A story of bodily autonomy

In 1970, my friend Dina and I met around midnight at the Majestic Diner. I had told my dad about a bunch of money, telling him a lie I can’t even remember. As we sat down at our table, I deposited the $ 800 in a white envelope on the table, feeling like a mobster. Dina assured me I hadn’t gotten that far yet, but the money was meant to fund a crime.

We didn’t talk much while we were drinking our coffee. Dina was nervous, out of breath, about to cry. I held her hand and tried to console her. Then we got into my VW Beetle and drove to a basement apartment near Cypress Street, the city’s popular area for night cruises. The purpose of our trip was to have Dina undergo a so-called clandestine abortion. It was just before Deer vs. Wade legalized abortion. The country, including our own city, was a battleground for women’s rights. For many Americans, legal abortion meant legal murder (and some obviously still do). For many, the illegal status of abortion was just one more example of how our culture and society controlled the bodies of people with wombs. Strangely enough, as many people have opposed birth control as abortion, because apparently women are not women without babies.

I never forgot the expression on Dina’s face as she emerged after the seemingly hour-long procedure of which the surgical tool was the infamous hanger. Dina looked like a little girl, limping and crying, needing to be held for a long time. And, no, I was not the father of the child, although I was still trying to be heterosexual at the time. Dina knew that I had “experimented” from time to time, and we were both clearly aware of our analogous situations. As a woman, she had no legal authority over her own body. As a closed homosexual, I knew that if I went out, I would also lose some authority over my body. I couldn’t legally love freely. Black people, as the Black Lives Matter movement has shown us repeatedly, are also deprived of bodily action in deadly ways. We have more prisons and cops than anyone to make sure. The desperation to control bodies reaches insane levels when it comes to trans children. So the Christian right says a 17-year-old trans girl should be forced to use a men’s bathroom because she was born with a penis. Yes, a beautiful girl walking to a booth in a men’s room will make everyone feel more comfortably natural. If you’re going to do that, idiots, why not make all the toilets gender neutral?

I can’t stop thinking about the difference in mood in the 1970s. I think activists like me were perhaps more optimistic. After Stonewall in 1969, the Gay Liberation Front was born. It was a strongly militant organization that allied itself with other aggressive and utopian movements, including feminism of course, but also the Black Power Movement. He opposed capitalism and called for more freedom of gender expression. He opposed the Vietnam War and other imperialist actions by the US government. Unsurprisingly, the GLF movement did not last explicitly long, given its radical agenda compared to that of its predecessor, the Mattachine Society. Yet the GLF’s usurpation of this organization is in itself an example of the agency’s takeover of the queer body. The Mattachines, who certainly worked bravely, did not at the same time seem entirely convinced that they were not possessed by a pathology. They invited sympathetic psychiatrists to speak at their meetings. Of course, this continues at its worst in the form of largely illegal conversion therapy, where magicians seemingly increase their patients’ self-hatred enough to make them delusional… for a year, maybe.

As of this writing, the Supreme Court must hear more arguments regarding a Texas law that fundamentally enslaves women by denying them authority over their reproductive organs. Incredibly, the law circumvents normal application by empowering private citizens to sue women who they know have had an abortion after being six weeks pregnant. If the fetal vigilante wins, he receives $ 10,000 plus legal fees! Thus, citizens are legally empowered to monitor women’s bodies and punish them. If this law stands up to the Supreme Court’s scrutiny, we’ll see if states can find ways to get people to prosecute gay men for sodomy and grabbing and black people for – I don’t know – voting or acting. derogatory remarks about violent cops.

By the way, I haven’t seen Dina for many years. I did not reimburse my father for financing his abortion. No one owns my body, but I’m trying to decide whether to donate it to medical school for dissection. Can you sue a corpse for this?

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About Larry Struck

Larry Struck

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