Family Life / The Social Network

A Measure of Control

Women have a right to control their own bodies. Is this true? Yes. I can drink coffee, or cola, or vodka right out of the bottle if I choose. I might get hyped up on caffeine, my teeth’s enamel might be compromised, and drunkenness might ensue, but it’s my party, and I’ll drink if I want to and the times of Prohibition stay firmly in the annals of history.

Women have the right to control their own bodies. Is this true? Yes. I can hire someone (or do it myself I suppose) to pierce nearly any part of me, use small needles filled with ink to tattoo nearly any part of me, or color in parts of me that left alone are unattractively colored. (Think nails, hair, eyelids, etc.)

Women have the right to control their own bodies. Is this true? Yes. I can eat or not eat as I deem fit. I might be gluttonous if I so choose, but I might also deprive my body of needed nutrients. Sure, I might become obese. Sure, I may starve myself to near death. Yes, I may wind up dead from either extreme. But I can control my body – it’s my right.

Women have the right to control their own bodies. Is this true? Yes. I can run – every day if I want to. I can kick box, practice yoga, ride a bike that stays put or takes me around the countryside, I can swim, walk, stretch, or sit on my backside and watch TV shows that highlight others running, playing tennis, softball, or professional basketball.

Women have the right to control their own bodies. Is this true? Yes. I can choose to be sexually intimate. I can choose to prevent pregnancy. I can choose to say ‘I have a headache.’ While I cannot control someone else’s choice, and recognize that I might suffer an unspeakable act of violence against my person (in this context, violence of a sexual nature), I can choose to press charges, to seek healing measures, to strive for recovery.

Women have the right to control their own bodies. Is this true? Yes. But what about someone else’s body? How much control should/does a woman have over others? After all, each of those ‘others’ have bodies too.

Can a woman who controls her own body choose to take a needle, a knife, a club, a gun, and kill her own mother? Yes. Without consequence? No. Murder remains an action with consequence. What if her mother was abusive? Threatened violence? Caused bodily harm? Self-defense – a ‘justifiable homicide’ – still carries its own burden of consequence.

Can a woman who controls her own body choose to kill her annoying neighbor who plays her music too loudly and doesn’t mow her lawn and drinks vodka straight out of the bottle, just because she can? Yes. She can kill wayward spiders and kill her cheating husband; she can drown her children in a neighborhood pond, defend her nation against foreign aggressors, swerve into oncoming traffic leaving no survivors.

A woman controls her own body. But when she deliberately or inadvertently controls others, all manner of red flags start flying in the breeze. Until the flag labeled ‘abortion’ gets waved about. That measure of a woman’s control – killing a baby in her womb – sparks furious debate, riling the blood of those on both sides of the issue regarding spilling the blood of the unborn.

When a woman exerts her ‘control’ over a pregnancy, whether it is ‘inconvenient,’ ‘endangers’ her own precious life, is merely ‘unwanted,’ or is the sacred cow of ‘the result of incest or rape,’ the facts get blurry, because the language gets fuzzy. A preborn baby, especially one at or before 20 weeks gestation, is labeled a ‘fetus’ so that she will consider it in clinical rather than familial terms. She learns at an early age that she can make choices – what to eat: be a vegan, a pescetarian, a full-blown carnivore; what to wear: jeans, skirts, bikinis, tanks, sweaters, jackets, berets, thigh-high boots with stiletto heels; how to think and what to believe: political parties, religious doctrine, social norms; what to study (ENGLISH!)  and be (Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher!) when she grows up. She makes  a ‘choice,’ and God forbid that anyone take choice away from those who live in the ‘land of the free.’ Independence. Freedom. Choice. Great words, though wrongly applied. If a pregnant woman delivered a fully gestated baby and suffocated her, flushed her, dumped her in a trash bin, or by some other means ended that little baby’s life, the woman would suffer the consequences of conscience, law and society. If she’d only ‘chosen’ to end that baby’s life sooner (and with someone’s clinical, legal help), the consequence would be applauded. I struggle to see the fine line between the two. Killing a baby in the air that the baby breathes on her own or  killing a baby in utero: we can call it choice, we can call it a right, we can call it ‘safe legal and rare’ (HA!). We can call abortion whatever you wish. A spade is still a spade, and abortion is, whatever else we might call it, murder. Isn’t that what one human being taking another human being’s life (especially with malice aforethought) is called?

I viewed a bit of satire on the subject this morning, and wondered about the state of the state – not the one I live in, or the one identified in the video clip, or even the USA. I went global – wondering about women and their choices, and wondering about all the little ones over whom a measure of control has been wielded, leaving them with no ‘choices’ to make at all.

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