The pelvic structure needs to be both stable and flexible in women and men – but especially so in women given that their pelvic structures are shallower and broader than mens. Add to this the fact that throughout a women’s life, hormone fluctuations create an increase in a particular hormone called Relaxin that makes the connective tissues around women’s joints much looser than normal. When connective tissues around joints are compromised, when they are weakened or over-stretched, the muscles that surround that joint and that connect with those tissues need to be even stronger to provide the compromised stability. Unfortunately, in the case of the average woman, the muscles around the pelvis, over the course of a lifetime, tend to get weaker, especially in the culture that we live in today which is, by and large, quite sedentary. An additional challenge is the Western acceptance of yoga and the exaggerated focus on increasing flexibility and range of motion. This is helpful for men (whose pelvic structures and joints in general tend to be tighter) but only serves to make women less physically stable.
Part of this weakening can be attributed to life-style choices and, for some women, life-style expectations and demands. Birthing multiple babies creates a repeated physical trauma for the pelvis and a consistent and constant loosening of the stabilizing connective tissues such that, if a woman even had the spare time to engage in physical activities that target the strengthening of the pelvis (and what new mom or mother of multiple young children has such time?) those muscles would have to be developed to an incredible extent to counteract the periodic instability.
But there is another deeper, and perhaps more insidious metaphysical obstacle for women when it comes to creating a sense of strength and stability in our pelvis – the centre of our personal power. The pelvis, and more specifically, the womb is the physical and energetic source of all creation; however, not only the creation of little human beings but also, and equally important, the creation of our own lives. And that metaphysical obstacle has to do with the fact that culturally (around the world in varying degrees) women do not have the last say(or in some cases even the first) about how they want to use their own bodies or even experience their own bodies. In many cultures around the world women are not allowed to decide whether to have children or not and if they get pregnant, the decision to sustain that life, or not, is almost always out of the woman’s hands. This underscores the alarming and ancient degradation of very necessary boundaries around a woman’s sensuality and sexuality and personal power overall.
This lack of empowerment translates to a weakening energetically and physically for the woman - in her place of power, which is demonstrated in the number of women annually who undergo hip replacement surgery and invasive reproductive organ interventions This is purposefully executed. But as purposeful as it is, women still have the capacity, at some level, to claim their power and their rights as human beings. However, depending, on the culture they live in, the claiming of their rights, and especially their reproductive rights (which, by the way men automatically have in tha they get to decide whether they are going to father children or not; men are allowed to ‘waste’ semen by masterbating rather than saving that life force to create another human being) have been severely limited for thousands of years and continue to be the focus of control for lawmakers and religious organizations.
It’s ironic then, that the Roman Catholic Church, one of the strongest critics of abortion, makes abortion a spiritual crime (and has convinced law-makers to make it a crime in the eyes of man-made law), and yet had no qualms about sending adult humans (yes, no longer a fetus, but definitely human) into engagements of war through the Middle Ages when they sent their ‘Soldiers of Christ’ out to war and continues to support through current global conflict either financially or by ‘silence is consent’.
Right wing fundamentalists, Christian or otherwise, often demonstrate the same conflicting behavior…demanding that a woman not be allowed to abort; that ‘life is sacred from conception to natural death’ and so must be honoured (and, by the way, I agree that life is sacred and should be honouerd) and yet these same individuals insist that we ‘support our troops’ as our governments send young women and men around the world to kill other humans or to be killed by them in the name of mythical terrors. The soldiers that die in conflict have often only just begun their adult lives - many of them have young children of their own, or haven’t had the chance to begin the families that they so desire to have. Just how is that an honouring of sacred life?
This paradox seems to never come up in conversations about abortion when lawmakers (and, ironically these lawmakers are mostly men) are making decisions about what women are allowed to do, or not to do, with their own bodies. I love the quote by Gloria Steinem: “If men could have babies, then abortion would be a sacrament.” Okay, perhaps not (or maybe so) but at the very least, it would be sanctioned and funded (as much as the war machine is today).
The decision to end a life (whether it is the shortened life of a fetus or the life of a being who has been birthed) is not one to be taken lightly, nor is it for the feint of heart. I have personally had to make such a decision – to end the life of one of my beloved pets when they were diagnosed with a kidney disorder that had him lose an incredible amount of weight and pass his days vomiting blood. It was the right thing to do to help him in moving out of a place of suffering and pain and yet assisted suicide for humans is considered a crime in many cultures around the world. The fact that it is called ‘assisted suicide’, rather than what it really is, which is an ‘assisted compassionate ending of suffering’, demonstrates that we have separated the value of humans from all other creatures on the planet, including the planet itself.
It is equally ironic that most fundamental Christians call suicide and assisted suicide an abomination in the eyes of God…and yet their very God perpetrated or delegated acts of violence (according to the Bible), seeming to have no trouble at all smiting anyone that disagreed with ‘his’ philosophy and spiritual laws. And even more ironic is that the very individuals who understand and accept the ‘rightness’ of helping an animal to end it’s life when it is suffering, or to cut down a tree that is showing evidence of decay, do not extend the same rights to humans. Ironically, it is the belief that humans are more ‘evolved’ than, ‘better’ than, ‘higher up’ on the ladder of evolution and hierarchy that causes these same individuals to think this way and yet one would think that if humans are ‘better’ than all other life-forms, why wouldn’t we extend the same kind of compassion to humans who are suffering?
Whether one believes that all beings are equal or not, the pre-empting of suffering, for a plant, an animal, a fetus or a birthed human being, is a compassionate act. If a fetus develops severe health issues that would compromise their quality of life, if a baby is going to be born into an environment that is either not safe for them or in which they would experience unreasonable neglect and suffering every day of their life, why would anyone allow that to happen? Why is it not considered compassionate to pre-empt that life and allow that soul to enter the world through another portal that would drop them into a life where they would be honoured, nurtured and loved? The argument that only God is allowed to make that decision is mis-direction. In fact, for the millions who believe that God is within, then God is making that decision when a women is faced with doing so.
Women have always had ways of knowing that, when valued, helped to create optimal situations and life-experiences for themselves and those they chose to nurture. They continue to have ways of understanding timing, through their natural monthly cycles and through the process of labour. Women understand that loving oneself and others sometimes requires difficult actions that feel like sacrifices for the well-being of themselves and others. And so, I invite you to imagine a world in which we actually value these ways of knowing, we honour healthy, personal and necessary boundaries, we cultivate the balance of stability and flexibility and we nurture the personal empowerment of all living creatures.