Abortion and contraception: a radical lesbian perspectiveJuly 11, 2009
The issue of abortion and contraception seems to be a straightforward one for most feminists. They are considered to be a fundamental right, and access to safe, legal and affordable contraception and abortion on demand is said to be necessary for women’s sexual freedom. I would argue that from a radical lesbian point of view, the reverse is actually true.
Now, I do not deny that access to contraception and abortion is absolutely necessary for women to have any semblance of control over their reproduction, right now… as we are living under male supremacy and women’s Selves and sexualities are fundamentally controlled by male ideas of women’s sexual function. Women’s sexual awareness is tightly controlled by the media, by the porn industry, by father’s, brother’s, husband’s, lover’s, son’s; and our function is clear: we are fuck objects, our function in sex is to be fucked.
Intercourse is central to sexual relations between men and women in our male supremacist society. Most of us do not question its primacy and its place in sexual intimacy… it just is. When men and women get together and have a relationship they are expected to fuck on a regular basis. If they are not fucking on a regular basis, something is considered to be wrong… the relationship is not functioning… sex is not occurring. For a detailed deconstruction of intercourse and the way that men and women are conditioned into coital sexuality read Anticlimax by Sheila Jeffries and Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin.
Anyways, centering abortion and contraception as necessary for women’s sexual freedom and as a fundamental human right presupposes that intercourse is a natural expression of women’s sexuality and that intercourse will continue to occur with the same frequency once women have complete control over their own bodies. Now I would argue that that is one hell of a presupposition.
The reality is that intercourse is the cause of unwanted pregnancy. Given that we know, as women and as radical feminists, the extent to which women are bullied, coerced and downright forced into allowing men access to their bodies… do we really think that intercourse will happen anywhere near as frequently as it does now, once women have actual sexual freedom? I personally doubt it.
While I agree that abortion and contraception are necessary at the moment, because we are living under male supremacy, women do not have any level of sexual freedom and intercourse is an unfortunate reality in many women’s lives… I am also looking forward to a time where abortion and contraception are no longer necessary. A time where women can engage freely, safely and lovingly in relations with other women, or in non-coital relationships with men.
I cannot in good conscience jump on the abortion/contraception is great for women bandwagon. In my opinion it has done as much damage as good. In reality, it gives men another crowbar with which to wedge open women’s legs. Yes, it gives *some* women, *some* level of control but it is a very, very far cry from actual liberation.
What does real freedom look like? Well, I have never had to take any unnecessary hormone pills for one thing. I have had lots of wonderful, messy, lusty, loud, sexually intimate moments with my last partner and I have never had to run to the chemist for a morning after pill, never had to buy condoms… or any of the other weird paraphernalia of heterosexual relations. Lesbianism is a 100% effective, safe and affordable contraceptive.
To summarise: intercourse causes unwanted pregnancy. Intercourse is totally unnecessary for women’s sexual pleasure. Access to abortion and contraception has not delivered either sexual or reproductive freedom for women. Demand for abortion would decrease dramatically once women have control over their physical integrity, and once our sexualities are no longer conditioned and controlled by men.
Basically, I don’t think that either contraception or abortion is the ‘solution’ to women’s reproductive rights even though I fully support women’s right to access free, safe and legal contraception and abortion.