Feminist Friday: The Jerks Who Are Trying To Corral Your Uterus


This Week in Ladybits OK, I’m going to be honest. It’s been really bad for ladybits freedom this week. Texas Republicans are continuing their attempts to steamroll a Draconian anti-choice bill through in a special session. (Hey, Republicans: When OB-GYNs have to keep issuing statements about how awful your bills to “protect women’s health” are, something is very wrong.) The good news here is that Texans (and others across the nation) are pissed and doing their best to stop it. Check out Monday’s protest rally.

The next Senate Committee hearing is Monday, July 8. Jessica Luther helpfully published everything you need to know if you’re planning to show up. And though Texas Republicans are trying like hell to pass the worst, most misogynist anti-abortion law in the nation, their North Carolina and Ohio brethren are giving them a run for their money — and with language they literally snuck onto other bills with little or no debate. Mandatory medically unnecessary ultrasounds? Check. Laws that require doctors to lie to their patients about their health? Check. Cutting off the only safe options for a legal medical procedure? You bet. North Carolina throws in lying to seventh-grade girls, and Ohio’s flourish is a gag order for rape crisis centers, both of which are featured bullet points on the “How To Tell if You Are a Horrible, Vile Creep” checklist. The good folks at The Rachel Maddow Show, as always, are on it.

So let’s break down what this horrifying legal push is and is not all about: It’s not about the sanctity of life Yes, there are a few people in the pro-life movement who are about protecting all life, everywhere, but that’s emphatically not what this political push is about. Witness, for example, the “passionately pro-life” Governor Rick Perry, who is so freaking pro-life that he has carried out more executions than any other governor in the history of the United States. I don’t think you get to call yourself pro-life and keep topping your own execution record. And in a broader — and deeply disturbing — trend, more and more of the people who are pushing these misogynist anti-choice bills want to eliminate exemptions for the health of the mother. So they’re “pro-life” only if you look only at the potential life of the fetus and ignore  the fully-formed human being who is carrying it. That’s not pro-life. Some of these bills could very realistically create situations in which, because the mother is not allowed to terminate a pregnancy to save her own life, both the mother and the fetus die. Again, that is not pro-life. So this is about idolizing and fetishizing fetuses, right? Well, certainly some members of this fake pro-life movement would be happy to let you think that. However… It’s not about the fetus There’s a lot of hand-wringing (not to mention medically inaccurate information) about fetuses that gets thrown around by these “passionately pro-life” people. Unfortunately, these politicians are the exact same ones who have been working to viciously cut or even eliminate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other programs to help young mothers or poor families get by. They’ve also been working to repeal Obamacare, which means they’re working to repeal free preventive care and prenatal check-ups. Wanting to make sure any and all blastulas are born but not giving a rat about whether they receive proper care or enough to eat during their infancies and childhoods is not the same thing as caring about them. You want to prove to a nation that you care? Make damn sure that these potential children can grow up nourished, cared for, and educated. None of these politicians do — in fact, they’re rabidly against it and have of late been calling it socialism. And here’s the kicker: It’s not about preventing abortions If you really care about making abortion a very rare thing — and that is a noble goal — then surely you want to find the thing that for real, in this world right here, reduces the rate of abortions by the most, and then do that thing. Which means you would be fighting every day of your life for comprehensive sex education. You would be making sure that both young men and women understand birth control methods. You would be doing everything you could to break the rape culture and change the way our boys are raised to view women. And, most important, you would be making absolutely sure that everyone had access to affordable, reliable birth control. You would be handing that stuff out like CrackerJacks and fully funding Planned Parenthoods and offering subsidies for IUDs and implants, which are the most reliable methods by a long shot. You would be making absolutely goddamned sure that all young women knew their options and how they work, had a good understanding of biology in general and their own bodies in particular, and could get access to whatever contraception they chose. But that’s not happening. In fact, the opposite of that is happening. These same politicians and activists who just care so much about stopping abortion are at the same time working to decrease women’s contraceptive options, stop insurance plans from covering contraception, and de-fund Planned Parenthood, which is the only source of education, contraception, and health services that many women can afford. The “pro-life” movement to stop abortion has only tangential intersections — at most — with either preserving life or stopping abortions. So what’s it all about then? Well, I’d say that last point was pretty key: The politicians in the anti-abortion movement would rather stop women from getting contraception than stop abortions. That’s the priority, right there. It’s not about preserving life; it’s about controlling women’s fertility and sex lives. If it weren’t about controlling women, these guys would be doing the single most effective thing to reduce abortion rates, which is giving women access to reliable contraception. But they aren’t. Because stopping women from having sex in ways these politicians don’t care is more important than stopping abortions. If you look at the actions and not the deliberately distracting rhetoric, that’s what’s going on. And that should bother you as a woman and/or a feminist, because, wow, that is not the business of any political Rick, be he Perry or Santorum. And it should bother you as a human being because those mandatory medically unnecessary ultrasounds? Often involve penetration with a large ultrasound wand. And the whole “medically unnecessary” part makes that sound a hell of a lot like state-sponsored rape as a punishment for wanting to control your own fertility. Why, as a nation, are we not screaming the doors down about that? And it should bother you as a member of the LGBT community, because “We get to pass secular laws about how you have sex and what the outcomes of that are because Jesus” is an assertion that should make you jumpy in general. So now is the time to make your voice heard and let your elected officials know you’re pissed. And to let them know that you’ll be voting in all the elections, even the small ones. Because it’s those little ones where the loons who want to geotag your uterus get started. Or maybe I’m wrong and all they want is some calm, carefully reasoned debate. Like this guy who regrets his abortion.

FFRegretful Image from the Short Form Blog via Gawker

As for jumping in, Friday Night Lights fans will be happy to hear that Connie Britton is helping out with a “What would Tami Taylor Do?” T-shirt.

FFWWTTD Image via Cafe Press

Virginia, by the way, is holding its own on the crazy anti-woman Republican horsepucky front  by mandating that women seeking abortions visit right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers” that are actually anti-abortion propaganda outfits. Can you imagine if your state demanded that you go to a Christian Science center to hear about how you shouldn’t get surgery before you could get surgery you wanted? This is the same concept, except that crisis pregnancy centers are known for their emotional manipulation and outright lying. This stuff is terrible.

FFCPCsImage via NARAL Virginia

Oh, and by the way, Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell, Mr. Christian Morality himself, seems to be having a wee bit of trouble with the part of morality that involves actually disclosing the gifts from shady donors that he’s legally supposed to disclose. Since one of the more recent items to come up is an easily concealed Rolex watch, I would like to remind the investigative team that Bob “Governor Ultrasound” McDonnell has documented the fact that he has no problem with the invasion of one’s body cavities in the interest of the state. This Week in Ugh The Roxy Pro Biarritz is a legitimate women’s surfing championship. But apparently they decided that top-tier surfing, one of the most excitingly watchable sports in the world, isn’t exciting enough to watch. So they went with ass. This promo video for high-caliber athletes is borderline NSFW. Way to present your world-class athletes as meat, jerks. (Via The Inertia. Thanks to Keva for the link.)

Senator John McCain (R – Ancient Sumeria) wants to preserve those grand old college days when you could just sexually harass women without any consequences. Marco Rubio (R – Pandervania) plans to burnish his wingnut street cred with — you’ll never guess — a cruel, medically ignorant anti-abortion bill. And Ashley Perez at BuzzFeed noticed that Nerf’s upcoming line of Nerf “Rebelle” dart guns for girls might be missing something. Like enough damn darts. This Week in Thinky Would you like to watch Rachel Maddow shame we’re-not-bigots-we’re-just-protecting-straight marriage Jim DeMint and Ralph Reed on Meet the Press? Yes. Yes, you would.

Just in case you can’t watch that online right now, here’s her best quote from the clip:

“Gay people exist. There’s nothing we can do in public policy that makes more of us exist, or less of us exist. And you guys have been arguing for a generation that public policy ought to essentially demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist, but you don’t make any less of us exist. You just are arguing in favor of more discrimination, and more discrimination doesn’t make straight people’s lives any better.”

And, yes, David Gregory freaking loves to interrupt Rachel Maddow just as she’s going for the kill strike. Don’t watch Meet the Press without plenty of Hummel figurines to throw at the walls. Also in thinky, Laurie Penny talks about her past as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Kate Clancy turned an archly skeptical eye on the recent media-friendly theorizing that menopause evolved because of men. (h/t to Mary for the tip) And NPR noted that women in the movie business do 7% of the directing, 13% of the writing, and 20% of the producing, and have 28% of the speaking roles. In all honesty, when I read those figures, I thought, “That many?” However, there’s a quick antidote to that bummer coming up right in the next section… This Week in Awesome Holy fantasticness, have you seen The Heat yet? It’s a hilarious, satisfying movie starring two women and written by Katie Dippold, who has written for Parks and Recreation and who you just realized is secretly your best friend. I seriously debated whether to embed a trailer here at all, because you should just go see it without having a single joke ruined. It’s really fun, and it’s a cop/buddy movie that’s truly from a woman’s point of view, and it passes the Bechdel Test like crazy.

Oh, and Melissa McCarthy? Is outperforming funny men at the box office. By a lot. Speaking of things with plenty of women in them, have you seen Janelle Monaé’s new video? Can’t. Stop. Dancing…

California passed a transgender bathroom rights bill. Michonne on a horse. You’re welcome.

FFmichonnes4-twd Image via The Mary Sue

  My friend Anne took to Facebook on the 4th to remind us about Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote the lyrics to “America the Beautiful,” taught at Wellesley for years, and had a long, ah, close friendship with another distinguished professor, Katharine Coman, with whom she lived. Just saying. And I have good news: Tig Notaro wants to film her new special at your place. Have a great weekend. Get out there and bring your own awesome to the people. Got a tip for Feminist Friday? Tweet Ali.

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