To help impoverished pregnant people travel hundreds of miles

Lindy West is confused. She has a piece at Comment is Free about what a mess the US election is. She starts with a friend who works hard for abortion rights.

“You’re a hero,” I said.

“No, I am not,” she snapped, vehement. “Somebody’s got to do it. It’s a fucking embarrassment that I have to.”

She was right. “Our country is a septic tank,” I sighed. “On fire.”

“Full-on fail.”

I still think that choosing to take on the exhausting, sisyphean, largely thankless work of abortion advocacy (we are not taught to say “thank you” for abortion; we are taught to never speak of it at all) is heroic. She could choose to leave that work to others, but she doesn’t. That’s significant.

It is, but she goes on to say, quite rightly, that it’s grotesque that anyone has to do it at all.

But that reaction – somebody’s got to do it, so I do – triggered a familiar weariness in me. We shouldn’t have to spend our spare time working, pro bono, to remove stigma from a procedure so common that a full third of the women you know have had one; or to raise money to help impoverished pregnant people travel hundreds of miles, to other states, to exercise a legal right; or to convince a supposedly free and enlightened nation, in 2016, that people with uteruses are autonomous human beings deserving of basic medical care.

That’s the confusion.

Why is it that anyone still has to? Why is it so contested? Why do we have to fight and fight and fight to get it or keep it?

Because women are the subordinate sex, that’s why. Why are women the subordinate sex? In great part because we’re the one that gets pregnant, that’s why.

That’s what the whole thing is about – the subordination of women, all women, women as a class. It’s not about generic “people” being subordinated, it’s about women being subordinated. Lindy West is a feminist; on some level she must know that perfectly well; yet somehow she’s been bullied or persuaded into thinking it’s more right-on to pretend that abortion rights are not a women’s issue.

After that detour she goes on to talk about the election and misogyny and the tidal wave of misogyny we’ll all have to deal with if Clinton is elected – just as if she knows all about the subordination of women as a class.

She’s confused.

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