This post is a response to this article. Please read it and then come back for my take on things.
A long time ago I took a Woman's Studies course during my matriculation at Montgomery college. I found the discussions in that class to be fascinatingly ridiculous and quickly realized that most common sense was viewed as insanity. I remember one girl stating that a man's opinion on some woman's issue was just as valid as a woman's because "It's all just opinion." I may have an opinion on civil wars in Africa and anarchy in Greece but I'm not really part of that discussion, nor should I be, even though, "it's all just opinion."
On the first day in that class our teacher defined feminism as "the belief that women should have equal rights and opportunities with men." No where in this definition did it state that being feminist also meant that you must believe that it is a god given right to have your unborn child hoovered out of you and disposed of whenever you saw fit. (Yes, I know the decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal thing and I know many of my dear friends have had the procedure done. It breaks my heart that they felt that this was the only option left to them and that the multitude of other choices out there are so rarely taken.)
The hard core feminist of the NOW and things like that seem to believe that if you don't believe in abortion rights then somehow you aren't really a feminist. If you believe say, that women should have the right to choose not to have sex, or to use multiple layers of protection or to have their baby adopted to parents who could take care of it, or perhaps to take responsibility for the choices they have made and find a way to raise their child and change the life they had in mind, then the feminist label really isn't for you because after all, men don't have to have babies and we want to be equal with them, don't we?
So now, political candidates who are women and claim the title feminist for themselves because they believe that all women deserve the same rights as men are called fakers by the established feminist press because they disagree on this issue.
Rights are a funny thing. People define them so differently these days that the term is starting to loose it's meaning. I personally believe that a right is something that cannot be given to you by someone else. It can be interfeared with but it cannot be given at someone else s expense. My right to free speech isn't given to me by anyone in particular. I don't have to ask my neighbor to let me have this right. I do have to ask that he leave me alone to practice my free speech and very occasionally I have to ask that my fellow countrymen defend that right against those that would take it away but I don't have to ask them to give it.
As a woman I have the right to bear children or not. I can choose not to participate in activities that result in children if I don't want them or I can choose from the many varieties of contraception that are available if I decide I just can't help myself. I can choose to do things that I know lead to pregnancy if babies are what I want. I do not have equal rights with men, I have greater rights because no matter how hard a man tries and despite some medical gimmickry, men can never do this. With this awesome right comes awesome responsibility, as it does with all rights. You want the right to free speech, you better be prepared to defend it and deal with the consequences of whatever crazy thing you say. We women have the right to bear children and we have to know that that right comes with the responsibility of making a clear and logical choice to have them or not and deal with the consequences of that choice. Why do we sell ourselves so short, to think that the only choice is between having an unwanted child or an abdication of our ultimate responsibility?
As for the political types, why is it so hard to understand that there are millions of women out there who don't think that abortion is OK and who don't think that national health care is a good idea and who don't think that the way our government is handling things is appropriate. Why shouldn't these voices have representation and why shouldn't that representation come from a woman who shares those ideals?
One final thought, why have the feminist mainstream devoted so much energy to protecting a woman's right to choose to end her pregnancy where there are millions more women who are denied the right to choose how and what means to continue their pregnancy? The maternal mortality rate has been going up in the US for the last 28 years (since 1982). That means that more women are dying around the time of childbirth(percentage wise) in my generation than did in my mothers. That fact ought to have every feminist worth her salt up in arms because it effects every woman who will ever have a child, not just those who will choose to end their pregnancy. This is a discussion for another time, check back later for that one.