By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
But there's a big difference between verbal aggression and physical aggression. You know, in England there is a thing called the provocation defense. What that means is that a man whose wife has been nagging him for years can snap one night and beat her to death, cut her up, put her in separate plastic bags, distribute her around the suburbs, clean up the house, blah blah blah, and he will walk, because the judge will say, "Poor you, you were driven beyond endurance." So I will not accept any parallel or equation of verbal aggression with physical aggression, because too many women have been killed for speaking.
Of course, but what I am saying is that women are also capable of physical aggressiveness, which is something our culture plays down.â
Look, I am prepared to lose all of my arguments. I'm 60 years old; the world, in a sense, doesn't belong to me anymore. But I'm not prepared to have these arguments never raised.
Do you have any instructions for us American feminist activists? What do we do now to -- to make a really internationalist, and socialist, and body-proud feminist movement?
I'm really bad about that kind of thing, and I never know where we should intervene. I think, for example, that we should protect the women who are being victimized because they're accepters of abortion. But at the same time, I think we should be trying to make common cause with the pro-lifers, because we have a common cause with them. We are concerned about the issue. We don't want the issue trivialized. I really want people to understand that abortion is a difficult area, that it causes pain, and that it is a blasphemy to pretend that it's a privilege.
Well, I'm someone who's had two abortions, and there was no pain and grief at all, just relief. I also have children, and I do get upset with the idea that, yes, you ladies can have an abortion, but only if you suffer over it, only if you're miserable, only if you regret it for the rest of your life. Or at least pretend to.
No, but -- if the experience is trivialized, if you're not given a chance to even enter into it, then you carry that burden the rest of your life. What I cannot bear is to have access to an invasive procedure to end a pregnancy that should never have begun in the first place, presented to women as a privilege for which they should be grateful.
But it's not a privilege, we fought for it. And getting back to the idea of making common cause with the right-to-lifers: That's been tried in this country, and it's been a waste of time.
Abortion isn't in any danger. It's here to stay. It just wastes an awful lot of our energy, having to fight for a right which is really not in any danger.
There's no question it's in danger here. We see the right to abortion eroding all the time. I mean, look at the fact that Medicaid, our pathetic equivalent of a national health service for poor people, doesn't fund abortions for poor women. In that sense, abortion is a privilege in this country. You have to be able to pay for it.
You know, I grew up in a system where we used to always find money for abortions. We used to take the hat around in the pub. And you'd end up with your 120 quid, and off you would go.
Okay, although I'm not going to recommend that as a substitute for Medicaid funding. Here's something else I've always wanted to ask you. There's a big change, it seems to me, in your writings, or thoughts, on attitudes toward sex -- from the ebulliently lusty tone of The Female Eunuch to a fairly jaundiced attitude toward sex in The Whole Woman, where you complain about women being pushed too much into being sexually active. But I feel that a real sexual revolution for women hasn't happened yet. That there's no problem of there being too much sex for women, or too much good sex, I should say. Did you change your mind about sex, somehow? And why?
Well, I don't think so. I mean, when I wrote The Female Eunuch, the idea seemed to be that, um, if you were unsuccessful in your pair bonding, if you'd had a number of sexual partners, then you were promiscuous, you were a failure, and what I was anxious to argue was that if you have chosen all your sexual partners, if you weren't just capitulating to their demands, if you honestly desired every partner you'd ever had, you weren't diminished in any way by the fact that you'd had lots of them. The important thing was always that you were expressing your own sexuality, and not capitulating to somebody else's. And now, I find that it's much more that you have a duty to be sexually active. That if you're sexually choosy, there's something wrong with you.
But maybe the way to get to that point is an insistence on pleasure. Too many women become sexually active in ways that are not pleasurable. I think we should teach this to girls in sex-ed classes, for example, that sex is supposed to be pleasurable. And if it isn't pleasurable for you, don't do it.
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