Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why we should stand with women...

...whether or not we live in Texas.

This isn't going to be a pro-abortion rights post.  Or an anti-abortion rights post.  Lots of people speak and write passionately about those things.  And, frankly, I kind of get tired of hearing it all.  I'm 50 years old, and I've pretty much heard it all.  So, what I'm going to do here is reflect on women.  I probably will piss some people off.  I'm probably going to generalize a little bit.  Please realize that I know I'm generalizing; I know that everything I say won't apply to every single woman.  Women are varied and individual -- like snowflakes.  But, like snowflakes, maybe there are some commonalities.  So, what do I hope to accomplish?  I just hope to give people something to reflect on.  Feel free to accept or reject what I say according to your own life experiences.  I am no end-all, be-all expert.

Years ago, a friend of mine said something that gave me pause.  She was not a Christian.  She was Asian and had been raised as a Buddhist.  She was relatively quiet, very thoughtful, and wise.  She had a daughter who was about the same age as my daughters -- they were all pre-schoolers at the time.  One day, we were talking about the raising of girls -- specifically teenage girls and sex.  She said something that I have since thought about on quite a few occasions.  She stated, "Once you're faced -- as a teenage girl -- with an unplanned pregnancy, there really is no 'good' solution.  All of the options -- whether abortion, or adoption, or being a single mom -- involve many difficulties, emotionally and otherwise.  No matter what 'choice' you make, it's going to be a hard one.  It's going to be painful."  You may disagree, but I think she had a really good point.

And I think her point applies not only to teenagers, but to women of any age.  So, whether you are "pro-choice" or "pro-life" or whatever label you want to apply to yourself, I think we all need to reflect on this and what it truly means to "stand with women."  Because women, sexually, are much more vulnerable than men.  And it is the women who must face the consequences of sex -- especially pregnancy -- in a much more direct manner than any man ever will.

I have read many things which advocate the idea of sexual freedom for women, which tell us that women have the basic right to a healthy and satisfying sex life.  I agree with this.  I think, in the past, women's sexual needs and desires were often overlooked.  Women who had higher sex drives and more sexual imagination were often made to feel like "sluts" or "whores."  Whereas men who were engaging in the same types of behaviors -- or trysts of the imagination -- were described as "healthy" and given the "wink-wink."  

One thing, though, that sometimes is forgotten is that the body of a woman is made to get pregnant.  Even when you're using reliable birth control in a responsible fashion, it doesn't always work out the way you think it will.  In fact, I even read a statistic that one out of three women will have an abortion by the time she is middle-aged.  That's a lot of women.  Add on top of that the number of women faced with unplanned pregnancies who do not have abortions and you see that women get pregnant a lot.  Even -- sometimes -- while using contraception (or even NFP) properly.

And -- bottom line -- who really has to deal with an unplanned pregnancy?  The WOMAN.  If she chooses an abortion, she is the one who has to have the procedure done on her.  If she chooses adoption, she has to go through the pregnancy and the birth -- feats which should not be diminished or dismissed as simple things.  They are not simple things.  They are exhausting -- physically and emotionally.  And a woman who chooses adoption has to go through being pregnant and giving birth -- and then has to face placing her child into someone else's arms.  I have three children.  This cannot be an easy thing to do.  Not at all.  And the woman who chooses to keep her baby -- especially if she is young and single -- may face very difficult circumstances.  For example, have you checked out the price of good child care lately?  A single mother most probably must work, trying to bring in enough money to cover not only her basic living expenses, but child care, as well.  I recently read that the Head Start program is facing a lot of cuts because of the sequester, leaving many single moms in the lurch.  Most of the women who depend on Head Start don't make enough money to afford good private day care.  

Some of you, at this point, may be thinking that I am a commie pinko feminist bleeding heart liberal.  Actually, I am a Republican.  I think personal responsibility is important.  I have tried to teach my children to be take responsibility for their actions.  But, let's face it, we all get in over our heads sometimes, even when we are trying to be responsible.  Also, we all fuck up occasionally.  Some of us escape -- by the luck of the draw or Providence -- the consequences of our fuck-ups.  But, some of us don't.  So, yeah, I can relate to those women who find themselves facing a pregnancy that is just not good news.

And this is why we must "Stand With Women" -- whatever our particular bent is regarding the abortion issue.  Because women are vulnerable in ways that men just aren't.  So, in our actions, we should attempt to be truly sensitive to the needs of women.  We should try to truly support them.  How?  Here are some ideas.  Maybe we should respect their intelligence and desire to be independent and self-directed.  Maybe we should examine the ways in which we can create a society where fewer pregnancies are "crises."  And, perhaps, we need to LISTEN to the women.  I know there are women who regret their abortions.  The pro-life side has them talk at their functions.  I know there are women who do not regret their abortions.  The pro-choice side has them talk at their functions.  I also know that there are many women who will never talk about their abortions -- whether they regret them or not -- out of fear of rejection or ridicule.  I really have a lot of sympathy for these "silent" women.  I wonder how they feel when they see all the fighting and arguing and contention? 

I know I am kind of rambling here.  I also know that I am not addressing the issue of unplanned pregnancy in a comprehensive way.  For example, I have not spoken of married women faced with unintended pregnancies.  And that does happen.  Often.   I know I am not offering concrete solutions.  But, I am just trying (probably poorly) to point out that if we can quiet ourselves -- at least as individuals interacting with other individuals -- and we can really listen to and be there for women who are facing unplanned pregnancies, maybe our society can actually move forward and experience some healing.  And when I say listen, I mean listen.  Without passing judgement.  Because, sometimes, I think the first thing a woman in crisis needs is someone to talk to, someone who will listen with true compassion, respecting her intelligence and her autonomy and her capability.  Because, let's face it, most people make better decisions when they feel understood and respected, when they are not backed into a corner, when they are given a little breathing room.  That's part of what "human dignity" is all about.


  1. As an OB nurse and a midwife I really agree with what you said. Any woman who is pregnant with an unplanned baby (and 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned) is in a difficult and sometimes tragic situation where all of the choices are hard and life changing. They all deserve for someone to care about them and to listen to them.