Curtain Rods, Wire Hangers, Women and Queers

Who shoves a curtain rod up the cunt? I remember hearing I forget where, cannot see now, a woman’s voice then, my incredulity then clearly now understood. Almost everything is hazy in recollection; I recall this, but vaguely; recollection is something willful and more certain in its search. I recall myself having said something like this, but I also forget where or when I did, say what I said after having heard that girls used to shove curtain rods up their cunts to induce miscarriage. How the fuck . . .? I did not understand how they could do so. I had no cunt, but I did have an asshole, and I knew that I would never shove a curtain rod up my ass. I have used wire hangers unraveled at the hook to clear clogged drains; I could not imagine being able to imagine shoving that up my ass. A wire hanger? How desperate would a girl have to be to shove a curtain rod or a wore hanger up the cunt–and I still do not understand the kind of morality that functions on the level of punishment as a means o instruction. I do understand Nietzsche’s observation, if not his thesis, in The Geneology of Morals, but I am confused by a society of Judaeo-Christian moralizers who are against abortion and use pregnancy as a form of punishment, perhaps because they can no longer get away with stoning the girl who gets pregnant mostly from a lack of foresight or caution as she engages in the most natural of all our inclination. We have lost or have yet to develop the idea that the desire to fuck is in itself love, and that from the choice to act on this inclination of love, we can do a whole lot of messing things up, denying, refusing, corrupting by other choices. 

In the United States, I should say, there is a collective unconscious fear of sex and sexuality (not identical), and this has left us diametrically opposed not only on issues like gay marriage but also on abortion. Unlike the issue of gay marriage, though, life is jeopardized if we do not maintain the law that insures safe and antiseptic procedures are part of a woman’s choice. Nonetheless, this is reactionary America, so we must punish women who have sex and do not wish to submit to marriage as the sole means to manage their potential bastards. Most of the abortion debate pivots on this ethical and retributive hinge: do we want to punish women for having sex or do we not want to punish them for expressing themselves sexually. What are we say9ing when we want to deny women access to safe, antiseptic medical procedures when they want to choose an indeiced miscarriage instead of going forward with the pregnancy?

There is a thick vein of punitive retribution present in the anti-abortion camp. I cannot understand this mode of punishment finding support among civilized people. Most of the anti-abortion position hinges on coercing women’s chastity. It seems ridiculous–I almost imagine fathers, or mothers, even, locking up their teenaged daughters in iron belts around their pelvises–and it does not seem a stretch when one listens carefully to the vehemence and sees the violence of the people today who voice their opinions against women who seek to exercise their rights when seeking to have an abortion. The rhetoric of anti-abortion in America is paradigmatically similar to that of Jim Crow rhetoric levied against the civil and human rights of black Americans during the years of segregation, poll taxes and miscegenation laws. We are not forgetting the years pf lynching anymore than we are forgetting that abortion clinics have been bombed.

We cannot hope to have normal relationships between men and women, between any partner and another he or she chooses mutually and reciprocally, if we still want to criminalize sex out-of-wedlock, which is what we would be doing if we were to criminalize abortion. This is also what the opposition to Gay Marriage fears; legitimacy of homosexual sex. The problem with many fro the anti-abortion side of the argument presented in a woman’s right to choose a safe and antiseptic medical procedure in the course of induced miscarriage is that perhaps too many of them are also anti-sodomy; therefore, the idea of fellatio as birth control may never get addressed.

Blow jobs reduce the need for abortion. Yet, we still stigmatize oral sex because we are still sexually repressed if not simply sexually uptight, and that’s as a nation, a culture.

We used to criminalize homosexuality–we even used to criminalize sodomy–the acts themselves labelled after the ancient biblical city of Sodom. It doesn’t matter what the popular culture thinks its saying or doing; pop culture actions are reactions to the core belief; they are reactions similar to how pornography, and the proliferation of porn and its availability, reveal our true attitudes about sex. We have no healthy notions about sex or sexuality, and that’s heterosexuality. How do we expect to handle the idea that homosexuality is normal when we still fear heterosexual sex. But it is necessary that we step out of the norms of our social behavior and atttitues about sex. The issues raised by gay marriage and abortion are contingent with all discussions of basic Human Rights, the fundamentals of human sexuality and sexual expression.

Gay Marriage and Abortion are both pro-choice issues; they are both issues of freedom or the lack thereof, whether it be sexual freedom, which both of them do address, or what I choose to do with my body, which both of them also address albeit from different angles of approach. The matter of gay marriage is a part of the pro-choice issue in a larger sense–we are not talking about a society’s obligation to ensure someone gets the appropriate psychiatric treatment who might actually be mentally defective to a point where he is a danger to himself and others. Homosexuality is not a mental illness, nor is it another kind of sickness from which someone can be cured, nor is it an incurable illness. It is normality in variegation. Abortion rights and the rights of same-sex partners to marry are contingent on the law recognizing that gay marriage is not an affront to opposite sex unions, and that the legal right to choose a safe, medically induced miscarriage is not an affront to having children. Having a gay teacher does not make your children gay; allowing same sex unions does not cheapen heterosexual marriage. Allowing for same sex unions does not lessen the integrity of marriage in general. Allowing that safe medial procedures are performed when a woman has an induced miscarriage does not devalue children, nor will it lead to a significant drop in birthrates, which itself is a separate issue. Most arguments against gay marriage are absurd; most of the arguments levied against pro-choice in the matter of abortion are beside the point.

Let us not set up straw dogs, though. There are some who come from a religiously informed position, a place where their religious views and beliefs are confronted by even the idea of gay marriage or the notion that a woman should be afforded the legal right to choose an abortion, who are not zealous lunatics looking to lynch women for having an abortion or simply for supporting the right to choose one. But I do not want us here to get sidetracked into a debate about the merits and demerits of religion or the religious when it weds itself with politics. The focus here is on the rights a woman has independent of any metaphysical system, and whether the laws of her society are going to get behind her right to choose, stand behind her, remain behind her or not.

Legislation that insures a woman’s right to choose an abortion can be safe is of course the crux of any rational argument supporting pro-choice for women who are so inclined. There are no religious beliefs that can be used to justify or support violence against a woman or clinics, not unless we live in or want to live in Muslim Theocracies–and we have to be clear about what we mean about honoring diversity in America. There is no place for Sharia law here in America, nor any of the forms of Islamic misogyny. Pro-choice is, in the specific sense of choosing to have a safe abortion, part of the larger more encompassing Human Right to choose. Every person, man or woman, heterosexual or homosexual, married or unmarried, has an unalienable right to choose the life he or she wishes to live. The right of gay men and lesbians to choose whether or not to get married in a same-sex union is on par with a woman’s legally sanctioned choice to have an abortion if she should want one. They are each a part of the Pro-Choice argument that is essential to any Pro-Freedom position in any society.

Nonetheless, there is no pit and the pendulum looming if gay marriage is not supported by law. There is, though, something out of Edgar Allan Poe for girls in the foreseeable future without a law that protects their Human Right to choose to have an abortion, and I remind us herein again that a woman has the right to choose to have an abortion whether the laws in her society support that right, protect that right. Let me repeat myself: I do not know how anyone can be against providing women with a law that upholds her right to decide for herself how she wishes to use her body, a law that insures medicine is practiced and not something out of a chamber of horrors when she decides to have an abortion, and it is a chamber of horrors we are subjecting her to when we put her between social rocks and medical hard places. Abortion before the law got behind it in the 1970s was appalling–most anti-abortion people would be shocked if they saw what had transpired or does transpire in some places in the world. Of course, this would then be used against the right to choose, assuming that the horror of illegal abortion is endemic to all abortions. There are no other ways to express what illegal abortion represented: terrible, shocking, appalling, horrible, frightening; what else do we have in words to say what is intended here: butchery, something out of the slaughterhouse–woman as carcass? What all of the ramifications were when a girl needed to get an abortion for whatever reason convinced her she needed one–how many women still die yearly worldwide from unsafe abortions is staggering. There was something Edgar Poe about abortion, something downright gothic horror. You know, we are talking curtain rods and all that went along with less than antiseptic surgery. The question fro me is why should induced miscarriage be less safe and less anti-septic than operations performed at Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals during war? This has changed here in the United States, we imagine, at least we imagine it has changed for the better and that that change for the better is permanent, as if no vigilance is necessary. Nonetheless, more women die annually from medical malpractice in America than from breast cancer. Maybe women are still the second sex in America’s mind–perhaps this second sex status crosses over to second class in other ways as well? The idea that we cannot take giant steps backwards is naive. There is really no low that people cannot descend to; there is no limit really to how bad things can get in a society; there is no condition that people cannot get used to, none.

The United States only sometimes an exception, there are nearly a hundred thousand women worldwide who die in the process of having an illegal and/or unsafe abortion worldwide. Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are not safe medical procedures and this has to stop. But then why should it when most of us are convinced we should be grateful that more women do not die annually from illegal or unsafe abortions. There is something uncivilized about a society that cannot protect a woman’s right to choose, or provide safe and antiseptic medical procedures when she does exercise her rights. A society that upholds those rights by law is a civilized society. Of course, any society that does not is less than civilized and that’s another truth I hold to be self evident.

To choose to have an abortion or to choose to have the baby; these are the flip sides of the pro-choice issue. A woman’s right to choose must also include her right to have a child.  Any pressure from either extreme in the diametric of the abortion issue is unacceptable in a civilized society. To oppose pro-choice is to support pro-horror, whether one supplies the curtain rods or not. You do remember the final scene in Goddard’s Masculin et Feminin, when the girlfriend (played by Chantal Goya) of the chief protagonist (played by Pierre Leaud of Truffaut’s Les Quatres Cent Coups fame) is asked what she is going to do now that she is pregnant and her boyfriend is dead, and she says something to the effect of not knowing, but that perhaps she’ll use a curtain rod? The words from a young girls mouth, particularly flippantly expressed, a curtain rod–again, how could any girl shove a curtain rod up her cunt, but then I have never met a woman who thinks her cunt is beautiful. I mean, I have never met a woman who has looked at her vagina in a mirror and said, That’s beautiful. How could girls not shove curtain rods up the cunt.

I do not think women have been carefully handled by their mothers, certainly not society, in thinking they are beautiful. When Chantal Goya said what she said about the curtain rod, the scene immediately faded to black, and everyone was shocked. There were many who were outraged, of course; but then people are always easily collectively outraged. An individual standing up against many to do the righteous thing is difficult and almost a sure futility in anyone’s expectation. But joining a mob to do anything inhuman is easy. Misunderstanding is many times dis-understanding, and that is also very easy to accomplish. All of the outrage about Goddard’s film, though, was in 1966 Paris.

We must not forget that women also used to use wire hangers when curtain rods were not available; some took scalding hot baths, others, like Kate Winslet’s character in Revolutionary Road, used a variety of tubes and hoses and forceps, what else had we then in the fifties for middle class suburban women to have the do it yourself abortions. We wonder about torture of suspected terrorists, and yet we want to send women backward historically and subject them to the horrors of illegal abortions, what some 20,000,000 women worldwide get annually. These are all of piece.


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