Republican Convention Confusion And A Bit Of Music


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Candidate health care plans

Anti-choice ruminations

Max Blumenthal interviews attendees

Right wingers share their love of teenage pregnancy

The word is "choice"

Mike Belling freaks out

Mark Levin freaks out

We’re expanding our interview base this episode and bringing is some talented bloggers to talk about issues related to reproductive rights and the election.  Today’s blogger is Renee from Womanist Musings.  Also, coverage of the Republican National Convention, an explanation of what ad hominem really means, and your podcaster learns that Kate Perry is not covering Jill Sobule’s far superior song.

Confused about the different health care plans and ideas being kicked around this election season?  Well, sitting here in Texas, I feel your pain.  Texas tends to lead the pack on all sorts of bad outcomes for its residents on so many levels, and health care is one of those areas.  Which means that the Texas Medical Association had a debate between representatives for the Obama and the McCain campaign on their health care plans.  

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You can listen to the whole debate at KUT, the public radio station here in Austin.

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I promised you coverage of the Republican National Convention, and coverage you shall receive.  Needless to say, this is going to be a lot messier than the Democratic National Convention.  The DNC’s pro-choice, pro-woman platform that seems like it was culled from reproductive justice activist memos meant that everyone was on the same page.  But the Republicans are having message control problems, which were only compounded by vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter exhibiting a rather inconvenient teenage pregnancy.  But more on that in a bit.  

Anti-choicers ruled the platform at the RNC. If you’ve become inured to this thought, here’s a reminder of how crazy this all is by listening to an interview with a Texas delegate on the subject.  

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From the main stage of the RNC, we heard a lot of talk about the horror of 9/11.  But it appears that the people who are dictating the reproductive rights agenda of the Republican party don’t seem to think 9/11 was that bad, at least not compared to some women choosing not to have children right now.  If abortion is a holocaust because it reduces population growth, then that means pretty much anything that falls short of non-stop reproduction is a holocaust.  Next using condoms until you’re married and financially stable is going to make you Hitler.  

Now, these extremely anti-woman opinions are out of the mainstream.  And though the Republicans have to cater to these people, their wacky opinions are far from shared by all Republicans.  In fact, it was speculated that McCain picked Palin as a running mate because it was really hard to find a Republican woman with a respectable job title who wasn’t pro-choice on some level.

As you know, Sarah Palin comes with her very pregnant 17-year-old daughter, who is living the anti-choice dream of teenage childbirth and marriage.  But that’s not the dream most Americans have for their kids.  Max Blumenthal found a woman who didn’t realize that her anti-abortion stance was being exposed as just general hostility to sex and women’s freedom.

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Notice how only the daughters are expected to be "pure"?  This sort of attitude about young women is completely out of the mainstream, and the Bristol Palin situation is only highlighting it. The McCain campaign was aware of this and went to great pains to clarify that Bristol Palin is free to make choices and is, unlike these girls, not being treated like a prisoner.  Most Americans feel that young women should wait to have babies, but the anti-choice pundits and activists have shown nothing but unbridled enthusiasm at the idea of getting girls pregnant and married as young as possible.  

But no one is better at showing the contradictions in the minds of reactionaries.  Samantha Bee started compelling anti-choice attendees to start singing a different tune.

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She finally got someone to defend the Palins by invoking that scary concept of, yep, choice.  

My hope is that pro-choice Republicans realize that they can seize this moment of confusion and start turning things around and help more people realize that the right to self-determination is a basic right.  Yes, even for women.  Yes, even for teenage girls.

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Okay, this is going to sound a little weird, because I’m the liberal blogosphere’s self-appointed insufferable music snob.  But until I started putting together this segment for the podcast, I had never listened to this Kate Perry song that’s apparently the big hit this summer called "I Kissed A Girl".  I live in a hovel of college radio, MP3 blogs, garage punk podcasts, and my record collection. What can I say?  But when an Ohio church put up a sign that said, "I kissed a girl/and I liked it/then I went to hell", I learned more about the Kate Perry song.  Broadsheet had a post taking to task Havens Corner Church for its unsettlingly violent homophobia, but also had criticism of the song itself for being defensively heterosexist.  According to Broadsheet, the song is full of reassurances that just because the singer is kissing girls doesn’t mean she’s gay, and she’s totally going to keep the boyfriend.  

And silly me, I assumed that the song was a cover of a song with the same title that came out in 1995 by Jill Sobule. I remember that the protagonist doesn’t sign onto being a lesbian or anything, but nor does she go out of her way to reassure the audience that she’s completely straight.  

Well, there was a simple solution to my problem.  They’re different songs.  Compare and contrast some lyrics.

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Tracy Clark-Flory at Broadsheet is right.  It’s riddled with defensiveness.  The name-checking the boyfriend, the insistence that it was a drunken mistake, the overwrought, humorless sexuality.  As you can imagine, I like Jill Sobule’s better.

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There’s not only no reliance on defending heterosexuality, but there’s hints that women may, yes, not always put men first.  The idea of guilt is laughed off.  Also, this song has a much better sense of humor about itself.  The videos couldn’t be more different, either.  Perry’s video is about showing off her wearing a bunch of skimpy clothes.  Jill Sobule’s video has Fabio in it as the boyfriend she’s sneaking around on.  No contest which is better.

The Perry song continues to be defensive, insisting that woman on woman love is just an experiment, nothing to be scared about.

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Oh sturm and drang. The patriarchy disapproves!  What to do if you want to be a good girl?  Well, you kiss the girl and get the guys excited, and then go home with a guy.  That last part is crucial.  And that last part is what Jill Sobule gently pokes fun at.

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She’s not going to change the world by kissing girls.  No need to dump tons of comforting lyrics about how the women in this story changed their mind, went back to men, or anything like that.  You’re free to imagine that they ended up together, actually encouraged.

So, if anything, the pastor at Havens Corner Church should relax. He should be grateful.  This new song is a lot more paranoid and heterosexist than the other song that came out 13 years ago.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts.  This week, we have a lesson in avoiding taking on feminist arguments, which is a critical issue for wingnuts who can’t actually win on merits.  Also, this is an opportunity to teach conservatives what an ad hominem argument is, because if there’s anything that seems to confuse conservatives in comments more, I don’t know what it is.  Conservatives tend to want to believe that saying something like, "Anti-choicers want to repeal abortion rights out of hostility towards women’s liberation" is ad hominem.  No.  That’s like saying, "Liberals want to expand the welfare state out of hostility to poverty."  Motivations count.  

Ad hominem is when you bring up irrelevant attacks to discredit a source so you don’t have to deal with their arguments.  And anti-feminists love this line of attack.  Like Mike Belling.

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Or Mark Levin:

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You can’t deal with feminists on their arguments, nor can you even impugn their motivations.  So you just call them ugly.  That’s classic ad hominem.  Not that I expect any of our resident trolls to care about minor realities like that to get in their way.

 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

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