Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Feminist Lunch

I had the nicest lunch today. I'm starting to think that I should just let everyone take me to lunch all the time. We could sit around and talk about whatever interested us and try to solve the world's problems. It'd be like blogging, but in person and less effective, since it'd just be one person at a time. Still, this human interaction thing, done face to face might just lead to something interesting. Anyway, the person I was with is a liberal do-gooder in the medical field and I am a liberal do-gooder in the yakkity-smackity field, and so it's fun to get together with someone who shares your sympathies but knows much about things you know little about. But something that stunned me is that, since we were talking about health care, of course we were talking about issues with providing health care to women and I was casually mentioning things that feminist bloggers talk about all the time--
  • the importance of easy access to the morning after pill, especially for rape victims
  • the disconnect between being anti-abortion and pro-abstinence only education
  • the fucked-up-ed-ness of the kind of discourse that seems to frame pregnancy as the just punishment for sluts, even though such a framework, seems, at its core to posit children only as a heavy and uniquely unpleasant burden, and how damaging such a framework is to said children as well as women
  • the bizarre notion that life begins at conception, even though many a body discards many a fertilized egg without women even being aware of it, as if philosophy can somehow trump physical facts if you shout it loud enough
  • etc.

--and my lunch companion kept saying things like "That's right, but I hadn't heard it articulated like that before.'

Now, I'd like to think that I'm just some articulating genius, but I actually think that this points to a larger problem among feminists--and in larger society--we are too specialized.

Within our own little groups, we are well-versed in all of the issues, but we don't quite know how to hear (or even where to listen) to groups outside of our immediate realm of knowledge.

And yet, things like healthcare affect us all and it's virtually impossible to live one's life in a way that avoids all healthcare professionals, so it becomes increasingly important that women be able to receive the kinds of healthcare they need from people who are tuned into their right to get it.

So, how do we tune each other in? How can an artsy fartsy feminist converse with a healthcare professional passionate about women's health issues?

I think this--careful reading, writing, and considering--is one important way.

But I've also been thinking about why it is that women's healthcare decisions are up for discussion anyway. Part of it is, of course, because we can give birth--between our legs the unfolding of eternity or some such shit--and people tend to talk about miracles, but I think that part of it is also that guy at the bar syndrome.

I think that there's a large segment of the population, both male and female, that cannot wrap their heads around the idea that there are a lot of things that, though they may have an opinion about it, they don't get a say in it. Just because you see that there is a woman struggling with a decision, it doesn't mean that you get to jump in and take over and move her to a place you're more comfortable with.

Everyone ought to have a right to her own autonomy, including her own bodily autonomy. It's weird and disturbing to me that, when it comes to medical decisions, women don't. Everything we do with our bodies is given such preposterous moral weight that our whole society feels an imperative to step in and make our decisions for us. It's very yucky.

In order to be recognized as fully human adults, we have to be able to make decisions that are unpopular. We have to be able to do things you disagree with. We even have to be able to do things your god disagrees with.

(Bitch says it better than me.)


Blogger Twyla said...

Very nicely put.

7/13/2005 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Taketoshi said...

yeah, wonderfully put--but now i've sunk into an infinite regress of blogsurfing

arrrgh help

7/13/2005 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger PPB said...

well put.

7/13/2005 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Good post. I think a lot of women have no idea about how frequently spontaneous abortions occur when pregnancy is not detected. MedlinePlus says, "It is estimated that up to 50% of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among known pregnancies, the rate of spontaneous abortion is approximately 10%..." Not that this necessarily influences someone's politics, but I think women are often not as informed as they could be about the workings of their own bodies.

7/13/2005 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger _Summer_ said...

Bodily decisions...moral weight...yes, yes, yes!

Well said. And just as relevant, eloquent, and ROUSING as anything Bitch has posted on the subject. I hope you don't mind if I link up to this'un.

7/13/2005 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Cindy St. Onge said...


7/14/2005 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger jo(e) said...

Well said!

7/14/2005 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger marybishop said...

Came here from Summer's place and I have to say this post is superbly written and gets me in my gut.

You eloquently point out something I feel, women are treated like tall children. And until our bodies are completely under our control, "parents" will decide for us just what we should be doing with it.

Brava! Bravissima!

7/14/2005 07:17:00 AM  
Anonymous The Yellow Brand Hammer Co. said...

Can I be a feminist too? I need access to the secret handshake.

7/14/2005 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Taketoshi said...

As an A-List American Leftist (male variety), I can't really be a Feminist. I'll pretend, however, if it'll get the girls to like me.

7/14/2005 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

Hear, hear, Aunt B.!!

In my line of work I am exposed to so many effing ogres who wouldn't last a day if their wives left them to handle their lives (including caring for the children and the home) alone. Yet, they seem to talk about women as though women are a lesser species. It could be the fetid air of our little boys' club that encourages these men to blurt things that they wouldn't say elsewhere, but I doubt it.

I don't know. I have to agree strongly, though, Aunt B., with your point that those who aren't women shouldn't poke their hypocritical, sanctimonious noses into those issues in which they don't have to do the heavy lifting. Abortion, for starters. If I hear one more right-wing nutjob male politician (especially one who's left a sick wife for a younger woman) talk about the evils of abortion, I'm going to reach out and figuratively clock his stupid ass.

The day I'm able to get pregnant, I'll chime in with my views on abortion. In the meantime, whatever my pregnant wife commands me, I shall obey. She is the brain of the outfit, after all (make that two brains, for a few more months).

7/14/2005 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

I've been thinking about what you said, Rachel, all day--that up to 50% of fertilized eggs don't result in even known pregnancies and at first I was like, "Wow, if more people knew this, maybe we could finally do away with the 'life begins at conception' nonsense," but then I've been thinking that some people would probably try to make this into some kind of "medical crisis" and pass legislation requiring all women who are having sex to hang upside down a special hospital ward when we are not "in use" to try to prevent the loss of any "lives."

YBHC--It's a terrible prejudice on my part, but I don't trust any man who calls himself a feminist. I have never been treated as poorly because of my gender by any man (with the exception of the Christian gyno) as I have been by so-called male feminists. Be all the pro-feminist you want and I'll even teach you the secret handshake, but please don't call yourself a feminist.

Church Secretary, if you have ever fought fires in Boys Town, I have probably ogled you while visiting friends. I apologize for objectifying you while you were trying to work. Congrats on the impending fatherhood.

It's true that such professions tend to have their share of macho meatheads.

It's a shame they don't realize that they can be very manly and strong and fucking sexy without having to belittle women to do it. I imagine, too, that many of them are like my dad, who is not a feminist in general, but God help the person who tells his daughter she can't do something.

We just have to figure out how to get those people--who I truly believe are the majority of non-feminists (gods, I hope)--to extrapolate from the women they love to all of us.

7/14/2005 06:01:00 PM  

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