AS with most things, the canary in the mine for the health of women’s reproductive freedom is what some clueless white republican dude thinks about the matter. A good rule of thumb is to take what they say, invert it, and then you’ve probably got the start of a worthwhile idea.
It’s not that as a man you don’t get to have an opinion – it’s just that your opinion is way, way down on the list of my concerns when it comes to matters of my own bodily reality. I don’t mean to be rude, but you are never going to see a group of women sitting round a table signing away the freedom of male bodies. This sort of action seems to have become sport for a certain type of man interested in public political dick-swinging. “Have you females observed my superiority lately? Look how powerful I am.”
Sit down. Sit down and put your dick away. No one wants to see that.
Women’s bodies: Robots! Pigs! 24th century symbionts!
It seems to be terribly de rigeur to to refer to women’s bodies as anything but human. In 2012, Georgia state rep Terry England compared women to livestock, claiming women carrying stillborn babies were like cows and pigs, and farmers have to deliver young dead or alive. Then there was the time Todd Akin, a Missouri state rep said on rape and pregnancy, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Apparently we’re either robots, or have some sort of Innerspace/Dennis Quaid scenario going on that means our bodies won’t carry children unless we want them there.
Today an Oklahoma State rep. (hey there, Justin Humphrey, we’re looking at you) referred to women’s bodies as hosts. I’m just going to go ahead and post his whole verbal scat monologue for you all. Try and not read it as if he’s a high AF glue-sniffing teen – this is a grown man with an important job:
“I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions. I understand that they feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.” – Justin Humphrey – idiot.
*** I’m sorry – can we take a break from the feminist analysis to acknowledge pre-know? Pre-know. Yup. I had no idea we were living in Minority Report. Actually – now you mention it…***
Allow me to put my glasses on so I can talk science for a second. Mr. Humphrey – I don’t think you know what a host means (for educational purposes, I recommend Star Trek TNG, season 4, episode 23, ‘The Host’. Beverley Crusher and Will Riker at their best). Women and feotuses aren’t symbiont beings. A child can’t support itself out of the womb, but a woman can live without a child inside her. And whether you like it or not, her lived experience matters more than an unborn child. Her humanity does not transfer to a potential child at the moment of conception. If you think that’s the case, then you don’t consider women human. That’s the whole reason we still have to talk about this. It’s why I’m come home from work after a 9 hour day and got straight back on my computer to write. You, sir, exhaust me.
Oh, I totally know what that’s like
When my mother gave birth to me thirty years ago, a community midwife came to check in. My mother was struggling with lack of sleep, and a colicky baby who was destroying her nipples with all the precision power of an industrial wood-chipper. She asked my mother how she was coping, my mother explained. The midwife chirped up, “Oh, I know exactly how you feel. My cat just had kittens and the mewing is keeping me awake at night.”. At this point my father shelved his good manners, told the woman she was an idiot, and ejected her from the house.
The problem with sympathy and assumption is that people assume that gives them a close enough approximation of how something in is, such that they can comment on it. The problem with the mathematics here is that they are missing the key thing – lived experience. Lived experience qualifies you to comment with authority on that experience. Anything else relegates you to a sideline role, however expert you are. This is why women get the first say on what happens to their bodies. Unless you have the ability to grow a person, or have done so yourself, your input comes after we’ve listened to those people first.
So men – have your say – but wait your turn. Listen to the women around you telling you how shitty it is to watch their uteruses marched into the Republic of Gilead. Listen and respond. We don’t need to hear, ‘well I think…’.
For 2017: actual human women?
We know things are about to get sketchy stateside with Trump flapping his tiny hands around where no one wants them. Despite no one wanting them in or around their wombs, he’s set to make life difficult for anyone who hasn’t fallen intentionally pregnant through Good Republican Sex™. See the inner part of Gayle Rubin’s ‘charmed circle’ for some clarity on what that looks like.
With people like Mr. Trump, Mr. Akin, Mr. England and Mr. Humphrey (shittest superhero team ever?) in the big boy jobs, we’re going to have to fight doubly hard for recognition of our humanity in these debates. Women’s rights are human rights. Don’t let them forget it.
Today I was asked if it’s tiring always being this angry. I reject that idea. I don’t think of my responses as lurching from one rage to the next. It’s only anger if it’s static. When I read something and it pisses me off, I want to act. So perhaps it’s time for a reframing of feminist anger as a negative thing? Feminist anger is passion. Feminist anger is motivation to make changes. Feminist anger is necessary for getting shit done. Yes, I get angry, but underneath that anger is cataloguing, synthesising of information, the joining of dots, the connecting of experiences, and then response. Sometimes the result is just, ‘WTF!’ but for the most part it results in writing and thinking – like now.
But yeah – Justin Humphreys just needs to stop fucking talking.