Guess what’s about to be imported to our island. No, it’s not Starbucks.
On the 17th October, the morning-after pill had been legally introduced without the need for a prescription. Pah, yet another overseas product coated in European liberal left-wing connotations has found its way onto our shores and into our pharmacies’ panoply of pills, right next to the laxatives. Oh, the horror. It’s so foreign, so bħal ta’ barra. Now, youths are going to have sex before marriage. Now, young people will start to cohabit. Now, our women are going to enjoy sex with multiple partners. All of this without asking for the kappillan‘s permission! All this without a care for nanna‘s shrieks of terror or threats of disinheritance. X’waħda din. X’għarukaża.
In the words of Frodo Baggins, it’s done. The women of Malta are now entitled to emergency contraception. It’s a great day for women’s rights, and considering that the possibility of a sexual predator becoming the President of the USA is looming over us, this news comes as a shining beacon of hope to us all.
I won’t be gloating. I won’t be doing a victory dance. I did that yesterday. Instead, I’ll be asking the following of those who were in opposition to the MAP’s introduction, in light of what is to come. So here goes:
Don’t slut shame – This debate saw Malta’s Mediterranean macho misogyny crawl out of the woodwork, with zealous Catholicism as its shielding sidekick. The further into the debate we went, the more some people resorted to degrading women for wanting autonomous control over their reproductive organs. Why? Because the Maltese know that the best way to submit anyone back into the status quo is by tarnishing the individual’s reputation. But that little trick has somewhat lost its magic fairy dust. We’ve learnt that it’s not acceptable to call a woman a whore. We’ve learnt from flailing US presidential candidates and certain medical professionals that debasing a woman’s sexuality will not make you very popular. Women have learnt that when faced with sexist misconduct, it’ll take a lot more than a few cries of ‘jezebel’ or ‘qaħba maħmuġa‘ to make us crumble, and we won’t be the ones looking like the bad guy. So please, in future, refrain from this tactic. It’s very unbecoming of a supposedly civilised society.
Image source: Independent
Be professional – We also discovered through the debate that certain local doctors and pharmacists were ready to do away with scientific impartiality and deny the pill to patients on account of their spiritual beliefs. The powers that be called this “conscientious objection”. The rest of the civilised world calls this malpractice. But that’s all settled now… or is it? We still have some unanswered questions as to when the pill will be introduced and at which pharmacies, and how old the woman must be to legally acquire it. Another more ambiguous question is whether or not these medical professionals will still go ahead and refuse it to patients. Will a woman be entitled to take legal proceedings? Will the case be taken seriously, or will the authorities be lenient in enforcing the law? All of this, I’m sure, will be clarified later on. But rest assured that women seeking the pill will do their research, and they will know where to call should an emergency arise. And they will know who’ll be there to assist them, and who won’t. So please, in future, do justice by your profession, and give us what is rightfully ours in a civil and neutral manner.
Don’t punish your daughters – Our responsibility as adults is not to repeat our forefathers’ mistakes. Let us not punish our girls for their sexuality. Let’s not jeopardise their ambitions and free thought. Let’s train them to be the sole proprietors of their bodies. Let’s not allow our girls to grow up believing that their worth only lies in their sexual and reproductive availability. Let’s educate boys to see women as their equals, and not acquisitions or accomplishments. Let’s hammer home that ‘no means no’. Let’s promote consensual sex. Let’s equally promote condoms and oral contraception. If you have a daughter, guide her in a way that you would’ve liked to have been guided at her age. There are numerous and cumbersome reasons as to why we have sexually active thirteen-year olds – from poverty to male entitlement to the internet’s exposure of adult material to the objectification of young girls to a general lack of sex education. It was appalling of us to force underage victims of ignorance and sexual abuse into motherhood. Do we even realise that forced pregnancy is a crime against humanity, and that this country was a culprit of it for years on end? So please, in future, for the sake of your daughters, their careers, their livelihoods and their mental and physical well-being, teach them about options and autonomy. They are not exclusively reserved for men.