© Josh Sager – February 2014
In order to be successful, every politician needs one of two characteristics:
- A sincerely-held set of beliefs, backed up by a constituency that is willing to support their advocate (ex. Elizabeth Warren or Ron Paul).
- The ability to pander to their constituents with a combination of euphemism and compelling lies—these deceptions are used to placate the electorate, while the politician enacts their own agenda against the wishes of their voters (ex. Barack Obama or Ted Cruz).
Unfortunately, most modern politicians fall into the latter category, as the infiltration of money into politics has eroded the integrity of politicians of both parties (although the GOP is far more corrupted than the Democrats).
Every once and a while, a politician who falls into this second category is caught off guard, or is simply too stupid to talk in their euphemisms and ends up saying what they truly believe. We have seen these slips in the past—such as when Republicans accidentally admit that voter-identification laws are being passed to disenfranchise African Americans—and will continue to see them for as long as some politicians continue to be fake (I.E. forever).
This week, a particularly stupid slip-up by Virginia State Senator Steve Martin (R) revealed his thoughts on women in relation to their autonomy over their bodies. Here is a screenshot of the offensive segment of Sen. Martin’s Valentine’s Day Facebook post:
Sen. Martin’s characterization of pregnant women as simply “hosts” for a potential child and stance that they should be denied a choice for an abortion reveals the heart of a large part of the Conservative right’s objection to abortion: the possibility for abortion gives women control over their bodies and prevents them from becoming stuck as un-choosing “hosts” for an unplanned pregnancy.
While there is a legitimate moral debate surrounding abortion (ex. when it becomes too late for abortion, due to the capacity for a developed fetus to feel pain), many on the right clearly care more for controlling women than the life of a potential child—after all, these people couldn’t give a damn about the child after they are born and are the first to hand her/him an imaginary pair of bootstraps. The religious right hates abortion because their religion dictates that men should control their relationships with women and that women who have sex should be forced to bear children (either to raise in a marriage or as punishment for sex out of wedlock).
Ironically, the offensive segment of Sen. Martin’s post isn’t that he refers to pregnant women as hosts, but that he refuses to allow them to choose whether or not to remove the parasite that is growing in their bodies. Sen. Martin is technically correct that women in the early stages of pregnancy are “hosts” to a foreign body of parasitic cells that drains them of nutrition in order to grow. Those who share Sen. Martin’s belief that pregnant women should be legally forced to remain as unwilling “hosts” to a parasitic growth are simply rejecting their right to control their own bodies as equals with men.
There is simply no analogous situation with men, as any parasite that we could hope to get is legally and rapidly removed or chemically destroyed at the wishes of the host. This imbalance makes it hard for many men to empathize with the plight of an unwanted pregnancy and leads many religious men to hold a dogmatic line on the issue of choice.
The next time that a religious conservative starts talking to you about the sanctity of life, just realize that they don’t see the woman as relevant beyond their capacity to sustain the potential life inside of them—to the zealots, these women aren’t living, breathing, beings with their own autonomy, merely hosts.