Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blog for Choice

Hey! It's Blog For Choice Day!

Here in Arkansas, you might not know this, but not so many of my students are pro-choice.

Ho, most of my women students are eager to tell the class they aren't one of those feminists -- no! They believe in Human, not Women's Rights!

Anyway, they did say that until I started making the point of saying, early on in every class, that I was one of those feminists. I also, somewhere early on, make the point that I'm a liberal. (Occasionally I slide socialist in there also. That's the one that makes them gulp.)

Anyway, many of my students are moving further to the left these days, thanks to George III, but they mostly still flinch on the abortion issue.

I use that question, sometimes*, to show them Rogerian argument -- I'm here, I say, on this issue, and some of you are over there. No way is either of us going to change the other group's mind. Especially, I add, with the usual conventional arguments. Abortion stops a beating heart. It's a child, not a choice. The Right to Choose. Any of that. So what do we need to do, I ask them, if we're going to hear one another?

Well, for one thing, we have to stop seeing the other side as demons. You are not ignorant monsters who want to enslave women, chain us to our wombs. I am not a demon who delights in slaying babies.

(A few of them giggle nervously at this point.)

We have to agree to see one another as well-intentioned, I say: as having good motives. We have to agree to believe that about the other side. I pause, make scary eyes. Even if, I say, especially if, we really DON'T believe it.

They giggle again.

And, I add, we have to be willing to give ground on our own position. Which, I agree, that's a hard one, when it's a position we truly believe in. But Rogerian argument says it's the only way we advance at all.

The guy in the back row, the smart one, the one who had done five years in the service and a year in Iraq and still was pretty far Right on many things (though he is not voting Republican, not anymore) said, "How is it a woman's right to choose, though? It's not just her child."

He's married. He's got two kids. I can, you know, from his perspective, see what he's thinking.

"If the man wants to support the child," he persists, "if he's willing to, why doesn't he have a say in what happens to the child?"

Other men -- and it's all men -- chime in.

"That's a legitimate question," I agree. "Here's why. It's her body."

"It was her body when she had sex," one guy says, "but now it's a child's body, and--"

"Now wait," I said. "Think of it this way. Suppose I needed your kidneys. Not to keep. Suppose I needed them for say, oh, nine months. While the organ team was hunting a kidney for me. They're just gone to hook me up to your body, for those nine months, you're going to have to let me use your kidneys and your body for nine months. You'll save my life!" I told him. "It'll be a bit inconvenient, true, you might have to quit your job, might be a risk of some damage to your heart and other organs, but you don't mind, do you?"

"Nope," he said stolidly. "Hook me up."

"Good for you," I said. "Can we require you to do that against your will? Can we force you to support anyone who needs your kidneys? If they match your tissue and blood type? How about organ donation? Blood donation? Can we force you to do that if you don't want to?"

People were frowning.

"It's the woman's body the child is growing in. You can't force someone to use her body against her will. That's slavery."

"But she chose to have sex," the front row guy argued.

"You chose to have a kidney, dude," I said. People laughed. "Choosing sex isn't choosing to be pregnant," I said. "Ask anyone in this room. Two different acts. It's fine if you want to donate your kidney. You're a prince and a hero and I mean that with all my heart. It's fine if a woman wants to have a baby. I had mine and I love her. No one should make me have one I don't want to have, and that includes my husband and it sure," I paused her, and maybe I bared my teeth a little, "it *surely* includes the law and the government of our country."

I didn't add for fuck's sake. But boy did I want to.

At this point, the women in the room put in, I swear to you, their one and only comment.

From the seat next to the front row guy, the smart dark haired girl, sounding extremely bored, said, "Does that clear it up for you, son? Are we finished?"

Which I reckon we were.

*Other times I use the question of smacking kids -- I always tell them up front I think hitting a kid for any reason whatsoever is wrong, which makes them just *furious* -- abortion they only disagree with me about; the idea that I think it's wrong to spank kids, that they get so angry about they want to rise up from their desks and KILL me, which, you know, that's interesting, isn't it?


Anonymous said...

"Look, mama!! Another knee-jerk liberal!!"

"Don't worry honey. They aren't catching"

"Why do they all sound the same, Mama?"

"Because they can't think for themselves."

delagar said...

Oh, Nobody is here! We've been waiting!

Please, Nobody, show me the flaw in my thinking, wil you? I'm only a misinformed, ill-raised atheist. I need you guidance.