Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Feeling Opinionated

It was so nice out when I woke up today, I decided to turn on my wireless connection and bring my laptop to the backyard. Unfortunately, even with the sun behind the screen, I was barely able to read anything in the brightness. So I moved to the shade. A decent compromise, I guess, but my towel is calling out to me to lie back down.

But I will delay a little bit longer, because several things struck an opinionated chord in me as I was making my rounds of the internet this morning. And what's the point in getting angry if I can't share it with the world? (Or at least with the tiny subset of the world who know my blog exists. Hi, subset!)

First, the Queen of Spain got me thinking about the Dixie Chicks. Do you remember three years ago when one of them said she was ashamed to come from the same state as George W. Bush? Apparently, the country music community has never stopped giving them a hard time about it. How DARE a country singer express an opinion not in keeping with the predominantly republican country and western mindset! (Although I am sure, somewhere, there is staunch republican gangsta rapper with the same complaint.) Well, apparently, they got sick of trying to smoothe things over, and just threw caution to the wind and held to their views. And the country stations are refusing to play their new single (which is, unquestionably, a pretty strongly worded criticism of the way they have been characterized), and everyone seems to hate them all over again.

I guess what bugs me the most about the whole Dixie Chicks thing is that I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion. And, in a country where there are really only two parties to choose from, and there's a pretty even number of people who vote for each of those parties, I have a hard time believing that it's even remotely fair to think of everyone on the other side as being totally stupid, even if I disagree with them. I'm not sure I wholly agree with the way the Dixie Chicks are going about expressing their opinions (refusing to appear on the View was a bit of a low blow, although I don't blame them - I hate that show myself), but I agree even less with the response they are getting from the community that once supported them. I haven't heard the new single yet, so I don't know if I will even like it, but I am tempted to buy the album just on principle. Or at least go and buy the "Goodbye Earl" single. I love that song.

So maybe I was already a little bit riled up when I came across this Washington Post article about new federal guidelines that ask all potentially fertile women to treat themselves as "pre-pregnant".

Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.

Now, before you lump me into one category or another, let me first start off by saying that I am opposed to abortion in most cases. But my reason for being opposed to abortion is that I think we should take sex a whole lot more seriously than we do as a culture, and I believe that we should be held responsible for the consequences of our actions, and if even the best birth control is only 99% effective, then no one should have sex who is not willing and able to deal with the statistically significant 1% chance that they will become pregnant. (I often say, "I am pro-choice, you chose to have sex.")

That said, I absolutely HATE the mindset that women are nothing more than walking wombs. I am opposed to abortion because I believe that women have a choice to have sex or not, and I believe that as human beings, they are capable of dealing with whatever consequences that choice might have. I am not opposed to abortion because I think that the baby's life is more valuable than the mother's and that it must be protected at any cost to her. (As an aside, I find it fascinating that so many people who are opposed to abortion are in favour of the death penalty, because really, they are both based on the same premise: that it is okay to take one life for the benefit of another.)

But this article goes too far. Is it not enough that the images of supermodels on every magazine tell me I am fat and ugly? Is it not enough that I feel guilty every time I reach for seconds because I probably could stand to lose a few pounds? Is it not enough that every doctor and naturopath and dietician and well-meaning friend has a different recipe for health and success, many of which contradict one another? I might be carrying around an extra few pounds, but I've read that those pounds could actually give me a better pregnancy. Whose formula for health is the government going to apply? (Almost definitely an allopathic formula; this country loves its drugs.)

And what about men? Half a fetus is made from sperm, shouldn't we prevent them from engaging in any activities that might possibly damage their sperm? And shouldn't we also sterilize everyone with genetic diseases so they can't pass them down to their children?

The article cites high infant mortality as one of the reasons for these guidelines. America has one of the highest rates of infant mortality among industrialized nations. It's also one of the few without some measure of socialized medicine. Perhaps we might start there as a solution, rather than regulating everything I am allowed to eat and do for 40 years of my adult life? Or maybe, just maybe, we could educate women a little bit better about sex as an emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually unifying experience that ought not to be entered into lightly? I was a virgin for 23 years and NOT ONCE, either before or after, have I ever felt like I was missing out on something. In fact, I think my marriage is better in so many ways because we treated sex as part of its sacred bond.


lisa b said...

wow, i just read the article, i just wish i could articulate (maybe even form a sentence) all the thoughts in my mind...of the least was I'm glad I live in Canada...but this will likely become the view here too given time. overall, I'm just so shocked about it!

Nicole said...

It's that awful assumption that sex is like eating... necessary for survival or something! Such a perverse outlook on life. Teens pick up on these assumptions, too, and act on them, even against their better judgement. Keep the pounds, they are good for your future baby.