Let’s rev up the new year with ruminations on how the War on Women inextricably links with and directly impacts the War on Queers.
First, here’s a folkloric outline of an eggy female interior process for the squeamish.
Years ago, I attended a locally (in)famous Halloween party in East Atlanta, resplendent in my vintage vampire regalia. At a groaningly capacious table, I conversed with a cute young man, entubed all in white with a braided string attached. My guess as to his costumed identity? “Obviously, a Tampax. I’m quite familiar here; in fact, I’m wearing one now.”
His mouth twists in disgust, and he storms off. Now, really. Are we not all adults, apprised of the facts of life? And how does this bear on queerness?
Let’s review: various hormones work to create a monthly appointed “waiting room” lining the uterine cavity. Other hormones cause an engorged “pouch” to send an egg outward. The egg travels down a tube to the uterine cavity, hanging out while a “public cervix announcement” lets one sperm outswim its fellows and boom! it penetrates the ovum.
The now “egglet” floats around until eventually finding the “room” and thence claws and drills its way in to prepare for the nine-month, vigorously motile, hormonally uterine nap.
No egglet to puncture uterine walls or one that fails to overcome an unexpectedly hostile environs? Then the lining materials slough off and out. Thus, the need for Tampax-y absorptive products, as we’ve done away with menstrual moon huts.
Should the woman choose not to host a parasitic creature (which, yes, might become a fetus), there are methods that put “do not enter” blocks up to invading sperm swarms.
Further, hormones can post “not welcome” signs, like from introduced products, a la Plan B. And should all such prove insufficient, a (hopefully) smooth surgical scraping of the penetrated lining can be done — i.e., an abortion.
The point is that all of this takes place within a person’s body. So, who should have the power to determine what happens there, if not the person themself?
I am old enough to recall what not having access to safe birth control and abortion costs. One example is my Catholic great aunt, forbidden birth control by state law and the pope, had a kitchen table abortion and almost died from blood loss and uterine infection. Another is Rosie Jimenez, dead from a literal coat hanger abortion, her naked corpse found on a trash-strewn floor, still slumped over where she’d presented herself to the prepaid butcher. And now, there are plenty of women terrified each time there is a rape or a partner who demands no protection while she can’t find an open clinic or a crossable picket line.
For me, it’s even more personal. At 15 years old, I’d been a bleeder for three terrible years. Each month, horrific pains announced “past time” via a merciless five-day onslaught of menstrual cramps.
What to do? Hormone regulation via “the pill.” Yet the gynecologist my mother took me to said he could not prescribe birth control to a minor. Fortunately, the local Planned Parenthood clinic would prescribe it to me. I wish I had a wildly successful outcome to report. Years later, massive doses of new antiinflammatory meds helped, but without whole-woman clinic care, I’d have had no recourse at all.
Nonbinary trans activist Jack Qu’emi writes about the vituperative legal and physical challenges against access to women’s health centers, so-called “abortion clinics,” places that also provide whole health care, not just hormones and reproductive freedom products and procedures.
“Some trans people have abortions,” Qu’emi says. “Some trans people need access to birth control. Some trans people use clinic access to get hormone replacement therapy.”
It’s no accident that legal challengers of abortion clinics, the HIV-positive and the hormone-dependent all embody the essential message, “You play, you pay.” In their consciousness, all people must genuflect to patriarchy’s sternest admonition: you will fit into a narrowly defined gender role, and if not, you are unfit and therefore require all manner of discrimination. In other words, you deserve what you get.
Therefore, queers cannot ignore that the War on Women is the war on us, too.