I am not a woman and thus do not have a womb and thus cannot bear children and thus will never have the dilemma of abortion before me; but a woman is what she is, irrespective of where she is, when she is, who she is, what class or religion or profession she belongs to; and this is not limited by her having a womb or being able to bear children. She is a woman and more than this, she just is. A woman is; to give attribute here in this way in this place is to limit her, to attempt to subtract from her which is what gives some the desire to limit her by laws. Woman is woman not man, obviously enough; yet the distinctions of biology or physiology do not countermand her equality in humanity. I am not herein referring to mandates of civil human discourse, but to decisions made in the final hour, and every decision to have or not to have an abortion is one made in the final hour.
Lifeboats; lifejackets; parachutes––how is anti-abortion not letting steerage drown in the icy North Atlantic? The Titanic did not have enough lifeboats; this was understandable, given British received ideas on liberty, individuality, human and civil rights; or, just how and when a man, a woman or a child of another class or ethnicity or religion deserved consideration; just how much British hierarchy imposed itself on all decisions, permeating even those choices that determined a person’s survival. Most of the victims of the Titanic were Irish Catholic; it was, as a result of British contempt for Irish Catholics, an example of British passive genocide. A great sin of omission. Now, laws designed to protect Human Rights concerning women become our Titanic as soon as we assume that they will always remain inviolable and that they de not deserve our protection, and here I am speaking to anyone in the Liberal establishment who wishes to respect Human Rights, yet remains rhetorically unable.
The brute reality of a woman’s biology displaces me from ultimate considerations where her right to choose an abortion is the subject. I am not a woman, and even if I were a woman, a woman is not in herself a womb.I am not a woman and thus do not have a womb and thus cannot bear children and thus will never have the dilemma of abortion before me; but a woman is what she is, irrespective of where she is, when she is, who she is, what class or religion or profession she belongs to; and this is not limited by her having a womb or being able to bear children. She is a woman and more than this, she just is. A woman is; to give attribute here in this way in this place is to limit her, to attempt to subtract from her which is what gives some the desire to limit her by laws.
A woman’s integrity displaces me from the dark waters of her decision to have a baby or not to have a baby. I have not arrived at a place where an embryo is in itself a baby, nor have I concluded that a fetus is a baby or not a baby. The argument of viability has its merits, but then I am sure that life begins at mitosis. Both are true; both need to be considered as variables in any abortion equation.There should be no equivocation on either side of this argument. There is too much intellectual ping-pong played where and when profounder considerations must be engaged. The darkness of these waters I refer to here is reflective of how deep the human soul is, and is not a reflection of any judgement placed on her decision. There are reflections in the shadows. The ethics of her decision are hers and hers alone to manage, to live with. Yes, it is easy for me to talk; just as it is easy for any woman to talk in her defense, just as it is for legislators in states to countermand normal human decisions on whether a woman should have full sovereignty over her body.
A woman faced with this life-saving decision—and it is a life saving decision because I do not think that any normal woman makes this choice flippantly—is not helped by any argument from either side of this human rights issue. (I carefully and purposely do not to call this a debate.) As I have said in other essays, most women faced with the dilemma of choosing an abortion are faced with fire–something is going down and about to crash in flames.” She recalls how good a writer he was. She recalls how they had taken classes together, worked together in the club, had lunch together, went to films together with others they went to school with, but how they never slept together, never dated, never kissed.
Abortion is a dilemma, even under the most pristine conditions, in the most favorable circumstances, stones and other ultra-firm places. In this choice she has before her, in this choice she makes, she is beginning and end of everything. How can anyone intelligent or educated, as I had once believed university educated should make a person, consider otherwise. Democracy demands that everyone is entitled to have his opinion and has a right to express it; it does not demand that I entertain that opinion beyond its due, past its value, nor that I accept it. The opinions herein are not acceptable or unacceptable because they have been expressed. It is simple enough to say, but still hard for us to understand–I can’t live with her decision, only she can and will. I have said this before in other words, these words too in the same and in others, around and around I go, we go, another merry-go-round with women’s rights. Is there an intelligent person anywhere who can disagree with this? Is it true that everyone who disagrees with this is stupid? The only reason we still debate this issue is because we are still unsure if women have the same inalienable rights as men, or because we unconsciously insist that women are not other than modified men, thus need further modification.
Habit too long endured mimics nature. I have real problems with what we call nature, but then what has been habit masquerades or is interpreted as nature, thus the ways men have defined women have coincided with how women have adapted to their oppression? how they have been taught–trained–to be or not to be? I also have problems with what we refer to as nurture when compared with what we try to mean about Nature, which we have never really adequately defined? I wish this were easier.
I know that most of my Muslim students would be right at home with Oklahoma’s anti-abortion bill, but I am not going to get into that. You cannot imagine that everyone is here to be free when they are coming here primarily to make more money or just be safe, which of course is a way to be free, but you should know what I am driving at, and that’s our naivety. You should imagine that there are perhaps some of them who think you and I are stupid because they do. They look at what we do as either stupid or foolish or not serious enough for them, which is another way for them to say severe. We’re too nice . . . but I shouldn’t get started because I will go off on one diatribe after another, and there is plenty of fodder for diatribe after diatribe in the actions and reactions and thinking of too many of people I meet daily in the businesses run out of the assholes of their owners because they have no desire to do anything in a different way because the one great change of their life, flying ten hours here, is the only change they are going to make in their lives. I do not want to sound like one of the lunatic Trumpeters of a new conservative dawn because they’re fucking idiots. But I do see every day how racist many of the recent arrivals are in my multicultural neighborhood, so do not imagine that they are living some wonderfully free and democratic life together and that we in the bureaucracy must save them from an endemic racism that is wholly, purely and singularly American because there are enough of the non-natives in my neighborhood that do not like either white or black people and both are equally disliked because of what they are or what we are not, which is what the non-natives are. Us and them persists everywhere in the world. It’s like a friend of mine used to say a friend of his had said, if everyone in America woke up black tomorrow, we would still have racism. The horror is in how human it is; that is, when human is a synonym for homo-sapiens and not humane. What the Homo-Sapiens does with identity is not what we should do with identity as humans who can only be so if humane; but humanity also has a way to abstract identity and make it something far less than organic.
I believe in one Humanity. I wish we could still–and it is not as if I have objections to raise against the better angels gathering in a multicultural paradise, or those for whom the dogmas of diversity are as strongly held . . . believed, imposed, or disseminated as were any of the dogmas of monotheism anywhere, whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian. And all have had their dogmas; it is not only the Catholic Church that has or makes or imposes or enforces dogmas. The Rabbis in Spain wanting to burn Spinoza is indication enough. I cannot bow to the demands of universalism anymore than I can to the blind demands of diversity, ironically the anti-university, today, no? Truth demands that I question dogma wherever it rears its hideous . . . I do have to put a check on the hyperbole. I do not like the fish-out-of-water cliche, nor do I like allusions or overt references to dinosaurs. They are lame. But I am a dinosaur.
Human Rights do have their litanies.