Friday, April 15, 2011

Feminism and Abortion

Earlier this week my history class discussed the modern feminist movement.  From my lecture notes:

"In 1970 NOW launched major action: Women’s Strike For Equality.  This was across the US and the demands were equal pay for equal work, universal child care and the legalization of abortion.  'We are the 51% minority.'  Even this moderate agenda was polarizing. Counter protest: men 'we love women in the kitchen and in the bed.'  'This morning I made love to my wife and she loved it.'

None of these major goals were achieved.  By 1980 women still earned $0.59 to men’s dollar.  Today they earn $0.77 to the dollar.  Universal child care was a total failure.  And abortion rights are sharply limited throughout much of the US."

Ok, a couple of things: 

1) Abortion rights are sharply limited in much of the US compared to where?  From my understanding the US has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world.  I'll need to look into this more.  I suppose you could argue that some places in the US have severely limited abortion access compared to other places in the US, but all places in the US allow abortion for any reason through the first trimester, and to my knowledge everywhere in the US must allow abortion after that if the woman's health is threatened, with "health" being rather loosely defined.  

2) I think it's true that woman's child-bearing capabilities make her unequal to man.  It's inevitable.  Even if you decided to put a child up for adoption, carrying and bearing that child will be time-, emotion-, money- and energy-consuming.  Once the child is born I don't know of any biological reason why women and men can't pour equal resources into raising the child, but up until that point no one can make it an even playing field.

That being said, abortion doesn't make it even either.  At the very least, the woman still has to find the money and use the time to have an abortion.  At the most it could be emotionally traumatizing, it risks complications, etc.  And of course all of this is when you consider the woman alone, and the fetus none at all.

You could argue that even if abortion doesn't make things perfectly equal, it brings them closer to equal than if women had to bear every child they conceived, and especially if they had to raise every child they bore.  If abortion makes things more equal, and pro-lifers argue against abortion, does that imply pro-lifers are sexist?

No.  Of course not.  You don't have to believe women are inferior to believe that children's lives should be protected.  If a mother had a two-year-old that was exhausting her and preventing her from pursuing her career and keeping her connected to a man she now despises, I would still say she should not be allowed to kill the two-year-old.  So would almost everyone else.  This is not because people in general think the mother is worth less than the father, somehow.  It's because people think the two-year-old has a right to live, and any problems incidental to the child's existence will have to be dealt with in ways other than killing her.  This is obvious to everyone, including feminists, yet people can't fathom how a pro-life woman could consider herself a feminist.  All you have to do is believe a fetus and a 2-year-old both have the right to life.

Meanwhile, even if abortion were illegal, things could be equal if men and women always shared equally in child-rearing, and/or if society--whether through private companies or the government--offered quality, affordable daycare and paid maternity-/paternity-leave, etc.  Indeed, some argue these solutions do more to work toward true equality--addressing the reasons why having children affects women so much more than men--than liberal abortion rights ever could.  And I'm happy to see these kinds of reforms take place both for the sake of equality and for the sake of fetal life.  However absent such solutions, I would rather let biology prevent me from having equal opportunities to those of men than I would kill my own progeny for the sake of feminism.  Women's rights don't transcend human rights.


AL said...

The difference between a fetus and a two year old is that a two year old does not depend on it's mother's body to live (her care, love, and resources, yes, but not her actual body). A pregnancy, wanted or unwanted, is akin to having a parasite. You retweeted someone on your twitter who called abortion "using someone else's body for your own purposes," and compared it to slavery, when really, that's what pregnancy is, not abortion.

M said...

Not that it changes your point, but I actually don't control the tweets for Secular Pro-Life. I'm a guest blogger. :)

There's no denying there are differences between a fetus and a 2-year-old. For pro-lifers, those differences don't amount to a moral distinction significant enough to deny the right to life to the former while preserving it for the latter.

Part of the point of the above blog post is to explain that sexism is a matter of motivation and it doesn't align with the motivation of pro-lifers.

Sarah 'Orgovan' Olson said...

What is interesting to me is what is called FEMINISM in the first place. Modern feminism is a lie. What modern feminism has said is that everything that is actually FEMININE about us is holding us back. So apparently to be a modern feminist I have to want to be just like a man. Instead of being proud that I have a womb I must feel like my ability to grow and give life is like being enslaved. We are told that what separates us from men and dare I say puts us above them is to be suppressed so that we are "equal". When instead it has proved just the opposite. We were told that if we take this birth control pill that it would make us free to choose when we want to get pregnant, to be able to have sex without the fear of pregnancy, to be in control. And that it would reduce the number of abortions. But are we, did it? Women are used as sexual objects more so today then EVER before. We are supposed to live up to the pron star. Oh but its ok because we can choose it? Is that men respecting us? We are free to be used by a man whenever THEY want because we are on the pill. But we are in control? We have more STDs then ever before. But we are free?

We are told that if heaven forbid we stay home and raise our own children instead of letting someone else do it that what we are doing isnt good enough? We give our children something men NEVER can. Women progress society in ways no man ever can. And it is not by being more like them. IT is because WE are the safeguard for the next generation. WE progress society by mothering the next upstanding citizen who is a functioning and healthy member of society. I believe in equal pay for equal work. But don't be fooled into thinking the only work that matters is the work in an office. In fact I would say that the work of raising the next generation of good citizens is even more important. If having a better environment and working to ensure that in the future our environment and nature is better then it was. Why would we not put that much effort into raising the next generation of its caregivers? Also we put so much stock into our teachers as being the ones who teach our children ( not that we shouldn't) but what about the mothers who raise them? Or is it slavery to have to give of myself for a noble cause? I am proud to be a woman. Proud to be able to do what men can't. Men should have more respect for women. Our womanhood should be celebrated and protected by men not laughed at and reduced to " we love women in the kitchen and in the bed" Which I bet you is still happening. So has modern feminism done A THING for women? Nope just the opposite.