Your Religious Beliefs Do Not Give You A License to Police My Actions or Health

And in a story where the message women receive is we are a burden and danger to men who are traveling just by virtue of being a woman, United Airlines changed the seat of a woman so two men who said sitting next to a woman was against their religion wouldn’t be inconvenienced.

Think it’s not a big deal? Consider this. I get bad air sickness. I had severe ear infections as a child and am very sensitive to air pressure changes as a result. When flying, I’ve noticed if I sit near the wings of the plane, I’ll likely get extremely nauseous and throw up, but if I sit in the back, I’ll usually be fine.

One time when boarding a flight I was stunned to find someone already sitting in the seat I had carefully selected to ensure minimum air sickness. A woman surrounded by two small children was there. When she saw my confused expression she explained that she couldn’t get a seat with her children and asked if we could trade. I was annoyed, especially that I hadn’t been asked before she took my seat, however, I wasn’t going to separate a mother from her children.

Here’s the point, though. This mother had a good reason for wanting to change seats. One of the children was about 3 or 4, very young. Anyone regardless of religious beliefs could see she had a good reason for wanting to stay near them. And the airline wouldn’t do it for her.

Yet because some men are uncomfortable sitting next to women for religious reasons, a woman has to be inconvenienced and moved? Fuck that. I’m tired of religion dressed as bigotry given a free pass because those beliefs are rooted in religion.

The message becomes women shouldn’t travel, and if they do, then they should expect to have to do so in a way convenient for men. And it becomes people forcing their religious beliefs on others.

And there are larger issues at stake here. Life and death ones, such as access to birth control and abortion. Yes, this is a life of death issue, especially in the US where the maternal mortality rate is rising. But right now an employer’s religious beliefs trump a women’s right to access affordable birth control and abortion, which are medical issues.

So in a nutshell, erroneous religious beliefs trumps a women’s right to health and well being!

The world is full of billions of humans with different beliefs, and sometimes those beliefs clash. People have the right to believe what they want, worship as they chose, and pray. They do not have the right to force those beliefs on others, though, especially when their health and well being is on the line. If I ever fly and find my carefully selected seat was changed because a man felt sitting next to a woman was against his religion, then I’m not going to bother with the barf bag in whatever seat they move me to.

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