Q24N – Two articles today on the Zika virus say a great deal about the way the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and about people in Central and South America. And yes, its relevant.
The Washington Post says the CDC is “incredibly condescending” warning your women. The publication asks, Does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention know how pregnancy works? and the information on their handy infographic as part of their monthly Vital Signs report.
Alexandra Petri writes in the Post, “Who knew that drinking alcohol could give “any woman” a sexually transmitted disease? That’s the last time I drink merlot alone in my apartment. I don’t want herpes.”
The Dame Magazine headlines “The Three Letter Word Missing From the Zika Virus Warnings”, once again, the burden of sexual and reproductive accountability falls squarely (and solely) on women.
Paula Young Lee writes:
Hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, hardly anyone had heard of the Zika virus or the condition to which it is now suspected to be linked. Microcephaly is a rare congenital condition where infants are born with undersized craniums.
Though Zika’s exact relationship, if any, to this lifelong condition has yet to be determined, WHO has declared Zika a global emergency, and government officials in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and El Salvador are “advising women to avoid getting pregnant, for fear that the fast-spreading Zika virus may cause severe brain defects in unborn children.” Officials outside affected countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are advising women to ‘avoid traveling’ to those areas.”
Notice anything odd about these warnings? No? All of these warnings to women about getting pregnant have managed to avoid a particular word. That word is “men.”
Rather than telling women to ‘avoid pregnancy’ in the manner of avoiding a pothole, why are none of these assorted agencies telling men to stop having procreative sex until we know more about Zika?
Why does the very suggestion of any government recommending men to practice abstinence for two years seem like a joke? The cultural reflex to hold women accountable for male lust and subsequent reproduction is so ingrained that we don’t even notice the asymmetry.
Indeed, it strikes the domesticated mind as verging on unreasonable to hold men morally responsible when pregnancy is unwelcome, unwanted, or, in the case of the Zika virus, a potential public health disaster. Yet women do not “get pregnant.”
Men impregnate them. Most times, and in most places, the old fashioned sex way, the kind that made Barbarella’s hair stand on end.”
These are going to be some heartbreaking stories, and I hope the public is ready to deal with them.