Dear Mike Huckabee: You do know how reproduction works, right?

The original title of this post was Dear GOP: You do know how pregnancy works, right?, and it was my single most viewed post, ever, getting more than 100,000 hits in March, 2012. Apparently, though, Mike Huckabee didn’t get the memo. So I’m re-upping it.

I have been pregnant four times.

These pregnancies led to the following four results, in this order: abortion, baby, miscarriage, baby.

These pregnancies occurred over a span of many years, across two continents, and in three different homes. There were at least seven different health care professionals involved, my hair styles varied widely, as did my levels of nausea. The only constant, in all four cases, other than me, was the presence of a penis.

It happened to be the penis I eventually married, but regardless, that is how reproduction works. No matter who you are, no matter your sexuality, ability to reproduce, or family make-up, if there are children in your life, at some point along the way, there was a penis involved.

I mention this only because it seems the GOP, and star player Mike Huckabee, may have forgotten.

Because as we trundle along, shaming women for having any kind of sex, ever, that is not entirely focused on producing babies — even if we are married, even if it wasn’t so much “sex” as “rape,” even if having a baby would threaten our health and thus the well-being of the children we already have — we are completely and utterly ignoring the fact that the single, solitary way for humans to reproduce is for sperm to meet egg. And sperm, you may recall, come from penises.

Which are attached to men.

If women are having too much sex, so are men. If women are producing babies, so are men. If women are making irresponsible reproductive choices with which they want to burden “the American people” — so.are.men.

Birth control, abortions, prenatal care, postpartum care, child care — whatever we may think, whatever we may have been told — are not women’s issues. They are human issues.

There is a purely incandescent rage that comes over me now on a nearly daily basis over the blatant dehumanization of women that is currently sweeping the nation. It is exhausting. It is heart breaking. It is spirit crushing. And there’s nothing to be done but to continue to feel it, because I refuse to stop fighting for my right, my daughter’s right, my mother’s right, my sister’s right — the inalienable right of all women everywhere — to human dignity.

But every once and a while, a particularly galling aspect of the GOP’s War on Women floats to the top of the filth, and I am gobsmacked anew. And today it is as simple as this: Women do not reproduce on their own. If the libidos of heterosexual women who use birth control are out of control, Mr. Huckabee, you might want to consider the libidos of the men with whom they’re consorting.

If leading members of the Republican Party are so anxious to control women’s sexuality (and they clearly are), they’d better start shaming men, too.

That is, unless its representatives are willing to argue that men are constitutionally incapable of not sticking their junk into the nearest available lady bits, and we gals have all the power.

I, for one, have too much respect for men to buy that.

PS “Uncle Sugar,” Mike Huckabee? Really?

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Chris Hayes sums up the Republican Party’s entire response to this President.

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“…blah, blah,blah, we hate you we hate your assface.” Quote-unquote.

Rape tolerance and actual facts.

Trigger warning: Please take care of yourself and be aware of your own limitations whenever you read anything about rape.

I had a bit of a thing the other night when I discovered this article: “Rape flier causes outrage; Arizona sex assault victim speaks out.”

The flier, posted in a men’s bathroom at Ohio’s Miami University, read in part: “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape: 1) Put drugs in the woman’s drink, therefore she wont remember you… 6) Sex with an unconscious body does count, so don’t back down if shes sleeping; 7) Practice makes perfect, the more you rape, the better you get at it….”

Seeing this in the very week in which we have been assailed (yet again) with a new rash of rape apologism was just too much. My blood started to pound, I was suddenly crying, and I was filled with a powerful sense of emotional nausea (if that makes sense), reactions that are all overcoming me again, even as I type.

Women live with this every day of our lives, it’s in our leader’s mouths, it’s in the jokes we hear, it’s in the very air we breathe — and then we’re told that rape is our fault. To put an aspirin between our knees. To prove that we didn’t like the rape. To bear the rapist’s child. And to drown in shame.

I’ve been feeling all day that I really should write about it all, but I just can’t. I’m too exhausted by it, too worn down, too emotionally nauseated. But luckily, someone with a slightly bigger soapbox has written a piece filled with both righteous fury, and reams and reams of data. I’m cutting and pasting some of it below, but really, please: Click through and read the whole thing: “50 Actual Facts About Rape,” by Soraya Chemaly.

And men of good will? Please, please share this with your friends, your brothers, your uncles, your father. Please.

Remember facts? Remember facts about rape? Because it turns out that a whole lot of people know less than nothing about the subject. Indeed what they think they know is a whole lot of something that is wrong and dangerous to our heath, safety and well-being.

… For months now we’ve been subjected to surreal revelation when it comes to what people think and understand about rape, god and women’s magical bodies. Here is some real, fact-checked information from a list originally published last week in RHRealityCheck…..

1. Low estimate of the number of women, according to the Department of Justice, raped every year: 300,000
2. High estimate of the number of women raped, according to the CDC: 1.3 million
3. Percentage of rapes not reported: 54 percent
4. A woman’s chance of being raped in the U.S.: 1 in 5
5. Chances that a raped woman conceives compared to one engaging in consensual sex: at least two times as likely
6. Number of women in the US impregnated against their will each year in the U.S. as a result of rape: 32,000
7. Number of states in which rapists can sue for custody and visitation: 31
8. Chances that a woman’s body “shuts that whole thing down”: 0 in 3.2 billion

Had enough? Me, too. And, believe me, this is the Cliff Notes version. Some people are offended by frank conversation about violence, especially sexualized violence. I’m offended by tolerance for these assaults, scientific denialism, entertainment at the expense of people’s safety and bodily integrity, and shame-infused legislation that hurts children and women and is based on the belief that all men are animals at heart.

Rape happens everywhere . All over the world rape acceptance, rape tolerance, rape denial and rape ignorance at best are used to restrict women’s reproductive rights and impede women’s equality. At worse, rape is used strategically and with violence and malevolence as a weapon in war and as a tool of active oppression. Keeping the reality of rape in the shadows has obviously done us a massive disservice and provided cover for rapists and their apologists. So, even though it’s not easy information to digest, it’s important. Maybe information is part of god’s divine plan.

…Akin, Mourdock, Ryan, et al are the distortions. If men like Mitt Romney really doesn’t agree with them then he should grow some ovaries, so to speak, and stop playing in the same political sand box….  All of this goes hand-in-hand with Facebook rape pages, Daniel Tosh rape jokesReddit rapist threadsmusic, videos, movies, ad infinitum. This recent political display of religiously convoluted rape “reasoning” in legislation is a national shame with deadly consequences for women here and abroad.

To read the rest of “50 Actual Facts About Rape,” please click here.

Obama on rape & politicians making decisions for women (or: My President’s a feminist, part the many).

“Rape is rape. It is a crime…. The second thing this underscores, though, is this is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women’s health care decisions.” (And, it should be noted: The crowd goes wild!)

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And furthermore: “These are not just women’s issues, these are family issues.”

Dear GOP: You do know how pregnancy works, right? (I think they weren’t listening the first time).

I first ran the following back in May; at the time it went kind of crazy viral, but the evidence of the past few days suggests that the leadership of the Republican Party was not among my readers. And so I offer it again…. Please feel free to share broadly — last time, the little post that could got FB-ed more than 10,000 times, and garnered more than 400 comments. O_O! 

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I have been pregnant four times.

These pregnancies led to the following four results, in this order: abortion, baby, miscarriage, baby.

These pregnancies occurred over a span of many years, across two continents, and in three different homes. There were at least seven different health care professionals involved, my hair styles varied widely, as did my levels of nausea. The only constant, in all four cases, other than me, was the presence of a penis.

It happened to be the penis I eventually married, but regardless, that is how pregnancy works. No matter who you are, no matter your sexuality, ability to reproduce, or family make-up, if there are children in your life, at some point along the way, there was a penis involved.

I mention this only because it seems the GOP may have forgotten.

Because as we trundle along, shaming women for having any kind of sex, ever, that is not entirely focused on producing babies — even if we are married, even if it wasn’t so much “sex” as “rape,” even if having a baby would threaten our health and thus the well-being of the children we already have — we are completely and utterly ignoring the fact that the single, solitary way for humans to reproduce is for sperm to meet egg. And sperm, you may recall, come from penises.

Which are attached to men.

If women are having too much sex, so are men. If women are producing babies, so are men. If women are making irresponsible reproductive choices with which they want to burden “the American people” — so.are.men.

Birth control, abortions, prenatal care, postpartum care, child care — whatever we may think, whatever we may have been told — are not women’s issues. THEY ARE HUMAN ISSUES.

There is a purely incandescent rage that comes over me now on a nearly daily basis over the blatant dehumanization of women that is currently sweeping the nation. It is exhausting. It is heart breaking. It is spirit crushing. And there’s nothing to be done but to continue to feel it, because I refuse to stop fighting for my right, my daughter’s right, my mother’s right, my sister’s right — the inalienable right of all women everywhere — to human dignity.

But every once and a while, a particularly galling aspect of the GOP’s War on Women floats to the top of the filth, and I am gobsmacked anew. And today it is as simple as this: Women do not reproduce on their own.

If the Republican Party is so anxious to control women’s sexuality (and it clearly is), it had better start shaming men, too.

That is, unless its representatives are willing to argue that men are constitutionally incapable of not sticking their junk into the nearest available lady bits, and we gals have all the power.

I, for one, have too much respect for men to buy that.

But wait, it gets better – if you’re poor, the GOP hates your baby, too.

Step one: Don’t allow health insurance to cover contraceptives (thus guaranteeing that poor women will either have to stay celibate or fall pregnant) – so say Indiana Treasurer/candidate for US Senate Richard Mourdock and Senator Rick Santorum (to name just two leading Republicans who support such legislation). 

Step twoDon’t allow any kind of abortion, ever (thus guaranteeing that poor women will either have to give up their babies for adoption or have babies they may not be able to afford) – so say Vice Presidential candidate/US Representative Paul Ryan and Indiana Treasurer/candidate for US Senate Richard Mourdock (to name just two leading Republicans who support such legislation).

Step three: If babies are born to a mother who cannot prove that said babies are the result of rape, cut back that mother’s food stamp benefits (thus guaranteeing that poor women and their babies will stay poor and quite possibly hungry) – so say Pennsylvania State Reps. RoseMarie Swanger, Mark Gillen, Keith Gillespie, Adam Harris, and Mike Tobash [+ a Democratic douchebag Blue Dog state representative named Tom Caltagirone], who, you’ll be stunned to learn, are also anti-choice (just click on the links).

I wrote earlier that the right to reproductive choice is a question of fundamental human rights and the separation of church and state, but it’s important to remember that it is wrapped up in many other things as well, not least: The right to decide who controls a woman’s sexuality.

And it ain’t the woman. And damn any babies who get in the way.

And PS: Not only do food stamps keep people from being malnourished, they’re a good governmental investment: For every dollar spent on the program, the economy sees an influx of $1.73. Clearly we wouldn’t want any of that, in this economy.

An open letter to Conservative men about rape.

I am a Progressive, a Liberal, a Democrat, a left-winger, an Obot — whatever you want to call me, go ahead. I’ll own it. Hell, I’m a borderline socialist.

And in the course of my gig as an opinion writer and left-wing activist, I write a lot about “the GOP,” often in a fairly condemnatory tone.

And even so, I try to make a very careful practice not to write about “Republicans,” because what I take issue with is the party itself, its current leadership, and its official platform/policies.

I am very, very much aware that there are a lot of folks out there who identify as Conservatives or Republicans with whom I probably am in agreement on many issues, and from whom I could probably learn a thing or two. There are a lot of arguments that we could have, too, but that’s the way it goes in a democracy. We’ll part ways at the ballot box, and that might create some hard feelings.

But at the end of the day, there are some things that are not (should not be) partisan. Some things are right, or wrong, and we should be willing to cross the aisle to say so. Taking sexual assault seriously, treating it as the horror and the scourge that it is, is one of them.

Rapists don’t care what your politics are. They don’t care what your education is, how much money you make, or what your stance is on the Bush tax breaks. Rapists are criminals who cause grievous bodily harm, and far too often mental and emotional anguish. More often than not, they know their victims, and far more often than we’re willing to admit, are in fact in an intimate or familial relationship with their victims.

If you are a living, breathing adult, you know people who have been sexually assaulted. Maybe some have never told you, maybe a few have, but no matter the extent of your personal knowledge of the individual facts, the singular fact remains that someone — female or male — is sexually assaulted in the United States every two minutes. And you know some of them.

When representatives of the party we vote for say and do things that are wrong — say and do things that hurt people who have already been hurt or are already vulnerable — it is our responsibility to stand up and say “That’s wrong.” I have done this before, and I will do so again — the Democratic Party is not a collection of angels, after all. It is a collection of human beings, some of whom are exceptionally ill-informed or insensitive, and if I want the party to truly represent me and my values, I need to make my voice heard.

I doubt I’m going to reach many Conservative men with this open letter — this blog is tiny, and it’s pretty firmly ensconced on the left hand side of the blogosphere — but if you are a Conservative man, please take to task those in your party who have recently made exceptionally ill-informed and insensitive comments about women and rape.

There is no room for parsing what is and is not “legitimate” or “forcible” rape, and there is no room for mealy-mouthed apologies that try to escape responsibility for using those phrases in the first place. There is no room for likening rape to other “methods of conception.” There is no room for comparing a pregnancy resulting from rape to a pregnancy resulting from consensual sex in an unmarried relationship.

Please talk to your daughters, your sisters, your wives, your mothers. Find out what has happened to them in the course of their lives, and the lives of the women they know. Read the stories told here, sit with this information — with the knowledge that the fact of rape and the threat of it serve to shape and guide the lives of 50% of the human population — and then, please: Say something.

Say something to your party. Say something to your friends. Say something on Twitter, on Facebook, on your blogs, in your articles. Please.

Think about the women you love, and say something.

My President is a feminist, part the several.

In case you were wondering:

President Obama strongly condemned Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) during a surprise press conference Monday for his remarks that “legitimate rape” doesn’t cause pregnancy. Obama said Akin’s statement was reflective of the broader Republican Party’s treatment of women.

“Let me first say the views expressed were offensive,” Obama said. “Rape is rape, and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”

…Obama, while acknowledging criticism of Akin from within the Republican Party, said that his remarks were indicative of the GOP’s anti-abortion record. He pointedly referenced a House Republican bill co-sponsored by Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan that distinguished “forcible rape” in banning funding for abortion, language that was subsequently withdrawn after an outcry from women’s advocacy groups.

“What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women,” Obama said. “So although these particular comments have led Gov. Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think that the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women … or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape are broader issues.”

FYI, and so on.

Via TPM and @MichelleObama.

Democrat. Jewish. Still Voting for Obama.

Please help me with this, my latest at Open Zion/The Daily Beast – if you like it (and why wouldn’t you? It’s perfectly charming! Whimsical, even!) please, please tweet the Open Zion link, FB it, Pin it, send it to your granny — get it out there! Here’s the link in all its glory: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/25/democrat-jewish-still-voting-for-obama.html Just cut-n-paste (if you like it!) and you’re good to go. 

I am just so tired of the Romney campaign and the GOP in general lying about me and mine. I would like to be one of the people who publicly calls them out…. Please and thank you! (But only if you like it!)

Here’s the top:

Dear Michael,

(Can I call you Michael? We’re mishpucha, right?)

I hear you voted for Barack Obama in ‘08, but that you’ll be voting for Mitt Romney this time. I hear this, because the Romney campaign has told me, loudly.

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First of all: Far be it from me to suggest that you don’t have a right to be disappointed in the guy you voted for! I’ve been disappointed with this President a time or two myself, and what is democracy if not the opportunity to express that disappointment in the voting booth? You don’t like the bums? Vote the bums out, I say!

But here’s what I will say, and if you’ve got a glass of tea, I’d be grateful.

You say you’ve decided to change your vote for a number of reasons, but the Romney campaign has zeroed in on one very specific thing hasn’t it? We see that specific thing right under your name on the screen: “Democrat. Jewish. Voted for Obama.”

The Romney campaign likes you not for your economic opinions or that nice kugel you brought them, but rather because you’re a Jew who will say “Fie!” on the President. You’re a Jew who will help them and the GOP writ large further the narrative (as financed by the likes of Sheldon Adelson) that a) Jews are abandoning Obama and b) Jews vote on Israel.

But Michael. Michael, Michael, Michael! You and I both know that neither of those things are true!

To read the rest (and spread the word! If you like it!), please click here….

Bill Kristol and the Emergency Committee for Israel – liars, or very forgetful?

Very quickly:

Yesterday, the Emergency Committee for Israel — a rather unsavory amalgam of Israel hawks, general neo-conservatives, and Evangelical Christians — released an ad attacking President Obama on his Iran policy:

The ad comes as the next round of nuclear talks with Iran will take place in Moscow next week, discussions that have yielded little in the past. The Obama administration has maintained that it has instituted the toughest sanction’s yet on the country, though ECI, citing the International Atomic Energy Agency, says that in the meantime Iran has enriched enough Uranium to build five nuclear bombs.

“President Obama has spent four years talking, Iran has spent four years building,” the narrator says ominously. “Obama is still talking, and Iran has enough fuel for five nuclear bombs…Talking isn’t working. It’s time to act — before it’s too late.”

But here’s the funny thing:

Exactly one month ago today, Bill Kristol, Republican/neo-conservative/Israel hawk and chairman of the Emergency Committee for Israel, said the following, while sitting with a kipa on his head in a synagogue, not two yards from J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami:

I’m happy to sit here and agree with President Obama [on Iran] to a considerable degree, at least as the policy has moved in the last two or three years.

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So, yeah. Very, very forgetful? Or liars?

Or maybe, just possibly, playing politics with very little concern for the fall-out for genuine security needs of both Israel and the US? Hmm.

If you’re curious: Israel’s intelligence community largely agrees not with Bill Kristol circa June, but with Bill Kristol circa May — and, not incidentally, with President Obama’s general policy. So, there’s that.