Saturday, November 28, 2015

How is This Not Terrorism? The Oxy-Moron of "Pro-Life" Violence.

[TW for gun violence]

When I first read about the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, my stomach sank. It fucking terrifies and enrages me that women (and men) run the risk of having their lives ended by a "pro-life" gun, simply for working at, going to, or merely being in the vicinity of a Planned Parenthood clinic. It fucking enrages me that women have to fear for their lives because some people believe that, somehow, shooting and killing women is better than allowing women to have freedom of choice when it comes to their own reproductive organs.

As I read further, I became even more enraged. I read how the police asked people not to make assumptions about the shooter's motives, even though the only place he attacked was the Planned Parenthood clinic. I read how there was a five-hour standoff while three bodies lay lifeless somewhere in the vicinity of the AK-47 he used to take their lives. I read how the attack was labeled as a "shootout" and a "standoff," as if this were a spaghetti Western and not a real life-or-death situation.

What I didn't read was the word "terrorism" anywhere in the news coverage, even though this was clearly a situation in which someone was using deadly force and grievous bodily harm, and the threat of such, in order to scare people into not using their legal right to reproductive health care. What I didn't read was how the police shot the gunman on sight, even though he, as noted in this article, "previously had been firing at police who entered the facility." What I didn't read was an instant condemnation of the inherent violence of white men, because the person who committed this act of terrorism (referred to in the media as a "shooting") was, indeed, a white man.

Part of the reason for this is because he committed an act of violence against women. The majority of patients of Planned Parenthood are women, and it's not a coincidence that Planned Parenthood clinics are the target of this much violence. The people who are arguing that Planned Parenthood should be defunded/shut down/what-have-you are arguing so not because they want to "save babies," but because they want to punish women for having sex that they deem unacceptable. The only proof you need of that is any argument featuring a "pro-lifer." Read far enough down the thread, and you'll find the truth--"save the babies" almost instantaneously becomes a self-righteous "if you don't want to get pregnant, keep your legs closed" the second they find themselves backed into a corner. They want to punish women for having sex of which they don't approve, namely sex purely for the purposes of recreation rather than procreation, and we're pretty much OK with that.

The other reason this act of terrorism will not be labeled as such is because the person who committed the act is a white man. If this person had been a black man, he would have been dead the moment he opened fire on the clinic (especially on the police) and the media would be condemning the inherent violence of black men before his body had even had the chance to go cold. If this person had been of Middle-Eastern descent, this act of terrorism would have been called such and then, of course, the conversation would go back to how we can't accept Syrian refugees in this country because LOOK AT ALL THE TERRORISTS. But because this person was a white man, we will instantly give him the benefit of the doubt. We will give him the benefit of a five-hour standoff, even though he's already killed three people and fired his gun at police. We will refuse to label this shooting as an act of terrorism, because terrorism is a word we reserve for acts of violence committed by those who "appear" Muslim, whether or not they actually are. We will blame the mental health system, we will call him a "lone wolf." We will do anything and everything BUT call him what he is--a motherfucking terrorist. And all because he is a white man who committed an act of violence against women.

White men are committing act after act of horrific mass violence, over and over and over and over and over and over and nobody seems to care enough to do anything about it, or even to call it what it is. For the "pro-life" man who pulled the trigger, I'm sure he felt that what he did was simply an act of retaliation, a way to punish the women who didn't listen to him when he told them what to do with their bodies. And that's really what it boils down to--he, and every other man who's attacked Planned Parenthood clinics, is punishing women who dared exercise their right to bodily autonomy, even though he expressly told them not to. When we women find ourselves staring down the barrel of a gun as punishment for exercising our right to freedom of reproductive choice, we have to ask ourselves--how is this not terrorism?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why I Cannot (and Will Not) Accept Eldership from a Transphobic Person

[TW for transphobia]

In the last few days, I have been made aware that there are a handful of so-called elders in the Pagan community who have said and done some really nasty, hurtful, and bigoted things towards trans* women. Some of these things include, but are not limited to, referring to Caitlyn Jenner by the wrong name and violently misgendering her by referring to her as "an old drag queen" and referring to her biologically male anatomy as alleged proof that she is not a "real" woman (implying that all trans* women are not "real" women), and refusing trans* women access to women's-only circles on the basis that trans* women are "women with penises" and that only "women-born-women" should be allowed access to that sacred space. Put simply, they have gone out of their way to deny trans* women access to circle and other forms of ritual space dedicated to women because they do not believe that trans* women are "real" women, and they have gone out of their way to let trans* women know that they are not welcome in the Pagan community.

There are many in the Pagan community who have had enough and are taking a stand against this bigotry and hatred. There are also many in the Pagan community who are defending their words and actions on the premise that everyone is entitled to their beliefs. They defend their words and actions because they are elders of the community and those words and actions, no matter how harmful, should be left alone. It seems that, by calling them out on their bigotry and hatred, we are stepping on their contributions to the community at large, and apparently it's more important to preserve their legacy than taint it by holding them accountable.

I have no other way to respond to this other than to say (and I promise this is the only time I will curse), "That's fucking bullshit."

When your beliefs cause you to intentionally, violently, and virulently misgender people and deny them their humanity and basic respect, they are not worth defending. 

What we have is multiple Pagan elders repeating the message that trans* individuals (trans* women in particular) aren't "really" their gender. What we have is multiple Pagan elders using old, tired rhetoric of biological anatomy as "proof" of gender authenticity (or inauthenticity), and using that "proof" as an excuse to deny trans* people access to sacred space. What we have is trans* women being told by multiple Pagan "elders" that they don't belong in "women-only" circles because they're not "real" women. That is the textbook definition of bigotry.

Pagan elders are supposed to be a pillar of support and are supposed to help guide people along their chosen path. They are supposed to provide a safe space for individuals to explore the greater mysteries. They are not supposed to pick and choose who gets access to these mysteries and who doesn't based on their gender and then go out of their way to make sure that those who are not of the chosen group understand that they are not welcome. That is bullying. That is bigotry. And that is not how an elder of ANY community is supposed to act.

It's high time we started calling these elders out on their transphobia. There are some who argue that calling them out and denying them support from the community will do nothing to help them learn. I disagree. Losing a large chunk of their community's presence, respect, and support as a direct result of their transphobic words and actions is a great lesson. It's a lesson that there are consequences to saying discriminatory, hurtful things about members of their community because of their gender--it's a lesson that you don't get to violently misgender trans* individuals and deny them basic respect, that you don't get to deny trans* women access to ritual space because they are trans* women, and still hold a position of power.  

Many in the community are arguing that this is an attack on their free speech--certainly, they're free to speak as they wish. They're even free to continue to deny trans* women access to women's-only space if they feel they must. However, they have to learn that there are consequences to their bigotry--in this case, the consequence is that no one will want to follow them. 

Long story short, I refuse to accept an "Elder" who picks and chooses who they will support and who they will allow access to the greater mysteries of magick. Last I checked, the deities (many of whom are of one, two, or many genders) love and accept all, regardless of gender.

It's high time these "elders" remembered that.

To quote someone who I consider an actual Pagan elder, "I don’t want to go where my kin can’t follow."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Feminist Review/Critique of “Jurassic World” (SPOILER ALERT (obviously))


I went to see Jurassic World with my boyfriend yesterday for my birthday, and I enjoyed the movie immensely, or at least all the action sequences with the dinosaurs (which is really the main focus of the movie if you’re watching it right). However, while it did make a valiant effort, Jurassic World was nowhere near perfect when it came to how they used the female characters throughout the film. 

I want to start off by listing what I did like. I was happy to see four main female characters in the movie (Claire, the mom of the two boys (Claire's sister), the woman in the control room, and Claire’s assistant). In a movie franchise that has historically had only one token female character, that was pretty cool. I was also happy to see a woman FINALLY be a fucking bad-ass heroine in a Jurassic Park movie instead of just a screaming damsel in distress. Seriously, when Claire released the T-Rex to go fight the Indominus Rex? I could barely stay in my seat. The last thing I liked, and this is going to sound weird, is that they finally had the ovaries to kill off a female character (Claire’s assistant). This was the first movie where they included a woman in the dinosaur kill count, and I thought that was pretty awesome.

That’s pretty much where my pom-pom pumping ends.

The female characters just barely pass the Bechdel test—there are only two scenes where two women talk to each other, one of which is Claire and her assistant talking about the two boys she’s supposed to be watching, and the other is Claire and her sister also talking about the two boys, so technically they’re still talking about men. The woman in the control room never speaks to another woman, and you never see two female characters talking to each other about anything particularly relevant or important, which really disappointed me because 1) there could have been some great scenes between the woman in the control room and Claire, and 2) women do actually talk about things other than men and kids and, somehow, Jurassic World, which proposes a scenario where dinosaurs are literally attacking and eating people, managed to keep the women in the movie talking to each other about just those two things.
The next thing that really bugged me was how they portrayed Claire’s character. Anyone who’s watched any TV shows or movies (or even read any mainstream books) that depict career-oriented women know that these “career-driven” women are portrayed as selfish and cold-hearted (and I’m putting this mildly), and it’s either heavily implied or outright stated that they are the way they are because they don’t have and/or want a (specifically male) partner and/or kids. In other words, their lack of desire for a man in their life and/or lack of maternal instinct and desire for kids is what makes them bad people. This movie was no different. For example, Claire is portrayed as being so entrenched in her work that she doesn’t know how old her nephews are (which is brought up at least twice as a “seriously, you’re a woman and you don’t know how old your nephews are?” moment). When she meets up with the hero, it’s almost instantaneously brought up that they dated at one point and that she was the reason they stopped dating (of course) because of her “overly controlling nature,” even though Owen (the hero) is equally controlling, if not more so, when it comes to the dinosaurs and how to interact with them, yet nobody bats an eyelash at that, nor does anyone bring up the hypocrisy of Owen criticizing Claire for being so controlling when he's absolutely no better. At another point in the movie, when Claire is talking to her sister on the phone and it’s revealed that she’s decided to work instead of hang out with her nephews, having hoisted them onto her assistant, her sister says that she’ll understand when she has kids. Claire responds with an emphatic “if,” to which the sister replies with an even more emphatic “when.” By the end of the movie, after the chaos has finally been quelled, we find her staring longingly at a mother reuniting with her daughter before she walks off into the sunset with the hunky hero, further perpetuating the stereotype that women who don’t want a (male) partner or kids will always change their minds eventually.

OK, so there’s nothing wrong with portraying a woman with a career as selfish and cold-hearted, per se. There are plenty of women out there who are exactly that way. However, when it’s the ONLY DEPICTION of career-driven women we get in the mass media, that’s a huge problem. It’s also a problem when it’s only women who get this treatment. As I mentioned in the last paragraph, Owen the Hero's controlling nature when it comes to the velociraptors is accepted without question, and Vincent D’Onofrio’s character, Hoskins, was equally obsessed with his work, but the movie doesn’t ever question him, either (apart from wondering how good an idea it is to create an army of trained velociraptors). Nobody asks either male character if he knows how old his nephews are, nobody tells them “You’ll understand when you have kids,” and the film never asks them to reconcile their work lives with their personal lives (or give up the former for the latter). It really wouldn’t have been that hard to portray Claire as having changed her mind about her relationship with her nephews without implying that she suddenly wanted to be with the hero and have kids of her own. It also wouldn’t have been that hard to portray Claire as having realized that she can be a workaholic but still want to be around her family, even if that family didn’t pop out from her own body.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. The action sequences were intense and there were amazing twists, and there were some pretty bad-ass feminist moments, but I think that the movie could have done more to upend the common stereotypes that are tacked onto women in the media—if they can create a world where dinosaurs exist, they can also create a world where women can have a career and no partner or kids and not be total assholes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Not All Men? Shut the Fuck Up.

[TW for misogyny, gun violence, rape culture, rape apologia, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, suicide]

I've been feeling many things since the UCSB attack this past week--sadness and hopelessness definitely come to mind. However, today I'm angry. I'm angry because, instead of talking about the ways that violent misogyny is killing women and what we can do to stop it, we're fighting yet another onslaught of men who are desperate for attention.

"NOT ALL MEN!" they cry. Except we know what they really mean. What they really mean to say is "NOT ME!"

I'm sure most of the people reading my blog know this, but 1 in 6 women will be raped or otherwise sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Many believe that this statistic is highly under-representative of the actual number. As I mentioned in a previous post, every rapist commits an average of ten rapes, so the logical conclusion is that 1 out of 60 men is a rapist. There are 7 billion people on the planet, give or take, at the moment--assuming that the population is about 50/50 among men and women, out of 3.5 million men, about 58,333 men in this world are rapists. They will rape an average of 10 women each--that's 583,330 rape victims. And that's a modest estimate. 

What the men of this world forget is that women are taught all our lives that we are sexual objects and potential victims. We are a commodity to be bought and sold, and if we are ever the victim of an attack, including murder, we must have done something to cause the attack. According to RAINN, there are 237,868 rapes each year in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of women will be attacked this year, and it will almost always be blamed on the victims. Almost no one will think to blame the rapists. There are articles and blogs and comments ALL OVER THE INTERNET blaming the women that Elliot Rodger mentions in his manifesto for the murders that occurred at UCSB, arguing that they should have put out so that this wouldn't have happened.

At this point in time, we need men to stand up with us and fight violent misogyny. We need men to combat the patriarchal culture that bred the Elliot Rodgers of the world, that made it OK for men to kill women (or drive them to suicide) when they don't give them what they want (and sometimes even when they do).

But instead, they're choosing, yet again, to make the conversation all about men.

Before you start screaming NOT ALL MEN, take some time to think about why you're assuming that the women who are speaking think all men are misogynists, rapists, and murderers.

Read the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter. Really digest their stories. Realize that there are thousands upon thousands of stories. Realize that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN YOU KNOW has dealt with harassment, assault, or rape in one way or another at some point in her life. Read through MRA websites that promote the assault, rape, and murder of women. Read the news stories detailing murder after murder, rape after rape, and then go read the misogynist comments applauding the murderers and rapists.

Then think about why women might think that way.

Then think about how you're contributing to that.

Realize that, instead of using your privilege and your voice to speak up for women, you're choosing to use it to make the conversation about you. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Food Shaming and Why This Shit Needs to Stop

[TW for disordered eating, food shaming]

For those of you who don't know what food shaming is, my definition is it's when someone judges you for the food you are eating and comments on it in an attempt to make you feel ashamed of your choices. When faced with the subject of food, a lot of people do something we feminists call "concern trolling," which is when you shame someone for something under the guise of actual, genuine concern for their well-being. This happens with food all. The. Time. People decide that it's OK to tell others (particularly women) what not to eat because it will make them unhealthy, when what they're really trying to say is that they shouldn't eat that because it might (GASP!) make them fat (which, if you know anything about anything, fat =/= unhealthy). Bottom line, what someone eats, how much they eat, when they eat it, how often, etc., is nobody's fucking business except the person whose mouth the food is going into.

Food shaming ties directly into the dieting industry, which targets women specifically and relies on women feeling bad about themselves, their bodies, and their food choices in order to survive; it's more than obvious from the advertisements that we see on a regular basis. For example, there is the recent pushing of the Special K Challenge that challenges women to replace two meals a day with Special K products, asks women to think about what they will gain when they lose (weight, obviously), and whose incredibly problematic and dangerously unhealthy nature Jezebel covered in a fantastic article. There is the onslaught of ads for Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, etc., that actively shame women both for their food choices and for (possibly) being fat. There are phone apps that encourage people to count calories and essentially take stock of everything they eat, which is a documented symptom of certain eating disorders. This is not to say that all people who count calories have an eating disorder, but promoting counting calories as an everyday activity can very easily lead people to develop one, especially when you consider the continuous assault of messages that are telling us to stay thin, no matter what the cost.

This is an issue that is particularly upsetting for me because I have dealt with disordered eating as a direct result of food shaming. (This is actually the first time I'm talking about this so candidly.)

When I was a kid, I absorbed the messages that the media was telling me. I was supposed to be small, delicate, proper. I was supposed to count calories and watch my weight, lest I take up too much space. If I had the choice between a steak and a salad, I was always to choose the salad, no matter how much I wanted the steak. Despite the fact that the average human being needs to consume 2000 calories to survive, calories were the enemy and the goal was to consume as few of them as possible. This was "for my own good" and "for my health." I also absorbed the indirect messages that my mother was sending me through her constant dieting and self-shaming. I listened to my dad tell me stories of when she used to diet until she was nearly a skeleton. I watched her weight fluctuate between the holidays and the summertime. I watched her mentally punish herself for eating things she liked. I watched her deny herself foods that I knew she loved and sacrifice simple treats all for the sake of a thinner figure. Right this very moment, she is on yet another diet and she's already talking about her weight loss plan for when she puts on a few "extra" pounds during the holiday season. I want to be clear: I don't blame her for doing these things, because this is the result of those same media messages as well as the messages she learned from her mother, who likely learned those messages from the same places.

As a result of these messages, I learned that eating was not something you did to survive. It was not a necessity to continue living. Eating was something you succumbed to when you were at your weakest. As a result of these messages, I developed a fear of eating in front of other people because I was afraid of what they might think of me. I don't know that what I had was an eating disorder, but it was definitely disordered eating (if that makes sense). To put this in perspective, right now I weigh 125 pounds, give or take. In high school, at the same height, I weighed only 98 pounds because I was so afraid of people thinking I was a slob for eating that I simply stopped eating in public and restricted my food in private. I skipped lunch nearly every day and ate very minimally at home. It took me many years to become comfortable with just the idea of eating to survive, and many years after that before I became comfortable with the idea of eating what I wanted without judging myself or caring what other people thought.

Then, just tonight, at a point in my life where I'm finally comfortable with my body (and its arbitrary, socially constructed "flaws") and no longer shame myself simply for eating or for having a snack when I feel like it--where a simple bag of potato chips no longer sends me into a spiral of guilt and panic--my dad made a comment about a snack that I decided I wanted, and for a split second I went right back to that "I must never eat again" mindset.

It's awful. And it's exactly why this shit needs to stop. Because my story is not the only story out there.

Not even close.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Schrödinger's Rapist and What He Has to do With That Guy at the Bar Hitting on Me

[TW: rape, rape culture, misogyny, sexual violence, denial of autonomy, privileged bullshit]

I posted the above graphic on Facebook a few days ago. Social networks being what they are, I wound up receiving comments from an ex-boyfriend that went a little something like this (my ex was responding to a comment from my aunt stating "Sadly, what they're respecting is the other man's PROPERTY!"):

"I've said I have a girlfriend before, am I her property? Cause I thought it was a polite way of saying, "Nothing personal, maybe some signals were misread. I actually am in a happy relationship and not looking elsewhere."...but that's just me. It's true that traditionally men make the advances, but my point is most will accept a "no" when they see one and it doesn't have to be a matter of possession."
This is a perfect example of male privilege: being able to reject an unwanted advance (or perhaps even multiple unwanted advances) without any kind of negative backlash or retaliatory action taken against him, and then being able to proclaim widely that "most men will accept a no when they see one" (read: a "no" by itself, without any sort of buffers such as "I have a boyfriend/husband" involved) when that is simply not the case. I'm glad that he has never had to go through the truly terrifying experience of someone refusing to take no for an answer in the context of an unwanted romantic and/or sexual advance, but the fact of the matter is that I, and most women on this planet, have.

There's a very big difference between a man saying he has a girlfriend and a woman saying she has a boyfriend in order to get out of a situation where there's an interested party and the other person is not interested. There is a power dynamic involved where women, unfortunately, have the shit end of the stick. If we say "no" by itself, we're labeled frigid bitches, and there have been many cases when women have been attacked (verbally and/or physically) for doing so. We say "no, because I have a boyfriend" because many men only respect other men, not women's autonomy and our right to say no to unwanted advances, and because we know we are less likely to be attacked if we use the excuse that there's a man in our lives (the implication, of course, being that the man in our lives will defend us physically, if necessary). We also don't know which men will respond nicely and which men will respond with violence to a simple "No thank you, I'm not interested."

This is where the concept of Schrödinger's Rapist comes into play (which you can read more about in this blog post on Shapely Prose). The fact of the matter is, women have been consciously and subconsciously trained through our social interactions with others, the way we are portrayed in the media, etc., to categorize any unwanted advances as potentially dangerous. We have to be afraid for our safety because the truth is that we don't know which men will not accept a no when they see one. Statistics state that 1 out of 6 women will be raped in her lifetime (and that's only including the ones that are reported: so many more aren't). I found out in the aforementioned blog post that when looking specifically at rapes where the man is the perpetrator and the woman is the victim (which accounts for most rapes), if you take into account that every rapist commits an average of ten rapes, that means that at least one out of every sixty men is a rapist. To put this into perspective, I graduated from Curtis High School in a class of about 700 people (give or take). Assuming the class was 50/50 men and women, that means there were about 350 men in my graduating class. Statistically speaking, 6 of them were rapists. And I have no way of knowing which ones they were. 

Over the course of their lives, between the six of them, they will rape at least sixty women.

These statistics are fucking scary by themselves. Combine that with the fact that women are told that we shouldn't have the right to say no, that a no can eventually turn into a yes if the guy tries hard enough, that a no is just a woman playing "hard to get" and she really means yes, etc., it becomes fucking terrifying. My ex may not believe this is true, but there is an element of possession in all of those examples, a belief that women "belong" to men and don't get the option of just saying "no thank you" and leaving the scene without a struggle. This is evidenced by the high number of rapes in this country - clearly a woman's no isn't really taken seriously.

When women are approached on the street by a male stranger, there's a 1.67% chance that he will be a rapist.  We have no way of knowing whether or not he is that 1.67%. We have no way of knowing whether or not tonight will be the night we become one of the 1 out of 6 women who will be raped in her lifetime.

There's a reason women instinctively use the "I have a boyfriend/husband" excuse.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog for Choice Day - Why I'm Pro-Choice

From the time I was 18 years old until I was 20, I was in a relationship with someone, and if I were to say that they were not a nice person, it would be the understatement of the decade. He was very controlling and was constantly belittling me and condescending to me. I wasn't allowed to be myself when I was around him; he didn't like my extroverted personality, and he made it known in no uncertain terms when I had displeased him by daring to be happy in his presence by giving me the cold shoulder and telling me that I embarrassed him. Eventually, he didn't have to worry about it, because he effectively killed my happiness. He would sulk and call me horrible names when he didn't get his way, and once he cheated off of my homework (without my knowledge) and put both of us at risk of not only failing the class, but of getting kicked out of the academic program to which we belonged. When I confronted him about it, he got angry at me for getting angry at him. Nothing was ever his fault, and he never took responsibility for anything. The real kicker was the time that, after I gave him a surprise hug, he grabbed me by my wrist, refused to let go, and told me that he was a black belt and that he was trained to react, therefore, if he ever hit me, it was my own fault. Thankfully, the violence never escalated past that, even though I stayed with him for another six months after the incident, but it very easily could have.

I chose to be in a sexual relationship with this person, and if it weren't for my birth control pills, I might have gotten pregnant by him. There were a couple of times where I thought that I might have, and each time I knew immediately that I would have an abortion. I knew from a very early age that I never wanted children, and I also knew that having his child would tie me to him forever. Despite his attempts to control everything I thought, said, and did, being tied to him forever was not an option for me, and while his controlling, abusive behavior killed everything else in me, it thankfully did not kill my belief that I had the right to make a choice. This is one of the many reasons why I am pro-choice--because there are so many other women who are in similar (and worse) situations. For many women, the right to a safe, legal abortion is their only saving grace in an abusive relationship, whether the abuse is physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, etc. Leaving an abusive situation is difficult enough--add a child/children into the mix, and it becomes nearly impossible.

Somewhere along the line, the term "pro-choice" came to mean "pro-abortion," and apparently any person who is pro-choice wants all pregnant women to terminate their pregnancies regardless of whether or not they want to. These accusations come from the anti-choice crowd, which is comprised of the Republicans, the "Religious Right," etc., who want all pregnant women to continue their pregnancies regardless of whether or not they want to...sound familiar? Apparently, it's perfectly ok to control women's bodies as long as your agenda falls into the right category. Unfortunately for the anti-choice crowd, pro-choice does NOT mean we want all pregnant women to indiscriminately terminate their pregnancies--it means we want all pregnant women to have a choice in the matter, whether she chooses to have an abortion or continue the pregnancy and parent the child or put hir up for adoption. Whether a woman is in an abusive relationship, she was raped, she had a casual encounter, or she's in a relationship, whether a woman had a consensual encounter and used some form of contraception and had an "oops" or didn't use contraception at all, she has the right to say no or yes to a pregnancy. It is her choice, and nobody else's.

If a woman chooses not to continue the pregnancy, for whatever reason, she should have the right to access a safe, legal, affordable abortion. If a woman chooses to continue the pregnancy, she should have the right to a safe and healthy pregnancy and birthing experience, whether it's in a hospital or at home. If she chooses to place the child up for adoption, she should have the right to ensure that the child goes to a loving, healthy family, free from abuse and neglect. If she chooses to parent, she should have the right to financial assistance should she need it, as well as parenting classes, support groups, etc. The fact of the matter is that pregnant women, whether they choose to terminate a pregnancy or continue it, have very little agency when it comes to their reproductive health, and this has to change.