Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Your Fetus Is An Alien!

To me, a fetus sounds like an alien in a bad movie. The Fetus From Outer Space. Or maybe, The Fetus Inside Me. You want to abort it, right? I kind of think that's the idea. It's why the Court uses the word. To make humanity seem alien and different.

I mean, fetus, to my ears, sounds slimy and gross. I'm a pro-lifer and I want to rip it to pieces. "Oh my God, fetus fetus fetus! Kill it, kill it, kill it!" I don't have a uterus, but if I did, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want a fetus sliming around inside it.

It's like that awesome flick, Alien, when that poor guy had that alien inside him. "Oh no. I've been impregnated by a monster. It hurts. It hurts." And then the alien baby bursts out of his stomach.

Say you're pregnant. You've got a little baby inside you. Now picture an alien! Yuck. If you are hostile to the idea of being pregnant, of having this creature inside you, Alien is an over-the-top proxy for the revulsion and disgust you would feel. And some people really do have strong antipathy to pregnancy.

Now, I'm not saying all abortion-themed art is worthwhile. (Remember Maude). But Alien is an awesome work of art. It is a wonderful example of hysteria and fear some people have about pregnancy. "There's a baby demon monster inside me, get it out, get it out!"

You think the guys who made this movie were influenced by feminism? I kinda do. I think they are attempting to show people what it's like to be a scared, pregnant woman. They want us to feel the primal fear of having an alien inside your body. It's dangerous. And gross. The lesson of Alien is that you don't want any alien babies inside you, and you damn well don't want to give birth to one.

Now, Ridley Scott has made some dumb-ass movies about feminism. G.I. Jane, anyone? Thelma and Louise? But Alien is not a dumb-ass movie about feminism. It speaks volumes about a mindset of a person who is squeamish about having an alien fetus inside their body. And it makes us squeamish, right?

On the other hand, billions of women have been pregnant, and billions of women will get pregnant, and I am not sure "alien creature inside me" actually describes the experience of maternity. Lots of women, not just Republicans, kind of feel that the creature inside their uterus is a baby. I'm not saying these women are right, just reporting on the zeitgeist.

It seems to me, as a matter of rhetoric, somebody is wrong. Either all these happy pregnant women are using the wrong word, or the fetus rhetoric of the Supreme Court is wrong. Either these women are humanizing and naming and loving a fetus that has the moral value of a nullity, or the Supreme Court is dehumanizing and reducing and nullifying a human baby who is actually one of us. They both cannot be right.

At this point, you might say, what about choice? Can't some of us choose to call it a baby, while others choose to call it a fetus?

I kind of think our naming power is limited to our ability to name. We don't actually have the power, when we name, to affect its reality. You cannot click your heels three times and turn a baby into an alien object. Likewise, nobody has the power to turn an alien object into a baby. Either it's an object or it's a baby, irrespective of what we call it. All you're doing is clicking your heels and naming what is inside you. We have the power to name, but that's it. I am pretty sure there is an objective reality outside our subjective name-calling.

Every time the Supreme Court says, "fetus, fetus, fetus," they are telling all of us, and particularly the millions of happy pregnant moms, that we are delusional. It's not a baby inside you. Nothing to get excited about. It's a nullity. It doesn't exist. Oh, one day it might exist, but right now it's a nine-month state of legal non-existence. Why are you naming it? Haven't you read our caselaw?

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