Let’s get one thing straight before we start: innate, natural, unmanipulated gender equality is a myth. The golden age of matriarchy and free, independent women is a fable and never happened. The perception that women can be as free and functional as men is an artifact of modern life. Why? Because it is not possible without safe birth control and abortions.
Without birth control women have one of two choices: Abstain from sexual intercourse or risk having their life utterly destroyed. That is, if they’re in a society where they actually have that choice. That usually doesn’t happen all that often and even then, generally only happens for women in certain pockets of society. The first choice, should a woman opt for it, means she’s missing out on a healthy, positive activity in which men can engage without risk or fear. It means that every relationship with a man is colored by how she is not going to have sex with him, no matter how much she might want to, and that some portion of her energy will always be devoted to resisting temptation. That right there is enough to handicap the whole gender, but then we add in the fact that women, like men, are human, which means as time approaches eternity, the odds of them successfully resisting temptation every time reach zero, and everybody knows that. Anything a woman does which getting pregnant would interfere with will always be fraught with the knowledge that in addition to all of the risks inherent in depending on a man, she might get pregnant and screw everything up. This is not a tenable solution.
And when, with the second option, I refer to it as having their life utterly destroyed, that’s not just my infamous child-hating rearing its head; I mean that. A society that doesn’t have the ability to provide safe abortions and birth control is almost certainly a society that doesn’t provide the care needed for pregnancy and child birth to be safe. Pregnancy is still dangerous today, if unlikely to kill you. Without modern medical care, pregnancy is a game of Russian roulette, except with more bullets, and more trigger pulls. Even if motherhood is the all-consuming magically fulfilling, better than anything else you could do with your life fantasy it frequently gets pitched as, you must first survive to see it and that’s not a guarantee. It takes modern society to make even that much of it feasible.
Yes, it’s true that hormonal birth control is useful for things other than just preventing babies, and we should talk about that. My only experiment with regular hormonal birth control was, in fact, for treating ovarian cysts, with the anti-baby measures a happy side effect. (It turns out that even very low dose hormones make me moody and bitchy in ways I do not like, so I decided the cysts were better). Let’s just put that out there: Anaea, who is so allergic to the idea of raising children that her own devoted sister has legal documents ensuring potential nieces and nephews will not be remanded to her care, only used hormones to treat another condition. That’s how common using hormonal birth control for things other than enabling consequence-free sex is.
And yes, the point of safe birth control (there are forms of birth control without other uses, like my beloved IUD) and abortions is to enable consequence-free sex for women. Men get consequence-free sex as a default. Women need that crutch in order to stand on the same ground in the gender equality game. Without that crutch, women are not equal; they’re time-bombs. Without the power to turn imminent motherhood off, the threat of it is in fact enough to reduce women to brood mares.
Which is bad for society because if you give them that crutch you have twice as much human capitol as you did before. Even with the variously shoddy, faulty or incomplete research we’ve been able to conduct so far, the differences between men and women are founded mostly in experience and expressed mostly in terms of style rather than material differences. The recession has done a lot to scramble the bad assumptions clouding that. For every woman like me, who is not meant to go anywhere near motherhood, there’s a man better suited to being a traditional mom than dad. Most people hover around the middle of the spectrum.
I say all of this because I want you to understand very clearly where I’m coming from when I say that I am not interested in having a debate about abortion, or access to birth control. There is no debate. Either you agree that I should have legal access to both or you do not want me to be a fully functional, adult, contributing member of society. You’re allowed to opt for the latter, but I’m under no obligation to think you’re worth a thing as a human in general, or to me personally, if you do. I’m rather invested in my adulthood and independence. Anybody who wants to take them from me because I have tits, or because I need a crutch to hit the same baseline as half the rest of the world, can suck my fist. It costs you nothing to let me have these things, so fuck you for trying to stop me.
Say what you like about the GOP’s war on women. I don’t care. When you take away what I need in order to be the independent adult I so intensely value being, I couldn’t care less about what you want, intend, or who else you’re upsetting. That’s a personal attack by you against me. Forgive me if I don’t thank you for it.
Dear Republicans: I’m still here, eager to get out of bed with the Democrats. Keep this shit up, and I’m going to have to vote for Obama out of sheer self-defense. I still haven’t forgiven him for voting for the FISA restructuring bill and he hasn’t done a thing I think balances that, but the only thing I’m more protective of than civil liberties in general is my ability to be a person. Maybe you’d like to take a minute and step back from this particular landmine so I can continue my tradition of voting for a third-party write-in? You see, I was sorta hoping that you’d be on the path to recovery by now. It’s not like my standards are all that high. You can have me back the second you remember that being evil is supposed to look like fun, not fumbling stupid.