Are women getting too many pelvic exams? Recent medical opinion suggests yes. Also, a far right group gets Bachmann to sign a mind-boggling pledge, and women in Oakland object to racist billboards.
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On this episode of Reality Cast, Dr. Anna Reisman will be on to talk about how you are probably getting your vagina poked with weird looking tools more than necessary. Also, a rundown of the scandal involving Michele Bachmann signing the Marriage Vow pledge, and Oakland residents respond to racist anti-choice billboards.
There’s a mini-trend of people making videos mocking the online misogynist community that goes by the misnomer of men’s rights activism. And these videos do so by simply reading out loud the stuff these guys write. You don’t need anything more. Here’s a sample of the latest.
- gynofascists *
I have to admit, the notion that women are organizing a boycott of this guy’s penis and keeping it a secret from him is my favorite new conspiracy theory, since you really have to ignore the more obvious explanations for the lack of action he’s getting to arrive at that conclusion. Makes people saying 9/11 was an inside job look downright rational.
Well, recent events definitely made me realize there’s one way to get people to care about the religious right and their infatuation with patriarchy. Just tell them their porn is in danger, and all of a sudden people who were like “yeah yeah abortion rights sure gay rights” are suddenly paying close attention. And so it goes with Michele Bachmann signing something called the “Marriage Vow” by a group called the FAMiLY Leader, all in caps with just the “I” lowercase, which I suspect is their way of telling women they need to subvert their needs to the patriarchal family. The pledge had a laundry list of far right social conservative claims, but really it was the call to ban porn that got people talking.
- pledge 1 *
What was kind of astonishing about this is that the would-be porn ban was the least eyebrow-raising part of the whole document, at least if you believe that women’s rights matter and racial equality matters. Even in that quote, you have the phrase “innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy”, which I suspect is an attempt to conflate zygotes with actual children. Banning porn is severe, but that kind of language would also indicate a willingness not just to ban abortion, but to investigate miscarriages and prosecute women if they do things like eat soft cheese and then miscarry. The good news is while the initial rounds of coverage were about titillation and focusing on the porn thing, once this pledge caught the public eye, some of the even more sinister stuff started getting coverage. Like, oh, the slavery stuff.
- pledge 2 *
The race-baiting, ahistorical nature of all this is so stunning it’s hard to make jokes about it. There’s just no way to say, “Slavery was bad, but….” That’s a “Mussolini made the trains run on time” thing to say. The implication, of course, is that black people are uniquely unable to make correct decisions and need to be, if not enslaved, at least not as free as white people. For their own good, you know. I fail to see any other read on this. Luckily, Whoopi Goldberg went after this on “The View”.
- pledge 3 *
On the plus side, those of us who are forever pointing out that sexism and racism are intertwined got a boost from this. The nostalgia for slavery and nostalgia for a time when women’s human rights were denied them is one big lump of nostalgia for a world where straight white men had ultimate control and women, black people, and gays had none. Whoopi was far from the only person who took a gander at the entire pledge and concluded that it was a whole bunch of nonsense, and not just the porn part. Rachel Maddow really tried to approach this as a complete document.
- pledge 4 *
I read the pledge and still cannot completely figure out what they mean by “intimate commingling among attracteds”. They couple it with a desire to keep adultery banned in the military. On first blush, it seems they’re protesting the genders showering together in the military, which I believe isn’t something anyone is pushing for, but upon second reflection, I think this is a tortured attempt to also roll hostility to gays in the military up in there. Or not. Maybe it’s just a slam against flirting. I wouldn’t be surprised. This document is far right fundamentalism, and even flirts with the idea that the only legitimate kind of sexuality is not only within marriage, but within one of those creepy courtship marriages that are the Christian fundamentalist version of an arranged marriage. Which basically has no relationship with how 99% of Americans live.
Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice is a great organization for information on reproductive justice as a concept and a movement. For those following the reproductive justice movement, it should come as no surprise that one of the major priorities has been pushing back against the Radiance Foundation and others that are erecting billboards across the nation that make racist and insulting claims such as, “The most dangerous place for a black child is in the womb.” ACRJ realized that while these billboards are getting a lot of attention and coverage, the one thing that’s been missing is reactions from the people in the communities that the billboards target. So they decided to fix that problem by going to Oakland and doing woman on the street interviews about the billboards.
- billboard 1 *
That was a woman named Eboni, who also added that one of the problems is that sexuality is still a taboo subject in many ways, and this makes the whole situation worse. I firmly agree with her. Regardless of race or class, many women don’t have a lot of support for the choice of abortion because people don’t want to talk about sex and what sex really means to people in the everyday world. It’s used to sell everything from paperclips to cars, but actually talking about your own sexual choices is still not done. And so women are often approached with this guilt-tripping without any realization of how much other people would understand them if we just talked more about this stuff.
To my mind, the billboards are just angry-making. They’re ignorant and mean-spirited. The Oakland billboards co-opted the phrase “black is beautiful”. The argument of the billboards is basically that black women choose abortion because they hate black people or don’t think black children are beautiful. That is about the meanest, most ignorant thing you could possibly say in this context. One of the women interviewed for these videos named Stephanie zeroed in on how infuriating this is.
- billboard 2 *
In light of how infuriating this is, I was impressed by the interview with a woman named Beverly, who remained calm even while being clear how mean-spirited this whole campaign is, and how upsetting it is.
- billboard 3 *
The good news is that the pressure campaign mounted by ACRJ, Trust Black Women, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, and many other groups worked. CBS Outdoor, who owned the billboard space, took the offensive billboards down. I realize that this all feels like a real grind. The billboards go up in one community, community organizers fight to take them down, and even if they succeed, the billboards just pop up in another community. But the good news is the longer this fight drags out, the more refined the arguments against the billboards are getting. I think the first couple of rounds, people were so stunned by how mean the billboards were that there was some chaos in the messaging against them. Now, as these woman on the street interviews show, people are reacting in clear, concise ways, pointing out how these billboards are an insult to black women and how racist the underlying assumptions of the billboards really are.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, what cutting off all common sense and empathy will do to you edition. Now listen to Rush Limbaugh blather on about Casey Anthony, a woman who was acquitted on charges of killing her young daughter.
- Limbaugh *
Limbaugh literally claims he can’t tell the difference between a brainless ball of cells and a child who can feel pain and fear. But he wants to argue that it’s liberals who don’t have empathy? Sounds to me like he has it completely backwards. If he honestly thought pregnancy loss was the same thing as losing a child, he would be up in arms that anyone ever had unprotected sex, since 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage and up to half of fertilized eggs don’t implant at all. If that’s the same thing as losing a child, well, the nation would be awash in grief because the vast majority of us would be the parents of dead children.