Category Archives: reproductive rights
When you think of red state sexuality, images of Bible believers saving themselves for marriage — or at least keeping their numbers down — may come to mind.
No wonder plenty of Southerners favor pastors and politicians who preach sex after marriage, abstinence education, no contraception, and shuttering Planned Parenthood.
And blue state sexuality? Full of “friends with benefits” and casual hookups, right? Read the rest of this entry
That’s a question the Supreme Court will be answering later this month.
Through the magic of legal fiction corporations have gained personhood. And now the “person” that is Hobby Lobby Inc. argues (without evidence) that some forms of birth control may cause abortion, making the Affordable Care Act’s free contraceptive directive a threat to (his? her?) religious tenants.
That this judicial question is under consideration is remarkable. Arguments before the court had centered on whether corporations can hold religious views. But what if a woman’s beliefs — or lack thereof — allow for contraception? Why must she follow the dictates of her employer instead her own conscience?
Where there’s a conflict between the rights of fictional bodies and actual bodies, surely the latter should win out. Read the rest of this entry
An anorexic looks in the mirror and sees someone who is fat.
One is addicted to money. The other to starvation. As each grasps for power.
Enter Mike Huckabee.
In my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million — and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough.
Truth is, I don’t really like abortion, and I wish that no woman ever felt a need to get one. At the same time I know that accidents happen, mistakes happen, that women become desperate, and that one third of American women have an abortion at some point in their lives.
I also know that criminalizing abortion doesn’t stop it.
A global study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Guttmacher Institute found that abortion rates are about the same in countries where it is legal and where it is not.
Oddly, that’s a recent GOP argument against the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, which says insurance companies can’t charge women more than men.
It’s left extremist men complaining, “No babies will ever pop out between my legs, so why should I have to pay for someone else’s pregnancy?”
After all, men have nothing to do with getting women pregnant. Right?
Next, they’ll be whining that babies should have to pay for their own care!
Yet babies don’t ask to be born. Read the rest of this entry
In Egypt they’re harassed and raped.
In Texas their tampons are confiscated.
If you can’t bully women by forcing something into their vaginas, just keep women from putting anything in there, themselves.
That’s right. You can take a gun into the Texas State Capital. But tampons, pads, and condemns are forbidden. Or even diabetic supplies that could save your life. Because pro-lifers just don’t like that sort of thing.
After all, women’s lives and autonomy are far more dangerous than guns.
Any sort of control women have over their bodies and reproductive lives must be stopped by Texas law enforcement! Abortion, contraception, sex ed… and now tampons.
But how do pregnancy fears heighten romance?
Back when birth control was illegal, men were told to “sleep on the roof” if they didn’t want more kids.
Yeah, that really helps romance.
Sleeping on the roof didn’t work for many couples. And then too many women died from self-induced abortions because they couldn’t afford more kids.
I suppose being dead enhances romance, too.
Meanwhile, despite a drop in hormone levels, some women are more interested in sex after menopause — because they have fewer children underfoot and fewer worries over pregnancy.
Is Polanski mourning a lack of romance? Or a lack of power over women?
Some abusive men destroy their lovers’ contraception, hoping to make their partners dependent — and stuck with them. (How romantic.)
As it happens, Polanski is an abuser. Years ago he was accused of child sex abuse of a 13-year-old girl. Facing imprisonment, he fled to France.
Of course, it would have been more romantic had the girl gotten pregnant.
It’s interesting that Polanski would add, “Trying to level the genders is purely idiotic.”
If by “masculine” Polanski means “empowered,” then by all means, I do hope the pill has made women more masculine.
This man’s comments wouldn’t matter except that some conservatives are trying to make contraception illegal and some are using these sorts of arguments to dissuade women from using birth control: you wouldn’t want to be “masculine” or lose romance! Don’t know how persuasive they will be. But some in the W. Bush Administration and some states have worked or been working to end contraception as we know it.
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Last week rape survivor, Zerlina Maxwell, went on Fox’s “Hannity” to discuss rape and guns. But instead of saying women should drink less, dress modestly, arm themselves and learn self-defense, like she “should have,” she told Hannity:
I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there… If you train men not to grow up to become rapists, you prevent rape.
“Thanks for the feedback, Internet dopes. Why would anybody think that you need some sensitivity training?” responds Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon.
Maxwell tells Salon that, “We need to teach (men) to see women as human beings and respect their bodily autonomy.” Williams points out that when you do, things change:
After Canada launched a “Don’t be that guy” consent awareness campaign in 2011, the sexual assault rate dropped for the first time in years — by 10 percent.
In fact, violence against women is much lower in non-patriarchal cultures that respect women. Both rape and battering were pretty much nonexistent among American Indians before Europeans arrived. Rape and battering have also dropped in the U.S. with a rise in feminism, according to Justice Bureau surveys of victims.
But why the rage when the focus of rape prevention turns from women to men?
Actually, the outrage hasn’t come from everywhere. It comes from right-wing groups — Fox News viewers and the like — who bolster the haves over the have-nots: typically whites, the rich, heteros and in this case, men, over everyone else.
Here, the matter relates to who is free and who is not. Do not even think about asking men to limit themselves. Women, on the other hand, should limit themselves: what they wear, what they drink, what time of day they leave the house… They must prepare themselves for defense against men who refuse to limit themselves. And continuing the right-wing rant, women must be stripped of freedom over their reproductive lives, entirely. No right to your own body in any way.
In this worldview even if rapists ACT, responsibility for the act must fall on the victim. Because men must be free, but women must not.
I would learn firsthand that in the vast majority of states — 31 — men who father through rape are able to assert the same custody and visitation rights to their children that other fathers enjoy.
That’s Shauna Prewitt. In her final year of college she became the victim of a horrifying rape. Nine months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She chose to keep and raise her because her daughter was,
so much more than her beginnings. I blissfully believed that after I finally had decided to give birth to and to raise my daughter, life would be all roses and endless days at the playground.
I was wrong again.
Nearly 1/3 of women who conceive by rape choose to keep and raise their children. Like Shauna, they probably don’t realize that their rapist will be given visitation rights and end up in their lives forever.
As if the violent rape weren’t bad enough now she must be constantly reminded of it as she is forced into contact with the child’s father.
That may be just why the men seek custody. Rapists enjoy power and intimidation and can now create dread and fear through a lifetime. Or, as Shauna sees it:
It is not surprising that a man who cruelly degrades a woman would also seek to torture her in an even more agonizing way, by seeking access to her child.
A rape victim may, alternatively, sacrifice her need for justice by dropping the charges in a bargain to gain sole custody of the child.
Apparently, the court’s concern is that the man may not have raped the woman. But in this “he said/she said,” why does he win? Especially since rapists tend to have a controlling nature and a violent streak, risking child endangerment.
When I look at which causes greater harm, a man denied custody or a woman forever tormented and a child at risk for abuse, I wonder why the man’s rights trump the woman’s and the child’s.
Probably because every society is ruled from the perspective of the powerful. In this case, men. Those making the law are looking at things more from the man’s perspective than from the perspective of where the greater harm occurs.
It’s all reminiscent of a newly proposed bill “aimed at throwing rape victims in jail if they refuse to honor their rapist’s right to control their body by carrying his child,” as Amanda Marcotte put it.
That’s right. Rep. Cathrynn Brown of New Mexico wants a bill banning abortion for rape victims because it “tampers with evidence.” Sounds phony since pregnancies may occur without rape and rape can occur without pregnancy. Wonder how much money one of her constituents contributed to get that bill proposed?
At best this ban sees through the eyes of the powerful instead of the powerless.
At worst it is misogynistic, an excuse to hurt a woman even more than she has already been harmed by rape.
When it comes to justice sometimes it’s a world turned upside-down.
Sounds crazy, but Naomi Wolf, famous for her book The Beauty Myth, suggests that’s what is happening.
The premise, laid out in her latest book, Vagina: A New Biography, has met mixed reviews from both scientists and the literati. But I found her thoughts interesting enough to give them some space here.
Wolf’s notion was sparked, oddly enough, when her spinal cord was repaired. Before surgery she had lost both her sex drive and her creativity. After surgery both returned. Curious, she began exploring how women’s sexuality might be connected to their broader empowerment and passion for life.
She began her journey by exploring more conventional notions of how society and power structures affect desire. But something was missing. So she moved on to biology, learning how the vagina, clitoris and cervix are connected to the brain. She found out that when neurotransmitters related to sexuality are blocked, an “anhedonic state” akin to depression can arise.
The science comes largely from Dr. Jim Pfaus, a researcher and psychology professor at Concordia University — and a defender of her book.
Next, Wolf suggests that extremists try to repress women’s sexual selves because sexuality allows women fuller, more productive and empowered lives. As she explains in the Huffington Post:
The data is sound elucidating the brain-vagina connection that many critics are struggling with. Dopamine builds confidence and motivation, oxytocin is about bonding and intimacy, and opioids are about bliss and ecstasy. If you know really what that cocktail [activated during sex] does [in the female brain], then it makes sense why patriarchy always targets female sexuality, always targets the vagina, with female genital mutilation, rape, and war, you know, derision, mockery. If you get that female desire and the vagina can be a medium for women of positive mindspeak unrelated to sex, it makes sense that the vagina is continually being targeted. The whole takeaway of the book is that the vagina is not just a sex organ. If you want to demean women, you demean the vagina.
I don’t know whether Wolf is right. (Are fanatics really that bright?) But interesting that sexuality seems so related to living a full-fledged, empowering life.