Steph Herold on her new project highlighting safe abortion care. Anti-feminists give up on the feigned concern for women, and Toronto feminists organize a Slut Walk.
Links in this episode:
On this episode of Reality Cast, Steph Herold will be on to talk about her new project, the Safe Abortion Project. Also, the pretense that they don’t hate women is increasingly being dropped by anti-feminists, and Toronto feminists organize an anti-rape demonstration called Slut Walk.
So, there’s semi-good news on the horizon about the drug Makena, which is given to women who are in danger of going into early labor to suppress that labor so they don’t give birth to pre-term or stillborn babies.
- makena *
A correction to Brian Williams reporting: the drug isn’t new so much as newly patented. It’s been around for years for 10 to 20 dollars a dose. The patenting raised the price of preventing premature labor from $200 a pregnancy to $30,000 a pregnancy, and that’s why there’s a battle over this.
Recently there was an incident in Florida that really drove home how much the anti-choice movement and the anti-feminist movement in general is rooted in disgust and hatred of all things female. I mean, to you and me it seems obvious that they are, but it’s become anti-feminist custom to claim that they only want the best for women and that’s why they oppose women’s rights. And then state representative Scott Randolph joked on the Florida house floor that his wife should incorporate her uterus if she wants to have her privacy under Republican rule. And this happened.
- women 1 *
There’s basically no way you think “uterus” is a dirty word unless you think women are dirty. Unsurprisingly, the same people who wanted to kill the use of the word “uterus” are behind the 18—count ‘em, 18—anti-choice restrictions being considered in this session of the Florida legislature alone. I have a word for people who consider women’s body parts to be too disgusting to be acknowledged, unless you’re using those body parts as an excuse to attack women’s rights. Misogynists, pure and simple. Yes, even the ladies. That someone is female doesn’t mean she’s above thinking women, especially all women except herself, are filthy or evil and need to be dominated and controlled. Phyllis Schlafly is still out there and still making it clear that women are such a subversive threat to society that the only cure is to make sure every woman has a direct male supervisor called a husband. This was her at a recent conference:
- women 2 *
First of all, she’s simply wrong. She’s claiming that the number of people receiving checks from the government is high because of single mothers, but really it sounds more to me like it’s post-retirement people getting money from a system they paid in to. But it doesn’t matter, because at the root of her argument is pure hatred for women that aren’t her. She imagines that all other women are incompetent man-haters who have to be coerced into marriage with dependency because they wouldn’t get near men otherwise. And of course, she doesn’t even consider the possibility that a woman might, gasp, support herself! In Schlafly’s world, women simply don’t work.
Of course, the exception to that rule is herself. Oh yeah, and the women she hired over the years to look after her children and clean her house. It’s kind of tired to point this out, but it needs to be said over and over: Phyllis Schlafly and all other anti-feminist women like her make an exception for themselves. They want you to be dependent and kept at home, but they feel free to go out and work for a living. But that’s one strain of misogyny, the all-other-women-are-evil-but-me misogyny.
But Schlafly is far from the only conservative pushing this view of women as incompetent children who need men to take care of us and who use the government so we can escape our natural fate as subservient to men. Limbaugh was screaming this one, too.
- women 3 *
In the anti-feminist imagination, most women sit around on our asses all day pumping out kids and collecting checks from the government. This does not actually happen. The article Limbaugh was referring to was in Politico, and it was slanted to begin with, and he slanted it more, but basically what it said was women want economic and social policies that promote security and stability. They want to know they have a job and there’s a school for their kids. The fact that anti-feminists would distort something so straightforward to spew bile about women as a class tells you quite a bit. Like I said, the word for it is misogyny, and it’s why women’s rights are under an unprecedented nationwide attack.
Back in late January, Toronto police held a campus safety seminar at Osgoode Hall Law School, and during this session, a police officer stood up, and after doing that right wing thing where you pretend you’re being oppressed by political correctness, he said that women shouldn’t dress like sluts if they don’t want to get raped. It was an incredibly frustrating moment, because it seems like no matter how much progress anti-rape activists have in the realm of getting people to understand that rape is a crime of power not just uncontrolled sexual urges, there are always men who want to blame women. In some places, women are blamed for short shirts, in others, for allowing their hair or ankles to be seen, but the theme is the same—men cannot be expected to treat women like people, so women should basically be under house arrest for their own protection.
The feminist community of Toronto has responded by organizing what they deemed a Slut Walk. The idea behind it is to send a message loud and clear that no one deserves to be raped. “Slut” is just a slur word, and the fact of the matter is someone who is eager to blame the victim can deem any behavior slutty in hindsight, which means that pretty much every woman, including virgins and hyper-modest women, are in the position of being deemed too slutty if they get assaulted. I support this protest, if only because it gets newscasters to say silly things.
- slut 1 *
How does one “dress promiscuously”? Do you change clothes three times a day? Is that a slur you use against someone who wears dresses some times and jeans at other times, just wearing whatever she wants whenever she wants? Is it someone who has a really big shoe collection?
I realize the newscaster was trying to be non-inflammatory, but basically his ridiculous phrasing only served to demonstrate one of the problems here. When you say that a woman dressed inappropriately and that’s why she was raped, you are basically siding with the rapist over her. You are saying a rapist has profound insight into what is appropriate clothing, and that victims don’t, and that victims should know what rapists want and do what rapists demand of them. It also implies a rapist was in the right to punish the woman who wore whatever. But we can only know what is supposedly slutty in hindsight, when we’re looking for ways to blame anyone but the rapist for the rape.
- slut 2 *
Well, it becomes tautological, doesn’t it? If you believe that sluts get raped, then that parka or that burqu gets investigated for signs that she was somehow asking for it. Or, if they can’t blame the clothes, what gets called slutty is behavior. Staying out late at night. Going to parties. Behavior you’re supposed to engage in, such as going on dates and being social, suddenly becomes a sin if you get raped. You are literally only to blame in hindsight. This is the problem of blaming someone who had something inflicted on her against her will. Since she didn’t choose it, you can’t point to a choice, but just have to blame some other choice, a choice you may praise in other circumstances, such as staying up late to study or being open to going on dates with young men.
Protesters at the rally touched on the illogic of blaming someone after the fact for something you wouldn’t have blamed her for before the fact. Or blaming someone, at the end of the day, for a choice someone else made against her will.
- slut 3 *
It’s worth remembering that when women make choices we’re told we have to make or else we deserve to get raped, we’re often called lazy or prudes or slobs. You have to wear that lipstick or you’re not trying hard enough. But if you wear it, you’re somehow asking to get raped. It’s a catch-22, and good for Toronto activists for calling it out for what it is.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, everything is women’s fault edition. From Slog, a video from some Christian right wing group scolding women for leaving the house and walking around where men can see them and think about sex.
- modesty *
You can see where this is going. You can keep covering women up more and more, but that just means that what little you can see is provocative. The end game of this is always to have women stay at home and, on the rare occasion they’re allowed out, they have to be completely swaddled in cloth and even then they’re often considered too provocative.