To the Religious Right, I am No Longer a Woman


In just the last seven years, I have experienced nearly every biological joy and trial that comes with being a woman. I’ve been on hormonal contraception. I’ve struggled with unexplained infertility. I’ve had a miscarriage. I’ve attempted vaginal birth. I’ve had an emergency c-section. I’ve had planned c-sections. I’ve used natural family planning to try to conceive. I’ve used natural family planning to try to not conceive. And, as a result of that, I became a woman with an unplanned pregnancy.

Currently, I am enjoying a state that I have never been in before–one where I don’t have to think at all about my reproduction, fertility, trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid pregnancy or being in a state of pregnancy. It’s a huge and welcome relief, frankly. Between miscarriage and two fairly closely-spaced births, I’ve spent well over two of the last three years having enough HCG in my bloodstream to be able to produce a positive pee test if I was so inclined. The seven months that have passed since I have had my last (and I do mean last) child is the longest I have been unencumbered by pregnancy hormones since 2009.

So it’s with a bit of irony that I read the incessant assertions from the religious right that I am in fact not a true woman anymore, simply because I have chosen to remove myself from the baby game. I already had one strike against me, obviously, just for advocating that women should be allowed to decide when or if they want to have children, and for believing that sex can be meaningful even if there isn’t some potential for conception to occur during the process. I’ve had sex to try and create children, and honestly, it can be a very stressful, non-magical endevor. As much as I can guarantee that all of my children were conceived equally in love, I can’t say the same about the… um… enthusiasm.

Since the birth of my son (and, nearly as importantly, the snipping and cauterizing of my fallopian tubes) I’ve had the chance to relearn both emotional and physical intimacy, two items that are often lost among couples with a houseful of small children or an empty house two partners are trying desperately to fill. It’s a task that is much more emotionally charged now that sex is for us alone, and without a worry about the “consequences” of sex that the religious right seems so focused on making a part of the bargain. We don’t need potential consequences. Our family is complete. After all, they already outnumber us. I’d hate to get even further behind.

But to them, I am no longer a woman.

Women around the world have swallowed a detestable lie that a person’s identity can somehow be separated from his or her biological body… Women like [Sandra] Fluke who accept this detestable lie, have thereby rejected the glorious beauty and radiant splendor of what is really at the core of a woman’s being, namely her profound ability to procreate, to form a new life, to carry that life within her for nine months, to birth that new life into the world, and to nourish that life until it reaches independence.

The life-creating potential and nurturing capacities that belong to a woman’s very nature are most marvelous. But in the name of so-called freedom, Fluke and others want to elect a president who will support them in rendering their feminine bodies sterile and who will aid them in killing their offspring when their sterility strategy fails.

Have I lost all “beauty and splendor” now that I am permanently out of the baby-making business?  Do I no longer get to have an “indentity” now that my “profound ability to procreate” has come to an irreversable end?

For those willing to allow me to keep a sliver of womanhood, even if I have lost my ability to create and birth tiny human beings, I am still at the very least “corrupt.

Abortion strikes clear to the core of a woman because a woman’s God-given nature is to create, sustain, nurture, and protect new life.  Whether a woman ever gives birth is irrelevant.  It is still a woman’s essential make-up to bring forth new life into the world.  God designed us that way.

Just to believe that a woman should have the right to control how many (or even no) children she should bring into the world is a “corruption” of our very natures, according to those who are the most extreme.  Whether a woman gives birth or not, she is a “mother,” according to them, just by being female. Much like the state of “pre-conception” that Jessica Valenti discusses in her new book Why Have Kids? all girls and women of reproductive age are in a state of “mommy-to-be” whether she cares to be or not.

To them, there is no society of men or women, but men and “potential mothers.”  Once you remove yourself from the motherhood game, whether it occurs before or after you have children, you have denied your right to lay claim to womanhood.

Yet somehow, I don’t feel corrupt.  I don’t feel a lack of “splendor.” In fact, I feel exactly as much a woman as I did before I had my tubes tied, or before I gave birth or even, shockingly enough, before I was pregnant. I feel the same as I did about my gender, my beliefs, my true nature, and my potential.

Most of all, I feel relief. Relief that regardless of what happens in the future, there will never be a point where I will be forced to add onto my family due to lack of access to birth control or abortion. My family is complete. And I am complete, even if I’m missing a small part of my tubes that the religious right claims is the most important part of me.

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  • veggietart

    This is a grave insult to women struggling with infertility.  My sister wanted to have children.  She was so happy when she got pregnant, and I was happy for her.  But it turned out to be a molar pregnancy, which led to cancer and a hysterectomy.  How dare anyone suggest she’s less of a woman because of this! How dare anyone suggest that any woman who is unable to reproduce or chooses not to (for a variety of reasons) is less of a woman for it.  The individual who wrote this is less of a man for his suggsetion that women are here to produce babies.

     

    Martin Luther called; he wants his misogynistic rhetoric back.

  • give-em-hell-mary

    Usually the very people hurling boulders at women who haven’t reproduced or who are done reproducing are deliberately child-free themselves like Catholic clergy, polygamist Rush Limbaugh, Aikin-defender Sharon Barnes and trophy mistresses/”wives” Callista Gingrich and Abigail Perlman Blunt.  But as soon as they demonize white middle class “baby-shirkers,” they flip-flop to demonize all non-white baby producers as lazy leaches.  You can never win with these fascists.  You also can’t get them to discuss their own aduterous deadbeat daddies.  A new religious co-worker with grown kids got upset with our small department because the rest of us aren’t married and crawling with rugrats.  One older playboy has two grown daughters by two different women and he recently remembered that his own preacher dad forced him to marry the first pregnant one before he got sent to Vietnam.  I told the religious co-worker that she should pay attention to the picky playboy comments of our male colleagues because that’s what I encountered before I gave up on men.  Washington, DC is ruled by and overrun with looksist married and single playboys who believe most women aren’t gorgeous enough to marry or be faithful to, let alone have kids with.  Most of the mothers I know got officially abandoned or are being secretly cheated on.  Although I’m glad I’m childless (I’d definitely be a deserted, impoverished mother otherwise) I still feel worthless because of countless looksist rejections.  It’s hard to practice family values by oneself and be blamed for spinsterhood caused by the extreme male shortage of U.S. foreign invasions.

  • purplemistydez

    I’m extremely pissed off that some people think that my value as a woman is attached to my ability to have children.  A woman is no less important whether she is a mother or child free.  I do not need a child to feel like a woman. 

  • shewho

    It’s easy. If you have any doubt, check your paycheck.

  • give-em-hell-mary

    LOL!

  • ljean8080

    married a  woman with MS and spent his life taking care of her.he was either at home or at work.

  • lisakaz

    That to the GOPee women are not individual human beings. They are functionaries with working reproductive parts and little else — certainly not brains because, according to them, women must be subject to parental rule by fathers, husbands, bosses, etc.

  • valiberal

    Margaret Atwood’s novel reveals what the real face of this misogynist Patriarchy looks like.

    “Glorious beauty & radiant splendor”…blah…blah..what hypocritical BS.  And I think that young women today know it is.

     

     

  • adar

    So much for women who have gone through menopause, or who have lost their reproductive organs to cancer.  

  • pixiesaurusrex

    I always thought that The Handmaid’s Tale was supposed to be a warning, not a how-to manual. 

  • veggietart

    Yeah, so did I.  Assuming the misogynists actually read this, someone needs to tell them that.

  • stojef

    “But as soon as they demonize white middle class “baby-shirkers,” they flip-flop to demonize all non-white baby producers as lazy leaches.  You can never win with these fascists.”


    You hit the nail on the head.  I wonder if the Christo-gyno police would object to an IUD shaped like a cross.


  • stojef

    A former coworker of mine, a good Christian man who has cheated on his wife numerous times, once told me he thought that a woman who did not have children were useless.  I told him that if he’s ever rushed to a hospital and clinging to life he should immediately reject the doctor treating him if that doctor is a woman who hasn’t had children.

  • give-em-hell-mary

    I’ll bet your pious playboy co-worker used his wife’s pregnancy scars as his “moral” green light for cheating and that he made any impregnated mistresses get abortions to save his “sacramental” marriage!   Do you think his wife knew?  She could get AIDS from him.

  • aigiarm

    It’s OK that that guy cheats on his wife, because Jesus forgives him <snark.>  Jesus won’t, however, forgive women who have abortions.

  • silentfactor80

    I’d like to say to those here thinking that women are only viewed as “mothers-to-be” that it is the same for men! For ages men had certain expectations to meet before they were even seen as men (i.e. job, house, military service, etc). In many African countries this still rings true. Men have to complete some dangerous ritual for the “right” to be called “men.” Society uses both men and women in different ways and its garbage. It has always been that way though and probably will be for the forseeable future.

     

    I also think this author has gone to an extreme in interpreting the author at Catholic Online. I read the Catholic Online article and I think the author’s point was that she felt women are being exploited for sex when their fertility is no longer an issue. A huge part of sex for women is emotional. When emotion is cut out it is like cutting a woman’s soul out according to the author.

  • thalwen

    OMG! A job! A house! Military service! Such high expectations! Poor, poor menz! 

     

    Oh wait, that’s just responsibilities that you get when you become an adult. Women have to do that too. Ok, there were some weird manhood rituals culturally, though I wager they still carried a lesser health risk than pregnancy. Yeah and sex is all about emotions for us? Thanks for letting us know, we’re obviously too stupid to understand our own bodies and sexuality. 

     

    Last I checked, women have organs besides the reproductives ones, yet I have not heard anyone wax poetic about our powerful kidneys, with the profound capacity to filter fluids, and provide the proper balance of electrolytes in the body. No one despairs that kidney donation robs us of half of our marvelous potential to produce pee. It is irrelevant that we may not need our second kidney, God designed us with two dammit! 

  • silentfactor80

    The point I was trying to make with the job and a house was that society EXPECTS those things of a man to be worth anything. Society does not expect a woman to have those things to be a worth something! You think military service is less risky than pregnancy? What country do you live in?I would rather go through pregnancy 3 times than spend even a day in the military. At least in pregnancy people aren’t trying to kill you like an enemy in a war.

    I also did not say sex is ONLY about emotion for women but if you read a lot of blogs BY WOMEN of all persuasions an emotional connection tops the list of wants / needs. I also never said you were too stupid to understand your body and sexuality! Why do you have to resort to a strawman to have a discussion? I’m not oblivious to the obvious pleasure a woman’s body can make her experience. It seems to me women are jealous of the fact men can have the pleasures of sex without the pains of birth and are trying to level the playing field with birth control. I don’t agree with that but just be honest.

    Yes, women have other organs but the reproductive ones are unique. This is why we “wax poetry” about them. They also do something incredible. Maybe you don’t think creation of new human life is beautiful but it is. How can you compare growing a baby to pee? The two are scores apart in value!! This is highly dishonorable stance of yours.

  • thalwen

    Society doesn’t expect women to have jobs? Society doesn’t expect us to have housing? These are basic things of survival not status symbols. A guy doesn’t go out and get a job and get a house because he needs them to be a man, he does it because you need food and shelter to live as does a woman. Again, this is not some high requirement, it is what you do as an adult to survive.

    You clearly have no idea how the military works. It’s not like movies, you aren’t constantly getting shot at or have your life in danger. Even if your country is at war, in modern warfare, your risk is not that high, oh and you get paid for it. And if you get hurt, there’s access to medical care without question (unless you get raped). So yeah, even compulsory mandatory military service is a better deal than getting pregnant, where if your life is at risk, there are plenty of people who would be happy to let you die. And I’d be happy to have you experience pregnancy even one time, then you would have some idea of what it’s like.

    And no, you don’t think we’re too stupid to understand our sexuality, then proceed to ‘splain it to us. Oh yeah, jealous, also probably jealous that we don’t have penises, yeah stop channelling Freud, he was stupid then just like he is now. Birth control isn’t a way to deal with “jealousy” it is a way for us to have control over our bodies. Also, since you seem to be quite clueless as to women and sex, we can have plenty of pleasure without risking pregnancy.

    You’re right, you can’t compare making babies to pee. I can live my entire life without making a baby, but I’ll die without making pee. So yeah, you’re right, they’re scores apart in value. 

  • give-em-hell-mary

    Google obstetric fistulas to get a clue why pregnancies are deadly for women and ruinous for marriages.  Babies may be cute, but childbirth complications are scary and bankrupting.

  • give-em-hell-mary

    Jesus never condemned abortions or the abortifacient wild carrot seeds consumed by his female followers.

  • forced-birth-rape

    St. Augustine said, “Any woman who acts in such a way that she cannot give birth to as many children as she is capable of, makes herself guilty of that many murders.”

    Martin Luther wrote: “God created Adam lord of all living creatures, but Eve spoiled it all. Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear children. And if a woman grows weary and, at last, dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing; she is there to do it.”

     

    “Anders Behring Breivik christian terrorist, pro-forced-birther.

    What he thinks about womens rights, women need to breed, breed, breed.

    1. Limit the distribution of birth-control pills (contraceptive pills): Discourage the use of and prevent liberal distribution of contraceptive pills or equivalent prevention methods. The goal should be to make it considerably more difficult to obtain. This alone should increase the fertility rate by 0,1 points but would degrade women’s rights.

    2. Reform sex education: Reform the current sex education in our school institutions. This may involve limiting it or at least delaying sex education to a later age and discourage casual sex. Sex should only be encouraged within the boundaries of marriage. This alone should increase the fertility rate by 0,1 points.

    3. Making abortion illegal: A re-introduction of the ban on abortion should result in an increased fertility rate of approximately 0,1-0,2 points but would strip women of basic rights.

    4. Women and education: Discourage women in general to strive for full time careers. This will involve certain sexist and discriminating policies but should increase the fertility rate by up to 0,1-0,2 points.

    Women should not be encouraged by society/media to take anything above a bachelor’s degree but should not be prevented from taking a master or PhD. Males on the other hand should obviously continue to be encouraged to take higher education – bachelor, master and PhD.”

     

    “Self-Described ‘Christian Counterpart To Osama Bin Laden’ Arrested In Plot To Bomb Abortion Clinic

    Justin Carl Moose describe “himself” as the Christian counterpart to Osama bin Laden. Moose wrote:

    “I have learned a lot from the muslim terrorists and have no problem using their tactics.”

    Each year about 890,000 women have abortions in Pakistan, and every day 10 women die because they had an unsafe abortion. Some 560,000 Filippina women have unsafe illegal abortions every year, with 90,000 suffering complications from the procedure and 1,000 dying.~

     

    Pro-forced-birthers favorite piece of literature of all time.

    Genesis 3:16

    “I will greatly multiply your grief and your suffering in pregnancy and the pangs of childbearing; with spasms of distress you will bring forth children. Yet your desire and cravings will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

     

    “In the 1800′s when chloroform was introduced to the US to help ease the excruciating pain of childbirth for women, it was woman-hating Christians who fought against its permitted use on the grounds that easing women’s childbirth pain was contrary to God’s will. They cited the book of Genesis where God punishes women with the curse of pain in childbirth.”

     

    What pro-forced-birthers think of raped little girls.

     

    “Church excommunicates mother of 9-year-old rape victim – but not accused rapist.”

    A senior Vatican cleric has defended the Catholic Church’s decision to excommunicate the mother and doctors of a nine-year-old rape victim who had a life-saving abortion in Brazil.”

    “Police believe the girl was sexually assaulted for years by her stepfather, possibly since she was six. That she was four months pregnant with twins emerged only after she was taken to hospital complaining of severe stomach pains.”