I heard an old line repeated today, one I am particularly weary of hearing. I imagine most of my readers have heard it as well. It originated with Gloria Steinem: "If men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."
I figure after hearing this line so often, I thought I'd examine it a little more closely and see what, exactly, this little nugget entails. First I'll make a few quick remarks about the line in general, then look a little more closely at three of it's four key terms: "men", "abortion", and "sacrament". I'll leave pregnant alone.
Lines like this always call to mind Aslan's words to Lucy in Prince Caspian: "No one is ever told what might have happened." Lewis felt this point was so important Aslan repeats these words to Lucy again in Voyage of The Dawn Treader. The whole basis of the claim "If men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament" is upon exactly what Aslan claims to be impossible: a knowledge of what might have happened. This line has no proof, can have no proof. The worst part is, if it has no proof, neither does it's refutation. To say "No it wouldn't!" has no more factual basis than the original claim. Therefore we have a statement which can neither be proven nor disproven, only accepted or rejected. Rejecting or accepting this line depends, therefore, on our understanding of its terms.
"Men" is the first term of this little line. Before I speak to the use of this word in this statement, I just want to reminisce a little about the days of yore, about men and women in general.
I have never known, or met, or even heard of a man who claims to understand women. The very fact that men do not claim to understand women, in fact, that we very often and quite readily claim not to understand women, is the basis of many a dialogue at pubs and bars all over the world. It is even an unspoken understanding that leads to conversations like this:
(Man sitting on bar stool says with an exasperated sigh): "Women!" (For emphasis he shrugs his shoulders with upturned hands at the same time, whilst wearing an expression of utmost confusion on his face.)
(Man beside the first man): "I hear ya, bro. I hear ya."
So men do not claim to understand women. But here I have often found something of a blind spot with women, including many of my female friends from years ago: Women sometimes think they understand men. After all, we men are so simple. We belch. We watch sports. We like sex. That's about it. How hard is it to understand that?
Of all the women I have known who claimed to understand men, none believe they understand us better or more thoroughly than the feminists I used to run into at university. Now, what did they understand? They understood that men are to blame. That men are the root of every problem, the block to every dream, the prime mover of all the evil that haunts the world today. In one feminist article after another that I was forced to read in my studies, I read of this straw entity that they created and proceeded to pile upon it all their hate and contempt, this cause of everything wrong and unjust, and they named this straw creation of their mind names like "the Patriarchy," "Masculinity", "Males" or just plain "Men." Men in this construction was simply a word those feminists used as a summation of everything they hated.
So onto the second term: Abortion. Without looking at what abortion is, let's examine how the word often functions today.
As a term, as a contentious term, it is curiously not available for debate or discussion. Here no government will touch it. Recently, my old university banned a debate on the subject, before allowing it to happen, though under protest. Anyone who tries to open a discussion on the topic is subject to ridicule, personal attacks and sanctions. It is a marker of how far you are willing to go, what you are willing to do. It is a hot button issue. Stating your position on the question immediately places you in a pigeonhole in ways no other question can. In short, the word takes us directly into the third term: Sacrament.
For that is what abortion has become. It is set apart and enshrined. It is held aloft, untouchable, undeniable, unspeakable. It is a sacrament for those who hold a woman's right to choose as holy.
So to sum up, let's go back to the syllogism: If Men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. But if I am correct, and abortion is a sacrament, that means those who have raised it to such a level must be "men", or at least, must bear their attributes.
Congratulations, those who speak this line. You have become what you hate.