In November 2010 for a brief few days the nation was abuzz because a 31-year-old male software programmer caused a dustup over new airport screening procedures which, allegedly, brought the hand of a Department of Homeland Security inspector a bit too close to the programmer's personal software. "Don't Touch My Junk" became an instant headline.
Pundits and politicians, especially male ones, publically empathized with a man who did not want another man to touch his private parts. OK, I think I get it. To protect the homeland and keep America's skies safe, we bomb the hell out of Middle Eastern countries, but if a pat down gets too personal, well then, the sanctity of the male sex organ has primacy.
While I was puzzling over that, it occurred to me that men might take a minute to consider the policies, programs and cultural norms that make the female sex organ a matter for public study. For millions of women around the world, everyday is an airport pat down.
Listen to Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn in their powerful book Half the Sky: "One of the scandals of the early 21st Century is that 122 million women around the world want contraception and can't get it. Whatever one thinks of abortion, it's tragic that up to 40 percent of all pregnancies globally are unplanned or unwanted -- and that almost half of those result in induced abortions. By some measures, more than one quarter of all maternal deaths could be avoided if there were no unplanned and unwanted pregnancies."
Here's what strikes me, as a male, about the denial of reproductive health services for women (that's code for contraception, health education, family planning, safe abortions, etc.): Shouldn't men and women alike be able to say, "don't touch my junk"?
When your junk is not under your own control, the stakes are high. For instance, family planning saved Georgette who by age 38 had already been pregnant 20 times. Thanks to the harsh conditions in war-torn Central Africa, seven of her babies died of starvation when her breastfeeding was prematurely ended because of another pregnancy. When Pathfinder International stepped in to offer Georgette reproductive health care and a choice to avoid her 21st pregnancy, a better life for her and her children began.
You can watch a video about Georgette below.
Pathfinder's well-managed budget devotes 88 percent of revenues to health clinics, contraception, healthcare for pregnant women, prevention, tough-minded advocacy, youth and teen education, etc. The focus is Africa where the need is greatest.
British historian Arnold Toynbee once noted, "We have been God-like in our planned breeding of our domesticated plants and animals, but we have been rabbit-like in our unplanned breeding of ourselves." With nearly 7 billion people already on the planet, more is not better.
Theologians argue over when life begins. Physicians declare when it ends. In between, adult women should decide for themselves when their junk gets touched, by whom and for what reason.
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