If you pay attention to reproductive rights, you know the War on Women never really went away, even if that exact messaging did. It seems like every day over the past couple years, you had only to check out Rewire or the New York Times to find that some state legislature was running some reprehensible, woman-dehumanizing bill, like Texas' clinic-closing travesty HB2, or Indiana's creepily prescriptive fetal funeral situation (thanks, Mike Pence!), or Ohio's attempt to ban abortion early and often.
The latest in this misguided, ongoing effort comes to us from Oklahoma, which is considering a bill that would require women to get their male partners' permission before obtaining an abortion. I have my qualms with The Intercept (mainly I think Glenn Greenwald's decision to spend his time subtweeting Rebecca Traister is at best poor form and at worst soft sexism) but it's got a fascinating story on the mastermind behind this tragic piece of garbage disguised as policy, Representative Justin Humphrey. Here is the best/worst part. Emphasis mine, because OMG:
Ultimately, he said, his intent was to let men have a say. “I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions,” he said. “I understand that they feel like that is their body,” he said of women. “I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”
I'm sorry, but hosts are allowed to decide who gets to come into their house, are they not? And if we're talking "host" in the sci-fi sense, well, I hope Mr. Humphrey is prepared to go to bat for the rights of ovarian cysts with teeth and hair, because his problematic choice of language puts embryos in the same parasitic category.
That "host" language is scary, but it's telling women they "feel like" their body is theirs that makes me want to scream in my car like David Schwimmer in The People vs. OJ. Because, come on. I don't "feel like" my body is my body: I KNOW my body is my body, because it carries my brain and inner life around and IS MY FUCKING BODY. Being wistful is a feeling. Having a body is a fact—a fact Humphrey and his ilk appear to struggle to understand. I mean, I know misogynists think women are stupid, but when you can fact-check an argument by looking down at your lady-body and saying, "Yep, still here and still mine," welp, that means it is A BAD AND DEHUMANIZING ARGUMENT.
But at least Humphrey isn't pretending this is about babies or some shit. So I think it's time we dusted off the term "War of Women" and put it to use again. There is a reason The Handmaid's Tale shot to the top of Amazon's bestseller list last week, and I'm betting it's not that everyone suddenly has amazing taste in books.