We can’t give you that cancer-fighting chemotherapy. It would endanger the pre-fetus. You’ll just have to die and make room for more efficient femfactory production units.
The pre-pregnant. The pre-pregnant?
Well, if all women of reproductive age should consider themselves pre-pregnant, then I guess there will have to be a resurrection of real sex education and easily available birth control. Prenatal services and care for women will take top priority, and corporations will immediately address exposure to environmental toxins in the workplace. Mercury in fish, overuse of antibiotics in beef and chicken, the pesticides on our fruit and vegetables – all of this will be addressed to protect the “pre-pregnant.” Right? Right?
From the Bush administration? Dream on. If you haven’t caught the similarity to the new word “pre-born,” you haven’t been paying attention. This is a working example of the inscription of rhetorical, cultural, and even legal precedents for the prioritizing of a potential (not even actual) pregnancy over the life of the mother. We are allowing a woman to be defined solely as a baby-making machine, valued only in the capacity of being a potential mother.
It’s one thing to encourage all women of child-bearing age to take folic acid, have checkups, etc etc. But there are many other implications (one of which will clearly _not_ be holding men responsible for anything). It’s one of the many building blocks in the anti-choice and anti-woman agenda (these are two different agendas, but they get more and more overlap).
Once these are fully in place, I can see scenarios in which, for example, a woman could be held criminally liable for drinking or smoking, just in case she might become pregnant. I can see women becoming property again, with husbands or fathers as the “stewards” of the breeding stock.
Where is the parallel term for men? It would only be fair, would it not, to discuss the “pre-paternal” guidelines? Last time I checked, male genetic material was included in the process.
The example of health guidelines is relatively benign (I take folic acid every day), but I think women are right to object to the inherent implications of the term.
There is, first of all, an aesthetic objection to be made. “Pre-pregnant” is silly and it sounds stupid. Ick.
This is so ripe for a George Carlin or Lewis Black or Chris Rock routine. It’s next in line for Carlin’s sketches on “pre-boarding” a plane and the historical vocabulary series from “shell-shock” to “post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Think of what it actually means to categorize women (and girls) as “pre-pregnant” for some 30-45 years of their lives, which is the reproductive span of women from first menstruation to the end of menopause.
A little satire can point to some of the problems with using this kind of vocabulary. Imagine some other words:
You don’t have to be a linguist or a political junkie or a discourse analyst to see some of the implications of using words like these.
Are there actually women who accept being envisoned as valuable only in terms of being a walking uterus/incubator? Pop one out for Bush und Gott? There are real effects on women’s lives already. Here is an example:
“I have been unable to obtain adequate medical care for my epilepsy because I am what they’d call pre-pregnant. As my neurologist puts it, I am a woman of child-bearing age. As such, they flat-out refuse to try me on any medicines other than the ones proven least likely to affect a fetus (read: the ones that are paying off my neurologist). Despite the fact that I have declared my belly a no-fetus zone. My neurologist does not trust me to not get pregnant. My neurologist puts a potential fetus’s potential health over my health. And now the government wants to officially sanction that.”
Once we get used to thinking of women as “pre-pregnant,” it opens the doors to wider acceptance of even more anti-female legislation than is already on the table with attempted definitions of the “personhood” of the fetus and abortion bans (even in cases of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the woman). The disappearance of family planning clinics, incitement to hate and violence against doctors who perform abortions, and the proliferation and funding of fake clinics across the country should already have shown us what is happening here.
The CDC guidelines seem to be aimed at health education (at least primarily), but the slant in the Washington Post article is chilling. Is there anyone here who can really doubt that the very vocabulary here is indicative of the political and cultural influence of the pseudo-religious, dominionist right-wing?
The kind of men who need to dominate and control women (as these folk seem to want to do) are pathological – and boring – and make terrible husbands, fathers, brothers or friends. Just my personal opinion.
Wherever you are in terms of your beliefs about pregnancy planning, education, abortion – I do hope that the women and men of this country are not really quite willing to turn back the clock on women’s “personhood.”
Aren’t we claiming to “spread democracy and freedom”? Ask the women of Afghanistan and Iraq, or for that matter, across much of the world, how we’re doing on that.
I do hope you’ll be voting and supporting more progressive candidates (or even running for office yourself).
“To my knowledge, there has never been an administration that has been more hostile to women’s equality, to reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right, and has acted on that hostility. They certainly have pursued abstinence-only sex education programs and gutted and gotten rid of comprehensive sex education. They’ve pursued the gag rule that uses U.S. foreign aid to suppress reproductive information, and that has literally endangered and damaged the lives of millions of women in poor countries. And they’ve suppressed AIDS information and emergency contraception. In addition to their clear drive to criminalize abortion, there has been no opportunity of which I’m aware that they have not taken to restrict women’s rights and to oppose reproductive freedom.”
— Gloria Steinem, 2004