Feminism…The Bottom Line

Reproductive choice is directly linked to personal destiny at many levels

We live in a society in which one can mix idealism and pragmatism in endless combinations, and for the most part it all works because idealistic purity is only appealing to those well off the beaten path of reality. But sometimes a set of values cannot be simply assembled in whatever configuration one dreams up. Certain values only have actual meaning when they represent the principles central to their functionality in the real world. Feminism is one of these.

As a male, and a Caucasian one at that, I have all the privilege one could ask for. But I don’t want it. At a very young age I perceived that females were not getting a fair deal. Why was working an issue? Why shouldn’t contraception and abortion be a right? Why should men get to decide what the rights of women should be? I found women often more interesting, aware and perceptive than men. They were smart, funny and, so often, wise in ways that men simply can’t achieve.

Unfortunately, not all women share this wisdom. The recent march by women in response to the inauguration of what is justifiably deemed the most incompetent, most inept, most unstable president in modern American history revealed an odd yet interesting conundrum in the feminist movement. Some women could not or would not participate because there was no place for feminists who opposed abortion. Which is to say, not just that they personally were against making such a choice, but that any woman should be able to do so.

The organizers rightly noted that reproductive choice is fundamental to a woman’s rights, and disallowing such a right was antithetical to the very concept of feminism. The women who felt left out noted that essentially the message to them was that being anti-choice is also being anti-feminist. That’s because it is anti-feminist. Reproductive choice is directly linked to personal destiny at many levels. A woman can be opposed to abortion as a choice yet still support the right of every woman to make her own decision. Besides, those who are so certain of their opinion have simply not faced a circumstance that might well contradict it.

In California, where I live, contraception is readily available without a prescription and abortion is widely available, yet the rates for the latter are low. The link between easily obtained contraception and low abortion rates is well documented. And, in reality, abortion is not a crime against humanity. The vast majority are in the first trimester. Fetuses are not babies, embryos are not children, eggs are not people. None can survive outside the womb. Look around. Real children are precisely that. Which brings up what is far worse than abortion.

Ignoring the issues of unwanted children and related problems, what I find truly horrifying is the killing of young children at a school in a small Connecticut town, the “collateral damage” of children killed during drive-by shootings, and the deaths of children by handguns their idiot parents failed to secure in a responsible manner. It has been observed many times that those obsessed with the unborn demonstrate little to no interest in them after their birth. They mindlessly assert how sacred life is, but conspicuously ignore the quality of life of the living.

[The issue of sacred life versus quality of life is, ironically, the same at either end. Ending life should be about dignity and humane treatment of those who are dying or brain dead. But the same mindless black and white assertions about how sacred life is are applied with equal ignorance to abortion and dying. In California we give individuals and their families the ability to include quality of life as a criterion when it comes to dying. My aunt in Los Angeles told my cousins early this month that at 88 she was tired of fighting cancer and wanted to be allowed to die, which they granted her. It was the right thing to do.]

Those who are “pro-life” are hypocrites, those who are pro-choice are not. They are consistent in their insistence that reproductive choice and health care are fundamental to feminism…and they are correct in this. The availability of safe, legal abortion is — or should be — integral to the reality of human existence in civilized modern society. Anyone who believes that making abortion illegal means the end of abortions is dumb to the core. Abortion — illegal or legal — has always been and will always be a reality of life for women with unwanted pregnancies. When illegal, the results are often tragic. The lessons of human history couldn’t be more obvious.

I’m an unapologetic pragmatist. I don’t pretend that reality isn’t what it appears to be. I consider intellectual honesty one of the highest achievements of evolved humans. Being an anti-abortion “feminist” is an oxymoron. Men have no intellectual or moral place in this. They can’t get pregnant and thus forfeit the right to intrude in this issue. My pragmatic core tells me that supporting the right of women to choice and complete equality is the only intellectually honest, morally functional position — which is more than I can say for the white females who voted for the just-inaugurated incompetent-in-chief. The only thing I’m missing is a pink hat.