Lori Freedman explains why many doctors would like to perform abortions, but find that they can’t. Also, the crawl of opposition to Elena Kagan, and how women can be punished for being too beautiful or not beautiful enough.
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On this episode of Reality Cast, Lori Freedman will be on to talk about why more doctors who would like to offer abortion care aren’t doing so. Also, more Elena Kagan news, and a segment on how women can’t win whether they’re beautiful or not.
Santa Monica College put together a video analyzing images of women in the media, and how there’s a single impossible standard of beauty, and how this makes women feel. It’s a good ten minute viewing. Here’s a sample.
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While it’s simplistic to say we’re all slaves to these images, it’s also true that it’s difficult for women and men both to have a more positive, realistic view of women’s bodies when they’re constantly bombarded with images of women with unreal bodies. And I mean literally unreal, because no matter how perfect your figure supposedly is, you will be photoshopped beyond recognition if you’re a model.
Elena Kagan watch continues. If we thought information on Sonia Sotomayor was lean, then the information about Kagan is even leaner. The result is a news media desperate to grab on to any scrap of paper that might give some kind of clue as to what Kagan thinks about anything. I’m sure before all this is over someone will crack and start analyzing her food choices for information. We’ve already had speculation about her based on the fact that she doesn’t cross her legs when she sits, so I think it’s coming.
A genuine scrap of information that actually may have relevance seems to have come out, though. The Library of Congress has released a stack of documents from when Kagan was a young woman clerking for Thurgood Marshall. Marshall is probably the most liberal justice the court has seen in a century at least, but that doesn’t mean that his clerks necessarily saw eye to eye with him. Still, maybe there’s something there?
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According to Media Matters, though, CBS completely misrepresented the contents of the memo. Far from being some free-abortions-for-everyone kind of memo, Kagan actually called the idea of paying for prisoner abortions “ludicrous”. She wrote, and I quote, “Since elective abortions are not medically necessary, I cannot see how denial of such abortions is a breach of the Eighth Amendment obligation to provide prisoners with needed medical care.” That’s far from being evidence that she’s a solid vote for the pro-choice side. In fact, the whole thing alarms me, because Kagan seems open to the erroneous notion that safe abortion care is somehow separate from standard medicine. It’s not. In fact, one reason that abortion was legalized was the hospitals were so full of patients with infections from self-administered abortions. Abortion care is health care. It’s necessary to have it if you want healthy women.
That was far from the only falsehood that Media Matters found in the CBS report on Kagan’s memos during her clerkship. There was also this.
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That’s a lot to spin up into some implication that she’s taken a hard line pro-gay marriage stance. The CBS report was frankly obvious in its attempts to create controversy over Kagan and open up lines of attack on her, no matter how faulty. I wish she’d taken such a strong stance on gay marriage rights, but as Media Matters reports, she’s come right out and said in public that she doesn’t think there’s a federal right to gay marriage. Now, this may mean she’ll be interested in creating one as a judge. But I’m not holding my breath, based on her previous comments.
The gay rights thing is quickly becoming the favorite choice of conservatives seeking to attack Kagan. Part of that is shoring up their whisper campaign that she’s a lesbian, and part of it is just that they’ve had so many recent successes with the homophobia strategy. And the centerpiece of this strategy is arguing that Kagan ran military recruiters off Harvard’s campus because the military discriminates against gays. As Media Matters demonstrated, they’ve been thumping this charge hard.
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They’re also bandying this around to imply she’s anti-military. Is it true? No, of course not. To make a long story short, what happened was that Kagan restricted access for a single semester to stay in compliance with Harvard’s anti-discrimination policies, and during this time, students still had some access. I wish she’d come down harder on military recruiters than she did, in fact. That would shore up my enthusiasm for her. But as it stands, we still don’t really know much about her or her views on gay rights or women’s rights.
It’s kind of hard not to crack jokes about this next story, and honestly, we as human beings should be allowed our yuks over it. But it’s still an interesting story, and if the woman involved can make her case, it should give us all a moment to think over how women are so often put in a situation where they can’t win.
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That was Joy Behar, and she had Lorenzana on her show to tell her story. Since the knee jerk response in our misogynist society is to assume that a woman is lying, particularly if she’s faced with sexism or harassment that takes on a sexualized tone, Lorenzana hasn’t been getting much in the way of a sympathetic audience for her claims that she was fired from Citibank because she was too sexy. Most of the coverage has been mocking, up to and including mockery that involves insulting Lorenzana and implying she made it all up because she has a big ego. But I will say that she does in fact seem to be very beautiful, and sadly her story seems all too plausible.
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Seems reasonable, right? If what you’re wearing isn’t good enough, change it, right? Well, if you’re a woman who has struggled to walk the line Lorenzana found herself shoved on, you know it ain’t that easy.
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This is the eternal problem of women’s clothing choices. Last week, Leora Tanenbaum talked some about this, and in her book Bad Shoes, she addresses it even more. Just with high heels, you’re in a catch-22. In some work places, not wearing high heels is considered unprofessional. But course, high heels have this sexy connotation. Basically, if you’re not trying to be sexy, you’re being a bad woman, but if you are trying to be sexy, no one takes you seriously. The result is that women are always in this eternal struggle to reach this happy medium that doesn’t exist. And that can be especially true for someone like Lorenzana, who has this hot girl vibe to her. I suspect that her story is all too common in many ways. And even though there’s a definite “himbo” stereotype that’s developed in the past couple of decades, in general I don’t think people assume that because a man is sexy he’s incompetent. Often, the opposite.
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Yeah, if you can’t wear turtlenecks because they’re too sexy, you’re screwed.
Which is not to suggest that only or even primarily conventionally attractive women are targeted for discrimination. In fact, the opposite. The research shows pretty conclusively that people and women especially get a hit in their pay and employment for not being conventionally attractive, being overweight, etc. For instance, there’s also a story circulating about a waitress fired from Hooters for weighing 132 pounds, at 5’ 8”.
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Deborah Rhode has recently published a book called “The Beauty Bias” that chronicles the myriad ways unattractive people lose out economically. What it all adds up to, especially for women, is this sense that nothing you can do is right, and everyone is constantly evaluating you to make sure you never slip too much in to any one direction.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, they terrorize us with their hamburger chewing edition. Bill O’Reilly is annoyed that France has a McDonald’s ad that shows a gay teenager eating at McDonald’s with the tag line “Come as you are”. And an interesting comparison comes to mind for him.
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Al Qaeda kills thousands of innocent people in acts of terrorism done in the name of a fundamentalist religion. Gay teenagers kiss each other on the lips. I can see how O’Reilly can mix those things up, because, you know, they’re just so obviously the same thing.