2 Sep 2008

Woman, Hate Thyself

Sarah Palin, the newly announced running mate of John McCain, Republican candidate for the next American presidency, is reported to be pro-gun and pro-life. Someone tell me what is wrong with this picture? To American right-wingers, sanctity of life seems to begin at conception and end with birth. How else can you be against the scraping of some cells from a consenting adult's uterus, and be for the right to blow your fellow human being's brains out, if they happen to cross your white picket fence in an unseemly manner?

The frustrating thing is, it's easy to take a pop at male pro-lifers - much, much harder to have a go at the female ones. The motivation of male-pro lifers is easy to see. They have never quite dealt with the concept that female autonomy might be a good thing for all, and instead would like us all to be back barefoot, pregnant and chained to the kitchen sink. Pro-life = anti-woman. Abortion control = control over female freedom. So what better way to undermine these wimmin who have just got too damn uppity, than to start flying the flag for all the cute babies MURDERED by the evil career bitches who abort them?Yes, let's pretend pregnancy has got nothing to do with women, and let's make it all about the babies. But as Bill Hicks pointed out, pro-lifers' very inconsistency is what reveals their true priority. I don't see pro-lifers holding funerals for miscarried foetuses, baptising the sanitary towels and tampons that will catch 80% of fertilised eggs that pass out of the body naturally, or, as Hicks fantasised himself, dragging the terminally ill and dead out of their beds and coffins and demanding that they 'LIVE, DAMMIT!'. What's pro-life about prizing matter akin to pond algae, over the fully formed and living? Let's call these folks what they really are - anti-choicers. And so it becomes pretty clear male anti-choicers are just bitter misogynists attempting to curtail female freedom without being seen to directly take a pop at women. Easy, done, labelled, dealt with. But what of the female anti-choicers? How can they be explained? Deluded? Self-hating? We all know wimmin can be each other's worst enemies, and can participate just as merrily as men in all forms of oppressing each other, but we assume that in a vaguely free, allegedly democratic country, where no one's obliged to wear veils, mutilate their daughter's vaginas or murder their own kin in the name of 'honour', women will no longer feel the need to internalise and increase their own oppression. We clearly assume wrong.

Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter got pregnant by her boyfriend, a high school student the same age. She is keeping the child and marrying her partner. Wonder how much 'choice' went into that scenario. Call me cynical, but marrying a chap when neither of you will be old enough to drink at your wedding, for a reason I'm guessing wouldn't exist if either of you had had some sex-education which wasn't just 'abstinence only', doesn't seem like a recipe for a very enlightened or happy future. But hey, better an unhappy, wed, mother, than an unwed mother, or an unwed childless woman who decided she didn't want to be press-ganged into matrimony and mandatory childbearing and had a termination, or even had the child adopted. Of course, I'm only guessing that Ms Palin Jr was pressured into her decision, either directly or via her mother's public position and very public views on abortion; I concede one can't ever truly know what goes on inside someone else's family, I just find it a slightly spooky coincidence that Ms Palin Sr also eloped at a young age, and bore her first child just 8 months after her wedding. Clearly 'shotgun' isn't just a cool way of bagging the front seat in your friend's Ford Ka any more, but has come back into vogue as that clumsy, cringeworthy, who-are-you-trying-to-kid method of covering a pregnancy with marriage. Because goddess knows, the worst thing you can do is have sex outside of marriage. And who are these hopeless naifs being frogmarched down the aisle in an attempt to conceal the result of their drunken fumbling in the backseat of their parents' Chevrolet? Wouldn't be the same ones who take 'virginity pledges', wear 'chastity rings' and receive abstinence only sex education - all common practices in American high schools today? Wow, guess 'just saying no' really worked for Sarah Palin's daughter. As studies show, those who are taught only abstinence as a method of contraception are more likely to engage in other sexual behaviours in the mistaken belief that somehow only vaginal intercourse leaves you impure, and much less likely to use any protection when they do inevitably give into temptation. Result? A nation of diseased, prematurely pregnant teenagers flinging themselves towards the altar to try and appease the very parents, teachers and government who landed them in this sorry mess. Perhaps THIS is the American right's real way of oppressing women - by ensuring the next generation of women grow up sexually ignorant, and end up the meek, barefoot pregnant souls chained to that sink through nothing but lousy education and misogynist propaganda. The most terrifying thing is that this propaganda is coming from modern women - women like Sarah Palin, who could end up Vice President of the most powerful country in the world.

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