Feminist Friday: Far More Than Knitted Brows


It’s Feminist Friday, and, as with every week lately, you should probably know who’s all up in your ladybusiness before you hit the town.

It’s been an interesting week in that regard – we had a huge proliferation of laws that made uterussumptions of guilt, not to mention a few plateheaded public statements. For example, Idaho approved a mandatory ultrasound bill, and Swell Guy of the Week Idaho state senator Chuck Winder (R) suggested that doctors should really question women about those rape exemptions, because you know how chicks will make things up just to get one of those neato abortions.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, the House approved a measure designed to stop the Kansas University Medical Center – which already does not perform abortions – from training medical students in procedures that could be used in abortions. Abortions are, of course, sometimes lifesaving measures for pregnant women, but I’m sure those ladies will be cool with doctors who are just winging it should the time come, right? The measure could cause the school of medicine to lose its accreditation, which I’m sure will be good for the health and safety for everyone in the state.

As of this writing, Dorothy, Auntie Em, and Miss Gulch had teamed up and were pedaling away as fast as their legs could carry them.

Lest you think it’s only men who can be creeps to women, Arizona state representative Terri Proud came up with the genius idea that before a woman can get an abortion, she should have to watch another woman have an abortion. Because what’s a little medical privacy law when you have someone you would like to frighten and shame. Not to mention the scheduling nightmares. Also: since abortions would still be legal in the state, if a woman wanted one, would her doctor be required to rustle up another woman for her to watch? But wait, who would that woman watch?

It’s almost as though the people proposing these laws care more about controlling women than helping them. Or about the laws of physics and the space/time continuum.

Some of the most interesting news on that point came from Naperville, Illinois, where some residents are trying to stop a fertility clinic from being built. That’s right, a fertility clinic – for making babies. The objections, interestingly, are roughly the same as those of the people who are pushing for draconian anti-choice laws: They don’t like people making choices about their own fertility.

The fertility clinic protest gives the game away. This particular movement isn’t about saving lives at all. It’s about controlling women and their fertility, and forcing them to hand over their childbearing decisions to either the most narrow-minded incarnation of the Judeo-Christian deity or to random chance, depending on your point of view. And it needs to end.

But there is hope. The hilarious trend of bombarding the Facebook pages of anti-woman politicians with highly detailed questions and comments pertaining to uterine and vulvar issues continues, and is, I submit, the most punk-rock political activism we’ve seen in quite some time.

Even our pal Chuck Winder from the Idaho item above has gotten his share, and as of Thursday night, his staff hadn’t noticed that they ought to be scrubbing his page.

My personal favorite comment showed an elegant simplicity.

Even more delightful? Women have been knitting ladybits and mailing them to their least favorite politicians. (Hat tip to @lucyhallowell for the link.) We love you, hilarious, crafty ladies of The Snatchell Project. We love you and your war cry, “Hands off my uterus! Here’s one of your own!” You are magical.

The interesting thing that’s happened is that national-level Republicans have noticed that this whole roll-back-fertility-rights thing is a really, really bad idea, especially since – Whoopsie! – they forgot to take away women’s voting rights before trying to lock up their ladybits.

And so, like all ultraconservative men who realize they have uncontrolled proliferation on their hands, many Republican politicians have been trying to withdraw. For example as of Wednesday, that Idaho ultrasound bill was looking like it would get scuttled.

Rachel Maddow had a fascinating segment on this Wednesday night, power-nerding with Chris “Lambchop” Hayes over whether this high-level retreat from the barefoot-and-pregnant, slut-shaming silliness could really be counted as a victory when many state and local legislatures were still going strong and the overall debate has been pulled so far to the right.

You want to watch this.

Maddow has been doing such excellent work on this point this week alone that it was honestly hard to choose just one segment. Her colleagues at the MaddowBlog have been no slouches either. Among the many excellent articles and links they have been posting, they pointed the way to this moving piece on what Planned Parenthood means to one woman and what Mitt Romney would really be doing if he got rid of it like he says he intends to.

You’ve been very good, so it’s time for some awesome. Cheryl Isaac had a great piece in Forbes about four “inconspicuous influencers,” role models for young women who aren’t on TV and don’t plan to be. It will do your heart good.

Speaking of role models, I just learned about the FabFems directory, a national database put together by the National Girls Collaborative Project. It’s a nascent project designed to help young women and girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) find role models and mentors. Which is pretty dang fantastic.

Female achievement of another sort is going to be honored at the Brecht Forum with the New York City premiere of the documentary Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992. Lorde was an American-born child of Caribbean immigrants who became a writer, poet, and activist. Lorde was a lesbian and feminist who spent much of her activism critiquing the white (and middle class) focus of the feminist movement. The showing is Monday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. (Non–New Yorkers can look forward to a DVD out soon.) Below is the trailer for the documentary:


In other news of bad-assery, St. Petersburg recently passed a depressingly old-fashioned antigay law against reading materials – or even speech – about members of the LGBT community if it could “corrupt” minors. (Which means, for example, that Pale Fire by St. Petersburg boy Vladimir Nabokov, could theoretically be banned. That should work out well.) Well, our old friend Madonna is not having it. She’s bringing her supergay show to St. Petersburg, and she intends to speak her mind while she’s there.

Meryl Streep is another remarkably accomplished woman who has no intention of shutting up. She >attended a screening of the documentary Bully this week and has joined the movement to get the MPAA to change the rating from an R to a PG-13 before its release so the kids who most need to see it can do so. The Change.org petition to get the rating changed was started by a remarkable high school student named Katy Butler. Watch for AfterEllen.com’s interview with her next week.

In speaking about the movie, Streep recounted an incident when she was bullied during her own childhood, and was surprised to learn that her own daughter, Mamie Gummer, had been brave enough to stand up to schoolyard bullies and defend students who were being taunted. Great ladies raise great kids.

Another way to raise great kids? Dress up like Wonder Woman with them. I love this dad and daughter so much. That kid’s going to grow up to be amazing.

I hope you have a little bit of amazing in your own weekend. Or a lot.

More you may like