Sarah Leamon: Right to Know Act raises important issue with call for fining men for wasteful ejaculation

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      Men—do you ever feel as though you have too much bodily autonomy and too few restrictions over your reproductive rights?

      Well don’t worry, because Texas has a bill for that!

      Houston Representative Jessica Farrar has filed a real-life, yet satirical, bill referred to as A Man’s Right to Know Act.

      This bill suggests that men be fined for unauthorized masturbation and wasteful ejaculation.

      It describes any act of ejaculation that is not directly into a woman’s vagina as an “act against an unborn child” and “failing to preserve the sanctity of life”. It also seeks to have them made subject to mandatory waiting periods, unnecessary physical exams and counselling prior to undergoing a vasectomy, colonoscopy, or obtaining a Viagra prescription. 

      Sounds completely insane doesn’t it?

      After all, these are highly personal, and completely private, decisions that relate only to their own bodies? So why should the government be involved at all? 

      The simple answer is that it shouldn’t, and that this bill is insane.

      But it was not introduced by Ferrar to actually become law. Rather, its purpose is a critical one: to serve as a tongue-in-cheek reflection of the absurdity of laws that are already in place, aimed at regulating women’s bodies and reproductive rights. 

      In the state of Texas, women seeking to exercise their reproductive rights face a barrage of institutional blocks and legal red tape that is designed to impede them. Prior to obtaining an abortion, they are made subject to a mandatory consultation 24 hours prior, a viewing session of the fetal ultrasound, and counselling that explicitly discourages them from undergoing the procedure. They are also denied public assistance funds unless the pregnancy endangers their life or is as a result of rape or incest. 

      And it doesn’t end there,

      Texas lawmakers have also attempted to pass bills that would require all fetal remains to be buried or cremated, allow doctors to withhold information about fetal abnormalities and genetic conditions in order to restrict a woman’s informed choice about carrying a fetus to term, and seek to have women and doctors charged with murder in relation to performed abortion procedures. 

      Other states have similar legislation, and many wish to also limit women’s access to preventive birth control options, including the birth control pill and "Plan B". This is all in addition to the federal government’s express intention to defund Planned Parenthood as soon as possible and the recent instatement of Global Gag Rule, which prevents international groups that accept any U.S. health funding from providing—or even discussing—the option of abortion. 

      And while legislators and government officials frame their concerns around protection of the “unborn child,” rather than a desire to control the female body, representatives like Ferrar are calling them on out on their duplicity.   

      A Man’s Right to Know Act challenges representatives who wish to regulate the bodies of women by forcing them to acknowledge their double-standard and confronting them with their own hypocrisy. It demonstrates the absurdity of laws that allow government encroachment into the highly personal and medical choices of individuals, whether they are men or women. It raises the question: if this is how we treat women, then why not men?

      The French feminist group 52 released this spoof of Hillary Clinton signing an executive order banning men from ejaculating unless it was for the purpose of procreation.

      Ultimately, though, we know that men’s bodies will never be regulated and controlled by government interference the way that women’s have been. This is why the now infamous image, created and circulated by the feminist group “52”—which imagined a world where President Hillary Clinton, surrounded by a group of women, signing a ban on ejaculation—was met with such amusement and bewilderment online. It was a sight too strange to be seen. 

      But women are used to it. 

      We are used to seeing all male panels discuss our bodies, we are used to seeing them sign our bodies into law and we are used to seeing male doctors and health-care providers in order to take care of those bodies and hope to access the services that will still be there when it’s all said and done. 

      The truth is that women’s bodies are a political battleground, and that our reproductive rights have been hard fought for. 

      Roe v. Wade gave American women the constitutional right to exercise control over their own reproductive lives in 1973. R. v. Morgantaler followed in Canada in 1988.  But, for many, the battle is still not won—and for all of us, the war is long from over. 

      Ferrar acknowledges that A Man’s Right to Know Act will not pass, but says that wasn’t the point in the first place. She simply hoped that it would start a conversation about the sexist double standards that are taken for granted in laws that regulate women’s bodies and access to medical care. 

      It is safe to say that she has certainly achieved that.