Monday, May 21, 2012

What are they so afraid of?

It’s easy to get lost in the details of the war on women. After all, the repeated and hateful assaults on our access to health care, safety from domestic violence and even our right to vote are nearly overwhelming.

But why is this happening? Why now? Why, instead of focusing on jobs or military spending or any of the other fiscal issues facing this country are the Republicans so determined to subjugate and undermine women?

Because we scare them.

By being strong, we are a threat to their masculinity. Our strength is their weakness.

Men are raised from birth to see themselves as the caretakers, the breadwinners, the pants-wearers of the family. When women are capable and independent, it threatens to encroach on the very role men were taught was their due.

Our gender identities are cemented from a very young age; through the toys we receive, the lessons we are taught and the role models we watch. Girls are given tea sets and miniature kitchens and easy-bake ovens and dolls – toys that prepare us for the inevitable future of domesticity. Boys are given toy swords and guns and construction sets and action figures (not male dolls – these are “heroes,” ready for action) – all things that develop their “natural” aggressive, strong, leader-of-the-pack mentality.

We learn that girls must be “ladylike,” but “boys will be boys.” We see the roles that our parents, grandparents, and the adults around us play. We become aware of the fact that most of our teachers and babysitters and nannies are female, while police officers and soldiers and politicians are men.

When we dress too provocatively, we are whores. When we demand control of our reproductive lives, we are sluts. When we speak too loudly or too passionately, we are hysterical. When we seek out careers in male-dominated fields, we are butch, or trouble-makers. We are always subject to the judgment of men, particularly religious men (and women) who benefit from finding us wanting.

So we maintain the status quo, but each generation of women grows a little more restless. We see some women break the mold. We gain the education that would never have been available to our grandmothers. We start to recognize that our worth is not tied to our anatomy and that we have something to contribute to the world beyond a womb fertile for breeding.

And that scares those people whose worth is tied to our suppression. If we are no longer the sinners, are they still the saints?

Religious men cling to their beliefs and their religious texts (this is not just a Christian or Catholic phenomenon – it transpires in various religions) as a means of securing their “God-given” superiority. They trumpet their bible verses and the entrenched beliefs of their forefathers as proof that we are not as good, or as worthy, or as human as they are. The truly insidious ones claim it is for our own good – that they have our best interests at heart.  

We have to break this pattern. We have to speak out against every instance of misogyny we face, because every catcall, every pointed look, every missed promotion, every real or implied instance of “you’re just a girl, what do you know” allows fear-based hatred to continue.

Every time a man is allowed to get away with treating us as if our opinions, our bodies, our lives are subject to their approval, we are only cementing their belief in their right to dictate to us on issues of our safety and health. By sitting quietly in the face of ignorance and deep-rooted misogyny, we are complicit in our continued servitude and the rapid devaluation of our very lives.

So be scared, boys, because I, for one, refuse to be silent.     

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dear Women

Dear women of America,

Do you really, truly hate Obama more than you love your own freedom, your own body, your own right to be treated as an equal human being? If you vote for Romney, that’s what you’re telling me.

CNN released a poll this morning that showed Obama’s support among women dropped 5 percent over the last two months from 49 to 44 percent, while Romney’s went up from 43 to 46 percent. Obviously this is just one poll, and the margin of difference is within the survey’s sampling error, but Romney should legitimately have 0 percent support among women if we’re being honest with ourselves.

The current Republican party, the puppeteer behind Romney, is the single greatest threat to women’s rights in the past 80+ years.

I’ve mentioned this number before, and I’ll bring it up again: Since January of this year, over 900 (that’s NINE HUNDRED) bills have been introduced nationwide that in some way seek to limit women’s access to birth control, health care, abortion rights and equal pay.

They want to roll back our rights to biblical levels, because their god (and their ignorant religious leadership) is telling them to do so. Women haven’t faced this much blatant and open misogyny from the Republican Party since well before our right to vote was recognized.

Here are highlights of some of the anti-women legislation that has gained traction and/or passed into law across the country:

  • Arizona’s newest 20-week abortion ban begins counting pregnancy from a woman’s last menstrual period (up to two weeks before she is *actually* pregnant) rather than fetal age, women facing serious fetal abnormalities later term (you know, when they can be detected) have 0 – 24 hours to make a decision about terminating the pregnancy. Later term abortions need to be protected. They also support the right to religiously-based discrimination – because that always works out well. Employers in Arizona can now deny women birth control coverage for religious reasons. Because favoring the religious beliefs of one group over another isn’t a violation of the Constitution or anything.
  • On May 17, Congress will vote on a measure to ban 20-week abortions in the District of Columbia. Fortunately, since we have no representation in the Senate and one non-voting delegate in the House, this asshat gets to decide on taking our rights away for us.
  • Continuing the glorious Republican tradition of making things RE-illegal (Michele Bachmann’s ban on gay marriages, NC’s amendment 1, etc.), Florida’s Ballot Initiative 6, up for vote in 2012, would roll back a woman’s right to privacy to “end public funding of abortions” (…which was taken care of 3 DECADES ago).
  • Georgia passed the infamous “women as livestock” law based on the completely-false-only-supported-by-not-even-God-because-it’s-definitely-not-in-the-Bible notion that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Because if farmers have to “deliver calves, dead or alive” why shouldn’t broodmare-women have to do the same? This bill provides NO exclusions for rape, incest, or a woman’s emotional or mental condition. Suck it up, bitch, and birth that dead baby.
  • Kansas is waiting on their Senate for the “refusal clause” bill, which would allow doctors to LIE to women about birth defects and withhold cancer treatments for mothers in the interest of saving the fetus.
  • Mississippi signed into law a bill that will in all likelihood put the last remaining abortion provider in the state out of business. Their reasoning? The clinic doesn’t have admitting privileges at a hospital. The reason they don’t have those privileges? Because they don’t refer enough cases to qualify. The clinic is literally being punished for not jeopardizing the lives of enough women. Pro-life enough for you?
  • Missouri started all the shit with the Blunt Amendment, which would allow employers to play Russian Roulette with women's health care options. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court case Unemployment Division v. Smith already decided that religious beliefs do not preclude you from following an otherwise-legitimate law, these people really think their religious beliefs entitle them to completely ignore the 14th amendment. 
  • On June 12, North Dakota will vote on a measure that gives employers the right to deny women birth control coverage for “religious reasons.” You know what’s not a choice? Ovarian cancer. You know what is a choice? Your ignorant religious beliefs. If they can deny us medical care for religious reasons, why can’t they deny us the right to vote for religious reasons? Oh right, they’re working on it.
  • South Carolina passed a bill barring private insurers (yes, private) from covering abortions. How’s that for small government?
  • South Dakota enacted a law requiring doctors to lie to women about the non-existent link between abortions and mental health issues. Fortunately, if you’re a Republican, scientific studies proving that there is no definite link between mental health issues and abortion can just be completely ignored.
  • In Texas, Gov. Perry decided to exercise his states’ rights, y’all, to deny access to health care (not abortion services, just birth control, cancer screenings, etc. but really, let’s not split hairs…) for low-income women. I’ll say this again and again and again – NO FEDERAL MONEY IS USED TO FUND ABORTIONS – but Perry defunded the non-abortion-providing part of Planned Parenthood because he doesn’t like people who like things that he doesn’t like. So there.
  • Utah just passed into law a 72 hour waiting period for abortions – the longest in the country. Because women are too stupid to a) know what an abortion is and b) make up their mind about it. Fortunately, we have the state to send us back to our rooms where we can sit and think about what dirty, immoral whores we are for wanting to access our Constitutional rights.
  • Virginia managed to pass their medically-unnecessary pre-abortion ultrasound requirement, though those poor, idiotic ladies were thrown a bone and can “choose” not to have a transvaginal ultrasound. Does it bother anyone else that the state can run medical tests on us without our consent? Anyone? Bueller?
  • Wisconsin rolled back their equal pay act, even though women currently earn 77 cents on the dollar to men. They also attempted to pass a bill recognizing "single parenthood" as a contributing factor of child abuse. Not too surprising, since they’re the home of Rep. Pridemore, who thinks women should just close their eyes and remember the good times while their husbands are beating them. Because nothing says family values than domestic violence and rape. 

In addition to this state-by-state fuckery, Congress has still not reauthorized the expired Violence Against Women Act, because Republicans truly believe 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.

And just for the fun of it, go ahead and re-read about the fact that Republicans want nothing to do with living children, and the fact that they want hungry school kids to pay for more tax breaks for the rich.

Is your not-quite-PC-even-if-you-shout-“economic issues!”-hatred-of-Obama still worth more than everything we stand to lose? Please, please consider the issues – particularly the ones most important to all women everywhere – before casting your vote this November. Because if the Republicans get their way, you may lose that right, too. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Work harder - hundreds of rich people depend on you

I keep hearing conservatives try to say that blaming Republicans for the war on women just detracts from the more important economic issues. While I resoundingly call bullshit on that – because if half your population loses autonomy over their bodies they won’t be contributing to the economy – I would like to take a brief break from playing “Hide The Uterus From The Republican” to a look at the economic side of the argument.

So here’s a quick summary of Romney’s tax proposal for individuals, borrowed mostly from
  • Cut personal income tax by 20 percent on a permanent, across-the-board basis
  • Eliminate interest, dividend, and capital gains taxes for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income below $200,000
  • Eliminate the estate tax
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
Romney’s campaign website says lower taxes will “stimulate entrepreneurship, job creation, and investment, while still raising the revenue needed to fund a smaller, smarter, simpler government. The principle of fairness must be preserved in federal tax and spending policy.”

The libertarian in me is clapping gleefully and leaning traitorously toward Romney (don’t worry, the woman in me is doing the diva-finger-snap with a hearty side dose of eye rolling). This seems to make so much sense. Until you figure out what it *actually* means.

So a 20 percent across-the-board cut. There are currently 6 tax brackets, the top of which is an income over $388,350 (regardless of whether you file single or joint). That bracket currently pays 35 percent, which would be reduced to 28 percent (Tax Policy Center) under Romney’s plan. That’s a big difference for say… someone like Romney, who earned around $21 million in 2010.

About 70 percent of Americans – those of us in the mostly-comfortable middle – would see tax breaks of about $4,300 on average. Sounds good so far.

But what Romney doesn’t say is that he’d allow the tax cuts enacted by the stimulus package to expire. Meaning individuals in the lowest tax brackets would get to pay more, to offset the cuts for the rich. Because everyone knows Robin Hood robbed from the poor to give to the rich. Oh wait, shit. It's a good thing Romney has no qualms about starving children to support his rich friends.

All in all, according to politifact “18 million people would find themselves in a gap where the [Romney] rate cut wouldn’t offset the loss of benefits from the Obama tax cuts Romney would let expire.”

Individuals and families who earned between $13,660 (single, no children) to $49,078 (married, 3 or more children) per year would see their taxes go up on average $700 a year. The approximately 11 percent of filers (those who earn too little to actually pay taxes) would see their taxes go up by about $900 on average. But it’s ok, because people who make $1million or more per year will see an average tax cut of $250,535. Maybe they’ll use some of that saved money to roll around in, while they cry sad, sad tears for the rest of us lazy folks.

I guess when your yearly income is $15,000, you should totally be able to spare 6 percent of it to make sure Romney has new golf clubs, because those golf clubs might lead to a business deal that might lead to a company that might one day employ someone.

Since Romney is running on a policy of fiscal responsibility (what the rest of us folks like to call ‘punish the poor people so rich people can take baths in their extra cash’), it makes sense that he’d want to cut our bloated defense-spending budget, right? You mean he doesn’t?

Turns out that Romney’s plan for the Pentagon budget would actually lead to $2.1 trillion in additional spending over the next 10 years. But fortunately, if Romney gets his way the House Budget Committee will make a good start on figuring out how to fund that by removing $261 billion from food stamp programs, Medicaid, social services and other programs for low-income Americans.

Work harder, millions of Americans – hundreds of really wealthy white male fat cats are depending on you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Screw you, North Carolina

So by now, just about everyone has heard the news … Girl Scout cookies are going to be sold in candy bar form! Oh, wait, not that news, this news: North Carolina voted for Amendment One, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and places a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.

Fortunately, though, North Carolinians can still get divorced, marry their first cousins and marry off pregnant children. Not even kidding. Their law states: Minors between the ages of 14-16 may lawfully marry if the prospective wife is pregnant, or has given birth, and intends to marry the father of her child.”

Because marrying off a terrified, pregnant 14 year old totally upholds the sanctity of marriage.

Going to North Carolina is just like going to a really bad Waffle House, except instead of your hash browns, you can get your civil rights scattered, smothered, and chunked in the trash.

It scares me to my core that in this day and age, we’re still allowing the majority to vote away the civil rights of the minority. Isn’t this why we have a Bill of Rights?

The 14th Amendment:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.*

*Unless they like the butt sex.

The last time North Carolina amended their Constitution was in 1875, when they made interracial marriage “between a white person and a negro… hereby forever prohibited.” How’s that workin’ out for you guys?  

Winston Chuchill once said You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.” Let’s hope this is the last vestige of “everything else” and that this country will soon wake up to the fact that codified bigotry is just not okay.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Reverend of Misogynyville

There’s a fun new video making the viral rounds on YouTube of Reverend of Misogynyville, Jesse Lee Peterson, called Exploring Your Destiny: How women are building a shameless society. He’s the founder of an organization called BOND: Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny. If that doesn’t sound like the black version of the KKK, I don’t know what does.

Want to get in on the fun? Watch the video, but I warn you, what is seen cannot be unseen…

Amidst the semi-lucid drunken slurring, we get this gem:

“Women cannot handle power. It's not in them to handle power in the right way. They don’t know what to do with it. An-and then secondly, it’s not real power anyway. Power that the world give you is not power anyway – it’s all ego-building. Real, true power come from God, and God is the one that gave man the power and authority – uh, uh over the wife, and uh – to spiritually guide the world in the right way to go… But most men did not make mistakes in the past and when men were in charge, things were tougher, you know, and more solid. And it’s not like that anymore.”

Soo… when men were in power, we’ve never had a problem. Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, Omar Al-Bashir, the Castros, Mussolini, Pinochet… Any of those names ring a bell? None of these men made mistakes? 

Also, living in a liquid-state now, got it. Or maybe gaseous?

Then he continues to express the insidious hate-filled view of men’s rights groups from all over Reddit:

“I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should've never turned this over to women. [...] It was a big mistake. [...] And these women are voting in the wrong people. They're voting in people who are evil who agrees [sic] with them who're gonna take us down this pathway of destruction. And this probably was the reason they didn't allow women to vote when men were men. Because men in the good old days understood the nature of the woman. They were not afraid to deal with it. And they understood that, you let them take over, this is what would happen.

He flutters his hands about effeminately here and there, occasionally shoving them in his pockets in his best “aww shucks, well aren’t I just the cutest bigot you ever seen…” and probably continues on with his barely-coherent and ignorance-laced mumblings for several more minutes, although I gave up and couldn’t stomach any more of his shit.

Unfortunately this guy is not an anomaly – he’s just a little more brazen about letting his acrimonious nonsense get broadcast to the public.

So on a whim, I posted a comment in response to the video. I rarely comment on YouTube, because if I wanted to engage with that many grammatically-inept trolls, It’d be more fun to go sit in on some Republican debates.

I got quite the response and a ton of likes/promotions. But all but one comment posted in response to my comment completely missed the blindingly-obvious sarcasm of my statement. They all then proceeded to point out for me that actually, the Bible is really misogynist, so … let’s just fuck this whole separation of church and state thing and go back to the good ol’ days of slavery and women-as-property and turning people into salt!

Assuming these are actual people (and not spambots), they can or will eventually be able to vote and hold jobs and reproduce. I just… it boggles the mind. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

No on Amendment 1

North Carolinians are gearing up for a vote on Amendment 1, which would make both gay marriages and civil unions completely illegal in North Carolina. North Carolina clearly learned their lesson about segregation: ‘separate but equal’ doesn’t work, so let’s just try ‘separate and really fucking unequal’ instead!

But the really scary part (ok, all the parts are scary, but another scary part) about this is that, when questioned, Jodie Brunstetter, the wife of Sen. Peter Brunstetter who helped author the amendment, stated: “The reason my husband wrote Amendment 1 was because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to uh, reproduce.”

Umm… can I keep going with the Holocaust/genocide comparisons now?

Republicans all over the country are trying to strip rights from minority groups one by one in an attempt to create a perfect Christian society. In just the past week or so, LGBT people have been under attack from every corner. That horrible idiot pastor in North Carolina advocated beating the gay out of your children, the radio DJ in Ohio told a father to have someone rape his daughter straight, and a group of pearl-clutching witch-hunters has gone after JC Penney for showing a potentially-lesbian couple on one page of a catalogue. How dare they depict lesbians as normal human beings!

And of course attacks on women and minority/low-income/recent immigrant voters are still in full swing.

Once the minorities are duly subjugated, the Good Christians of the country will be better able to restore us to Good Christian Life. Women will cover themselves head to toe for modesty’s sake and so that no men are provoked into un-Christian acts, only boy children will be sent to school (because a girl’s place is in the home, learning how to cook), everyone will have the same color skin, girls will be married off at age 14 so they can begin reproducing, and everything will be As It Should Be. And we will actually be living in Iran.

Yeah I understand you can point to some passage in a book that says ‘marriage is between a man and a woman.’ But you know what? That book has no place in my Constitution. And that book also advocates slavery, so unless you plan to give yourself to me in bondage and fetch me a damned cup of coffee, that argument is not gonna fly.

Misogyny, intolerance and bigotry seem to be the rallying cries of the Republicans lately. North Carolinians go to the polls on May 8 – If you live in NC, please vote No on Amendment 1, or if you know anyone in NC, urge them to vote against this awful bill. Equality shouldn’t be subject to the whims of a hate-based religious sect. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Small victories

Finally some good news on the home front! Yesterday, judges in both Texas and Oklahoma reminded Republicans that acting like paternalistic, abusive fathers and trying to beat women into submission isn’t actually legal (unless you’re in Kansas…).

A federal judge in Texas ruled that Governor Perry’s move to defund Planned Parenthood was a violation of the first amendment. Since the part of the organization potentially being defunded is not the part that provides abortions, he was essentially punishing them for supporting an organization that performs abortions. News flash, Republicans: Sanctioning an organization just because it believes in something you don’t is not exactly small government. That would be… umm… what do you call it… oh, fascism.

Then, in Oklahoma, the OK Supreme Court ruled that the personhood amendment, which would give a fertilized egg the same rights as living, breathing, taxpaying, white, rich Republican men (and considerably more rights than those filthy baby-incubating women!) was clearly unconstitutional. In fact, they called it “repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.” Oooh, burn.

While these little glimmers of intelligence scattered across the country are encouraging, the fight isn’t over. Just since January 2012, there have been 944 pieces of legislation written/introduced that in some way seek to restrict women’s rights. A few small victories don’t mean these hateful extremists are going to give up.

But yay for baby steps (um, pun intended) forward!