Choice is about more than abortion and let’s stop pretending it isn’t

In spite of the legions of sincere people who support pro-life policies, the impetus for the movement itself is the never-ending assault on women by those who deeply resent the counter movement toward gender equality. The forces propelling the likes of Todd Akins only pretend a tolerance for equality. They want their sovereignty back.

In a comment thread below, Patsouthward pointed me to an article on CNN by  a rape victim who had her child, now being sued by her rapist:

It would not be long before I would learn firsthand that in the vast majority of states — 31 — men who father through rape are able to assert the same custody and visitation rights to their children that other fathers enjoy. When no law prohibits a rapist from exercising these rights, a woman may feel forced to bargain away her legal rights to a criminal trial in exchange for the rapist dropping the bid to have access to her child. . . . I know it because I lived it. I went to law school to learn how to stop it.

This looks to me just like the campaign to deny women the right to abortion, where men – and the state – have sovereignty over a  woman. It’s the exact same thing.

A ‘scolds bridle’ used to silence wives and legal up to the 19th century

The kerfuffle of the day is not just about Todd Akin and his knuckle-dragging (to quote the Speaker of the House) cohorts who claim to be Christian but adhere to the Old Testament . . . it’s about attempts to restore the millennial old definition of women as property.

That was a concept in law right into the 19th century, not ancient history but from the  ‘modern era’. Here are a few examples (first photo and quote from tumblr, here) :

The “curb-plate” was frequently studded with spikes, so that if the tongue moved, it inflicted pain and made speaking impossible. Many men sustained in this “husband’s right” to “handle his wife”, and to use salutary restraints in any case of “misbehavior” without the intervention of what some court records of 1824 referred to as “vexatious prosecutions.” Generally a husband would need only to accuse his wife of disagreeing with his decisions, at which the Branks could be applied. The woman would then be paraded through the streets, or chained to the market cross where she was exposed to public ridicule. Wives that were seen as witches, shrews, gossips, nags and scolds, were forced to wear a brank’s bridle, which had been locked on the head of the woman and sometimes had a ring and chain attached to it as a leash so her husband could parade her around town and the town’s people could scold her and treat her with contempt; at times smearing excrement on her and beating her, sometimes to death.

No divorce for you!

Here’s another one – from England – just before our Civil War (here):

Once married, it was extremely difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce. The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 gave men the right to divorce their wives on the grounds of adultery. However, married women were not able to obtain a divorce if they discovered that their husbands had been unfaithful. Once divorced, the children became the man’s property and the mother could be prevented from seeing her children.

7 responses to “Choice is about more than abortion and let’s stop pretending it isn’t

  1. The Neanderthals won’t take our society back to those days without a fight. Our society has come too far, and we won’t go back to the days of barbarism.

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  2. Oh dear the bridle is terrifying…

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  3. Hi feministsailor, welcome! We always knew they were misogynists; we may now add sadist.

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  4. Great article Moe. 🙂 We need to revisit the past and learn about the struggles that have brought us to the present and to remind us that “good ‘ole days” were only good if you happened to be white and male.

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    • Kind of like the abortion debate Arb – laws don’t stop abortion of course, but in the ‘good old days’, at least the sluts had the decency to die!

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  5. Pingback: Something new is in the air. My sisters are waking up. | Whatever Works

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