It's all Jamie Lynn Spears all the time on this week's Reality Cast. Well, except Amanda does tackle the hard-hitting news about the protesters in Denver trying to block the opening of a new Planned Parenthood. Also, a bit of history and abortion doctors somehow invented a time machine using greeting cards.
Links in this episode:
Jamie Lynn Spears as a mother
Pregnant in office
Anti-choicers strike against contractors
Denver news exposes anti-choice protesters
Communist Romania and reproductive justice
New Mexico arsons
Nickelodeon tackles sex ed
MSNBC freak out over sex ed
Save the baby Jesus from time traveling abortionists!
This week on Reality Cast, we'll be skipping the interview and letting our hard working activists and authors enjoy their holidays a bit longer. Instead, we'll have segments on Jamie Lynn Spears and motherhood, Jamie Lynn Spears and sex education, and a non-Spears segment on the assault on Planned Parenthood in Denver.
I'd like to bring everyone's attention to an interesting anniversary detailed on the blog Executed Today. On December 27th, 1739, New Hampshire performed its first executions by killing Penelope Kenny and Sarah Simpson for the crime of infanticide. Simpson, for the record, claimed it was a miscarriage, but the state decided that too was a crime punishable by death.
Obviously, there's more to the story, and the crime of having sex outside of marriage is the relevant issue. Both women were pregnant out of wedlock, and having a child outside of marriage in that society might make it so hard to earn a living that you and your child could die of starvation. Infanticide horrifies us now, but back then it was a matter of survival.
It's by no means clear that the executions were solely because of the infanticide, and had nothing to do with punishing the women for their sexuality. If you check the link provided on the podcast page, you'll see that the legal documents have more language about lewd women and bastard children than about murder.
I'll confess; I'm fascinated by the public reaction to Jamie Lynn Spears announcing that she's pregnant at 16. It's really been a great opportunity to watch all the attitudes about pregnancy, women's rights and motherhood that are concealed under a bunch of politically correct code language like "pro-life" and "abstinence" come boiling to the surface. I feel kind of bad for Spears, since she's in the classic damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. First there's the sex itself. Damned if you do, you whore, and damned if you don't, you tease. Then there's the contraception aspects. Damned if you do, since you planned it, and only sluts plan it. Damned if you don't, because whoops, pregnant. Then there's the post-conception choice. Damned if you get an abortion, because of the pious empty-headed nonsense about how it's bad. Damned if you don't get an abortion, because then everyone will condemn you for being that demonized stereotype, the teenage mother.
This clip from CNN captures the no win aspects of this whole thing very well.
*insert cnn spears*
I love how it's supposedly a given that a woman can't both be a mother and have this career. Why not? There's exactly zero percent reason that Spears can't have her baby and return to her show. God knows she doesn't have the obstacles some women have like affording day care. Of course, if you can't afford day care, you can't afford not to work, either. More damned if you do, damned if you don't. I recommend reading the article linked on the podcast page by Jane Hamsher about how mothers are put in this situation where everyone sits in judgment and no choices are right.
I'd also like to recommend this blog post by Jesse Wendel at the Group News Blog about the furor over Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand having the nerve, the nerve I tell you, to have a baby while in office as if she were a man or something. He's responding to a letter to the editor of the Glen Falls Post Star who argues that pregnancy is a fine excuse to wield against women to keep us out of power.
I quote from the letter: "And now, I have to add serving in the U.S. House and Senate as an occupation that may not be suitable for women. Ms. Gillibrand's current pregnancy makes a strong case for my opinion. Ms. Gillibrand was elected to serve her constituency, and while she is away from her elected office she cannot perform those duties. The taxpayers who were duped into voting for her will have to pay for her medical benefits. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, Ms. Gillibrand receives excellent health benefits, courtesy of her constituents. We will be without representation in Congress for a time leading up to and following the child's birth. There will be times when she and the new baby will visit doctors. You can add those days to the total that she will not be serving her constituents."
Jesse tears this letter to shreds, but I'd like to add that I'm not impressed at all by this line of argument. By his logic, no human being should actually serve in Congress, since we all have biological bodies that are capable of injury or illness that might require medical treatment and time off work. Hell, we all have to sleep, taking 8 whole hours a night away from the ability to represent your constituents. But even if you accept the silly idea that pregnancy is somehow more debilitating than say, a bum heart or a past of having cancer like many male members of Congress have, then that's no reason to say that all women should be out of Congress. I'm fairly certain most of our most powerful female leaders are past the age of having children. It's not like Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi is going to pull a John Kennedy on us and have small children around while performing the duties of high office.
As has been briefly discussed on this show before, the announcement that a new state-of-the-art Planned Parenthood is being built in Denver, Colorado was bound to draw the anti-choice nuts who've got a new tactic that was developed here in Austin, TX. That tactic? Threatening the contractors who actually take the work building the clinic. Chris Danze of Austin, TX openly bragged about his willingness to stalk contractors and threaten their families' safety if they dared build women's clinics in Austin. Family values means threatening children, wouldn't you know?
The Denver community is not taking this crap from the misogynist nuts, either.
FOX 31 in Denver has been doing an expose on the way anti-choicers openly embrace terrorist tactics to delay the construction of a new Planned Parenthood. They interviewed one contractor who quit the job, even though it was a good, well-paid contract, because he feared for his children and his home, which was being picketed by the anti-choice crazies.
*insert planned parenthood 1*
It's worth noting that communist Romania was an anti-choicer's dream world—mandatory pregnancy checks, an abortion ban, a ban on contraception, criminal investigations into miscarriages, and a minimum birth requirement. They also got an astronomical death rate from illegal abortion and orphanages stuffed full of children that were destined to have lifelong problems from their childhood neglect. Widespread poverty and misery in service of an anti-woman agenda! Paradise on earth.
Anti-choice nut Will Duffy issued the standard terrorist defense on "Good Day Colorado".
*insert planned parenthood 2*
What's interesting about these tactics is that they basically turn the community against you. Anti-choicers are better off pretending they're just deeply religious people who are out of touch with reality and really just love babies. At least then thinking people get all sentimental and condescending. Let's be nice to the pitiful people who are just too naïve to get that you can't take away a woman's rights because you think babies are so cute! But once you start to terrorize people in their homes, they aren't going to like you so much. Like this guy they interviewed who does NOT like protesters camping out on his front lawn threatening his neighbors.
*insert planned parenthood 3*
It is a good question. Why are the police offering protection to people who are there to send the message, "I know where you live and how to get to your children?" It's crazy that the religious right has enough power to induce protection for people who would be considered stalkers and potentially violent if they were doing this for any other reason.
All this is beginning to worry me. There's been a decline in actual violence against clinics and workers for a long time now, but the escalation of hostile terrorist strategies against Planned Parenthood and more recent attacks like the arson of an Albuquerque women's clinic are hinting that things may turn ugly again.
A new wrinkle in the scandal that erupted because Jamie Lynn Spears didn't quietly get an abortion while publicly condemning it. Nickelodeon is considering having a special with Linda Ellerbee about sex, love, and the importance of being responsible about your sexual activity on the network to address the parental panic over this whole issue. Upon hearing that Nickelodeon might help prevent a single teenage pregnancy, the talking heads at the morning show on MSNBC went bonkers. What's really great about this clip is they don't even try to give lip service to the idea that kids shouldn't be having babies when they're too young. It's all you have the sex, you should be punished punished punished.
*insert nick sex 1*
How dare they! Who doesn't want their kids to get pregnant? I know if I had kids, I'd want them getting pregnant at ages 11 or 12, and I wouldn't want a stupid TV network telling them how to protect themselves until they're ready or something crazy like that. Doesn't every parent want that for their daughters, early childbirth or at least the exciting experience of youthful abortions?
And then she continues to be horrified at these immoral kids escaping what is apparently their duty to have lots and lots of babies to no end except I suppose as punishment for the evil sex.
*insert nick sex 2*
The cover story here is that kids shouldn't be having sex blah blah blah. But it's clear from the focus of her outrage that the real issue is that kids are using contraception when they have sex. How dare they, when the rest of us are so old and have jobs and stuff and can't be having carefree sex with teenage bodies ever again. They should at least do us the courtesy of suffering unintended pregnancy so that we feel better about sagging and stuff.
They should just repeat abstinence proponent Leslee Unruh's little breakdown on national television over and over as the official reaction to teen sexuality in the news.
*insert more babies*
This would be an opportune time, I think, to point out the ulterior motives of the anti-choice maneuvers to maximize the number of teenage girls having babies. You know those "Choose Life" Florida license plates? Well, the money raised from those is supposed to help encourage women not to get abortions by helping them with the expenses of a pregnancy. But the money isn't really getting spent. Why not? Because you only get the money if you give up the baby for adoption. So really, it's not about stopping abortion at all, but about replenishing the baby market with fresh babies, preferably white and healthy of course.
This is why I'm against the whole frame where abortion opponents, at least the organized ones, are painted as simple minded fools that just love babies. There's an entire plan here, even though it's too crazy to work. Basically, the idea is to ban contraception and ban abortion and ban sex education to make sure there's a steady stream of teenage girls producing babies that can be snatched away from them and sent to live with older couples that have earned it by giving the appearance of obedience. Perfect, right? The only people who suffer in this system are the girls who have their babies snatched from them in despair and the women who are mutilated by illegal abortion. But hey, in the anti-choice view, those women and girls have it coming, because they're so sinful and all.
Now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, with this American Life League video about how if you're pro-choice, your only real motivation could be that you want to kill the baby Jesus.
*insert choice on earth*
They later compare abortion to King Herod's baby-killing rampage, which is safely in the category of Biblical legend instead of historical fact. There's not much to say to this, except that it's amusing how they think that being pro-choice means that you want to abort every pregnancy ever. Which implies that unless women are forced to have babies, they never would, which in turn implies that they think that keeping all women in sexual slavery is the survival strategy for the human race, not that they'd use that kind of evolutionary theory-tainted language or anything.
All I know is that if I'd known that Planned Parenthood had "Choice On Earth" cards sooner, I might have actually bothered to send out Christmas cards this year.