My working-class neighborhood is filled with women who got married to weak, cheating men with substance abuse problems, mostly because of unplanned pregnancies. And these women are working really hard – they go to school, they try to better themselves – but they feel like the responsibility is theirs alone, because that’s the way it’s always been.
As I’ve mentioned before, I never hear about women having abortions anymore. We seem to have pressured and shamed a lot of them out of it, and as a result, the world of women’s options gets even smaller, at least in the working class world.
And that’s why this quote really pissed me off:
NOW’s obsession over abortion is, in effect, betraying a long tradition of American women’s advocacy on behalf of the wellbeing of families and the poor.
I mean, really. Those selfish women who want abortion coverage have abandoned their traditional role as saintly volunteer doormats. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what Theda Skocpol is saying here, right?
And I can’t figure out why. I mean, I even agree with the idea that we need to pass this shitty healthcare bill and fix it later, but there’s just something about this statement that makes me want to smash something in Theda’s face, and in Matt Yglesias’s face for agreeing with her.
Theda Skocpol is an academic, and although she’s certainly had to deal with sexism, she perhaps hasn’t felt the urgency of paying the rent the way the women in my part of the city do. Matt Yglesias went to the Dalton School, and then to Harvard. Whether he understands it or not, he’s had a privileged life.
Not like the women in my neighborhood. One woman tells me she got pregnant in high school by her then-boyfriend, a meth addict. (Lots of meth and crack in my part of the city.) He ended up going to prison for five years, he’s coming out now and she’s falling apart. Because she’s made a new life for herself and her kid. She has a decent job, a nice apartment and a stable environment to raise her daughter. She looks at me, eyes brimming: “He thinks he’s coming out to live with me and my daughter, and I don’t want him in my life. But if I don’t let him move in with me, and he starts doing drugs again, I feel like it’s my fault!”
No, honey, it’s not. Women have been propping up losers for a long time and it doesn’t work, I tell her. But I wonder if she’s listening.
Because too many women have been trained to be saintly doormats, and here we are, listening to the privileged explain why that’s such a useful tool for the liberal political establishment!
Yes, instead of having a serious discussion about how we have to balance the passage of this healthcare bill with the very real need of women to have access to abortion when their financial or emotional stability is on the line, we get a snippy lecture from the academics.
And then they wonder why we’re losing people to the Tea Party.