The “pro-life” anti-abortion/anti-contraception misogynist backlash against women’s hard-won right to bodily autonomy accorded by Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut was launched by various wealthy conservative Congressmen and male dominated Christian organizations the moment women were recognized as being entitled to the fundamental human right to have some minimal say over our own bodies.
The backlash began with the punitive Hyde Amendment which targeted poor women for conscription into childbirth chattel slavery under false pretenses of “morality” by blocking Medicaid funding for abortion, even in the case of rape or danger to the mother’s health and life.
Poor women were deemed exceptionally promiscuous and “animalistic”, thus sub-human and in need of punishment for having sex outside of the auspices of patriarchy’s stranglehold. Reticence to fight Hyde head on and failure to repeal Hyde allowed misogyny, cruelty, enslavement, and sexual/reproductive torture against women and girls to remain normalized.
Normalizing abuse and deprivation of human rights for half of the human race was accepted because of the Hyde Amendment, and because of humanitarian pro-choice groups’ collective failure to press the case of Roe v. Wade as a non-discriminatory natural human right — not just a constitutionally framed privacy right.
The Hyde Amendment was introduced in 1973 immediately on the heels of the US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. Hyde passed in 1978, sending the message and reaffirming the patriarchal notion that any woman engaging in sex for pleasure without the intent of procreation is an immoral slut. It also sent the message that the fundamental human right to bodily autonomy is a social class privilege reserved for the discreet enjoyment of rich women, but a basic human right for ALL men. This classist, sexist, misogynist message was reaffirmed in 1980 by the US Supreme Court in its ruling on the Harris v. McRae case.
Abortion was castigated as “immoral” and the taxpayers should not be obligated to subsidize something morally repulsive. Prior to Roe and Griswold v. Connecticut, women had two choices: risk death from dangerous childbirth or risk death from botched illegal abortions performed by black market back alley butchers. For poor women across the US today, the situation remains the same.
Since Hyde was passed, Medicaid has not paid for a single abortion for poor women impregnated by rape, incest, or in situations where continuing the pregnancy seriously compromised the woman’s health or threatened her life. Consequently, untold numbers of low-income women were forced to endure a health and life risk imposed on them. Rape victims were thus violated twice: first by their rapists, second by being forced to suffer dangerous unwanted pregnancies and excruciatingly painful childbirths that permanently changed their bodies and lives against their will — leaving their bodies and psyches (often permanently) damaged.
The “Moral Majority” justified this legalized torture, chattel enslavement, and abuse of women and girls under the false pretense of a “pro-life” position. But their claim of a moral high ground fails miserably. In all of their rhetoric about the “sanctity of life”, the life, health, liberty, and wellbeing of women — whose wombs they’ve held hostage and whose pussies they’ve deliberately injured by force of law — has been completely disregarded. This just goes to show that they really don’t give a crap about life. They’ve written off the already-born, living, feeling, breathing, thinking woman who is demonstrably more of a person than any potential contents her uterus may (or may not) warehouse.
The reason they devalue women as people and refuse to acknowledge that women are human enough for harm to matter is because they truly hate women. Women’s genitalia are “nasty” and “evil” to them, so forcing women to suffer permanent injury or maiming to their genitals from childbirth fulfills a deep seeded desire to destroy and inflict torture and trauma on women’s very sensitive sexual organs suits them just fine.
Institutionalized misogyny with horrific consequences for women began with Bronze Age superstitions promulgated by some desert nomads’ vindictive deity — as told in the Biblical myth of the “original sin.”
Misogyny and a strong irrational desire to inflict trauma and death on women is the underpinning of western civilization. Patriarchal Neolithic scribes supplanted a powerful preceding tradition of matriarchy, fertility, and wisdom. The ancient feminine-centered superstitions frequently depicted snakes as a symbol of wisdom and as women’s companions. Early fertility statues of fecund goddesses with voluptuous breasts and hips, often ripe with pregnancy, were replaced by a sadistic male god — the authors of Genesis wanted to supplant a pagan tradition that disgusted them. The sensual, fertile goddess was transformed into the instrument of death, shame, and “sin.” They punished her sexuality with pain and oppression.
The “original sin” was used by early church “doctors” as a vehicle for expressing their revulsion and disgust for women’s bodies. Saint Augustine wrote in the early 4th century regarding women, “What is the difference whether it is in a wife or in a mother; it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any other woman.”
Men like Augustine, Pope Innocent VIII, Martin Luther, John Calvin hated women and projected all guilt upon women, branding women as lustful weak-willed evil-doers who seduce men away from a divine male god — leading them astray from a virtuous path to salvation and immortality. The “original sin” enshrines the myth of feminine evil as justification for torturing, maiming, oppressing, and killing women.
The history of men’s attitudes towards women is a legacy of deep loathing with horrific consequences. The famous work, Malleus Maleficarum, was concocted by two neurotic celibate Dominican monks who were dispatched by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484 to investigate and purge all “witchcraft.” The Malleus Maleficarum states that “all witchcraft comes from the carnal lust, which is, in women, insatiable.” An entire chapter on how female sexuality destroys male sexuality is titled, “How, As It Were, They Deprive Man of His Virile Member.”
Medieval women were tortured and killed on charges of witchcraft for using herbs to mitigate excruciating labor pain, risk of death from hemorrhaging, and to treat painful destructive injuries to women’s genitals from childbirth.
The Church held that inordinate suffering (and even death) in childbirth was God’s punishment for Eve’s original sin. In the 19th century, clergymen influenced the law to criminalize the use of chloroform when it was introduced to ease women’s suffering during childbirth — on the grounds that providing any pain relief to birthing women was immoral and contradicted God’s word. This attitude remains prevalent across the US today — normalized with the excuse that pain relief for birthing mothers are bad for their babies.
Men’s seething hatred for women’s bodies extended far beyond a desire to inflict torture and cruelty on women during childbirth. It led to the criminalizing of contraceptives and abortion. Any expression of sexual desire by women was considered depraved, filthy, and corrupt. It pegged women as whores — the daughters of Eve.
Middle and upper class Victorian Age men used prostitutes (poor women without means of economic support) to satisfy their most debased sexual appetites while demanding purity of their wives. Middle and upper class women and girls who defied convention by daring to express their sexuality were diagnosed as “morally insane” and committed to barbaric mental institutions. Others were “cured” through FGM —clitoridectomy — by physicians. These same doctors held the view that menstruation was “dirty”, “dangerous” and a “curse inflicted because of Eve’s sin.”
When obstetrics and gynecology became formalized medical disciplines, medical doctors denounced women’s bodies and minds as defective. They used “scientific studies” to justify excluding women from higher education, political participation, and economic opportunity. The underlying woman-hating motif of the “original sin” is deeply interwoven throughout western society. It permeates our language, laws, medical practice, psychology, art, and literature.
In the English language, there are over 220 derogatory words for a sexually promiscuous female and only 20 (mostly complimentary) for a sexually promiscuous male. Our language promotes and reaffirms bias against women.
A “master” is a man with authority while a “mistress” is the kept woman (subject to her male lord). The word “sir” is a title denoting respect while “madam” refers to someone who runs a whorehouse. Even the word “woman” can be used as a pejorative to insult men. The words frequently used to describe female genitalia — “cunt”, “slit”, “crack”, “hole” — reflect centuries of sadistic male contempt for women’s bodies.
Even modern obstetrics treats women’s genitals with callous disregard and a seemingly brutal desire to inflict pain and injury on women. Women across North America are robbed of their dignity and need for autonomy and privacy during childbirth. They’re subjected to “routine procedures” against their will that are questionable, humiliating, and painful.
A birthing woman faces cold, sharp metal instruments being rudely shoved carelessly into her vagina by inconsiderate doctors. She is forced to endure unnecessary and painful episiotomies — her vulva is cut to speed delivery after which she is sutured up again, often with a “husband’s stitch” to make her “tight as a virgin” for her husband’s future sexual pleasure. Meanwhile her own is often severely damaged, or at least diminished by the pregnancy/childbirth experience.
Men have inherited centuries of fear, loathing, and ignorance of women’s sexuality and they feel justified in blaming women for male violence and injustice. Rape is still the only crime where the victim becomes the criminal. Conventional wisdom contends that female sexuality makes men lose self-control, abrogating men of any responsibility for their actions. Male dominated courts and legislatures feel justified in passing punitive laws denying women equal rights and most importantly, the right to have control and ownership of their own bodies.
Men are entitled to enjoy all the sex they want, women are not. Although pregnancy and childbirth pose serious risks of permanent damage to women’s health, wellbeing, bodies, and lives, the denial of a woman’s fundamental right to sexual expression without compulsory maternity is couched in the term “you should have kept your legs shut.”
Male responsibility for preventing dangerous and unwanted pregnancy is rarely, if ever, acknowledged or accepted in the US — the same country that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the west, and in which a woman is raped every 3 minutes and battered by an intimate partner every 18 seconds.
Psychoanalysts suggest that the male ego is extremely fragile due to a fragile male gender identity. They say this is because little boys don’t identify with their mothers the way little girls do. As boys grow up, they’re taught to set women apart as “the Other” by resisting intimacy with women and treating women with contempt and violence. This is how men assert their own independent and fragile masculinity. But in distancing themselves from women over the sands of time by setting themselves up as superior, it must be humiliating and confusing to need and desire women so much. This leads one to conclude that heterosexual male desire is tormented and rife with conflict.
Making love to women can be both empowering and wonderful for a man while also making them uncomfortably vulnerable. During love-making, a woman can “bring out the soft, wild, naked baby in him.” 
This places men at risk of discovering the awesome power of feminine sexuality which contradicts and undermines their own social, political, economic, and physical power. Female nurturing has been promoted as the solution to male violence, but women have been the under-valued nurturers that society has taken for granted all along. It hasn’t stopped misogyny and male violence towards women. Germaine Greer once said that “women have very little idea of how much men hate them.”
Centuries of violent, sadistic, suppression of female sexuality by cruel and spiteful clergymen in league with ruthless elites give a good indication of the depth and degree of that hatred. Misogyny is a putrid boil on the face of humanity that has festered for centuries to the point where the deliberate infliction of torture and abuse aimed specifically at women has been normalized for a very long time.
It’s not a coincidence that this specious “pro-life” movement with its nefarious agenda of destroying women is 77% male, 100% of whom will never have to endure pregnancy and childbirth at peril to their own health, wellbeing, and lives. The only “life” they care about is the potential male fetus’s life. Girls don’t count, they’re disposable vaginal respirators. Women’s lives be damned. If women don’t like it, they should “keep their legs shut.”
In the wake of “Conscience Clause” laws and “fetal personhood” laws which have placed access to sterilization, reliable contraception, and abortion in the event of contraceptive failure out of reach for many American women, childbearing-aged women (from ages 10 – 55) get 2 choices: live in terror of unwanted pregnancies without any remedy, or be deprived of a healthy adult relationship and sexual intimacy. 80% of American women have no access to reliable contraception, including the option of sterilization or access to safe, legal early term abortion in the event of contraceptive failure.
Germaine Greer was right: the western manufactured re-packaged feminine sexuality is demeaning and contemptuous of women. It robs women of their natural rights and political autonomy. It inculcates a sense of shame and self-hatred in women about their own bodies. The result is powerlessness, imposing childbirth chattel slavery on women against their will, isolation, a diminished (or non-existent) sexuality, and often a complete deprivation of any joy that makes life worth living.
Nothing is more hateful and callous; nothing says “you’re of no consequence” more than forcing women into childbirth against their will, and then torturing them and degrading them during the birth process.
Being denied autonomy, privacy, respect, food, adequate pain relief, while being yelled at for being “weak” (and even slapped) for screaming from the flesh-ripping bloody agony that birth entails is all part and parcel for the childbirth experience in most US medical facilities.
Being humiliated by having to give birth without privacy, flat on your back, your legs spread-eagled degradingly on the delivery table with your business exposed for everybody to stare at (or even film) while heaping their personal value judgments on you like movie critics; having the most sensitive part of your womanhood probed, prodded and roughly pried open by impatient hands that are all too eager to pry/cut/tear the most sensitive part of your genitalia in a rush to greedily wrest the “prize” from your pain-wracked, bleeding, exhausted and battered body is proof of just how much women really are despised.
Once delivered, being left exposed without dignity, your legs still in stirrups, lying weak, exhausted and helpless in a pool of blood, feces, urine, vernix, meconium, and amniotic fluid — forgotten while everyone’s concern is solely for the fruit of your womb and not you — nothing says “you’re of no value” louder than that.
 “The Mermaid and the Minotaur”, Dorothy Dinnerstein (Harper and Row 1977)