What Is Wrong With “No Uterus, No Opinion”?

By Soumyaseema:

The famous American sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S holds a special place in our hearts. And its legacy is no less exceptional. Even after 25 years, we have hardly forgotten any of its catchphrases or even its dialogues, for that matter. Even if somebody has not watched the show, the catchwords are too popular to not know.

“No uterus, no opinion” is one such saying. As catchy and witty as it sounds, it can also be a little outdated, as many would insist.

Which Episode Was It?

It was the 14th episode of the eighth season. Joey, unable to contact Ross, takes Rachel to the hospital as she complains of severe pain in her womb. After a preliminary examination, the doctor assures that she has not gone into labour yet, and it was the Braxton Hicks contraction.

In the meantime, Ross, on receiving Joey’s message, reaches the hospital. When Joey tells him that pain was due to some Braxton Hicks contraction, Ross, in a patronizing way, comments that most women do not even feel it.

It is in answer to this that Rachel replies-No uterus, No opinion.

What Does It Mean In The Present Scenario?

The general message behind this saying is not very complex. It is simply a way to say that men can never empathize with the process that a woman undergoes during her pregnancy as they do not personally experience it. And therefore, they are not equipped enough to judge whatever a woman has to endure during this journey.

In the present day, this also extends to women having the sole right to make a decision about her body. It should be up to her to determine whether they want an abortion or not.

This pro-choice argument may also seem important, especially when women are constantly being denied the final say over their bodies. This quote rightly questions the hegemony of white (or upper-caste) privileged men over the legal rights of a woman.

What Is The Problem Then?

The fact that the mother’s decision regarding her unborn child should get precedence, cannot be refuted. Having said that, the phrase, “no uterus, no opinion” also encourages the growth of a culture where men could easily take a pass on such significant issues using the simple logic of why should I bother when I do not have a uterus.

The matter is also a political one. If we go by the above-mentioned reason, it would just give another excuse to the world-to care less about women and their concerns when they are already hardly interested in it. And when we cannot get them to listen to us, how do we expect them to change for the better?

The problem with this phrase is that it keeps other social groups completely out of the equation. The more sensible solution to me seems to be their inclusion into the correspondence, along with an effort to educate them and enable them to make a well-informed choice.

It will endorse a responsible outlook towards affairs that are not a part of our immediate concerns. Moreover, it is not the labour of the marginalized to interact and educate the oppressors. The change has to come from within, and such statements are not helping the case.

Besides, restricting the reach of the problem by calling a woman’s issue is blatant ignorance of its implication on society, particularly, on the economy and healthcare. The fact that such a phrase already rejects the idea of a shared responsibility, which can again lead to serious impairment of judgment, does not seem very encouraging either.

Therefore, if given a chance, my ideal response to Ross would have been, “No uterus, no uninformed opinion”.

Originally published at https://edtimes.in on March 12, 2021.

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