Women’s Rights In A Post-Apocalyptic WorldFebruary 16, 2012 1 Comment
Once a week, I transform into a sci-fi geek girl. Under cover of darkness (and a pink blanket), I proudly fly my geek girl flag as I watch three hours of the re-imagined TV show, Battlestar Galactica (BSG) with the two good friends.
Last week, the episode we watched was entitled “The Farm.” One of the main characters, an ass-kicking white woman pilot, was kidnapped by the bad guys in the show (robots called Cylons who are bent on destroying the human race). Her character is deceived into thinking that she is in a “resistance hospital” by a human-looking Cylon doctor when in fact, she is in a facility that harvests women’s eggs. At one point in the episode, the Cylon doctor lectures her on how young, healthy women’s bodies like herself are the single most important commodity in their post-apocalyptic world. In a later episode of BSG, the president (a white woman) outlaws abortion based on the belief that doing so would increase the population in this post-apocalyptic world.
As a believer in women’s right to choose and as a woman of colour who is constantly told that my life is incomplete without children, I pointed out how problematic these episodes were. My male friend chose to disagree. He said such ideas were “acceptable” in the context of a post-apocalyptic world. This begs the question: are women’s rights temporary luxuries we have today? Who “grants” women these “luxuries?” If the world were to end tomorrow and we found ourselves needing to rebuild the human race, would centuries of women’s rights activism be lost in a single day for the “greater good?”
Let’s look at the one-child policy in China which favours the “greater good.” This controversial policy has actually worked in controlling the population of China. In fact, as someone pointed out to me, most nations will probably enact some form of “population control” policy in the coming century as we deal with increasing population. The only difference between China and the post-apocalyptic scenarios I described is that the aim is to decrease instead of increase population. Either way, women and our bodies are central to the issue.
Although I agree that there are times where we need to think about the greater good before individual desire, I am unsure if taking away women’s rights to their bodies is the way to go. The right for a woman to choose what to do with her body is one of the most fundamental issues in feminism. Historically, and presently, women’s bodies are controlled by the state and its policies, by men in power who tell us that this is so. If a nuclear holocaust happens tomorrow (God forbid), will nubile women like myself be forced to have babies? Will birth control and abortion become illegal? Who will be making these decisions? If the answer is rich, White, straight, able-bodied (conservative) men, we are pretty much screwed.
I eventually talked to my male friend about what he said and it took quite a while for us to understand each other. But once we did, it was ridiculously easy to come up with alternative ways of how the BSG episodes should have played out. Instead of outlawing abortion, why not offer baby bonuses and incentives to people who choose to have babies instead of punishing those who choose not to? Why not listen to women’s experiences and seek advice from feminist scholars? If a nuclear holocaust was to happen tomorrow, my hope is that the people in power try to do what my friend and I did — listen to each other and work together to find a solution we can all agree on.
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