When Did Feminists Abort Femaleness?
One week from today Washington, D.C. will host the 45th annual March for Life. Just two days later, Las Vegas will host the second annual Women’s March. The former envisions “a world where every human life is valued and protected,” while the latter’s mission “is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change.”
But not too diverse. Remember last year when pro-life feminists were disinvited from the march? According to the March for Women’s “Unity Principles” those who stand for ending violence, reproductive rights (apparently not that kind of violence), LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental justice are welcome. But if you want to protect the unborn, please stay home.
Clearly, there’s an agenda when a two-year-old march claims the same weekend as a 45-year-old march. There are 51 other weekends a year, after all. And this befuddles me. In fact, it points to something larger in the feminist movement that has always befuddled me: why are feminists pro-choice? Why are those who advocate for the rights of women so staunchly—cultishly even—in favor of abortion rights?
The “Unity Principles” of the March for Women point to this contradiction. In one breath they say, “Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of all forms of violence against our bodies” and in the next breath they say, “We do not accept any restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services…” But abortion is in fact violence done to a woman’s body. And half of all babies killed in abortion are female.
This is what gets me about America’s brand of feminism since about the 1960s: the trademark is full-on access to any kind of abortion at any time for any reason. But to be female is to have a uterus and ovaries and to produce eggs and to foster life in the womb. To grow and mother babies is, by definition, the most female act that can be performed. But to be a feminist in our current cultural climate is to fight for the right to snuff life out rather than to bring it forth.
What I wrestle with is this: who decided that equality for women means inventing ways for us to take on the typical roles of men? Why are women’s rights equated with conforming our bodily functions to those of men? Who decided that to be more womanly was to have the option to end life?
Why was there not a movement to elevate the role of men, so that they might function like women? Rather than spending scientific energy on the pill and abortion, why didn’t the medical industry look for ways to implant wombs into the bodies of men? Can you imagine a Supreme Court ruling in 1973 declaring that it’s the right of all men to have babies? (I am not in favor of this by any means, but want to highlight the great effort we have gone to in order to conform women to men rather than the other way around.)
I know I’m bordering on ridiculous here, but it plagues me. Who decided that to be a mother was weak? What beliefs did our parents hold that convinced them that to be a strong woman was to avoid reproducing and instead go into the workforce? Why was making an income considered superior to making a family? Why was bringing home the bacon deemed equality and bringing up babies deemed inferior? Don’t get me wrong—I, too, am a feminist of sorts. I absolutely believe women are smart and savvy and capable and should be welcomed into all spheres of life and the marketplace. But what I don’t understand is the “manning” of women.
I echo Alastair Roberts who says, “It is important to notice that our culture perceives the “potential” of women largely in terms of their liberation from their nature, rather than in their flourishing within the inherent directionality and order of that nature.” This truth nags me. Why does our culture primarily consider women strong when they climb the corporate ladder, break into the UFC fighting ring, choose to remain single and childless, or dominate men? Why aren’t strong women portrayed as moms?
My generation is plagued by this. My peers and I grew up in the Title IX generation, hearing from our teachers and role models that anything the boys could do we could do better. We were applauded when we went out for the football team. We were considered accomplished when we got our degrees and set out for corporate America. But if we got married, if we “wasted” our degrees and became moms, and if we now choose to stay home and nurture our kids and husbands and neighbors and communities we are considered a lost opportunity. Many of my peers regret having children because they envision themselves as accomplished, but as moms they’re considered irrelevant.
And this perspective has been foisted upon us by other women—by feminists. The very women who claim to elevate our gender decry our actions when we behave like females. My frustration with this dichotomy would overwhelm me if it wasn’t for my compassion for today’s feminists. Honestly, I think they’ve been duped. And for that I am very sorry.
Not too long ago I would have been at home in the ranks of the Women’s March. I would have possibly donned their pink hats and screamed from the bottom of my heart against the exploitation of my gender. But my eyes were opened during my college years and I now say with first wave feminist Alice Paul, “Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”
My sisters have been bought. Their lives, their skills, their passions, their bodies have been bought with a lie—a lie that says we’re only as strong as we are male. It’s the manning of women and they cannot see it.
So next week when the marchers set out in Las Vegas, demanding equality in the form of abortion rights, their cries will be answered by those in D.C. In D.C. they will march for the dignity of every human person, both male and female. They’ll testify to the beauty of both genders and march for women to be truly free.
With those who march for life, I cry out for a culture that embraces women for who they are, that equips women, that surrounds women and their children with support and opportunities to thrive—a society that welcomes life, a society that that builds networks for the flourishing of every baby, a society that says there is no crisis pregnancy that must end in abortion.
Women, we are inherently strong. Indeed, our bodies have built-in capabilities that should be celebrated. Let’s not deny them, denigrate them, downplay them, but rather elevate them. True feminism says we are strong and good and honorable just the way we are.