Body parts and being human

Body parts

by digby

This is an excellent piece by Jill LePore in the New Yorker on the Komen issue. It's all good, but this is just an excellent observation:

In American politics, women’s bodies are not bodies, but parts. People like to talk about some parts more than others. Embryos and fetuses are the most charged subject in American political discourse. Saying the word “cervix” was the beginning of Rick Perry’s end. In politics, breasts are easier to talk about. I first understood this a few years ago, when I was offered, at an otherwise very ordinary restaurant, a cupcake frosted to look like a breast, with a nipple made of piped pink icing. It was called a “breast-cancer cupcake,” and proceeds went to the Race for the Cure.

I don't know if some people can understand how dehumanizing this is. Obviously, there are a fair number of both sexes who don't see it that way. But to me, this gets to the real gist of the issue, one I've only vaguely been able to grapple with by using hyperbolic phrases like "gestation vessel." But it's more than abortion or childbirth, although the desire to control that vital human function lies at the heart of this. It's about reducing women to their various body parts. "You get to control this bit, but we'll control that bit, and we like this part but don't want to talk about that part and ... are you complaining again?"

The obsession with fetuses and uteruses and birth control, the fetishization of breasts (in all ways, not just Komen's breast cancer branding) and the ongoing double standards in political and public spaces like this commonly forgets the human being who happens to own those body parts. I think that's what women commonly feel --- and one reason many of us are so adamant about this. It's not just about a discrete set of issues. It's about women being treated as fully human.