What exactly do calls for society to "do more" mean?

This was posted by Bitch PhD on the Suicide Girls blogness and I found it important enough to copy over and link here in it's entirety. I have looong & aforementioned issues with the sexual violence in the world. I think changes need to be made. & for a change of pace this is the first rational writing I've seen that expresses my views on reproductive rights to perfection. thanks.

"What exactly do calls for society to "do more" mean?"

"Excellent question. What *should* society do, if we wanted (crazy feminist pipe dream, but bear with me) to live in a world where pregnancy and motherhood were recognized as simple facts of life, rather than as abnormal? In other words, where we granted women full humanity? 

Lots of things. But since I'm not writing an encyclopedia here, let's focus specifically on some of the things that directly effect pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering young children.

First, let's decide that birth control is absolutely the responsibility of *all* heterosexually active people of whatever age. If you do not want children, and you are a man, you are responsible for using birth control. If we, as a society, *really* believed that, you damn well know we'd have a lot more birth control options for men than we do now. Shit, people, the only reason anyone talks about condoms is because of AIDS. Condoms sure as hell weren't on the radar before then. And if we really believed that sexually active people should be responsible for birth control, then we wouldn't even have these fucking arguments about whether or not we should tell young people about it or make it available to them. 

Second, let's also recognize the corollary: that if sexually active people are responsible for birth control, then they are *also* responsible for deciding if and when they don't want to use it. And that this, along with the fact that no birth control is 100% effective, means that women will get pregnant if they are sexually active--not all women, but some women, of all ages, and from all walks of life. And that since this is the case, scolding women for being pregnant "too young," or "too poor," or "when they're not ready" according to us, or because they're addicts or alcoholics or crazy or "unfit," in our minds, will simply not happen--because if sexually active people are responsible for using, or not using, birth control, then it is NONE OF OUR FUCKING BUSINESS if they don't.

Third, we would recognize that human beings (1) *will* be sexually active, and (2) *will*, therefore, get pregnant. Because human beings are living creatures, and one of the essential qualities of being "alive" is being able to reproduce. So reproduce we will. Reproducing is not a moral issue, or an occasion for passing judgment; it is a simple fact of life. 

Fourth, because of this, we would structure our world around this basic fact and the things it involves: pregnancy, childbirth, and the demands of caring for young children. We wouldn't expect young women to quit school if they got pregnant; we would acknowledge that sometimes young women *will* get pregnant before they are finished with their formal educations, and we would accommodate this: schools would have nursing rooms and changing tables, we would provide daycare and allow young women and men with children to bring them to class (if they weren't disruptive), to step out (when and if they became disruptive), and to schedule their classes around elementary school hours--which would themselves be based on research in child psychology and development, rather than on agricultural seasons or the "9 to 5 workday." If this meant that young parents took a little longer to finish high school, college, or graduate school, that would be just fine, and there would be no sanctions for not finishing in the "average" amount of time (which would probably be higher than it currently is, since young parents would be better able to stay in school).

Fifth, the 9 to 5 workday wouldn't exist. Work would be reconfigured, since we'd recognize that "the worker" wasn't a 19th-century factory worker who needed to be physically present in the factory in order to take his place on the assembly line; instead, we'd define work in terms of projects, tasks, processes, and results. Where work required one to be in the same physical place as other people at the same time, we would of course provide workplaces for that to happen, and when it was better to have the material aspects of work (paperwork, hardware, merchandise, etc.) in one place, employers would build those things or rent space. But when a job didn't require that, we'd let people do the work when and where they were able--at home, in the workplace, wherever. Perhaps employers would subsidize employees renting private or shared office space under some conditions, in order to shorten their commutes, make their work time more efficient, and save money on infrastructure. Employers would certainly provide changing tables and nursing rooms in official workplaces, and taking children to work would be just fine--again, as long as doing so was safe and not disruptive. Where it wasn't, we'd set up formal and informal daycare arrangements of all types: private centers in high-density work areas; employer-provided daycare for very large employers who required many or most of their employees to be in the workplace much of the time; public daycare and preschools; round-the-clock availability when this was cost effective, some kind of economic support (like Medicare will pay for hiring a private nurse) when it wasn't.

Sixth, we'd recognize that some people, because of physical or mental disabilities, personal preference, dangerous or neglectful behavior, and even death, would not be able to be their children's primary care providers. Where they were willing and able to provide *some* of their children's care, we'd prioritize their doing so, but we'd accept, encourage, and where necessary provide supplementary care, preferring (in order): extended family members, friends and acquaintances, and--where absolutely necessary--strangers. When these accommodations needed to be made, we'd provide supplemental caregivers with training, material support, and social services if those things were needed. 

Seventh, we'd recognize that even primary care providers cannot--and should not--be solely responsible for their children's welfare, because children, too, are human beings, social animals, and by definition members of society. So parents, too, would receive supplemental services when they needed them. Also, children would be accepted in all public and private venues, and we'd accommodate their needs and limitations just as we do those of people with disabilities. Recognizing that they need adult supervision, that childhood is (in part) a process of socialization, and that the developmental, psychological, and physical needs of children are different than those of adults, we would of course provide alternate forms of entertainment for them where appropriate, sympathetically excuse them (and their parents or supervising adults) from situations where they became disruptive, and be patient with their social lapses. Being supportive of primary caregivers would be a basic social expectation, like holding the door open for someone carrying a heavy package; this would mean that all sorts of rare politenesses would become matters of course: correcting misbehaving children ("young man, you should listen to your mother"), lending a quick hand ("let me help you get that stroller down the stairs"), and providing public amenities that recognized that children are members of the public (low toilets and sinks, family restrooms, barriers between walkways and streets). Breastfeeding, it should go without saying, would be a perfectly acceptable and unremarkable public activity.

If we did these things, then it would be a lot easier to raise children, and most of the "special" burdens of motherhood would be ameliorated or erased--and where it wasn't possible to do this, we'd consider them human burdens, and take them into account, rather than scolding, judging, or punishing women for having to bear them.

A Bitch_PhD can dream.
" this last links directly to her blog & not the SG site.


Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah. You and your "women should have rights" stuff again. Well, not in this country sister! This is America. We do things our way. If you don't like it, well, um, you can vote! (like that will mean anything anyway)

New Ira in the House!

Jezcabelle said...

I love you - the old Ira, "New Ira" can go right back to the firey pits...