Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Notional babies and real women


     Sex makes men crazy.
     Sometimes quite literally.
     How many times have you read a news story about the jilted boyfriend who tracks down his beloved, kills her and whoever else happens to be around?
     What's the thinking behind that? Rejection, injured ego and an overwhelming impulse to lash out at a person you believe should be still under your control.
     Sound familiar? Our society is the same. Law and religion have always labored mightily to dominate women, to ensure females remain second-class citizens, shackled by vastly restricted rights. With a cry of "You can't leave me," the Senate just tried to defund Planned Parenthood, the most important provider of contraceptive and reproductive health services to women in the country.
     One deceptive tape cobbled together by an anti-abortion group was enough to set off Ted Cruz et al because crushing Planned Parenthood is what they want to do anyway. Narrow defeat does not mean the battle is over; it veers off in another direction. Lose the Senate vote? Let's shut down the government until we get our way.
     It's sure easier than facing the actual problems facing this country. As Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richard, said: "When those guys can't figure out what to do about jobs, and they can't, their first target is women."
     Not that Planned Parenthood's amped up foes put it that way.
     "We can no longer allow the atrocities committed by an organization that receives state and federal tax dollars, and that receives special tax treatment from the federal government," former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Friday. "The Obama Administration targets groups with the word ‘patriot’ in their name but does nothing to an organization that cuts apart and sells the body parts of dead babies."
     Listening to candidates fulminate against using fetal parts for medical research — a practice that is legal and has gone on for years — you can almost forget that they're against abortion. Period. Were the fetuses buried intact in mahogany coffins at Graceland religious fanatics would fight it just as fiercely. And when you look at what's upsetting them — using fetal tissue for science versus throwing it away — it seems they've got the morality of the situation completely backward, a common situation among the faith fogged.
     Of course the pious third is against using fetuses for science. They're against both abortion and science. Religion was against adults donating their bodies to science after they die. They react with fresh indignant fury, counting on the general public to overlook that it's actually the same old indignant fury in a new box.
     Don't take the bait. This is a long-term struggle. Each generation fights it anew. It never stops for the same reason the spurned boyfriend can't just sign up at Match.com and move on with his life. A certain sort of person can't accept the independence and humanity of women. It is an affront to their sense of themselves and, of course, God.
     Thus our mothers had to fight for the right to hold their jobs. The idea of a woman being a doctor or a pilot was laughed off. Our great-grandmothers fought for the right to vote, battling the same band of faith-addled men.
     Not that we're alone. In Saudi Arabia, women can't drive. And we regard that with smug Western superiority: "Oh, these backward Muslim nations." Meanwhile, U.S. senators are tarring American women as whores who will unthinkingly murder their children and sell their mangled limbs to ghouls unless responsible men step in and stop them.
     Just as with the fuming boyfriend, lurking in the parking lot with a handgun, rational discussion has little value here. Powerful men are going to do what they feel compelled to do. Whatever dysfunction or repression formed their cramped outlook has already occurred, manifesting itself as this glittery-eyed religious zeal. These are babies. End of story. Reply, "Oh, you care about babies? Great. Because I have 10,000 babies who are already born and wards of the state who are going to end up in Dickensian foster care; why not help them with some of the money you're pouring into trying to drag American womanhood back to 1915?" Abortion foes will just look at you blankly.
     Because the issue isn't really babies. They talk babies, but there are no babies. It's about sex, or more accurately, gender, and about conjuring up notional babies to rule over real women, who are so busy enjoying the rights that their mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers won for them, they have a hard time focusing on the gang of right-wing Republican revanchists set on revoking those rights. The assumption is the Republicans can't do it. But they can. They're sure trying with all their might.

53 comments:

  1. I'm absolutely appalled at the abject stupidity of the Planned Parenthood officials talking to people that they never vetted!
    The naivete of them is beyond belief!
    They've jeopardized a valuable resource because of this & all should resign in disgrace!
    The entire pro-choice movement has been run by the very most incompetent people you could ever find.
    What do they do, look only for people rejected as too stupid by McDonald's & then hire them?

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    1. It's a big organization, Clark St. As the IRA said to Margaret Thatcher after its bombing of the Grand Hotel failed to kill her. "You have to be lucky all the time. We only have to be lucky once."

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    2. My understanding is that the fraudsters took extraordinary measures to establish their bona fides, including illegally filing papers to obtain government certification.

      And doctors talk to other professionals and drug sales reps all the time about medical business without expecting to be surreptitiously, and possibly illegally, recorded.

      Hard to tell how this will eventually play out. As details emerge Republicans may have cause to regret adding to their portfolio as anti-science and anti women.

      Tom Evans

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  2. I view this soley as a dominance issue. It's all about keeping them barefoot and pregnant. That I understand. What I don't understand is why women aren't fighting back tooth and fingernail.

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    1. That's two of us. Though I think I touch upon the reason at the end of the column: women are so used to the status quo, they don't quite grasp what is happening, and can't believe it can be rolled back. It can.

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    2. Perhaps because too many women are working full time and juggling kids, other errands, activities, they don't have as much time to be active as much as the 1970's ladies did.

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  3. Advocate of the Anti-ChristAugust 5, 2015 at 7:48 AM

    Even if what the videos purported to show was true, there would be nothing wrong with it. Abortion is a right and is good. Free abortion on demand at any time. Retroactive abortion for right to lifers until the 400th trimester.

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    1. Retroactive abortion for right to lifers!!!!!! Bwahahaha!!!!

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  4. Well said on all points, Neil.

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  5. There are plenty of women against abortion. Not all people against abortion are religious types although the majority are. If you have read Kass's columns he equates this to Mengele. I think that is awful and just about as bad as Huckabee's remark about walking jews to the ovens. What is the matter with these people?

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    1. Do those people know, or care, that the Nazis outlawed abortion?

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    2. Jews is spelled with a capital J not lowercase j.

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  6. Good column. Unfortunately, the far right doesn't hold women in the same regard as the Virgin Mary. To these men we're little better than brood mares or cows, gestational creatures that must be managed and controlled in the same fashion. The fact that we react, speechless, like these dumb animals probably reinforces their behavior.

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    1. yes, like the Duggars/ stepford wives

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    2. Of course the whole problem began several centuries ago when the political antecedents of today's Republican caucus first permitted the education of women. As Lady Elizabeth Montague said in 1750 "I am sorry to say that the generality of women who have excelled in wit have failed in chastity."

      Tom Evans

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  7. Indeed, some may not mind a medically necessary abortion but not one for convenience because someone wasn't responsible to begin with. That too may not be for religious reasons either.

    But that doesn't mean they have to be against PP.

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  8. Where is the photo of the buxom Renaissance ladies from? The Rennaissance Fair up north.

    You'd think that little girl with the black cloaked spooks in the other picture would be frightened, but I guess not.

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    1. That was sort of my point, the girl sedating sitting next to these, what, demons from hell?

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  9. Neil I'm sure you'd take the Thatcher IRA argument position if the NRA or Family Research Council was the target of the video, right?

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    1. Not everyone is mired in the hypocrisy that these people traffic in. An NRA official, oh, starting a program to sell guns to children wouldn't be a gaffe, it would be policy. And if some NRA official did commit some jaw-dropping gaffe, it wouldn't spur me into a frenzy of anti-NRA activity, because there is none. I know it's hard to stare over the wall around yourself, but that's how we in the regular world function.

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    2. guns are good, just like abortion.

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    3. The NRA doesn't have to be tricked and edited into saying appalling things; they do that without prompting at press conferences. Nobody bats an eye if an NRA spokesman steps up to the podium to suggest that it would be better if schools, or churches, or playgrounds had far more loaded guns in them, or to blame victims of a massacre for their failure to live every moment of their lives with loaded guns in their laps.

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  10. Seems to me that this episode, which I really haven't followed as closely as Mr. Evans or our blogmeister, is just the same play from the anti-abortion playbook, though a clever variation. Most of the roadblocks the a-a crowd tries to enact, or succeeds in enacting, along with the protesting tactics -- waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, detailed photos of fetal development, graphic photos of abortions -- are based on a simple premise. The premise being that women getting abortions and those who support the availability of abortion don't actually realize that they are dealing with potential babies. Of course, that's why the photos are important to them. "See this? What does this look like?" "If only they'd realize what they're doing, the misinformed dupes, they'd never go through with an abortion." So, this episode is obviously a huge "Gotcha!" in their eyes. "Look, you want to pretend that a fetus is not a baby, but then what about these organs being used for medical purposes? Aha!! Hypocrites! Murderers!"

    They never seem to grasp that, while that logic rallies the troops and maybe even sways some fence-sitters on an emotional level, it's just not the game-winner that they so desperately believe that it should be. In 2015, most women (and men) understand what's involved in an abortion. They understand that, pictures and graphic depictions notwithstanding, a fetus is not a baby. And they believe that there is a human life that IS being greatly devalued in the discussion -- that of a pregnant woman, who is quite capable of making her own decisions with regard to contraception and abortion without having her rights interfered with by a bunch of legislators, mainly men, whose business it is not. That the rights of a potential person do not outweigh those of a very real, here and now, person.

    The fact that it is the despised "Nanny-staters" who are defending a woman's right to control her own body in this debate and it's the "Don't Tread on Me", "All government is bad" "Gun control is tyranny" erstwhile champions of personal liberty attempting to use legislation to supersede the woman's right is one of the remarkable ironies of this political era.

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  11. None of you unironic phonies who think (and I use that term loosely) you're enlightened and oh-so-with-it even begin to understand the other side's arguments. It's all reduced to "right-wing white male oppressors." Does anybody in this college freshman-level echo chamber even understand the meaning of their own words? Laugh out loud pathetic...

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    1. Try this argument out, they are trying to defund Planned Parenthood of money that doesn't even go towards the legal abortions PP does. PP provides health screenings, STD treatment and prevention, and is one of the top places for vasectomies. Abortion is only a small part of what PP provides. The other argument is unless it's your zygote or embryo, it isn't any of your business what happens to it, just like it isn't any of your business how someone else's child is raised.
      On another note, I've got an ear worm of Monty Python's "Every Sperm is Sacred" now.

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    2. Speaking of irony, if these troglodytes succeed in wounding Planned Parenthood and damage their efforts to help women take charge of their own sex lives a consequence will be more abortions, many of them illegal. And it this kerfuffle ends up slowing down the progress of genetic stem cell research chances to deal with Alzheimer's and other looming burdens on the quality of life of an aging population will be diminished.

      Tom Evans

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  12. ... And that starts with Mr. Steinberg, living proof that any 5th-rate intellectual mediocrity can go to Northwestern University.

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    1. Anybody who actually went to NU already knows that.

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    2. Yes, the compelling, informative rebuttal (LOL, indeed!) offered by the erudite anonymouse of 1:37 and 1:39 makes quite the stirring, argument-free case for the "other side". Certainly not A-n-A, but he/she does seem to share the rhetorical style and predilections of a former star commenter on Zorn's blog, MCN, not that he'd deign to lower himself into this den of iniquity. (Bonus for this wild shot in the dark -- IIRC, he DID attend NU...)

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    3. Good points, Nikki.

      Also, could it be that anon at 1:37 was rejected by NU when he/she applied?

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    4. OMG Jakash -- As soon as I read that first (1:37) comment, I said to myself "Now that has GOT to be MCN". I was too timid to say that on these pages, however, and am glad you had the nerve. We've heard it all so many times on EZ's blog, haven't we.

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    5. I don't think so, MCN is not hesitant about signing off. Besides, he's busy on Zorn's Facebook page; we got into this subject earlier. I could be wrong...

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    6. Perhaps he (MCN) had a reason for posting anonymously -- he hasn't exactly distinguished himself in a positive manner here in the past.

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    7. I agree that posting completely anonymously is not his M. O., Wendy. Very interesting to me to hear that he's been communicating with you via EZ's Facebook, though. Especially given that he's never commented on the "new and improved" CoS, has he? Still, the fact that he's chosen to argue about the current topic elsewhere makes it seem MORE likely to me that he might have fired off a couple feisty zingers here. Regardless, I'm sure you've been giving him Hell! : )

      Sandy,

      Glad to hear that you thought the same thing, as I certainly hesitated before suggesting it. And I agree with your 7:56 speculation!

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    8. Sad to hear you had a bad experience at NU, Neil, but I'm not surprised. I crossed them off my list after my sister's then-boyfriend, a professor there, warned me not to come, calling it "third-rate."

      I haven't commented on Zorn's site since the Trib website started giving me the digital runaround. I don't miss it much, primarily because of commenters like MCN, who was a pompous ass with a ridiculously inflated sense of his own importance, intelligence and significance.

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    9. Who said I had a bad experience? I said all my classmates weren't geniuses. That is true for every single school in the country. Don't be sad, BS. Be happy.

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    10. I think it's still an honor to be accepted into NU. Let's not belittle it. It certainly isn't 3rd rate or even 2nd rate. There's many who can't get in. And they aren't as eggheaded weird as U of C or as snobbish as the Ivy league school students on the east coast. And some have gone from NU to Stanford for grad school and were well prepared for it.

      After all, there are some people who got into Yale that were C students-as long as daddy was an alumni there and can donate money.

      Yes, Scribe I know what you mean about people with an over inflated sense of self. Luckily, the stopped posting here.

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    11. (they) not the

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  13. And what University did you go to, Mr. Conservative, chicken anonymous?

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  14. Pray tell, what is the other side of the argument, oh intellectual person at 1:37? Since you claim it's not to be domineering?

    Could it be that A-N-A strikes again?

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    1. A-N-A could never have the brevity of 1:37. There really isn't an argument to understand. They SAY that these fetuses are babies being murdered, but they obviously don't believe it. They aren't calling for the women to go to jail -- murderers go to jail. It's just rhetoric.

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    2. No, but ultimately they're calling for the doctors that perform abortions to go to prison for murder.
      Except if that were to become law, then the women would have to be charged with solicitation of murder, but most of the women would never rat them out, so the prosecutors then they would have to give the women immunity from prosecution so they would be forced to testify. But if then then refused to testify, they would go to jail for contempt of court.
      The anti-abortion loons just don't have their heads on straight because they really do want the women in prison. Where they can be raped by the prisoners and/or guards & turned into lesbians, if you watch a certain cable TV show, you'll believe that!

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  15. They SAY that these fetuses are babies being murdered, but they obviously don't believe it.

    This.

    How many miscarriages are there in the US every year? No one knows because no one cares. Some estimates suggest the 'death toll' is the same as heart disease and cancer. The American Cancer Society collected $885,574,000 in 2014. How much did the American Miscarriage Society collect? Far less.

    How many in-vitro fertilized embryos are frozen without any chance of use? How many are thrown away each year? Again, no one knows because no one cares. There is no political upside in championing fertilized embryos.

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    1. Except Sofia Vergara's ex-boyfriend is in court to get custody of several frozen embryos she wants to get rid of.

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    2. There isn't any way of knowing how many miscarriages occur every year because many times a woman has a miscarriage before they even know they're pregnant. That's just nature, it's not that no one cares. Seriously, what an odd statement to make.

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    3. Yet, the staff throwing away unused frozen embryos aren't accused of murder.

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    4. Smallpox, polio, measles, cancer, AIDs, heart disease, etc. are all nature. But significant time and money has been spent mitigating nature's impact. Smallpox and polio are virtually wiped out. Many cancers have become survivable. Miscarriages bring a shrug at most, which is Mr. Steinberg's point.

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  16. Note what's happening in Colorado. A program to furnish young women, including teenagers, with contraceptives, including the IUD and other long-term methods, has been a spectacular success, reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and, yes, abortions.

    So what do the conservatives out there want to do? Destroy the program, of course, because it allows young people to, as one of them said, "behave like animals." In other words, it's more important to them to punish young people for having sex than to reduce abortions.

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