Most citizens believe sexist double-standards shouldn't be tolerated. So what to do when double-standards are voiced by self-proclaimed feminists? Comments made this week at Pink Wave 2013, a rally sponsored by the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice at the state Capitol, raise the question.
Not surprisingly, rally speakers attacked Oklahoma lawmakers who support anti-abortion legislation, arguing that the decision should be left to women.
But at the same event, Martha Skeeters, OCRJ president, complained Oklahoma leads the nation in incarcerated women. She argued alternative sentencing would allow mothers to stay with their children.
We support diversion programs, but we find Skeeters' logic bizarre. If women can be trusted to make their own decisions and live with the consequences when it comes to having an abortion, shouldn't the same standard apply to women who decide to break the law?
And why stress the separation of mothers from their children when incarceration also separates fathers from children (not to mention the permanent separation that abortion creates)? Should the law treat criminal parents differently based on gender when each commits the same crime?
Skeeters also argued for comprehensive sex education classes for youth. Yet schools can already provide those courses, subject to local school leaders' discretion — and parents can have their children opted out. Skeeters' comments suggest she's fine with politicians intruding on private parental decisions regarding their children's learning about the birds and bees, but not similar efforts regarding citizens' abortion decisions.
Rather than opposing government interference in private matters, Pink Wave speakers encouraged it — with the exception of abortion. Our political process is designed to balance the countering claims of private autonomy and societal good. But there's no reason to pretend the state should grant deference to a woman's decision to bring a baby into this world (or not) but not to parents' practical decisions regarding a child's upbringing.