Autocrats try to control bodily autonomy because it goes hand in hand with controlling minds

Manipulation psychology and mind control or brainwashing the human brain and dark psychological technology as puppet strings manipulating thinking with 3D render elements.
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“A major tenet of liberation is having the freedom to define oneself.”

I composed this line many years ago when anyone attempted to define me and my social identities. It came to mind when my good friend recently sent me an article stating that “Iraq’s Media and Communications Commission has issued a directive instructing all media and social media platforms in the country to refrain from using the terms ‘homosexual’ or ‘homosexuality’ and instead use ‘sexual deviancy’.”

Maybe I’ve just come to expect far-right fascist autocratic governments – and many of their citizens – to use this type of terminology. Maybe I’ve become numb to it after having heard and experienced this way of defining the “other” throughout my years on planet Earth.

Unfortunately, I was neither shocked nor particularly outraged by the words expressed in the forwarded message. I was, however, even more committed to act individually and in concert with others to end the negative representations, the lodged and imposed definitions, the harassment, the acts of violence, and the murders of those of us who have been consigned to the margins of our societies.

History shows, however, that nations on the political far right as well as those on the political far left, – and even those within Western social democracies – have oppressed members of LGBTQ+ communities: From Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union and from England to the United States. From Iraq to Putin’s Russia and Castro’s Cuba. From Uganda to DeSantis’ Florida and Abbott’s Texas.

And it is no mere coincidence that these very same nations and states have restricted or banned sexual, gender, and reproductive healthcare, including abortion services.

We can take lessons from Nazi Germany’s stance on abortion and homosexuality.

The Nazis banned abortion for “Aryan” women and girls, and they ruthlessly enforced and eventually extended Paragraph 175, the section of the German Penal Code dating back to 1871 with the unification of Germany that said, “Unnatural vice committed by two persons of the male sex or by people with animals is to be punished by imprisonment; the verdict may also include the loss of civil rights.”

Nazi ideology rested on the assessment that homosexual (males) lowered the German birth rate; they endangered, recruited, enticed, and corrupted youth; that a possible homosexual epidemic could spread; that homosexuals are “potential oppositionists” and enemies of respectable society; and that sexual relations between people of the same sex impairs their “sense of shame” and undermines morality, which inevitably will bring about the “decline of social community.”

While Nazi ideology and practice rejected lesbianism as well, they did not criminalize same-sex sexuality between women, as they had in Germany’s Paragraph 175 of the Penal Code, because they believed that so-called “Aryan” lesbians could at least birth children for the “New Germany.”

Though the reasons are complex, including the use of LGBTQ+ people as scapegoats for autocrats and autocrat-wanna-bees, I believe the chief reason for its anti-homosexual project is something Nazi philosophy mentioned in passing: homosexuals are “potential oppositionists” and enemies of respectable society; and that sexual relations between people of the same sex impairs their “sense of shame” and undermines morality, which inevitably will bring about the “decline of social community.”

In other words, with bodily autonomy one has a better chance of developing autonomy of mind and of developing a higher capacity for critical thinking. People with a sense of bodily and intellectual autonomy are less susceptible to internalizing the propaganda and blatant lies perpetuated by extremist and not-so-extremist regimes on the right, the left, and on the political spectrum in between the poles.

During the late 1940s, researchers led by Theodor W. Adorno studied the historical conditions that paved the way for the rise of fascist regimes in the 1930s, World War II, and the Holocaust. They theorized about individuals who supported the growth of these fascist regimes.

They suggested that people of a certain personality type, which they labeled the “authoritarian personality,” were most ripe for extremism, in this case, those most susceptible to anti-Jewish prejudice and anti-democratic political beliefs.

These individuals suspended their autonomy and critical thinking facilities, and they pledged obedience, allegiance, and freedom to a powerful leader or social institution for the promise of going back to a future reminiscent of a (mythic) idealistic past of economic, political, social, cultural, and personal security, where their “ingroup” won and led and “outgroups” served obediently and acquiesced to “ingroup” needs and demands.

In other words, they surrendered their freedom for the promise of social and personal security, which usually included suppressing and oppressing those outside the circle, the “others.”

It seems evident that along with some other groups, LGBTQ+ people have been used as scapegoats throughout the world, and they continue to be.

Through it all, we have worked for and experienced dynamic progressive outcomes. As we have seen even in conservative, Republican-dominated states like Nebraska, Kentucky, and Ohio, for example, and in Michigan, Vermont, and California, people are turning out to protect reproductive services on demand.

The international community is pushing back against repressive laws. For example, the World Bank declared recently that it would no longer grant funding to Uganda over its newly passed “Anti-Homosexuality Law,” one of the world’s toughest anti-gay laws that calls for life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality.

In the end, I still believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s promise that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

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