Trusting Women and Freedom

Over at Pandagon, Amanda raises an interesting issue about the subtext of the phrase “trusting women” when used to argue for reproductive freedom:

Okay, in all honesty, I think the phrase, while well-intended and certainly catchy, is bad framing. I don’t trust women, not all women. Hell, I don’t trust myself on occasion. We are all capable of bad decision-making, as anyone who’s had a hangover or an ex-boyfriend who calls you at work and harasses you can attest. (*cough*) The phrase “trust women”, while most definitely not intended this way, upholds the frame that women’s freedom is dependent on their adherence to certain social norms. To make it very clear, I don’t think Jen is saying this, but it’s a framing issue.

I’ve always viewed the “trust women” as whom do you trust more in terms of making a better decision on average: some idiot theocon political hack in a state legislature who knows nothing about an individual woman’s circumstances, or the woman who is dealing with the particulars of her own personal situation? (answer: the woman most of the time–don’t get all reducto ad absurdum on me here). Truthfully, I think most people can be incredible idiots much of the time when it comes to their personal lives (the Mad Biologist included).
And that raises another issue: once someone has been an idiot, what next? Do we then use pregnancy as punishment? If you’re part of the Coalition of the Sane, of course not. We then have to trust the woman to make what she, and not some distant theocrat, thinks is the most moral decision. That’s what freedom means.
But ultimately, as others have noted, reproduction freedom is just that–freedom–and shouldn’t be drastically limited by popular vote.

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