More than any other device, the image is the surest way to transcend all barriers. Achieving a certain notoriety for fascinating the voyeuristic side in all of us, the image is not exclusively male or female because the common vantage point is that we all have eyes.
When I look at pro-life and pro choice “propaganda”, a term I resisted granted truthfully, that is what it is propaganda or something that persuades and appeals to emotions, I see that the abortion debate is handled in such a way that there is really no middle ground. The accusations are inescapable. Either you believe in murdering babies or you don’t. You are either for women’s rights or you’re not.
In a video interview I taped earlier this month, I described how my political location is life was racially constructed. How does this apply translate to my opinion on abortion? Is it racially constructed as well?
The sexual education between my mother and I was for the most part one without words. Pregnancy was the worse thing that could happen to a black girl. Books open, legs shut was the mantra. Abstinence is the best policy. Did she tell me what sex actually was? No.
It was not until I watched soft porn with my sound asleep uncle that I realized that babies are not made by a woman and a man “lying close together in bed”.
My uncle had the Spectrum cable channel- which was one of the first along with HBO and Showtime. He did not pay for it but somehow we received the signal in his bedroom. In my need for a masculine figure of authority in my life, I would watch movies in his room as I did my homework. His drunken raucous laughter was somehow calming. Unlike his sister/my mother, he drank heavily and was not always sad. I accepted his Hiram Walker and Sons manufactured mirth over my mother’s growing despondency. Uncle and I would begin by watching action movies or comedies. Being a night owl by nature, I would stay up well past my uncle’s bedtime.
When the adult movies began at 1am, did Afrocity turn off the TV set?
Not on your life. I stayed and watched. Curiosity killed the young PUMA cat.
At 13 years of age, I was perceptive enough to determine that these movies were created by men for men. In many films, the women were initially raped but later appear as if they actually enjoyed the attack. Others engaged in lesbian behavior yet there were no representations of men sleeping with men while women watched for pleasure and enjoyment. Then there were the insatiable nymphomaniacs. The woman who can’t seem to get enough.
Through my delicate pre-teen lens I was the the willing voyeur, watching these forbidden movies which embodied masculine principals of patriarchy and submission. Women were not in a position of power in most of the films, save for several films featuring porn star Marilyn Chambers. Even so, it seemed that Marilyn thought she was in complete control although I am not sure if walking home with a limp is considered power no matter how much you enjoyed it.
Abortion and rape figured prominently in several films I watched but here again, it was the male who determined whether or not the woman would be “allowed” to end the life of her unborn child.
It was “her fault” that she got pregnant and she would need “his money” to fix it.
To solidify this argument, one film featured a woman who was a naughty housewife. She was of course a nymphomaniac that her husband, while charming could not satiate. She attends a blindfolded only orgy and has sex with a kosher dill pickle, three women and several men. Later when she discovers that her sexual escapade has rendered her pregnant, she cannot afford the abortion with her monthly allowance from dear sweet protective hubby.
To make matters worse hubby was wounded in Vietnam and cannot father a child. As the movie progresses, the feminine antagonist is screwed both literally and figuratively. Her power karma dwindles as she has to prostitute herself for money in order to pay for the abortion. At the sobering conclusion of the film, our wing clipped heroine is robbed of her abortion kitty by her final customer. But all is not lost. A member of the dominant gender,an abortionist enters her life and gives her an abortion in return for a sexual encounter.
The erosion of this female character’s strength was what remained with me the most. It was not the gratuitous penis shots, or kinky sex (though that was a pretty big cumber pickle), what stayed with me was her total lack of control.
Roe v. Wade gave us the right to choose but this pornographic film stripped that right away by placing the financing of the abortion, back in the hands of the patriarchy. Perhaps this was the day I became pro-choice but I also became pro-women’s empowerment. Pregnancy is exclusively female along with menstruation. Women should have the right to control what happens to their bodies. I will never change that opinion despite being a Republican.
Not being a mother, I am of course more familiar with the latter bodily function- menstruation. Now this is the part where I may risk some readers but here goes…
Sunday mine began, as it has since I was 13. I am also taking antibiotics for a sinus infection which in turn caused me to develop a yeast infection. Strolling down the Walgreen ailse basket in hand, my mouth drops open at the price of sanitary napkins. $7.99 for a 28 count package of Stayfree maxipads without wings.
The tension between my monthly flow and my cash flow has always been an issue.
I asked myself a rather trivial question. During my lifetime, how much have I spent on feminine products? If I only knew.
While growing up, I never ever saw my mother buy feminine products. We had no money.
You could not buy them with foodstamps.
My guess is that she used discarded old towels we had.
I assume this because she attempted to coax me into a similar practice when we were without money. Our discourse exchange on the matter was burdened by the 31 year gap in our ages. With my first period, I insisted to be taken to the store for pads. Thanks to sexual education in school, I knew they existed. Tampon usage was shunned by most in my class including the teachers. The awful myth circulating was that any girl who uses a tampon is automatically NOT a virgin and will perish a horrendous death of toxic shock syndrome.
Succumbing to her thoroughly modern daughter, mother purchased the old beltless bulky pads for me and did not know how to put them on me. When I ran ou of thoset, I went to the school nurse pretending my period had caught me off guard. After doing this ten times or so, the nurse caught on and gave me a box of pads once a month.
“I have too many and would only throw them out, ” she said.
I was thankful that they had sticky stuff on the bottom and did not have to use safety pins. That nurse fed me the self esteem needed by a maturing young woman. Thank God for school nurses and sex education. The nurse was a woman helping a girl. I could trust her and she knew what it was like to be me. Now what if it were more than just pads that I needed? Should my mother know about it? I thought of the woman in the porn movie. What if I needed an abortion? Take into consideration this article which appeared on Townhall.com by Star Parker, a wonderful conservative that happens to be African American like me:
Star Parker :: Townhall.com Columnist
A time for truth on abortion
by Star Parker
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin missed a great opportunity to personally kick off an issue of enormous importance to her state and to the nation.
She was scheduled to appear with me at an Alaska Family Council event in Anchorage to launch Alaska’s Parental Involvement Initiative, which will require parental notification of teenage girls under age 18 before they can get an abortion. But, the schedules of we mortals cannot retard the imperatives of history, so, despite Mrs. Palin’s absence, we’ve gone to war with the army we have.
Currently 35 states have laws that require either parental consent or notification in order for a teenage girl to receive an abortion. Alaska passed one in 1997.
However, after ten years on the books, in 2007 the Alaska Supreme Court, arguing that sharing this information with parents violated the privacy of their teenage daughters, found the law unconstitutional. So now a 13 year old can get an abortion without the knowledge of her parents.
A large percentage of these abortions are paid for with state Medicaid funds, but no one seems to think that parents’ privacy is being violated using their tax funds to pay for these.
Research shows the remedial benefits of parental involvement when a pregnant teenager considers abortion.
And research shows the profound psychological damage caused by teenage abortion. But, perhaps we should be wondering who we are today that we need to gather data to address an issue as intuitively obvious as whether a teenage girl may abort her child without her parents knowing.
Of course there are exceptional considerations, like abusive parents. But the Alaska initiative deals with this, as did a similar initiative in California, which was defeated last November.
No, this is not about being reasonable. It is about ideology. And what we have are opposing worldviews that cannot be reconciled. It’s about choosing one or the other.
Yes, I am pro-choice and Republican but even I have my limits. Whether in the name of privacy or under the guise of women’s rights, I do not believe that it is fair for pro-choice advocates to exclude parental consent when it comes to a 13 year old girl, not a woman but a girl, having an abortion. A 13 year parents should be involved in that decision or at the very least be aware that their child is sexually active.
My decision to be pro-choice is based upon a woman’s right to privacy.
Speaking of privacy over twenty years later, I am no longer the girl in the school nurse’s office. Here I am a full grown woman, standing in a Walgreens drugstore aisle with a problem. The yeast infection medication I need is behind a locked Plexiglas cabinet along with pregnancy tests and ovulation detectors. Great, now my purchase of this embarrassing product entails my announcing to the Walgreens powers that be that I need something to stop croissant production. Of course with my luck, the only person available to open the security case for me is an Asian man of about 30.
“Which item do you want?” he asked timidly. This poor man did not want to help me and the feeling was mutual. But there we were.
I pointed to the yeast infection treatment that was on sale for $9.95 down from $18.95. Seems my timing was not so bad after all- yeast must be in season. I noted that the store clerk did not look me in the eye. With a quick “thanks”, I took my yeast killers and maxi pads to the cashier who was also a male. I placed my feminine items on the counter along with a bag of 5 flavored Life Savers roll candy. The male cashier flirted with me until he saw the guilty products, Life Savers roll candy and Vagistat, I must be a real winner.
“Do you want me to double bag this?” he asked. His face was red. He was wearing lots of liberal flair. An Obama button (ick) along with another pin that read “Green is the new black”.
Why the red face? Being a liberal, he must understand my plight as a woman.Surely he is a feminist and cares about my monthly cell slouthing activites.
Shaking my head, I said “No, why should anymore trees have to die because I have a yeast infection…I will pay by debit card.”
Yes, with one swipe of rectangular plastic, I do have the power.
Autographed Letter Signed,