Ignoring this casual murder of the English language, let us reflect for a moment on the actual meaning. Who is speaking, and what is it about? Perhaps some further dystopian development in factory farming, involving even worse mass abuse of lady cattle and their baby cows? Or more positively, maybe a breakthrough in medical research? What are we talking about here – bacteria? Fungus?
Women, actually. Lady humans. The unintelligible sentence was uttered not by some rabid internet loon, but by an Oklahoma state legislator. A public servant with legal power. Republican Justin Humphrey — a man who wears a Stetson — suggests that if women are “irresponsible” enough to get pregnant, their bodies no longer belong to them. They are “hosts.” Like John Hurt in Alien, but with less legal rights.
Ahhhhh, the ownership of women’s bodies. There you were, walking around all independently with your own arms and legs, breathing through your own lungs, as if you owned yourself. Don’t be silly. Of course you don’t. Certainly not the bit equipped to grow future humans.
What about our elbows or the backs of our knees or our ear lobes — can we keep sovereignty over them? Our necks — are they ours? Or is it just the place that has the ability to gestate an actual penis, says Humphrey, which is not ours, but belongs to the state? Didn’t Margaret Atwood write a sci-fi dystopia about that decades ago? Phallocentrics like Freud tried to foist the idea of penis envy upon women, but the real envy — seeding a pathological desire to control — involves uterus envy. Fallopian envy. Ovarian envy. The Oklahoman legislator would get along great in Ireland with our own laws on lady body ownership — perhaps a state visit might be in order? There’d be lots to talk about. We ladies could make the tea, and nod and smile.
Or, if you have a slight headache from grinding your jaw, or sore arms from clenching your fists, you could watch British comedy slasher movie Prevenge. It’s about a pregnant woman — written, directed and starring very-pregnant-in-real-life Alice Lowe — who is “hosting” a baby girl. Let’s just say this foetus is more slash and slice than sugar and spice; she cuts through everything from the infantilisation of pregnant women (“baby knows best”) to the slew of losers who cross mummy’s path.
It won’t make people like Justin Humphreys and his ilk disappear – that would be like trying to eliminate methane from the atmosphere — but it might make you feel less furious for 1 hour 28 minutes. And if, on March 8, enough of us go on strike – removing our entire bodies from the workplace, via our feet, with the rest of us — torsos, heads, the lot -following — that might suggest ownership of ourselves to those who legally define us as mobile incubators.