Women in Combat, Single Mothers, and More of Roe’s 40th Anniversary


June Carbone comes on to explain how Roe v. Wade likely contributed to the rise of single motherhood. Also, fun watching conservatives lose it over Roe’s anniversary and women serving in combat.

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After Tiller

Boehner making promises he doesn’t intend to keep

Anti-feminist panic

Sure that happened

Bryan Fischer threatens “terrorism” as a consequence of legal abortion

George Will gets owned

Women can carry men

Melting down over women in combat

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing June Carbone about why Roe vs. Wade managed to lead to more single mothers. Speaking of Roe, it’s now time to cover the nastier side of the coverage of the 40th anniversary. I’ll also have a segment on the reaction to the Pentagon allowing women to serve in combat positions.

A new documentary about late term abortion premiered at Sundance. It’s called “After Tiller”, and Amy Goodman interviewed the filmmakers and the doctors covered in the film.

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The incredible bravery of everyone involved is awe-inspiring.

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Last week, I focused on how the 40th anniversary of Roe vs Wade created a lot of interesting, touching, and informative coverage on both the history of abortion rights and the dreadful realities of providing abortion in red states in the modern era. But as you can imagine, there was also a bunch of fit-throwing on the right that veered between hilariously evil to kind of scary. As noted last week, a lot of what right wingers feared 40 years ago regarding abortion rights, especially how it would help chip away at the constraints on women’s careers and life choices, have come to pass. And they are so mad. John Boehner spoke to the anti-choicers who gather every year to hate on women’s rights on Roe’s anniversary and made a promise that literally cannot be kept, and that anti-choicers don’t actually want to keep anyway.

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I don’t want to be a broken record here, but abortion will not be a relic of the past, not as long as women are getting pregnant on accident. Countries where abortion is banned have higher abortion rates than countries where it’s legal, in fact. At best, you can reduce the abortion rate through contraception and sex education, two things anti-choicers work tirelessly to limit and eliminate. Clearly, they don’t want to eliminate abortion. They just want it be as miserable and punishing as possible, because this is about making sure women suffer for sex, full stop.

Boehner managed to make the hatefulness towards women and the desire to derail their careers and trap them in bad marriages sound almost jovial, but right wing radio was far more straightforward with the hate. Like conservative Christian radio hosts Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner who honored Roe’s anniversary by lamenting women having sex, having jobs, and getting educated.

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I like guys who come right out and admit that they want women to be deprived of reproductive autonomy, education, and jobs so that they’re forced to be dependent on husbands. After all, if women don’t have to be married to survive, that means men have to actually persuade women to be married to them. Which, in turn, means that you might have to actually be nice to women, or even, gasp, treat them like human beings. God forbid. This is why “anti-choice” is such a nice term for them. They’re clearly afraid of women having choices at all: A choice in who to marry, a choice about how much crap she’ll put up with from a man, a choice in a career, any power at all over her life. They come right out and say it: They don’t believe women deserve to be independent, like men. Women are clearly, in their minds, property.

Then there were the weird fantasies that were trotted out about how legal abortion is the cause of all sorts of ills. Like AIDS, which Matt Barber claims would be cured but for abortion.

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Or perhaps they weren’t born because their parents didn’t have sex that night, because after a day of listening to right wing talk radio, all desire left them. Thus, right wing talk radio should be banned, because it’s clearly preventing an AIDS cure. Hey, it’s the same logic, except makes more sense, because, as noted earlier, banning abortion doesn’t actually end abortion. And why do I think that Barber never actually had this conversation? I mean, besides the fact that I doubt he knows anyone who actually cares about ending AIDS, that is.

And Bryan Fischer happily tried to blame terrorism on abortion.

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God really is taking his time, waiting 40 years for no reason to enact this justice we’re supposedly facing. Of course, there is a relationship between abortion and terrorism, in that the most common form of terrorism in the U.S. is right wingers who threaten, harass,  commit arson against, and shoot abortion providers. But I don’t blame abortion for that. I blame people like Fischer, who regularly argue that God hates women’s equality and will punish us violently for it, with the implication that those who act violently in God’s name are justified.

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insert interview

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So the Pentagon finally, after years and years and years of debate, decided to open up combat roles to women. The reason for this is that women were basically already serving in combat in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where the traditional battle lines that separate combat and non-combat were not really in play. In addition, the old argument against it assumed that men, by virtue of gender, are always bigger and stronger than women. The reality is that while men are bigger and stronger on average, there’s a lot of overlap. The recent surge in women’s athletics has made this harder to deny, as every day on TV there are women that can run and jump and lift far more than the average man, and even more than the average man who would be eligible to be drafted into combat.

This should be simple and non-controversial, but as you can imagine, a lot of men who draw their self-image from imagining all men are stronger than all women threw a major fit.  It was incredibly funny seeing George Will, in all his bow-tied weenie glory, assert that women are just weak because you know, women. And he was owned by Martha Raddatz.

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For instance, I could probably carry someone more easily than, say, George Will, though he clearly would like to believe that merely having a penis somehow means he’d be able to muster strength that my uterus saps from my body or something. By the way, the average size difference between men and women isn’t a foot in height and 125 pounds, as Will seems to think. It’s six inches and 36 pounds. Arbitrary gender barriers mean that 5’4” men can get in, but 6 foot women can’t. It’s silly. Also, as Elspeth Reeve at the Atlantic pointed out, the military doesn’t want you carrying wounded soldiers like babies, anyway. You’re supposed to use a fireman’s carry, over your shoulders, which women who work out like soldiers do can usually do with men much larger than themselves. In fact, there’s videos of women doing it in high heels.

The reality is that this has nothing to do with strength, and everything to do with sexist anxieties about gender, and that came out with Bryan Fischer’s sexual panic.

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For what it’s worth, the Pentagon is not instituting “double standards”. The reality is that women can and are meeting the existing standards. But that’s just an excuse. The real argument here is that because some men sexually harass women, the men who do this should be rewarded for their behavior by banning women. That’s idiotic. If white soldiers decided to start beating up black soldiers, the fix would be to punish the white soldiers, not ban black soldiers from combat. Though perhaps these folks would disagree.

Indeed, the idea that women should be punished because of men screwing up came up over and over again in the conservative whining about this. Retired and very racist lieutenant general Jerry Boykin also cited male weakness as a reason to bar women from combat. 

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I like how he simply didn’t accept that a woman could be a “teammate” at all. But here’s the thing: If a man finds a woman’s presence embarrassing, why is that her fault? Why should she not have a job just because he doesn’t want her there? That’s not fair. If men can’t suck it up and act right around women, they should be the ones to pay for their bad behavior, and not the women.

Of course, the reality is that the Pentagon has made this decision and they’re not going back. So the only real point of hosting debates on this is to give air time to the view that women have an obligation give up on our ambitions and pretend to be weaker than we are to coddle the sexist fantasies of insecure men. I’m just glad people are beginning to see through this nonsense.
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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, another gun nut edition. Gayle Trotter presented a bunch of blatant nonsense about how guns are awesome for women in front of the Senate, and then Lawrence O’Donnell called her out on his show for her feigned concern for women.

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Whether it’s because she’s anti-choice or because she’s too afraid to speak is really irrelevant here. The fact of the matter is that the claim to support women is paper thin, and easily evidenced by the utter unwillingness to support a woman’s basic right to choose abortion. 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte