Women's Bodies & The Patriarchy

Within the universe of a person’s body lies an endless source of power and the obsession of men to police the female body and take away any autonomy she may have over that form is due to the fact that, with female power, comes the toppling of the most invasive, diabolical and insidious societal structure – the Patriarchy.

The Patriarchy, the societal structure marked by the supremacy of “man”. This system- this phrase- has become a trope, a bogeyman, and a taboo utterance that women, feminists included, shy away from so as to not be labelled as “crazy.” But it’s not a fiction of our imagination or a stretching of the status quo, it is a reality. It is the manifestation of centuries of oppression and disregard of the female body, mind and soul; if you don’t believe in the reality of this system, you are either an oppressor or a supporter of oppression.

There are so many facets of our lives that are ruled by The Patriarchy and you may or may not know it. It is as huge as the wage gap that exists in so many countries and prevents women from breaking the chain of dependency on men, and as seemingly insignificant as the fact that Jon Snow is suddenly the rightful heir to the Iron Throne simply because he has a penis and Daenerys Targaryen does not. Patriarchy is as pervasive as the simple notion taught to children, “the father is the head of the home,” and is as heartbreaking as a family taking a girl out of school and keeping her brother in school. It is a mother telling her female child to “not frighten the men away with her smarts. Patriarchy is a man (Clayton Williams) saying, “rape is kinda like the weather; if it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”

Patriarchy is all these things AND it is banning abortion. It is making abortion a crime. It is taking away a woman’s right to decide what does or does not grow in her body.

The first thing I will like to point out is this: criminalizing abortion will not stop women and girls from finding ways to abort a pregnancy. It only makes it unsafe for the ones who resort to throwing themselves down stairs, shoving sticks up their vaginas or taking a cocktail of unsafe pills. A bill was just passed in Georgia, USA that makes it possibly criminal for a woman to have a MISCARRIAGE! A woman might have to explain to a judge why her miscarriage was not her fault. The lengths being taken to have control over the female form, primarily by men who don’t have uteri, is simply mind-blowing.

Some of the people who champion the anti-abortion ban stop caring once that child ends up in an orphanage or on the streets; if the child is an LGBTQ+ person, all bets are off but that’s a story for another day. It is illegal for a woman to walk into a clinic in Liberia and have an abortion, but do you think that means abortion doesn’t happen? No, it means females have come up with ingenuous and unsafe ways to perform the act. When I was about 14 years old in high school, my older classmates used to talk about different abortion they had found out about and one I remember now is taking an insane amount of pain pills with Coca-Cola. I have no idea if that works or not but these females in this country are risking overdosing on pain pills just because no hospital allows you to walk in and abort a pregnancy.

I’ve heard the argument, “So many women would give everything to have a baby but you would throw away that possibility? Why not have the child and give it up for adoption instead?” That premise is fundamentally flawed for two reasons:

(i) Simply because you want something, does not mean that I should revere it. I have no desire to play football but you may, so if an opportunity comes along for me to do that, should I not pass it up simply because you want it? Think about that.

(ii) Do you have any idea how many orphans are in the world??? Have you visited foster cares or orphanages in your area?? Right here in Liberia?? Those are actual children in need of loving homes and your focus should be on placing them in homes and not on an embryo that is unformed.

I know someone is thinking, “that embryo could grow up to cure cancer.” Well, the female carrying that embryo could grow up to cure cancer, but might not be able to because she would have to drop out of school or lose her job all due to a far-fetched fanciful projection of an UNFORMED collection of cells. If you want to use that thinking, an ejaculated semen is a “possible child” waiting to be formed, the patriarchy should focus on banning masturbation and the use of condoms because any man’s semen could grow into a child that will cure AIDS *shrugs*. Removing how intrusive and abhorrent that type of policing is, it would never happen because we don’t take away men’s autonomies here, that is reserved for the female population.

This is Part I of a two-part op-ed by Shari Raji & Joshua S. Kulah

Featured Image: Liorak Photography

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