I want to hold my arms up and turn my face away. I want to throw my body in front of my daughter. Defensive postures. Ducking and covering. I want to protect us from assault, from men of great power telling us – all of us women – how to live in our bodies.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, Ohio Governor John Kasich, so many other men in seats of state power saying, essentially, “Women! Take heed! The consequence of sex is necessarily pregnancy and you must carry pregnancy to term! It is your role! It is your duty! It is unlawful and immoral to do otherwise!”
Or, translated, here is what I hear — “Women be chaste! Stop having sex! Suborn your desire if you do not wish to be a vessel! You are not deserving of pleasure without responsibility. If you seek sex for the sake of sex you are a whore, but motherhood shall redeem you. Pregnancy will be your penance, childbearing in pain your atonement as the Old Testament god laid forth. You do not deserve autonomy of the body. Your humanity ends when your chastity ends. Your womb is the greatest part of you and it must be used for sacred purpose, overriding any other purpose you thought you had in life. Be a mother or be a virgin. You may not choose otherwise.”
As they push bills into law to keep reproductive choices from women, they will tell us in the same breath that is not what they are saying and point, smugly, to drug store shelves with condoms on display and advise us that we do have choices. But they don’t press condoms into the hands of their male citizenry the way they press pamphlets filled with lies about the effects of abortion into our hands. The way they press ultrasound wands into our vaginas. It is only our sexuality that is under scrutiny.
They do not mandate counseling for men who impregnate women. They do not force them into rooms where counselors tell them some god is angry at them for spilling their seed before the optimal time for fatherhood. They do not spread lies about the effects of pregnancy and abortion on the male psyche. They do not require that men stare at images of fetuses before they are allowed to make decisions about their bodies, their futures. It is only women who are lectured and shamed.
They do not round men up and tell them over and over again how to recognize consent for sex the way they teach women to escape and avoid rape. And they do not force rapists to jump through humiliating hoops in the aftermath. Impregnating a woman by rape is not considered a greater violation than rape alone. But ending a pregnancy by rape is not considered forgivable. Even if we attempt to withhold consent for sex, they would attach Eve’s sin to us.
No, they say only that our choices should be made before we seek carnality, that marriage is the only appropriate venue for physical love, marriage as sanctified by their gods. They do not permit deviation from that path. They will force you onto the road of motherhood whether you choose to go there or not. They will make medical care to prevent motherhood inaccessible. They will make birth control unaffordable. They will make abortion illegal. They will say they are the moral ones as they curtail our choices one by one. They will leave us with this one last stark choice: madonna or whore.
That is no choice at all.
Yes, I want to hold my arms up and turn my face away. Yes, I want to throw my body in front of my daughter. Yes, I want to protect us from assault, from men of great power telling us – all of us women – how to live in our bodies.
But I won’t. I stand for women. I stand for our bodies. I stand for our sensuality. I stand for our autonomy. I stand. I stand.
Rebekah Kuschmider is a Washington, D.C. area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theater and a Master degree in Arts Policy and Administration, and has a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector. Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at StayAtHomePundit.com.She was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at Salon.com, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.