Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Oh, the Irony! Me, My Uterus, and I

You know, Dallas ain’t bad. It’s not butt-fuck-nowhere Denver. The air is good, there’s leaves on the trees, everybody’s real nice, and – best of all – it’s a perfect 70 degrees.

Once you get over the whole “President George Bush Turnpike” thing, and if you find the freeway signs advertising “Men’s Only Clubs” funny because there aren’t any advertising “Women’s Only Clubs,” you’ll do fine.

I’m stuck, actually, about two-thirds of the way between Dallas and the airport, at one of those huge corporate complexes that are little cities unto themselves, complete with hotels and restaurants and 10-12 storey buildings built like palaces.

Our Dallas office is damn nice, with mirrored elevators, a faux-marble entryway with fountain, and we’re on the highest floor, so there are good views. In fact, we take up the entire floor of this building. The bathroom is huge, and has one of those really nice lighted vanities, and the whole place smells like potpourri. The receptionist is a sweetheart of an older woman, who clucked her tongue at me and asked where I was staying. When I told her, she nodded curtly, said, “Good, but next time, stay at XXX hotel, they’re even better than YYY with their comfortable beds, and XXX is just across the street.”

Duly noted.

There’s not much to do here today until the people who are supposed to be training me show up – I’m only here for a day, but overall, Dallas isn’t bad. And there’s a pharmacy across the street, where I was seriously starting to think about going to get a pregnancy test.

Oh, yes, it’s that time of the month – the time when you figure out whether or not your birth control pills are working.

Oh, pooh-pooh, people say of “us feminists” and how we perpetually talk about our uteruses and our rights over what’s done with them. People who pooh-pooh are the fuckers who’ve never had to be concerned about their “pesky” uteruses.

Let me reiterate just how fucking important this whole “uterus” issue is to the rest of my life, and the functioning of my day-to-day life, and why shit like “emergency contraception” and “great women’s health care” are so vitally fucking important. Here's my take on the "Pharmacists' Have the Right to Deny You Legal Healthcare in Order to Save Their Own Souls” bullshit. Here’s my take on what “Right to Life” really means: the right to my own life. Control over my own body. And my own power. These are real women’s lives, and these are the battles we fight every day. They’re battles of life and death, and by virtue of our biology, we’re the ones who get to make them.

Here’s how we live, what we do, and why that goddamn uterus and what these fuckers what to do with it is so goddamn important: cause they're putting their hands on us. On real women. Real people. Us.

A couple of weeks ago, I came down with symptoms indicating that my yearly sinus infection was on the make, and I went to my usual walk-in medical center in order to get some antibiotics. I told the doctor’s assistant and the doctor – three times – that I was on birth control pills, and would the antibiotics they prescribed affect the pills in any way?

I was assured – three times – that it would be no problem, that I shouldn’t be concerned about it, and I was given a prescription for a 10-day regimen of antibiotics, which I picked up… (::drumroll::) across the street from the very same Chicago OSCO pharmacy in the Loop that protestors were pissed off at for not issuing birth control pills.

Well, you can guess where this is going.

I spent four days taking antibiotics before I got smart and thought, “Hey, what’s this paper on the other side of the prescription receipt?”

Why, it was the list of medications that that the antibiotics may interact with.

Last on the list?

“May decrease efficiency of birth control pills.”

I love that phrasing “Decrease efficiency.”

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Why not fucking spell it out, “You’ve got an increased chance of getting pregnant against your will if you take these with your birth control pills and engage in hetero sex.”

Add this to the fact that this is the first time I’ve used a low-dose pill instead of the higher-dose one I had when I was 16 that worked without a hitch (well, except for the weight gain and weird mood swings that often ended with me in hysterical tears), and you may as well have stuck an icy knife in my gut. I immediately stopped taking the antibiotics.

Pregnant.

That would mean a $300-$400 abortion (after pushing through a line of protestors; that is, if I can get an appointment), and at least a half-day of missed work time (at $18.86 an hour – there aren’t a lot of clinics that do Saturday abortions, and if they do, they’re likely booked up). If I was one of those women who was really conflicted about whether or not a handful of cells dividing in my uterus and sucking on my body and breath for survival was an actual “life-complete-with-soul,” I’d have to deal with the moral freak-outs associated with that, too (luckily, I have no moral qualms whatsoever about having an abortion. I don’t believe it’s a living thing until it can live without… well, without ME. Part of ME is my uterus, and the part that people keep trying to put their hands on IS my UTERUS as well, which is part of ME, which is why I get so fucking pissed off when people tell me the personal isn’t political. It’s really fucking political when the laws people are passing have to do with ME and MY BODY and WHAT I DO WITH MY BODY).

Or, if for some fucked-up reason I didn’t want to or couldn’t have an abortion (because, say, my abortion doctor didn’t believe in giving abortions… the fuck s/he become an abortion doctor for then, anyhow? Yea. That’s how fucking ridiculous these pharmacist “protection” laws are), then I’d get to spend nine months nurturing a fertilized egg into a living person (using, of course, MY breath, MY blood, MY uterus, and MY money to buy all the food, all of which requires MY labor, and which, therefore, should be a CHOICE that I make, but I’m digressing… or am I?), then a day or three of blood and pain while delivering that person into the world, then a year of recovery while your body bends back into some semblance of shape (though never the same shape it was before of course), and either you give the kid away to somebody who can care for it better than you can, or you spend the rest of your life caring for that person…
All because your idiot doctor handed you some shitty antibiotics without mentioning that maybe you should use a back-up method of birth control during the four days your boyfriend was in town… Or, in my case, being an idiot and not checking the goddamn pharmacy receipt and double-checking what medications interfered with the pill.

What a great reason to have a kid. I bet the kid would be real appreciative, too.

I have spent the last four days anxiously awaiting the arrival of my period, jumping to the bathroom at every stomach twinge, hoping against hope that I had menstrual cramps.

And after looking out at the CVS pharmacy across the road this morning and resolving to get a pregnancy test when I hit the last of my green pills, I went to the bathroom here in the office, and viola! Behold! Wonder of fucking wonders!

Blood.

Good blood.

Oh, thank God.

It appears that my body and the pill are still very, very compatible. It’s always worked for me.

But, shit… Wow. Blood. How great. What a wonderful thing. And oh yes, these are definitely menstrual cramps. I don't even mind that I forgot to bring in some aspirin. I really don't care about that.

Because all of the sudden, I don’t have to worry about coming up with $400, missing work time, pushing through protestors, dealing with the cramping and blood after the abortion, deciding about whether or not to blog about an abortion, deciding how to break said news to said boyfriend or even if I should say anything to anybody at all and therefore continue the circle of silence about abortions (probably one of the few legal medical procedures many women feel ashamed to talk about). With another period, another month, I don’t have to worry about giving up nine months of my life for the creation of another person, and another year… or, actually, the rest of my life in a body altered by a pregnancy I didn’t want. I don’t have to worry about pushing somebody out into the world, through my own pesky uterus, who I really don’t want in my uterus.

It’s my choice, what I do with this body, who I choose to bring into the world, when and if I choose to do it.

The thing about pregnancy, about women’s fertility, is it’s something that every woman’s concerned about. Even if you’re not hetero or currently engaging in penetrative hetero sex, there’s the threat that a guy could come along one day and coerce or overpower you into having sex you don’t want, getting you pregnant and trying to get you to carry to term a pregnancy you don’t want.

Back in the old days, when 20% of women died in childbirth, having sex with a guy could kill you. And even now, more women die in childbirth than die having legal abortions.

And we’re living in a country that’s moving toward a stance that would rather see women dead than allow them control over their own bodies.

This is the message I get when I see protestors outside of women’s health clinics, when I see pharmacists refusing to give out legal medical prescriptions, when I see state governments pushing through parental consent laws, when I see women’s health clinics shut down because they’ve been bombed or threatened.

That’s homegrown terrorism. That’s terrorism against women and power.

A man can have sex with a woman and walk away… and retain the ultimate life-or-death power over her. Because unless we have access to these legal procedures, to safe abortions, to emergency contraception, to Planned Parenthood where we can pick up our pills, then we’re left with what the men have left us, and for many women, what was ultimately left to us was death.

If I choose to risk death in childbirth – however slight my chances are in a first-world hospital – that’s my choice. There’s not a women’s birthing draft. This is an all-volunteer army of women bearing children.

As it should be.

Don’t take away my body. Don’t fuck around with my uterus. Don’t put your guilty hands on my body.

You’re right, I talk about my uterus a lot, and what people want me to do with it, the restrictions they want to put on it…

And I do that because having a womb can be damn fucking cool and damn fucking scary. It's the only way – as yet – to create human life from a couple strands of DNA and some protein.

Me. My body. My body does that. It’s amazing.

This the power of life and death, and women deal with it every day. We decide how we want to use our bodies, and the methods we’ll use to control our bodies, because those are our rights.

My right.

Not a pharmacist’s. Not a doctor’s.

My womb, this one, is mine.

That pharmacist had no trouble handing over those antibiotics, though by taking them with the pill and engaging in hetero sex, I’d increased my risk of pregnancy. And pregnancy is a risky behavior, don’t forget that. However small the possibility, women still die bringing pregnancies to term.

Women still die, every day, birthing babies.

If I’m going to risk death, that’s my choice. Not a pharmacist’s. Not a doctor’s. Mine.

Next time, I get pushy with my health care professional - and I recommend you all get pushy with yours; whether it’s about insistence on proper medication or the doling out of proper medication. It’s our bodies being fucked with. Not theirs.

I’m not going to die for my pharmacist’s soul.

I'm not birthing a baby with this body, of this body, for anybody but me.

My body, my life, my choice.

Every damn day.

16 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

You said it perfectly. I live with the same fear each month of not getting my period, even though I AM on the pill. I even use a condom every time, even though I don't need to (monogamous relationship, both been tested). Yet, the second I get my period, I feel so much lighter..at least until the next month. And I'm an undergrad student, and my doctor didn't tell me about antibiotics either...good thing I knew better. My sister got pregnant TWICE on birth control pills because of doctors lying to her about the antibiotics not affecting her birth control pills. I just don't know who we can trust anymore. 

Posted by Stacie

Anonymous said...

This sort of thing is why I am on Depo (well, that and I can't take pills anyway). I LIKE knowing that being on antibiotics won't get me pregnant (though I have tried to abstain Just In Case during) on that one. Very scary when I first heard this about the pill. 

Posted by Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Amen. 

Posted by Alassra

Anonymous said...

Well said, sorry about the scare, but the package insert would (and did) tell you about this common side effect. There's a service available thru Public Citizen's [citizen.org] BestPills/Worst Pills that will also tell you of any dangerous drug interactions that all too many are wholly ignorant about:
[http://www.worstpills.org/index.cfm?SRC=1].

The lower dose pill should do fine, but it's effectiveness declines dramatically with antibiotics. It's something you might learn from your pharmacist after a few kids, right?

Here's Lindsay's take on the Pharma malpractice bit from majikthise: [http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2005/03/why_pharmacist_.html]

Yeah, nothing gets people riled up to do something unless you hit them where they live. Repeatedly and often. Even then it takes years of education and mobilization for them to be effective at removing those wily new theocrats from office. Don't worry, by that time your generation will have been drafted for our next 'excellent' series of foreign adventures. Of course there's no abortion for anyone in the services either, and they're likely to outlaw the pill overseas too.  

Posted by VJ

Anonymous said...

Is your doctor part of a larger practice or an HMO? I'm so stunned by their actions -- you SPECIFICALLY asked whether the antibiotics would affect the birth control pills' efficacy, you asked REPEATEDLY, and the doctor basically blew you off with a "no, no, it'll be fine, don't worry about it" -- that I'm having trouble coming up with coherent sentences.

What your doctor did sounds to me like gross irresponsibility, if not dereliction of duty. Is there a Chief of OB/GYN or health-plan ombudsman or somebody like that you could contact about this? If this happened to you, it's a safe bet that it's happened to other women too.

For pity's sake, even a simple CYA policy on the doctor's part would have had them saying "yes, antibiotics might possibly affect your birth control pills, so you should use condoms until you're done taking the antibiotics." 

Posted by Lexica

Anonymous said...

As someone who gulped a dose of the "morning after" pill not long ago I can totally relate to this thinking...had to sit there with a pharmacist and explain why i needed it........"how many reasons are there?" I asked ....lol........ ( it was great though that i could get this pill after a short 5 minute interview with a pharmacist) 

Posted by katagirl

Anonymous said...

Well said.

I know the fear as well. Every month, even with back up of a condom, because I know how much damage pregnancy -even if I got an abortion- would do to my life.

Thank you for writing. 

Posted by Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Rechecking this again many prescriptions will have the warning about antibiotics pasted on to it. So there's lots of blame to go around here. The Pharmacist should have never let you leave if you were filling both prescriptions there w/o him/her telling you of the conflict. This is why it's valuable to go to the same one so they can keep track of all the interactions that might come up. The computer will usually do this automatically, which is a good thing, because some of the more unfortunate combo's will be enough to kill people. Just about 80-100K people a year are done in that way. Sounds a bit dramatic, right? Most of the time with bad drug interactions they're done in at hospital too. It used to be easier to cover up the 'mistakes' that way.

So like everything else, when in doubt check it out. And yes, trusting anyone in a white coat is usually counter productive eventually. Some times sooner than later. Again see [worstpills.org] for the conflicts spelled out for many of the most common drugs.  

Posted by VJ

Anonymous said...

Perfectly, most excellently brutal post.  

Posted by Summer

Anonymous said...

you rock.

you just rock. 

Posted by jam

Anonymous said...

While the absurdity of the subject generating the post above is not in dispute, I still must take issue with you on several points. Partially, I am playing devil's advocate, but partially because, well, shit, I plain disagree on some points.

Most people, and I don't necessarily ascribe this to you, but take it for what it is, who espouse the above beliefs are the kind who feel some sort of social obligation to, say, MY (I am borrowing your emphasis) wallet. Now you might say that a comparison between a womb and a wallet is a bit trite, and I might agree with you, save that I am a man, who lacks anything worth protecting internally. Hell, governments have been throwing my ilk at spears, swords and cannons for nigh upon millenia, with great disregard for our safety or personal interests. But our bodies? We are chattel.

So I won't bring that up. What I do wish to ask is what is your position on MY wallet? I make about as much as you do, and I work damn hard and am fan-fuckin'-tastic at what I do. But at the same time, I don't get the same sense of "It's okay to tell the government to fuck off" with respect to the money I earned.

MY money goes to fund people who don't work as hard as I do. People who have made bad choices. People who have made all the right choices, even, and are able to exploit the system to get huge tax breaks and cause me to have to chip in more. If and when I pay property taxes on MY home, I am funding other peoples' education for kids I didn't ask for, or have any part in raising or creating.

But, I am a responsible citizen. And while at a time, I was all about MY this and MY that, I do realize that we have a social obligation to our society; at times, this means giving up freedoms that we should really probably be entitled to. At times, it both runs perpendicularly to our own interests and can cost us our lives.

While I admire your passion, and passionate you are, I fail to see how being a woman in particular grants you special immunity from having any particular aspect of your life unregulated, if this is indeed the society we have chosen to live under. I am not allowed to ingest whatever subject I wish to, legally, though I think I should be able to. And I'm not talking about (mind-altering) drugs, I'm talking about proven treatments that simply haven't been approved here. And the consequences are often more than having a child and bad hips for the rest of your life, they often result in death.

I don't think your passion is misdirected, I just think that the perspective you have on it may be a bit skewed. Your mileage, of course, will likely vary.

Thanks for the interesting read. 

Posted by Anonymous

Kameron Hurley said...

Hey anon – thanks for the thoughtful response.

Hell, governments have been throwing my ilk at spears, swords and cannons for nigh upon millennia, with great disregard for our safety or personal interests. But our bodies? We are chattel. 

Yet when a womb or war are not in issue, men’s bodies are generally more protected by bodily integrity laws than women’s. Both men and women can’t legally be forced to give blood, give up a kidney, or undergo any medical procedure against their will (unless they’re found to be mentally incompetent). However, in some countries, women are still considered perpetual minors (and again, this comes down to the body, to being born a woman – by virtue of your birth, you’re denied rights), and they can be forced to undergo procedures as dictated by their legal guardian.

Absolutely, men have been thrown out into war as fodder for the war machine. Men have also glorified and justified war as a rite of passage, as making a “real” man. Though I absolutely will not deny that women, too, are caught up in war fever, whether to encourage men to risk their lives or to risk their own lives, war is still a primarily male-driven machine. In the case of war, it’s a matter of rich men sending poor men to die. And I certainly don’t agree with that philosophy any more than I agree with forcing a woman to labor against her will. It’s one reason why having an all-volunteer army is so important in this country. You should not be asked to risk life and limb unless you’ve chosen that path.

Men would react - and have reacted – strongly and sometimes violently against being drafted, just as women have reacted strongly against having their own bodies co-opted by the state.

Again, this is why there’s such a huge reaction about the idea of the draft, and such a huge reaction against the repeal of Roe v. Wade: we’re talking about loss of control over our bodies and lives.

What I do wish to ask is what is your position on MY wallet?

Well, luckily, as I make my own money, too, I have no need for your wallet. As I have a right to legal abortion (in theory), I won’t even ever have children I don’t want or can’t afford to have, so I, personally, don’t intend to be a burden on anybody. I have my own wallet ;)

MY money goes to fund people who don't work as hard as I do. People who have made bad choices. People who have made all the right choices, even, and are able to exploit the system to get huge tax breaks and cause me to have to chip in more. If and when I pay property taxes on MY home, I am funding other peoples' education for kids I didn't ask for, or have any part in raising or creating.

And this, of course, is just a fundamental disagreement in our philosophy. I honestly don’t mind paying taxes so long as I can see that those taxes are assisting others who, yes, have made some bad choices. I’ve made some bad choices in my life, and luckily, I had a very supportive family who were able to help me out. Some people don’t have any support system at all, and it doesn’t bother me at all to help support them while they get back up on their feet. I do feel a social responsibility for my fellow citizens. I think that expanding this country’s social benefits system would be great. I think Sweden might be a bit overboard (hence their social welfare system’s impending money problems), but I don’t mind paying more taxes or having my money re-directed to other projects.

What the maintenance of a social welfare system also means in places like Sweden is that people who don’t want to work, don’t. And people who do, do.

I do see a big difference between my womb and my wallet.

My womb doesn’t belong to the state. I don’t breed for America.

Money is not the result of forced labor (at least, not legally, in this country). There are, indeed, people in this country who choose not to work. I choose to work, and sure, I end up supporting them. That’s a contract I enter into with my citizenship. Signing over my reproductive rights to the state isn’t something men or women are required to do. There’s not baby quotient. Men aren’t required to impregnate X number of women, and women aren’t required to have X number of children. They tried to encourage that in Rome, but even there, they never made it a law. In fact, I don’t know of any historical example where breeding for the state was a law. The closest we’ve come is the Christian dogma, “Go forth and multiply,” so many ultra-religious men and women do believe it’s their mission on earth to breed as much as possible. But the state doesn’t require that.

While I admire your passion, and passionate you are, I fail to see how being a woman in particular grants you special immunity from having any particular aspect of your life unregulated, if this is indeed the society we have chosen to live under.

And I don’t think women are asking for any “special” rights or privileges, just as men don’t feel they’re asking for any special privileges by asking that they not be drafted; it’s why we have a volunteer army, and why we have Roe v. Wade, because we’re a country that believes in the rights of the individual, and maintaining a person’s bodily integrity. We’ve also outlawed slavery... Though that sure as fuck took long enough. Which may be why we’re having such a hard time shaking people out of the mindset that a woman’s body doesn't belong to the old white guys drafting the laws.
 

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Dan said...

(I love how this image --> is going to look. Like "HAHA, it is I!" ;) )

Hey, Kameron, thanks for the thoughtful response. Something tells me we'll have a lot of future debates (this is a good thing, ask Brendan. Wait, don't ask Brendan ;) ).

Both men and women can’t legally be forced to give blood, give up a kidney, or undergo any medical procedure against their will (unless they’re found to be mentally incompetent). However, in some countries, women are still considered perpetual minors (and again, this comes down to the body, to being born a woman – by virtue of your birth, you’re denied rights), and they can be forced to undergo procedures as dictated by their legal guardian.

While none of this is wrong, I fail to see how it is germaine to this argument in particular. I can cite countries where men are literally forced into battle, or countries where, when villages are raided, and male old enough to hold a weapon is exterminated. And usually the women are forced into sexual slavery.

I think my general point is that men and women both have it rough much of the time, unfortunately.

But in America, while today, there are some differaences, there's not really any comparison between here and say Saudi Arabia. I knew a very nice girl from SA who told me that she just wasn't allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and if she did, she'd probably be killed about as plainly as if she was telling me that she needed to get some milk from the store later.

I think, as Americans, we tend to elevate our problems in pursuit of a perfect ideal. There's also nothing wrong with this; but at the same time, a perspective infusion never hurts. We have it pretty damn good, even when we have it pretty damn bad. While I don't agree with making war on anyone who doesn't agree with us in order to instill a sense of democracy, it wouldn't hurt some of the left to start putting serious pressure on those countries in much the same way they were able to make a substantive change to our social policy and outlook.

Well, luckily, as I make my own money, too, I have no need for your wallet. As I have a right to legal abortion (in theory), I won’t even ever have children I don’t want or can’t afford to have, so I, personally, don’t intend to be a burden on anybody. I have my own wallet ;)

Well, the fact is that we're (almost) all at some point a burden on our fellow citizens. When you went to school, if it was a public school, it was a school funded by other peoples' tax dollars. Cars you drive, public transportation you take, government services you use, and a thousand other examples are supported by the taxpayers' dime.

This is not a bad thing. When I was more libertarian, I thought this was the end of the world, but I grew out of that (thankfully), and now don't really care too much that it happens, I'd just rather it happen efficiently.

And this, of course, is just a fundamental disagreement in our philosophy. I honestly don’t mind paying taxes so long as I can see that those taxes are assisting others who, yes, have made some bad choices.

It sort of is and it sort of isn't (a fundamental difference). Depends on if I wake up on the right or wrong side of the bed. Most days I don't mind doing this, again, it's an obligation I have, and something I don't mind being able to do because I happen to live in this fantastic country. Even when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, these days it just boils down to (again) efficiency.

Money is not the result of forced labor (at least, not legally, in this country). There are, indeed, people in this country who choose not to work. I choose to work, and sure, I end up supporting them. That’s a contract I enter into with my citizenship. Signing over my reproductive rights to the state isn’t something men or women are required to do.

The rub here is that the state did not get you pregnant (although excepting in the case where you might get a conflicting drug through medicare, yes they did). Nor did it ask or force you to be pregnant. So the question isn't whether the state has a right to force you to become pregnant, it's a question of whether you have the right, independent of state (because I would assert fundamental rights exist independent of state) to become UNpregnant. That is a much different question.

My answer would be yes, fueled from the libertarian position of letting people do what they wish to and/or for themselves as it fails to encroach into my life (except if I were the father, but that's a whoooole other discussion).

My fundamental disagreement with a lot of feminist philosophy right now is that it's built on a poor foundation. If it's to be rooted in the constitution, it lacks standing (there is no phrase therein mentioning a right to privacy, and yes, I understand it's been interpreted in, but legally it should be amended and well-defined. Why does my right to privacy not supercede exceptions to the fourth amendment?). If it is rooted simply morally in the argument that "it's my body, no one can tell me what I can do with my body", then no, that's not right. Lots of people have coercive force over your body obligatorily by your being a citizen of your particular country. Is it right? Usually absolutely NO. But it happened with such frequency over the course of human history that we might be tempted to call it "normal". America is certainly abnormal, then, in its treatment of its citizens if one looks at it in comparison with past civilizations.

The arguments for the fundamental human rights of, say, blacks or any other minority group were much more rooted in the arguments for the rights of white European men and women, which had been discussed forever. Aside from philosophers who tried to make their trade in boosting up the stature of the white male to the detriment of all others, they lacked any sort of race-specific basis for why fundamental human rights existed.

Feminists don't seek to equate men with women in many circumstances, because they, in addition to asking for universal human rights that apply to men and women, also assert that women should enjoy full reproductive rights. Many "ask" that men completely stay clear of the issue. This would be missing the point, though.

While you're right that there's no spelled-out obligation to the state in the form of quota or something similar, there is still an understanding that we create more Americans by having more children, and that having more Americans means that there will be a continued existence of the state, and that the state cannot survive without its citizens breeding. In most subjects of a state, natural biology tends to take care of this for most people. But the overbearing arguments that take seek to take precedence over your uterus are, I would argue, still founded in obligation to the state at its core.

Anonymous said...

While none of this is wrong, I fail to see how it is germaine to this argument in particular. I can cite countries where men are literally forced into battle, or countries where, when villages are raided, and male old enough to hold a weapon is exterminated. And usually the women are forced into sexual slavery. 

Within the context of the “maintaining bodily integrity” argument, it’s pretty important, because we’re talking about a precedence of laws and social mores that have to do with upholding the individual rights of the “generic” body in United States (i.e. the non-pregnant body).

I think my general point is that men and women both have it rough much of the time, unfortunately.

Well, I’m certainly not going to disagree with that.

But in America, while today, there are some differaences, there's not really any comparison between here and say Saudi Arabia. I knew a very nice girl from SA who told me that she just wasn't allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and if she did, she'd probably be killed about as plainly as if she was telling me that she needed to get some milk from the store later.

Careful with this argument. When we veer off into the land of “But we here in America treat our women better than anywhere else!” I get really, really, freaked out (especially with the implied “we”).

Sure, in America I’m more or less treated like a real person (unless I’m a pregnant person, at which point my legal status gets trickier) – especially when you compare my legal status to that of women in a conservative religious state…. But what concerns me about that argument is that… well, shit, compared to how women were treated in, say, ancient Assyria, women in Saudi Arabia have it damn good!

What I’m looking for is something better. What I’m bitching about (and doing so very loudly and very passionately, which is how you’ve gotta do it if you want to get anybody’s attention these days - people won’t pay attention to the seriousness of the matter otherwise, and to somebody who’s got a womb, as the subject of all of the debate, it hits me as pretty damn serious) is gaining a better, more secure foothold for female autonomy, and that’s gotta be done and upheld in the courts. And, even more than that, I think – you’ve got to do it by altering people’s perceptions of the world and current gender relations as being “natural” and/or “static.” Things can change. Things can be really different. Things can be better. And saying, “Well, things are better than they were/are for somebody else,” tends to be a way to shrug off a point without really engaging with the concerns of those being directly affected by these laws/cultural norms right now.

I could just as easily shrug and say, “Well, black slaves in the US had it better than black slaves in the Caribbean” (and yes, the “slaves in the US have it better than slaves in X place” was certainly used as a justification for US slavery, as were arguments about the “natural” submissiveness and inferiority of black men and women. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t a different way to live).

The rub here is that the state did not get you pregnant (although excepting in the case where you might get a conflicting drug through medicare, yes they did). Nor did it ask or force you to be pregnant. So the question isn't whether the state has a right to force you to become pregnant, it's a question of whether you have the right, independent of state (because I would assert fundamental rights exist independent of state) to become UNpregnant.

But nor does the state get me UNpregnant (again, unless abortions end up getting paid for by taxpayer dollars which, I believe, they don’t under Bush policies – though the health care of the resulting children is paid for by our social welfare system in some states). So, yes, agreement. I also have the right to get tattoos and donate a kidney.

My answer would be yes, fueled from the libertarian position of letting people do what they wish to and/or for themselves as it fails to encroach into my life (except if I were the father, but that's a whoooole other discussion).

Heh heh. Yea. We likely don’t want to go there…

My fundamental disagreement with a lot of feminist philosophy right now is that it's built on a poor foundation. If it's to be rooted in the constitution, it lacks standing (there is no phrase therein mentioning a right to privacy, and yes, I understand it's been interpreted in, but legally it should be amended and well-defined.

Which was, of course, the problem that African Americans ran into, trying to use the Constitution as a document guaranteeing them rights when the Constitution had the built-in “slaves are ¾ of a real person” rule. It gets tricky. What fighting for rights for different groups ultimately ends up being (as the gay marriage debate is doing) is about re-conceptualizing our ideas about what a “person” is (a person can be a woman and non-white; though many people still use “he” as a generic term for “person” and often assume that gender-neutral names belong to men and not women [I just caught myself doing this with an SF author, who was, in fact, a woman, despite the gender-neutral name. I’d reverted to my socialized “he”]).

So yes, looking to the constitution for help won’t necessarily get one anywhere. I think that where feminist philosophy is actually looking regarding right to privacy is the precedence of law – cases where men weren’t forced to donate a kidney in order to save someone’s life, and weren’t forced to donate blood to save a life. It’s using the current rulings to try and come up with a solid definition of the legal status of a pregnant woman or potentially pregnant woman (which is pretty damn near all of us).

America is certainly abnormal, then, in its treatment of its citizens if one looks at it in comparison with past civilizations.

I’m not complaining in its abnormality. ;) In fact, I’m all for encouraging it. I think amazing things can be done in a society where everyone’s able to live life to their fullest potential, and everyone’s considered a citizen. Greece was considered really weird for “letting” Greek slaves attain citizenship status after X amount of time. Doesn’t mean what they did was wrong. It was new, different, and helped keep the slaves from revolting. heh.

Many "ask" that men completely stay clear of the issue. This would be missing the point, though.

Well, I agree with you on this bit. I think trying to divorce a little less than half the population from a dialogue about the personhood of the other half would be really counter-productive. Shuts down the whole dialogue, and creates a Red v. Blue state of Men vs. Women. And that’s just dumb.

But the overbearing arguments that take seek to take precedence over your uterus are, I would argue, still founded in obligation to the state at its core.

I don’t think so, actually. At this point in America the debate is framed as a religious one, so the real debate (well, the way they’re framing it – I still believe it’s about controlling women, ultimately, but let’s look at how they frame it) is whether or not we’re living in a secular state. If we are, then the conservative Christian religious views of “life” and my purpose in life won’t pertain to me, as I don’t adhere to those beliefs. However, if we become a country where ultra-conservative Christian values become the state-norm, then me and my uterus are in trouble.

And, OK, I’ve seriously got to make these responses more concise, or I’m not going to get any real blog posts up today… ;)
 

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Dan said...

Sweet lord, arguing with you is like arguing with Brendan. Break the mold already. :)

Assume agreement, or reasonable understanding of your points on all counts. No use in going round in circles. I only wish to note I didn't mean to imply a deficiency when I said America was abnormal. Maybe I should have said atypical.

Have a nice day.

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