Feminist Friday: Et tu, Brut?

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This Week in Bleargh

“Do you have any power to pull the bus full of nuns over and pistol-whip them?”

That’s what an Iowa radio host asked Congressman Tom Latham (R- Iowa) regarding the nuns on wheels who are giving a demure but firm V-sign to the Vatican and heading out to protest Congressman (and alleged Catholic) Paul Ryan’s (R – Wisconsin) poor-bashing budget. And oh, how Latham laughed at the idea of physically harming nuns who would like to use their freedom of speech!

I don’t care if you’re Catholic or not – I’m certainly not – these nuns are awesome. Laughing at the idea of hurting them – or, really, doing anything less than offering them applause, frosty beverages, and a free tune-up when they roll through your town – means you are one with the forces of darkness. Nun up.

The official Texas GOP platform for 2012 is nothing short of astonishing. It explicitly opposes homosexuality – and implicitly encourages discrimination. And – I am not kidding – opposes the teaching of critical thinking in schools. No thinking, kids! Or at least no thinking well. (Sorry, I mean no thinking good. Grammar’s out too, right?) They also want the repeal of the Hate Crimes Law and, duh, they only like the man-woman kind of marriage (cis-gender only!) and oppose the morning-after pill and support conscience clauses.

Hey, did we have an unbelievably horrific example of a conscience clause in action this very week? As a matter of fact, we did! The Raw Story reported on the court case of a rape victim who reported her attack to the police and was arrested on a warrant. While she was in custody, a prison employee refused to give her post-rape contraception on religious grounds.

While we’re in the land of Enraging Decisions Involving Women’s Reproductive Systems, Rachel Maddow reported on South Carolina’s decision that it’s better to risk young women dying of a preventable disease than to risk them being tempted into sexual activity. They should just call this policy Better Dead than Bed.

This Week in Things That Might Only Be Bothering Me, But I Am Going To Talk About Them Anyway

Have you seen the new Brut commercial? They’re doing that thing where they’re trying to be funny, where “funny” equals “appealing to dudes who are maybe a little bit insecure.” How can one tell? Well, for one thing, the new campaign is called “Let Your Man Out.”

The commercial is, I guess, mostly harmless.

…Only the more I see it, the less I think it really is harmless. I think it’s this shot:

Geddit? Because being a man – a real man – means impregnating your woman whether she wants to be pregnant or not. (Not to mention any other female in range.) It strikes me as just the teeniest bit rapey. This guy expects nothing less than a pat on the back for his unplanned, nonconsensual human, dog hybrid, and merbabies – and certainly not any static for it.

And, vaguely rapey joking or not, the commercial does suggest that true manhood is being in full control of your wife’s reproductive system. Which is exactly the political message that Rick Santorum (and, less openly, Mitt Romney) and all his anti-contraception “personhood” movement pals want to push: the way things are supposed to be is that you shut up and get pregnant when your real man says – whether you want to be or not.

And, really, “want” doesn’t even come into it here. The woman is an object of the joke, just like we’re objects to the anti-contraception folks. I’m not crazy about that idea being pushed into the young male mainstream, even in as poor a vehicle as this. I try to sigh and ignore sad dudebro humor most of the time, but this one has some pretty creepy roots.

Bite me, Brut.

This Week in Interesting

You know who might have some interesting things to say about Thursday’s health care ruling? Nancy Pelosi, that’s who. Don’t you wish she’d sit down with a smart, televised feminist and hash it all out? You’re in luck! Melissa Harris-Perry will be welcoming former (and future?) House Speaker Pelosi to her show this weekend. Ms. Pelosi, I, for one, would not blame you for one second if you showed up hammered and laughing your butt off, but I will also accept an enlightening meeting of the minds if you must. Catch the nerdy, wonky fun on Saturday on MSNBC at 10 a.m. Eastern time/7 a.m. Pacific. Don’t fall back to sleep with the TV on after the show or you’ll absorb six hours of prison documentaries and then startle awake and shank a loved one.

Can you think of a more irritating and/or damaging question than “Are women funny?” Ooh, how about “Can women have it all?” Has anyone asked that question about men? Ever? Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic, which was packaged very, very badly and should have at least one editor and one publisher ashamed to look at themselves in the mirror, was actually way more complex than that question – she thinks that women should be able to have it all (cf: men), but explores why our social and workplace models don’t currently allow for it and what needs to happen.

But, thanks in no small part to the baby-and briefcase treatment The Atlantic stupidly gave the story, the article frequently got rehashed as an early-‘80s “Dames! Can they be good moms and work?” conversation, which was always a ridiculous one – ask lower-income women from about the Babylonian era on about their “choice” to enter the workforce.

Sally Kohn brought an egalitarian eye to the question and took out a lot of the dumb from the get-go. At least Fox Business Channel had women talk about this. But you did get to hear a big, loud lie about the “insidious lie” of feminism. Ugh, thanks for standing up to the pile of weird that devolved into, Sally.


Oh, dear, it looks like Congressman Eric Cantor (R – Virginia) may have overplayed his hand when it comes to your ladybits. A poll that came out this week suggests that he is surprisingly vulnerable to being defeated by vaginas and the people who love them. I cannot wait to see how this turns out.

Speaking of ladybits, the hilarious Eric Spitznagel used the word “Vagina” 40 times in this article about rock and roll and genitalia and why we treat manbits and ladybits so differently. Seriously, this piece is well worth your time. (Eric is now a wanted man in the state of Michigan.)

This Week in Awesome

They do not care one whit about Congressman Tom Latham and his vile sense of humor: The nuns on wheels are on a roll! The Washington Post ran a great article on Sister Simone Campbell’s Vatican-defying bus tour, complete with a lovely photo gallery. Go get ‘em, Sisters.


Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall/AP via The Washington Post

The European Commission’s “Science: It’s a Girl Thing” video from last week was so roundly booed that it was tough to find by about mid-afternoon on Friday. (Tough, but not impossible.)

The main site is still a little hit and miss, but at least it has some more inspiring videos. Though I could do without the lipstick as a symbol for all womanhood. And I’m a little weirded out by how much “You can be physically attractive as a scientist!” is a message of the second one.

BuzzFeed decided to help the EC out with a list of six inspiring women in science.


Photo: Wanda Austin. Via Buzzfeed, via CSUDHNews.com

Melinda Gates went on The Colbert Report to talk about why women the world over want access to contraception. Duh, right? You can plan your family and your education and your financial life. You can lift yourself and your family out of poverty. There should be no controversy about that — but there is.

And in that point where contraception protesting and pure joy meet, we learned this week that a woman in a giant birth control costume will be following Mitt Romney on the campaign trail. I might want to hug her even more than the nuns.

Someone give me a grant so I can hang out with her dressed as an IUD.

Have a great weekend. Get out there and make some noise.

Got a hot tip or interesting news item for Feminist Friday? Tweet Ali “@Ali_Davis. If you didn’t send in a tip this week, you got scooped by Ali’s mom. (That’s OK. Lots of people get scooped by Ali’s mom. She’s a bad-ass feminist.)

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