They try to look so earnest, sometimes so pained, as they explain. It's just what they believe. It's about God. Their idea of God. God's will. God's gifts. Right and wrong. Their idea of right and wrong. Their idea of science and biology.
It's a life. It has value. It deserves to be born. No matter what I believe. No matter what I need. No matter how it got there. No matter what cost to me -- maybe even my life.
Which says to me that as a woman, my life is somehow not as valuable. Not as much as a man's. Not as much as something the size of a speck, a pencil dot, a bean, a tadpole.
It seems so odd, people so vehement, so passionate, even moved to violence, to protect even those specs of life, and so ready to completely dismiss my life, my daughter's life, my nieces' lives, the lives of every woman I know.
None of our lives are as important as the rights of those little beans, the little tadpoles.
They seem to find it so easy to dismiss what I want? What I think? What I need? What kind of God I believe in, or if I believe at all? How scared I might be? How traumatized? How overwhelmed? How hurt? What kind of circumstances in which I live? Whether I have a job? An education? Food? Health care? Hopes? Dreams?
Whether a man hits me? Whether he scares me? Whether he threatens me? Whether he hates me? Whether I try to run away from him? Whether anyone believes me? Whether I have bruises or not? Whether I went to the police or not? Whether I went to the hospital? What I had on? Whether I'd had anything to drink? Whether we went on a date? Whether I lived with him?
Whether I screamed? Whether I fought? Whether I said no, often enough, loudly enough and like I really, really meant it? Whether I might have in any way made some man think I might have just wanted it, just a little, bitty bit?
I am not competent enough? I'm not worthy, somehow? I'm not human enough? I'm not smart enough? To make those decisions for myself? Not even whether what happened to me was rape?
Because I'm a woman?
Because I'm somehow less than a man?
How am I less? Because I don't have that Y chromosome? Because I don't have a penis and can't spew out sperm?
How does that make my life less than a man's? My brain less? My thought process less? My worthiness to exist and breathe and make decisions for myself any less than that of a man?
Because that's what they're really saying. We are somehow less than they are. Men.
What we believe is somehow less important than what they believe. That they feel comfortable substituting their judgment for ours. Their God and their understanding of their God, for ours.
We are not worthy.
We are less than they are.
I find it infuriating and baffling. What year is this? 2012? Really?
I grew up in time when some men, especially older men in charge of something, still found it easy, their right even, to be dismissive of women. Pat us on the heads. Pat me on my butt. Deliberately stand to close so that maybe his body brushes up against mine, whether I want it to or not. Work for a man. Do what he says. Get used to him assuming he's smarter than I am and gets to tell me what to do.
Call me Honey. Call me Sweetie. Tell me I have a pretty face. Think I'm nothing but a pretty face, with no brain. Expect me to think I'm somehow less than him, because men are in charge.
It wasn't as bad for me as it was for my mother and less for her than it was for my grandmother. But the idea still existed. That we are less than men.
I've been pregnant. Twice. I have two children. I love them in a way I don't think anyone can understand unless they have children. And if there ever came a day that I needed to give my life to save theirs, I believe I would.
But back when I was pregnant with them, when they were not much more than an idea and what I imagined they'd be, what I hoped they'd be? When they were the size of a spec or a bean with no heartbeat, no functioning brain, no ability to feel or reason? When I was 25 or 28 and in every way, I thought, a real person, a human being with basic human rights and a brain and feelings and dreams and people who loved me? To say that my life might not be worthy of being saved in order for that potential for life of one of my children... My life isn't worth as much? Isn't as deserving of consideration or protection? My life doesn't have as much value as the potential of theirs?
Why? Why would we even question that? Because I'm a woman? And somehow less than?
What if, I wonder, I'm 28 and I'm already a mother? I have a son. He's two, and he needs me. I think he needs me very much. He's adorable and so tiny and so funny, so much fun. So vulnerable. So young. He needs a mother.
Does that make me worthy in the eyes of a man? If I'm a mother? Particularly the mother of a male child?
Or is a mother as easy to dismiss as a mere woman? Is a mother less than, too?
And if I'm carrying a girl? Is her life? Her potential for life? Somehow more important and more valuable than mine?
If she grows up, and she becomes a woman? At some point does her life cross the line between being revered and worthy of people fighting to protect her life or her potential life, into being merely a woman and somehow less than?
At what point does that happen, I wonder?
I feel like my generation, right now, is letting her generation down. This is not her fight. Or my nieces' fight.
This is my generation's fight.
I don't ever want anyone trying to tell my daughter that she is somehow less than human. That her life is somehow less valuable than any life or potential life she might create.
(This diary inspired by, "Hi, I'm a rapist..." by my new hero, John Scalzi, a man who really gets it. Wish I'd written that. I wrote this instead. He, I'm confident, will not think I'm somehow less than him.)