Sore Losers

Imagine, if you will, a cadre of male religious fanatics, drunk on overblown rhetoric and motivated by fantasies of beautiful virgins, that are intent on the violent destruction of prominent symbols of American liberty. Are these the villains in an upcoming action film starring a thick-necked actor who can barely recite lines? Are they Muslim terrorists living overseas waiting for the opportunity to die as martyrs in a strike against Western imperialism? Well, probably and yes, but that's not who I'm talking about here.

No, I'm talking about our own homegrown religious fanatics who sometimes make the leap into actual violent terrorist attacks. I'm talking about the protesters who are picketing the homes of Planned Parenthood employees and contractors in Denver, CO. Violent incidents may not have happened yet, but their very presence is there to inspire terror and fear for your own safety, not spontaneous conversions to a particularly wild-eyed version of Christianity. Picketing people's homes is to terrorism as stalking is to domestic violence and rape.

And I'm talking about the likely profile of the suspects in the various attacks on the offices of Dr. Curtis Boyd and the Planned Parenthood offices in Albuquerque, NM. Just as the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked because they symbolized American power to the 9/11 terrorists, women's health centers are targeted nationwide for domestic terrorism because they symbolize women's freedom to the terrorists that obsess over them.

All the fuss and violence, and in the name of an abstract cultural concept that doesn't actually exist, no less. No, not God. You'll have to go to my personal blog to read rants about theology — or the lack thereof in my life. No, the abstract concept that drives the obsession and violence in this case is virginity. Yes, that thing they make crappy teenage comedies about losing, at least when it comes to the guys. But when the subject is female virginity, it's less big screen jokes, more firebombs.

I can already hear your thoughts: There's no such thing as virginity? Shocking, I know, but true. I recommend the book Virgin: The Untouched History by Hanne Blank, to learn more. Blank researched the history and various cultural ideas about virginity and realized that despite the fact that people tend to think of virginity as something definitive, physical, and absolute, the fact is that it's just an ideal that has no biological basis worth noting. Even the much-touted hymen doesn't give very good proof either way on whether or not a woman is a virgin, since hymens can and often do disintegrate long before a woman has any kind of sexual contact of any sort. And since it only exists as a subjective, hazy concept, it's hardly something you can "give" your husband on your wedding night with a big bow wrapped around it. And yet the sense that birth control and abortion allows women to just run around having sex without saving that special, non-existent virginity-taking experience for their husbands is what drives so much of the resentment that leads up to incidents like clinic arsons.

It's sad, really, that so many anti-choicers get so built up about virginity. The fantasy of cherry-popping on the wedding night, so built up for right wing men that they organize politically in revolt at the idea of not having the opportunity to do it, has to rate as a gigantic disappointment when it actually happens and turns out to be short of the all-encompassing, mind-blowing sexual experience it's built up to be, and instead turns out to be mostly some awkward fumbling that's over much too quickly. Not that you'll get anyone to admit it, of course. The dropping realization that you made a huge, honking deal out of something that wasn't that big a deal at all rarely results in a thorough mea culpa from anyone, and is more likely to result in a lot more defensive and unconvincing assertions that the cherry-popping was everything promised and even more.

Of course, the crazy sexual fantasy serves a larger social agenda, which is controlling women. The whole romance about giving and taking a woman's virginity is largely about women as things that are given and taken, not human beings in their own rights with their own purposes. So while the immediate energy that drives the hostility towards women's health clinics is the anger that women are just running around having sex because they want to, the big picture is that women's sexuality is just a tool to control women altogether.

I have a grand theory of terrorism, though. It's nothing new, but relevant when evaluating the way that anti-choice activism so easily slips into terrorist and terrorist-like activity. Terrorism is the desperate response of people who feel, usually rightly, that they're losing through the normal means. Fundamentalist Muslim terrorists rail against a modernity that's all but inevitable, for instance. In the case of our homegrown anti-choice terrorists and stalkers, it's obvious that they're fighting a losing battle. Sure, they hope to have Roe v. Wade overturned and claim victory in the continuation of abstinence-only funding, but overall, the writing's on the wall. For all their fantasies of women staying virgins until marriage, they live in a country where 95% of Americans end up ignoring that injunction. Women's expanded freedoms can be chipped away at, but the genie is out of the bottle.

Not that we can rest on our laurels, by any stretch. The price of freedom, of course, is constant vigilance, which is why this website even exists. Part of the reason that a cadre of crazy people has even managed to undermine reproductive rights as much as they have is because defenders of those rights have been too lax, felt that a victory won couldn't be undone.

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  • invalid-0

    Why would you say that?

    Fight against it all you want, but there is an element of sexism in the pro life movement’s fight against abortion (and to a lesser extent, birth control and real world sex ed).

  • harry834

    I've been using that statistic too, that 95% of people have sex before marriage. Is that still reliable? I'm guessing the change wouldn't be that big, but just for the sake of accuracy I'm checking in.

  • amanda-marcotte

    Thanks for reminding me that we have to link our evidence endlessly to protect against denialist tendencies. One strategy of denialists of any sort—be it global warming denialists, anti-choice denialists, Holocaust denialists, evolutionary theory denialists—is to completely pretend to forget all the evidence and proof they've seen before and insist that the reality-based people out there continually reinvent the wheel proving reality over and over. Here's the evidence, though being a few months old, I'm sure some anti-choicer would try to say it's not fresh enough. ;)

    I recommend looking over the Guttmacher's site thoroughly, in any case. They're a great, research-based organization that is so thorough that even anti-choice anti-reality bloviating tends to draw short when it comes to attempts to discredit the Guttmacher Institute.

  • harry834

    Thank you for the link

  • harry834
  • invalid-0

    What gets me about this is where Homeland Security is to catch and detain these homemade terrorists? Isn’t that what that organization was made to do?

    Oh wait, the terrorists aren’t brown and Muslim…;p

    But seriously, watching from up here in Canada, it amazes me all the crap that the Anti-lifers get away with. They stalk, assassinate, and scare off people left, right, and centre, yet no one of authority seems to be calling them on it. It certainly does not help that your current boy president supports these people with his idiotic abstinence-only education program, which has been failing miserably in the last few years, but seriously, how far do things have to go before they’re shut down?

    Will it be a public firebombing caught on tape and distributed throughout Youtube to do it?

    It just scares me a little because what happens down there in your country influences the nutbars up here, especially in places that act like the Right Wingers such as Alberta.

  • invalid-0

    I dont know whether to laugh or cry.
    I dont know what those people who say “Sex Education seems to be working” are thinking of ???
    After 25 years of Sex Education , after successfully spoiling all teen age people by increasing the pre-marital sex and abortion rate from 20% to 90%, making HIV/AIDS as one of the successful disease to spread highly in USA,UK
    if someone tells Sex Education seems to be working
    Are people fools to believe this ???
    People who eat food will surely laugh at this news…

    For my question in the following link
    i am sure you will say ‘YES’.
    (I am sorry to ask this. I respect the persons refered here. But to make you understand the feelings i have no other way.)
    Will you advise the same thing to your MOTHER or your WIFE if the situation arises to them ???
    so you wont be having any other feeling .. is it so ???

    Answer me ….
    I dont know why people who promote “Sex Education” are such a FILTHY COWARDS who dont have guts to speak to the film industry for banning sexually adulterated content things which spoils children …

  • invalid-0

    Why are you not answering my questions ???

    Couldnt answer my questions ???

    Trouble to House Wife can only be seen in the cinema, because those filthy people supports working women so that they can enjoy them. In any newspaper, you can see atleast one news about an actress illegal relationship things.

    In reality come and see the outer world. Ask some House Wifes… They will tell you what is kindness, how family structure is safety to the discipline for the children.Do you know how much the House wifes are respected in their families.

    I dont know why americans are such a foolish people. Sex Education is creating such a big destruction … and still couldnt understand that “It is the Sex Education which caused these problems”.

    Dealing things related to sex with the children can only be done by the parent. If any system breaks this, then it will lead to the situation which USA,UK now has…

  • invalid-0

    crossbrackets are your friends. Particularly this one: [/strong]