Think of the future matching this face.
(Courtesy of collegecandy.com)
The title formed my initial response to the person who posed to me a question that seemed easy enough to reply when I was first asked this:
"Bakit ba feel na feel mo ang topic ng RH, di ka naman mabubuntis, diba?" (Why are you so passionate about the RH Bill, it's not like you'll get pregnant, right?)
And, yes, as someone born biologically male, I won't get pregnant soon. Or ever.
On the surface, it seems like a fair question: why would someone (1) who doesn't have ovaries or a uterus, (2) who doesn't know what it feels like when the "regular visitor" comes every month, (3) who will never have to endure the intense agony (to understate it) of giving birth, and (4) will never have to feed anyone off one's body at the oddest hours, be utterly concerned with the right to decide how to plan one's family or the need for sex education to prevent teenage pregnancies?
The more I mulled about this seemingly innocent question, the more it dawned on me that this comprises a big component on why we are having difficulty passing the RH Bill. The question itself is laden with the very sentiment I was having a hard time pinpointing, but which became crystal clear once I spent time trying to answer it in any satisfactory manner.
It's not going to happen to me, so it's not my concern, and it shouldn't be yours, as well.
So, I would like to give a better response to the person who asked me this question, and it starts out with this: Just because I don't know what childbirth feels like doesn't mean I have to make it more difficult - and sometimes even fatal - for those who have to go through it.
I do not have to be a woman to know that they are still marginalized, cast aside, and ignored, their voices largely made out to be shrill when they are screaming in pain, and accused of being bitches whenever they instinctively draw their claws in a desperate attempt to be heard.
It is in the same vein, when I stand with people of color who are still discriminated on the basis of that uncontrollable quality, because I do not have to share color to know what being judged on something uncontrollable feels like.
It is in the same vein, when there is this gnawing ache in me when I hear children are abused - physically, sexually, emotionally - because I was a child once, and while it was not a "perfect" childhood, I was able to experience it without wondering when my very person would next be violated upon in ways that we should not even be thinking of inflicting on adults.
It is in the same vein, when I was told that there is only one "true" religion, that anyone outside of it was to be considered filthy and one who has chosen to wallow in debauchery and insatiable evil, that I found myself intolerant of intolerance, and I could not, in good conscience, call someone "evil" just because they happened to have chosen a different set of guidlines to live their life by.
The sum total of my life experiences - thus far - has led me to many realizations that have strayed far from the lessons that were taught to me as "indisputable" when I began my journey.
We each get one life - this one - and it would be the most hideous of tragedies if you would choose to spend it trying to live up to someone's belief of how you should run it. We are all distinctly, and amazingly unique. Until we realize the gravity and magnificence of that idea, we will still feel the need to belong to the herd, just because it has the cocoon's warmth of safety.
Not everyone will undergo both the joys and travails of childbirth - I am told that it is a package deal - so it is but right that when it does happen, you are prepared, in all ways. This is not a designer bag that you can just return whenever you don't "feel it", and it's certainly not something you can discard and replace it with next season's offering. (Technically, one could, but at a steep emotional cost.)
A child is to be treasured and loved, not someone seen to be contributing to the family income while other children are in school.
A child should never be made to feel like a curse, the heaviest of burdens, the bane of a family and its reason for not making any headway into economic relief.
A child is not to be seen as an extra pair of hands asking for alms.
How can a child be brought up, cared for and provided for, when the parents cannot even do the same for themselves?
It is time to eradicate this cultural insistence on bahala na (let's leave it to fate). Anyone who applies this on an individual level is free to do so - it is your life - but it is terribly unfair and unconscionable to force that world view on someone who is in no capacity to refuse it nor support him or herself.
We do not live in a vaccum.
We should act accordingly. All of us.