Original Sin

I want to talk about this, seriously, we need to talk. Did  you know  that there is a “Blue Law’, still on the books in certain states that reads, “a man may beat his wife with a switch no bigger than his thumb”? It’s not enforced anymore and mostly forgotten, it’s still there though.

Too many people have forgotten the original Suffragettes. The women who were abused and ridiculed by their friends and neighbors and their local police department and then incarcerated for, simply wanting the right to vote. Except for one Suffragette’s husband, nothing ever would have come of it.

Are you old enough to remember the very first live birth, televised on the Phil Donahue show? Are you old enough to remember that Phil Donahue took up the cause of rape within a marriage? Phil Donahue almost single-handedly, implemented the law that disallows a man to forcibly have sex with his wife and call it a marital right (Marlo Thomas, you are one lucky woman).

I remember when I was 11 and then 12 and attending consciousness raising groups with my mother. I met a lot of influential people there at the time, though I wouldn’t know it until much later in life. At the Wilshire Feminist Health Center, someone discovered a way around performing illegal abortions by offering “menses extractions”. Keeping your “friend” (I don’t know who came up with that colloquialism, it’s anything but!) away for another thirty days. I remember meeting older girls that had gone to Mexico for some botched abortion, or self performed with a coat hanger, unable to ever get pregnant again because of the scarring to their uterus. It was a very sad time indeed.

When abortions finally became legal, I remember that my mother would “help” certain of her Junior High School students obtain abortions. They had been raped by a father, an uncle, or a brother and needed help. I remember one particularly upsetting instance in which the mother of the teen seeking the abortion, told my mother, she’d rather have her husband having sex with her daughter than with her, because she already had enough kids and was just too tired to perform for him anymore.

I remember when I was 18 years old and petitioning Kaiser Permanente for a tubal ligation, having to wait a year and then being put through three psychological examinations, walking through the maternity ward (I didn’t know women could swear like that), and then sitting through “The Wonders of Motherhood” video and having to explain my choice to at least 16 people. To add insult to injury, the gynecologist (a woman) in charge of my surgery, actually had the nerve to tell me that because I was a white woman, that I ought to be popping out babies like a Pez dispenser. Whites weren’t producing enough offspring and blacks and Mexicans were going to take over our country, they were being too fruitful in their multiplicity. I read recently, that intelligent people choose more often than not, not to have children. I’ll take that as a compliment.

On that note I have to remind everyone, abortion is not a right to life issue, it is a Civil Rights issue. I remember when the Equal Rights Amendment was voted down on the House floor. I think my mother cried. I wonder who might take up that cause again (whomever you are, you have my full support, I’ll even send money), and I hope that happens soon, because for too long now, women have been blamed for everything from “Original Sin” to provoking unwanted sex. I have listened to people (mostly uneducated men) proclaiming that they are not responsible for the choices that their “appendages” make and yet they claim to be responsible enough to oversee the choices of everyone else, male and/or mostly female. Gentlemen please remember that just because a woman happens to be wearing something provocative, it does not entitle your “appendage” to over-rule your better judgement and in the same breath, claim you know better for everyone else. You can’t have it both ways.

I’m overjoyed that the “Lily Ledbetter Act” passed, though I’m disheartened that even though the old saying “you’ve come a long way baby” is true, we still have a long way to go and the sentiment in quotes gets more diluted with each passing generation. Please remember women, ladies and girls, feminist right’s advocate men too, we truly have come a long way and we all deserve to be equal. We still have a long way to go. The next time someone claims they are a “right to life” individual, remind them that they can practice whatever choice they want to make for themselves, all by themselves and that abortion is a Civil Right’s issue, for women.

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