On the frontlines in the war of the wombs

Why do so many women collude in their own oppression?

When will we en masse kick off the heels, wipe off the make-up, rip off the veils, lose the rosary beads, stop reflecting men at twice their natural size and, most importantly, turn our backs on religion?

Religions around the world are run by men while most followers are women. According to Pew Research, more women than men identify with a religion, pray daily, and say that religion is “very important” to them. But why?

The ultimate tool of patriarchy, religion in all its iterations — scripture, doctrine, evangelizing, ceremonies, and the power structure of religious institutions — have been a force for restricting the wellbeing and freedom of women. The ultimate threat to that freedom is the current anti-abortion fervor that has gripped the United and States and would deny women not just control over their own bodies but control over their lives.

The Christian right is the current mobilizing force for rewriting U.S. constitutional and state laws to deny and even criminalize abortions. But all religions, are invested and implicated in upholding and cherishing strict gender norms that cast women as mother, nurturer and sacrificer. However nicely religion packages and venerates this maternal role and the sanctity of giving life, its true intent is in the fine print, which spells out the consequences for non-conformity.

To claim that anti-abortion legislation is about protecting children is deceitful, says American sociologist Monica Casper.

“So-called pro-life is a magic trick that wraps disdain and revulsion for women’s bodies and lives inside a shiny silver box with pink and blue ribbon. Forced-birth legislation fails to protect children at all, while punishing women who abort — or even miscarry. But punishment is precisely the point, isn’t it? Because such legislation has never been about the children. Let’s call anti-abortion legislation what it is: anti-woman, anti-mother, anti-child, and anti-freedom.”

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is on the brink of overturning Roe versus Wade, the landmark ruling that constitutionally protects a women’s reproductive freedom.

In this new world, a woman is being beaten by the man who impregnated her. Too bad. She has no means of financial support for a child. Too bad. The man who impregnated her is her brother, father, a rapist. Too bad. The fetus is damaged with no prospect for quality of life. Too bad. She has two jobs trying to support the children she already has. Too bad. She is seventeen and in university, attempting to get an education and build a better life. Too bad.

This is nothing less than a power grab. After five decades, that fundamental right is crumbling before our eyes. Thirteen U.S. states are gleefully poised to throw the book at women or send back to the alleys those who dare to have or seek an abortion regardless of social or economic challenges or the cruelty of the circumstances. Another 13 states are expected to eventually follow suit. 

This motivating strain of ignorant, misogynist thinking is somewhat subdued in Canada. But Canadian women are taking notice that their own abortion rights, while seeming secure, are still not codified in law .

Who knew that that women’s equality rights – such as they are today – had peaked and that we would look back on this time as the good old days? Most of us naively believed we were just getting started. That, if we kept up the fight, we would continue to see incremental and slow but assured progress in overcoming discrimination, inequality, and gender violence.

But the Gilead has had enough and is jerking back the leash. The party is over, girlfriends. We have had our fun. It’s time to regain a sense of humility, servitude and assume our primary God-given role.

In acknowledging in the first line of its Supreme Court judgement that abortion “presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply divided views,” the court unwittingly concedes its case. But what does it mean to make a moral decision? It means a careful and deeply personal weighing of good and bad consequences. It implies a willingness to assume and live with the consequences of the decision. No man or group of men can make a moral decision about abortion on behalf of a woman or women. You don’t get to tell a woman no to an abortion and then walk away, leaving her to bear the life-altering consequences.   

For all its piety surrounding motherhood, religion doesn’t respect women enough to allow us to make our own moral decisions. It’s time women wholly agreed that this is a holy fuck of a deal breaker!