by Jim Powers
“We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher, leave them kids alone
Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone
All in all it's just another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall”
Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall
Have you ever encountered a situation for the tenth time, say kids leaving bicycles on the sidewalk creating a walking hazard and said to yourself (or anyone who would listen), “There ought to be a law against that.”? In fact, there probably is, but it is being ignored. As are speeding laws, stop signs, seat belts, child safety seats in cars, and on and on and on.
Every time you say the words, “There ought to be a law,” you lay another brick in the prison of laws you are building around yourself. Which brings us to Texas S.B. 8.
S.B. 8 is a clearly unconstitutional law (Roe V Wade is still in effect at this time) that authorizes any person to sue any person who performs an abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, facilitates it, or “intends” to do so. The person doing the suing can live in any state and doesn’t have to have been personally injured to sue. Texas’ novel twist here is that no state or local officials can enforce the law, an effort to get around the constitution.
I’m not arguing here whether abortion is right or wrong. My opinion (because this is an opinion column) is that I have no standing to tell another human being what they can do with their body. I can find no instance of a comparable effort to exercise control over men’s bodies, so something else must be at hand when primarily male politicians pass laws controlling women’s choices.
Misogyny is a word that was coined in the 17th Century and was rarely used until the 1970’s in America. It came into common use in the ‘70’s with the rise of the women’s movement. It means hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women.
If you were born after 1980, when equal treatment for women had finally started to move forward, you need to know that it was not always as it is now (even though there is still a lot more improvement needed). Even in the 1960’s and 1970’s, women were still very much second-class citizens when compared to men. Just a couple of examples.
In 1969, when I was 18, if I had a steady job and good credit, I could walk into Knapp Ford in Woodville by myself, sign my name to a loan, and drive out with a new Mustang.
In 1996, I bought a used 1969 Mustang from a woman who was selling her late mother’s. Her mother was 25 years old, a teacher, and had been living on her own for several years. But her experience with buying a car would be very different than mine. The lady I bought the car from had all the paperwork from when her mother bought the car and pointed out to me the signatures on the loan, her’s and her father’s.
Back in ’69, a woman usually was unable to get a loan without either her father (if she was single) or her husband co-signing the loan. Even if she had a good job. The assumption was that a woman was eventually going to marry, get pregnant, quit her job, and spend the rest of her life keeping house and raising kids, so was a credit risk.
In 1979, my wife needed surgery that was not optional. The issue was life threatening. But fixing the problem would mean she would never have children. This wasn’t a concern for us. We choose not to have children, so no big deal. My wife was 31 years old, had been a teacher for years, and owned her own home when we married.
Just before they took her to surgery, someone came into the room with a form for me to sign. The form gave my permission for the surgeon to do a procedure that would leave her unable to conceive. I was baffled by it and noted that SHE was the one being operated on, and the decision was completely hers. But it wasn’t. I was told that without my written permission, they could not do the surgery. If I hadn’t signed, would they have let her die? Scary, huh?
That was the world for women for much of the 20th century.
And now a lot of politicians appear bent on taking us back to those days. If you think these folks are concerned with the rights of fetuses when they pass unconstitutional laws that restrict the rights of women to control their own bodies, what they really seem to want is to take us back to the bad old days of the 1950’s through 1970’s when they really did control every aspect of a woman’s life. And the word for what is happening here is misogyny.
Nobody that I’ve ever met is pro-abortion. I would like to live in a perfect world where every child was born into a loving family, was well nurtured, well fed and well educated and went on to live a wonder life. But that is not the real world. Too many children are born into poverty, abuse, and abandonment.
And too many women are forced to make choices that are bad for themselves by people whose motives are extremely suspect. We don’t need more laws restricting people’s right to control their own lives and bodies. And we sure don’t won’t to go back to the middle of the 20th century. I lived there. If you were a white male, it was a time of great privilege. If you were black or female, not so much.
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