Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why We Need Pro-Life Feminism

 A guest post by Helen Gorman

Sometimes it seems as though there are two kinds of people in the world today: feminists and pro-lifers. The feminists want women to not be oppressed, and the pro-lifers want to stop abortion. Feminists think pro-lifers hate women; pro-lifers think feminists hate babies and/or men.

Now, before I started calling myself a feminist, I knew that not all feminists were anti-man and/or -motherhood. But I still thought most of them were—or, rather, that if I called myself a feminist, people would think I was all that plus pro-choice. Being pro-choice is, in many people's minds—in the minds, I think, of the general population—the sine qua none of feminism. I didn't want to associate myself with that.

I grew up steeped in the pro-life message. I used to beg my mother to take me to the March for Life. We prayed for an end to abortion a lot. The phrase “pro-choice” had hugely negative connotations. When my mother was pregnant, she would get out A Child Is Born and show us photos of what the baby looked like. (I still remember when my brother looked like a blue monkey.) It was only natural that I should choose to be pro-life.

That the choice between being feminist and being pro-life is even seen to exist shows how  much feminism has been corrupted. Enter New Wave Feminists, taking back feminism. But a good question to ask is, why bother? Why bother calling yourself a feminist? If the important thing is to save babies; if pro-lifers know that birth is empowering and abortion is oppressive; if they can tell women this while they help them save their babies--then why bother talking about feminism?

There are actually a lot of answers to this question. The main one is that pro-choice feminism doesn't make any sense. If you really sit down and think about what it means to believe in equal rights, what it means to believe that might does not make right—then you will be unable, not just to be pro-choice, but also to make pro-choice-ness part of feminism.

I would actually love to go into more detail about this, and maybe someday I will write such an essay. But right here I'm going to talk about the practicality of pro-life feminism. To put it simply: it'll work.

To put it less simply:

Being anti-feminist is, in a lot of people's minds, like being racist: wrong, unenlightened, simply not done anymore. If people see something as being contrary to feminism—even if they themselves do not specifically identify as feminists—they will assume it is bad. That's how institutionalized feminism has become in this country.
Which means, of course, that when people are faced (or rather, when they think they are faced) with the choice between being pro-life and being feminist, most of them will choose to be feminist.

When people realize that pro-lifers are in truth not fighting against the feminists, but for the feminists; when they realize that the pro-lifers are the feminists, then we will have made one more step towards eradicating both abortion and misogyny.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your blog! I was a feminist before I knew what a feminist was and I have always been pro-life. I've often felt out of place in both movements, especially the feminist movement. Your blog and facebook page speak to me so perfectly and the timing for me finding you couldn't be better since my state, North Dakota, is smack in the middle of the abortion debate as I type this. Side note: I showed my little sister your facebook page and she said, "Did you write this? Because it's pretty much everything you always say." Keep fighting the good fight, you have a new ally in North Dakota!