OP/ED: Why Are We Always Questioning A Woman’s Body?


Every time I talk about my body, people always look at me like I’m bold. Every time I discuss the pleasures of sex, my family and friends always glare at me as if I need to shut up.

Being a woman is powerful and uplifting, but when others put the reasoning of a woman in question, it always feels like we are backed into a corner and have to fight our way out. Literally.

From birth, a woman’s body is viewed as a commodity or a template. Something to modulate, critique and abuse. Someone who was created with the same organs as their male counterparts suddenly becomes the subject of public opinion.

This discussion can go in a million different directions. Let’s focus on abortion for now.

In an OP/ED written by Dalton Conley in 2005 for the New York Times,  he argued that the father of an unborn child should have a say in whether the woman carrying the child should be allowed to terminate a pregnancy. He stated, “If a father is willing to legally commit to supporting and raising the child himself, why should a woman be able to end a pregnancy that she knew was a possibility of consensual sex?”

Well, while I understand this “argument” from the male empowerment society, many will be quick the defend the topic they are indeed siding with. Those women shouldn’t have the power to make a decision about what happens to and in their bodies. Or at least alone. While this a big frustration within males who find themselves in this position, the answer remains in the woman’s hands since no one has the right to hijack the body of another for nine months or ever. As long as fetuses reside in the female body, the decision must reside with the woman.

It’s the woman’s health that’s at risk during pregnancy, as well as her career being put on hold as when she’s on maternity leave. It’s my body. No one knows it better than I do, so why why should anyone other than myself question what I decide to do with it other than me. Especially if there is a possibility that it can negatively affect my health? Yes someone else’s health is at risk when they are in my body and by terminating my pregnancy I will be ending their would be life, but by having someone would be life in my body it can negatively affect my body and possibly end mine.

Heart disease is a serious problem that affects the women in my family especially during pregnancy. My mother was diagnosed with diabetes during her pregnancy with me, and my sister, who is currently pregnant, has been on the borderline spectrum for both of her pregnancies. Should I subject my body to that disease just to save another would-be life?  Should women with serious health conditions have to go through an unwanted pregnancy if someone else wants them to have the baby?

In his piece, Conley also argues that “if a father is willing to legally commit to supporting the child himself, why should a woman be able to end a pregnancy that she knew was a possibility of consensual sex? How would he suggest doing this? By making everyone participating sign a  “pre-sex contract” or something of the like?

When Mr. Conley and other men may become pregnant and give birth, they will deserve an equal say.

All the law can require of a reluctant father is money. Not time. Not love. Not bonding.  It is a nightmare to imagine that it could require a woman to relinquish control over her body and life in order to become an unwilling vessel. By forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy, he would force her to care for another life residing in her body and endure medical procedures, appointments and change her lifestyle all against her will. A person cannot be made to donate a kidney against his will, even though it may save a life. Why should we mandate a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy?

No woman should have to face these risks unless by her own decision, even if she willingly had sex without protection in the first place.

Double standards is something that has continually affected women of all races and ethnicities in all fields of life. Whether you are grocery shopping or running for president, it is a hurdle we all face on a constant basis.

As I get older and more mature, I am beginning to learn more about myself and what I believe in. More recently, I have gotten comfortable sharing those beliefs as I slowly come out of my shell.

Even more recently, I have began to realize that I am beginning to despise those who are  misogynistic or sexist. Those who exhibit those behaviors such as nonchalantly pouring out discriminatory words or actions aren’t even aware that they are being sexist. And as more and more people are speaking up about said issues, whether if its about sexism, homophobia or racism, there are still many that shove those problems off as being “not a big deal” or non-existent.

For example, when discussing sex, men are usually praised for scoring as many women as he can or being masculine, while women are slut shamed or looked at as questionable for having a “high body count” or being tough. However, to play devil’s advocate, Men are frequently pushed by others (mostly fellow men) to  lose their virginity or sleep around to prove themselves more of a man, even if they are not emotionally or physically ready. Also, women are taught (by society) to hold out to make themselves more desirable for a future long-term partner, if they don’t hold up to this standard, they can be seen as  “sluts” and “whores.”

In a 2009 study conducted by Social Psychology Quarterly they stated  “according to the sexual double standard, boys and men are rewarded and praised for heterosexual sexual contacts, whereas girls and women are derogated and stigmatized for similar behaviors.” Double standards like these are taught by family, friends and/or acquaintances people meet throughout their life. It’s issues like these that leads to other people making assumptions about different genders, including women about their bodies and what they should do with it, even it it goes beyond her consent.