Sunday, May 12, 2019

Here's Something I Never Thought I Would Write About

The other day, a comedian posted the following:

Ladies screaming “my body, my choice!” but still circumcising their sons.

This rubbed a lot of people the wrong way for a lot of reasons. Unfortunately, as is often the case with Twitter, things got a little bit weird and complicated when people responded.

For starters, saying "ladies screaming" is a really derogatory way to portray women who are upset about an issue. You might as well call them emotional or suggest they smile more. Comments like this conjure up images of the hysterical women of the past, the ones that needed to be put in their place. Women speaking up has often been associated with madness. Think about what happened to women during the witch trials. Let's not go back there. Suggesting women tone it down comes off as sexist and condescending.

It's also a bad comparison. Most people in the Twitter debate agreed that both issues should be addressed, however, a lot of us think this isn't the way to go about it.

Another issue with this statement is that it implies that a large group of hypocritical women are the ones making decisions about circumcising babies. Statistically, there has been an increase in the number of young boys and men opting for the procedure themselves and a decrease in the number of neonatal procedures. In other words, we're moving in the right direction when it comes to men eventually being able to choose for themselves whether or not they want this procedure done, whereas the restrictive abortion bills and laws are throwing women's rights backward.

Specifically, the Georgia "heartbeat bill" bans abortion when the fetus has a detectable heartbeat, but it goes one step further by declaring the fetus a "natural person," which is ridiculous from many standpoints, including a biological one. The fetus technically doesn't achieve "personhood" biologically until later, after myelination has occurred in the brain. This process starts in the spinal cord at about 11 weeks and progresses to the brain later. Until it occurs in the brain (about the second and into the third trimester) it's a fetus. It can't feel, though, like an amoeba, it will move away from outside stimuli, and it can't think or survive on its own. Other states have already passed some of these kinds of bills into law, which is scary and the reason why women are speaking out. 

It's true that some people are exaggerating what this and other bills like it mean, but the wording is intentionally vague and tricky. For example, the Georgia bill seems to say that women who have an abortion will be prosecuted, but right now, it's the doctors performing any in utero abortions who will be. But! And this is a big but, if a woman miscarries, she could be criminally investigated to see if anyone assisted her in performing an abortion. So while women might not be locked up for life for having a miscarriage, they are still looked at as criminals unless they can prove what happened wasn't intentional and that there was no assistance. Think about how backward this is. 

The real fear and why women have every right to be concerned is that these bills and new laws are one step closer to moving the debate about Roe v. Wade to the Supreme Court. Many abortion opponents seem confident that Roe will be revisited and eventually overturned. So, hell yeah, let's scream to prevent this possibility from getting that far. 

Getting back on topic, the main difference between the circumcision debate and women being shocked and upset about the new restrictive abortion laws and bills being put forth in places like Georgia and Ohio is that parents have the right to choose or not choose to circumcise their child. Obviously, the child isn't able to give consent, just like he's not able to give consent about vaccines, what he wears, or what food goes into his mouth. I understand many people would like there to be laws banning circumcision or banning it except in cases in which it's medically needed, for example, when the foreskin too tight, but the choice is in the hands of parents right now. In pretty much any US state, one parent can make a choice to have the child circumcised. If the other parent is against it, all he or she needs to do if file an injunction.

It's possible we need new laws around circumcision, but the way to get there isn't for a man to kick women out of the spotlight and complain about her screeching. I mean, really, Fuck that bullshit.

I'm not sure if this will make my point more clear, but it is possible to support two separate issues and not want them intertwined, sort of like when you have a campaign going to save the endangered whales and someone blurts out, "You keep talking about the whales, BUT WHAT ABOUT X?" Right, both need attention, but I'm allowed to focus on one at a time and not put down the people who are concerned about one versus the other.

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