Mansplaining is rampant in our culture, and nowhere is it mansplain-ier than when men explain women’s bodies to us. Enter Oklahoma Rep. Justin Humphrey, who spent his free time writing legislation requiring women who want an abortion to get written permission from the sexual partner who is not, in any way, having their own body hijacked.
When women pointed out how unbelievably screwed up this is, he cheerfully explained: “I understand that they feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘HOST.'"
You’re a host. You’re. A. Host.
YOU’RE A GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING HOST!
I imagine that he is starting a greeting card side business: “Congratulations on making your sexual partner into an incubator!” “Say goodbye to bodily autonomy and hello to a baby you don’t want!”
Men, however uneducated or inexperienced, consistently feel that they know better than we do how about our bodies work. Take, for example, this biology expert (and men’s rights activist):
And who could forget Todd Akin’s genius treatise on how rape and pregnancy work: “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”
And that is why the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri feels that abortions shouldn’t be provided for rape victims.
Republican Representative Henry Aldridge got all science-y mansplaining the same thing: “The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work, and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
Of course, he didn’t cite any medical authorities specifically, and who can blame him since what he is saying is patently false.
Also, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you’re using “juices” in any context other than fruit, you probably shouldn’t be lecturing anyone on how pregnancy works.
Utah state Rep. Brian Greene wants to make sure that married women know that being unconscious is no excuse for not giving their husbands the sexy time they crave: “If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious…a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically. That makes sense in a first-date scenario, but to me, not where people have a history of years of sexual activity.”
And Donald went even further in his Presidential campaign, explaining that once the “I do’s” are done, women’s bodies are no longer our own: “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”
We’ll have terrific spousal rapes. The best spousal rapes. Everyone says so.
Maybe that’s why Donald selected two men (one of whom was sued by women for sexist business practices) to advise him on issues of women in the workplace — he assumed that any qualified women would have to leave important meetings because their husbands wanted to have sex, right fucking now.
And this isn’t limited to politicians. Eight months pregnant, Jessica Preston was pulled over for driving with a suspended license. Though it was her first offense, the judge ordered her to pay a $10,000 cash bond. She couldn’t pay it and, since the is the United States, she was put in what is essentially debtor's prison until her trial. When she went into labor, terrified because she was scheduled to have a c-section due to concerns about her health with a vaginal birth, she told anyone who would listen that she was in labor. In fact, video footage shows that she walked into the medical unit of the jail on three separate occasions to tell them she was having her baby. She was ignored and was forced to have her baby on the filthy floor of her jail cell. The male sheriff defended the staff saying “In these situations, we really don’t know when that baby is going to come.”
Every time I read this quote, it makes me want to punch bunnies.
We live in a world where women are encouraged to be silent about the ways that our bodies work and told that we should be ashamed of them.
We live in a world where the majority of women, as well as some men and non-binary folks, will have periods during our lifetimes, yet we are still encouraged to hide our tampons underneath the paper towels in our carts, or buy at least 10 extra items so we’re not just checking out with pads, Häagen-Dazs, and a magnum of Merlot. We live in a world where the only time men talk about women’s periods is when we call them on their bullshit, and they ask us if it’s “that time of the month.”
So perhaps it’s not shocking that men don’t understand how our bodies work at all, but if that’s the case, then it’s a pretty good indicator that they shouldn’t be talking about them, let alone talking over the owners of them, let alone legislating them.
The way that women’s bodies work is a matter of fact, not a matter of politics or religion. It is not and should not be debatable.
It is not, in any way, surprising to me that regressive, ignorant men would try to pull this bullshit. What is surprising is that they don’t get laughed out of the room. What is shocking is the way that they can talk nonsense, and then get it codified into law. What is a huge fricking problem is that men in government can vote to force pregnant women to be given medically incorrect information by their doctors when they are considering abortion, that there are men in government trying to roll back spousal rape laws, that the same men who want to force women to carry/host unwanted children also want to limit our access to comprehensive sex education, contraception, and — according to the current version of RepublicanCare — pre-natal healthcare.
We’ve got to get better about education. No 19-year-old should think that people control our periods using our bladders. And no legislator should be able to say that it’s cute that we think our bodies are our own but, in fact, we are simply baby hosts, and expect ever to be re-elected, or elected to be an animal control officer for that matter.
Women’s bodies aren’t mystical, incomprehensible funhouses for penises. We have to start holding men accountable for doing much more to understand how women’s bodies work, and far less to control them.