Episode 5: The Dark Side of Hyper-fertility

The dark side of hyper-fertility, how violence isn't peace, and an interview with Lynn Paltrow of NAPW. Also: Is making the first move sexist?

Links from this episode:
Fresh Focus contest
Attempted bombing of Austin clinic
Violence against clinics
NOW vs. Schiedler
National Advocates For Pregnant Women
The erasing of Quiverfull
"Arrows for the War"
ABC News on Quiverfull
Ahmadinejad denies the existence of homosexuals


On this week's episode of Reality Cast, we'll have an interview with National Advocates for Pregnant Women director, Lynn Paltrow, advice on how to be forward without being pushy, and of course, more refutations of anti-choice nonsense.

But first I'd like to mention the sex ed video contest I mentioned some weeks back. It's up and running and you can get information and entrance rules at rh realitycheck dot org slash fresh focus. If you're between the ages of 15 and 30, you can submit a video about sex ed up to 3 minutes long. Make a video about how bad your sex ed experience was, or how good it was, or how you think sex ed can do better. Whoever makes the most interesting, fun, or funny video will win $3500, 2nd prize will get $1,000 and 3rd prize will get a Nikon P5000, a Nintendo Wii or an iPhone. All finalists videos will be shown at the Sex::Tech Conference in January in San Francisco. It currently looks like I'll be going to that conference, so you know at least I'll be watching it.


The first item today is about the continuing harassment of the new Planned Parenthood in Aurora, IL that we covered in last week's show. Here's a clip of one of the bloviating, self-congratulatory asses at the anti-choice demonstrations in front of the new building.

*insert clip*

Must be very recent history, since right around the corner from my home here in Austin back in April of this year, someone tried to blow up an abortion clinic. According to MSNBC, "There were 1,700 acts of violence against abortion providers between 1977 and 1994, with four people killed in 1994 and one in 1993, according to statistics from the National Abortion Federation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has logged 167 attacks against abortion clinics over the past 15 years."

In addition, even the direct protesters in Aurora can't lay claim to a peaceful philosophy. The Pro Life Action Network is taking credit for the clinic shut downs in Aurora on their website. In the arguments before the Supreme Court during the case NOW vs. Scheidler, it was noted that the Pro Life Action League has committed well documented actions of violence and intimidation against clinics, patients and workers throughout its history. From NOW's FAQ sheet on the lawsuit:

The jury in the case found that 121 crimes involving acts or threats of unlawful force or violence were orchestrated by the Pro-Life Action Network ("PLAN"). Below are just a few examples of the violent incidents which occurred under PLAN's direction:

In Los Angeles, they beat a post-operative ovarian surgery patient over the head with their anti-abortion sign, knocking her unconscious and causing her to bleed from the sutures in her abdomen.

In Atlanta, they seized a clinic administrator by the throat, choking and bruising her.

In Pensacola, they assaulted a clinic staff member and volunteer by slamming them against the stairs, sending them to the hospital and leaving one with permanent injuries; meanwhile, they "trashed" the clinic, destroying medications and equipment.

Etc. and so forth. Of course, the anti-choicers might be working under a different definition of "peaceful" than I am. I tend to think that peaceful means peaceful, naive and silly girl that I am.


*Interview with Lynn Paltrow*


Is The Learning Channel helping mainstream patriarchal religious fanaticism? That's the accusation leveled by Miranda Spencer at WIMN's voices in response to TLC's program about the Duggar family, "Raising 16 Children". Since the program was originally filmed and aired, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have had a 17th child. The program treats the gigantic family like a sitcom-esque anomaly, and according to Spencer, they gloss over the right wing bent of the religious movement called "Quiverfull". In fact, the program never even mentions the name of this movement, misleading the viewer into thinking that the fertile family is just a little kooky, but cute and harmless.

*insert duggar clan*

As Spencer notes, the show implies that the Duggars just love having kids, while ignoring that their love of kids is part of a larger, more ominous package of political opposition to both women's reproductive rights and women's general social advancement. There's no mention for sure in the program of the way Quiverfull advocates speak of raising an army to combat godlessness and liberalism. No mention of the Quiverfull's attachment to a larger right wing backlash against women's rights. For that, you have to go to the alternative media, especially Kathryn Joyce's November 2006 article in the Nation that chronicled the hard right reactionary politics that drive the Quiverfull movement.

ABC News addressed the situation more responsibly, exposing the logical inconsistencies of this philosophy that states that birth control of any sort is wrong because it's not natural, first by interviewing a female follower of the movement and then the founder.

*insert quiverfull 1*

Got that? It's okay to use unnatural medical intervention to keep the womb working, but wrong to use unnatural means to give the womb a break. The entire discourse about natural vs. unnatural is a red herring; their real agenda is keeping women tied to the kitchen and trying to outbreed the rest of us.

ABC News also zeroed in on the brutal attitude towards women and women's rights that's a fundamental part of this philosophy. The father in the program reacted hostilely to the idea of higher education for women.

*insert quiverfull 2*

And the mother reiterated that a woman's role is to be ruled over by her husband.

*insert quiverfull 3*

I'm guessing that daughters have no more authority over their own lives than wives do in this subculture. I'm not even going into how cruel it is to tell people not to control their fertility if their income can't handle families of a dozen or more kids.

So what does all this mean? The Quiverfull movement, while growing, is still a teeny tiny minority of religious fanatics in the U.S. But their extreme views are the logical result of the rhetoric of the much larger religious right, that's anti-choice, anti-women's rights and hostile to foreigners. The Quiverfulls only number in the thousands, but the larger anti-choice movement from which they came has the President's ear.


Today's mailbag is a pretty common question asked of feminist know-it-alls like myself.

What are some guidelines for when and how it's okay to initiate minor physical contact with a woman? I understand that people often signal their interest this way, and it's also fun for its own sake, but I'm usually nervous enough about invading her personal space that I refrain from putting my arm around her or playing footsie or anything like that. Anything you could say on this would be appreciated!

Ah, this reminds me of a clip a friend sent me from that new show "Flight of the Concords". I haven't actually watched much of the show, but the scene he sent me didn't really need any context—it's a scene where the audience is privy to this guy's thoughts while he's eyeballing a woman he's just met.

*insert clip*

I appreciated that, because most movies and TV shows make it seem like physical affection just happens for the first time with couples. The music swells, you fall into each others' arms, and no words need be spoken. And thus the idea is born that talking too much is somehow unromantic.

I hate that, I have to say. It might be a bit of professional snottiness, since I'm a writer and love words, but I don't think words are bad things that ruin the mood. Words are your friends. Grammar and conceptualization set us apart from the other animals. You want to show a woman that you're a step above the leg-humping dogs of the world? Well, do what dogs can't and talk to her. I'm a big fan of asking if you can kiss someone. Most smart women aren't going to be annoyed that you decided to include them in the kissing decision before kissing actually occurs, I'm sure. Asking is even downright charming.

True, you asked about putting your arm around a woman or playing footsie. Well, footsie is another one of those movie things. In real life, most of us assume it's an accident if someone kicks us under the table. And usually the public hand-holding tends to occur after you've already established some kind of physical relationship anyway. So start with the kissing.

Please send mailbag questions to amanda at rh reality check dot org. We do not dispense medical advice at the mailbag, so please direct medical questions to your health practioner.


I need to come up with a name for this final part of Reality Cast that's not the moment of zen, a la "The Daily Show". Please email nominations for a new name to amanda at rh reality check dot org. The general idea is a quote-to-grow-on from a wingnut of the week. Today's is from the Iranian President on how, through the power of religious fundamentalism, his country has managed to become 100% homosexual free.

*insert quote

The secret ingredient? Executions.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • http://www.scandalouscorruption.com invalid-0

    Thank you for the information on the issue,True, you asked about putting your arm around a woman or playing footsie. Well, footsie is another one of those movie things. In real life, most of us assume it’s an accident if someone kicks us under the table. And usually the public hand-holding tends to occur after you’ve already established some kind of physical relationship anyway. So start with the kissing.