Monday, April 30, 2007

The Burden of Being Trapped in a Woman’s Body

Conversational Pieces that Illuminate…..

The scene:

Texas Roadhouse Restaurant

8:30 pm

Dinning Companions, Seven

On Friday night, your girl Sally Sunshine found herself surrounded by a table of conservative Republicans. It was, more or less, your garden variety “we hate gays, feminists, and anything resembling counterculture” crowd. One of the dudes was even wearing cowboy boots. I knew I was out of my comfort zone, but still proceeded to stir shit up anyway. As most of you know, dissent and deviant behavior is a favorite past time of mine.

Actually, the overall mood and conversation was not that hostile. Discussion ranged over a large array of topics like politics, religion, abortion, sexuality, astrology.. all the hot buttons were pushed and nobody got pissed.

However, I knew I was in trouble when the boot guy asked nervously, “So, is astrology like a religion?” To which I responded in kind, “Eh, not exactly young grasshopper, listen and learn.” Ok, so I wasn’t that mean, but I did explain that astrology is not a religion and I am not a Wiccan Priestess.

Next, a polite Harley guy to my right, begin to grill me about my travel habits, interests, profession, and…… abortion?.... Evidently, he must’ve assumed that I had an opinion on the matter. We began by debating the whole ‘when does life begin’ issue. After I thoroughly squelched his argument he moved on to the old fall back, religious justification. This is always a good cop out since none of us can be certain that God even exists or what the ramifications of our actions will be after we leave this planet. My guess is as good as yours, literally.


I attempted to steer the conversation from the invisible guy in the sky theory and back to basics, arguing that in order for women to have any sort of dominion over their lives we need reproductive freedom and choice. I went on to explain that when one’s back is up against the wall of an unplanned pregnancy, all bets are off.

Because we are biologically born women, does that mean we should be prisoners of our bodies? Sure, some experience motherhood as a true blessing and joy, hell it could very well be their life calling. However, some of us recoil at mere thought of having children, or in some cases, just the actual pregnancy portion of the deal. I, for one, have never been excited about the idea of ‘something growing inside of me’, alien invasion anyone? My biases aside, it must be recognized, some of us are just not big fans of being mommies.

This having been said, I asked him to look at the practical side of situation. Typically, the onset of puberty begins for women between 11-13 years old in which menstruation commences. Menopause, then, begins in the late forties after women have completed their childbearing years. For illustrative purposes, let’s assume that first menstruation was at age 13 and menopause at 48. People, that’s 35 freaking years of reproductive potential. 35! During that time, is it plausible that a mistake may be made? I know I’ve forgotten to take my pill in a rush to leave the house in the morning or in hasty drunken stupor had unprotected sex, hell, it happens. Mistakes will be made, errors in judgment will occur, and consequences born out of extreme negligence will ensue. It’s called life.

However, this is not the point. The point is women should have the all the tools (family planning, yearly obg/yn exams, regular contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, and abortion) available to them to exercise the right to pursue their respective destinies with self-determination and dignity.

Most men move through their lives with a relative degree of freedom and anonymity. They do not or cannot understand what it is like to be chained to the burden of biology or the dilemma of being stuck inside a fertile body. For those of us who live with this anxiety constantly (those not wishing to conceive) it’s a pretty fucking weighty paranoia even if you are normally as safe as possible and ignore the fact that humans make mistakes.

These feelings, at least in my case, certainly account for a large portion of that “post sex” guilt/worry. The nagging.. what if, what if, what if that plagues the brain and never ceases to stop. That is, until the next month when I declare victory over biology once again and run screaming from the bathroom, "Thank God, I’m free at last. God Almighty, I’m free at last!"


Cassandra Says said...

Every time I hear someone talking about the joy of pregnancy I think of the scene in Alien where the little beastie is ripping it's way out of John Hurt's stomach.
I've pretty much given up actually arguing with anti-abortion men. I'm at the "since you will never have to make this decision you're really not in a position to understand how that would feel, and it's none of your business, so STFU". It's funny, for all that the radfems don't like me, on this issue I'm far more hardcore than most of them are. If you're a man then I don't care how you feel about abortion, it is simply none of your business. Your only possibly role in the matter is to hold your SO's hand and say "whatever you decide I'm here for you, honey". If you can't do that then fuck off.
It's probably a good thing I don't live in Texas any more, huh?

sallysunshine_26 said...

Absolutely. I am of the same mind. When men comment on the issue in general the most they usually get out of me is a raised eyebrow or an eyeball roll. I was in a sociable mood on Friday night so I attempted to explain my position to the polite Harley guy. The conversation was at least civil, so I am thankful for that. Otherwise, yes, "STFU" is appropriate.