Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It’s Women’s History Month, And So Far It Certainly Has Been (Hysterical) Historical

Guest Post By Ebbtide

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute."                                                    --Rebecca West      

 It's interesting that I actually wrote this article, including the above quote, more than a week before the whole Limbaugh/Fluke/prostitute/slut debacle. I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise when it all happened, but it still caught me somewhat offguard that:

1. In 2012, we are re-arguing the whole topic of women’s rights and human sexuality.

2. The Right Wing has become so puritanical, the Puritans would have told them to “lighten up already.”

Where was I? Oh, yes, Rebecca West.

Rebecca West died in 1983, at the age of 91, and probably went to her death believing that women had won the major battles in fighting for their rights and equality. She’d probably be turning over in her grave to see what is going on today. (Of course, she was British, so her eternal rest might not be quite as disturbed as if she’d been on the US women’s battlefields.)

The Republicans are waging a war against women.  

I’m only going to touch briefly on the anti-choice noise that is going on with the plethora of “personhood” and “heartbeat” bills and other nonsense being pushed by Republicans around the county. Let’s first take a look at the incredible assault currently being launched by the Right Wing on women’s equality, women’s health, women’s rights.


Here are just a few of their anti-women words and actions of the past year or so. Some of these bills have been defeated, some changed to tone them down before passage—but the mindset of the Right comes through loud and clear.

Ø      November, 2010
           Senate Republicans voted unanimously against a bill that would work to ensure          fair pay for women, the Paycheck Fairness Act. The vote was 58-41.     
Ø     January, 2011
"No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contained a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases. According to Mother Jones  http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/republican-plan-redefine-rape-abortion “With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.”

Ah yes, that’s just what we needed on the floor of the House, a discussion about what constitutes “forcible rape” in the eyes of a brilliant group of old men.

Ø     February, 2011
Not to be outdone by their federal brethren in their effort to keep women down, Minnesota Republicans decided to take a look at a more than 25 year old equal pay act. Per Legal Momentum http://legalmomentum.typepad.com/blog/2011/02/minnesota-republicans-introduce-legislation-to-repeal-pay-equity-act.html
“If there was any doubt about whether discrimination against women in the workforce persists, Minnesota Republicans have stepped in to clear up the debate. In a shocking attack against working women, Minnesota Republicans have introduced legislation that would repeal the 1984 Local Government Pay Equity Act (LGPEA), which ensures that women and men are paid the same.”

Ø     February, 2011
State Rep. Bobby Franklin of Georgia introduced a bill that would require proof that a miscarriage occurred naturally. If a woman can’t prove that her miscarriage–or spontaneous abortion–occurred without intervention, she could face felony charges.

Some of the more ridiculous/insane wording in the bill include:

“Justice Blackmun, writing for the majority in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973),
wrote: 'when those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer [to the question of when life begins].

“The General Assembly knows the answer to that difficult question, and that answer is life begins at the moment of conception.”

Yes, folks—you read that right—the Georgia General Assembly knows better than those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology. So who are we, mere peons, to question their authority?

Care.2.com  http://www.care2.com/causes/georgia-rep-investigate-miscarriage.html#ixzz1mrvVuQG1 explains it in all of its misogynist glory “Franklin wants to create a Uterus Police to investigate miscarriages, and requires that any time a miscarriage occurs, whether in a hospital or without medical assistance, it must be reported and a fetal death certificate issued. If the cause of death is unknown, it must be investigated. If the woman can’t tell how it happened, than those Uterus Police can ask family members and friends how it happened. Hospitals are required to keep records of anyone who has a spontaneous abortion and report it. Yup, we’ve been waiting for someone to suggest this–and Franklin has. Needless to say, there are no exceptions allowed. Not for rape victims. Not for incest victims. Not to save the life and health of the mother (the fetus must get equal care).”

Ø     April 2011
Sixteen states have introduced legislation similar to Arizona's SB 1070, the controversial immigration law blocked by a federal judge last July. Legal Momentum submitted an amicus curiae brief in that case, which detailed the severe harm SB 1070 would have caused immigrant women and their children.

The summer of 2011, saw those pesky lunatics conservatives quite busy advancing their attacks on women’s rights, going after everyone from a high school cheerleader who had the audacity to refrain from cheering her accused rapist to teenage mothers of stillborn infants.  

Think Progress covered several of these cases in stunning detail. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/07/01/256823/pregnant-women-criminal-charges/

Ø     May 6, 2011

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court declined to review the case of a recent Texas high school student who was kicked off her school’s cheerleading squad after she refused to chant the name of a basketball player who had allegedly raped her. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative courts in the country, ruled last November that the victim — who is known only as H.S. — had no right to refuse to applaud her attacker because as a cheerleader in uniform, she was an agent of the school. To add insult to injury, the Fifth Circuit dismissed her case as “frivolous” and sanctioned the girl, forcing her family to pay the school district’s $45,000 legal fees.  

Ø     Jul 1, 2011
“In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state’s “chemical endangerment” law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes. Amanda Kimbrough is one of the women who have been ensnared as a result of the law being applied in a wholly different way.[...]The baby was delivered by caesarean section prematurely in April 2008 and died 19 minutes after birth. Six months later Kimbrough was arrested at home and charged with “chemical endangerment” of her unborn child on the grounds that she had taken drugs during the pregnancy – a claim she has denied.     

“Rennie Gibbs was 15 when she became pregnant and lost her baby in a stillbirth. Prosecutors charged her with a “depraved heart murder” after they discovered she had used cocaine, although there was “no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death.” She now faces life in prison in Mississippi.   

“At least 38 states have introduced fetal homicide laws that were intended to be used against violent attacks by third parties like abusive male partners. But in South Carolina, only one case has been brought against a man for assaulting a pregnant woman, while up to 300 women have been arrested under the law, according to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.”     

Once the leaves started changing colors and falling, the Republicans got back to
important issues of national security, or as they like to call it, protecting life—as
long as it is a life in utero and not, heaven forbid, that of a breathing, sentient   being.

Ø     Oct 12, 2011
Think Progress http://thinkprogress.org/health/2011/10/12/341070/house-gop-proposes-so-called-let-women-die-bill-that-lets-hospitals-deny-life-saving-care/ reported on the ironically titled Protect Life Act, which could be more aptly described as the Let Women Die Act. “Under H.R. 358, dubbed the “Protect Life Act” and sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that requires a doctor terminate her pregnancy.” 

Things slowed down during the holiday season (hey, those on the Right were VERY busy dealing with the War on Christmas, don’t you know.) But apparently their New Year’s resolutions included—Make sure those loud-mouthed hussies who were asking for it  abused women know their place.

Ø     February 2012
Every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against the reauthorization of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
            It will probably come as no surprise to anyone that the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary
            Committee are well known bastions of support and fairness for women:
            Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member, R-Iowa
            Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah
            Jon Kyl, R-Arizona
            Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama
            Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina
            John Cornyn, R-Texas
            Michael S. Lee, R-Utah
            Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma

And just last month, things really heated up, when the Virginia legislature went all in on a bill that will require women seeking a LEGAL abortion to undergo, without consent, a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound procedure.

An amendment by Del. David Englin, D-Alexandria, would have allowed medical professionals to determine whether images can be obtained without being penetrated by equipment used in the ultrasound.

Women would have to give written consent to such a probe under Englin’s amendments, but not to sonograms that are not invasive. The amendment failed on 64-34 vote, setting the bill up for final House passage.

So doctors in Virginia would be required to perform an unnecessary, invasive procedure without the consent of their patient, but with a nod and a wink from that venerable body of old Republican men, the Virginia legislature.

And, it was A-OK with right-wing mouthpieces like Dana Loesch who said:

“uh, there were individuals saying, “Oh what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that, the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?” What!? Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.”

Yep, old Dana was proffering the argument that if you’ve ever had consensual sex, then from that moment on, anyone is allowed to insert whatever into your vagina and it’s the same thing.

When Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs called her on it, quoting her verbatim, she responded by saying that wasn’t what she said and calling him a pervert. 

Once that brilliant bit of legislation passed both houses and crazy Right Wing zealot Vice-Presidential hopeful Governor McDonnell saw that the concept of basically forcible rape by virtue of the Virginia legislature was NOT being welcomed with open arms around his state or across the country, he used his big man-hands to revise the bill to give women a choice of what type of ultrasound they would prefer to be subjected to. (Would you prefer arsenic or hemlock?) Of course, he acted completely surprised at what was in the bill until it had been discussed for weeks, and until protests outside his office “opened his eyes” to what was going on. Sure, Bob.

Arguing Contraception in 2012? Really? Really?

I won’t even go into the absurd Issa investigation that took place, wherein a contingent of old men shared their innate wisdom about women’s health. And then came Sandra Fluke, who testified at the second go-round (where someone with a D after their name decided that perhaps a WOMAN might be able to offer some insight into a WOMAN’S issue.)

In brief, she testified about uses of birth control pills for medical issues beyond contraception, which of course, the Right Wing heard as “she’s a slut and a prostitute who just wants to have sex with anything that walks, 24 hours a day, and she wants to government to subsidize her wanton behavior.”

Are these people really that stupid? I think not. I think it is just the latest salvo in the ongoing War Against Women. But this time, the women (and sane men) fought back, particularly after that paragon of manly virtue, Rush Limbaugh, spent three days maligning Ms. Fluke and proving that he has no clue as to how contraception even works—positing (his word in his non-apologetic apology) that the more sex you have, the more pills you have to take. Rush, get a clue. Or better yet, SHUT UP, you ignorant blowhard!  A concerted effort to call Limbaugh out on his hideous comments, saw seven of his sponsors drop their advertising from his show within a few days. (this is an ongoing effort, so things may have changed by now.) This appeared on Proflowers Facebook shortly before they announced that they were suspending advertising on Limbaugh’s show.

Of course, the usual suspects like Hannity and O’Reilly rushed to defend Limbaugh, but
amazingly, like Dana Loesch’s reaction to the Virginia ultrasound law, WOMEN on the Right (not IN the right, but ON the right, as in—heading over the cliff) joined Rush in his excoriation of Sandra Fluke.

The ever-lovely Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugged infamy, shared these delightful words, “By all accounts she is banging it five times a day. She sounds more like a prostitute to me. She must have an gyno bill to choke a horse (pun intended). Slut was a softball.”

And the ever-thoughtful Michelle Malkin clarified the issue with, I’ll tell you why Rush was wrong. Young Sandra Fluke of Georgetown Law is not a "slut." She’s a moocher and a tool of the Nanny State. She’s a poster girl for the rabid Planned Parenthood lobby…”

Patricia Heaton (she played Raymond’s wife on “Everybody Loves Raymond”) had a field day on Twitter entertaining all her “Tweatons” with hateful comments about Fluke, before shutting down her Twitter account (or, in RWNJ terminology, “Driven off Twitter by liberal haters.”

And, of course, Michele (one l) Bachmann hilariously said just a week or so ago, “The Republican Party is extremely pro-women.”

Who ARE These People?

Just to touch briefly on these personhood bills and ballot initiatives that are popping up all over the place. (although, even the most conservative state in the country, Mississippi, voted overwhelmingly against a personhood amendment. But, the wingers will be back later, I’m sure.)  In many cases, the way these bills will not only be a backdoor means of outlawing abortion, but will severely curtail the use of most forms of contraception. Not counting the failed bill in Mississippi, personhood bills and ballot initiatives have been introduced in 13 states:
Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. 

An excellent site to review the language of these bills and keep up to date on their progress is http://www.resolve.org/get-involved/personhood-bills-and-ballot-initiatives.html.

And finally, what sayeth the GOP candidates?

Graphic courtesy of our friend Azure Ghost

Now let’s take a look at some of the positions/comments made by the current crop of would-be Republican Presidential candidates, shall we? Romney doesn’t have much to say that directly relates to women’s rights, although everything he does say, he then recants a few hours later and recalibrates his position, so there’s not much point in any of his quotes.

Newt, with his sordid history with women who are and are not his wife, doesn’t have much to say directly about women’s rights, preferring to couch his anti-woman rhetoric in a more “anything that relates to women’s health options is a direct, blasphemous attack on the Catholic Church, of which I have, after screwing anything that walks for the past 40 or so years, become a de-facto spokesperson” kind of way.

But Santorum, oh dear Rick, who is currently a FRONTRUNNER (I know, it’s hard for me to fathom as well) has plenty to say, and Ron Paul gets in a few digs of his own.

Ø     Santorum and Gingrich would like to zero out funds for programs including Title X, the nation's only program dedicated solely to providing family planning services and contraception to low-income women.

Ø     From the NY Times Editorial Board before the Iowa primary: “But the message from Iowa was crystal clear: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman Jr., Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry all stand ready to restrict a woman's right to make her own childbearing decisions and deny essential health care to millions of women. The Republican field is united in its determination to overturn Roe v. Wade; to appoint Supreme Court justices supportive of that goal; and to end government payments to Planned Parenthood for family planning services, cancer screening and other vital health services provided to low-income women. The candidates also want to reinstate the global gag rule that barred family planning groups abroad receiving federal money from even talking about abortion.”

Ø     Santorum, elaborating on why he opposed the revised version of the Obama contraception rule, he explained that he didn't believe insurance companies should cover contraception at all. "This has nothing to do with access," he said. "This is having someone pay for it, pay for something that shouldn't even be in an insurance plan anyway because it is not, really an insurable item. This is something that is affordable, available. You don't need insurance for these types of relatively small expenditures.”

Ø     Santorum on contraception “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.” Santorum has also said, “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Ø     Santorum on women: “The notion that college education is a cost-effective way to help poor, low-skill, unmarried mothers with high school diplomas or GEDs move up the economic ladder is just wrong.”…“Radical feminists have been making the pitch that justice demands that men and women be given an equal opportunity to make it to the top in the workplace.”

Ø     Ron Paul on equal pay for women: “The idea that the social do-gooder can legislate a system which forces industry to pay men and women by comparable worth standards boggles the mind...The concept of equal pay for equal work is...an impossible task.... By what right does the government assume the power to tell an airline it must hire unattractive women if it does not want to?”

Santorum went even further down the rabbit-hole a week or so ago, coming out against pre-natal testing, saying it leads to abortion. (In Santorum’s mind, everything a woman does, other than submit to marital sex for purposes of procreation leads either to abortion or a total decline of civilization as we know it—or more to the point, civilization as Pope Ricky would decree.)

To recap—in the words of that bald, lollipop sucking he-man (NO, not Paul, the Sweet Babeu), Telly Savalas:

“Who loves ya, baby?”

You can bet your bottom dollar, it isn’t the Republicans. So what say we spread the word to every woman (and every man who truly cares about women) we know?



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