Friday, April 27, 2012

Starve the children to support the rich

Every day I’m confronted with so much asinine nonsense from the Republican party that it’s almost hard to choose what to write about.

Do I talk about the fact that Tennessee – a state that just approved teaching creationism in school and thinks hand-holding is a gateway sexual activity (if you cross the street holding your child’s hand, is that gateway incest?) – just passed a bill that essentially criminalizes miscarriages because the first time they passed a bill about assault of a pregnant woman, they didn’t know enough about pregnancy to get it right? Do I talk about the fact that homophobia is more important to Republicans than protecting women, as evidenced by the Violence Against Women Act debate?

Or how about the fact that Phil Bryant of Mississippi – he of the MS personhood debacle (props, MS, for voting that one down, sorry about your luck with your nutjob governor though…) – went on a tirade claiming that the sole aim of the Democratic party is to abort children? That doesn’t even make convoluted-Republican sense – doesn’t the Democratic party allegedly want more poor children because more young, poor people = more Democrats? Jesus, Republicans – at least get your hatemongering straight.  

But while I was stumbling through, occasionally banging my head against my desk, I came across this: House GOP Would Kick 280,000 Children Off School Lunch Program To Protect Tax Cut For Millionaires.

This is why I'll never be a Republican.

As a Libertarian, I believe the role of the government is to protect its citizenship. Letting children starve in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy is not protecting anyone.

The Republicans claim to be a party of personal responsibility. I love that concept, but cutting off or restricting access to contraceptives, to basic health care, to abortions, to education and to domestic violence and rape crises hotlines is not encouraging anyone to become more personally responsible - it's denying them the tools to do so.

You want fewer children to receive free lunches? Make sure women have access to education and family planning methods so that they can determine how many children to have. Don’t force them to have more unwanted children, then punish those children for your religiously-based ignorance.

Whether or not you agree it’s the government’s place to feed children when their parents can’t do so, the solution is NOT to both reinforce and worsen the situation. Handouts are bad, so let’s make sure more people need them. What the fuckity-fuck? This is your idea of small government?  I think your logic is missing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Violence Against Women Act

This week Congress is discussing reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a bill introduced in 1993 (passed in 1994) that has decreased domestic violence by 67% as of 2010. For the first time in the Act’s history, there is Republican opposition to reauthorization.

Why would the We’re not waging a war on women, (we’re just trying to help them by taking away their autonomy and rights) Republicans suddenly oppose a no-brainer always-partisan-supported piece of legislation? Because it extends rights to women in domestic partnerships, and expands protections for Native American women and illegal immigrants who assist in the prosecution of their abuser. Don’t want those sneaky lesbians getting a toehold on equality…

Jeff Sessions (R – AL) said in a quote to the New York Times: “You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn’t support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?”

Those sneaky, sneaky Democrats. Trying to sneak some more rights for more people into their legislation. At least they’re not accusing you of supporting hate crimes against gays. Or of supporting the building of the Berlin wall a bigger fence between the US and Mexico. Or of opposing stem cell research. Or of opposing the right of a gay person to serve on the Supreme Court or in the military. Or of supporting the KKK except for their unfortunate pot-smoking habit. Or of calling the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "un-American" and "Communist-inspired." Yes, fortunately Sessions has a lovely record on equality and tolerance, so we can all feel comfortable taking his word…

Contrary to Sessions’ paranoid ramblings (and lets be fair, the opinions of the other 7 idiots Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee), an expanded VAWA doesn’t make that evil gay marriage legal, it doesn’t allow more illegal immigrants to sneak across the borders and it doesn’t … really? I can’t even come up with a convoluted Republican justification for denying protections to Native American women. Are they black magicky witches or something?

Even if you don’t agree with a woman’s lifestyle or personal sex life, violence against her is NEVER acceptable, and cannot be condoned by allowing VAWA to lapse. The Republicans are very explicitly stating that lesbian and transgendered women and Native American women are not the same as other women, and are not deserving of equal protection under the law. For a little bit of political gamesmanship, women’s lives will once again be in increased danger.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – as a woman, a vote for a Republican this election season is a vote for your own enforced servitude.  

The Republican version of the bill doesn’t exist yet, though there have been promises made that one is in the works. Let’s just assume it’ll be called the Violence Against White Christian Women Who Already Know Their Place Act. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Because I'm not controversial enough: Late term abortions

I’ve always been pro-choice/pro-women’s-freedom, but I was at one point opposed to late-term abortions. Why? Because I didn’t know the facts. I thought late term abortions occurred because women were too stupid/fickle to make the decision earlier. I bought into the so-called pro-life movement’s claim that there were these awful, barbaric women out there deliberately waiting until they were 6 months along before having a nearly-viable fetus brutally destroyed.

The truth is that only 1.3% (CDC, 2011) of abortions occur after 20 weeks, and these are usually the situations that deserve the most compassion and the most respect for the difficult and painful choices a woman sometimes has to make. Though there are no reliable statistics for why women choose to have late-term abortions, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) cites “illnesses of women and fetal anomalies” as major factors.

Of course, Georgia and, y’know, the entire federal government are working to remove women from the equation. On April 2, Georgia passed a bill affectionately referred to the “Women as Livestock” bill. Rep. Terry England famously stated that if livestock have to "deliver calves, dead or alive," then a woman carrying a dead fetus after 20 weeks, or one not expected to survive, should have to do so as well. Because if money/technology prevent farmers from showing compassion to animals, why should a government full of men have to respect the basic human rights of women? Naturally, the bill does not include exemptions for the woman’s health, rape or incest. In Georgia, they love their incest.

On October 13, 2011, the US House voted 251 to 170 to pass a bill that prohibits hospitals that receive federal funds (not the abortion-funding kind, those don’t exist, as I’ve pointed out before) cannot perform a late-term abortion, even if it is necessary to save a woman’s life. The bill also removes the requirement that hospitals without the facilities to perform an abortion transfer those women who need life-saving abortions to a different provider. Women can literally be forced to die on the floor, rather than be provided with a life-saving, still-legal and medically-necessary procedure.

These are the precedents we’re allowing to be set. In the name of “religion” and “unborn rights.”

Another JAMA article states that “other risk factors include young age, low educational attainment, having had a sexually transmitted disease, and ambivalence about the decision to abort.” Oddly enough, the restrictions and limitations Republicans have enacted to discourage abortions (abstinence-only education, requirements to visit ‘crisis centers,’ coercion through forced ultrasounds, etc.) actually contribute to later-term abortions. Go figure.

An abortion position paper from Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada very succinctly states the point that everyone here seems to miss:

Abortion opponents target rare cases of late term abortion, describing it in horrific detail, to evoke an emotional response in listeners. Their ultimate goal is to restrict all abortion rights. What these lobbyists strategically fail to mention, however, is that banning late term abortions would force women pregnant with dying fetuses to give birth at great risk to their own health, undermining both the rights of women and the medical authority of doctors.

Late term abortions are more heart-rending, yes, because the fetus is further developed, but the numbers show that women are not selfishly waiting until the last possible minute and then heartlessly deciding to murder an innocent baby. These are medical decisions made by women and their health care providers – legislators have no right to be involved in those decisions. Access to basic health care and human rights is even more important when the woman’s life is actually in danger. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Champion of Unintended Irony

In an apparent attempt to wrest the title of Champion of Unintended Irony from Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney declared that poor women should be required to work outside the home or lose Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF] benefits.

Because only rich women should be afforded the “choice” to become trophy wives and put their hard-earned managerial skills to use bossing around the domestic help, Romney stated "even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work."

While I don’t in theory disagree with the idea of having to work to earn benefits, it just seems a wee bit contradictory coming from the camp that saw their opportunity and went for the jugular when someone implied being a stay-at-home-mom wasn’t much work.

So which is it, Mitt? Is being a stay-at-home-mom one of the toughest jobs? Or not work at all? Are these women the backbone of our society? Or worthless dregs with no dignity who need to be catapulted out into the almost-non-existent job market? Or is this maybe, just maybe, yet another example of the classist, racist and misogynistic policies that currently define the Republican party?  

What about if we just ensured that those women had the education and opportunity to avoid having those children in the first place, so they could work, improve their situation, and hopefully be ready and able to financially care for children later on?

Or is logic something we’re not allowed to discuss?

Looks like you should have stuck to your policy of deferring to Ann on all the “women-related” issues, Mittens. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Living women and children matter too

The Oklahoma personhood bill currently sitting on Republican governor Mary Fallin's desk has wording that states embryos/zygotes/fetuses have all the same rights and privileges of other citizens from the "moment of conception until birth."

After birth, of course, the black ones, the female ones, the Jewish ones, the Muslim ones, the gay ones, the Hispanic ones, the poor ones... they no longer have quite the same rights.

According to the Children's Defense Fund, the rate of child poverty increased 28% between 2000 and 2009. 15.5 million children lived in poverty in 2009, an increase of nearly 4 million from 2000. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports an average of 800,000 abortions in the US per year. Multiply 800,000 by the 9 year period from 2000 to 2009, and you get 7.2 million additional births.

Now many of these babies may not have survived on their own, due to illness, genetic disease, etc., and many may have been accepted, adopted and loved, but assuming just half of them ended up as live births living in poverty, you add an additional 3.6 million children starving and going without adequate shelter, clothes and education. That almost doubles the increase in the poverty rate.

Are those really the rights we want to support? The right to be forgotten about and trampled on by a government that thinks women are livestock and born children are invisible? The right to be oppressed, treated like second class citizens, denied education about and access to contraception, and then be punished for being herded like cattle onto the only path the Republicans made available?

The Republicans are no longer conservative or 'small government' in any way, shape or form. They are a religious party carrying out a dangerous Crusade against the American public. We have to keep fighting...

Thursday, April 12, 2012


My fiancĂ© [inadvertently, I think] helped me clarify a point I was trying to make in my last post and in my discussion with my friend. Yes, I understand and agree with Voltaire’s quote: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death your right to say it.” But I also agree that it comes with another quote of his, from Dictionnaire Philosophique: “We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard.”

Peril, risk and hazard. There is danger in some forms of “free” speech, and we know this, because we have laws in place about libel and slander and posting on facebook that you’re going to blow up a school. Using free speech to express an opinion – however misguided I may believe it to be – is perfectly acceptable and an absolute right. Using that same speech to strip away my humanity and my basic rights, however, is where the line gets drawn.

On July 17, 1980, the United States signed the treaty set forth by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Among other things, “CEDAW protects a woman's equal right to life, health, and to decide on the number and spacing of her children. The full protection of these rights requires the removal of obstacles in access to abortion services, and will also require the state to provide services in some circumstances. The United States is already bound by international human rights commitments in this regard through its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and through its membership in the Organization of American States.”

If we have already decided that this is a basic human right, why is it now ok to allow one vocal minority to try to rip it away by force? Can we repeatedly make the argument that slavery is beneficial and force all black people to only engage in unpaid manual labor? Is it not enough that we’ve already heard this argument and already dismissed it as invalid?

Isn’t part of what makes us a developed, first world democracy the fact that we protect the basic human rights of ALL of our citizens? (Except the GLBT ones, of course, but that’s for another debate.) Aren’t they considered basic human rights because they are inviolable and cannot be denied?

I think that there are certain minimum rights that you cannot re-negotiate or sneakily legislate away. You can add rights, but you cannot strip them.

You can argue until you’re blue in the face that two cells meeting and falling in fertilized love somehow equals a person, but what you can’t argue is that my right to life ends because of those two cells.

You can argue that Aryan Germans are the superior race, but you can’t argue that all Jews need to be eradicated because of that.

You can argue until the peril, risk and hazard associated with free speech make you a danger to the rights and lives of others.

You are free to swing your fist as much as you want, but your right to swing ends –say it with me now – where my nose begins. Similarly, you are free to swing your asinine pseudo-religious opinions around all you want, but that right ends where it jeopardizes my rights, my health and my life.

And you certainly can’t hijack a democratic government (I’m looking at you, ALEC and Personhood USA and all your cronies) and legislate your vicious, deceitful hatemongering into law.

I don’t know how we stop this awful freight train to hell we’re currently strapped to, but we have to do it. We cannot continue to legitimize arguments that deny women basic rights. We cannot sit idly by while 38 states currently have some sort of right-restricting ‘personhood’ bill on the books or in the works. Women are dying, right now, across the US, because a bunch of religious zealots think the Constitution is crap and we don’t deserve basic human rights.

This is not an academic exercise – our rights and our very freedom are under attack and we have to keep fighting. So I’m going to keep writing, keep blogging, keeping shouting at the top of my lungs to defend what’s mine, and I hope you’ll do the same.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Your argument is no longer valid

I had a really interesting discussion with a friend of mine from college through Facebook comments in response to an article I posted about Oklahoma’s insidious and dangerous new personhood bill.

I still respect this friend, even though he’s potentially been mind-raped by the misleading rhetoric of the right-wing Evangelical pro-life debate, and I respect his right to make his own choice on the matter about whether to keep or abort his mistaken notions. Would that we all had that same freedom…

He actually made it [somewhat] clear that, in this particular case, he doesn’t think the religious argument for jeopardizing women’s lives and health and freedom are quite compelling enough to justify a time-machine trip back to the 1800s, but it was an interesting exercise debating the cause.

Here are some highlights:

Angry Maiden: Regardless of what science does or does not prove, those beliefs that people are choosing are - in this case - religiously based. The whole point of this country and our constitution is to protect religious freedom and prevent religious oppression.

Friend: I agree -- but protecting religious freedom means not discriminating against people based on their motivations (which may be religious zealotry), but instead judging them solely based on the merit of their argumentation. Thus there could be (though I have yet to find) arguments based on religious beliefs that nonetheless have merit logically and secularly. Prevention of religious oppression means not letting people pass laws that are based on religious beliefs, but protecting religious freedom means hearing out arguments that are motivated by religion, but not based on religious beliefs.

Angry Maiden: Ok, so if someone believes based on religion that all black people should serve as slaves ('Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ' Ephesians 6:5-9), do we have a duty to hear out that argument over and over again? Or is it enough that we've already decided as a nation that we don't condone slavery and that -as a general rule- black people are not second class citizens? Because I dont think my basic human rights should be up for constant re-negotiation every time some radical evangelical decides the bible wants me back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.

Friend: I think we do have a duty to hear out any argument based on scientific or logical thought. I find it hard to believe that such an argument could be made that X people (no matter what X is) are inferior to Y people (no matter what Y is), but if someone has a (scientific or logically philosophical) argument for it, I do believe it is our duty to hear them out, every time. I think ultimately this is the same position as Voltaire's comment about free speech: we're only a free society if we support the right to expression and argumentation of groups with the most abhorrent beliefs.

Angry Maiden: But that argument gets made all the time. The crusades, Native Americans, slavery, Australia and the Aborigines, Ireland, the Amenian genocide, the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps... our government was set up with a system of checks and balances - specifically through the judiciary branch - to protect the rights of minorities who do frequently fall victim to these 'logical arguments.' I dont think you can have progress of any sort if you keep going back and revisiting dangerous and hate-filled attempts at subjugating parts of the population based on antiquated religious beliefs that have no place in government.

Friend: Well, again, I don't think it's reasonable to consider arguments based on religion -- but I also don't think it's reasonable to dismiss arguments just because we suspect they are based on motivations that stem from religious beliefs.

Angry Maiden: I guess I just refuse to believe that an argument that would strip away the rights of a group of individuals could possibly have merit worth considering. I took a class on argumentation theory and one of the biggest things I remember from the class was the idea that in order to have a valid argument (2), both parties had to agree on a starting point. For me, and for us as a country, I dont think there can be a starting point that assumes that minority groups' civil rights are up for debate and renegotiation.

Their argument is not valid, because we refuse to accept the terms that our rights are up for discussion – that they are something that can be bartered and restricted and eventually aborted late-term.

I’m going to reiterate something I’ve said before and something Soraya Chemaly stated beautifully in a HuffPost blog: this is not about religion, it’s about freedom and human rights. It’s not about saving babies, it’s about saving women and all Americans (yes, even the ones not yet born) from the tyranny of religion.

We need to change the rhetoric. Neo-conservative Republi-nazis are not “pro-life,” they are “pro-women’s-slavery.” We are not pro-choice, we are pro-freedom.

I didn’t vote Democrat in the last election (Libertarian – bet that’s a shocker, huh?) but I plan to for the first time ever in this coming election. I just can’t take the chance.  

As much as there are Democratic policies I disagree with, I value my life and my freedom more than tax breaks for Mitt Romney’s golfing buddies. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

From a former fetus

Dear Republicans,

This may come as a shock to you - seeing as how I grew up to be a woman - but I, too, was once a fetus.

Before I was a meddlesome, opinionated slut who just wants you to get your grubby paws off my health care and basic human rights, I, too, was a tiny cluster of cells, imbued with all the rights and dignities you’d like to subscribe to current fetuses.

So why do you think I no longer deserve those rights? Now that I’m no longer a fetus, why do I no longer have the right to life? The right to dignity and autonomy? Why do you no longer recognize me as a person? Because if you did, you would understand that I have a right to be free from your religious oppression and your antiquated patriarchal bullshit. You would understand that I have a right to access legal, necessary medical care.

When I was just a wee embryo, you were concerned about my well-being. About my existence. The potential I would bring with me into the world. Now that I’m here, you just want me back in the kitchen.

Where did we go wrong? Was it when my spermatozoan failed to contain a Y chromosome? I do apologize for that, but I fear I would be remiss if I did not point out that you yourself would not exist if your mother’s two X chromosomes hadn’t made her female and therefore capable of bearing a child.

I wish we could go back to those days. Back to when I paid no taxes, voted in no elections and had no need to continuously fight for the rights I’ve already been granted.

You loved me as a fetus, now love me as a fully-formed, educated and worthwhile woman. And for fuck’s sake, stop trying to take away my rights. They are not open to negotiation.

Former fetus-love,

Angry Maiden