Scarlet Table Talk (Episode 2)

Abort!on Wrongs

Let’s talk about Brad Betts. Surely you’ve seen his spreading-like-Game of Thrones-wildfire tweet—the abortion rights-related one—where he points out that a woman can only have one pregnancy in a year, while a man can create 100 pregnancies in a year, which leads him to end with the question: “So why exactly are we only talking about regulating women?”

I have a question too (one that sounds just as unpleasant as Brad’s): If a woman is murdered and she’s in the earliest term of her pregnancy, should the killer be charged with double homicide?

Wait, wait, don’t tell me your answer; it will only create more questions about whether or not a fetus is a life. And we’re not here for that controversy. We’re here for Mr. Betts. And in order to stay here—on topic—we mustn’t get distracted.

There’s a disturbing trend on the rise—popping up more and more, like measles in an anti-vaccine ultra-orthodox religious community—where a legitimate issue is raised and instead of focusing on and solely addressing that issue, someone throws out a distraction. For instance, unarmed Black people (and ONLY unarmed Black people) are being shot by police officers and when the cry of “Black Lives Matter” goes out against this murderous oppression—the distraction “ALL Lives Matter” rears its ugly misnomer. (If ALL lives mattered, black people wouldn’t ALWAYS get shot in situations that white people, even those heavily armed or ones who violently resist arrest, ROUTINELY walk away from unharmed.) Sorry, I got distracted.

Hot button topics lend themselves to distraction. Plus, there’s always intersectionality at play in these matters; so a discussion about sexism can intersect with one about racism. That’s a good segue back to Mr. Betts, who is a white man—the kind that nowadays is referred to as “an ally,” someone who never leaves home without his BLACK LIVES MATTER paraphernalia. As I scrolled through his Twitter timeline, expecting to find more troll-like statements—more “So why exactly are we only talking about regulating women?”—I actually found myself reassessing my opinion of Mr. Betts. He was going hard about a livestream video recorded in Arkansas: a white officer—gun drawn, pointing down into vehicle; finger gently applying pressure to trigger—repeatedly commands a black driver to “Turn off the car!” but the black psychic refuses; instead, he wisely keeps both hands extended out the window (in full view of the bloodthirsty cop’s eyesight). It’s clear—you don’t have to be a misfortune teller to tell—if ANY movement had been made to cut the car off, that peace officer’s gun would’ve went off. (Compliance is deadly. Philando Castile taught us that.) Damn.

Damn, I got distracted, again. It won’t happen again. (I hope.)

So here we have some men in Alabama (with the help of a traitorous female governor), who instituted an abortion ban; they are attempting to regulate women’s bodies and that’s wrong! But instead of sticking to that point, which is squarely rooted in righteous argument soil, Mr. Betts suggests that if we’re going to oppress women and violate their rights—the same injustice should be carried out against men. Dude, are you for real? Or did you do it for the likes, retweets, comments and follows?

Now this may sound antiquated, but it’s old-school wisdom that’s still relevant: Two wrongs don’t make it right. Mahatma Gandhi said the same thing, but more eloquently: An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

“You’re blind, baby!” Flavor Flav shouts, as a Public Enemy song plays in the abortion clinic’s waiting area. (Lately, this abortion ban business has been on my mind a lot.) In places of business that deal exclusively in unpleasant business, such as abortion clinics, the employees often use gallows humor as a coping mechanism. Maybe that’s why, near the front desk (where two staff members sit; one looking Jennifer Grey-like and the other Patrick Swayzesque), there’s a trash bin bearing a hazardous waste symbol and hanging above it is a “Dirty Dancing” movie poster; in prominently printed words it reads: Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

(Lately, responses to this abortion ban business have been on my mind even more—and I’ve repressed voicing my thoughts so much that now I’m having nightmares. *FYI: Did you know that Arkansas, the home state of Brad Betts, has the most Elm Streets in America?) This troubling imagery visiting my sleep is a result of evading Brad’s tweet. No, not the one from Senator Brad Hoylman that calls for an end to non-medical exemptions for childhood vaccinations. I’m referring to the one posted by Brad from Arkansas. The first time I read his incendiary words, “So why exactly are we only talking about regulating women?” I wanted to fire off a reply—but relented at the final second. Abort! I wasn’t going to fall for the banana-in-the-troll-pipe trick.

DO NOT ENGAGE, I told myself. I repeat, DO. NOT. ENGAGE. Abort! Nope, Brad wouldn’t get a rise out of me. The bible even backed up my position (Proverbs 26:4): “Do not answer a fool according to his folly…”

But after the second (Abort!), and third time (Abort!), holding my tongue couldn’t continue—like in Silence of the Lambs, when Miggs is inspired by Dr. Hannibal Lecter—I let it go. I had to contradict myself. The bible even backed up my position (Proverbs 26:5): “Answer a fool according to his folly…”

When a foolish statement begins to take on the appearance of being wise or woke, that’s when it becomes mandatory to make a rebuttal. And try as I did to stay out of this hot mess—where the emotional knee-jerk response to political misogyny is to call for legislative misandry in equal measure or begin a #BanFathersDay campaign—my mind wouldn’t abort dreams of a Captain Marvel Wonder Woman, dressed as a post-apocalyptic nun and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, performing vendetta vasectomies on millions of men who came to march on The Capitol, as allies, supporting the reproductive rights of women.

Hold on. I feel a distraction…but this one’s warranted: If you’re going to do tit-for-tat, and double-down by going all in on goose-gander-equality, what about the reproductive rights of men? If a woman decides to have a baby, despite the biological father’s wishes—and she should be able to do that because it’s her body and her decision alone—shouldn’t the man also have a right to abort, his involvement in the result of a decision that is the woman’s alone to make? It’s the epitome of wanting to have your cake and eat it too—and then force someone who doesn’t want cake to eat it too. Now if I were a devil’s advocate, which I’m not (because all Satan can do for me is get thee behind), I’d ask: Why should a woman be allowed to get court-ordered cake for a child, that she alone decided to bring forth into the world? There is great power in making a singular decision that affects two people…and we know what Spiderman’s uncle said about great power.

Listen, the ideal of life being completely fair or equal is a fallacy. Women deserve the right to have the power of the final say about whatever’s in their womb. No man ever died during childbirth. The worst pain in my life ever experienced was kidney stones; after that partial-insight into what labor pains feel like, I’m pro-it’s-the-woman’s-choice—the one who has the highest risk of death and experiences the greatest pain, gets to make the decision. And because a man makes A CHOICE to know a woman, if she then begets a child he must deal with whatever unfairness results. You have to pay (child support) to play.

But enough of that. It simply boils and evaporates down to this: We should NOT be regulating the bodies of ANYONE—women, men, cis, trans, they, non-conforming, non-binary, and anything else a person wants to identify as—even an Apache helicopter. (Yes, there are some who identify as a weapon of war.) And anytime a governmental entity passes a law or a ban that tells someone what to do with THEIR body, WE should all be in opposition to that. Yes, unless it involves something such as strapping on a vest rigged with explosives, we should collectively agree that adults are entitled to ownership of their bodies. But what we shouldn’t do, what we’re not going to do, is be an advocate for the evil—the evil that makes a disgruntled and suicidal spouse take “full custody” of the children too; the evil of the oppressed mimicking their oppressor and oppressing someone else.

There’s not much more else to say, other than to directly and emphatically answer the Brad Betts question: “So why exactly are we only talking about regulating women?”

Well, Brad, we are only talking about regulating women because the abortion ban pertains solely to women. If men ever acquire the ability to have abortions, then they can be added to the discussion and we can talk about them as well. But for now, let’s stay on topic. No distractions. **Women are under attack and men who are allies should be helping them fight back—not asking, why aren’t you attacking men too?


Footnotes

*I don’t know if Arkansas has the most Elm Streets in America. I only said that because it sounded cool to write. And isn’t that the world we live in? We don’t say it because it’s right; we say it because being wrong has a better publicist.

**Brad presents himself as an ally of women, yet it’s interesting to note: He has over 33,000 Twitter followers, whom include well-known women such as Nancy Pelosi, Rosie O’Donnell and Mira Sorvino, but how many women does Brad follow back? ZERO. I guess when you look beyond the façade of Arkansas’ greatest champion of women since Bill Clinton, you gander that he doesn’t truly believe in the “what’s good for the goose” philosophy.

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