The War on Abortion

If there is ever a video to watch and a question to ask those who are ant-abortion this is it.

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Pro-Life/Pro-Choice

I was previously unaware that October 16th is the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity. Although my college campus is for the most part quite liberal, there were quite a few fliers and supporters decked out for the occasion  I found myself angry at the Pro-Life supporters who waved fliers with slogans like: “1/3 of our generation didn’t make it”. Some of my friends were involved, wearing red duct tape with the word LIFE scrawled in black sharpie.

What surprised me the most though, was not that the campaign was going on, or that I had friends who participated, but that I was angry at these individuals. My own reaction frightened me. I am used to being able to debate calmly, accept the views of others even if I inherently disagree, but I couldn’t as soon as I saw the posters and the duct tape.

I hated the flyers, where a woman’s mouth was taped over to emphasize the silence of the generation who “didn’t make it”. Why silence the mother? Why not have a poster with a baby with the tape? The advertisement tells me that women should be silenced. I can’t reign myself in when this is the promotional material of the opposing argument. My friends who are women were in support of the day and saw nothing wrong. If our moralities contradict so clearly is it wrong to be upset?

The argument between pro-life and pro-choice sometimes seems as silent as the Pro-Life Day of Solidarity. Political candidates won’t breach the subject because their opinions are so clearly split down party lines. Why would a democrat need to say he or she supports pro-choice when their opinion is written in between the letters of their party? I am angry at this day of solidarity because I do not feel that communication between the two sides is open and I fear that even if it were nothing would be accomplished. I’ve talked to other, far more vocal, women in support of pro-choice who tell me horror stories of debates with those in support of pro-life where the pro-life individual calls them a baby killer and the debate ends there. I’ve had conversations with people who think abortions (like birth control) are a girl’s ticket to be a slut so the government should not support it. In their words: let women claim responsibility for their actions.

I feel I need to address these two arguments separately, and although these are not the only arguments made, I feel  I must address the baby-killers in a different manner than the slut shamers.

First, the baby-killers. Perhaps this is why I fear opening up communication: even the labels people choose to identify themselves with put each other more than at odds. If we are at odds, the two sides would either be Pro-Life and Pro-Death, or Pro-Choice and Con-Choice (for lack of a better word). But    instead by choosing Pro-Life and Pro-Choice it doesn’t feel that we’re even having the same conversation. I personally hate the term Pro-Life because it implies anyone who is of the opposite opinion, must be Pro-Death. Now, I know a lot of liberals and none of them are racing off to kill babies, neither before they are born or after. The ‘you’re a baby-killer’ argument fails on multiple accounts: it not only distances the two groups from having any semblance of a reasonable discussion, but it also uses the wrong terminology because the fetus is not yet a baby, and perhaps not even yet a fetus. So long as these lines are up, separating those who believe in life and those who believe in death there can be no open dialogue.

But perhaps if the labels were changed there could be a discussion with the Pro-Life supporters of the above argument. Things get a bit more complicated when the second argument comes into play. Denying women access to abortions because they deserve to be taught a lesson for having sex is rooted in a deep seated misogyny rather than in labels. Though the two arguments of baby-killing and slut shaming are very often entwined, I feel I must separate the two because my anger feels quite different for the second argument. Perhaps I can forgive those who are bound by labels and associate Pro-Choice with choosing death, but it is much more difficult to forgive those who not only deny women access to reproductive health care on multiple levels, but justify through the age old belief that women’s sexuality is dangerous and immoral. I do not believe that when people make the argument that a woman needs to pay a penalty for having sex that the issue is actually about the unborn child. It is so much more likely that the issue is about controlling women and what better ruse to hide behind than the sanctity of life? Pro-Life then has the advantage of both a religious moral high ground and being on the opposing side against feminists. It makes me sick the lengths people will go to in order to keep women domesticated and sexless objects for the sexual pleasures of one man.

Until I got to college I knew I was Pro-Choice, but I didn’t know why. I would not have gotten angry at those of Pro-Life. I hoped writing this would help me understand my anger, and it has helped to get my thoughts out. Still, I do not know if my anger is justified. I want an open dialogue, but I do not know if I am ready to have this discussion. I present my thoughts to you with the question of anger and where it belongs in morality and politics.

Rape Culture

If you haven’t heard the term before, let it shock you. I was shocked. I still am shocked. But we live in rape culture. Because as women we are constantly fearing rape or being told to fear rape or strange men we live in a society where rape is condoned. It is the woman’s fault: she was drunk. she was dressed like a slut. she was asking for it. the man couldn’t help himself.

I am always ashamed to admit it, but being raped is my biggest fear. Rape is not something I can dismiss as an implausible fear. I know it is all too real. Rape is accepted as a natural occurrence and for this reason since I learned about sex I have not been able to walk somewhere alone without fearing rape.

This is not okay.

If I am up on a soapbox for a moment I apologize, but women should not need to live in fear or even told to live in fear because it is just another form of subjugation.

I was walking to the food store talking on the phone to my mother and when I told her I what I was doing the first thing she asked was if I was alone. I said yes and that I would hopefully be back before dark. My mother told me that if it gets dark I should not walk back but call one of my friends on campus to give me a ride. I wouldn’t do this. I would rather walk back in the dark, but I would be afraid.

I hate this fear.

I do not want to fear doing every day errands just because rape is an accepted norm that cannot be stopped. I do not want to live in fear.

Please, even if you never experience what I’m saying, have empathy. Use that empathy to educate people about rape and proper sex education. Use that empathy to stop slut shaming, volunteer at a rape crisis center, participate in slut walks and be part of the movement for equality. You deserve to walk down the street without being afraid. And remember, rapists are always the cause of rape.

Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and August 1st 2012

As of Wednesday August 1st legislation has been implemented that requires health insurance companies to cover women who wish to buy contraception.  This is a compromise drawn up in lieu of the original so that Catholic organizations would not be required to offer insurance plans that involved contraception, just cover women who needed it.

But even the compromise has too much infringement on religious freedom for some Republicans. At a press Conference on Capitol Hill, Pennsylvania Representative Mike Kelly (R) said:

“I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that’s Pearl Harbor day.  The other is September 11th, and that’s the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”

Mike Kelly is not the only Republican speaking out and it is not just men who fear the liberation of women’s sexuality. New York Representative Ann Marie Buerkle (R) is quoted in saying:

“This is a right that every American should be outraged, outraged about what this administration and Secretary Sibelius has set forth here on August the 1st.And as Mike said, August the 1st is a day that we as American will look at as the largest assault on our First Amendment rights.”

So what are we to make of this? My grandfather does not believe there is a war against women. He said he had never heard the term and therefore it must not exist. But what else can this controversy be? When women’s health care is described as a national catastrophe and linked with infringements on religious freedoms it raises the question of what the real issue is. The argument is that women should not have control over their own bodies because religion says so and that the government should keep its hands out of the liberation of half the population because it violates religious freedom. But this conclusion if flawed: to protect religious rights which are not infringed upon other rights are denied based on religion. How is this centrality of religion not medieval?

Treating women and their sexuality with respect and decency is not an attack against the country. Contraception is not a bomb. Contraception is not a foreign power’s attack against the nation. Women’s health care is a right and half the population cannot continue to be marginalized on such a gross and inappropriate scale.

Source: http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/01/13070876-republican-likens-contraceptive-mandate-to-pearl-harbor-911#.UBlhtwzWnJQ.twitter

This is My Body Movement

Ever since I learned what asexuality was and realized that I am asexual I foolishly believed that because sex did not directly affect my life and my body that the fight for reproductive rights was not my concern. Sexism did not seem to affect me. I know better now.

My body my choice shirt shirt

My friend who inspired this blog sent me a video today: THIS IS MY BODY where women of all races and nationalities went in front of a camera and told Congress their bodies are their own. It is not up to legislators to determine what a woman can and cannot do with her body just because there is fear surrounding the notion of a woman’s choice. Please watch the video because this was ultimately what made my decision to stop being afraid to speak out and start this blog. I was so deeply captivated by the courage of these women who own their power because they own their bodies and everything that comes with being a woman, sexual and otherwise.

It is incredibly powerful how honestly these women speak out about their right to the take responsibility for their actions and to be treated as competent adults who have a say in what directly affects them.

And all this time I believed feminists were outdated women marching without a cause. I have been wrong on every level imaginable. It’s the same way I was wrong about my asexuality excluding me from sexism. I have been doing more research on the war on women and I am coming to realize this is not an outlandish term reserved for those too bitter to speak on politics calmly.

I was doing research to find out more information on the This is my Body video and about current legislation I came across another project with the same name; This is my Body.  This other This is My Body Project was started when 17 year old Kailei Picciotti was being cyber bullied about her body image, being told she was too fat and too ugly to have self worth or be a model. In response to those anonymous comments she took a marker and wrote on her stomach This is my Body.  The movement encourages anyone to send in pictures of themselves showing off what they have the least self confidence in and being assured that they are beautiful. Worth is not dependent on conventional standards of beauty.

The two movements have more in common than just a name. Although the This is my Body video is far more geared toward politics, the movement started by Kailei is after the same thing: a world where everyone can accept who they are and be accepted as equal members of the world. No matter how much one knows about politics making a decision that is right for you, the individual, can only come from self love.

Whether you write it on your skin or say it out loud, tell it to yourself or shout it to the world, let someone, anyone, know that this is your body. You have the right to do with it what you choose. Man or Woman don’t be afraid to speak out.