So I read a post on the Feministing Community today that I wanted to talk about. Disclaimer: I don’t mean to rain on the poster’s parade about how she accomplished something, because I totally get the overwhelmed “all I have is this teaspoon” feeling and the awesomeness of realizing that you can do something with a teaspoon after all. And I realize that I don’t know the poster or the person she posted about, so my interpretation could be totally off. So I’ll just sum up the story and then talk about what it makes me think about instead of claiming that I know what was really going on.
The story: Anti-Choicer has unsafe sex and realizes that if she needed to, she would have an abortion. She tells her feminist friend that she “gets it” now. Feminist Friend is excited.
To me, it looks like all A-C got was scared. But again, I don’t know her or what she really meant or anything, so I’ll just talk about what I think of the situation in which an anti-choicer does get scared and changes her mind for that reason only. I appreciate the extra pro-choice voice. I like the result. But I don’t like the reason for the change.
Most pro-lifers/anti-choicers believe that abortion is murder. Now I don’t really believe that they really believe that abortion is murder, at least not in the same way they think shooting someone in the head is murder, for reasons detailed in my post on abortion a little while back (like, how nobody tries to investigate miscarriages). But that’s their stance, nonetheless, and I do think (having been one) that on the surface, they think that abortion is murder. Now, if someone decided that murder (regular murder) was ok because they found themselves in a situation where murdering someone would make their life a WHOLE lot easier, I wouldn’t cheer for them.
But does it matter how you make your decision, if you come to a good result? I’d argue yes. I think that if you’re willing to do or support something that you previously thought was immoral just because it’s really important for you now, you’ll be willing to repeat that kind of decision-making in the future, and next time the result might be a lot worse. If you make decisions based on what behooves YOU, without regard to what it will do to other people, you’re hardly a posterwoman for feminism, or any human rights. (Again, I’m not saying that to A-C, just in general.)
There’s another way to look at this story, though. I’ve brought it up before, but this is such a great example of it that I have to go into it again. I think a lot more people would be pro-choice if premarital sex was not taboo, because I think a lot of people find it easy to argue that the option to abort should be taken off the table simply because they think they and their loved ones will never need it. Only sluts will, and they deserve punishment. It’s an idea that I think pure meritocracy would bring us dangerously close to and that shows up in a lot of conservative thought: you messed up, sucks for you. Nobody’s going to help you because you could have done better and then you wouldn’t be in this mess. Obviously this kind of thinking doesn’t solve any problems, because it only refers to the past and hypothetical situations, not to the present reality. But it’s not intended to solve problems; it’s intended to warn others and justify denying help to the sinner. I’ll admit, there are times when I believe in this kind of thing, like when a student asked my professor the day before the final exam if she could take the exam on a different day (meaning my prof had to write a new exam and come in on a day she would have had off) because the student had another exam the same day (which is allowed under school policy, but which the student didn’t want to have to deal with), when the student had actually had another chance to take the other exam early and had just not noticed the problem in time to do so. That student is very lucky that I was not her professor, because I would have laughed in her face. But taking two exams in one day is not really life-threatening or an affront to human rights, so.
Anyway, back when I was on topic I was talking about how a lot of people, I think, are anti-choice because they don’t think they’ll need the choice. And when they do, they often change their minds. Of course, some of them just get an abortion and then continue being anti-choice, and if I believed in Hell I would expect to find such people in a lower circle of Hell than the others, because that’s hypocrisy at its best. Although I assume a lot of them just ask for forgiveness afterwards and try to convince themselves that they wouldn’t do it again if the situation recurred, so that they can talk about it as a mistake, a time of weakness from which Jesus has healed them, and not as a decision to opt out of their morality just long enough to make their lives easier. Not that all such people are hypocrites, obviously I don’t know…but I’m certainly skeptical.
The anti-choicers/pro-lifers who do change their minds when they realize that this could happen to them are, as a commenter pointed out on the feministing post, in need of empathy skills. You shouldn’t have to wait until a situation hits home to realize that it hits home every day for other people. Better late than never, though. But still, I hope that the people who go through this change realize, when they’re going through their revelatory crisis, not just the fact that their lives as they know them will be over if they have a kid, but that forcing a woman to grow a human being with her own nutrients and house that human being with her own body for nine months is a violation of that woman’s right to bodily autonomy, her right to not use her body for someone else’s means, her right to own her body and not be pressed into the service of another, no matter what will happen to that someone else, and no matter who that woman is – even if she’s not you. And I hope that’s why they decide that it’s ok to turn to abortion when necessary and to support its legality.
I really think I prefer a consistent conservative over a hypocritical liberal. Speaking of which, that circle of Hell I mentioned is just waiting for any Democrats who say sexist things or support the saying of sexist things about Sarah Palin. Yes, many Republicans are using her female-ness in a transparent and despicable way, but anyone who’s been to kindergarten should know that two wrongs don’t make a right. Yes, many Republicans are holding up double standards like they’re an American flag with a cross on it, but the part of the double standard we should tear down is the part where they justify and perpetuate sexism, not the part where they call it out. No, Palin has nothing to do with feminism, but feminism has something to do with her. Fortunately I don’t think I have to tell the feminist blogosphere that : ).