I wasn’t planning on writing about the political atmosphere surrounding birth control, reproductive rights, or women’s rights. I figured that there are dozens of bloggers out there who can much better articulate the swirl of thoughts playing hopscotch in my brain. Those bloggers probably have a much bigger audience and can actually have some sort of impact.
But, then, while we were talking about the debates at work (yup, we discuss politics), one of my coworkers blew me away with such a Paul Ryan-esque view of women’s rights that I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. And, really, the “someone else can say it better” stance is kind of beside the point because every woman’s thoughts and stories are valuable.
My story and my voice have a place in this debate too.
Here’s my biggest issue in the political atmosphere right now; the message I’m getting from the Republican Party is that only straight men have the right to autonomy over their bodies. Incidentally, they also feel that they have the right to decide what the rest of us do with our bodies too.
As I see it, we shouldn’t be fighting individual battles over birth control, rape, abortion, plan B, gay marriage, etc. It’s all the same fight. It’s all the right to autonomy over your own body.
The fight for gay marriage is just as important as the fight for rape justice. And that is just as important as the fight for comprehensive health care, which, yes, includes care for all of my girl parts. Why? Because it’s all part of equality and human rights.
I firmly believe that, for the most part, the Republican stance of birth control, marriage, welfare, and rape is really about control rather than morality.
I know, those are fighting words.
Look at it this way. I’m a hypothetical woman who makes 80% of the salary of my male peers in my workplace. The Republican governmental powers that be have decided that my company doesn’t have to include birth control in my insurance plan. Fine, I’ll use condoms, but even condoms aren’t 100% effective. They’ve also decided that I can’t have easy access to Plan B. So, I get pregnant. Since I can’t get an abortion, I now have a child to take care of.
Because our system doesn’t make any real provisions for single working women, I’m left with very limited options. All of them leave me reliant (most likely on the man involved) or struggling to get by. If I have to rely on the man who got me pregnant, it really puts the cards in his hands. With my salary being lower because of my gender and such short maternity leave, how can I afford a good daycare for my child in addition to all the other costs of taking care of a tiny human child?
The Republicans want to take away our options for prevention, our options for abortion, and our options for caring for a child on our own. The result is that we’re forced back into the traditional family model. Men will always have the choice to walk away from an unwanted pregnancy because it isn’t in his body. Taking away a woman’s choices on moral grounds is just a thinly veiled way of keeping her in the passenger seat.
But, as my coworker said to me today, “Most women really shouldn’t be in the workplace anyway. They don’t have what it takes, emotionally, to really handle it. The estrogen versus testosterone just makes them think differently.”
And I probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote either…
So, for all the women reading this, don’t sit idle at this point. Don’t let an administration win that wants to take away all of your rights and choices. Don’t keep your story and your opinions to yourself.
Don’t let your government define sexual morality or gender roles. Consensual sex with whomever and in whatever way pleases you is your right and your business. It’s not the government’s business. Hell, it’s not even your mother’s business.
We’re all affected and we all have a story.
Here’s my story: I’ve been sexually abused and I’ve been raped. There’s a good chance that the only reason I didn’t get pregnant was because I bought Plan B the next morning, NOT because it wasn’t a legitimate rape.
Chances are, my attacker will never step foot in the courtroom or in prison because it wasn’t (in the words of Paul Ryan) forcible rape, but it was still real and legitimate rape. I still suffered through months of PTSD and recovery. I might not be able to get justice in the courtroom but maybe we can get some collective justice in our legislation.
Exercise your rights.
We won’t realize how valuable they are until they’re gone.