“‘Are you telling me you are going to have the child?…A child from one of those men?…Why?’
‘Why? I am a woman, David. Do you think I hate children? Should I choose against the child because of who its father is?’” (Coetzee 193).
David, having previously left to continue his work on his life and opera, returned to see Lucy again. He had felt she seemed off, and now sees the reason why. Lucy is pregnant. David, outraged, wants her to have an abortion. But, having already had that procedure in the past, Lucy has decided against going through that again and intends to carry this child to term.
This portion of the book, so close to the end, actually surprised me. Not in a gasping sort of why, but because it offered a perspective on abortion that I don’t often think about. I am a big advocate of reproductive rights, having written an article about it for another class and intending to intern at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England next fall if all goes well. I feel that every woman should have the right to control her own body, and so as such I forget to think about women who still wish to have children even after a traumatic event such as assault.
Usually, you would see the parents insisting that their daughter should have the baby, perhaps not necessarily because they think it was her fault but because it’s not in their beliefs. We’re not often shown the flip side of that, where the daughter would be disagreeing with the parents about not having an abortion. It’s not as though this has never occurred to me, but I suppose I don’t often think about it because it conflicts with my own thoughts.
We don’t know much about Lucy’s life, as we mainly hear things from David’s perspective. We know that she is a lesbian, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she always knew that, especially if she has slept with a man before and became pregnant. It could also be that she had been assaulted in the past. But whatever her reasoning the first time, she knew she did not want to have a child. Now, she is not necessarily excited to have a baby, but based on that quote, she doesn’t think that she should punish the baby based on who the father was or what he did.
I think I can see others using this argument, that children are born innocent. That they should be given a fair chance at life. Again, it’s not what I believe, but it’s something I should probably keep in mind as I advance further into advocacy of women’s rights. That some women would not see it as a stolen choice, but as a responsibility or moral courage. I still think that what Lucy and others went through was awful and that shouldn’t have to take on that burden, and I know that there are still plenty of other women who would disagree with her as well. However, at the end of the day it’s up to the woman herself what she should do with her life, and ultimately that’s what I hope to fight for.
How might Rawls’ notion of social contract theory, of everyone entering a society as equals, conflict with the pro-choice perspective? Does an unborn child have the same rights to equality as the mother or father?
Class Discussion and Impact:
My contributions: I spoke less today, but I don’t regret that as there were many interesting ideas and voices to hear from. Going off of something Anna said, I noted that men tend to process emotions in more of an external fashion whereas women tend to focus internally. I shared my QCQ, talked about personal connections of parental disagreement and how Lucy’s decision was ultimately her own. Finally, I connected this reading to Coates in terms of how things such as racism and rape are portrayed and how that can create confusion.
Others’ contributions: Maeve talked about the importance of sexism over racism, how David’s lack of presence in Lucy’s life changed how he approached the situation, and brought up the painting in David’s office which may have conceptualized rape as only an act of violence for him. Jack talked about Petrus, his audio cut so it was difficult to make out but I believe he was saying that it was interesting if not confusing how David had such a great dislike of Petrus who ultimately ended up becoming a ‘solution’ to the problem. Finally, Sinead brought up the important point about rape being about control and dominance, with any resulting pregnancy being more of a side effect rather than an intentional act of mating.
I was happy to finally wrap up this book, as it wasn’t one of my favorites. I think as always we had a very engaging discussion, approaching topics such as feminist theory and reproductive rights. I think ultimately my point in my QCQ was embedded in a lot of the conversation about autonomy and agency. I especially feel like the final point about justice being a luxury is significant. Not everyone has the means nor the courage to make a private affair public, not only for risk of their life but also because they believe it might cause too many problems. While this is certainly a problematic view, it gives context for why many people do not come forward after a violent act is done to them. As my friends have been saying in my english conversations, context is very important, but ultimately people’s decisions about their lives will still be their own. We must respect those decisions even if we don’t agree with them.