It’s Uncle Ian storytime.
The writer Warren Ellis relayed a story about Hypatia of Alexandria. She was a philosopher, an intellectual powerhouse. She also refused suitors with reckless vehemence. Upon one man professing his love for her, Hypatia waved her bloody menstrual rag in his face and shouted “This! This is what you love, young man.”
Hypatia was dragged through the streets and stoned to death by a Christian mob in about AD 415.
Her primary work at that point was the beginnings of calculus, something she’s often not given any due credit for. Mankind didn’t get back to calculus for another thousand years. Take a second and imagine that, right there, the patriarchy and its holy mandate had buggered off and left her to complete her work. That’s scientific achievement one thousand years ahead of the curve. Moon landings by about 1200. Flying cars and jetpacks by…when? 1300?
Ellis uses this story to talk about a world without Christianity. I sympathize, but that’s not quite what I’m about. After all we have to play the hand we’re dealt. What I want to do is prevent the next stoning.
That there’s a war on women in America is undeniable. That it’s fueled by right-wing Christians is also undeniable. I don’t see legislation about male contraception, about condoms or about Viagra. Because God knows if you’re old enough to need the little blue pill that it’s only for procreation. Rick Santorum, one of the GOP frontrunners, espouses these views daily. Mainstream media echoes him constantly. Rush Limbaugh waves his hateful microphone like a Righteous Phallic Bludgeon and I don’t think we need to argue over who exactly his supporters are.
This is all coming to a point: Hypatia was a blueprint for today’s Christian Right. Women are at best empty vessels there to be filled according to this worldview. They’re not allowed to be or fill themselves. And the only thing they can fill the world with isn’t knowledge but progeny, more arrows in the quiver of God.
Woe unto a society that can no longer murder a woman for refusing to populate god’s quiver, right? Need to get back to those Basic Christian Values. No longer acceptable to preach to them through blunt force trauma. So these Taliban for Jesus choose a different stroke instead: pregnancy by legislation. By trying to force their morals into law the options to prevent or terminate pregnancy are ruthlessly narrowed. We are now stoning our Hypatias with semen. Not quite as easy for a woman to do groundbreaking scientific work when she’s pregnant, constantly shamed and has the choice to allow state-sponsored foreign object rape by ultrasound or keep an unwanted fetus.
We can’t kill her anymore so let’s just kill her options. Praise be to god, and population sustainability and personal choice to be damned. Progress be damned. Calculus be damned.
But praise be to god.