[Consider this one of the long series of posts which I will entitle “Cleaning out my Closet”. A friend once told me that I give him hope because I once was a fundigelical young earth creationist but now I’m a found awesome Humanist. A leap that large though leaves some loose ends behind and I do my best to categorize and make sense of them, if only for my own peace of mind.]
The Hypocritical Oppression of Being “Pro-Life”
We all know someone who calls themselves “Pro-life”. As someone who was a loud, proud and obnoxious “pro-lifer” in my youth and have lived to regret it let me tell you about this breed from an insider’s perspective.
- It wasn’t until college that I actually learned about sex. And it wasn’t in a class, but rather it was through a back-and-forth dialogue with my then-boyfriend that I learned about penises and he about periods and vaginas. Both of us had been pulled out of our school’s sex ed courses and didn’t have much of “the talk” with our parents that we could recall other than “don’t have sex”.
- It wasn’t until I read the packet that came with my birth control that I learned how it worked. I didn’t need birth control because I wasn’t a “slut” and thus learning about it wasn’t necessary. I didn’t know that a huge amount of women take the pill because of medical reasons (not slutiness) until I became one. Junior year of college my periods became unbearable and I went through months of agony before my roommate suggested that birth control might help. It did.
Many pro-lifers don’t know how the pill works either. In many circles it is vilified as an abortificant. And, of course, the Catholic Church is opposed to any sort of birth control.
- I was a conservative and identified as Republican. As I started high school 9-11 happened, with two wars following in quick succession and gave rise to controversies surrounding torture, the definition of “enemy combatant”, and all sorts of other things. My moral stand had no problem with being all for the wars, brushing off the atrocities that happened at Gitmo, the death penalty and a host of other things while still believing that a fetus should be protected from harm at all costs. I’ll even through in that I loved personal freedom and despised anything that reeked of chipping away at that for some further irony points.
- I hated women. The word “feminism” was only a positive thing in my world if it happened before 1920 and paved the way for me to vote. Everything else was the work of “femninazis” who hated Jesus and wanted to ruin society. “Sluts” needed to keep their legs together and dress modestly and then they wouldn’t need a “Choice” (since we all knew that that was merely a codeword for “abortion”).
- I hated men. Men couldn’t control their lustful urges around “sluts” who dressed immodestly. “Immodestly” means different things in different circles: tight pants, a bare midrift, mini-skirts, shorts, halter tops, pants and dangly earrings are all considered “immodest” to different circles. Men were out of control sex animals and the stupid sluts deserved it. Men were not only irrational beings incapable of controlling themselves but also free of any consequences of their actions.
- Babies are a punishment. The stupid slut deserves it and needs to deal with the consequences! Getting pregnant and being pressured to marry will show that young couple that they can’t act like married people without consequences!
- I lived in a fantasy world. The only people who got pregnant and didn’t want to were sluts. If I lived purely, dressed modestly and never let any boy put his penis in my vagina I didn’t have to worry. My world was free of rape victims (who in my warped mind had it coming), victims of incest and ectopic pregnancies. If I had learned of what sociologists call the “rape culture” at that age I would have disregarded it as some fantasy of a man-hating Femninazi (also, note my fallacy that held that rape was a primarily sexual act). My world was black and white: you chose to open your legs or you didn’t.
- I loved Jesus but hated his teachings. The social gospel was an evil plot against Jesus, a known capitalist. We preferred to mine the prophets for “end times prophecies” and disregarded all that shit about helping the poor, the alien, the sick and the lonely. The lesson of the women caught in adultery let us know that we could eat seafood because the law was a silly thing that Jesus disposed of then and there (the parts about gays, however, were still valid). We took the part where Jesus says “you will always have the poor with you” and ran with it, ignoring the rest. I claimed to love the Christ and his word but it was a lie.
Starting in college my fantasy world cracked open and my eyes slowly opened to the hypocrisy present in my moral stance. “If I believe that life is sacred, under what circumstances can it be taken away?” Was the first question I pondered as I considered the death penalty. I began not to call myself “pro-life” anymore because I believed in a just war. Surely the only real pro-lifers out there were the pacifists, I thought.
I devoured the Bible, front to back with no one telling me “what it really means” and the whole façade crumbled within a matter of months. I see now that I was blind and that the “Pro-life” movement capitalizes on the blindness of people. It is based on black and whites that do not exist in the real world, and upon a system that allows some to feel superiority over the others by demonizing them to certain extents.
With all that said, being a pro-lifer and living in that fantasy world was easy. There were rules to prevent bad things from happening and never a need to puzzle out ethical dilemmas. It would have been easy to remain in that fantasy world too because I’m white and middle class. The specter of bad things which could have shaken my fantasy world was significantly diminished. It was even further diminished for the white men who helped propagate this way of thinking in my little world.