Why I’m not a “feminist”

As a woman and former Missouri resident, the remarks of Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., last month about pregnancies resulting from rape made me cringe and outraged at the same time.

HOWEVER, if you’ll refer to my previous blog post about freedom of speech, you’ll note that, while I disagreed with (read: loathed) the factually incorrect and ignorant sentiment, I didn’t post an opinion about it because 1) he’s entitled to his (wrong) opinion and 2) it’s a fad issue.

But here’s the deal: I’m also Catholic. And I’m also pro-life.

While it’s baffling to think that a white, male legislator claims to understand how women’s bodies work better than, well, a woman, he and other pro-life legislators still have far more legitimate arguments about the actual issue he was discussing. And as a woman, I tend to agree with him.

I can’t believe I’m about to defend Todd Akin.

Anyway, I found this blog post on the Interwebs yesterday. In it, a staunchly liberal, pro-choice woman in Missouri attended a speech given by Akin. In the speech, he elaborated on how he believed that government shouldn’t have the right or the ability to deprive people of their freedom. The woman who wrote the post agreed, and said this includes depriving women their freedom to choose what’s right for themselves.

Then this happened.

A woman in the audience asked:

“You mentioned that you don’t like when we’re divided, because we’re all Americans. And I actually agree with how you said that but I really feel like you’re sending a mixed message because I feel like, when it applies to women, we do divide. It’s not about freedom because you have voted to deprive women of the right to choose about their bodies and about their health concerns and the things that they can do. So I feel like when you say it’s about freedom and unity, it seems like you’re kind of forgetting about your policies and how that alienates women and deprives them of their freedom. So how do you reconcile that?”

Akin answered:

“And that is a question, isn’t it, about abortion. And it’s a question, is it a person or not? If it’s not a person, then you’re not allowing a medical procedure would be taking your freedom with it. But if it is a person, then you are certainly taking someone’s freedom, the freedom of life from the child.”

The woman continued:

“You still have to acknowledge the fact that you are, in turn, depriving women of their freedom at the same time. I feel like if you say that it’s life at conception, that it trumps the freedom that you are depriving women, and I feel like you need to answer to that.”

Um…

This woman has answered her own question and subverted her own argument in the same damn sentence. If we’re arguing based on the claim that life starts at conception, then it’s really no longer an issue of personal freedom. The test of true freedom is whether it interferes with someone else’s. So if we’re going to argue based on the claim that the baby growing inside a woman’s womb is a person (and I strongly believe it is), then your “freedom” to choose whether it gets to live or die is no longer a freedom. In much the same way, I sometimes wish I had the “freedom” to run over stupid pedestrians with my car. But that’s not really a freedom. You know why? BECAUSE IT’S MANSLAUGHTER.

And that’s what the pro-life/pro-choice debate boils down to: whether you believe that the baby inside the womb is a person. Because if you did believe that it is a person, there’s no way you could possibly justify the “freedom” to decide whether it lives or dies.

This is the huge, raging problem I have with feminism and calling myself a feminist. The minute I mention that I believe a baby is a baby, inside the womb or out of it, I’m considered anti-choice and anti-rights and anti-equality. AU CONTRAIRE, FEMINAZIS. I happen to be very pro-rights because believe it or not, the PERSON growing inside of you deserves to have them, too.

So if you tell me that the little baby growing inside your womb is not a person, then fine. The argument you are using to justify your claim of personal freedom has a more sound grounding in logic. But don’t be surprised if I vehemently disagree with you.

UPDATE

Found this article by pro-life feminist Liz Hoskings a couple of hours after I posted this blog entry. In it, Hoskings talks about how pro-life feminists have been alienated by a movement that generally prides itself on acceptance because they disagree on the issue of abortion.

She also says that the abortion issue is not only divisive among feminists, abortion can also be seen as another tool of male oppression.

“From the ‘pro-life’ feminist viewpoint, mainstream feminism has sold out to what is a masculine worldview. Instead of fighting for equality on their own terms, women have been forced into adapting themselves to a wombless, male world.”

I haven’t thought much about this argument, but it’s an interesting one. I’ll have to examine it further.

Hoskings also invokes the names of mother suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, my ultimate heroes.

Susan B. Anthony, the pioneer of American feminism, viewed abortion as infanticide, a view shared by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a number of her prominent contemporaries, who looked on abortion not as being liberating, but as a tool of male oppression. As Stanton put it, when women had been treated for so long as property, it was degrading that they should treat their children as chattel. These pioneers viewed abortion as the ultimate exploitation of women, and yet were compassionate towards those who resorted to it, and reserved their scorn for those men who had used and abandoned them.

So much love for this woman. So. Much. Love.

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