You never really know someone until you talk about the abortion issue. It’s such a tentative issue and the nicest person in the world could also feel women should be denied basic human reproductive rights, they could believe that the fertilised egg has a heartbeat and can speak as soon as this miracle that is fertilisation occurs, they could believe that the unborn foetus deserves to have more rights than women do.
What I’ve been experiencing lately is a very male privileged perspective in which they feel that women have a responsibility to have the child once fertilisation occurs. But it’s so easy for men to say this. It’s so easy for a man to theoretically say that they’d give up 9 months, their body and their careers for a baby – because they know that they will never have to actually do it. No matter how hard they try to imagine it, they’ll always be safe in the bubble of their wombless sex.
I’ve tried to speak about abortion as openly as I can recently, in the hopes that I can give people the courage to do the same, in the hopes that perhaps if I talk about it that people would realise that the taboo is lifting.
Last night I was confronted with the issue head on in a “friend’s” house. It was a drunken conversation and I can’t remember how the topic even arose, but there it was like and angry bull in a fragile china shop, nostrils flared and ready to cause destruction. He uses language like “murder” and “baby”. He tells me that it’s wrong. He complains about the changing tide in Ireland, that pro-choice is the majority now, and that this is a bad thing. He tells me that every woman who has an abortion is selfish.
I told him to watch what he says. I told him he doesn’t know who here has been through this. I told him. But he kept on marching on his crusade, putting his life on the line for holy Jesus or the like while I simmered inside, listening to this ignorance pouring from his over-privileged mouth. Listening to him talk about women like they were less than men, as if they owed society their wombs, as if they were incubators.
I broke. I screamed. I cursed. I cried. I couldn’t believe his ignorance. I couldn’t believe that this man who I had always seen as respectful and sound of mind was blurting out this garbage.
He’ll use condoms, his girlfriend will be on the pill, once and a while the morning after pill will be utilised, but none of these things are bad to him. Stopping fertilisation is fine now. He doesn’t realize that if he were born fifty years ago that he would more than likely have issues with these things too, but he doesn’t, because he was born in a time when those issues have been addressed, in a time when the majority of society has stopped their judgement on contraception.
Now we’re moved on to what happens if all these steps fail. What happens if all these things don’t apply to women. What happens if a woman gets pregnant and doesn’t want to be.
And he bulldozes on. He tells me about babies and murder, he knows little about the facts and doesn’t want to listen to it. He says it all more calmly and reasonably then I can because of course he isn’t and he never will be as involved in the issue as I am. Or his sister is. Or his mam. But that doesn’t stop from demanding his right to discuss it, his part in the issue (which of course, has its place) but when a man sits in front of me and demands to be heard, while at the same time silencing women in the process, it’s hard to give him the time of day.
So he does the worst thing he could possibly do, he throws me out of his house. He rejects me and my views, he silences me from his society, he shuts me out and makes me feel an outcast.
So now my question is can I ever look him in the eye and think of him as decent again? Am I big enough to do that? And I fear that my answer is no. I can’t be friends with someone who suppresses women, with someone who thinks it’s only right to deny us reproductive rights.