Rebecca Pollard, Managing Editor |
According to Jack Lyons, M.D., “The basic meaning of the Latin word vagina was a sheath — or scabbard for a sword. By association, gladius (sword) was a common term for the penis.”
Funny as it may be, the history of this word is a profoundly disturbing one, because it shows that even women’s body parts were named in regards to what men do to them. In a society that’s torn between third-wave feminism and traditional conservative values, it’s becoming increasingly important to know where you stand.
Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Boiled down, feminism is about equality for everyone, regardless of gender, sex, or sexual orientation. Intersectional feminists also observe experiences unique to different races, classes, etc. Why would anyone be against this? Simple; those who oppose feminism aren’t interested or invested in equality for everyone. Traditional conservative values hold that women are not equal to men. This, in my opinion, is at the root of many of the issues women face every day including rape culture, the gender wage gap, and the hypersexualization of young girls.
In regards to the government, women are just beginning to have more autonomy over their own bodies than men. For instance, it wasn’t until the year before I was born, in 1993, that marital rape became a crime in all 50 states. This means that less than 23 years ago, less than a lifetime ago, husbands were still seen as owning their wives rather than partnering with them. Marriage was still seen as “now I own your body” instead of “now we’ll spend our lives together.”
Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, has been offering their assistance to women as well as men all over America for 100 years.
Their website states that, “Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.”
Their lengthy list of what they can do for people includes providing birth control, cancer screenings, testing for and treatment of STDs, and ensuring access to quality affordable care for all. These are all essential, beneficial services, and I believe that the large majority of people would silently, if not explicitly, agree with me on this matter.
However, many people outwardly disagree about abortion, which Planned Parenthood also provides. A whopping 3 percent of the services employees perform goes to providing safe and affordable abortions to women who need them, as stated on their website. According to a survey by Gallup, 68 percent of republicans identify as “pro-life,” at least as far as fetuses are concerned. Many are currently fighting to defund Planned Parenthood on the basis that abortion is murder. I myself am pro-choice, but I don’t judge anyone for their position on whether or not they would get an abortion. What I do judge is people’s inability to allow others to make this decision for themselves and their inability see that the pros of Planned Parenthood (the other 97 percent of their services, to say the least) far outweigh the fact that they offer abortion services (which have also been beneficial for many unprepared potential parents).
Let’s say that someone needs a kidney transplant or they’re going to pass away. Think for a moment how absurd it would be for you to receive a phone call that demands that you have to be the one to donate your own kidney for this person whom you’ve never met. It would be unjust and bizarre. No one is under any obligation to undergo changes to their body in order to save another person’s life.
So why would any woman be expected to sustain this potential human’s life by going through the dangerous pregnancy and birthing process? According to The Scientific American, 700 to 800 American women die per year during pregnancy or shortly after birth. No human is under any obligation to put their own body at risk in order to keep someone else alive, so why is abortion viewed differently?
Here’s why: women are constantly the scapegoat in our patriarchal society. It’s the woman’s fault she got pregnant. She’s the one who chose to have sex, so she’s the one who should suffer the consequence of having an unplanned child. This argument is instantly invalid for any rational person because women cannot get pregnant alone.
The “pro-life” argument doesn’t consider rape, which is an epidemic in our society. It doesn’t consider the undereducated girls and boys who weren’t taught about protection because their parents, school, and/or religious teachings only focused on abstinence. This ignorant argument doesn’t take anyone’s story into consideration, of which there are infinite terrifying, sad, and distressful tales that most men can’t even fathom. Yet, it’s largely men in office making these decisions for women about their bodies, their choices, and their lives (see the picture of Donald Trump signing a resolution to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that provide abortion services, done without one woman present).
Here’s the biggest kicker, according to Time, “Planned Parenthood affiliates received $553 million in government funding in 2014 … The money comes not as a lump sum from the federal government, but largely as reimbursements for services provided to patients on public programs like Medicaid — services from cervical cancer screenings to STI testing, but not abortions, for which federal funds are prohibited.”
Did you catch that last part?
“But not for abortions, for which federal funds are prohibited.”
75 percent of Planned Parenthood health care patients are people with incomes at or below the federal poverty level. This means that Planned Parenthood is mostly contributing to lower-class people’s health and education, and they will be the ones who are most adversely effected.
There is no question in my mind that what a woman does with her body or to her body should be her own decision. The government should have no part in it, but they do. From making birth control unreachable for thousands of women, to attempting to shut down an organization that provides affordable health care for them, the current government does not want women to have autonomy over their bodies.
There are things we can do to help prevent this from happening, such as speaking out, donating, and calling your senators. The women of history who fought for our right to work, to vote, to own ourselves, did not do it for us to become complacent. If you understand that your life is of no greater or lesser value than anyone else’s, you are, in fact, a feminist. It would do the world nothing but good for all of us to act as such.