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Pro-lifers Are Feminists? I Don’t Think So…

Pro-life & Feminism & Using the Same Words with Different MeaningsThe other day it felt like I had found the place where the two opposing sides of the world collide. From one side or the other, I was hearing the exact same words used for different situations and different people. And, sometimes, the same words had completely different meanings.

“He was SUCH a nice guy!” said a few picture-perfect teens about a fellow student:

High School Trendsetter Just Made Nice Go Viral. Jeremiah posts nice comments about kids in school and that makes them feel better about themselves.

“He was SUCH a nice guy!” said a friend of a young man that just committed suicide:

Targeted by bullies, teen hangs himself in schoolyard. Jadin was bullied, a target of hateful comments, and decided life would never be worth living.

From one side I heard*:

The world economic system is going to collapse! Those left-wing idiots? They’re the “low-information” folks. We speak the truth! We need to change the world! But it’s awful! We just can’t seem to get our message out there!

From the other:

The world is coming to an end (from climate change)! The right-wing wackos? Those are the “low-information” folks. We speak the truth. We need to change the world! There aren’t enough progressive radio stations. We can’t get our message out there!

I thought, the world is never going to change. There are always going to be two strong, opposing opinions and there isn’t anything we can do about it. It felt like I had just come to the realization that life was just going to be like watching a ping-pong game when this twittered my way:

Pro-lifer’s consider themselves feminists.

Of course, it wasn’t stated quite so directly in Ross Douthat’s article, Divided by Abortion, United by Feminism, 1-26-13. It was proclaimed with words that are most often heard in educated arenas, words that may drive away anyone with less education than a Bachelor’s degree. (Bachelors…I am going to get sidetracked on another subject if I don’t watch it.) Douthat states, “Most anti-abortion Americans today are also gender egalitarians.”

Gender egalitarians: If a man can do it, so can a woman.

And, apparently, some “pro-lifers” think that makes them feminists. (Or maybe just Douthat?)

He states that this includes the “the younger generation.” I am not sure which one, since my understanding is that a generation is roughly 20 years, but Douthat says, “Among the younger generation, any ‘divide over women’s roles nearly disappears entirely.’ Opportunities…for women can be sustained without unrestricted access to abortion.”

Don’t you just love double negatives? Translation: Opportunities for women will continue even if there is restricted access to abortion.

He continues, “Now the abortion rights movement has to speak of “necessary evils….”

Seriously? Pro-lifers think they’re going to appropriate feminism? And feminists will have to move on to something new, to struggle with justifying “evil” acts.


Sure, some (most?) pro-lifers support women working. Get pregnant in your teens or early twenties and you’ll most likely get the same kind of jobs women had before feminism existed. Nurses, accountants, caretakers, etc and many other jobs that pay minimum wage or less. If you figure out how to go school for a couple of years, you can get skills to do something like distributing “big pharma’s” pills. I am not suggesting these jobs are not perfectly acceptable for many women. Some of them pay a reasonable wage and some allow women to stay home with their kids. They provide an additional source of income if you’re married. Not everyone can be a rocket scientist.

I am suggesting that many young women want something different. Feminism saw that hope blossom when birth control became safe and legal. It would allow women to pursue an education. To be able to spend years learning about world views, to be able to study the law or politics or business. To be in places where women (and men) could meet and share ideas and become entrepreneurs and engineer solutions to our problems and change the world. So women could finally have an equal say.

But birth control isn’t perfect. It’s not okay that women, not men, should have to give up their dreams. It doesn’t matter if a woman is voted to a position in Congress if she is going to continue to perpetuate the idea that any job is an acceptable job for every woman. I imagine they will say, “Of course, we are working on figuring out how to increase women’s pay and find ways to help women manage to care for their children.”

But, at this point in the history of feminism, we’ve all heard the arguments about pay that continue to justify the status quo: women now make the “choice” to stay home with their children; they are out of the workplace more; it’s just natural that their income would be lower; it’s because of their choices.

No matter what words anyone tries to use, someone can turn them around.

So, can we achieve feminism’s goals—including enabling women to earn a wage that will allow them to stay out of poverty when they are working and have children, or by the time they reach 65—without support from some of the guys?

I thought about the two young men who I heard were “SO” nice. Will the young man who says nice things about his friends support a woman’s right to an abortion? What if he starts to hear that “you can be pro-life and support women’s right to work?” What about the young man who took his life? I can’t help but think he was put in this world for a reason, that being the “sweetest boy a girl had ever met” was someone our world needed.

Words. Hatred. Not understanding that you are here for a reason.

Our world is a delicate balance of opposing ideas. Those of us who know how fragile it is, feel the pull as the weight shifts and cry for the loss of someone like Jadin. I struggled for years with messages that I internalized that made me wonder, “Are they right?” But I continued to educate myself and found comfort and strength as I read and studied. I learned to ignore what people said and to focus on my goals. I want to know all that life has to offer and all that I can give.

And from what I know now, about science and my understanding of God, I do not consider abortion “a necessary evil.”

And I don’t appreciate men like Douthat putting words in my mouth or anyone else’s.

I am curious how many young women are pro-life and believe they are feminists. Have you met anyone who has shared thoughts about this?

*Since I’ve lost my favorite progressive radio station in Seattle, once in a while I listen to a conservative station when I’m driving. The other day I heard these exclamations as I traveled over the span of a couple of hours.

“The Pragmatic Progressive Page” just posted a quote from Jackie Robinson (it’s his birthday today): A life is not important except in the impact it has on others’ lives. But, again, can you see how this can be interpreted as a positive message from either perspective?

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