I am a 26-year-old woman. I woke up this morning, made some oatmeal and drank a cup of coffee while I read the paper. I have a car payment, a loving family and a degree from the top journalism school in the nation. I have a respectful career. I also use birth control.
Someone alert the authorities!
For centuries, all over the world, women have fought tirelessly to gain equal footing with men. I’ve always been grateful that, as an American, I can choose my career, drive a car, not be sold into marriage, even express my opinion in a letter like this. But today? I’m terrified. High gas prices and the threat of nuclear war aside, I’m terrified that these hard-earned rights could be arbitrarily stripped from me by people in power who may never understand my journey.
I’ve never considered myself a feminist, but I take it personally that, in 2012, it’s even feasible to elect a president who would villainize me for selfishly pursuing “a gratifying career outside of the home,” or that it’s acceptable for an influential commentator to demand that an outspoken law student post sex videos online for him to watch. What’s happening today has masqueraded under several aliases, such as protecting religious liberties, preserving the sanctity of marriage and upholding traditional values. But traditional values also included slavery, prohibition and corsets.
What’s happening today is really a war on women: a reactionary (and often vitriolic) response by those who would prefer we just stay in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.
Consider a few what-ifs based on recent proposed legislation:
Under Oklahoma’s Personhood Bill, which defines life as beginning at conception, should I suffer (yes, suffer!) a miscarriage, I could be charged with manslaughter. Additionally, should I have an ectopic pregnancy, this vaguely worded bill could prevent doctors from treating the life-threatening embryo with drugs.
Under Nebraska’s proposed Freedom of Conscience Clause, my doctor or pharmacist could refuse to provide medical care or fill prescriptions that violated his or her conscience, including everything from prenatal care to birth control. It wouldn’t matter if I were married or single, rich or poor, religious or not. It wouldn’t matter if I had polycystic ovarian syndrome and desperately needed the pill to alleviate symptoms of painful menstruation, obesity and the potential removal of my ovary due to cysts.
Under bills in Virginia and Alabama, if I were raped and wished to seek an abortion, I could be forced to undergo further trauma and humiliation by having a transvaginal ultrasound (“trans-v,” according to the cowardly legislator who can’t even articulate the horribly invasive procedure he voted for). Luckily, governors balked on this one.
Amid all this criticism of women seeking to take charge of their reproductive health, why is no one pointing fingers at the male partners? Last I checked, sex (and consequentially, family planning) required two people. If this is really about preserving families, where is the law that criminalizes wasteful sexual activity such as masturbation? Or the law that forbids vasectomies? Heck, when is it acceptable for me to call a man who is married to a postmenopausal woman and uses Viagra a slut?
Like I said, I’m no feminist. What I am is a citizen concerned that I can still be bullied for having a vagina. Does that word make you uncomfortable?