Feminism today far from irrelavent
The opinion piece "Vagina Monologue Idiotic" made me realize that I live in a world where the gratuitous violence of Jesus being tortured is "beautiful," but the story of victimization and liberation of women, Barndollar coins "exhibitionism." In his comfy little world, women's stories are exhibitionist, and a man's opinion piece is not. Moreover, it is hard to take seriously anyone who accuses V-day and the craaazy women involved in it as hijackers of "a well-meaning Hallmark holiday," i.e., Valentine's Day. I imagine the board, sitting in huge offices and being so proud of making the world a better, more loving place, while earning millions on their sappy, overpriced Valentine's cards and gifts.
Despite its individual perspective, his article betrays larger social issues. For reasons I will not get into, I actually agree with the war in Iraq, but to measure human life as cost and benefits, as "occasional failings of a largely successful attempt to fight the most humane war in history" betrays an imperialist, occidentalist view of the cheapness of the human life of the "other." Just because the war can be argued to have been just and to have saved 12 million women, it does not give anyone the right or justification to sacrifice some 1,000 other people, or mute the story of their pain, hide the cost of "liberation" and deem the story-telling of our failings unnecessary. "Was there any need for the monologue about an Iraqi woman's suffering in the recent Persian Gulf War?" Barndollar's quote sends chills through my bones.
On another issue, Gil trumps America's "liberation of 12 million Iraqi women from the possibility of 'rape-room' state policy," but does not mention America's "gag rule," which involved Bush withdrawing financial aid regarding birth prevention in developing countries. In many of these countries, where women now neither liberate themselves from the sperm of their rapers, nor stop giving birth to babies with AIDS, nor stop trying to have 'local' abortions even if they know that the possibility of death is high. Or, to bring it home, Barndollar does not see a connection between mothers giving life with pain and love only to have thousands of their 18-year-old children die in various wars decided by the state's "discretion" -(these soldiers are usually from poor families since they cannot all go into six-month national army break). For those of you, like Barndollar, who do not acknowledge it, the right to choose does not mean that women kill their babies at their "discretion"; it does not mean that women who are religious and against abortion will be forced to have one. It only means that this religious view should not govern all women's choices. Tolerance of others' choices and decisions is the basis of this country's inception and its continuing legacy.
Portraying women as either Madonnas or whores is an old dichotomy that persists even today. He assumes that the same women "awed by their roles as life-givers are the same ones who will soon be marching on Washington to defend their right to end that new life at their discretion." First of all, Barndollar assigns this dichotomy to Eve Ensler's play unjustly, since he does not mention that the play, despite depicting a whole spectrum of women's experiences, does not have a monologue on abortion. Barndollar conveniently does not notice this fact, indicating that his criticism of the play is a product of his biases.
However, even if Ensler had included a monologue on abortion, it would be justified. Women who decide to have abortions, let me assure you, undergo an emotional and physical experience that is draining and excruciating, not because of killing a life-this abstract, vague, and misused term, but because most women THINK of the responsibility in actually giving life and raising a child. Men can just leave "at their discretion," and be inactive in a child's life. Surveys show repeatedly that children raised in a one-parent family are more likely to go to jail, be killed, and become drug users. Inactivity, which some men can and do "choose," really does take lives, as opposed to this abstract notion of ending a life, which most scientific documents agree does not start until the fifth month, when the fetus can survive independent of a woman's body.
But let's not get into technicalities: Barndollar's conundrum between seeing Dean Hazlett's monologue on the power of childbirth and women wanting to have the "right to choose" is the core of the issue. Again, apart from the sentimentality of child birth, to a woman giving life means being able to care and provide for this life, not some bull. about the divinity of life. These are the same advocates of the divinity of life, by the way, who "forgot" about the "No Child Left Behind Act," which was supposed to help children of poor American families. Why should a family who cannot feed a baby be forced to have one?
Most women are just as reasonable and just as emotionally attached to the idea of giving life as most men, let alone most statesmen: If we all thought that way about women, then we would have to agree to give them the right to choose, along with their partners. However, as long as people like Barndollar implicitly put forward different views about women's capacities and abilities, then "modern feminism" is far from "irrelevant."
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