I will never fully understand motherhood. I will never fully understand what it feels like to be treated poorly because of the color of my skin. And, no man (with the possible exception of transgendered individuals) will ever understand what it’s like to be a woman.
Why is this important? It’s important when discussing two issues that have garnered massive headlines recently- sexual assault and harassment, and women’s reproductive health. Now of course men can be sexually assaulted and/ and harassed as well, and no one is denying that men’s health is important. But those are separate issues outside the scope of this post.
In recent weeks quite a few women have come forward stating that Donald Trump was inappropriate with them. They have been criticized for waiting to come forward until now, Bill Cosby accusers faced the same criticism. However, as a woman, I understand completely. It’s VERY hard to come forward because everyone blames the victim, but there IS safety in numbers and someone to lean on when the questions start. “What was she wearing?” “What did she say to him?” “Did she act like she was interested”? NONE of those things should matter- assault and harassment are assault and harassment. Period. But those questions are always asked, and 99% of the time they are asked by men.
When I was 7 years old an older boy tried to touch me inappropriately on the school bus. It terrified me and I avoided him the rest of the school year, but I never told a soul. Not my parents. not the bus driver, not my teacher. I was terrified. And, I was ashamed, even though I had done nothing wrong! When I was in my 30s it came out that this person got into serious trouble when he got older for sexual assault of minors. Only then, and only after being directly asked, did I tell my parents that he had attempted the same with me 20 years earlier. And it made me feel horrible all over again, to the point where for awhile I wished I’d just said nothing happened. So, I GET IT.
In contrast, Hillary Clinton has been harshly criticized for defending Roe vs. Wade and women’s right to reproductive health services and education- ironically almost exclusively by men with 4 or less children. Donald Trump has also stated that “There should be some kind of punishment” for any woman who has an abortion, in spite of the fact that abortion is legal in this country and men have piled on their agreement.
NO man, no matter what, can truly know the fear of an unplanned pregnancy. While it turned out to be a false alarm, I’ve been there and it was terrifying in a way I cannot put into words. And, for the record, my personal opinion on abortion can best be described as “it’s complicated” and no, I’m not going to elaborate at this time.
What is 100% fact is that as long as human beings have existed they have been having sex. And as long as there has been sex there have been unplanned pregnancies. And as long as there have been unplanned pregnancies there have been ways of handling it. There are many types of herbal treatments (one is mentioned in the Bible in Numbers Chapter 5), to repeated punching of a woman’s stomach, to the “coat hanger” abortions (that have been around since at least medieval times) . Access to birth control and comprehensive sex education are the BEST ways to decrease abortions, yet again, the men with few or no kids who oppose one usually oppose the others as well much to my confusion.
So, as a woman, I have this to say to men. I love you, but leave this one to us. Thanks.