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A bad week for bodily autonomy.

I grew up with a feminism where the slogan “My body, my choice” was a cornerstone of our beliefs. Feminists had fought for reproductive rights, we had moved from a world where only married women were allowed to go on the pill to one where women were seen to be people in their own right.

What went wrong?

This week started with fighting the amendment to the modern slavery bill which would have criminalized all forms of sex work and possibly dating or taking your partner out on valentine’s day. It was added onto the ModernSlavery bill in the kind of underhand tactics that swerfs love, and of course showing their usual lack of concern for the victims of trafficking. The argument is that consenting adults should be criminalised because someone, somewhere, has an issue with what they are doing with their body.

From the OED, autonomy is;

Freedom from external control or influence; independence:

We defeated the attempt to tell us which freedoms sex workers are entitled too, sadly Canada did not. A coalition of the right, who have consistently denied women the right to autonomy, passed a law based on the idea that only some women deserve freedom from external control.

Which brings us to Wednesday and the Sex Selective Abortion bill. The right to bodily autonomy must include reproductive options, however the same people who in general oppose sex work decided only some women should have their reasons to have an abortion. The arguments are almost identical to the anti sex work ones. These feminists claimed that they did not want the women to be criminalized, they had feelings about the women, they were trying to do good. It was simply that the reasons the women had for choosing an abortion were wrong, and damaging to a society as a whole.  The fact, that just like criminalization of sex work, this law will target those women who are already more oppressed under our society has been ignored. White saviour feminism is based on the belief that lesser women don’t need, or deserve full autonomy, since they are not capable of exercising it responsibly.

While not a gendered issue the continued refusal of the Samaritans to withdraw #SamaritansRadar is another blow to the bodily autonomy of those who are among  the most marginalized in our society. People with mental health issues have been told that discussing harm they might do to their body is upsetting to others, and so “for their own good” they can be secretly monitored without their consent. Sound familiar?

This has not just been a bad week for bodily autonomy, it has been a deeply frightening one where those with power and privilege in society have said that the rights of those who are marginalized must be limited, for their own good, and for some imagined greater good. Like many I am afraid of what the next step might be, where the next attack on my rights to be seen as a full participating member of our society might come from.

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This entry was posted on November 7, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .

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