Stop Punishing Women

Lesson number 1: We don't need babies to prove rape.

Emergency Contraceptive

You've no doubt heard the news - a group of women are arguing before the courts that denying access to emergency contraceptives is a violation of human rights. 

I would firstly like to applaud these women. Finally someone is taking a public, proactive stand against our archaic laws and the kneejerk reaction to USE ALL CAPS on comment boards while offering exactly 0 data to support fantastic claims. My personal favourite is the implication that if this medication became legal, potential rapists would be carrying around a duffel bag full of it in order to cover their tracks. Sounds legit yo. 

Of course there are some ridiculously large holes in the argument against the legalization of emergency contraceptives. Most are tied to the disagreement on whether these tablets have an abortive effect, which is, to my mind, completely beside the point. Just as we're having this debate on emergency contraceptives, so we should have one on abortion. Moving on. 

"You have to let go of that apple in the garden thing and stop punishing women for wanting to take control of the way their life pans out."

These are just a few points the rabid Anti- camp seem to gloss over when barking about the rights of the unborn child and how we'll see an uptick in rape cases as a result of changing our laws. 

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You cannot work toward gender equality without considering reproductive rights

You can fight to close the wage gap all you like but until women have full physical autonomy and are allowed to decide if and when they have children, all that work will be for nothing. How many girls have dropped out of school or university because of an unwanted pregnancy? How many careers were cut short because one condom broke? You have to let go of that apple in the garden thing and stop punishing women for wanting to take control of the way their life pans out.

As a woman, it's fine to have ambitions, to study and work hard, take risks, push boundaries and create great things... as long as you're fine with shelving all of that when you miss a period. Have all the dreams you like, as long as you give them up when it's time to assume your rightful place.

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Babies have rights. Cells do not

It's tough to pinpoint the moment when life - actual life, not the potential for life - begins. Hell it's even difficult to delineate what 'life' actually means. In the mean time, we have a Schrödinger's Uterus situation. Here's the thing though - while you're fighting over whether a cluster of cells should be called a person, an actual, real, human person, with the right to free speech, the right to vote, the right to determine her own future, is facing the complete collapse of her life because of the result of an accident or, in awful situations, a horrific violation of her body. 

Women can and do enjoy sex

The idea of sex being purely for reproductive purposes or within the context of marriage is no longer relevant. Sex is complex. It goes beyond biological needs and has huge psychological implications. It can be empowering, destructive, affirming, and more. Above all, it is pleasurable. And that last one is a perfectly valid reason to do it. This bit is crucially missing from the scant sexual education our teens receive. 

Sex should be pleasurable for both (or all) parties - if it's not, you should stop doing it. While male virility and orgasm is celebrated, women are expected to 'put up with' sex, often as a means to an end. Those who are open about enjoying sex are labelled promiscuous sluts. Denying women access to emergency contraception is just another great big red 'A' with which to brand them. 

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Motherhood is not for everyone

'You won't know until you have your own' is something we often hear, particularly if you are a woman over a certain age who hasn't met society's expectations yet. I do not intend to have children and luckily am at really really low risk for accidentally becoming pregnant. I do have straight friends however who have decided, through years of introspection and sharing flights with screaming newborns, that having children is not for them. 

Having a child does not suddenly make you mother material. It won't make you forget what you want to do with your life or how hard you've worked to get where you are. Having a child does not make you a good parent and shouldn't that kind of be a prerequisite when you force someone to take on this responsibility that they might not want?

'Put it up for adoption' is not a good answer

By saying 'oh you should carry the child and give it up for adoption' you are taking what should be a private decision, to be taken by a woman and maybe her partner, and suddenly it's nanna tut-tutting about how loose today's generation is, it's the neighbours whispering, it's parents pressuring the mother to devote herself entirely to this thing growing inside her that she didn't want in the first place and that will, without question, change her life. 

"But what do we know right? We're just women."

But I suppose our predilection for punishing women is hard to put aside. If you can't shame them for terminating a pregnancy, not to worry - you can still shame them for not wanting to keep the baby, for not going back to school or work once it is born, for not having a partner, for not wanting to derail her career and finally, for having had the audacity to have sex without the intention of bringing forth another human being into an overpopulated world rife with injustice and suffering. But what do we know right? We're just women. 

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