Tag Archives: pro-choice

Friedman’s Not-So-Novel Idea

29 Oct

Yesterday in the middle of my work day I received a text from one of my really good friends. It read as follows:

The Friedman column is fucking pissing me off. Why would I expect him not to fucking pretend that what he is writing is nothing feminism has been saying for YEARS!

I could feel the anger pulsing through my cell phone. Obviously, I had to read it immediately if not sooner.  I checked up and down the bar to see the status of all my customers drinks and got to reading.  The premise of the article is basically that Friedman is “pro-life” but not in the way we all talk about being pro-life, as in the opposite of pro-choice.  He is pro “respect for the sanctity of life.”  Friedman has seen the light.  This paragraph basically says it all:

In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.”

Friedman makes a good point.  Read the article.  But the thing is, just like what my friend said to me in her enraged text, he is making the point feminism, the point women have been making for years.  Being in support of a woman’s right to choose is not only an end, but it is a means to other ends.  Allowing women to choose is part of a bigger conversation about quality of life, about freedoms, about capabilities, about possibilities, about empowerment. In the mainstream acceptance of the terms “pro-life” (or “anti-choice” as many of my ilk refer to it) and “pro-choice” I think of the former as an exclusionary opinion and the latter as inclusionary.  Pro-choice people are not requiring women to terminate a pregnancy.  Some of us might not even be comfortable with the idea  of abortion for ourselves.  I think all of us would love it if there didn’t have to be any abortions at all.  There is room in the pro-choice movement for everyone to do exactly with their bodies as they think is appropriate for themselves and their lives, be that terminate a pregnancy or carry a pregnancy through to term.  Pro-life takes that choice away, that legal and safe choice, and makes the decision for someone.  Either carry the fetus to term or endure a possibly life-threatening, illegal, unregulated procedure.  There is not room in that school of thought for everyone.  There is not room for me.

I guess this is a topic that I have been having a hard time with.  While I want to include men in the conversation about women’s rights and bodies, while I want more male allies, I don’t want men dictating the parameters of a conversation that women have been having for decades.  Let us spearhead this one, guys.  Listen to us.  Talk to us.  Take us seriously.  This is an important issue all the time and not only when you decide to give it a minute of your time.  This has been mattering to us for-fucking-ever, and not just every four years.  We’ve been talking about it.  We’ve been educating one another.  Where have you been, Friedman?

But I’ve gotten off topic.  Friedman’s point is an important one for sure.  But as a woman, it is incredibly, incredibly frustrating and angering to see that a point that feminists have been making for years and years does not get mainstream space until it is said by a right-leaning white man acting like he came up with it all on his own.  I’ve seen my friends sharing the link to the article on Facebook and, though I’m glad the point is making its rounds in the interwebs, I am frustrated that as women we have become so accustomed to our opinions being ignored and then, years later, being co-opted and taken seriously only through the medium of a male voice that we don’t even notice it any more.  It’s part of life.  It’s like, “wow!  Friedman!  What a great and original idea!” without the follow through of “wait, didn’t I talk to my mom about this very same idea when I first started learning about abortion clinic bombings and assassinations of abortion providers?  Hasn’t this term ‘pro-life’ always seemed somewhat misleading?”   It’s like that old saying, “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Only I’m gonna change it.  “If an opinion is voiced by a woman and no one talks about it, did that opinion ever actually get shared?”

And to my friend who sent me the text in the first place, I am thankful for you.  You help keep me sane.

Here’s to Strong Women. Here’s to Sandra.

6 Sep

Sometimes, while I make my rounds of news sites, both mainstream and not, I feel hopeless.  I read about statements made by members of our government, legislation passed, Planned Parenthood centers closed, mainstream “cancer research foundations” whose actions tell me that maybe they don’t care as much about women and women’s health as they claim.  I learn about the victimization and revictimization of young girls, the blame placed unduly on the mother rather than on the perpetrators of the crime and the society that spews its truth of “boys will be boys.”  I get sick thinking about how money and power go hand-in-hand and how so often they land in the hands of white men, born to privilege into a world where they live by rules different than the rest of us.  I shake with anger when I think of the women who are dehumanized and tossed aside at the hands of these men and then how they, and not the victimizers, are forced to defend themselves, are accused of lying.  Because how dare we place those who have achieved the ultimate dream — success, wealth, power — anywhere other than on a pedestal.  But then sometimes, I remember that it’s not just me that feels this way.  There are a lot of us.  And at the Democratic National Convention we were handed the microphone and able to speak.   Our voices were heard through Sandra Fluke.

So, here is her speech from the DNC.  I was going to write a little about the speech given by Cecile Richards, who’s President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, but I was just so taken by Fluke’s entire speech that I couldn’t choose pieces.  Everytime I listen to it I have the same reaction:  a little bit emotional, a little bit goose-bumpy, incredibly proud.  She said what I have read in different articles by different strong women online, what I have heard representatives say on the floor when forced to face-off against the horribly bigoted statements made by male co-workers, and what friends have said to me in endless conversations about the realities of being female.  She put it all together and she spoke to that room and she got them on their feet.  So here’s her speech.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think it beats the hell out of an empty chair.

“Some of you…some of you may remember that earlier this year Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception.  In fact, on that panel, they didn’t hear from a single woman even though they were debating an issue that affects nearly every woman.  Because it happened in congress, people noticed.  But it happens all the time.  Too many women are shut out and silenced.  So while I am honored to be standing at this podium it easily could have been any one of you.  I’m here because I spoke out.  And this November, each of us must speak out.

“During this campaign, we’ve heard about two profoundly different futures that could await women in this country.  And how one of those futures looks like an offensive obsolete relic of our past.  Warnings of that future are not distractions, they are not imagined. That future could become real. In that America, your new President could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs.  A man who won’t stand up to those slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party.  It would be an America in which you have a new Vice President who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds that we don’t want and our doctors say that we don’t need.  An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it.  An America in which politicians redefine rape and victims are victimized all over again.  In which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve access to services and which don’t…. We know what this America would look like.  And in a few short months that’s the America we could be but that’s not the America that we should be and it’s not who we are.

“We’ve also seen another America that we could choose.  In that America we’d have the right to choose.  It’s an America in which no one can charge us more than men for the exact same health insurance.  In which no one can deny us affordable access to the cancer screenings that could save our lives.  In which we decide when to start our families.  An America in which our President, when he hears that a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters, not his delegates or his donors.  And in which our President stands with all women, and strangers come together and reach out and lift her up.  And then instead of trying to silence her you invite me here.  And you give me this microphone to amplify our voice.  That’s the difference.

“Over the last 6 months I’ve seen what these two futures look like.  And 6 months from now we’re all going to be living in one future or the other.  But only one.  A country where our President either has our back or turns his back.  A country that honors our foremothers by moving us forward or one that forces our generation to refight battles that they already won.  A country where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom or one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies or our voices.  We talk often about choice.  Well ladies, and gentlemen, it’s now time to choose.”

And…standing ovation.  How Sandra Fluke managed to get through that without breaking down I will never know.  I can’t even read it aloud for type-o’s without getting a little misty-eyed.  To hear her voice say all the things I have thought, that my friends and I have talked about, and in such a well thought out way was really amazing, a breath of fresh air.  Sometimes it is easy to feel frustrated and alone sitting here behind my computer, preaching to the choir.  But then there are people out there who are doing the leg work, who are making a difference, and then I get shivers and realize that some day, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year, it will be okay.  We just have to keep speaking out in whatever ways we can.

On Todd Akin, this time with a little more anger

21 Aug

Okay.  So, as I wrote yesterday, I was done talking about the Todd Akin thing.  At that moment.  Well, that moment has passed and my anger has been renewed.  Partially that anger was renewed by reading Eve Ensler’s amazing post from yesterday on Huffington Post.  If you haven’t yet read it, get on it now.  It is so worth it.  It is worth it for so many reasons.  Here is one:

You used the expression “legitimate” rape as if to imply there were such a thing as “illegitimate” rape. Let me try to explain to you what that does to the minds, hearts and souls of the millions of women on this planet who experience rape. It is a form of re-rape. The underlying assumption of your statement is that women and their experiences are not to be trusted. That their understanding of rape must be qualified by some higher, wiser authority. It delegitimizes and undermines and belittles the horror, invasion, desecration they experienced. It makes them feel as alone and powerless as they did at the moment of rape.

And then there’s this:

Were you implying that women and their bodies are somehow responsible for rejecting legitimate rape sperm, once again putting the onus on us?

And this:

Why don’t you spend your time ending rape rather than redefining it? Spend your energy going after those perpetrators who so easily destroy women rather than parsing out manipulative language that minimizes their destruction.

And so much more in between.  She says all the things that I could never articulate.  That it would take me a few days to really come to.  My initial reaction to his “gaffe” was an exasperated exhale, a violent roll of the eyes, and the need to slowly and methodically rub vertically between my hairline and the bridge of my nose, a habit I have developed in recent years at times of intense frustration.  I swear one of these days I am going to rub right through to my skull.  My initial reaction was full of disgust, but I honestly don’t think I fully realized the deep-rootedness of the issue associated with Todd Akin’s comments.  He was idiotic, sure, we all think that’s the case. Even Shawn Hannity thinks he should withdraw himself from the Missouri Senate race.  But the thing is, it’s not because many of these people disagree with what Akin said.  They disagree with the way that Akin said it.

Meanwhile, in Texas, a court of appeals ruled today that the state can withhold funding from Planned Parenthood clinics before the original case, in which Planned Parenthood sued the state of Texas for a law that violates their freedom of speech, goes to court in October.  (For a more eloquent and less confusing explanation of the pending litigation, read this Times article.)  These clinics provide health care for low income women for things from regular gynecological exams to cancer screenings, from maternal health care to contraception.  And yes, abortion services.  It is important to note, however, that no state or federal funds go to finance abortions.  They go towards helping poor women with no or insufficient health insurance obtain access to quality, and essential, services.  As Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, said, this case

has never been about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control and well-woman exams.

The reason I bring this up is that issues like the one in Texas have been cropping up with alarming regularity.  Todd Akin is not alone.  He has many, many people who agree with him.  Many people who think that women don’t know how to make decisions about their own bodies.  Many people who think that women cavalierly make the decision to have an abortion.  Many people who think that women will scream rape to obtain an abortion in places where rape, incest and the health of the mother are the only exceptions to an all out ban on abortion.  Don’t believe me?  Just watch this video of Eric Turner of Indiana.  As I said, Todd Akin is not alone and his ignorant statement was not an isolated opinion.  Let us use this moment of anger, and hurt, and disbelief to blow the roof off the party who, just today, the same day they were calling for Todd Akin to step aside, approved a party plank that would strive to outlaw abortion without any mention of exceptions for rape or incest.  This is our time, ladies and allies.  We are too smart for this and there is too much at stake.  We need to hold the Republican party accountable not only for the statements of Todd Akin, but for those of many others.  And, more important still, we need to hold them accountable for the anti-woman legislation they unceasingly push on us.  As Eve Ensler rightfully said,

I am asking you and the GOP to get out of my body, out of my vagina, my womb, to get out of all of our bodies. These are not your decisions to make. These are not your words to define.


On Todd Akin and Other (Unrelated) Things

20 Aug

This blog is going to be about the following three things.  First, I would like to share with you all a search term that led a potential reader to my blog that I found both funny and sort of infuriating.  Second, Todd Akin.  And third, a quote that  I read in The New Yorker this past issue that I found especially interesting.  I really think that if you don’t feel like hearing my rant on Akin, you should just skip down to the quote at the bottom, labeled “Part III: The Quote” for your convenience.  Also, there is no reason behind the order of the post.  It’s just how I felt like doing it.

Part I:  The Search Term

Okay, so if any of you read my post from yesterday, you will understand my astonishment when I went to look at my site stats to figure out what kinds of search terms are getting people to my blog and one of them read

up skirt shots reddit

Ugh.  Really?  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I will hope that this person was (a) looking for an article about how awful this specific SubReddit is or (b) was actually looking for the SubReddit but upon reading my blog post decided to forgo looking at unauthorized and demeaning pictures of women and girls and become a decent human being.  I highly doubt either of those things to be actual possibilities but, hey, a girl can dream!

Part II:  The Idiot

Now I am going to weigh in, ever so slightly, on Todd Akin.  So, for those of you who have been living under a rock, the 6-term, Tea Party-backed congressman from Missouri said the following thing yesterday, as quoted in a New York Times article:

If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.

He then quickly claimed to have “misspoke” and tried to make it better by saying this:

In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.  I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life, and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.

He has empathy for women who are victims of violent crime yet he has no empathy for women who find themselves pregnant by their rapists because that would be victimizing an unborn child.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too, Akin.  And, misspoke?  Is that the best he could do?  The thing is, that Mr. Akin is not the first person to make a remark like this.  Statements just like his have been made in the past by Pennsylvania Representative Stephen Freind, North Carolina Representative Henry Aldridge, Dr. John C. Willke, and Arkansas politician Fay Boozman who was, at one time, the director of the health department in Arkansas.  I really want to just be like, “wow, how stupid can you get?” and move along with my day but then I realize that these people are in actual positions of power and they, as well as some of the people who listen to them, actually think they are speaking the truth even though once they realize how bad it sounds they try as hard as they can to pretend they didn’t mean it.  (I swear, if I ever read somewhere that some asshat rapist tries to deny paternity of a child by saying that due to a women’s natural trauma-secretions the baby in question can’t possibly be his I will have a full on fit.)

Here’s the thing that’s really scary about it.  After Akin “misspoke,” Republicans and Democrats alike could not distance themselves from him faster.  Everyone across the board saw this specific statement as heartless and horrifying.  Romney told the National Review,

Congressman Akin’s comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.  Like millions of other Americans, we (he and Paul Ryan) found them to be offensive.  I have an entirely different view…What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it.

How do you correct something like that??  As Meg Ryan said in When Harry Met Sally, “You can’t take it back.  It’s already out there!”  The thing is, as pointed out in this Huffington Post article, Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan actually doesn’t hold opinions that far off from Akin, he just knows how to package his beliefs in a less infuriating, less “out there,” way.  According to Michael B. Keegan of HuffPost,

Rep. Paul Ryan not only opposes abortion rights for rape victims, he was a cosponsor of a so-called “personhood” amendment that would have classified abortion as first degree murder and outlawed common types of birth control. Ryan has also bought into the “legitimate rape” nonsense, cosponsoring legislation with Akin that would have limited federal services to victims of “forcible rape” — a deliberate attempt to write out some victims of date rape and statutory rape.

So there’s that.  Also, Romney claims that he is not opposed to abortion in cases of rape, but if he is elected president he will work to overturn Roe v. Wade, putting decisions about abortion in the hands of individual states.  It seems that therefore, he is giving individual states the ability to make all forms of abortion illegal, regardless of circumstance.  If that’s the case, then when states make a decision about, say, abortion in cases of rape there wouldn’t be a damn thing he could do about it if he did disagree with the state which, at least in this current iteration of Romney, he supposedly does.  And, unless he’s really stupid which I don’t think he is, he is well aware of that fact.  It’s great that people are getting all up in arms about this because what Akin said really was demeaning and insulting and wrong and all manner of other things.  But the thing is, I don’t see a huge distinction between the shitty science that Akin and company have referred to and some of the studies and statistics I hear Republicans site to justify their anti-choice stances.  Also, in a lot of these cases when politicians and pundits and whoever else make statements about the rights of the unborn child, they are immediately discounting the rights of the woman.  We cease being human beings and instead become vessels for the unborn.  Akin is an idiot, but sadly he is not even close to alone in his beliefs.  Okay.  Moving on (for now).

Part III:  The Quote

In the August 13th and August 20th edition of The New Yorker there was an article by Adam Gopnic called “I, Nephi:  Mormonism and its Meanings.”  It was a review of 4 books that have been published in recent months that was spawned, I would imagine, by the fact that Mitt Romney is Mormon and a lot of people find Mormonism baffling. I have to admit at this point that I didn’t read the entire article because, although I consider myself a curious person, I am not currently terribly curious about Mormonism.  I did, however, come across this quote that I found interesting and figured I would share with you all.

…almost every American religion sooner or later becomes a Gospel of Wealth….The astonishing thing…is that this gospel of prosperity is the one American faith that will never fail, even when its promises seem ruined.  Elsewhere among the Western democracies, the bursting of the last bubble has led to doubts about the system that blows them.  Here the people who seem likely to inherit power are those who want to blow still bigger ones, who believe in the bubble even after is has burst, and who hold its perfection as a faith so gleaming and secure and unbreakable that it might once have been written down somewhere by angels, on solid-gold plates.

Paper Towels Ruined My Morning

7 Feb

I don’t know about you but I am still annoyed about this whole Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood thing.  I am, obviously, annoyed because of the actual events as they occurred.  I think the apology issued by Komen was some bullshit.  I wish Karen Handel would have gotten fired rather than being able to resign her position.  I think it would have been great if Komen would have had better sense than to hire a woman who is not pro-woman in the first place for an organization that claims to be all about women’s health.  It would have been nice if they hadn’t played into that stereotype that we all love pink because, really, I think there are a lot of women who prefer, say, orange instead.  Forget the color, actually, how about if Komen actually gave credit where credit was due, say, to Charlotte Haley, the 68-year-old designer of the original pink ribbon which were actually peach-colored and were handmade in her dining room.  Self Magazine approached Charlotte Haley and asked her if they could join forces with her, use her ribbon, make it national.  Haley said no, they were too commercial.  So what did they do?  They took her ribbon, made it pink, and now here we are.  Here we are, stuck with pink, and all this political bullshit that now accompanies it.  Because clearly breast cancer research can’t just be about providing grants for breast cancer screening, or trying to find a cure, or at least finding a less painful, less invasive way of dealing with such a prevalent disease.  No, it has to be about a message.  About marketing.  About being the top dog.  About feeling good about yourself as a company.  About pink.

Okay so this morning I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, looking around when I noticed it.  There it was, a previously innocuous package of 12 rolls of Bounty paper towels and it was swathed in pink.  A giant pink ribbon covered the external packaging that held together all the individually wrapped bundles of non-recycled paper towels (see how deep the guilt goes? See what I get for not buying Marcal Small Steps or some other green version of the incredibly wasteful paper products that we all use?).  And I was angry.  Obviously, I was angry that we had decided to take the savings-route rather than the responsible-route, but mostly I was angry that I had inadvertently donated to this organization that was intentionally, and don’t let them tell you otherwise, intentionally fighting against something that I consider to be very important.  The right for a woman to make a choice.  A goddamn choice.  Which then reminded me of Representative Jackie Speier and what she said on the House floor.  (By the way, this is actually the flow of thoughts as they come to my head.  Paper towels –> not green –> bad choice –> no choice! –> Representative Jackie Speier.  Scary, isn’t it?) After listening to man after man talk about his disgust with abortion, his disgust, really, with women, which to me means his disgust with circumstance and with the fact that cost-cutting and disdain for minorities (largely by his very party, by the way) have left women, especially low-income, minority women, with few options when it came to reproductive health (options?  who needs options??) and the cost of having a child with basically no social safety net, she said the following:

“Mr. Chairman, I had really planned to speak about something else, but the gentleman from New Jersey has just put my stomach in knots, because I’m one of those women he spoke about just now. That procedure that you just talked about was a procedure that I endured…But for you to stand on this floor and to suggest as you have somehow this is a procedure that is either welcome or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.”

Bravo, Jackie Speier.  Bravo for saying something that so many of us think but either don’t have the opportunity, or the availability of words, to actually say.  I find it insulting that an organization that claims to be all about women, all about our health, would voluntarily hire someone who is so obviously against the best interest of women and think that we wouldn’t eventually find out about it.  I am also insulted that Howie Kurtz has decided that it was the media that forced the apology, bullshit apology that it was.  In fact, you know what Howie?  I will give you that lame-ass apology.  I will let you and your industry take full responsibility for that one because I hope that the rest of us can actually get something of substance.  Think about it this way:  pro-choice people are angry and are donating to Planned Parenthood instead of Komen.  Anti-choice people are angry that funding was restored and are donating to some organization involving the word “Family” in its title.  Komen is scared because the money that used to come easy isn’t coming easy anymore.  Because you know what speaks louder than the media, Howie?  Money.  That’s what.  So, as I said, take credit for that apology.  I’m still waiting for a real one. And I am also, by the way, waiting for all the Komen corporate sponsors to back out, one by one, so I can once again use my cancer-causing skin lotion and nuun rehydration tablets and listen to the New Kids on the Block and eat Beemster cheese without being thrown into fits of rage.

And finally, I am angry that my whole zen-like, tooth brushing experience this morning was completely ruined by my pink ribbon sighting and I wonder, will my morning ritual ever be the same?  At least as long as those paper towels are there?

Disclaimer:  I do not, to my knowledge use any cancer-causing skin lotion.  I only said that for effect.  I also don’t listen to New Kids on the Block while I eat Beemster cheese or at any other time.  I do, however, really like my nuun tablets and I am glad that I stocked up on them before this whole thing happened to I can justify using them because I don’t want them to go to waste.  Also, I enjoy run-on sentences.  The end.