So, we’ve now reached the point where writers and commentators don’t even need to put on pants and leave the house to find something worth writing about, we just have to turn on the Think-o-tronic Magic Box, and scroll through the latest events on a news site. We’ve reached the point where if I was in a coma for a week, I’d be hopelessly behind the times. Captain America would be hopelessly lost if we brought him out from the ice after being frozen in World War 2.
This week, of course, has been about the war on women. Yes, we’re using that phrase, because we’re letting Brock Turner off of sexual assault charges because he can swim well — okay, not as good as Michael Phelps, or Mark Spitzer, or Dara Torres, or, okay, he probably wasn’t headed to the Olympics, but he was rich and white, which are the pertinent points. Honestly, I don’t know why Alabama and Georgia are bothering, since the statistic I heard in high school was 80% of women in the US wouldn’t be able to get an abortion even if they wanted one, either for financial reasons or lack of availability. I guess Georgia and Alabama are intent on policing the hell out of that last 20%. It might seem disingenuous or unethical for a white, heteronormative man (but I am disabled)(thanks, cancer), to discuss an issue that predominantly effects… well, other people, but, screw it, it was old white men who passed the laws in question, so it seems only fair to put in my two cents.
I have very little doubt that this is some sort of subconscious backlash or retaliation for the MeToo movement — something like 60% of male executives say they’re still uncomfortable being alone with or working one-on-one with female colleagues, according to Emily Peck at the Huffington Post (which means that 60% of men still don’t know how to behave around women, and don’t value the input of women enough to learn). And when wealthy white men start feeling afraid, shit gets done. Horrible shit that usually indiscriminately hits multiple groups, and is, ultimately, ineffective at stopping social or economic progress, but it makes them feel better.
I suspect that this is just like when Cadet Bonespurs announced that social security would monitor social media accounts of people on disability/social security to ensure that no one’s cheating the system (if anyone wants, I’ll provide the latest MRI scans to show that I still literally have holes in my brain); it’s a great headline-grabber, but the federal government literally doesn’t have the manpower (or personpower) to enforce it. Georgia and Alabama receive more federal assistance than they supply, and it’s not likely that they’re suddenly going to get enough money to make it feasible to do some sort of woman-tracking system to ensure that no woman leaves the state to get an abortion (and I have no doubt that any attempts to do so would violate the fourth amendment).
What I do think is, if I were a vindictive white man who wanted to accuse a woman of witchcraft — I mean, destroy her life — these laws would make it eminently easy to do so; just accuse her of miscarriage (never mind that miscarriages are extremely common and occur something like 25% of the time) on purpose. It wouldn’t matter if it was true; just getting the authorities involved in a police complaint would probably be disruptive enough to ruin her professional and personal life. It’s ironic that a man obsessed with witch hunts enjoys encouraging the sort of divisions and thinking that lead to them (witch hunts, BTW, are still a thing, and I don’t think the poor women burned in West Africa would appreciate a rich, white man appropriating the sort of language and rhetoric that leads to genocide).
If you aren’t a woman, if you are an able-bodied, cis-gender, well-off white man, you should be afraid of what these laws mean. This is the first step towards a more divisive, exclusive society, a step towards second-class citizenship. And you will not be able-bodied forever; and once a society decides it’s okay to punish people for their gender or body or ethnicity, the cannibalism doesn’t stop. There is no society I can think of where the elite, who initiate these things as a distraction to keep people from asking why their taxes are going to Mar a Lago instead of schools and roads, suddenly go, “Oh, that’s enough, we’re comfortable and fine. Enough slaughtering and persecuting the poor and disenfranchised.”
But, realistically, if you’re the sort of person who’s not persuaded by facts, figures, public health analysis, or the very real, almost-palpable fear and concerns I’m hearing from women, you’re not likely to be persuaded by a lone blogger on Medium (also, you’re probably not much for reading, so, there is that).
If you are “on the fence,” about this issue, I’d put forth a quote from that religious text which we hold most sacred (to borrow a line from How I Met Your Mother), Star Trek:
“With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured…the first thought forbidden…the first freedom denied — chains us all, irrevocably.”