I had the nicest lunch today. I’m starting to think that I should just let everyone take me to lunch all the time. We could sit around and talk about whatever interested us and try to solve the world’s problems.
It’d be like blogging, but in person and less effective, since it’d just be one person at a time. Still, this human interaction thing, done face to face might just lead to something interesting.
Anyway, the person I was with is a liberal do-gooder in the medical field and I am a liberal do-gooder in the yakkity-smackity field, and so it’s fun to get together with someone who shares your sympathies but knows much about things you know little about.
But something that stunned me is that, since we were talking about health care, of course we were talking about issues with providing health care to women and I was casually mentioning things that feminist bloggers talk about all the time–
- the importance of easy access to the morning after pill, especially for rape victims
- the disconnect between being anti-abortion and pro-abstinence only education
- the fucked-up-ed-ness of the kind of discourse that seems to frame pregnancy as the just punishment for sluts, even though such a framework, seems, at its core to posit children only as a heavy and uniquely unpleasant burden, and how damaging such a framework is to said children as well as women
- the bizarre notion that life begins at conception, even though many a body discards many a fertilized egg without women even being aware of it, as if philosophy can somehow trump physical facts if you shout it loud enough
–and my lunch companion kept saying things like “That’s right, but I hadn’t heard it articulated like that before.’
Now, I’d like to think that I’m just some articulating genius, but I actually think that this points to a larger problem among feminists–and in larger society–we are too specialized.
Within our own little groups, we are well-versed in all of the issues, but we don’t quite know how to hear (or even where to listen) to groups outside of our immediate realm of knowledge.
And yet, things like healthcare affect us all and it’s virtually impossible to live one’s life in a way that avoids all healthcare professionals, so it becomes increasingly important that women be able to receive the kinds of healthcare they need from people who are tuned into their right to get it.
So, how do we tune each other in? How can an artsy fartsy feminist converse with a healthcare professional passionate about women’s health issues?
I think this–careful reading, writing, and considering–is one important way.
But I’ve also been thinking about why it is that women’s healthcare decisions are up for discussion anyway. Part of it is, of course, because we can give birth–between our legs the unfolding of eternity or some such shit–and people tend to talk about miracles, but I think that part of it is also that guy at the bar syndrome.
I think that there’s a large segment of the population, both male and female, that cannot wrap their heads around the idea that there are a lot of things that, though they may have an opinion about it, they don’t get a say in it. Just because you see that there is a woman struggling with a decision, it doesn’t mean that you get to jump in and take over and move her to a place you’re more comfortable with.
Everyone ought to have a right to her own autonomy, including her own bodily autonomy. It’s weird and disturbing to me that, when it comes to medical decisions, women don’t. Everything we do with our bodies is given such preposterous moral weight that our whole society feels an imperative to step in and make our decisions for us. It’s very yucky.
In order to be recognized as fully human adults, we have to be able to make decisions that are unpopular. We have to be able to do things you disagree with. We even have to be able to do things your god disagrees with.