“Aren’t You Lucky to Have Decisions”: What It Means For Women to Have a Choice

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Today, in Texas, legislation will probably pass that will restrict abortion rights to such an extent that the procedure will effectively be impossible to obtain. Two days ago, in New York, the state legislature failed to pass the Women’s Equality Act, which was designed to “strengthen the state’s laws against sexual harassment, human trafficking, domestic violence and salary discrimination.” Why didn’t it pass? It included “provisions [that] would have strengthened abortion rights language in state law.” Yesterday, on The Awl, “pickup artist” Ken Hoinsky was interviewed by Maria Bustillos about his book Above The Game: A Guide To Getting Awesome With Women. The book, a “seduction guide,” raised thousands of dollars on Kickstarter but has been widely criticized for promoting rape culture because it advises men to do things like “Physically pick [a woman] up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.” So this is where women are in 2013, still having to fight for the right to make our own choices about our own bodies. Still needing to say No over and over, being aware all the while that our voices might be ignored on purpose, as some kind of romantic strategy.

Despite the fact that support for abortion in America is at an all-time high, with 70% of the country believing that Roe v. Wade should stand, antiabortion activists have taken what is termed a “piecemeal approach” in restricting a woman’s right to choose. In a state like New York, where there is less danger of a woman’s access to reproductive choice being infringed upon, it can feel like living in a protective bubble where no matter what is going on elsewhere, we will still have our rights. That’s why the failure of something like the Women’s Equality Act is so alarming. It is incredibly worrisome that a State Senate which combines New York Republicans and Democrats would shoot down legislation that was intended to do things like “[ban] employers from denying jobs or promotions to workers because they have children, [and bar] landlords from discriminating against victims of domestic violence,” in order to deny what they perceive as the spread of abortion access. It is also more than a little troubling that New York even needs to pass legislation that bans “sexual harassment in workplaces with fewer than four employees.” Apparently that is not illegal at this juncture.