Feminists For Life: Refusing to Choose

It’s right there on the home page of Feminists for Life: “Refuse to Choose.” What a ludicrous admonition! I can see using a slogan like “Choose Life.” But to advise women to make no choice at all (which of course is making a choice when you’re pregnant) is to revert to the mentality of the fifties (and earlier): Be passive. Women are not supposed to make decisions on their own.

Feminism means taking responsibility for your life, your choices and your actions. It definitely does not mean just letting things happen to you. Especially something as important as pregnancy. Ideally, each woman would practice effective birth control methods until she is ready to have a child. And if a pregnancy does occur, the mature, responsible woman will fully consider her own situation and do what is best for her and her baby-to-be. That might mean abortion, but it also means other things, like making sure that you’re materially and emotionally ready to bear and raise a child.

The rest of the slogan that Feminists For Life are fond of using is: “Women Deserve Better Than Abortion.” The implication is that abortion is just something that happens to you–or is forced upon you. That’s exactly the bone I have to pick with anti-abortionists. They act like just because abortions are legal, they themselves will be forced to have them. They ignore the fact that pro-choice people are only protecting the right to make decisions about your own body. Just as no one should be forced to have an abortion, so no one should be forced to have a child.

I wish that women wouldn’t feel that it’s necessary to have abortions. But I also respect their assessments of their situations, as well as their right to make those assessments. I can’t live another woman’s life for her, just as no one can live mine for me. I wish all babies were wanted and blessed with parents who are ready to have them. But as long as that remains a wish and not a reality, women should be prepared–and allowed–to make hard decisions about their own pregnancies. It is irresponsible to tell a woman that she should refuse to make those decisions.

Shame on you, Feminists For Life!

The Princess Syndrome

I had a lot of trouble writing yesterday’s post about wedding dresses. I was trying to figure out a feminist stance on the subject and after thinking about it, I realized that I’m ambivalent about the whole princess syndrome. The same part of me that feels uncomfortable about beauty contests has trouble advising women how to be princesses on their wedding day. But if you carry that misgiving to its extreme, then you have to ask the question, Why should women ever make the effort to be pretty?

At first I may seem like a typical Second Wave feminist who eschews anything that smacks of making a woman an “object,” sexual or otherwise. But I don’t think that making yourself look pretty is the same as transforming yourself into a sex object. Men can have lustful thoughts about women wearing abayas, for heaven’s sake. All it takes is being a woman for some men to see you as a sex object.

The real question is: why do women try to make themselves look attractive? Is it just to do what the term implies: to attract men? Or is there another reason? I read recently that women worry as much about what other women think of them as they do about what men think. That could partly be because we’re trying to assess our chances of getting the man. But even when we don’t particularly want a man’s attention, we will still make the effort to be as pretty as we can be.

And nowhere is this most evident than on the day we get married. It is expected of a bride that she will go all out to be beautiful on her wedding day. Everything must be perfect, even down to her underwear. She is transformed from Cinderella into the most beautiful woman at the ball, with her handsome prince by her side. This is also why women love makeover shows: they want to believe that it is possible for any woman to be turned into a princess.

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When A Feminist Marries, Part 4: The Wedding Dress

In recent years, weddings have become much more elaborate–and expensive. The average cost of a wedding is now between $21,000 and $24,000 (not counting the engagement ring and the honeymoon). A bride who is trying to make a responsible social statement will usually look for ways to bring down the cost of her nuptials and one of the major expenses is the wedding dress. The average cost for a wedding dress is $1,505, according to The Bridal Association of America.

Some ways to cut the cost of a wedding dress are: wear a “recycled” dress (from a family member or by purchasing a “pre-owned” gown), sew your own, go for simplicity (the more lace and beading, the more expensive), buy an off-the-rack evening or bridesmaid’s dress, buy a floor sample or sale item, wear a suit, omit the veil, have a “theme” wedding or forgo a wedding dress altogether.

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The Museum of Menstruation

I ran across the Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health the other day when I was looking for Gloria Steinem’s 1978 essay, “If Men Could Menstruate.” The essay is worth looking up, but it turns out so is this web site. The founder is a man, Harry Finley (whose bio is here) and it’s not exactly clear what influenced him to set up this web site, but I’m glad something did, because this site is a treasure trove of information about a subject that every woman obsesses about, but often knows very little about. And let’s not even get into how well most men understand menstruation, let alone empathize with us about it.

Abortion Advice If You’re Underage

Heather Corinna‘s blog on RHRealityCheck.org on March 20, 2009 answers a reader’s question about what to do if his underage girlfriend is pregnant and wants an abortion. I’m linking to it here because her information is so thorough there’s no point in my duplicating it.

RHRealityCheck.org is a website dedicated to providing “information and analysis about reproductive health.”

When A Feminist Marries, Part 3: Rings

In January, one of the bloggers I follow (Oh, You’re A FEMINIST?) posted some of her thoughts about her own up-coming wedding, specifically about her ring. I said in my last post that neither my husband nor I wear wedding rings. However, I have a confession to make: we’re not making a feminist statement. In all the years we’ve been engaged and married (we’ve known each other for 12 years and been married for seven), we haven’t been able to decide what we really want, which is beside the point anyway, because we haven’t been able to afford rings anyway.

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