Degrading and demeaning: In yet another skirmish in the Republican war on women, Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin claimed a pregnant woman is just a “host” for a fetus, and should have no right to end her pregnancy.
Martin, an anti-abortion religious conservative, went ballistic after a pro-choice group sent him a Valentine urging him to reconsider his stance on women’s issues. Martin responded to the request with a blistering, if ill conceived attack, on women, via Facebook. The following is an excerpt:
You can count on me to never get in the way of you “preventing an unintentional pregnancy.” I’m not actually sure what that means, because if it’s “unintentional” you must have been trying to prevent it. And, I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.
Martin has since edited the post to replace the word “host” with “bearer of the child.”
Tarina Keene, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said:
“Sen. Steve Martin obviously has zero understanding of the reality of reproductive choice and what it means for women to have control over their bodies, families, and lives. His remarks demonstrate what exactly these extreme lawmakers mean when they talk about ‘personhood’ – that pregnant women are no more than vessels. Even more outrageous, he also fails to understand how he as a lawmaker can help empower women to reduce unintended pregnancies — something that should be a common goal for all.”
Amanda Marcotte, writing for Slate, sums it up:
Overall, women come across, in this passage, as foreign creatures whose behavior is both alien and somewhat disgusting and who only hold interest to Martin insofar as they are the “hosts” to embryonic life. On the one-to-10 scale of right-wing misogyny, I give this an 8.5: more stomach-turning than refusing to use the word vagina while trying to pass laws controlling it but still falling short of the gold standard, “legitimate rape.”
Following Martin’s anti-abortion, pro-life, conservative Christian logic, a fetus is nothing but a parasite, and a woman is nothing but a host, both are reduced to livestock to be managed and manipulated by men.
Mansplaining is a portmanteau of the words “man” and “explaining” that describes the act of a man speaking to a woman with the assumption that she knows less than he does about the topic being discussed on the basis of her gender.