Two recent developments show that a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” has a long way to go before full civil rights and civil liberties and complete human equality applies to its female residents and citizens in the minds of many. One of these is a growing protest phenomenon by the title Slut Walk. This began in Toronto, Canada, and has spread globally. The other calls itself, Personhood USA and its “primary mission is to serve Jesus by advocating for pre-born children.
The inspiration for Slut Walk is a remark by a Toronto police officer to a personal security class that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” The initial protest response formed around the premise that regardless of what they wear no women are asking for rape. The attitude expressed in the police officer’s remark is depressingly common although less frequently explicitly stated. In fact, the only thing that exceeds the persistence of this attitude is its abysmal stupidity.
Before proceeding let us define our terms. Rape is forced sexual intercourse. It may involve a male forcing himself on a female or a male forcing himself on another male. A special category known as statutory rape focuses on the ages of the victim and the attacker and may not entail the use of force. In theory at least, a female could force herself on another female and some say upon a male, but the focus of concern here is male attacks upon females. All rape victims suffer trauma to a greater or lesser extent if they experience actual rape as opposed to merely alleged rape. Therefore, no woman actually wants to be raped and no woman is asking for it regardless of her attire at any given moment.
Women may dress in a way that attracts attention. Women frequently dress in ways they believe are attractive and may consider daring and provocative. Males may concur that a woman’s choices in attire are attractive, daring, or provocative. Regardless of the intentions of women and the opinions of males, an outfit is neither a confession of depravity nor a declaration of open season. Outfits worn by women [and men for that matter] are forms of personal expression. For example, the lovely, young, patriotic woman in the image with this article is not admitting to loose morals and she is not welcoming an attack. She is simply showing a body more deserving of adornment than concealment. This is her choice and we should leave her to it and, perhaps, thank her for it.
Males of quality champion full female equality. There are few more dishonorable actions than efforts by men to exercise power and influence to keep women in a subjugated status. This sort of behavior is bad enough in countries such as Saudi Arabia, but when it happens in a nation that boasts of its commitment to equal liberty under law it is intolerable. Women are fully the equal of men in their humanity and if they are American citizens, women have all the civil liberties and civil rights that male American citizens enjoy. Any practices, prejudices, precepts or provisions that deny complete equality to women deserve nothing except opposition, disputation, and refutation. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid and defense of their female compatriots whether these are wives, lovers, daughters, sisters, mothers, friends, acquaintances, or unknown people in news reports.
In one sense, the attitude to which Slut Walk is responding is a more superficial assault on full recognition and respect for the complete humanity and [for Americans] citizenship of women than that perpetrated by Personhood USA. This organization, which declares its primary mission is to serve Jesus, seeks to pass legislation in various states that confer the status of a person with the attendant legal rights on zygotes.
Again, let us define the terms. A zygote is the initial cell formed when an ovum and a sperm join. A zygote is a single cell. Because the best estimates for cells in an adult human body range from 50 to 100 trillion, one would be reasonable to hope the absurdity of this legislation is self-evident. Unfortunately, many state legislatures, mostly in the south, take these proposals seriously. Personhood legislation criminalizes abortion and some forms of birth control. Zygotes are designated separate persons from the mother. Many doctors assert such legislation would ban in vitro fertilization and prohibit medical assistance to women with critical pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancies.
The term zygote is often carelessly used to refer to the group of cells formed by the first few cell divisions [1, 2, 4, 16, 64], but these should be called a morula. A zygote is always synthesized from the union of two gametes [sex cells] and it constitutes the first stage in a unique organism’s development. A zygote contains DNA from both the female and male sex partner and provides all the genetic information necessary to develop a new, viable member of the species. If the male and female involved were human beings, then the zygote would contain the genetic material needed to develop a new, viable human being. Despite this genetic endowment, a single cell organism is not a 50 to 100 trillion-cell organism. For that matter, a 64-cell organism is not either. A human zygote exists for about four days. On roughly the fifth day, the zygote matures into a blastocyst from which the embryo and placenta ultimately form. The developing organism is called an embryo until about eight weeks after fertilization and from then on the organism is called a fetus.
At the start of the fetal stage, the fetus is usually about 1.2 inches long and weighs about 8 grams. Movements that simulate breathing are necessary to lung development, but no oxygen is obtained. The head is roughly half the size of the organism and the heart, hands, feet, brain, and other organs are present but they are only beginning development and have minimal operation.
If we consider that personhood indicates the state or condition of being a human individual with all attendant moral and legal rights, it should be clear that neither a single-cell organism nor a sixty-four cell organism has the capability of rational thought and moral agency. It is also dubious that such miniscule and comparatively simple organisms are self-aware. A zygote formed by the union of a human female’s ovum and a human male’s sperm is unquestionably a human organism, but it is not demonstrably a person.
Why would Personhood USA and their allies want to confer personhood on zygotes? They wish to “serve Jesus according to their declarations. “Personhood USA desires to glorify Jesus Christ in a way that creates a culture of life so that all innocent human lives are protected by love and by law.” Unfortunately, the people at Personhood USA do not love living females enough to avoid using the law against them. They also further or reinforce the subjugation of female human beings, but they fail to declare or even acknowledge this. The Personhood USA site does not readily disclose the identity of the organization’s leaders, but it does advertise a “must have personhood book” and the author is Daniel Becker. The title is Personhood: A Pragmatic Guide to Prolife Victory in the 21st Century and the Return to First Principles in Politics. Apparently, the First Amendment prohibition on laws respecting the establishment of religion does not qualify as a first principle of politics for the Personhood USA folks.
People are entitled to have the religious views they find true and hold dear. However, patriotic American citizens who hold the precepts of the Constitution to be the first principles of American politics must insist that sectarian beliefs stay out of legislation. As much as religious American citizens may wish to write their sectarian beliefs into law, the true American political scripture denies their right to do so. This is a Republic, not a theocracy, and all of us benefit from keeping it so.
The personhood law efforts are simply extreme forms of campaigns to deny full human equality to females and/or full citizenship rights to American women. The more familiar initiatives persist to limit or eliminate women’s access to reproductive health care. The pretext is a desire to prevent abortions, which allegedly equate with murder. Almost all people who advocate interference with or prevention of female access to reproductive health care, do so from a religious premise. Frequently, “my religion does not permit abortion” or words to that effect express the premise. To reiterate, people are constitutionally entitled to hold the religious beliefs they think best, but they are not constitutionally entitled to enact their particular views into law. Ironically, many people who assert their religion prohibits abortion do so while blatantly violating other known prohibitions of the religion they profess. For example, one woman asserted her religion prohibited abortion and had six children born out of wedlock. To the best of my knowledge, the religion this woman practiced also prohibits fornication. Did her six children result from Immaculate Conception?
Furthermore, one cannot assert that merely having sexual intercourse is tantamount to intending to become pregnant or to impregnate. Many studies have indicated that pregnancy only results if intercourse happens within a six-day interval prior to and including the day of ovulation. Because the typical female cycle is twenty-eight days, this means there is roughly a 22% known probability of pregnancy in the abstract before any instance of intercourse. Any action where the odds are about 4 to 1 against something happening does not indicate an intention for the less probable outcome to happen. People who have intercourse do not thereby demonstrate their intention to initiate a pregnancy, even though they must recognize the possibility. If one is the male partner and one’s character is so bereft of honor, then one does not deserve to be on her. If one’s inner self is so shallow and barren as to care nothing about one’s partner, then one does not deserve to be in her. At this most intimate encounter, it is time for all good men to come to the aid of their intimates. Any man who cannot be supportive and helpful in the event of an unintended pregnancy deserves only four letters in response – STFU.
Once an unintended pregnancy [or an intended one for that matter] has begun, men who are men and not merely males play a supportive role for the female. Other people beyond the partners can have their opinions, but they cannot impose these on the pregnant woman without blatantly denying the full human equality and full citizenship rights of that woman. Once again, the woman’s body is nobody’s body but hers. She is the pregnant person, and she is the person who should have full control over the decisions about the duration and course of the pregnancy.
In the second decade of the twenty-first century, with all the daunting challenges facing the Republic, more than a few good men and millions of good, beautiful, loving women need to put their heads, hearts, and hands together on behalf of full equality for women. If it happens we cannot be with the ones we love in every moment of this struggle, we should love the ones we are with. Let us resoundingly declare enough is enough. Get your hands off the bodies of our wives, sisters, daughters, lovers, friends and all other women. Live your lives as you see fit and let them live theirs in the same way. Women are human too, smart, sexy, wonderful human beings; it is time to treat them that way all the time!