From Right Wing Women
From their own experience– especially in being coerced and in being exchanged– the women found a first premise for their political movement: that freedom for a woman was predicated on, and could not exist without, her own absolute control of her own body in sex and reproduction. This included not only the right to terminate a pregnancy but also the right to say no to sex, to say no, to not be fucked. For women, this led to many areas of sexual discovery about the nature and politics of their own sexual desire, but for men it was a dead end– most of them never recognized feminism except in terms of their own sexual deprivations; feminists were taking away the easy fuck. They did everything they could to break the back of the feminist movement– and in fact they have not stopped yet. Especially significant has been their change of heart and politics on abortion. The right to abortion defined as an intrinsic part of the sexual revolution was essential to them: who could bear the horror and cruelty and stupidity of illegal abortion? The right to abortion defined as an intrinsic right to control her own body, in sex too, was a matter of supreme indifference.
Material resources dried up. Feminists fought the battle for decriminalized abortion– no laws governing abortion– on the streets and in the courts with severely diminished male support. In 1973, the Supreme Court gave women legalized abortion: abortion regulated by the state.
If before the Supreme Court decision in 1973 leftist men expressed a fierce indifference to abortion rights on feminist terms, after 1973 indifference changed to overt hostility.: feminists had the right to abortion and were still saying no– no to sex on male terms and no to politics dominated by these same men. Legalized abortion did not make these women more available for sex; on the contrary, the women’s movement was growing in size and importance and male sexual privilege was being challenged with more intensity, more commitment, more ambition. The leftist men turned from political activism: without the easy lay, they were not prepared to engage in radical politics. In therapy they discovered that they had had personalities in the womb, that they had suffered traumas in the womb. Fetal psychology– tracing a grown man’s life back into the womb, where, as a fetus, he had a whole human self and psychology– developed on the therapeutic Left (the residue of the male counterculture Left) before any right-wing minister or lawmaker ever thought to make a political stand on the right of fertilized eggs as persons to the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment, which is in fact the goal of antiabortion activists. (page 97)
Sexual compliance or submission was presented as the wife’s natural function and also her natural response to her sexual circumstances. The compliance was never seen or presented as the result of actual force, threatened force, possible force, or a sexual and social cul-de-sac. It has always been essential to keep women riveted on the details of submission so as to divert women from thinking about the nature of force–especially the sexual force that necessitates sexual submission. The mothers could not ward off the enthusiasm of sexual liberation– its energy, its hope, its bright promise of sexual equality– because they could not or would not tell what they knew about the nature and quality of male sexuality as they had experienced it, as practiced on them in marriage. They knew the simple logic of promiscuity, which the girls did not: that what one man could do, ten men could do ten times over. The girls did not understand that logic because the girls did not know fully what one man could do. And the mothers failed to convince also because the only life they offered was a repeat version of their own: and the girls were close enough to feel the inconsolable sadness and the dead tiredness of those lives, even if they did not know how or why mother had gotten the way she was. The girls, having been taught well by their mothers to like men because they were men, picked flower-children boys over their mothers: they did not look for husbands (fathers) as dictated by convention but for brothers (lovers) as dictated by rebellion. The daughters saw the strained silence of their mothers on sex as a repudiation of the pleasure of sex, not as an honest though inarticulate assessment of it. The disdain, disapproval, repugnance for sex was not credited as having an objective component. What their mothers would not tell them they could not know. They repudiated the putative sexual conservatism of their mothers for so-called sexual radicalism: more men, more sex, more freedom.
The girls of the counterculture Left were wrong: not about civil rights or the Viet Nam war or imperial Amerika, but about sex and men. It is fair to say that the silence of the mothers hid a real, tough, unsentimental knowledge of men and intercourse, and that the noisy sexuality of the daughters hid romantic ignorance.
Times have changed. The silence has been shattered– or parts of it have been shattered. Right-wing women defending the traditional family are public; they are loud and they are many. Especially they are loud about legal abortion, which they abhor; and what they have to say about legal abortion is connected to what they know about sex. They know some terrible things. Right-wing women consistently denounce abortion because they see it as inextricably linked to the sexual degradation of women. The sixties did not simply pass them by. They learned from what they saw. They saw the cynical male use of abortion to make women easier fucks–first the political use of the issue and then, after legalization, the actual use of the medical procedure. When abortion was legal, they saw a massive social move to secure sexual access to all women on male terms– the glut of pornography; and indeed, they link the two issues, and not for reasons of hysteria. Abortion, they say, flourishes in a pornographic society; pornography, they say, flourishes in what they call an abortion society. What they mean is that both reduce women to the fuck. They have seen that the Left only champions women on its own sexual terms– as fucks; they find the right-wing offer a tad more generous. They are not dazzled by the promise of abortion as a choice, as sexual self-determination, as women’s control of her own body, because they know that the promise is crap: as long as men have power over women, men will not allow abortion or anything else on those terms.
Right-wing women see in promiscuity, which legal abortion makes easier, the generalizing of force. They see force in marriage as essentially containable– contained within the marriage, limited to one man at a time. They try to “handle” him. They see that limitation– one man at a time– as necessary protection from the many men who would do the same and to whom they would be available on sexual-liberation terms– terms fortified and made genuinely possible by abortion rights. With all their new public talk, they continue the traditional silence of women in that they are silent about forced sex in marriage: but all they do is predicated on the knowledge of it, and they do not see how more force is better than less force– and more men means more force to them.
Right-wing women accuse feminists of hypocrisy and cruelty in advocating legal abortion because, as they see it, legal abortion makes them accessible fucks without consequence to men. In their view, pregnancy is the only consequence of sex that makes men accountable to women for what men do to women. Deprived of pregnancy as an inevitability, a woman is deprived of her strongest reason not to have intercourse. Opposition to birth control is based on this same principle.
Right-wing women saw the cynicism of the Left in using abortion to make women sexually available, and they also saw the male Left abandon women who said no. They know that men do not have principles or political agendas not congruent with the sex they want. They know that abortion on strictly self-actualizing terms for women is an abomination to men– left-wing men and right-wing men and gray men and green men. They know that every woman has to make the best deal she can. They face reality and what they see is that women get fucked whether they want it or not; right-wing women get fucked by fewer men; abortion in the open takes away pregnancy as a social and sexual control over men: once a woman can terminate a pregnancy easily and openly without risk of death, she is bereft of her best way of saying no– of refusing the intercourse the male wants to force her to accept.
The consequences of pregnancy to him may stop him, as the consequences of her pregnancy to her never will. The right-wing woman makes what she considers the best deal. Her deal promises that she has to be fucked only by him, not by all his buddies too; that he will pay for the kids; that she can live in his house on his wages; and she smiles and says she wants to be a mommy and play house. In order to keep pregnancy as a weapon of survival she has to accept illegal abortion and risk death, she will do it– alone, in silence, isolated, the only reproach for her rebellion against actual pregnancy being death or maiming. In this mess of illegal abortion, she will have confirmed what she has been taught about her own nature as a woman and about all women. She deserves punishment; illegal abortion is punishment for sex. She feels shame: she may consider it the shame of sex but it is in part the shame that any human in captivity feels in being used– women being used in sex feel shame inseparable from sex. The shame will confirm that she deserves suffering; suffering in sex and birth and aborted birth is the curse of her sex; illegal abortion is deserving suffering. But illegal abortion also serves her because it puts abortion out of sight. No one has to be confronted with another woman making a choice, choosing not to be a mother. No one must face women openly with priorities other than marriage and conformity. No one must face a woman refusing to be bound by pregnancy. The women who rebel against their function must do it secretly, not causing grief, embarrassment or confusion to other women isolated in their own reproductive quagmires, each on her own, each alone, each being a woman for all women in silence and in suffering and in solitude. With illegal abortion life or death is up to God: each time, one submits to the divine hand, divine finger on divine revolver pointed at the already bloody flesh of a woman, divine Russian roulette. It is a final, humiliated submission to the will of a superior Male who judges absolutely. Death is a judgement and so is life. Illegal abortion is an individual hell; one suffers, does penance: God decides; life is forgiveness. And no one need face it until it happens to her– until she is the one caught. This is the way in which women are moral idiots in this system: ignoring whatever has to do with other women, all women, until or unless it happens to oneself. Right-wing women also believe that a woman who refuses to bear a child deserves to die. Right-wing women are prepared to accept that judgement against themselves; and when they survive, they are guilty and prepared to pay– to martyr themselves for an act of will to which they had no right to as women. There is no better measure of what forced sex does to women– how it destroys self-respect and the will to survive as a self-determining human being– than the opposition of right-wing women to legal abortion: to what they need to save themselves from being butchered. The training of a girl to accept her place in marriage means the annihilating of any will toward self-determination or freedom; her personhood is so demeaned that it becomes easier to risk death or maiming than to say no to a man who will fuck you anyway, with the blessings of God and the state, ’til death do you part.