We aren’t debating abortion, we are fighting the patriarchy we exist in, where men hold predominant power and social privilege.
By Rabbi Tamara Kolton, Ph.D.
I love men. I am the mother of the most generous, caring son and the wife of a man who has blessed me with his devotion for 23 years. My problem is not with men. My problem is with patriarchy.
Patriarchy is a system of society or government in which men hold predominant power and social privilege. Like all systems of power, patriarchy seeks one thing and one thing only: self-preservation.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, the people who profess to be pro-life are primarily motivated by the desire to maintain their way of life. I am 100 percent sure that, if they could, along with making abortion illegal, many of them would vote to put slaves back in the cotton fields.
Their message is the same as it was during the Salem witch hunts.
Their message is the same as it was during Jim Crow.
Their message is the same it was during the Anita Hill hearings.
It is as cruel as it is insane.
Yesterday, I was emptying out my teenage daughter’s leftover lunchbox as she sat next to me in the kitchen watching the television show Once Upon A Time. The storyline was about a beautiful young woman who had been cursed. “The only way to reverse the spell is with a kiss,” the narrator explained. And who has to kiss her? Her captor. She must make him fall in love with her, kiss her and then she will be free. Sound crazy?
Remember the story of Beauty and the Beast? Belle is captured by a large, overwhelmingly powerful, angry male creature. He locks her in his castle. But they fall in love, kiss and the spell is lifted. I loved the musical. I saw it on Broadway. But come on. No woman in her right mind falls in love with her captor. And captors are not knights in shining armor in disguise or misunderstood beasts. They are characters in a misogynistic mythology that goes all the way back to the bible itself.
Think of our first myth, the myth of Eve. Eve is the very first person to have the chutzpah to take charge of her body. She eats the apple and because of this, Paradise is over. Forever. For everyone. Yes, Adam is punished too, but he is not blamed. Eve is blamed for all the suffering that all men will have to endure until the end of time. The need to control women entered the matrix of society as the most essential norm to maintain the patriarchy.
This is the reason why we are not really debating abortion in our country. The debate on abortion is almost a distraction. It has so much less to do with saving “unborn children,” as it has to do with controlling women, terrifying females and sending a message to people of color. I do not believe for a minute that the men (and women) of Alabama and Missouri and Ohio and Michigan advocating for abortion restriction sincerely care about the lives of all children.
Do you think that they are going to protect and provide for the children who, as a result of the new laws, will be born from rape and incest? Do you think they will include the mothers of those children fully and completely in society? Invite them to church picnics?
Don’t be distracted by the conversation on killing babies in late-term abortions. The fine white folk who are trying to overturn Roe Vs. Wade don’t really care about “unborn babies.” They really care about maintaining power. They care about money and privilege and staying in charge, especially of women.
We must see them for who they really are: Predators whose worst nightmare is powerful women with self-esteem.
Tamara Kolton is an independent rabbi in the Detroit community and the author of the upcoming book, Oranges For Eve: My Brave, Beautiful, Badass Journey to the Feminine Divine.