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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On Being Female

What is feminism? A cause devoted towards the equality of women in the realm of today's society. That means equal treatment in the workplace, equal pay for tasks that they perform for the same amount of education as their male counterparts, basically equal rights. It is easier to define equal rights in areas that are shared by both genders, such as the workplace. Show me a person opposed to women receiving equal pay as a man while both have the same qualifications and I'll consider that a display of ignorance. But what happens when decisions regarding rights must be made on topics that only apply directly to women? Topics such as birth control and abortions?

Morality comes into question, heavily linked to religious beliefs. Contrary to popular belief, this controversial issue can be discussed without someone blowing up, so long as all parties involved understand the reasoning behind decisions and beliefs. 

The Catholic Church view abortion as murder. It takes the life from a human being that cannot defend itself or oppose the decision. From conception, the fetus is believed to have as much value as an individual that has been birthed. From this standpoint, it is easy to see that many people oppose abortion because it is the deliberate ending of a human being's life. It is also clear to see how decisions on abortion have a more personal affect on those who aren't even women. It violates the right to life, a fundamental aspect of the belief system. How can people be satisfied with a government that would permit a violation of life itself? 

People seem to get this confused, though. People assume that those opposed to abortion go against it because they want to control women. Some say that restricting abortions means taking away a woman's choice, and thus goes against the entire equality movement. It becomes a giant mess of "perpetuating the patriarchy" and the conservative men who oppose it (conservatives are more likely to uphold the Catholic beliefs) are viewed as oppressive. Generally. There are some people, however, who actually do wish to oppress the female population. To say that the law is full of kind-hearted people who are concerned with the well-being of every individual is silly. 

On the other hand, the pro-choice side is where feminism firmly plants itself. This side believes that women should be able to decide what happens with their body and that they should not be shamed for doing so. However, it's tricky to ask for equality in an area that men cannot participate in, especially in an environment that is dominated by men. In this case, then, it's not equality. Rather, basic rights, the right to determine what happens to her body. A woman should not have to be controlled by anyone other than herself. She might not hold the belief that views abortion as murder. Therefore, she cannot be held to the same standards. Simply put, reproductive rights are tricky and they always will be. 

There has been an attempted injection of religious beliefs into a secular society. The problem is how this society views sex and the consequences of sex. A man can decide to have sex with as many people as he wants and typically the main concern is getting permanent STDs. Getting somebody pregnant isn't even something that can stick with him. He can pack up and leave, nothing can force him to stay (there's guilt and a sense of obligation, but it doesn't stick with some people). Women get pregnant and that's it. They are pregnant. They have a child growing inside of them. There are immediate responsibilities. They get into sexual relationships and hope for the same "equality" as men, which would be an escape from pregnancy. Abortion provides that. 

Sex has always been pleasurable. Humans like it and the only thing stopping most people is the scare of pregnancy. Sex started out as a way to reproduce, then it was declared sacred. Now it is going through a loss of sacredness and with that comes a loss of understanding. Imagine a world, emotions aside, in which people could freely pursue sex without having to worry about pregnancy at all. Fuck yeah. (Okay, I thought that was funny.) All of the physical pleasure without any risks. Aside from STDs. That is what contraceptives and abortion provide for some people. It might not be the primary purpose, but it is an option that fits into the secular view of sex.

But what else is abortion? What else can it provide? Why else would women get it? Lives are uprooted by pregnancies, plans change, futures are altered. "If women didn't want a baby, they shouldn't have had sex in the first place!" "Yes, you're a woman, yes you're the only gender that encounters this 'issue' as a result of sex, own up to it!" Perhaps, yes, it is a way of "erasing" the mistake of engaging in sexual relations at a time where a woman is not prepared or willing to have a child. 

Again, at the same time (trying to get in both sides), a woman should be able to decide what happens to her body. People who are not in her exact position with her exact background cannot decide what would benefit her in the long run. Yes, she initially made the "mistake" of having sex and now she is dealing with pregnancy. But her decision on whether or not to birth the child is hers. 

Is it able to be personally pro-life and politically pro-choice? I think so. If I found myself pregnant through any means, even in instances of rape, I would carry the child. I say that now. Being pregnant at this exact moment in my life would change everything. Actually, it would ruin everything that I have ever worked for. My college hopes, my career, my future, my family dynamics. But I would not be able to live with myself after an abortion. I would give my child up for adoption, most likely. I do not hold all of the Catholic beliefs, but I do believe that as soon as conception occurs, I have a human being inside of me. 

So let me try to clear up why I am still pro-choice. Most of my support is of the contraceptive push, the push for birth control and easier options for women to prevent pregnancy, and that means measures taken before the sperm comes in contact with the egg. I want women to have those options. They can enjoy sex and still prevent pregnancy. This attitude exists in me because I do not share the views of the Catholic church on sex. It's odd for me to admit this. Sex, according to the Church, is supposed to be a sacred way of expressing true love between a married couple and a way to foster the intention to start a family. But my view of sex is that of the pursuit of basic primal instincts. I'm approaching it from a biological standpoint, morality aside. So long as there are two (or more) consenting adults and it feels good, what can stop you? What should stop you? 

Well, pregnancy scares. So why not make contraceptives readily available? Why not make that an option that partners or individuals can get? If made more effective, this would cut down on the number of abortions that would have to be performed. Ideally. This is not the complete solution to the sex issue. To assume that more birth control would automatically cut down on abortions is dangerous. It might help, but it would not eliminate the problem. 

I am also pro-choice because I do not know what all of the women are going through. I never will. Although it would be nice to believe that all women who get abortions do so for valid reasons and not just because they didn't want to waste their time. But every female has their own circumstances. I cannot place any of my limits on them, nor do I want to. I may not disagree with them, but their lives are their lives. Unless I understand every factor in their decision, all of the background information, and all of her thoughts, I will not get a woman's decision to abort a fetus. However, the option should be available because some women reason that this is the best option for them. Take away that option, and women will start to feel oppressed. Condemned and restricted by their gender, unable to pursue sex as pleasure, but more as a risk. 

We're not even addressing the real problem here. The problem is in how we all view sex. It doesn't have to be sacred for everybody. But it's still really taboo. People are afraid of it, afraid of discussing it. Topics like masturbation and polygamous sexual relationships are kept under the covers. (Another one, couldn't help it...) The only permitted discussions are on regular ol' sex within marriage, which still happens. Obviously. But the realm of sex is so large and mostly unaddressed that people are shocked when they encounter anything outside the norm. So when sex-related topics explode, you get uninformed people attempting to control the other side. You get assumptions that don't get cleared up. People do not try to understand the other side. It's a giant miscommunication between pivotal players in the law-making process. Our leaders and regulators do not know how to effectively communicate. It's more than that, too. 

It may seem as though I have a really flip-floppy nature, but I stand firmly in my beliefs. I think that the attitude needs to change, but I don't know how to change it. I can start by taking the taboo away from sex, by being able to discuss it without flipping out or considering it vulgar. How is it so vulgar when it is so necessary to our existence? There are limits, of course. There is a time and a place for this kind of discussion. 

There are many people who want things to change. We just don't know how exactly to make it happen. 

I am open to discuss this topic with people, especially those who disagree with my views. I want to be able to see it from all sides and I might change my mind on a few things. 

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