This weekend, twitter offered once again a glimpse into the nasty underbelly of misogyny with #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend trending all day Sunday. Most of the tweets keeping it trending were people saying how awful it was, with another big chunk saying that feminists should get a sense a humour. But the remainder were a pretty shocking indictment of attitudes towards women. And the bit I found most shocking were the % of tweets citing pregnancy as a reason to beat your girlfriend.
Both preventing and dealing with pregnancy appears to be solely the responsibility of young women. The number of retweets of ‘because she’s pregnant’ really staggered me. I know that these tweets weren’t meant to be taken literally (and yes, I know I shouldn’t have even looked), but even so, this idea prevailed that pregnancy was a women’s problem. It was something that your girlfriend did to you.
And this reminded me why contraception and abortion are feminist issues. I’ve always argued that a woman’s right to control over her own body is a fundamental feminist principle, and the what about the men argument has always made me grind my teeth. But actually here was evidence on a massive scale that these are women’s issues. Here were young men in scarily high numbers repeating the idea that pregnancy wasn’t just their girlfriend’s problem, it was a problem their girlfriends were to blame for.
I am sure it’s a heartbreaking situation to be a man that wants a baby whose partner doesn’t. But lets count the number of times this happens. Against the number of women who find themselves blamed for falling pregnant and at best abandoned, and at worst trapped in abusive relationships, or murdered for their sin of falling pregnant. It might take two to make a baby, but society sees pregnancy and children as women’s problems.
There are many, many reasons why I’m prochoice. But this nasty trending topic reminded me of another one. It’s not feminists that are making abortion a woman’s issue, it’s society. And those people trying to reduce access to contraception and abortion services are deliberately, thoughtlessly and carelessly trying to limit women’s lives. I’m angry that so many people thought this was a fun hashtag to make jokes around. But I’m furious that people don’t see the reasons why prochoice policies are absolutely vital.