Amanda interviews the founders of a local branch of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, reviews an interview with sexual educators, and applauds Catholics for a Free Choice. Also: How long will Marc Rudov be on TV?
This week on Reality Cast, we’ll have an interview with the
co-founders of Law Students For Reproductive Justice at Texas, highlights from the Catholics for a
Free Choice’s new podcast series, and a review of Amy Richards and Dan Savage
getting interviewed together about sexual freedom. Also, more on the Marc Rudov firing watch!
Gotta love that Salon has video blogging now. Tracy Clark-Flory had a recent one about an
empty "study" that was reported as finding that you can tell who’s a slut from
her eyes. Turns out the promises of
headlines were not kept by the research.
But what if you could tell someone was open to casual sex
and still didn’t want to do it with you?
Then you’d have to face up to the fact that maybe it’s not them, but it’s
One of the reasons that reproductive activists can say with
confidence that the anti-choice movement is less about saving babies and more
about social control is the central place of religious dogma inside the
anti-choice movement, a dogma that comes from a worldview that’s more about
stratified gender roles than about the issue of when life begins. To quote Katha Pollitt in a recent Nation
In the United States the Catholic church
has lost some of its moral authority–thank you, pedophile priests–but it has
more temporal power than you might think. Along with evangelical Protestants,
it is the main force behind every attempt to restrict abortion, defeat
prochoice politicians, make contraception and the morning-after pill harder to
get, promote false and sexist abstinence-only education and discourage the use
of condoms to prevent HIV by spreading unfounded doubts about their
It’s weird that pro-choicers are supposed to assume the
issue of abortion is separate from opposition to contraception, sex ed, and STD
prevention when the Bible-thumping anti-choicers don’t separate the issues
Obviously, the impetus behind mentioning the Catholic Church
especially is the Pope’s recent visit to the U.S., which was initially met with
a deplorable silence from people who damn well don’t agree that prayer is
better than condoms for combating AIDS.
Luckily, people like my fine colleagues here at RH Reality Check stepped
in and started issuing stern reminders to the rest of the country that the
Catholic Church’s medieval attitudes on women’s liberation and sexuality are
the source of much suffering in the world.
Protestants don’t get off, either, but that’s a bit different in that
you can always start a splinter church if yours starts to go south in these
areas. American Catholics are stuck with
disobedience, which many of them are perfectly willing to embrace.
Some embrace open disobedience and that is who I’m
applauding in this segment, particularly the wonderful organization Catholics
for Free Choice. While some people dance
around the idea that criticizing church dogma is somehow verboten, CFC is
putting out a podcast series that addresses all the damage that the 40 year
church ban on contraception has done.
The first one featured an interview with noted theologian
To outsiders, the contraception ban really does create the
sense that the church doesn’t hold with dissent or even discussion of the
issues, which I think is something of a shame.
Sure, on issues like this, there’s defensive posturing from the Vatican, but
it’s not actually true that Catholics are generally discouraged from being
thinking people who ask questions. They
haven’t started huge education systems because they’re anti-free thought. The only explanation that I can think of as
to why contraception is an issue where people have to disobey instead of hash
it out in debate is because the powers that be in the church know deep down
inside that they’re wrong, and are afraid of a discussion that would expose
The second podcast that’s up is an interview with feminist
theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether.
Knowing the history behind all this doesn’t make the ban on contraception
better, but it does make it more understandable. I know that one reason periods were built
into the original birth control pill was that the researchers hoped it would
make it more palatable for the Catholic Church.
Obviously, that not only didn’t work out, the church got more determined
about the ban.
Hat tip to Feministing for this link to an interview with
Amy Richards and Dan Savage on Fora TV. Listening to them talk about abortion
and adoption is great, but also made me really sad, because it seems like
feminists, sexuality educators, and pro-choicers in general spend so much of
our time trying to clear up misconceptions.
amy and dan 1
I’ll admit; I have my own take on this phenomenon that she’s
describing. I’m not sure that it’s so
much that abortion just happens to overshadow other reproductive rights issues,
but that abortion overshadows them by design.
Not to say that there’s an open conspiracy, but more that the anti-feminist
interest in abortion is opportunistic.
Basically, there’s a lot of people who oppose women’s right to equality,
and they want to demonize feminism. But
they can’t just say, "Oh, they’re bad because they want women to have rights,"
because Americans are about fairness and democracy and will reject open
arguments for inequality. So they latch
onto abortion and make it an issue because there’s a way, however dishonest, to
spin abortion rights as a bad thing because of the babies. To make a long story short, abortion is the
most attacked right because feminism itself is under attack, and that’s just
the most convenient weapon.
amy and dan 2
There’s two things here.
To give feminists who are hostile to adoption some benefit of the doubt,
it’s worth remembering that far more
adoptions are coerced than abortion, especially when you talk about
historically speaking. Dan, I’m sure,
knows this since he joked a lot in his book about how everyone in his adoption
group was holding out for the healthy white newborn, which is such a rare thing
on the adoption market precisely because few women, if given a completely free
choice, will bring a baby to term just to hand it over to someone else. We aren’t wrong to say that when right
wingers talk about adoption, they’re talking about a return to maternity homes,
where unwed mothers were strapped to the delivery table and had their babies
taken away from them against their will.
Literally, that’s the only way to restore the adoption market to the way
it was before Roe v. Wade.
But I know that Dan gets that, which is why he talks up open
adoption, which adheres to the principles of choice and consent in a way that
closed adoption doesn’t. The other thing
I want to say about everything else he says is that this is why a lot of
activists prefer to talk about reproductive justice instead of choice or even
rights. There is no doubt that a lot of
women have abortions who would rather not, but they can’t afford to have
babies. In order to help them make free
choices, we need a society that embraces economic justice as well as civil
rights. I’m pleased to see that this
analysis is reaching even the levels of federal legislation more and more
And now why I love Dan Savage, who totally has my ass beat
in terms of phrasing things in a straight to the point manner. Here he is, talking about abstinence-only sex
amy and dan 3
That story doesn’t surprise me one bit. More than anything, these anti-sex political
agendas get steam from people’s shame about sexuality that both makes them fear
speaking up for the side of right, and makes it really easy to bash
others. All it would take to take out a
well-meaning teacher giving good information in a Texas school would be for one uptight fundie
student to make some scandalous accusations that the teacher was teaching them
how to masturbate or something. No
wonder people are scared.
Now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, which is quickly becoming
Marc Rudov Firing Watch. He went on Fox
News’ Your World and spewed his woman-hating nonsense all over the place. He started off by claiming black is white and
up is down.
* insert rudov 1
Someone that out of touch with reality needs to take a
break, perhaps seek psychiatric care for his hallucinations. Only in America do we put him on TV like
he’s got some authority to speak about anything.
And then he called a major Presidential candidate a bitch,
something that was basically impossible to do in the past because that’s a
frigging gendered term.
But there’s no such thing as misogyny!