I’ve been thinking about Stupak, and compromises, and patriarchal religious groups inserting themselves into the legislative process. I’d like to propose an alternative compromise to Stupak and the others currently in the legislative mix. No, it’s not perfect; but I think it speaks to the perceived needs of some of the anti-choice power brokers in the debate. Plus, it’s short! Only two stipulations with two corollaries. (And no, I have no idea what format bills usually follow. This is a blog post. Work with me.) Ready? I propose:
1. No abortions of pretend children.
Because you know who is really easy to love? Pretend children! They can be anyone you want them to be! That pretend boy can be the son you never had – who, manning up enough to stifle his tears, says at your funeral: “Everything important in life I learned from my father!” That pretend girl can be the daughter you might have taken to the daddy-daughter dance, where she would have worn a clean white frilly frock and looked up at you adoringly, pleading, “Twirl me again, Daddy. Please?”
I think we can all agree that pretend children – those who have no concrete existence whatsoever, but who, as hypotheticals, obligingly receive adult projections about childhood – should not be aborted. Heck, a pretend child is always safe, affordable, desired, and convenient. A pretend child shows up on your terms. And when you’re tired of a pretend child, he or she is whisked off to become someone else’s problem. Awesome! Who but a tar-hearted monster could want to get rid of a pretend child before she even has a chance to twirl in her pretty frock?
Corollary to 1: Actual human fetuses are not the same things as pretend children. (Hell, actual children are not the same thing as pretend children, but that’s a whole ‘nuther post.) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Democrats For Life, etc.: do you see the difference? Actual fetuses are particular and concrete, do not exist in ways unthreatening to the woman in whose body they live, do not lend themselves to easy moral absolutes, and do not yet at this point want to twirl with you at any daddy-daughter dance. Whatever else we end up talking about, can we PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE FREAKING begin by agreeing on this, please? Do you need me to explain it again? No? FANTIDDLYASTIC. THANKS. COMMON GROUND IS A BEAUTIFUL THING.
2. The Best Caregivers for Pretend Children are Pretend Mothers
It’s not easy being nothing more than a projection of someone else’s wishes, and pretend children have got to be taught how to do it, from… their pretend mothers!
Pretend mothers bond with their pretend children in ways you and I cannot understand, but can only observe with rapt piety. Is that pretend baby boy hungry or thirsty or tired? Ask his pretend mother; she will know. (Well, I mean, not know-know, obviously. It’s not as though she has a unique set of circumstances requiring constant prudent judgment, let alone set of specific skills that are a credit to her. I just mean that she will know, in the same mystical and precious way that the apple tree “knows” when it’s spring or a lamp “knows” how to give light. Things do what they’re designed by someone else to do, you get me?)
She’s hard to spot – the pretend mother, I mean – because she takes up so little space. Or perhaps I should say she takes up just enough space to remind us that good mothers don’t take up too much space. Occasionally we’ll catch a glimpse of her, yielding and compliant; suffering even the worst indignities with a shrug, a good attitude, and heroic self-sacrifice for which she never asks for credit. “Little old me?” she asks, smiling demurely and looking at the floor, revealing the lines around her eyes that have come from years of smiling beatifically. “Oh, heavens. It was nothing.”
And in fact it was nothing because – being pretend – she doesn’t actually need social support, or an income, or to be assigned work that bears some relation to her unique interests and skills, or recognition for that work, or the ability to exercise any control over her own circumstances. She doesn’t even really exist! You gotta love that about her!
Corollary to 2: Actual human women are not and never will be pretend mothers. Pretend mothers don’t exist. Actual human women are actual humans, whether or not they have children. Religious anti-choice conservatives, are you prepared to say otherwise and see what that gets you in terms of political capital? No? GREAT. FINE. AWESOME. I ASSUME THAT WE AGREE. THANK YOU.
I think we are making real progress.