After my recent post explicating my stance on abortion, my resultant written scuffle with an anti-American (my term for pro-forced-birth types), and L’s post on why anti-abortion measures amount to terrorism aimed at limiting women’s freedom, I got to thinking about the various kinds of terrorism women face every day, and the result was this blog series. As such, it’s only proper that I dedicate a post to the people who inspired the whole War on Terr’r (and the most unapologetic and unrepentant terrorists women may ever face) in the first place, those anti-American types that would use terroristic tactics to subvert the law of the land and restrict women’s freedom in the most fundamental of ways.
L sums the essence of anti-American activity up as:
… violence against women to prevent them from caring for themselves, to restrict their identities to baby-makers, to limit the choices and amount of agency they have, to ignore the contexts of their lives for the potential life of the cell-clusters inside them…
Which means that anti-choicers are terrorists, does it not? Their activities aim to make use of fear to manipulate women’s behavior, whether that fear be of harassment, humiliation, or state intervention in the form of laws restricting women’s reproductive rights. If that isn’t terrorism, then Lou Dobbs loves Mexicans.
I think I ought to start by analyzing the motives of anti-Americans (although, being a freedom-loving patriot myself, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to make complete sense of such a freedom-hating ideology as theirs). The fundamental difference between anti-Americans and patriots such as myself is our conception (ha!) of when life begins. They claim it begins at the moment when sperm and egg form a zygote, and I say it’s at birth. They may argue that a zygote is a life because god says so, or because “science” defines life as:
… the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.
In either case, they’re wrong.
First of all, it’s 2008. That we’re making ANY decision based on the fabricated anecdotes of dudes who lived in huts in the desert 2000+ years ago is pretty embarrassing. I’ve gotten in trouble with one anti-American for referring to religious beliefs as inherently anti-logical, but I stand by that statement and here’s why: if a belief is logical, we needn’t worry about having faith in it. Believing that the Bible is a book, for example, is something we can all logically infer from empirical evidence. Believing that it is the divine Word of some deific Dude in Sandals, on the other hand, requires us to believe, sans evidence, something that goes far beyond what we can directly observe. I’d like to think that these JC-loving types are just an advanced species of humans that have transcended positivist thinking (Comte is so outdated, man) and moved on to some more interesting and flexible thought system, but I suspect that the opposite is true and that they’ve yet to make it into the Enlightenment mentally (serious theologians, meaning those who have the capacity to debate these things intelligently and openly, notwithstanding).
The argument that “science” says that a zygote is a life and that science is thus on the side of anti-Americans is also utter horseshit. By using that definition I quoted above as proof that a fetus is a “life,” anti-Americans are opening themselves up to some serious counterarguments. First, if we are supposed to respect the integrity of every “life” under that definition, we’re all going to starve to death. Unless they can live on rocks and dirt, anti-Americans are going to need to come up with a better endorsement from “science.” Second, despite the fact that scientists may say that life can be defined as the opposite of death, the scientific community is hardly backing the anti-American position on abortion en masse. Honestly, aside from the few token “scientific” yes-men that these people seem to be able to produce, very few scientists are anti-abortion, and those who are usually base their position on their religious views rather than their scientific knowledge. The reason they do so is that, as any scientist must admit, they cannot refer to a fetus as a viable individual animal until such a time as that fetus can live on its own outside of its mother’s body. A zygote, while it is a living organism, is not yet a human being. As such, it technically fits the definition of “life,” but such a definition would also include any living thing, be it an amoeba, a donkey, a capybara, or a rutabaga. Either these anti-Americans start making dirt burgers, or they’re going to have to find a new way to mischaracterize the conclusions of secular authorities to promote their own illogical stance.
Luckily most anti-Americans have god to fall back on, because the science argument is obviously pretty lame. If you bring god into the picture, you can say that a human zygote is more important than the other kinds of “life,” because a human zygote has a soul as soon as god stretches his sparkly finger down from the heavens and touches a woman on the belly. It may be irrational, but it seems to work for them.
You hear a lot of arguments from these people about the potential of the fetus. What if that baby was going to grow up to save the world? What if that baby was going to become a firefighter or a doctor or a DJ and save your life in the future? What if Jesus was aborted!?!? Ahem. I’m pretty sure that people elect to have abortions in cases where they aren’t emotionally or financially prepared to become parents. Know what kind of parents those people usually make? Shitty ones. That means it isn’t likely their kids are going to grow up to be superheroes (DJs, maybe), but rather regular people with regular people’s problems and limitations. So, really, the “potential” argument ought to be reworded: “You may be aborting a future Sandwich Artist!”. As for what would have been the case had Jesus been aborted, I’m going to have to call the bluff of the anti-Americans: I say we’d be better off because we wouldn’t have to deal with the legacy of 2000+ years of people believing in shit that doesn’t exist, which tends to lay down some serious obstacles on the path to human progress, especially for women.
Sometimes these anti-American types let the mask slip and make a comment that clues us in to their real, albeit possibly unexamined, reason for wanting to restrict women’s access to safe health care. They just can’t stand the idea that a woman would be out behaving irresponsibly and using abortions as birth control. That’s a serious red herring, no?
I often wonder if the arguments these people provide in defense of their policy proposals aren’t a cover for their belief, conscious or unconscious, that women who have sex ought to suffer some kind of consequence. Actually, I don’t wonder. I’m fairly positive that the entirety of the anti-American movement operates from a subconscious belief in exactly that, which is evident in the logical weakness of their arguments and in the desperate appeal to “morality” they turn to when their logic is shown to be faulty (“But why should we let loose and irresponsible women use abortion as birth control?”). Mind you, I’m not saying that these guys* are consciously deciding that women who have sex are whores deserving of punishment, but that the idea has been implanted into their psyches by religion and by a society with a schizophrenic conception of sexuality and morality, and that this idea has been reinforced by their own shadowy understanding of their own societal and sexual privilege. You see, men have a vested interest, whether they are conscious of it or not, in maintaining control over women’s sexuality. When female sexuality is subordinated to and defined by male sexuality, men get to decide what sex is and how it should be done. Women hosing around wantonly is a pretty serious threat to that privilege, as well as several others that have been well documented by more impressive thinkers than me (I suppose those exist), and is therefore something to be feared and suppressed.
You know what’s not a threat to the privileges men reap from controlling women’s sexuality? Fetuses. I don’t know whether any of these anti-Americans are self-aware enough to have said this out loud or thought it in explicit terms, but the underlying sentiment in the pro-forced-birth movement is, “If we privilege fetuses, we can control women!”
Fear breeds fanaticism and hatred. White guys who were afraid of losing their privileged position after the Reconstruction stepped up their violence against Black folks, men afraid of losing their privileged position in the workplace and the family are fueling the growth in the violent porn industry, you get the idea. Nothing motivates repression like the threat of equality, and nothing would contribute more to women’s equality than actual sexual freedom (and by that I do NOT mean the internalization and regurgitation of misogynistic male fantasy that is the sex industry). Therefore, the most obvious forms of terrorism women face tend to revolve around women’s sexual freedom and autonomy, as women’s sexual freedom is seen as a direct threat to the patriarchal order.
Terrorism is often the tactic of a minority when faced with a majority juggernaut. It’s the weapon of the desperate, calculated to create maximum results through the use of fear. If anti-Americans can do something shocking enough, they reckon, they can keep women from exercising their freedom to decide what to do with their own bodies, no matter what the majority of the people want, and no matter what the law says. If they bomb a clinic, they not only kill a doctor who is willing to support women’s freedom, but they also use fear to manipulate other doctors who are willing to support women’s freedom and to manipulate women who are considering going to a women’s health care provider, whether for an abortion or not. When they picket a clinic, they plan to create fear in the minds of women considering abortion as well as those who arrive at the clinic to have one; they hope that the specter of the emotional trauma and humiliation they intend to inflict will be enough to dissuade a woman from exercising her right to decide her own destiny.
But those are just the most visible of their tactics. Many anti-Americans quietly and insidiously focus their efforts on the legal system. For now, women have the right to decide what to do with their own bodies, and that right is guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s decision, which is still (despite what the president thinks) the last word on the law in this country. But that doesn’t mean these motherfuckers can’t and don’t weasel around the court’s decision and terrorize women in small and not-so-small ways. They’ve managed to restrict women’s access to procedures they are guaranteed the right to seek out by pushing state laws that restrict those rights in various ways. They force minors to notify their parents or the father, they force women to sit through anti-American propaganda lectures before they are allowed to receive medical treatment, they attempt to unseal the private medical records of women who have had abortions, and so on ad nauseum and infinitum. All of these are terrorist tactics meant to create fear and to thereby manipulate women into giving up their freedom of self-determination.
Well, fuck that. They’re terrorists and they deserve to be treated like terrorists, whatever that means to you. If that means throwing ground beef at them, do it. If that means getting out your Super Soaker full of piss and doing a Boyz in the Hood on them, sweet. If it means breaking their signs and screaming at them, spitting on them, throwing eggs at them, calling them anti-American traitors, or anything else, right on. When some asshole puts a sticker on his car admonishing you to think of it as a “child, not a choice,” feel free to vandalize his car, or to cover that sticker up with a sticker of your own choosing with some sort of feminist (ideally pro-abortion) message. When someone approaches you in front of the grocery store with a petition that would limit women’s reproductive rights, take their petitions and tear them up. Tell them that these colors don’t run, and make it known to your elected officials that you consider these people to be anti-freedom, anti-American terrorists, and that you won’t be voting for any appeasers.
The key is to make it not worth the hassle for them, because that’s exactly what they hope to do. They think if they’re obnoxious enough, we’ll give up and acquiesce to their terroristic demands. We just have to be more determined to protect our freedoms than the terrorists are to take them away.
* Another note: We all know it’s easier to become an appeaser than it is to resist patriarchy and run the risk of calling an act of terrorism down on oneself, and that it’s almost impossible to resist internalizing patriarchal values, so it’s no surprise that anti-Americans have been able to recruit women into their anti-woman movement.