” as if every other aspect of life, especially parenting, isn’t also about the sanctity of life – up to and including the life of the mother.
Again, this does not mean that all men are irrelevant or insensitive or behave badly. But this also does not mean they’re just like women in terms of how reproductive rights directly impact their lives. This is the quintessential ‘women’s issue’ in that sense. So if reproductive rights is really being treated as seriously and respectfully as it deserves women need to be visibly present if not dominant in every aspect of this conversation.
I feel like women in general need to be more riled up about this issue. Because if you’re writing or talking about kids in any way, shape, or form it’s because birth control and reproductive rights, in one way or another, have played a significant role in your life. And, yes, men write and talk about kids too but doesn’t it seem noteworthy here that the mommy blogosphere is way bigger than the daddy blogosphere?