Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ladies don't have opinions

I've been seeing a lot of this kind of thing ever since the PBA ban was upheld, and it drives me nuts. Having an opinion about female bodily autonomy, female sexuality, and the nature of life, death and humanity isn't crazy or nit-picking. It would be fantastic to believe that we were all getting upset over nothing, but it turns out we're not. It turns out that these are important issues, even if they primarily affect women, and the dismissive image of the foaming-at-the-mouth pro-life or pro-choice activist is not only sexist, but it takes the work that people actually do and hides it behind a charicature.

Dave Olveria at Huckleberries online pointed to this article as "the best column on abortion you'll read from either side." But the article wasn't about abortion - it sidestepped the issue entirely and focused on the utility of preventing unplanned pregnancies. And that's a useful thing to do - it's something that pro-choice advocates work for as it goes hand-in-hand with making decisions about one's reproductive health. But Pia Hansen, the author, talks about as though she's the first one to ever consider it (and she's not alone in making this mistake). As though Plannned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-choice America hadn't been working to provide contraception to women for years.

Characterizing Planned Parenthood and NARAL as a bunch of abortion nuts who care about nothing but that single issue (kos, I'm looking in your direction) marginalizes the real and useful work that these organizations do.

I'm happy if people want to discuss the common ground between pro-life and pro-choice activists - there's a lot of it. In fact, I don't even care if someone other than PP gets "credit" for the idea of preventing unwanted pregnancies, if the end result is that we realize greater control over our reproductive health. But I can't see that happening when people's opinions about "women's issues" are belittled and ignored.

UPDATE: I'd like to add that I find this phenomenon to be just as annoying when applied to people on the other side of the issue as me. I don't think that pro-life activists are crazy; I appreciate that people have reasons for their opinions, even if I often think their reasons are based in lies or false premises or are otherwise shaky. It's not crazy to believe that abortion is wrong, just like it's not crazy to believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth - it's still wrong, though, and I'm happy to explain why I think it is.

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