Men in politics are talking a lot about women these days. They are not talking about pay inequality, the impact of the economy and housing crisis on women. They are not talking about education opportunities for women. They are not talking about the role women are playing in economic recovery. They are talking, in detached terms, about women’s sexual and reproductive choices. They are only talking.
They are not listening to women.
When they talk about preventing new rules mandating contraception coverage by insurance, I hear, “We won’t cover your birth control because you just don’t know that you really want babies.”
When I heard of lawmakers in Texas and Kansas mandating sonograms prior to abortions, I hear, “We’ll make you look at this ultrasound before an abortion because you just don’t know that babies are precious.”
When I hear them rehashing the argument of abstinence only sex education, I hear, “We won’t teach sex ed because if you know about sex you’ll think you want to have it and you just don’t know that sex is only for married, straight people.”
When Ron Paul says things about victims of “honest rape” when considering who should be allowed access to emergency contraception, I hear, “We say things like ‘honest rape’ because you just don’t know what rape really is and you don’t know how to consent to sex.”
Gentlemen. Let me assure you. WE KNOW.
Women know whether we want to have children today, tomorrow or never. Women know what the implications of ending a pregnancy after it has already begun are. Women want to know, and for their children to know, the biology and psychology of sex and they want that information available. And women know if they consented to sex.
You, sirs, do not know.
Women know their minds and bodies as no other person can. We know our lives and personal circumstances. We know our inner strength and resources for walking through this world. We know what we want and what we don’t want. We know that we don’t want to be told what we want and don’t want. We want the freedom to choose from all options, not the options you have deemed acceptable.
Women are not lesser creatures who lack the capacity to make choices. We are not simpletons who cannot think through complicated decisions. We are not third class citizens, with men and our own uteruses taking precedence over our wholeness. We are complex people of tremendous intelligence, capable and competent. We are informed and experienced. We do not need to be directed by men who feel entitled to rule over us and rule over our bodies by force of law or simply by force.
I don’t care who you are. You can be my senator, my doctor, my pharmacist, my spiritual leader. You may be my father, my employer, even my husband. YOU DO NOT GET TO MAKE MY CHOICES FOR ME. I choose childbearing. I choose knowledge. I choose whether to have sex or not. I choose because it is my body, my life, my mind, and my soul. YOU DO NOT GET TO CHOOSE FOR ME.
I ask, gentleman, with all due respect, and on behalf of all women, that you stop trying to make our choices. I ask that you regard us as equals and treat us as equals when you make policies that would affect us. I ask that you listen when we speak in polls, in elections, on blogs, in books and on television. I ask that you learn from what we are telling you that we know about our bodies and our lives. I ask this because we know what we want.
You just don’t know.