The Texas Legislature has passed its strict new abortion bill, severely restricting the availability of safe abortions. The reproductive health of women is now at risk in Texas and a number of other states who limit or prohibit abortion. For now, the white guys who claim to know what’s best for women have won. The assault on women’s reproductive rights by the nut fringe of the religious right continues, and it is time for those concerned with women’s rights and human rights to take stock.
We are witnessing a continuation of the ancient dance of the sexes in which men pretend to control the sexual exchange through strength and aggression, while women allow them to make believe, even as we assert complete control over when, where, how, and with whom the fucking occurs.
Through control of sex, women control virtually everything else. This is the source of great fear and consternation among men. At best it results in harmless Rodney Dangerfield-style jokes (“Take my wife. Please!”). At worst it results in rape, torture, murder, and war. And legislative attempts to control women’s bodies.
A bunch of years ago I starred in a movie musical with Jeannie Crain and George Nader titled The Second Greatest Sex. It was an adaptation of Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, in which the women of Athens have grown weary of losing their sons and husbands in the Peloponnesian War and decide to withhold all sex until the men stop the fighting. Second Greatest Sex was a western set in Kansas, and was downright seditious for a Universal movie in 1955. The war in Korea and Joe McCarthy’s rants about communist spies were still recent memories, and President Dwight Eisenhower had begun sending “advisers” to Vietnam.
Lysistrata is pure subversive comedic theater–so sexy and funny you barely notice the message that Pussy Power could, if women were willing to band together, work miracles. It is a mystery to me why women don’t do it.
If we put our collective, world-wide vaginal energies together, nothing would be beyond our reach. Pussy Power would end wars; shut down the fundamentalist sects of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; humanize our totalitarian corporate state; establish universal health care; end hunger and homelessness, and force Haagen-Dass to make enough chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
This is not to trivialize the desperate need for safe abortions, information about contraception, and guidance on family planning that all women should have access to. It is a word to the wise that there needs to be solidarity among women now. In addition to the potential within us to create life, we must also realize our potential to control it.
My heart goes out to the women of Texas.