Much has been made, including on my pages here, of the “War on Women” being waged by the most extreme elements of the Republican Party. We have rightfully called out Congressmen for holding hearings on women’s health issues that involved zero testimony from actual women. Continue reading
I am by no means a theological scholar. I know maybe (very strong maybe there) a little more than the lay person owed to my training in philosophy (thank you Dr. Georges Dicker) and my insatiable thirst for knowledge (thank you John Noble!) So when I wanted to understand original sin, and why it was so important to the anti-choice crowd, I did what any sane person would do: I asked an expert. Actually, I asked four of them, all friends or acquaintances who attended seminary.
Specifically, I was curious when original sin took root. Are we born or conceived in sin? My initial thinking was that if we are born, but not conceived, in sin, then the anti-choice people would believe they are protecting the one innocent form of human life. My friend, Craig Kunkle, quickly dashed that line of thinking by pointing out Psalm 51 5 to me: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” So, strike one for Christine.
I hit a long, towering foul ball on the very idea of original sin. I already knew that it had nothing to do with being a willfully bad person. I got that it was something we were born with. I took it (and while I am loath to try to read another’s mind I believe many fundamentalists do to) with being an inherently bad person. Craig, however, explained it thus to me:
We were created good, but we have a broken relationship with God from the beginning. This is because we finite humans are in a relationship with an infinite being. God is always faithful to us but we both
1) don’t keep the relationship
2) try to do good things but sometimes screw the pooch in the process.
So, okay, I get that. It’s a Sartre-esque existential crisis between us and God. The sticky part, and the part of all this that finally explains to me why the Religious Right gets so very worked up about abortion is the difference between them and actual Protestants (which Mr. Kunkle explained to me Baptists, and thus most Evangelicals at least in this country, are not really part of. Yay for learning more stuff!) For Protestants, the idea of original sin was resolved in Christ’s death and resurrection. In this act, Jesus redeemed the entire human race. Original sin, while still a problem, was forgiven at that point.
For Christian Fundamentalists, however, this is not the case. One is not redeemed until one accepts Christ as one’s savior. This, I now believe, is what causes so much furor over abortion. The child (and they see zygotes as children) unsaved is forever denied their place in heaven as they were never able to seek salvation.
Both of these positions require acceptance without proof beyond the Bible and personal faith, which is a big argument for keeping faith out of public decision-making. This question gets very heated when you inject the notion of salvation and sin into it. To me, the only questions worth asking about the abortion debate are ones of public health and society’s needs. Women lose agency when we turn their bodies’ into our spiritual battle grounds, and that is not good for anyone.
Note: This is a re-post of something I wrote on Tumblr last summer. I share it here because some of you did not get to see it, and to test some new stuff I tried to add to my WordPress. I hope you enjoy it.
I often worry about what’s ahead of me, but the last few days I’ve found myself worrying about what’s not in front of me. To be more accurate I worry about what’s not in front of me between my waist and my chin: breasts.
Or whatever the hell you want to call them: boobs, ta-tas, tits, chi-chis, melons… whatever juvenile euphemism you care to use they’ve been on my mind. I know finally having the real deal (and not the sad foam-rubber substitutes I currently must be satisfied with) will not make me a “real” woman. At least, I know this in my head. My heart, however is convinced I cannot feel womanly without them. I’m to the point where, consequences be damned, I’m ready to order estrogen and testosterone-blockers on-line and self administer.
I’m not alone either, and I don’t just mean amongst the trans woman community. A dear friend of mine, this strong, intelligent, liberated cis woman confided that before she had children she had not been terribly well endowed. Pregnancy changed all that and she told me that afterwards she felt more feminine.
As a solid three on the Kinsey Scale I can admit to finding breasts pleasing, both aesthetically and (if memory serves) sexually. What I can’t understand is the absolute power they have over us, all of us. I’ve known gay men, men who found the mention of the word vagina abhorrent, that were fascinated by a woman’s ample chest.
I understand that we are bombarded by the disgusting degree to which woman are objectified in our culture. I know that this is at least partly to blame. We get saturated with other ideas as well however. None of these other ideas seem to take hold as universally. Maybe there is something primal about us that beckons to us from the time when a nice set meant life or death for your offspring. I just don’t know.
I… we… probably never will know. We’ll feel inadequate, aroused, ashamed and amused without ever really understanding why. All I know is I want mine. Failing that I wouldn’t mind those of another.
One thing you can count on certain elements of conservatism letting you know, is how much they love mothers. Motherhood is the highest calling a woman could aspire to. Indeed many on the Right in this country insist it is the only calling worth answering for a woman. If a woman wants a career she is refusing her place as a caretaker. If she wants to enjoy sex without risking getting pregnant, she is a selfish slut. Why then, do they make it so hard to be a mother?
Forgetting, for just a second, that a single payer health care system would allow for better neo-natal care (though I may want to get back to that) we live in a country that provides not a single day of paid maternity leave for women. In Canada, women get nearly a year. Wrap your head around that for a moment if you can. An entire year to get you through the most physically challenging period of parenthood. Only Norway comes close to that, but many countries provide at least 12 weeks paid leave. We provide 12 weeks unpaid. So yeah, you won’t lose your job so long as you get back in less than three months, and have fun buying all those diapers and paying your co pays when your baby has a bad cough.
I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising. As I mentioned above, there are some powerful elements in this country still that believe women should only be concerned with being wives and mommies. I have nothing against women for whom that is the emphasis for their lives. Being a mother is amazingly difficult and incredibly important work. It should not, however, be the only option for women, and those that want something else should not be punished for wanting a career and wanting to be a mother.
Besides, sometimes it’s not about “selfish” motives like wanting a career. Sometimes families need multiple sources of income because no one is making enough to put food on the table. Are we going to take away a job from say, a Wal-Mart cashier, and then put her on (horror of horrors) welfare because their new combined income allows for that?
No, I suspect those that make these decisions don’t care about that. Women must be kept in their place. Male privilege must be guarded at all costs and if one of those costs is financially devastating a family, then so be it. At least they will never have to call a woman boss.
Alright, sorry, I know that title is very crass, and I want to take this subject seriously, I really do, but the culture warriors’, in particularly Rick Santorum‘s, obsession with sex is simultaneously infuriating and amusing. I have to give (not so) Slick Rick a little credit. Based on his above-linked attack on pornography at least he’s against men achieving orgasm too. That makes him less of a hypocrite than most hardcore (if you’ll pardon the pun) social conservatives.
In the interest of disclosure, you should know, I rather enjoy porn. I like to think I strike a balance with it and am not addicted, though I am not a professional so who’s to say? I also know that the industry has plenty of problems. As long as it has existed in the sort-of main stream, and probably before, it has had problems with drug addiction. It contributes, though it doesn’t have to, to the objectification of women and in continuing to force a standard of beauty, which is both narrow and almost impossible to attain without mutilating oneself. The general narrative from and surrounding the porn industry remains one in which sexually active women are an aberration and this is as it should be. The Madonna-Whore Complex is alive and well thank you very much.
That said, those problems do not necessarily mean porn should be banned, merely reformed. Most of this can be done with a little education and, oh yeah, by no longer shaming women who go into it. You want to keep women from being abused, stop making it look like the only women who would go into the business are already abused. If you make it look like something a healthy, confident woman would do, then that is who will go into the business, and a healthy, confident woman is less likely to be taken advantage of. If you continue to make it something only “those” girls do, then women who already think poorly of themselves will enter the industry and will allow themselves to be used.
Now I can already hear the cries, that favorite rallying call of the culture warriors “but what about the children?” What about them? Who are these people showing their kids porn? Let me tell you, and this is going to come off really mean because, well, it is but it is also true, if you cannot take a little time to watch what your kid is doing on the internet, well maybe you deserve to have to explain “fisting” to them. Most states already have age requirements for the purchase of porn. If someone is breaking those rules, call them out for that, don’t try to ban porn. If someone is turning out underage girls and getting them addicted to drugs to put them in porn, arrest them for that, don’t ban porn.
The industry can do themselves some favors too. I don’t quite understand their absolute opposition to a .xxx top level domain. It would be a great way to drum up traffic on their sites and would give parents a tool to more easily block sites on their computers. It seems like a win-win, but as is so often the case in our country, giving to another seems like taking from oneself apparently.
Let’s face it, for most of these guys the war on “perversion”, whether it’s porn, gay people, trans people or pre marital sex, is just a diversion. It keeps people from recognizing the real perversion, the purchase of our government by a few elites. What I do with my time is none of your business so long as I am not hurting anyone, and the same goes for you. They can rely, however, on your being skeeved out, or not wanting to look like a bad person, so they can keep us separate and unable to focus on the real issues. Divide and conquer baby! Well, with the exception of Rick. I wonder if he cried during the act of making each of his children. If so, that’s too bad for him, because climax is freakin’ fantastic!
This post may cost me a few friends depending on who reads, but honestly I am beyond the point of caring where this issue is concerned any more. A word of warning, I use some strong language here. I have had it up to my eyeballs with the whining of mostly-white, mostly-male, right wing Christians whining about how they are somehow under attack. I will write even more about that tomorrow but for now, I want to shine a light on one of the issues they keep on getting worked into a lather about: birth control.
Specifically, at least today, I am really angry about the brouhaha over the morning after pill. Or as the completely uneducated, theocratic freak show that is right wing Christianity like to call it: “the abortion pill.” The facts that this moniker has been shown, over and over again, to be completely inappropriate, that the pill prevents the implantation of the egg, that conception itself isn’t some instantaneous, “we fucked five minutes ago so either you’re pregnant or you’re not” scenario, all are ignored by these folks. You know what though, I don’t care if it is abortion because a) regardless of the circumstances, it is none of your business and b) the morning after (actually five days after) this is what you would be aborting:
If that is a full human being to you but this
is not, you are officially a jerk. Sorry, it’s true, deal with it or do not, I don’t care, but I’m fairly certain I don’t even want to know you at this point.
The first image is a collection of cells. There is no brain, no sensory organs no nervous system of any kind. There is not even a heart. Your sole reason for wanting to accord it status of any kind hinges on the utterly impossible to prove notion that it has a soul.
Before you decide to accuse me of putting words in your mouth, before you cry that “I never said that woman isn’t a full human being” let me just make it clear, yes you fucking well did. You decided that she, or any woman, isn’t a full human being when you decided they cannot do as they see fit with their bodies. You whine that it is against your faith to let you insurance provider cover their birth control. You lie about the costs of said birth control, complaining that the providers would raise your rates for providing it when in fact the opposite is true (pills are cheaper than babies or miscarriages.) Her status as an individual is tied completely into your wants and needs of her.
You decided to say that she was less of a person by suggesting that, unlike you, she was not allowed to have relatively consequence free sex. You decided she was less than you when you suggested she should not enjoy sex at all. You decided she was less than you when you continue to sit silent as authorities continue to use slut shaming on rape victims rather than challenge the rape culture we live in. You decided she was less than you when you decided to use phrases like “women have to learn to cross their legs.”
I know I’m getting a lot more riled up than normal. I know I am using harsher language than normal, but I am out of patience. I am out of patience with people trying to use their utterly arbitrary notions of the divine to tell other people how to live, and I am out of patience with men who are so desperate to hold onto their privilege that they are willing to be hypocrites and liars that create an ugly world for their daughters. I am out of patience with woman, so afraid to stand up for themselves, or so enamored of their Christian privilege, that they enable those men. Finally, I am out of patience with those of us that sit back and let these fools control the dialogue. Get angry, call these bastards out and take a stand. We’ve underestimated the lure of male privilege for too long and it is time to pull that rug out from under them.