Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy 35th Birthday, Roe v Wade!

I'm just going to be honest. This blog for choice day, there's really not much that I can think of to say that would be profound. I've given the long diatribes as to why I'm pro-choice, last year's post was all about how the argument should be re-framed as being about reproductive justice rather than simply abortion rights, etc., and this year I really don't know what to hit as far as issues concerning choice go.

I guess I could give an optimistic view of everything feminists and pro-choice activists have accomplished for women's choice, such as getting Plan B over-the-counter, some states refusing to teach abstinence-only sex education, the success in overturning South Dakota's abortion ban, and other such pro-choice victories. There have even been pro-choice successes in my community. USF's Feminist Student Alliance held a Rock for Choice event last semester which raised over a thousand dollars for the organization W.O.M.E.N., a group that funds abortions for low-income women in need. There have been many pro-choice victories that the pro-choice and feminist community should be very proud of.

However, there have also been some setbacks and some goals that still have not been met. For example, although we got close, we didn't get to completely overturn the Global Gag Rule. States are still trying to push abortion bans through their legislative bodies, and of course the Supreme Court decided that women shouldn't have the right to protect their health by all means necessary through the decision made in Gonzalez vs. Carhart, complete with an entirely patronizing opinion from Justice Kennedy. These are things that we need to work on, but I think every pro-choice activist knows this.

Another thing that I think pro-choice activists need to work on, and this is somewhat akin to the re-framing of the entire argument, is terminology. I hear the word "abortion" misused so much. Even today in my Natural Sciences class, we were talking about genetic therapy, stem-cell research, and the ethics of IVF. Someone in the class kept referring to the embryos that die due to IVF as "abortions", yet they're not abortions. Abortions are the termination of a pregnancy. The embryos used in IVF practices that die are usually never implanted. The only way they could be part of an abortion is if they implanted and were then subsequently miscarried.

Another friend of mine referred to Plan B and all oral contraceptives as causing "abortions" because the ovum may not be able to implant. However, pregnancy begins at implantation, so it wouldn't be an abortion, it would be a failure to implant. People using the word "abortion" just to mean the death of an embryo is very harmful to women's reproductive freedom, I think, because if anything that a woman does causes such a death, it's suddenly controversial, which also gets into other reproductive justice issues, including the newly released issue of caffeine use causing miscarriages. All of this controversy about women's actions causing the deaths of embryos is very damaging to reproductive freedoms, in my opinion. Should women have this information? Certainly. Should they be expected to lose all agency once they become pregnant? Absolutely not. That is the line that needs to be drawn. Information is a good thing. So is choice.

I guess that's what I'll leave you with. Just remember that information is always good, and so is the ability to make choices after that. That is what needs to be protected, what was set on a path 35 years ago, and what will continue to be fought for and won by feminists and pro-choice activists all across the country, and hopefully, the globe. We need to keep a good balance of realizing our accomplishments, such as what we're celebrating today, but we also need to keep our eye on the prize. I know we'll get it some day.

P.S. While you're wishing Roe vs. Wade a happy birthday, wish Feminists to the Rescue a happy birthday as well!

Blog For Choice Day!

Here's my Blog for Choice. This year's topic was "Why do you vote pro-choice?" Well, here's why.

Because the Global Gag Rule still exists to hurt women in developing nations, even where abortion is legal.

Because poor women's access to abortion is about as dead as Henry Hyde.

Because a stroke of a pen can make the price of your birth control pills skyrocket.

Because anti-choice presidents appoint people who staunchly oppose birth control to be in charge of family planning funding.

Because 24 states don't require insurance companies to cover birth control.

Because our appointed Supreme Court justices think women need to be protected from themselves.

Because more federal funding goes towards killing civilians in Iraq in one month than preventing pregnancy-related deaths in poor countries for an entire year.

Because pro-choice also means no forced abortions in American territories.

Because crisis pregnancy centers get paid by the government to judge and lie to women.

Because access Emergency Contraception is still limited.

Because birth control costs fewer tax dollars than pregnancy.

Because men's idea of abortion rights is my idea of forced pregnancy.

Because Mike Huckabee would be an even worse president than George W. Bush.

Because pro-choice politicians care about women.

Because I am a woman.

Monday, January 21, 2008

High Girls Are Slutty

This is one of those Above the Influence commercials. Was I naive to expect the same people who brought you SLOMMING would make an ad that makes sense? Perchance. But this ad isn't just stupid. It's dangerous, because teenagers (who they admit based on the very name of their campaign are influenced easily) might actually be getting the wrong message here.

This ad seeks to tell kids to be above the influence of drugs. What the ad does say, quite intentionally in my view, is that if you're a victim of a crime (in this case, having a naked picture of you sent around to random people without your permission), that's your fault, cuz you were high. Be above the influence of drugs, but don't be above the influence of sending a naked picture of someone to all your friends and telling them to pass it on. In fact, this ad encourages that behavior. I mean, hey, somebody's got to teach those high, slutty girls a lesson.

But this angle isn't old for anti-drug commercials. Jessica Valenti mentions one in the "Blame (and Shame) Game" chapter of her book Full Frontal Feminism. I remember this one well and became extremely pissed off whenever I saw it. This commercial featured a teenage girl on the couch smoking a joint. She progressively gets higher. She's sort of zoned out a bit when a boy around her age sits next to her on the couch and gropes her. The girl says no, but the boy doesn't listen. "Marijuana lowers your inhibitions." The end. Did they mean that your use of marijuana lowers others' inhibitions to the point that they'll assault you? No. They meant that if you're high, someone who knows what they're doing will take advantage of you. And even if you're inhibitions aren't lowered enough to not even know when you don't want to be groped or slept with, tough shit, girly.

And the real kicker: These campaigns are funded by the federal government.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

If You Lie, Prepare to Die

If there's anything young women can learn from the Maria Lauterbach case, it's that if you've lied before, then you're lying if you say you've been raped. And if you might have lied about being raped, then a firey pit is in your future.

Lauerbach's mother, Mary, said that she had a problem with telling the truth, which made her "vulnerable."

"You realize you've lost all your evidence [of the rape] now?" she recalled telling her daughter. "Maria, you have to know you cannot make any false statements because that is one of the worst things you could possibly do. You could ruin somebody's career, and you won't be doing yourself any favors either."

I wonder if she's skeptical about the rape now. I mean, when a pregnant woman ends up murdered, and the man she accused of raping her goes missing . . . what more do you need to know?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Start the Weekend Off Right

Give Dr. Tiller, a doctor who provides late-term abortion services, some props.

Huckabee promised to meet with the mother of Ryan White, who contracted HIV as a teenager after a blood transfusion. He spent the rest of his short life teaching people that HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact. (Mike Huckabee didn't get the memo). Make sure Huckabee keeps his promise.

Sign up to Blog for Choice.

Demand equal pay for women from your Senators.

Make sure MSNBC asks the Republican questions what they think about all aspects of reproductive rights, including emergency contraception and sex education, at RoeAt35.org.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Huckabee Tops Himself

No, I don't mean he killed himself (unfortunately). I mean he went over-the-top, even for him. Here's what he said in an interview with BeliefNet to get himself named Keith Olbermann's Worst Person in the World:

BELIEFNET: Is it your goal to bring the Constitution into strict conformity with the Bible? Some people would consider that a kind of dangerous undertaking, particularly given the variety of biblical interpretations.

HUCKABEE: Well, I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal. Again, once we change the definition, the door is open to change it again. I think the radical position is to make a change in what’s been historic.

Again, Huckabee compares homosexuality to pedophilia and other paraphilias, including beastiality. I have a dog. His name is Diesel. Did you know that if I married Diesel, that would be a heterosexual union? Fascinating, isn't it? If my dog were more well-behaved, he and I would go to a Huckabee rally, and I would ask Huckabee if he, as an ordained minister and a man who respects heterosexual marriage so fucking much, would marry me and my boy dog right then and there. What Mike Huckabee fails to realize is that the difference between a marriage between me and my dog and a marriage between a woman and a man is that the latter union is between two consenting adults. And are all the of-age gay couples who are in committed relationships made up of two consenting adults? Of course. So this issue isn't about "slippery slopes" and whatnot. It's about hate. Mike Huckabee hates homosexuals. Plain and simple.

And I find it interesting that he doesn't consider turning the United States a Christian theocracy a radical idea, but he tells everyone that "[r]adical Islamic fascists have declared war on our country and our way of life." Mike Huckabee may want to protect us from extreme Islam, but he has declared war on our Constitution, which is, in essence, our country and our way of life.

Deborah Tannen on The Colbert Report

Linguistics expert and professor at Georgetown University was on The Colbert Report last night and talked about how Hillary Clinton is being treated more harshly because she is a woman. It doesn't look like I can embed the video, but you can find it here on Colbert's website.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

Best American Gladiator Thus Far

American Gladitors contestant Monica Carlson just beat The Eliminator, the final event on the show, in 2 minutes flat. That's the best time of all 8 contestants, male and female. Kudos!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Very Classy.

Amanda at Pandagon points out a very sexist comic that was run in the Washington Post. I would say it amazes me that such obvious sexism could run in reputable newspapers in 2008, but I'd have to actually be amazed for that to be true.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Keep Sexism Out of Election Coverage

Feministing had their 24-Hour Sexism Watch and blogged about sexist statements made in the media about Hillary Clinton. You can make a difference by signing Credo's petition to make this sexist coverage nonexistent. It will be sent to major media outlets including FOX, NBC, The New York Times, and NPR.

Mitt Romney Answers a Question

via Feministing

Here's a video of Willard answering a question from some asshole in the crowd about the Violence Against Women Act.

Pretty horrifying, yes? But I won't get into the question or Romney's answer. You can read the Feministing post for analysis. Romney just reminded me of someone. But who? Hmmmm . . . .

Who sees those two campaigning together in South Carolina? I do!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hello Kitty for Boys

Did you know that Hello Kitty was not for boys? Yeah, I didn't know that either. But it still becomes news when Sanrio makes Hello Kitty clothing geared towards young men. The logo on the new tees and other merchandise is a little strange, but there is something that bothers me more than bad fashion. The cited article starts with the statement, "Hello Kitty is no sexist." First of all, the blue bow in Hello Kitty's hair is still gendered, and the logo is tweaked to look like the opposite of the original "girly" Hello Kitty logo, further perpetuating the view that males and females are opposites rather than compliments or equals. Secondly, there's no privilege that goes with wearing Hello Kitty clothing. Boys and young men were never at a disadvantage because gender roles (patriarchal gender roles) didn't allow them to wear Hello Kitty apparel, and they won't get any extra benefit now that this new line has been launched. If boys felt uncomfortable wearing something "girly" like Hello Kitty, it's because they didn't want to be called a girl or a homosexual by the patriarchy, not the imagined matriarchy.

Crazy Women for America

Wendy Wright, head honchess* of Concerned Women for America and recent winner of Keith Olbermann's Worst Person in the World award, went on the TV yesterday and said that advocates of comprehensive sex education benefit when kids have sex. I can hear the collective "Um . . . why?" Wright says it's because there's a financial incentive. According to Wright, advocates of comprehenisve sex-ed want teens to have sex because they "benefit when they [kids, teens, people in general, I suppose] have sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, and then it leads to them having abortions." Just smile and nod, people. Smile. And nod. I guess Wright doesn't think that treating a STD after having unprotected sex, you know, the kind of sex that people who pledge abstinence and don't know how to use a condom have, doesn't cost any money at all. She also implies that prenatal care is free and that there are no hospital bills after giving birth. It's common sense (and it should be common knowledge) that birth control is less expensive than all those pregnancy expenses. So doesn't the healthcare industry make more money off of people who have unprotected sex and subsequently have babies? Yes, yes they do.

*"Honchess" isn't the official feminine form of "honcho," but it should be.

Happy New Year, New Hampshire!

New Hampshire has started off the new year right by signing a new ordinance allowing civil unions for same-sex couples.

Good for you, New Hampshire.