Because people don’t get pregnant, women get pregnant

Laurie Penny says a thing at the New Statesman.

Title and subhead:

If men got pregnant, abortion would be legal everywhere

The concept of women deciding when, whether and how to have children, is still a threat to the status quo.

In other words, all together now: if men got pregnant abortion would be a sacrament.

Laurie Penny cites the murders at Planned Parenthood and a Belfast judge’s ruling that “abortion might just be permissible in cases of rape, incest or foetal abnormality” and suggests that there’s a pattern.

The concept of women having actual goddamned agency over their lives and bodies, the idea that we might get to decide when, whether and how to have children, is still a threat to the status quo. We grudgingly allow women to make decisions related to sex and reproduction as long as they feel an appropriate degree of guilt, and hoard that guilt away in private. Have an abortion? You’d better be sorry about it for the rest of your life. Get pregnant without a partner? Be prepared to spend 18 years explaining yourself. Leave paid work to have a child? You’re lazy, spoiled and frivolous. Carry on working after your kids are born? You’re cold, selfish. Get sterilised? You’re an unfeeling, unnatural monster. Whoever you are, if you have a uterus and dare to make a decision about what comes out of it, shame on you. Shame is the overarching theme here, shame and scorn for anyone with the temerity to behave as if their own humanity is important.

Right. And why is that? Because women, as a class, are subordinated, treated as inferior, denied rights, considered not fully human. Why is that? Partly because they’re the ones who have the babies. It’s a loop.

I am sick of explaining to misogynists that women are people whose choices and autonomy matter. Instead, let’s go back to considering the seahorse. Consider how different the world would be if the people with the capacity to bear children were the people society already considered fully human. Consider what would happen if men got pregnant.

If men got pregnant, abortion would be available free of charge and without restriction in every town and city on earth. No man would be expected to justify his decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. It would be enough for him to say, “I don’t want to have this baby.”

And so on, with conditional example after conditional example. If men got pregnant, so many things would be so different.

In point of fact, some men do get pregnant. Transsexual men have borne children, but their experience is not part of the popular understanding of reproductive rights – because people don’t get pregnant, women get pregnant, and when you get down to it, women aren’t really people. The structure of modern misogyny is still grounded on the fear that women might one day regain control of the means of reproduction and actually get to make their own decisions about the future of the human race- but you cannot force a person to give birth against their will and consider them fully human.

If men got pregnant, we would not be having this conversation. The fact that we still are shows how far we’ve got to go before equality becomes reality.

Will she be accused? Will she get away with it? News at 11.

11 Responses to “Because people don’t get pregnant, women get pregnant”