In 2012 Campaign Season, Anti-Choicers Show Their True Colors


Anti-choicers know that their official line is that they’re not in this because they have backwards views on gender or that they’re afraid of female sexuality. Sure, they do have these beliefs, but we are expected to pretend that there’s no connection between their “traditional” views on women generally and their opposition to abortion rights. People who fail to play along with these expectations and insist on pointing out connections get paid in screaming, yelling, and playing-the-victim antics from anti-choicers. Considering how much knowledge anti-choicers have that their backwards views on gender hurt their cause, you’d think they wouldn’t be messing it up and letting the cat out of the bag as often as they do lately.

Indeed, showing their true colors has been a theme of anti-choicers this campaign season, from Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment to Mike Huckabee’s extolling the virtues of rape as a baby delivery system to Paul Ryan minimizing rape by calling it a “method of conception.” But even beyond making comments indicating that they don’t really think rape is a big deal—it’s not like raping uterus vessels is the same as violating people, right?—it just seems generally like anti-choicers are getting weary of play-acting like this is about “life.” The urge to say what they actually mean, to shame women for being sexual and for being independent, is just becoming too great. Decades of pretending has worn thin. Now the seams are showing, and the misogynist comments are coming out.

The most prominent example is, of course, the viciousness towards the 99 percent of women who will use contraception at some point in their lives and who, as a result of the birth control benefit under health reform will now gain access to affordable contraceptive care. Most of the hatred was dumped on Sandra Fluke, who appears to most of us to be a normal law student, but who represents everything the anti-choice movement hates: A woman who unapologetically wants equality with men and who is unafraid to advocate for reproductive autonomy as a tool to get it. Hardly a week goes by anymore that some right wing pundit on the radio or Fox News doesn’t take a swipe at Fluke, implying that she’s some kind of emasculating, sex-crazed monster for no other reason than she’s a woman with ambition who thinks that it’s one’s basic human right to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Now that anti-choicers have shown their hand, they just can’t stop doing it more and more. Erin Gloria Ryan, covered the RNC and attended an anti-choice women’s meeting. The expected nonsense was trotted out: Lies claiming that women are so stupid/lazy they wait until 8 months to have an abortion, war-mongerers who want to cut off health care access pretending they care about “life,” misrepresentations of 19th century feminist beliefs. But beyond that, the pretense that gender politics have nothing to do with this appears to have been dropped:

There was also a pervasive and revisited insistance during the proceedings that even though the women who were speaking were high-ranking government officials who have worked their asses off, they’re still proper ladies because they’re doing stuff like rushing home after work to take care of the kids, a factoid [Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List] made sure to share about Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Later in the program, she obliquely pointed out that women there still relied on their husbands for leadership. “I know the women who are the head of the organizations here, we love our husbands for their counsel and love all the time.” Oh, good. I was worried I was about to listen to speeches from women who think for themselves. Carry on! 

They have Thoughts about pro-choice women, too; during an off-the-cuff moment, Dannenfelser remarked, “Unlike the other side, people in this room actually like men. Isn’t that awesome?!” and the room tittered with knowing appreciation.

Ryan asks how it is that pro-choice women need abortion rights if we hate men so much, but really, this sort of thing is typical right-wing projection. Plenty of men hate women and still have sex with them. Plenty of conservative women resent men—see Ann Romney’s speech at the RNC—but they simply believe it’s impossible to ask men to treat women with fairness. For conservatives, the notion that the sexes are so different they must always be at odds is a given. They’re simply projecting their own failures of imagination onto feminists, which is typical enough in right-wing land.

But what is interesting about this comment is the implication: In order to prove that one likes men, one must be willing to get pregnant and have a baby at any point in time. To refuse to do so is a rejection of men as a class. Even if your particular man agrees with you that now is not a good time for baby-making, in order to prove that you like him, his sperm’s desire to make a baby must be honored above not just your desires but also his. A very strange belief indeed!

But it shows what all this is about, in the end: Hostility to abortion rights and contraception access is about gender anxiety. It’s about this strange fear that unless women are forced into a subservient, dependent position to men, women will not want anything to do with men. Anti-choicers are reacting to a paranoid belief that if women are totally free to choose our own paths, we won’t choose to have men on our journeys. It’s yet further proof that misogyny has an element of man-hating to it, because the misogynist believes that men are not capable of being true friends and partners to women, that men can only enter into relationships with women that have an element of coercion and control. It’s funny, really, to see someone who thinks so little of men preen about how she “likes” them. From the feminist point of view, truly liking men means giving them enough credit to believe that men can be in relationships without forced childbirth being the glue that binds them to women. 

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  • johann7

    Anti-choicers are reacting to a paranoid belief that if women are totally free to choose our own paths, we won’t choose to have men on our journeys. It’s yet further proof that misogyny has an element of man-hating to it, because the misogynist believes that men are not capable of being true friends and partners to women, that men can only enter into relationships with women that have an element of coercion and control. It’s funny, really, to see someone who thinks so little of men preen about how she “likes” them. From the feminist point of view, truly liking men means giving them enough credit to believe that men can be in relationships without forced childbirth being the glue that binds them to women.

    This perfectly illustrates the crux of the issue! It ties right in with the weird projecting that goes on around contraception or gay marriage when someone starts in with paranoia about birth rates or straight marriage, as if the only reason people ever get married to someone of a different sex/gender or have children is because there are no other options. The ideas that people (especially women with men) might actually freely (well, as freely as is possible with all of the power cultural influence exerts over our behaviors) choose to get together or have children seems completely foreign to the Conservative worldview (my guess is that they’re projecting – because they didn’t ever have a choice and would have perhaps chosen differently had they, they assume their experiences are universal, a common assumption of authoritarian conservative thought).

  • blissed

    shame women for being sexual and for being independent”

    .

    That is what a man is doing when he segregates (in his mind) women into categories depending on what he wants at any particular time in his life.  A number of shame-related issues that cause such angst and bewilderment for women is manifest in this universal thought pattern among men.  A prime example is the sudden shift in a man’s life to a preference for low-partner count women (fortunately, virginity is not required) when considering who is worthy for a long term commitment. 

    .

    Men need to be convinced to change their minds and see how ridiculous it is to attach meaning to a woman’s sexual activity.  Only then will all the other issues that conflate shame and sex begin to go away.



  • amanda-marcotte

    But only in threats. I’ve never seen a scrap of evidence that many men actually consider a woman’s number of partners before settling down with her. 

  • forced-birth-rape

    Pro-forced-birthers think women and little girls vaginas are born in debt, I would rather not be born. Thay hate with a bloody passion women and little girls right to say, NO! I will not be married, I will not have sex, I will not give birth. They do not want women and little girls having ownership of our own vaginas.

     

    I was taught in my southern Baptist family that a woman cannot deny her husband sex, ever. If a man rapes his wife it is not rape, because there is no such thing as rape in marriage. If a man beats his wife it is her fault for not being submissive enough. A woman cannot divorce her husband for anything other then adultery. We are condemned for not getting married at eighteen. Why would I want to get married if my husband can beat me and I can not divorce him? Why would I want to get married if my husband can rape me and I cannot divorce him? As someone who grew up with a wife-beating father and was sexually abused as a little girl this is devastating. 

  • blissed

    What is the nature of these threats?

     

    I’ve never seen a scrap of evidence that many men actually consider a woman’s number of partners before settling down with her. 

    Evidence in what form? This is from Feministing:

     

    tstamp

    Posted September 9, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    There is this notion of slut shaming in the media and it happens on a more personal level among people who shame one another. There is also something that is discussed on other websites but never in the wider media – something called slut rejection. The latter is what heterosexual men who seek a life partner supposedly engage in. I have personal experience with this. My ex did not try to shame me but upon knowing more about me, he just sort of faded away. Its so wrong that women may have to lie or not say anything and either strategy is prone to backfire. I believe that if men had less alternatives, that is if most or many women had a fruitful sexual history, then that would become the norm and therefore acceptable.

    http://feministing.com/2010/09/09/fatslut-acceptance-and-the-meritocracy-myth/

     

    So, no, there is not an official survey or study.  Just tragic stories and quite frankly, few women are willing to discuss it.  They just move on and hope for the best.

     

    Women must be the ones who reclaim, define and determine what is “wife material” and feed it back to men until they get it!

     

  • thalwen

    See the reason we can still be man-hating feminists and still go to the abortuary every weekend is.. because abortion is such great fun that we use our feminine Imperius curses against the poor mens so we can keep getting abortions. 

     

    The conservative world is really weird and scary. Women (i.e. sluts) are all about having lots of sex with men who are totally covered in cooties. Proper women totally dig men, but not because of their personality or anything but because of Jesus juice and baybees. And the only reason men marry women is because they can’t marry men (I suspect there’s cooties involved here too). There are rumours of beings called lesbians, but sightings of those are about as common as unicorns, Nessie and Jesus toast.

     

    And gay sex is must be really awesome because it can cause natural disasters. Meanwhile straight sex is totally boring but can create an amazing and precious form of life called a foetus. Unfortunately, after about 9 months, the foetus transforms into a baby full of original sin and poop and tons of cooties.