Today is International Women’s Day. Tomorrow we’ll be commandeering your uterus.

There is an old joke that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. I always thought that notion was ridiculous; if men could get pregnant, they would be the ones that are oppressed. If men could get pregnant, they would be women, and sometimes I think that is their biggest fear. Today is Blog Against Sexism Day, and while most days around here seem to fit that bill, today I’m going to tackle the subject from a different angle. You see, I’ve had enough of preaching to the choir. Today, I’m going to focus on men.

Just to be clear, I’m not going to talk about how Patriarchy hurts men, too. That’s a given. No, today I’m going to ask our male readers to--if only in their minds--don a pair of pumps and imagine what it is like to be a woman. It starts out something like a Kafka novel, only this morning when you woke up you discovered not that you are a cockroach, but something infinitely more disgusting and reviled—you’re a woman.

So you woke up today, International Women’s Day, and found yourself stripped of your male privilege and in possession of a uterus. Only, it’s not that simple, because even though that uterus happens to reside inside your body, forces are aligning in the world around you to deny you true ownership of your own internal organs. For example, legislators in South Dakota and Mississippi have decided that your uterus is public property, as if that ridiculous eminent domain decision has suddenly extended into your body. For the good of the community, the state will lend you your uterus until a zygote takes up residence, at which time they will call in the lease, evict your own personal morals from the premises, and force you to grow the seed from blastocyst to baby against your will.

Of course, being benevolent patriarchs, they will make some exceptions to this uterine slavery. For example, if the continued pregnancy will kill you doctors will be allowed to perform an abortion to save your life, but only after exhausting all medical possibilities to save the fetus. And only to save your life—since there are no health exceptions, if a pregnancy will cause you irreparable physical hardship for the rest of your life but stop short of actually killing you, your relegation to breeder cow will still hold. The terms of your conception are also beyond the scope of the debate: you will be expected to turn over use of your uterus to your rapist, be he a stranger or your father, since you’re most likely a dirty slut that asked for it anyway. As the Salt Lake Tribune recently said about Utah's new parental consent law, "incestuous dad knows best."

Should you discover that your newly acquired uterus comes pre-equipped with its very own fetal squatter, please do not look to moderate “straight-shooter” republicans to save you—John McCain would like to own a piece of that prime real estate, too. South Dakota Representative Bill Napoli, in a surprising show of candor, has offered what he thinks is the best (and presumably only) candidate for the rape exception that doesn’t actually exist in South Dakota: the Sodomized Virgin Exception.
A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

Crooks and Liars has the video, and it’s a good thing because even I, cynic that I am, couldn’t believe someone could actually say something that repulsive. Watch as Rep. Napoli recounts with glee the tortures the poor, virginal girl of his dreams would have to endure before he would deign to consider her plea for an abortion. Ironic, isn’t it, that it is only when we are broken, beaten and brutalized that women’s lives are more valuable than a fetus.

Oops! Spoke too soon! And I also forgot to mention that your brand new uterus comes with a special free gift with purchase—your very own vagina! And this is the most important step for your MtF transition; after all, it takes staggering feats of legislative prowess to rape a uterus, but anyone with a dick can rape a vagina. Take these gentlemen, for instance, who seem to have ripped a page from Bill Napoli’s Book of Sadistic Rape Fantasies:
The woman, now 20, was 16 at the time of the incident. […] She said she awoke the next day to find herself naked from the waist down, with parts of her body covered with obscenities that had been scrawled with a felt-tipped marker.

The woman testified she remembers nothing from the moment she lost consciousness during the drinking contest to the time she awoke. A female acquaintance who attended the party reportedly told her Missbrenner and another man had sexual intercourse with her while she was unconscious, and that a third man videotaped that activity while a fourth wrote some of the slurs on her.

Oh, but we’re not done yet. Men might think that being raped is one of the worst things that could possibly happen to a woman, but as new women yourselves you’re about to find out that sexual assault is just the beginning. Your rapist’s job might be over, but the state needs to take a crack at you too:
A Naperville woman's refusal Tuesday to view or comment under oath on a videotape that reputedly depicts her gang rape could end up derailing the trial of one of her accused attackers.

Fifth District Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kerry M. Kennedy has given the woman until this morning to decide whether she will answer a defense attorney's questions about the video. […]Kennedy on Tuesday warned the woman she could face charges of contempt of court and possibly jail if she continues to refuse to view the tape and answer [defense attorney Patrick] Campanelli's questions about it.

Campanelli on Tuesday filed a motion to dismiss the case against Missbrenner based on the woman's refusal to watch the video and submit to questions about it.

The video tape had already been declared child pornography by another Illinois court, which means that viewing it under any other circumstances would violate federal law. But apparently the rape exception that South Dakota rejected in their abortion ban made its way over the our federal child pornography statutes, and it is now perfectly acceptable to view the sexual assault of a minor in open court and require the victim to relive the experience in front of everyone’s prying eyes.

Campanelli’s strategy might not win him much support in the court of public opinion, but it worked on twelve jurors—Missbrenner was acquitted. The tape supposedly showed the victim patting one of her attackers on the head, an innocuous gesture that, according to Campanelli, indicates consent. This should serve as a very important lesson for you newly becunted* folks: even if you are so drunk that you drift in and out of consciousness, the slightest movement you make will be construed as evidence of consent. Remember, according to Napoli's Calculus, if it isn't "as bad as you can possibly make it," then you just haven't suffered enough.

To paraphrase some award-winning misogyny, it's hard out here for a woman. You see gentlemen, we're in the midst of a war, a War On Women, and while you personally might not be a rapist, abuser or overt misogynist, you're a foot soldier in this war nonetheless. As the Spinster Aunt reminds us
You do this by demonizing feminists, by renting women for lap dances, by letting rapists off the hook in court, by buying cheap crap Victoria’s Secret thongs for your woman, by congratulating your girlfriend on her boob job, by ignoring mass rapes in Rwanda, by passing along the URL to Paris Hilton’s fuck video, by ogling that girl at the bus stop, by letting your mom do your laundry, by “giving away” a bride, by voting control of women’s uteruses over to godbag politicians, by pressuring your girlfriend to take it up the ass because all your friends are doin’ it, by having an opinion on the size of human labia, by arguing that stripping is “empowering,” by claiming you’re “hardwired” to be turned on by women who emulate the ludicrous fashion practices of strippers and centerfolds, by your inability to conceive of sex without dominance, and by refusing, despite 30 years of intelligent, educated women telling you otherwise, to concede that you don’t really, truly view women as human beings in anything approaching the same light in which you view yourself.
Our enemies will not stop with abortion. The Arizona House of Representatives has just passed a bill that will bar women from selling their eggs (though no mention is made of men selling sperm). Missouri is considering a bill that would name Christianity as the state's official religion. Michigan is using its public indecency laws to prosecute nudity--on TV! Cable television at that, which has traditionally been given wider berth for nudity and "offensive" language because of subscription costs. The National Institutes of Health are lying to the American people about the health risks associated with emergency contraception--and I'm sure that has nothing to do with the FDA's refusal to make a decision on Plan B, which has been going on for 1,848 days. Pam at Pandagon has a great overview of what happens when we ignore the Religious Right: candidates campaign on issues like sentencing homosexuals to death and they aren't immediately shamed out of the party. These are not unrelated issues--the Religious Right's obessession with sex and sexual purity makes all of us who are even the slightest bit "deviant" targets for their hate and discrimination. And when they've banned abortions and birth control and shoved gay America back in the closet who do you think is next?

* Shamelessly stolen from Amanda.


annamaria at 7:12 AM

4 spoke


at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 1:12:00 PM Blogger ID said...

Great post AM. I consider myself a pretty progressive male. I try to at least take a few steps in the shoes of those around me.

As I asked Jen last night, "Where the fuck are the women?" France burns because of their leaders racist comments/actions. The Muslim world revolts because their most high is depicted in cartoon form. But, the US government is about to place its hold on one of women's most basic, elemental rights and its coffee and sex and the city as usual?

But, I guess this is the same country where Tom Delay gets renominated after being indicted, the "patriot act" gets renewed hands down and the same retard assholes elect the same retard asshole leaders over and over because "god" tells them to.

The scariest part of all of this, is that some women agree with outlawing abortion. If there were a similar law where penises would be chopped off no questions asked, do you think there would be alot of men on the penis choppers platform? It would be like an African American saying, "Ah, you know, this racism thing, its not that bad really. I mean, those white people really know what they are talking about. We should just be happy to exist?"

Sounds hokey and short sighted. But to me its the same mentality. I dunno. I guess I'm in the same boat. Totally pissed off and disillusioned and not doing anything with it. Who knows. Somethings gotta give.

at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 1:27:00 PM Blogger annamaria said...

ID said: 'It would be like an African American saying, "Ah, you know, this racism thing, its not that bad really. I mean, those white people really know what they are talking about. We should just be happy to exist?"'

Two words: Clarence Thomas.

As for the anti-choice women, here's another two words: Stockholm Syndrome. As long as men have privilege, the women who tether themselves to those men will have use of that privilege for themselves. It's the nature of the Stepford Wife. Take someone like Phyllis Schlafly, who for decades has been exhorting the dangers of feminism and the ERA and extolling the virtures of marriage and stay-at-home-motherhood, but still manages to find the time to lead a very influential right-wing think tank. If Phyllis's rhetoric is to be believed, with all of her activism Mr. Phyllis Schlafly must need a microscope to find his own dick. And yet, I don't see her taking a back seat to her husband's ambitions because that is her duty as a good Christian wife.

I think far too many women are complacent about reproductive rights, mostly because they assume that they would never be in a position to demand an abortion for "convenience." Of course, when they find themselves in a situation where they are pregnant and not willing to be mothers, their reasons are anything but convenient. It's the same reason that defense attorneys love to have women on juries for rape trials--the abject fear to being assaulted leads women to come up with these ridiculous assumptions that the victim must have asked for it, otherwise we'd have to admit that it could happen to any one of us and we've just been lucky to have escaped it thusfar.

at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 7:04:00 PM Blogger Dane meets Simone said...

Will you be in my army?

Or can I be in yours?

at Thursday, March 09, 2006 10:29:00 AM Blogger Kurt said...

someone told me "stupid is everywhere" and you cite so many instances of it.
I am a man. When I was a young man, I was confronted with the consequences of unprotected sex - my partner was pregnant. Neither one of us were prepared mentally, emotionally or financially to be parents. Nor were we prepared to endure the disappointment and ensuing ostracism a pregnancy would mean for us in our world. Is that selfish? Sure. But at that tender age, aren't we taught to be selfish and pursue the choices that will make us happy, fulfilled and complete?
We chose to end the pregnancy with an abortion.
No one who has not faced that choice can talk to me about the emotional struggle involved in that decision. The desire to hold your baby, nurture it, love it, take care of it - these seem part of my innate nature.
But I also know that had we decided to go through the birth process and allowed its life to start, that baby life would have been severally handicapped, odds stacked against it in our society.
I have said many times on this site and others that I profess Christianity. It is true. Part of that tenant is the knowledge that I will do things that put me at odds with God's desire for my life (read sin). As a human,it is ineviatable. So my trust is that God is big enough to get by those faults and has done so already through Christ. If my actions at that time were wrong or misguided, I trust Him to sort it out. I did the best I could then, and it was a painful time.
I would NEVER want to face that choice again. But how ignorant to think that just because a law is passed that others won't struggle with the same choice. How stupid to believe that because a law is passed that the issues that create the situation will be instantly cured and the problem will no longer exist.
Many days I wonder about that potential child of mine. There is an emotional pain that will not go away. But I am thankful to have lived in a time and a country that allowed me to make that choice. And I am comforted by the belief that for us, it was the right choice. I have spoken of this very few times. There is some scar tissue that is very sensitive. Let's keep it here, please.
Stupid is everywhere and I step in it often. In fact, sometimes I think I am spreading it like jelly. But God help us if we begin to impose more tyranny in the name of a religion; wasn't that actually the point Christ was making?


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