The other day a friend posted on her blog a post about an idea in her area that the government came up with to pay pregnant women to stop smoking. Her complaint was why doesn’t the government do something for women who already don’t smoke, or reward women who breastfeed and that the govn’t has a whole lot more things they could be spending money on that would actually be beneficial for women and babies.. Instead of just re-writing my comment I will paste it here and add some emphasis:
While I agree that women should do what is right and healthy for their baby just for the sake of it (this is a whole other post btw)…you also have to understand that most laws/initiatives like this are couched in the idea of “it’s for the children!” when a lot of it has more to do with wanting to control women and what women do with their bodies.
This is why they don’t offer money to women who breastfeed. Because too many people don’t like it and find it offensive, and while people are willing to “allow” a woman to do it, they don’t want to see it. If they paid women to breastfeed then it would be socially acceptable for those women to breastfeed in public (gasp the horror!). With all the craziness out there when a woman bf in public…while it isn’t illegal it is obvious it still isn’t socially acceptable.
Society in general is permitting of some things as long as they don’t have to witness it. Think of it. In general women are the only ones that have been singled out for being “obese” and now women are being singled out for the cause of obesity in children (bad mother!). While it is bad for someone to be morbidly obese, there have been study after study showing that a little fat on you isn’t going to hurt and may help you as long as you keep up a healthy lifestyle (eat well and exercise moderately to keep your heart working properly). It is also a fact that many children also grow out of said obesity. To clarify I am not talking about 14 year olds that are 300+ lbs (I know you don’t use pounds there but not sure how to convert it so I can only assume you know what I am talking about!). I am talking about women and children that are barely over the “obese” range in the useless measure of BMI.
Let’s flip it…being too thin can cause just as much damage and actually be deadlier sooner than obesity…but how many laws are there for educating people or having them undergo some kind of lame initiative to make sure their weight is high enough? Do you know how many teenage girls (and now boys) die of anorexia or bulimia related complications? BUT…since being thin is the socially acceptable trait no one says a word. When you see a teen die in the paper it is of cardiac arrest or stroke and their weight NEVER mentioned…but when an obese person dies it is due to obesity and their weight is mentioned.
Let’s take it a step further…Men are almost never implicated in any societal moral issue. So, they want the women to stop smoking, what about the men in the house? Second hand smoke and third hand smoke is just if not more dangerous. Second hand smoke isn’t filtered and so called third hand smoke is the residue that is left over on the surfaces of yourself and your house. Third hand smoke is extremely toxic, can hang around for days and has been known to lead to cancer. Babies and toddlers are susceptible because they are always crawling around grabbing things and putting them in their mouth.
But…you don’t see them offering money for dads or other caregivers to stop smoking due to the hazards of the third hand smoke residue even though it is just as toxic.
While it is admirable to want pregnant women to stop smoking (I do believe that…I also believe everyone should stop, but again that is another post)…you have to put this piece of news where it belongs. It isn’t about the health of the mother or baby, it is about the autonomy of the mother over her own body.
When they start trying to get MEN to be just as responsible in their behavior…then it won’t be an issue (for me at least).
Just a little more something to think about.
After writing that it just got me to thinking about a lot of other things and made me want to expand on my ideas a bit. While I am not one of the people who see everything as discrimination and sexist or misogynist and I am not offended at every little thing – I do feel that many things are discriminatory/sexist/misogynist and you should be offended.
I will post a warning here that this is a little rambling and venting, so I apologize if I seem to jump around too much. I tend to write in a stream of consciousness.
I read this article about the Catholic Church and the health care bill. The Bishops aren’t supporting the new health bill because it “doesn’t do enough” to restrict abortion. However, the Nuns support the bill because it helps pregnant women. The bishops (and others) *care* about the babies that *might* die before they are born, but not as much about the babies that will be born.
What about all those babies that the women do actually give birth to? And…while people are more than willing to ostracize and stigmatize women who have abortions, what about the men who force it on the women either by threats or just doing everything they can to make sure she miscarries? These men are never brought to bare responsibility for their own actions in conceiving or terminating a pregnancy. Why? The only answer I can come up with is women are expendable and seen as “less than”.
The whole abortion debate isn’t about babies. It is about controlling women. Just like people not wanting to see a woman breastfeed isn’t about actually seeing a woman’s boob. It is about controlling women and only having us (women) portrayed in a light that is demeaning. A woman breastfeeding isn’t demeaning…but a woman in a barely there bathing suit is. There is a beauty queen in England that convinced the organizers of their pageants to get rid of the swimsuit competition. When proposed in the United States in the past 50% of the viewers of the pageants said they would stop watching if they got rid of the swimsuit section. To me, that proves that it isn’t really about being beautiful, it is about keeping women self-conscious and feeling worthless as a human being. How better to do that than to have women parade around in front of judges in “2 strings and a band aid”?
Historically women have been treated not only as weaker but, well, insane. We don’t know what is good for us so we need men to tell us. We are emotional and irrational and we need a big strong man to tell us what we want, need and what is right. Women aren’t even seen as sexual beings unless we are nymphomaniacs. While it is ok for men to sleep with as many women as he can fit in a week, women are meant to be monogamous to a fault. If we break up with someone we are expected to pine for that someone for the rest of our lives.
Then there is sex education. Society, in general, doesn’t want birth control to be talked about much less given out. They say that parents should be responsible for teaching kids, yet it is shown over and over that kids aren’t being taught anything. Then they have sex unprotected and uneducated on how babies are made and STDs are transmitted. However, who gets all the blame? The girls. It was “their fault for opening their legs.” Never mind the boy that potentially coerced her into having sex, that told her that if he just did this or that or she stood on her head that she wouldn’t get pregnant or that he didn’t have a disease she could catch.
The girls get pregnant and the boys get off the hook with the lines, “she did it on purpose to trap me!” No one bothers to correct him on it and are happy to judge the girl on a uneducated mistake.
Childbirth in general has become more demeaning. Once a way for a woman to claim her feminine power with other women around her. Today it is medicalized to the point that many women get post traumatic stress from well meaning doctor’s *knowing* what is best for the woman and doing procedures without express permission. What once was an experience that men had no part of now has become a disease in which men feel they need to cure.
While it is easy to label it as the doctor’s not wanting to take the chance of being sued…many times you will hear someone claim that a woman isn’t in the right state of mind to make those kinds of decisions while she is in labor. Again…the old “she doesn’t know what is good for her” argument.
Do not get me wrong. Both of my children were born by cesarean. I know more than many how valuable medical technology can be. I have also come to realize I was lucky in my choice of OB/GYN. Many women go through childbirth feeling marginalized and victimized all because their ideas of how their birthing experience should be differed from someone else’s.
While I can see where someone might see this as male bashing, I want to assure you that is not the case. There are a great deal of men out there that see these double standards just as there are a great deal of women that perpetuate them. That is the beauty of it. The ones that do see these things for what they are and speak out are labeled as man-hating feminists or gay (as a derogatory) men…sometimes much worse names are given.
However, this doesn’t change the fact that men are still allowed, to a degree, to do what they want to women with few repercussions. The only time a man is held accountable is if he actually harmed the woman…otherwise everything else seems fair game in society’s eyes. Even women who were raped are made to be at fault for what she was wearing, what she was doing.
This brings me to what you should be offended about. To all the world’s men…I would like to think that you are more than your penis. I would like to think that you actually do have a brain in your head. It should be insulting to you that society views you only for your apparent uncontrollable penile desires. We all know that when you look at a woman you tend to get aroused. That is human nature. We also know that the vast majority of men do not act on those impulses and run around raping women. So why do you sit around and allow and agree that it is the woman’s fault for being assaulted? The implication is that you are ruled by your genitals and you can’t control yourselves…when you obviously can.
And stop trying to protect the women in your world by wanting to beat everyone up. That does nothing to stop it from happening other than getting your rage out. If you really want to protect the women in your life stop laughing at rape jokes, stop making women out to be inferior and call other men out that they are speaking or acting over the line. When you don’t say anything about a behavior, you are essentially condoning said behavior.
There are thousands and thousands of women that are fighting these stereotypes. We need more men to join the ranks because in the end it will make the world a better place for everyone.
I realize I talk about some things that can get emotions running high. Please read the comment policy before commenting. I would rather have NO comments than a bunch of repeated hatemongering.