Saturday, 25 June 2022

What America needs now is a sex strike

Even when you know it's coming some news still hits you like a thump in your stomach. So yesterday the good old US of A took yet another step back to the dark ages. Women are not really people after all, just walking uteri, baby making machines, who need to relearn their place. I am so angry I can almost feel the steam coming out of my ears. I was reading a review of a Japanese graphic novel in the Guardian that led to another article about abortion in Japan, where women still need to get their spouse's permission. It's not about the babies. It's never been about the babies. It's about the control of women; always has been, always will be. So I turned to Tish this morning and said, 'America needs a sex strike', and I don't mean a couple of weeks or so, I mean a sex strike until the law is changed. Because, I know you know this, banning abortion does not stop abortions happening. Some people are 'elated' it seems, like this woman on the BBC, who thinks that offering diapers and baby clothes is enough support for expectant women, in a country where it costs thousands of dollars to give birth in a hospital. It is frightening to see policies becoming more restrictive, in Poland for example, and other countries desperately trying to persuade woman to have more children which you can see heading in the same direction. Interestingly sex strikes have been used for a variety of reasons over the years, and while not necessarily effective it feels like the appropriate response to the current situation. According to polls the vast majority of people in the US support the right to abortion in some situations; I don't understand how it happens that the people with the extreme views are the ones making the decisions. In the UK (where abortion is still technically illegal) rules were relaxed during the pandemic, allowing women to take medical abortion pills at home, and I had a memory that this was extended recently, but now I cannot find the information anywhere. (Edit 26/6) Browsing coverage this morning I found this article on the Independent website, that uses the phrase 'pro-abortion activists'. Nobody is 'pro-abortion'! Nobody thinks abortions are great and there should be more of them. I hate the way that language is used in this debate, drawing hard lines. We all think there should be fewer abortions, we just disagree on how this is achieved. Pro-choice activists want better healthcare and access to contraception, more sex education and paid maternity leave, affordable childcare and respect for women's autonomy. The 'pro-life' activists just want to remove women's hard won rights. And then I also found this article by Sonia Sodha in the Observer, that she argues so eloquently, and reminded me (of course) about the change of policy in Ireland that followed a public debate and referendum. Here the Guardian has some suggestions for ways you can support women having continued access to abortion. The Abortion Support Network in the UK also provides financial support for women travelling from Europe and Northern Ireland (where the situation is abominable and complicated). 
I find it frightening when I see these kinds of right wing attitudes dominating politics and thus filtering down to impact on real people's lives. I got a letter from my employer yesterday telling me they were imposing a pay deal, and how lovely it was that I was going to get my money, plus a backdated lump sum, nice and quickly, in the face of the current cost-of-living crisis (oh look, inflation is at 9%, so we are going to give you 2% and you better be goddamn grateful), because they want to preempt the union's strike ballot and get everyone one to think how much easier it is to just take a the little bit of money on offer rather than fight for decent pay, and it makes me more angry at the tactics. Sometimes being angry is exhausting.

Stay safe. Be kind. Show some support (moral or financial, whatever you can manage).

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