There are times when I am so proud to be a woman…and then there are times when I am deeply, deeply ashamed to own two X chromosomes. Of course, this doesn’t mean I want to be a man (except when I can’t find a clean bathroom) but it does mean that there are times when I want to become a screaming misogynist.
Usually, this kind of ineffectual annoyance is directed at middle-class and upwards women, since they do have more control over their lives and actions than women who are poor and often have to live under patriarchal command if they are to get by. For example, when a young woman falls pregnant by accident. (It’s even worse when an older woman does it: should know better by now.) To expect a man to take responsibility for your contraceptive needs is immature and short-sighted. We are living in an age where the Pill is freely available at clinics, and if you buy it, it can cost between R2-4 a day per month. Condoms are free, should you be able to convince your sexual partner to wear one (and wear it correctly). There is also the Injection, the patch, the IUD and the femidom. While these all have side-effects and risks, they are options, and valid ones. I am a fan of women enjoying their sexuality and expressing it. Sex is fun, its a good way to pass the time and is a fundamental building block of a relationship. But come on, falling pregnant when you don’t want to? When you can’t afford to? Is it possible to be clumsier? “Whoops, there’s a baby, giggle.”
Usually, this leads to one of three decisions. Abortion, keeping the crotchfruit or giving it up for adoption. Now, if the woman in question is rational and not too emotionally fragile, an abortion seems the correct response. After all, should one act within the first 49 days of gestation and take methotrexate with a prostraglandin supplement, there is a high success rate. And if she hasn’t noticed that her period is late by 6 weeks, then perhaps there is a desperate need to save this baby from being raised by an idiot. There are also the more invasive procedures of suction-aspiration, and dilation and cuterrage. Again, compared to the size of a penis and the damage it helped cause, it doesn’t seem sensible to be terrified or outraged by these procedures.
Morally, the arguments against abortion cannot stand. Let’s quickly segue into this, and then right back out. (Seems silly to discuss abortion without meeting the philosophical angle thereof).
Argument one: a baby that was aborted never grew up to be anything (bumper sticker pseudo-wisdom)
This is possibly the most immature argument. People like to trot out ‘oh, but what if Beethoven was aborted, then what?’ My counter argument is that by this logic, just about anyone gets to raise a baby, even if they are uneducated or cruel or uninterested because they just don’t want a child. Is this a way to create more Beethovens? Hardly. Seems like a way to create more ganglords. Maybe we could have been spared some of the world’s worst figures if they hadn’t made it to the crib.
Argument two: a foetus is a human being
The world ‘foetus’ alone suggests that it isn’t yet a human being. By biblical definitions, something that cannot speak is not human, which is also the justification for the torture and abuse of animals. Usually pro-life advocates rest their argument on the idea that the foetus can feel pain, scream, whatever. The most amusing thing is, these people will fight for a bunch of cells, but almost unanimously condone factory farming, in which thousands of animals die around the world every hour in horrific, degrading conditions. These animals really are screaming, are being torn away from their families, and dying in their own shit and blood. So that you can enjoy a heart-clogging hamburger. Please, spare me the platitudes about a fragile bundle of cells if you still eat steak.
Also, ‘god’ is prochoice. Especially as a way of punishing the unbelievers. See the following verses as examples.
Hosea 9:11-16 Hosea prays for God’s intervention. “Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. Give them, 0 Lord: what wilt thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts…Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.”
Numbers 31:17 (Moses) “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every women that hath known man by lying with him.”
Hosea 13:16 God promises to dash to pieces the infants of Samaria and the “their women with child shall be ripped up”.
Yeah. Totally a loving god. All the time. Loves only them gentile babies.
Argument three: abortion is unsafe
Normal ones are not, but with the lack of funding and irrational resistance to abortion, many abortion clinics are having to turn away desperate women. Backdoor abortions are unsafe. Often, these are the only option left to rape survivors and unwilling mothers in many, many countries around the world. These are either performed with a coat hanger or dangerous and untested herbs or chemicals. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that many physicians are conducting them illegally and therefore they are safer than the places one might find a ‘special’ deal.
With regards to South Africa:
There has since the passing of this Act [Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (Act 92 of 1996)] been a decrease in deaths from backstreet abortions, but the number of deaths following abortions are still quite high according to statistics gathered in Gauteng province—5% of maternal deaths following childbirth are abortion related, and 57% of these are related to illegal abortions. A recent study in Soweto showed the following: the rate of abortions for women older than 20 years decreased from 15,2% in 1999 to 13,2% in 2001, the rate for women aged 16–20 decreased from 21% to 14,9%, and the rate for women aged 13–16 decreased from 28% to 23%. In 2001, 27% of abortions were second-trimester. I
Interestingly, there is no minimum age for abortion, which is actually incredibly sad. It is terrifying that so many little girls are raped that we offer free and confidential abortions to eight year olds. I think there’s a desperate, desperate need to start looking at rape as a gender crime again.
With regards to eligibility:
In South Africa, any woman of any age can get an abortion by simply requesting with no reasons given if she is less than 13 weeks pregnant. If she is between 13 and 20 weeks pregnant, she can get the abortion if (a) her own physical or mental health is at stake, (b) the baby will have severe mental or physical abnormalities, (c) she is pregnant because of incest, (d) she is pregnant because of rape, or (e) she is of the personal opinion that her economic or social situation is sufficient reason for the termination of pregnancy. If she is more than 20 weeks pregnant, she can get the abortion only if her or the fetus’ life is in danger or there are likely to be serious birth defects. A woman under the age of 18 will be advised to consult her parents, but she can decide not to inform or consult them if she so chooses. A woman who is married or in a life-partner relationship will be advised to consult her partner, but again she can decide not to inform or consult him/her. An exception is that if the woman is severely mentally ill or has been unconscious for a long time, consent of a life-partner (only if male), parent or legal guardian is required.
I am very, very glad I live in a country where I don’t have to get anyone’s permission should I have to get an abortion. While it doesn’t mean that I will drop all birth control and frolic nakedly, it is reassuring to know that I have options.
Alright, abortion issue now effectively dealt with, I’d like to get back to my original point: there is no excuse for women to keep acting like idiots. Especially the educated ones. I admit the education system is not producing particularly learned or clever people, but surely at some point the sex act is discussed, and some kind of warning given against lots of badly planned sex. I have limited sympathy for women who celebrate it when a young, poor friend falls pregnant and keeps the baby despite all the reasons not to. I especially dislike it when the pregnancy is used to snare a man (which doesn’t seem to work) or as an excuse to not work. I gesture vaguely to the British welfare system and lazy women in general.
We all complain that chivalry is dead, but many women make it very hard to be likable. No doubt, men can be revolting. After all, there hasn’t been more than two wars started or condoned by a female leader and when it comes to rape statistics and the incidence of serial killers, we have to admit that men have their own baggage to deal with. I am sure that many men are ashamed of what the rest of their team gets up to, and many men are trying to support feminism.
But goddamn, how are they supposed to root for us while we bury ourselves deeper and deeper? We buy into every fucking stupid fashion stereotype and starve ourselves and listen to bloody Cosmo for advice. We know better now, we really do. And while we all get upset (and rightfully so) at the idea of female circumcision in poor countries, we also refuse to look at the idea of compulsory heterosexuality and the fact that women are so desperate for attention they’ll inject botulism into their faces. Or wear heels and fuck up their spines and feet.
I’m not asking everyone to read “Laughing Medusa”, or Female Eunuch, or Unbearable Weight (though it would make my life a great deal easier and I wouldn’t have to keep repeating myself) but I am asking women to have some decency. It is not enlightened to get drunk just for attention. The point of feminism is not to behave like men. The point is to have the freedom to do things men have always had the privilege to do: to sexually experiment, to hold new and powerful jobs, to write and run for president. Not to pass out in the pavement, legs splayed and mascara running down the cheeks. This is not how we get men to take us seriously.
And believe me, they aren’t taking us seriously enough. How many female presidents are there? Why are there so few solutions to the difficulties of menopause? Why are so many girls being sold into the sex slave trade all over the world? Why is there an silent female genocide in India and China? We are still objects, and while so many of us fight every day to not be seen that way, it does not help when so many women glorify in the stereotype. Who like being weak and pandered to, who have all the backbone of an earthworm and all the dignity of Paris Hilton’s last dead pet. Who let themselves be groped instead of telling the fuckbag to step down.
Maybe I’m being a bit hard, but sometimes I get so frustrated. In the martial arts, so many little princesses show up in tank tops and mini-shorts, get hit once and run away crying. Do they suck it up and keep trying? Do they ask to learn how to block or dodge? Do they decide to get stronger and better? No, of course not. They go off to do cheerleading, or gym. Or whatever it is that the vapid ones do, I wouldn’t know. They certainly don’t move in the circles I do. It makes me sad that the gender that needs to support itself most, won’t. That we do not reach out to each other, that we support insipid behaviour and petticoat manipulation. The idea is to revel in our strength, to do everything men can do (except pee standing up. Which we can do, its just very messy.) I look forward to a day when we don’t need affirmative action to make sure we get jobs, and a day when women will be respected for who they are, and not for the warmth between their legs. But as long as the women who have the space to change and inspire keep on playing at being housewife and doll keep doing so, nothing will change. There are women on this planet who get sold into slavery, who fight their way out and come back to change things. But then there are women with enough money to fund orphanages to help out child-brides, and they spend it on fucking fur coats. This is the reason why, sometimes, I’m embarrassed to be a feminist. Because my predecessors, and the feminists to follow, have suffered so that some woman can be Hugh Hefner’s third girlfriend and scream about not having enough shoes.
No wonder men laugh at us.