An interview with health activist Byllye Avery, a defense of the pregnant man, an examination of polygamous cults, and why Limbaugh probably doesn't even hear himself talk.
Links in this Episode:
Thomas Beatie's story
"The Morning Joe" mocks Beatie
Bill O'Reilly mocks Beatie
Raising Women's Voices
FDLS cult in Texas
Limbaugh condemns abortion, divorce, women who don't hate themselves
This week on Reality Cast, an interview with Byllye Avery, a review of the media coverage of the pregnant man, and some analysis of how polygamous Mormon cults fit into our larger culture.
From Women's Take, I see that Advocates For Youth has put out a great educational video on emergency contraception.
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Straight, to the point. Though I don't think a woman should be ashamed or freaked out about abortion, it's always nice to avoid having to be put in the position to choose one.
As soon as I saw this story in the Advocate about a pregnant man, I knew that if it ever got into the mainstream media, we'd be seeing heads exploding everywhere. The story is simple and, if you think about it, not all that astounding. Thomas Beatie is a man who used to be a woman. When he transitioned, he kept his reproductive organs so that he could get pregnant, since his wife, who he is legally married to, can't have children.
And then Oprah picked it up. He looked nervous on the show, but he did a really good job. And it's smart—better to get ahead of the curve on this and not let someone else out you and make you some tabloid story.
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As soon as this interview was over, the mean-spirited gender warriors who want to put everyone in a box, no matter how miserable it makes them, jumped into action. As you can guess, the idea of a pregnant man just made all members of the gossipy wingnut tribe go beserk, even if they are supposedly not that conservative. I keep hearing that media is so liberal, but it appears to be very conservative, at least on gender issues.
The hosts of "The Morning Joe" on MSNBC acted like complete children about this, making fun of Beatie and acting like he was going to make them sick.
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All this talk was over footage of Beatie and his wife and it was really a strange juxtaposition. From the way they're reacting, you'd think the footage was of animals getting slaughtered or a video of bestiality or something. But you're looking at the footage and what's most obvious is how normal it really seems. True, you don't see a pregnant man every day, but he seems comfortable with it, and after you look at it for a moment, so long as you don't freak out, it begins to seem perfectly fine. It's nothing to get alarmed over, much less to say that it's sickening. Their disgust is actually more startling than anything.
Bill O'Reilly, as you can imagine, was the paragon of kindness on this.
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Seriously now, given a choice between being born into this family and being born into O'Reilly's family, I'd take the transgender dad in a New York minute.
What I love about all the hubbub is how transparent it all is. Our society is perfectly accepting of creative solutions to having children, so long as you stay faithful to the strict gender roles. In vitro fertilization, adoption, even sperm banks don't cause much of a fuss because they all suit the needs of straight couples looking to have babies. So this isn't about the medical oddity, but about how it's a queer couple getting around oppression.
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Once in awhile, another polygamous FDLS compound gets outed, and the most recent winners of this sweepstakes are a bunch right here in the state of Texas, in a town called El Dorado. coverage of these events leaves me of two minds. On one hand, it's good that the veil is being ripped back and people see what the end result of male control of women leads to—forced marriage, rape, and very young childbirth. On the other hand, there's this distancing thing where you don't see many people admit that cults like this are the logical result of a larger culture that attacks women's rights.
But that's what this podcast is for, right? We can cover the same story but with a spin that's more mindful of the political pressures involved.
On CNN, a woman named Kathy Jo Nicholson who grew up in a fundamentalist Mormon household explains what it was like.
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I think this sort of testimony really draws attention to the point that is critical here. There's a lot of misunderstanding about the difference between heady levels of lust and sexual dominance. It's believed that men rape and control women mainly for sexual reasons, but in fact it's more about power and control and status even. We hear about a cult where men give their daughters over to their friends to be raped, though they call it spiritual marriage, and we think, oh these old guys have a racket to get themselves all the young flesh. That might be part of it, but as her story shows, they also give over girls to men that are basically unable to even perform the sexual functions. It's about male dominance at its core, about signaling a man's power to other men, and about sending the signal to women that they aren't people, but property.
To drive home this point, Nicholson talks about the power trip that Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the cult she escaped, wielded over the children at her school.
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In the less severe patriarchy of the larger culture, you don't see this kind of open embrace of child abuse, but you do see the notion that children are property and that minors should be strongly controlled. The sex ed debate is largely about this, because it's fundamentally about the idea that the sexuality of minors should either conform to a standard set by conservatives, or that the kids should suffer STDs or unplanned pregnancy if they don't comply.
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If you're paying attention, you'll notice that it's similar to the other kinds of domestic violence traps in the larger culture. Women have this technical freedom to leave abusive marriages and abusive families, but they don't have real freedom if they have no where to go.
I'll leave you with this comment from reporter Mike Watkiss, an expert who has pursued Warren Jeffs in Arizona, and was on Larry King to talk about this case.
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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts. There were a lot of clips to choose from this week, but I like this rant from Rush Limbaugh that demonstrates that wingnuts seem to think abortion is castration.
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Rush himself has been divorced three times, but I guess that's okay if you're a man. He hasn't had any abortions, of course, but I'm sure that if he had, he'd probably excuse himself on that one, too.