In the movie “Definitely, Maybe“, Dakota Fanning asks her philandering father the question “What’s the male word for ‘Slut’?” To which he sheepishly responds “They’re still working on that one.”
It’s sad that in this day and age, the slang word for a female who is suspected of having multiple intimate partners is still an accusatory, denigrating term (“slut”); while the nearest equivalent for a male denotes admiration or envy (“stud”).
Ultimately, this reflects the ongoing imbalance of power between men and women in this society. While there has been steady improvement over the last century or so, our language, laws and social expectations still grant men dominance and marginalize the role of women in relationships and society; we are far from resolving the problem.
This dichotomy has been highlighted in recent attempts by some Christian leaders, and political leaders at both the State and National level, to cast the issue of reproductive rights for women as a “freedom of religion” issue.
In my own view, this is alarmingly disingenuous. “Freedom of Religion” has always meant the freedom to practice ones’ own faith without interference from the state. It does not include the right to impose ones’ religious beliefs on others, nor the right to practice ones’ faith in a way that causes harm to others.
Yet, this is what is being proposed by those who are using the “Freedom of Religion” argument in the current controversy, that I, as a person of faith, have the right to determine whether another person has the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Or, to put it less grandiloquently, has the right to determine what is best for themselves.
So, which of the two trumps the other? Should “Freedom of Religion” take precedence over our right to self-determination? I think not. To do so would push our nation in the direction of a Theocracy while turning the cry of “Freedom of Religion” into the perfect excuse for avoiding any responsibility or law that we find distasteful.