Researcher Tresa Undem recently posted a Twitter thread of her “20 Best Insights from the Past Year on Perspectives on Women and Equality”. The whole thread is fascinating, with important information on how different demographic groups (especially men and women and Republicans versus Democrats) view gender and equality issues.
But this is the one that broke me:
2) 40% of Republican voters say it’s “true” or don’t know if “most women get their period first of the month.” (We asked this Q to better understand people’s knowledge in light of the recent 6-week abortion bans)
– Tresa Undem (@teemoneyusa) Aug 26, 2019
40% of Republican men believe that every person on the planet gets their period strength get their period on the exact same day, the first of the month according to the modern Gregorian calendar? Can you imagine?
The fact that so many men understand so little about our bodies is not new information. I immediately remember a (less than) funny treat from Profile of Ann Friedman on Sally Ride, the first American woman to go to space. While preparing for his trip on the Space Shuttle, Friedman writes: “The tampons were wrapped with their strings that tied them together, like a bunch of sausages, so they wouldn’t float. Engineers asked Ride, “ Is 100 the right number? She would be in space for a week. “That wouldn’t be the right number,” she told them.
This quote stuck with me for its absurdity, as I’m sure that 40% statistic will be. And it would be nice if we could believe that this statistic on Republican voters didn’t represent Republican lawmakers as well, but they don’t even try to hide their ignorance either.
The mostly white, male Republican lawmakers who constantly try to legislate on our bodies don’t even pretend to know what they’re talking about, medically speaking. Remember when the representative from Missouri. Todd Akin said that women cannot get pregnant as a result of “lawful rape” because “the woman’s body has some means to try to stop it”?
In the years since that ridiculous moment in 2012, many men whose job it is to influence these things have not tried to educate themselves on the matter. In 2016, the representative from Idaho. Pete Nielsen said, “Now, my understanding is that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy due to the trauma of the incident,” adding, “This may be somewhat true with incest.”
Things have not improved with the recent wave of extreme abortion bans proposed.
According to Slate Christina cauterucci, some Alabama lawmakers were “proud of their ignorance” during a debate over one of their bans earlier this year.
Based on Tuesday night’s floor debate, Alabama’s GOP senators not only looked well below that threshold – they were ecstatic. One of the bill’s main supporters, Senator Clyde Chambliss, showed some confusion over how human reproduction works as he debated Democrats. “I’m not medically trained so I don’t know all the medical terminology and timeframes and that sort of thing,” he said, “but from what I read, what we told me, there is a period of time before you can know that a woman is pregnant. … It takes time for all these chromosomes and stuff.
Indeed, many people don’t even know they are pregnant after six or eight weeks in which states across the country attempt to ban abortion. But why do we expect Chambliss or his colleagues to understand this? They just create laws around these things.
“Republican men with anti-abortion agendas have long taken perverse delight in their illiteracy on the very subjects they insist on most,” writes Cauterucci. “They like to talk about the sanctity of motherhood and the milestones in fetal development; Chambliss, for example, wore a pin on Tuesday night that he claimed was the size of a fetal’s feet after 10 weeks of pregnancy. But when it comes to the inner workings of biology that medical professionals, insurance companies and patients will need to analyze to determine what reproductive health care is legal and when, they plead ignorance.
This insistence on maintaining control over our bodies while at the same time feeling entitled to cling to their willful ignorance is so infuriating. Or maybe I’m overreacting. After all, it’s September 3rd, which means me and the rest of the menstruating world are well in the middle of our period, right?
(image: SETH HERALD / AFP / Getty Images)
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