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! 

*****

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.

What’s at stake for women if SCOTUS strikes down health reform.

Ok so here’s some really disturbing information of which I was unaware: The Center for American Progress is reporting that if the Supreme Court strikes down or guts health care reform — women will suffer disproportionately.

Through a practice known as gender rating, women pay $1 billion more in premiums than men each year for the same set of benefits. And even though they pay more, they often receive fewer benefits. Individual market plans often exclude essential health services for women, such as maternity care, contraception, and Pap smears. And women are subject to coverage exclusions by health insurance providers in the individual market for gender-specific “pre-existing conditions” such as breast cancer, Cesarean sections, rape, and domestic violence.

So, a) apparently “rape” and “domestic violence” are “pre-existing conditions” for some insurance providers, which – wow. That fact alone fills me with such sadness that it’s a genuinely hard to write; and b) women routinely pay more to, and receive less from, health insurance providers — simply by virtue of being women. You know: Just ’cause. Pap smears – they’re just like going out for Cosmos with the gals!

I do think that the effort to undo this Administration’s greatest domestic achievement to date has whole a lot to do with a whole lot of love for the business interests involved + a whole lot of hate for the President in question, and very little to do with caring about the particulars. Which is to say: I don’t think this is of a piece with the War on Women, because I don’t think that the folks trying to pull HCR apart really care what’s in it, for the most part. It’ll cut into the bottom line, and it looks good for Obama. IT MUST GO.

Yet it is undeniably sinus-clearing to see that even when there probably isn’t a direct intent to hurt women — women get hurt. Even when folks aren’t swanning about declaring it morally wrong for me to suggest that my reproductive health is of some import — my reproductive health is of no import. And then there’s the whole oh hey I guess rape and domestic violence can go back to being pre-existing conditions piece of it.

As the CAP report says:

Opponents of Obamacare also threaten to repeal the law if they can gain full control of Congress and the White House in the upcoming election in November. But for the time being, all eyes are on an extremely divided and increasingly conservative Supreme Court, which sadly has in recent years demonstrated little regard for precedent.

For women and their families, the Affordable Care Act is not a theoretical concept—it is a lifeline. Attacks on Obamacare are attacks on women’s health and well-being. If the Supreme Court decides to strike down any or all of this law, then it is women who will suffer the most. Women cannot afford to lose this high-stakes lawsuit because they cannot afford to lose the benefits of this landmark health reform law.

Some days it feels like just being alive constitutes a War on Women.

h/t ThinkProgress

Speaker Boehner is: a) crazy b) lying c) cruel d) high e) all of the above

The following words emerged from the mouth of Speaker of the House John Boehner earlier today:

People want to politicize this because it’s an election year, but my God do we have to fight about everything? And now we’re going to have a fight over women’s health. Give me a break.

This is the latest plank in the so-called “War on Women,” entirely created by my colleagues across the aisle for political gain.

To what was the Speaker referring? I’ll tell you: Boehner was referring to the Republican bill to prevent the doubling of student loan rates this summer, which passed today despite Democratic opposition.

Why were Democrats opposed? I’m glad you asked:

The GOP’s bill on student loans took money from the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) for preventative health care services like mammograms and immunizations, and applied those savings to cover the $6 billion cost of the interest rate extension.

So to re-cap:

The Speaker of the House, a US Representative from the Party of No, the party that has done nothing since January 2009 but oppose everything that our current President and the Democratic party have done, is yelling at the Democrats for, and I quote, “fighting about everything,” and “creating” the War on Women — even as he leads his party in defunding a women’s health provision, even as his fellow Republicans strip away women’s rights in matters reproductive and economic in a froth and fury, as if the very hounds of hell were nipping at their heels.

I cannot. I cannot.

There are times when I feel like conservatives and progressives live in different countries, times when I feel like we look out our window and see different realities — and then there are the times when I feel like even language has failed us.

Dear Speaker Boehner: You keep using those words. They do not mean what you think they mean.

Or, more accurately: You keep using those words, and you know they don’t mean you’re trying to say they mean.

You’re just hoping the rest of us are too stupid to notice.

The War on Women and Fridays with Billy.

We’re back! After two weeks of no Billy Bragg for holiday-related reasons, the internet can now heave a sigh of relief. Fridays have regained their Billy-ibrium!

This week’s selection, “Trust,” is a short story, really, told by a woman. One of the things I’ve always loved most about Mr. Bragg is his ability to channel the voice of someone entirely unlike himself — a gay veteran of the Second World War, a Japanese-American victim of internment, or, in this case, a woman who’s been very badly done by the man in her life.

He wrote this song at the height of the AIDS crisis, and the lyrics leave us entirely uncertain: Is she pregnant? Infected? Or just afraid? There’s no way to know, but that fear, that uncertainty — that abandonment — is a thing with which many, many women are all too familiar, and which far too few men have made an effort to understand.

Least of all the men making decisions about our bodies.

There’s been a lot of angry back and forth lately about the phrase “war on women,” and on the recent day that 150 Afghan girls were poisoned for the crime of going to school, I wavered a bit, myself — and then I remembered the state-sanctioned rape that is forced transvaginal ultrasounds, such as take place in Texas every day. People are literally attacking our bodies in an effort to create a legislative reality that inimical to our most basic interests — I think “war on women” is pretty reasonable.

The first line of defense in any battle has got to be information, and in that spirit, I want to encourage you to check out and bookmark the frankly mind-boggling Team Uterati Wiki on which Angry Black Lady and the Team Uterati team are doing yoeman’s labor. It’s a one-stop-shop for information on the people, the places, and the roughly 1,100 anti-choice bills currently pending across the country.

You heard me: One thousand and one hundred.

Women are human beings. We have a fundamental, human right to bodily autonomy, one that powerful people (some of whom are women) are attempting to strip from us, for their own purposes. The only way to win this war is to fight back. Let’s arm ourselves with knowledge, inundate them with our demands, and vote the bastards out come November. And then let’s keep fighting.

*******************

He’s already been inside me
And he really didn’t say
And I really didn’t ask him
I just hoped and prayed

He’s already been inside me
And I really don’t feel well
I keep looking in the mirror
But it’s hard to tell

Will he stay by me and take my hand
And hold me till I sleep
Or will he crumble and fall to the floor
And weep
Oh feeble man, Oh evil man

He’s already been inside me
Would he have told me if he cared?
I know I ought to find out
But I’m much too scared

He’s already been inside me
And I know it can’t be good
Nothing feels
The way it should

Will he hold me in his arms again
And wipe away my tears
Or has he already taken
My best years
Oh evil man, Oh feeble man

What is Fridays with Billy?

UPDATE: It’s been suggested to me that this song is “being sung by one man about another man, not by a woman at all.” I can see that, and remember it crossing my mind back in the day, so I mention it here — I can only hope Mr. Bragg himself weighs in someday…! (Knowing his work, it’s entirely possible that he left the song just that vague on purpose).

Bigotry, today’s GOP, cruelty, and lies.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=politics&ctt=1#ai:MC900301302|mt:0|Over at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates recently posited racism as cruelty — from jokey emails suggesting that the President’s dead mother indulged in bestiality to the cruelty inherent in “sneer[ing] at the unguarded thoughts of dead children,” and so much else besides. He takes the idea further:

[T]his embrace of cruelty is arguably the dominant feature of the present conservative movement. It has been repeatedly expressed in alleged “humor.” The assertion of a right of judgement over the First Lady’s physical person, for instance. Or watermelon patches on the front lawn. Or Obama waffles.  There is little distance from that kind of cruelty to aspirin between one’s legs and from aspirin between one’s legs to transvaginal probes.

I find Ta-Nehisi’s point particularly powerful. Let’s call conservative social attitudes, policies and legislative efforts what they are: Mean. Mean-spirited. Cruel. When you reduce living, breathing human beings to your worst ideas about them, and act on that reduction, you’re acting with genuine cruelty. Plain and simple.

But here’s another thing that I can’t stop thinking about: When you do these things, you’re also lying.

Bigotry is lies.

It doesn’t matter if the bigot actually believes what he or she is saying. When you tell me that black Americans should “demand paychecks instead of food stamps” — you’re spreading lies. When you tell me that “if you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage” — you’re spreading lies. When you tell me that Islam and Muslims are “pure, unadulterated evil” — you’re spreading lies.

Spanish is the “language of living in the ghetto“? Women frequently and regularly lie about having been raped? Recipients of unemployment insurance need to “get off their backsides and get a job… [and] stop stealing from their neighbors“? Lies, lies, and more lies.

Cruel lies, at that.

These are not differences of opinion, or legitimate perspectives on the world. These are lies told and perpetuated in order to allow those who tell them to have power over certain classes of human, or, at the very least, to feel superior to said humans. And I’m done pretending otherwise.

I can accept that your religion teaches you that men should control women, and that birth control and abortion are wrong. But when you insist that you have a right to impose that belief on me in this country, a secular nation by definition and design — you’re lying. You can believe in your heart of hearts that homosexuality is disgusting. But when you insist that you have a right to deny LGBTQ Americans their civil rights as a result — you’re lying. On and on and bloody on.

At a certain point, willed and willful ignorance becomes willed and willful deceit, of the self and of others. If you honestly believe that certain people deserve to be denied some measure of human dignity because of how the Good Lord/Mother Nature created them? Then you, sir or madam, are full of it.

And if you’re an elected representative of one of this nation’s two political parties (like every single one of the people to whom I link following the words “bigotry is lies”), I have an even greater duty to call you on it.

Helping anti-choice terrorists, one name at a time.

Last week, I got all caught up in my anti-War on Women fury and tweeted an article that, it transpired, was three years old. Oopsie!

In my defense, though, it was about a law in Oklahoma that was really, really heinous and had actually passed, so my brain was a bit addled. This law (later struck down by the courts) would have required that the details of every abortion conducted in the state be posted on a public website:

The questionnaire doesn’t include the woman’s name or “any information specifically identifying the patient,” but it does ask for age, race, level of education, marital status, number of previous pregnancies, and the county in which the abortion was performed, information which opponents of the bill argue would be enough to identify a woman in a small town. The questionnaire also asks about the mother’s reason for the abortion, her method of payment, and even what type of insurance she has, as well as whether the fetus received anaesthetic and whether there was “an infant born alive as a result of the abortion.”

So, you know – phew! At least we dodged that one!

Except we didn’t.

It’s not happening in Oklahoma anymore – but it is on the cusp of happening in Tennessee (also sadly known as the “don’t say gay” state) — with this particular bill boasting the added bonus of distributing helpful information to those who might want to murder abortion providers:

A new bill moving through the Tennessee House of Representatives would require the state to publish the names of each doctor who performs an abortion and detailed statistics about the woman having the procedure, which opponents worry will spur anti-abortion violence in the state.

The Life Defense Act of 2012, sponsored by state Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesboro), mandates that the Tennessee Department of Health make detailed demographic information about every woman who has an abortion available to the public, including her age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure and how many times she has been pregnant. Each report would also have to include the name of the doctor who performed the procedure.

In the words of Rep. Gary Odom (D-Nashville), this bill “puts a target on women’s and physicians’ backs. I think it’s a very dangerous piece of legislation and serves no purpose I can tell other than trying to intimidate women and physicians.”

Indeed.

And some people wonder why I’m so engulfed in rage these days.

Dear GOP: You do know how pregnancy works, right?

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, for the most part, to men.

With the understanding that gender is not as binary as Western culture may have once thought it — 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.

********************************************************************

UPDATE – NOTE ON COMMENTING.

I’m so glad you’re here and if you’d like to comment, that’s lovely! I have an About Commenting page, but the rules boil down to: Treat people as you would like to be treated.

What that means for me is that even when we disagree (perhaps especially when we disagree), it’s very important that we treat each other with respect and basic good manners. What that further means is that I do not allow trolling (yelling for the sake of yelling) or rude pronouncements of someone else’s stupidity/mendacity/general fail (my own, or any commenters). People can, and on this blog often do, disagree politely. I ask that you do so here.

ALSO: Every first comment goes into moderation. A) I’ll get you out as soon as I can! unless B) I decide you’ve been rude and/or troll-y, in which case, you’ll go to spam. Them’s the breaks.

AND FINALLY: I don’t work on Shabbat (sundown Friday to just after sundown Saturday, CST) so you may get stuck for even longer…! But I’ll get to you, I promise.

On women’s essential humanity.

 

‘Nuff said.

430 abortion restrictions introduced this year alone.

I’ve had an abortion. (If you’re an old hand around these parts, you’re aware of this fact, because I’ve noted it before).

I’ve had an abortion, but I’ll be honest: For me, it wasn’t an easy decision. I don’t believe I ended a life, but I know I ended the potential for life, and while it was the best of (what felt to me like) two bad choices, that didn’t make it a happy thing.

I figure that’s ok. I’m not required meet the anti-choice stereotype of just loooooving me some good ol’ abortions in order to have the right to avail myself of a legal medical procedure. One may be conflicted, unsure, sad, even grieving, and still be pro-choice.

Which is why, despite whatever ambivalence I may have had about my own abortion, the following information (from a post by Sarah Kliff on the Washington Post‘s WonkBlog) makes my hair stand on end:

“We’re looking at about 430 abortion restrictions that have been introduced into state legislatures this year, which is pretty much in the same ballpark as 2011,” says Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group that focuses on health and reproductive rights. This year, Nash says, “is shaping up to be quite busy.”

Keep in mind, 2011 was already a watershed year for abortion restrictions: States passed 83 such laws, more than triple the 23 laws passed in 2010.

In terms of specifics:

Next week, Texas will enact a law that bans Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in a Medicaid-affiliated family planning program….

Virginia has moved forward with its much-protested bill to require a woman to undergo an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy. At the request of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), legislators tweaked the bill to guarantee that it would not require more invasive, transvaginal ultrasounds. [McDonnell signed the changed bill this afternoon]. “It’s not any better than what they introduced in the first place,” says Nash.

…The Oklahoma Senate passed a requirement Wednesday that women be invited to hear the fetus’s heartbeat before the pregnancy is terminated. Georgia is weighing a ban on late-term abortion (passed by five states in 2011); Alabama is looking at an ultrasound requirement.

I would argue that for the Virginia women who will not now be required to undergo state-sanctioned rape at the hands of their doctors, the new law is, in fact, “better than what they introduced in the first place” — but that’s still a very, very long way from “good,” in that it exists at all.

I’m not willing to chalk up the furious round of efforts to limit women’s reproductive autonomy to any one cause. I think some people (and it’s definitely not just men) are genuinely seeking to punish women for having the temerity to have active sex lives, but I also think some people genuinely believe abortion to be murder — that doesn’t give those people the right to determine my fate for me, but I can see being strongly opposed to the murder of babies, if that’s what you think abortion is. I think some folks are following religious dictates that they haven’t thought much about, and I think others are craven opportunists who either don’t know, or don’t care about, the impact their band-wagon hopping will have on real people’s lives. And I’ve probably missed a few reasons.

But that’s a big part of why it’s so hard to stem this tide. There’s no one thing, no one person, no one idea against which we can rally. There’s no one way to direct our energies, and our energies are being desperately sapped right now, in no small part because some anti-choice advocates are smart enough to know that if they hit us on 430 fronts at once, we’ll have a very hard time hitting back.

But we have to keep fighting, and it is absolutely vital that we understand just where the front line lies: elections.

“This is still fallout from the 2010 election,” says Nash. “On the state level, just like on the federal level, we had a number of conservative candidates elected. They shifted very quickly to a social issues agenda, and they’re continuing it as we head into another election year.”

I believe (and on this I have no ambivalence) that the Tea Party-infused GOP currently passing all these heinous, damaging laws is losing the American people, and that progressives and pro-choice advocates are on the right side of history. I’ve said so here, and here, and I absolutely believe it to be so.

But in the meantime, as we push ahead and plow on, actual lives are destroyed.

If we want to see an end to this assault on the dignity and autonomy of half of America’s citizens, we have got to see to it that 2012 is a banner year for Democrats, at all levels. Elections have consequences — at least 430 of them.