FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws

Photograph by: jordanuhl7 – CC BY 2.0

In the past few weeks, my Facebook feed has exploded with posts about abortion. If you use Facebook, probably yours has too.

There’s a lot to say about abortion, especially now that Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and Ohio have passed extremely restrictive laws banning abortions in cases where they previously would be legal. But I think there’s a bigger picture to look at too.

The bigger picture is women’s sexuality. Straight men’s sexuality is treated as more legit than women’s. The differences start at a young age.

How many families teach boys the correct names for their genitals, but do not do the same for little girls? Some families simply do not talk about female genitalia, or they call it something euphemistic (I’ve heard “privates,” “bottom,” and even “front butt”).

Consider the movie Pitch Perfect 2, in which a fictional a cappella group gets in trouble after Rebel Wilson accidentally flashes President Obama. In the film, the incident is reported on the news, but the very name of the body part is portrayed as so taboo that the news bleeps it out.

Little boys talk about their penises openly, and later they discuss masturbation and even porn with one another. While parents might not want their preteen or teen boys consuming porn, they often shrug off boys’ expressions of sexuality because “boys will be boys.”

In sex ed at home and at school, girls learn about avoiding sexual harassment and assault, pregnancy, and diseases. It’s taken for granted that men want and enjoy sex and that they will be the sexual aggressors. Often not discussed? Women’s desire for sex and sexual pleasure.

Science on female sexual pleasure is lacking because funders of science saw it as a frivolous topic to study. Many women experience pain during sex and are often written off by doctors.

How are women supposed to enter safely and healthily into sexual relationships when they are taught from the start that their sex organs are so shameful they are unspeakable? And that their role in sexual relationships is saying “no” until someday, at an appropriate time (once they are married?), they will say yes and then everything will magically fall into place?

Author Linda Kay Klein wrote about how impossible it is for women to simply shut down their sexuality for years and then, once married, instantly turn it back on again.

Men regulating women’s bodies through restrictive abortion laws is the tip of an iceberg in which women’s sexuality is stigmatized, de-legitimized, silenced, controlled, and misunderstood, even by women themselves.

Women and girls try to walk the impossible line between being seen as a prude or a slut, while hookup culture makes young straight women feel they need to give men access to their bodies in hopes that eventually the man may want to start a relationship. Sociologists study the “pleasure gap” in which men are more likely to climax than women in heterosexual sexual encounters.

Banning abortion denies women autonomy over their own bodies and treats women as if they lack the agency to know what is best for themselves. So does this larger picture of how society treats women’s sexuality.

Raising girls who understand and do not feel shame for normal, healthy sexuality — and boys who see women as sexual agents in their own right, not objects for male pleasure — is a first step toward reducing sexual assault and unwanted pregnancy.

And towards raising a generation of young people who will be capable of creating smarter policies around reproductive rights and health.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 26, 2019
John Laforge
Trump’s Ministry of No Information
Paul Edwards
Fool Me Twice
Rob Hager
Warren and Sanders: Compare and Contrast
John Steppling
The Monkey’s Face
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World of Shadows
Jaspal Kaur Sadhu Singh
Correcting a Colonial Injustice: The Return of the Chagos Islands to Its Natives
Binoy Kampmark
Violent Voyeurism: Surveillance, Spyware and Human Rights
Jonah Raskin
Reflections on Abbie Hoffman and Joshua Furst’s Novel, Revolutionaries
Dave Chapman
The Hydroponic Threat to Organic Food
June 25, 2019
Rannie Amiri
Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis
Patrick Cockburn
Trump May Already be in Too Deep to Avoid War With Iran
Paul Tritschler
Hopeful Things
John Feffer
Deep Fakes: Will AI Swing the 2020 Election?
Binoy Kampmark
Bill Clinton in Kosovo
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Japanese Conjuncture
Edward Hunt
Is Mexico Winding Down or Winding up the Drug War?
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump’s Return to Full-Spectrum Dominance
Steve Kelly
Greed and Politics Should Not Drive Forest Policy
Stephen Carpa
Protecting the Great Burn
Colin Todhunter
‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit
Martin Billheimer
The Gothic and the Idea of a ‘Real Elite’
Elliot Sperber
Send ICE to Hanford
June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
George Wuerthner
How Mountain Bikes Threaten Wilderness
Christopher Ketcham
The Journalist as Hemorrhoid
Manuel E. Yepe
Yankee Worship of Bombings and Endless Wars
Mel Gurtov
Iran—Who and Where is The Threat?
Wim Laven
Revisiting Morality in the Age of Dishonesty
Thomas Knapp
Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
Weekend Edition
June 21, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Brett Wilkins
A Brief History of US Concentration Camps
Rob Urie
Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate
Rev. William Alberts
America’s Respectable War Criminals
Paul Street
“So Happy”: The Trump “Boom,” the Nation’s Despair, and the Decline of Joe Biden
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Eric Draitser
The Art of Trade War: Is Trump Winning His Trade War against China?
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Russian Problem
Jonathan Cook
Forget Trump’s Deal of the Century: Israel Was Always on Course to Annexation
Andrew Levine
The Biden Question
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail