Here we are, kneedeep in a new century, and there are still people among us who think only women can end pregnancy through abortion.
Truth be told, I was one of those ignoramuses until I came across an exceedingly enlightened post at an aptly named left-wing site called Truthout.org.
It's the headline that caught my attention -- "Not Everyone Who Has an Abortion is a Woman -- How to Frame the Abortion Rights Issue."
How so you might wonder, unbenighted soul that you are, at least until now. Truthout writer Lauren Rankin elaborates --
Abortion is often framed as a women's issue by those who advocate for abortion rights and those who seek to dismiss abortion as frivolous. And for abortion rights, a movement that took root in the late 1969s and early 1970s, this makes sense. Prior to a deeper understanding and problematizing (yes -- "problematizing") of gender and the way that it works, in our social construction, only women had abortions because only women could get pregnant. But in 2013, we should know better, and we need to do better. (Bow head in shame here).
At this crucial moment for reproductive freedom (i.e., infanticide) and abortion access (i.e., ditto) the abortion rights movement stands at yet another crossroads (again?!): How do we adequately address and include those who have abortions but are not women?
We must acknowledge and come to terms with the implicit cissexism (yes, new word for me too) in assuming that only women have abortion. (Next thing you know we'll assume only women are women). They deserve to be represented in our advocacy and activist framework (Send your contribution now, won't you?). Honestly (if you'll allow me to lapse into candor ...), I am guilty of perpetuating that harmful myth, both in my rhetoric and framing (Head remaining bowed in shame). I often frame abortion restrictions as misogynistic attacks to control women's reproductive lives (as opposed to good-faith efforts to prevent the killing of unborn babies), and that is true. But abortion restrictions also affect the lives of people who aren't women, and they hinder trans men and gender-non-conforming people and others who were Designated Female at Birth (DFAB) from accessing abortion care, as well.
At the bottom of her post, Rankin linked to a "helpful glossary of trans, genderqueer, and queer terms," which liberals would quickly deem hate speech if linked from a conservative site. As you'd expect, the glossary is not helpful.
"Cisgender," for example, is defined in this way -- "A person whose gender identity is aligned to what they were designated at birth, based on their physical sex; 2) a non-trans* person."
How about this instead for the sake of clarity? Cisgender -- a boy or girl.
Back to Rankin's concern for the pregnant transgenderqueer folk among us, both of them --
"Stand with Ohio Women" and the "War on Women" may be great rallying cries, but they also very clearly reiterate the notion that abortion is both solely a women's issue and that only women have abortions. This can make those in the trans community feel excluded, and it can deter them from both seeking the abortion care they may need or becoming actively involved in abortion rights advocacy. (Send your contribution now, won't you?)
"Leading the way" in making abortion more "gender inclusive," Rankin points out, is a group called the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF), which is doing all it can to ensure that the birth rate remains below replacement level and our headlong slog to civilizational suicide continues unabated. NYAAF has created a "Gender Inclusive Task Force" to "reach out" (hugging optional) to the "LGBTG communities." First step in that direction -- "replacing 'women' with 'people' everywhere on our website.
Not only that, Rankin suggests, but "individual activists can take action on a smaller level." How so? "We can begin by listening." She writes --
Ellen, who identifies as transgenderqueer notes that "the best thing [cisgender] allies can do is be receptive to criticism and ask people for alternatives. (When it comes to this, they're experts). When you do this, it shows that you are listening and aware that your choice of language makes an impact."
"Listening" is lefty code, much like its disingenuous cousin, "dialogue." When a left-winger says more "listening" is needed, what she really means is -- keep listening until you agree with me. Biting your lower lip and nodding simply aren't enough. Much as a liberal's call for more "dialogue" is a transparent attempt to wear down an ideological opponent until he comes around to the liberal's viewpoint.
So much for the much-ballyhooed "war on women" -- turns out women aren't being singled out at all. It's actually a "war on people," all for the allegedly paltry purpose of preventing the killing of other (unborn) people. And what of the unborn themselves -- will fanatical foes of abortion deny them access to abortion too?
Rankin's post exudes the overweening earnestness of a recent undergrad and, sure enough, she is well ensconced in academia, pursuing a graduate degree in "Women's and Gender Studies" at Rutgers and all but guaranteeing work in future Occupy protests.
(Photo: Jenn Farr / Flickr)