Misogyny’s last hideout

It’s hard not to suspect that the real reason abortion is such a hot issue in some places is that it offers what looks like a respectable or decent pretext or excuse for pushing women around and telling them what to do, when none of the other pretexts for doing that retain a shred of respectability. Abortion is the one ‘reason’ for bossing and controlling and confining women; for, in short, taking away their autonomy. It’s the last resort – it’s what’s left when all the old ‘traditional’ unreasonable ones have been shown up and knocked down and got rid of. When they can’t be defended any more, there is one last way: abortion. Hooray hooray, there is still one way we can tell women, forcibly, with the full power of the law: No you are not equal, no you may not decide your own fate, no your life is not in your hands, no you are not a person like other persons (you are a vehicle for other people, instead), no you do not belong to yourself, no you may not make the most basic decisions about your own life, no you do not have autonomy, no you are not free. No. You are subordinate; you are an instrument; you belong to everyone; you are in our power; we can control you; we can tell you what to do; and we damn well will.

And as a delightful fun bonus, we can express contempt for you, we can scorn you and hate you, we can talk about prom dresses and dirty weekends, we can pretend you are of your nature stupid and childish and trivial. And we can do it all in the glow of self-righteousness and moral superiority and tender caring concern for tiny helpless creatures. We can talk contemptuously about women who get abortions so that they can wear a bikini, a new dress, tight jeans, Jimmy Choo shoes; or so that they can go away for the weekend, so that they can go to the prom, so that they won’t miss that hot date, so that they won’t be feeling queasy for the company picnic, so that they won’t get zits. In short, we can mine a rich vein of misogynist sexist contemptuous trivialization of women and women’s autonomy and women’s right to autonomy. We can do an anti-thought experiment. Don’t even think about having any claim to your own life, your own right to make decisions about your own life, your independence, your freedom, your room to breathe, your adulthood, honey, because if you try it we’ll all get together and point out what stupid shallow trivial childish girly frivolous things you want it for, which is to say, we’ll all get together and point out what stupid shallow trivial childish girly frivolous kinds of human beings you all fundamentally are, thus convincing everyone that you have no right to autonomy and to make your own decisions, because you’re too stupid and too weak and too shallow and too likely to murder the baby just because you feel like going to the movies.

That kind of thing is frowned on in most polite discourse, but the fatwa against abortion makes it acceptable. It’s not misogyny, it’s concern for the baby, whose ruthless frivolous heartless mother wants to kill it because it might mess up her hairdo.

To the extent that that’s true, opposition to abortion is pure whited sepulcher. Something very nasty dressed up as something very nice.

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