Anyone who hasn’t gotten a laugh watching Nasim Pedrad taking off the Huffington Post’s founder Adriana Huffington on SNL’s Weekend Update has to be dealing with some pretty severe psychological issues. During the last vice presidential debate Pedrad’s take on Huffington addressing the problem of two men discussing abortion rights dropped a doozy which rapidly became a social media meme for the Pro-Choice Movement:
If men got pregnant, abortion clinics would be like Starbucks. There would be two on every block and four in four in every airport, and the morning after pill would come in different flavours like sea salt and cool ranch.
Nasim Pedrad as Arianna Huffington on Saturday Night Live
It’s funny because it’s true, or at least it is true insofar as we buy into the stereotype of the infantile, selfish, and unreflective Jock of western culture. As witty as this quip is, it has been regurgitated ad nauseam by the cyber commentariat to the point that it has become something of a truism of male attitudes towards women and the rights of the unborn – if any – had they inconvenience them. It provides an example of how our fetish for discussion by meme and soundbite is eating away at our ability to engage with serious issues without roaring and shouting, and – in this case – bullying others into silence.
It is only right that women themselves should be the authority on what happens to their own bodies. In fact this can be extended; each individual – male or female – should have the right to autonomy over their own person. In discussing abortion rights a significant and complicating factor is going to be the subject of the termination – the unborn, the fertilised ovum, the cells, call “it” what you will. Simple insistent slogans will never determine whether what we are talking about is or is not a human life. Telling us that it does or doesn’t have a heartbeat or a functioning nervous system is equally pointless, because these facts are not essential to defining life, and neither, in the case of a developing foetus, do they adequately define human life. Left to its own devices it certainly is not going to become a table.
Suggesting that men, had they be the ones pregnant, would be any less troubled by this question is reductionist and demeaning. For all the real, perceived, and constructed differences between women and men we share the same ability to think and the same anxieties over the unknown. Where human life begins, and at which point an emerging human being is to be granted rights and social protection is a question that is equally important to woman and men; to mothers and fathers. Attempting to shut men – and in particular fathers – out of this discussion is fundamentally illogical and can be done only by appeal to irrational dogmatic insistence.