Well If You'd Just Go Back In The Closet, This Wouldn't Be A Problem

I just love conservadouche logic.  And by "love", I mean "it makes me want to smash things and bang my head against the wall."  

So at CPAC recently, there was a bit of a dustup over the fact that GOProud, a gay conservative group, was one of the event's sponsors, and the fact that one of the speakers was kind of an asshole about that.  The ensuing discussion in the blogosphere resulted in this absolute gem of a quote, from the AFA's Bryan Fischer:

And why is it that defenders of natural marriage are always the ones who get told to shut up? If advocates for special rights for homosexuals would just shut up, this controversy would go away tomorrow.

"Well, we wouldn't have to work to actively deny you equal rights [because I would REALLY, genuinely like to know what "special rights" it is we're trying to get.  They keep saying this, but what is so "special rights" about wanting to be able to live and work and love and marry just like they do?  We're literally trying to do the exact same things they're doing.  I don't get it.] if you would just be good little queers and go back in the closet.  Then we could deny you your rights quietly, without fuss, the way we used to.  Ahh, the good old days..."


Actually, Women Have Brains Too.

I know, I know, I seem to be on a bit of an abortion kick lately.  I can't help it; I write about what the world gives me to write about, and abortion's been all over the place lately.  This one was too good to pass up...

Oklahoma had a bill struck down recently, because it combined four abortion-related topics in one bill, contrary to Oklahoma's one-subject law.  So what did the antis do?  Split it up and passed each one individually, that's what!  W'ev.   The four bills are mostly standard anti-choice/pro-forced-birth stuff: requiring a doctor to be present when RU-486 is administered, thus adding extra and unnecessary hassle and expense for abortion clinics providing medical abortions; adding an ultrasound+explanation requirement to abortion procedures; a provider opt-out for those who object to abortion; and the scariest one, mandating personal information be gathered on every woman seeking abortion, which will be gathered and published on a state-run website.  They like to say it's non-identifying information, but when you have to report the date of the abortion, how far along you were, what county you're from, your age, race, marital status, and how many children you have...put all that together and you can really narrow a list down, especially in a small or rural community.  And what with the stigma surrounding abortion these days - thanks, pro-forced-birthers! We love you too! - having to give all this information has the potential to be a significant deterrent for women who would want abortion, but be afraid to be identified.  Which is, of course, the point.  Not that they'll admit that.

The panel also passed HB 2780 by Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Lindsay, which would require women who seek an abortion to have an ultrasound and have its contents explained to them.
Billy responded: “This bill is about choice for women. It is an opportunity for her to understand what is growing inside of her and the consequences.”

Anyway.  As fucked-up as the reporting requirements bit is, I wanted to highlight the quote from the writer/sponsor of the ultrasound bill.  Because that?  Is misogyny, pure and simple.  From a woman, no less!  Love that.  So here it is, Lisa Billy: women are actually quite aware of what is growing inside them, when they are pregnant.  That is, in fact, the entire point of getting an abortion!  Because when you know what is growing inside you, you then may or may not want it to continue growing inside you.  Amazingly enough, when women seek to get an abortion, they are actually wanting to get an abortion!  I know, it's a staggering concept, that idea that women might have the intelligence lurking in their delicate, pink, ruffly ladybrainz to know that they are pregnant, and this means that they are going to have a baby, and that an abortion will mean they will not have a baby, all without someone mansplaining it to them.  Here, have some smelling salts, and clutch these pearls while you contemplate the consequences of the revelation that women might actually know exactly what the fuck they're doing when they get an abortion, and still get one anyway.


Today In "These Christians Scare Me..."

These Christians scare me like whoa.  They're questioning candidates on religious issues and using that as a basis for whether or not to push the community to support them.  Including their feelings on having (Un)Intelligent Design taught alongside evolution in high school.  And the organizers outright SAY they're trying to mix church and state, that they want these candidates to "vote as followers of Jesus Christ".  Excuse me, scary Christian Dominionists, The Point was way back that-a-way.  You have missed it by far.  One of the major tenets of this country, espoused by our venerated Founders, was the idea of separation of church and state, to the mutual benefit of both.  Because every time people mix politics with religion, you end up with religious wars, and witch-hunts, and persecution of religious and cultural minorities.  These are not good things.  These things are not at all consistent with the vision of America as a place of freedom, with liberty and justice for all.  We cannot have liberty and justice for all, if these types of Christians are deliberately pushing politicians to vote their particular religious beliefs into laws that will affect all of us, including those who are not Christian.  That's just not how that works.  So knock it off, mmkay?

These Christians scare me a little less, because I am shielded from their predatory ways by the privilege that means I will be unlikely to ever find myself in a situation where I am reliant upon proselytizing missionaries for basic sustenance after a major disaster.  But they piss me off a lot more.  I realize a lot of Christian missionaries do not do this, and they really are there solely because their figure of worship told them to take care of the sick and the poor and the needy.  But the types who are offering baptism certificates to people who need ID documents before they can receive aid are giving the rest a bad name.  "Here, convert to our religion so we can feed you."  Fuck that.  That kind of thing is why I often liken that type of Christian missionaries to a wolf pack, swooping in on the weak and the sick and the needy and the hungry, because they are vulnerable.

I mean, really, why cannot this - "...missionaries have flocked to Haiti in droves since the earthquake — feeding the homeless, treating the injured and preaching the Gospel in squalid camps..." - just stop at this - "missionaries have flocked to Haiti in droves since the earthquake — feeding the homeless, and treating the injured in squalid camps..."?  Let people come to your religion on their own, if it is indeed as great as you say it is, instead of taking advantage of their vulnerability to reel them in.

Irony. They Has It.

This is a real thing in the world.  A shirt, which has a heart, a cross, and a gun on it, under which are the words "Pro Life/Pro God/Pro Gun".  
Please tell me I am not the only person who sees the screaming irony of this...because when I was searching CafePress for abortion-related items, and this came up, I laughed so hard my desk was shaking.  

For the record, ProLifeProGodProGun people?  Guns were created for the express purpose of ending lives.  It is therefore fucking HILARIOUS when you proudly proclaim yourselves to be both pro-life and pro-gun in the same breath, to those of us with a sense of logic.  Oh, and also.  That Jesus dude?  Was a pacifist for the most part.  Not big on ending lives.  So being pro-God and pro-gun is also pretty funny.  Just so you know.

This has been a Public Service Announcement from your resident Snarky Witch.  Carry on.

I Am One In Three

[Family TMI warning re: my reproductive history]

One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, in America.

I am one of them.

It's not like I've really been terribly secretive about the fact that I've had an abortion. I've posted in threads on abortion at Shakesville, discussing the procedure and helping to allay a fellow Shaker's nerves pre-procedure. My immediate family all knows about it; hell, my mom made the two-hour drive to where I lived at the time so she could go to the clinic with me, and I spent the weekend afterward at her house so she could keep an eye on and take care of me. But I've also never publicly "come out" here, in my space.

I am inspired by Angie Jackson, aka @antitheistangie, who is live-tweeting and blogging her abortion this past week. She's a mother of one, whose birth control failed and who has health complications that would make carrying a second pregnancy to term quite dangerous for her. So she chose to have an abortion, and has chosen to share the experience with the world to combat the stigma, shame, and lies anti-choicers have surrounded the procedure with.

Those of us who work for social justice, who work to dismantle kyriarchy and raise the status of marginalized groups to true equality with the white-cis-currently abled-straight-Christian-man who stands at the top of the hierarchy, we know that visibility works wonders. It's easy to talk about "those people" when you don't know those people, have never met one of those people, and can believe the lies about them because you've never seen for yourself the real truth. But studies have shown that straight people who have openly-gay neighbors and coworkers and family members tend to be more supportive of equality for the LGBT community. The same goes for various racial and ethnic groups, for transpeople, for people with disabilities...and in this case, it will hopefully have the same effect of humanizing women who have had abortions, from the nasty stereotypes of selfishness and baby-hating.

So. This is what a woman who's had an abortion looks like (pic is of myself, Myspace-style, to show off some pretty purple eyeshadow):

It happened almost four years ago. I had been on the Pill at the time; my then-boyfriend and I were long-distance and saw each other two to three times a year, so I tended to go off the Pill when we were apart, and then about 6 weeks ahead of a visit, go back on it, to give it time to be fully effective when we saw each other again. That visit had been shorter-notice, so I'd only been on it for about three weeks. Knowing that, we also used a spermicide, as an extra precaution. It failed. I found out about a week after he'd gone home. We had talked about the situation in hypothetical terms before, so when I called him, it was mostly to let him know, rather than discuss our options.

See, I've long known I don't want kids. Not now, not ever. I'm not a kid person. And I know myself well enough to know I'd resent having to constantly be putting this other person first, denying my own desires where they conflicted with the needs of my child. No child deserves that. I'd be a lousy mother. So instead, I won't be one at all. Which makes the question of what to do with an unintended pregnancy pretty damn simple, for me. (Yes, I'm aware adoption is an option. Three problems with that. 1: I'm terrified of pregnancy and childbirth and the toll it would take on my body, and I'm not willing to go through that only to give the child away anyway, 2: There is NO way in hell I can afford the costs of pregnancy and birth, cause that shit is expensive, and 3: emotionally, I couldn't stand to live the rest of my life knowing I had a child out there somewhere, but never knowing what was happening to it. See, I know I'd make a lousy mother cause I'm too selfish for it, but it's not that I wouldn't *care* about the kid at all. I would care, and it would compound my already-not-insignificant depression a hundred times over to care about a child of my blood and body and not know where ve was, if ve was loved and having a good life, all that.)

Thus, abortion was a decision I'd already made in the hypothetical, and as soon as the test confirmed I was pregnant, I knew what I was going to do. My first call was to my boyfriend, my second to my mother, and my third to the local Planned Parenthood, to find out if they provided abortions, or if they didn't, if they could refer me to someone who did.

Because I'd found out so early in the pregnancy, at only 4 weeks along, I was within the window of eligibility to have a chemical or medical abortion, as opposed to a surgical abortion. The nurse at PP (which did, in fact, provide abortion services) explained that it would be a set of two pills, spaced 48 hours apart, the first of which would stop fetal development, and the second of which would provoke the expulsion of the pregnancy tissue. I could take the second set at home, and spend a weekend basically having an induced miscarriage in private, instead of having the whole thing take place at the clinic. It sounded better than the alternative, so I picked that option, and that Thursday, I took the first pill at the clinic. They gave me the second set, along with some anti-nausea meds, because one of the side effects of the second drug can be severe nausea, and told me to take them Saturday morning.

I finished out the week's classes, packed up, and drove to my mom's for the weekend. I spent the weekend relaxing on her couch, watching movies together and just chilling while the drugs did their thing. It was remarkably easy, for me; I've heard of women who had terrible cramps and threw up all the time, but I basically felt like I was having a heavier-than-usual period. I went back to school on Monday, and by the end of that week, it was all over and done with. I had a follow-up appointment to make sure the pregnancy tissue had been fully expelled; it had, and that was all.

Maybe this is overshare. Maybe this is TMI. Maybe the world didn't need to hear about my abortion. But for now, when abortion is stigmatized and secretive and something to be hidden and ashamed of, the visibility is needed to combat anti-choice lies and misinformation. I look forward to the day when the culture war is won and women aren't demonized for exercising their reproductive rights in this way, and when that day comes, I will happily keep my abortion to myself, just like I would keep the details of any other medical or surgical procedure to myself, because they're personal and private and mine. Until then, though, I will stand up and say it.

I have had an abortion. I do not feel shame, or guilt, or regret. I don't think wistfully about how old "my baby" would have been now. In fact, I have to think hard to figure out how many years ago it was now. I am not sorry. I made the best decision for me, my boyfriend, my family, and my life. That's what matters.

I am one in three.


Glossary of Mansplaining

So discussions of the mansplaining phenomenon were all over the feminist blogosphere a couple weeks back, and the comment threads were rich with examples of all kinds of mansplaining. So varied were the types of mansplaining discussed, in fact, that I decided I wanted to create a glossary of mansplaining and mansplainers, as a handy reference guide. So here it is: the Glossary of Mainsplaining!

To begin, a quick explanation of what mansplaining is. It is what happens when a person with privilege (I refer to it as mansplaining and reliant on male privilege, but the idea may be equally applied to white people 'splaining to PoC, or currently-abled people 'splaining to disabled people, or cis people 'splaining to trans people, etc. Anywhere there is an imbalance of privilege between participants in a conversation.) takes it upon themselves to condescendingly explain something to a non-privileged person, regardless of whether or not they know what the hell they're talking about, regardless of whether or not the non-privileged person may in fact know quite a bit more about the subject than they do, and they rely on their privilege to back them up and support their right to hold forth.

The subtypes of mansplaining identified so far are as follows. If you have an entry for the Glossary of Mansplaining I haven't covered, please drop it in comments or email me, so I can add it!

  • Task-Incompetence Mansplaining: Where a man takes it upon himself to perform repairs to a vehicle, or make household modifications, that he knows nothing about, over the protests of the woman with which he co-resides who actually knows how to fix the item in question, simply because he is The Man and therefore more qualified to fix things.
  • Task-Incompetence Mansplaining Corollary: Where a man assumes that a woman with whom he is speaking cannot possibly know how to fix her own car/house/computer, because she is a woman, and must explain to her exactly how to do it. Bonus points if he combines it with Task-Incompetence Mansplaining by mansplaining how to fix something you know how to fix, with a method for fixing it that will not fix it at all.
  • You-Do-Not-Know-How-This-Works-Because-It-Is-Man-Business Mansplaining: Related to Task-Incompetence-Mansplaining. Where a man repeatedly disregards a woman's advice for fixing a problem that he feels can only be understood by another man. For example, a man who will not take computer advice from a woman, but who will take the exact same advice from the man standing next to her. Bonus points if he then turns around and mansplains to her the advice he listened to from the man but not from her!
  • I-Know-More-About-Being-A-Woman-Than-Women-Do Mansplaining: Where a man will mansplain to women that really, women *like* to be catcalled at, or that cramps really aren't that bad and women need to just suck it up and quit whining, or holds forth on any other woman-specific experiences as if he knows what the hell he's talking about. May also take the form of "Women like to do X because they think Y!", without a shred of evidence that actual women either like X or think Y.
  • IKMABAWTWD Corollary: What-Women-Need-To-Do-Is Mansplaining: Where the mansplainer will be happy to tell women what they need to do in order to fix what he perceives their flaws to be. For example, the NY Bar Association's panel featuring a bunch of male lawyers telling female lawyers how to fix themselves to be more successful.
  • IKMABAWTWD Corollary 2: My-Girlfriend-Says Mansplaining: Where the mansplainer says that his girlfriend/sister/mother/other female friend does X or thinks Y, therefore all women must do/think the same.
  • My-Manliness-Knows-Everything Mansplaining: Where a subject comes up that the man knows little to nothing about, but he holds forth on the subject anyway, bullshitting like he's some kind of specialist, and expecting that nobody will call him on it because duh, he's The Man in the conversation.
  • Emotions-Invalidate-Your-Argument Mansplaining: Where in the course of a heated discussion, the woman to whom the mansplainer is speaking gets visibly upset, perhaps even to the point of being teary-eyed or actually crying, and the mansplainer takes that opportunity to mansplain that her visible emotional state means that she automatically loses the argument and he wins, because he is able to remain perfectly cool and rational.
  • It-Does-Not-Mean-What-You-Think-It-Means Mansplaining (aka gaslighting): Where a mansplainer will, upon hearing a woman describe some act of harassment or sexism, immediately jump in to tell her it wasn't sexist, or that she was imagining the creepy feeling she got from that guy, or what have you, based on the premise that, as a man, his interpretation of events (for which he may or may not have even been present) is more accurate and reliable than hers.
  • It-Only-Exists-If-I've-Personally-Seen-It Mansplaining: Where a mansplainer will only acknowledge the existence of, for example, sexual harassment in the workplace, if he has actually been a witness to the harassment. Often takes the form of "Oh, that doesn't really happen. I've never seen it happen." as if the two are equivalent statements.
  • Telepathy Mansplaining: Where a mansplainer, upon listening to you say "I think X/I feel X" on a given subject, will then argue with you that you don't really think/feel that way, despite repeated protestations that no, really, you *do* know how you feel about it without being told, thanks.

So there it is, the Glossary of Mansplaining. As I said, if you have suggestions for new entries, feel free to post them in comments or email me!


A Bad Day to be Pro-Choice

It seems today is a bad day to be pro-choice, if you value your sanity. The news is not good.

So Utah is criminalizing miscarriages, and Florida is trying to outright challenge Roe v Wade by banning abortion entirely. Scary shit.

The first bill, in Utah, attempts to punish pregnant women who "arrange illegal abortions", including defining "reckless behavior leading to miscarriage" as an illegal abortion. Which basically ends up meaning, anytime a pregnant woman miscarries, everything she has done during her pregnancy is up for debate and, if it's arbitrarily decided to be "reckless" - which is a frighteningly low threshold - she can be prosecuted for murder. Say a pregnant woman gets in a car accident and it's determined the accident was her fault. She can be charged with murder. Or a woman in a domestic-abuse situation, who does not leave her abuser and miscarries as a result of the violence against her. Under this bill, SHE can be charged with murder, not the abuser who beat her until she miscarried.

And how about this hypothetical (which may not be so hypothetical; I could see myself choosing this course if I were stuck in that situation, and I'm pretty sure I'm not unique in that): a woman is pregnant, wanting to abort, early first trimester. There is no clinic nearby which provides abortion. She does not have access to transportation to get herself to a clinic which does, and she cannot afford an abortion even if she could get to a clinic. She's frightened and desperate, so she decides to induce a miscarriage. If she were found out, this law would punish her, not for having terminated her pregnancy (the bill specifically does not affect legally-obtained abortions, i.e. those performed by physicians in a clinic setting) but for the sole fact that she did so outside of a doctor's office. What the hell?

Then there's the Florida bill. It's a complete ban on abortion, no exceptions for rape and incest - which is fucking coldhearted, but at least they're being consistent; if a fetus is a life, shouldn't matter the source, I suppose - and an exception for maternal mortality, but only with two doctors signing off. No exceptions for maternal health, mind you. If having that baby will blind you and ruin your digestive tract and leave you with diabetes, well, too fucking bad. Shouldn't have spread your legs, then, should you? That'll teach you to have sex.

The thing that's getting me about the Florida bill, though, is some weird inconsistency. Here's what the link above says about the bill's provisions:

Among the bill’s major provisions:

- Makes induced abortions illegal and punishable by up to life in prison

- Allows doctors and hospital to refuse to provide abortion services.

- Continues judicial bypass that allows minors to seek a judge’s order instead of telling a parent or guardian.

- Prohibits abortions resulting from pregnancies involving rape or incest.

- Requires a second physician to sign-off on the procedure when a doctor believes an abortion was medically necessary to save the life of the mother.

- Requires women to receive information on adoption as an abortion alternative

Wait. So it makes abortions illegal. But it also "allows" hospitals to refuse to provide abortion services. Wouldn't they be *required* to refuse to provide those services, given that if the bill passes, they will be illegal? It also has a judicial bypass option for minors...again, isn't abortion supposed to be illegal anyway, so then what do they need a judicial bypass for? And the last one is my favorite. If abortion is made illegal except for maternal mortality reasons, then, uh...why would they need to be giving women adoption information as an "abortion alternative"? If the only circumstances under which a woman may obtain an abortion is if her very life is at risk, why the hell would adoption information change her mind? "Having this baby will kill you, two doctors say so...but still, please think of the children! Give it up for adoption instead!"

Can anybody explain why they have added this stuff to a bill which is supposed to criminalize the entire act anyway? It seems strangely inconsistent, even for the pro-forced-birth crowd's usual level of idiocy.

We are deep in the backlash, it seems. But remember, in the immortal words of Mohatma Gandhi: first they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then...you win. We're in the fighting phase. And that means the win is soon to come.


I Hate The Bible

Listen. I try to be tolerant religiously. I am a member of a minority faith that's often deeply misunderstood and discriminated against. I don't want to pass that prejudice and the ugly feelings that go with it on to other people. I do make a distinction between tolerant Christians, who actually obey Jesus' command to love thy neighbor and do charity to those unlike you, from the fundie assholes who would happily see me and mine suffer for the crime of being who and what we are. I try not to hate Christianity, despite its history of intolerance and bloodshed and misogyny and homophobia. But some days, it's really fucking hard. And today I can't find it in me to carefully make that distinction. Because I'm hurting too goddamn much.

We were, in my Psychology of Personal and Social Behavior class today, discussing gender roles and sexual orientation. The teacher asked us to speak about our experiences of sexual orientation: how did we come to the orientation we are, why do we identify a particular way, that sort of thing. I spoke about occupying the "middle space" between hetero and homosexuality, and having to defend that territory against those who would tell me I do it because it's trendy, or it's "just a phase" and that I'm really a lesbian, or a straight woman who's just experimenting and will settle down and have lots of nice babies with a man someday. It was a little bit nerve-making, but I felt it was important to speak up as someone of a minority orientation, so I did. But there were four to six people (I didn't count exactly) who, in the course of discussing how they came to identify as they do, had to inform us that they identify as straight because "that's how God made us to be" and that "sexuality and marriage is intended to be between one man and one woman, not for sexual immorality" - yes, the phrase "sexual immorality" was used against those of us not in one-man-one-woman-married-coitus situations, in a classroom setting! - and that they are "following God's word". The kindest among them added that she doesn't have anything against us - thank you, ma'am, how magnanimous of you - but she "can't condone [our] lifestyle choices."

It's interesting, how rarely I encounter this kind of outright prejudice directed *at me*. I'm a cis woman, engaged to a cis man, and we are currently monogamous. So people who see us, until discussion turns to exes and they find out about my ex-girlfriends, assume that we're you're average straight people. Unless I come out every time I meet someone new, I have access to passing privilege.

But in this class, I've been outed (courtesy of having to stand up for the very existence of bisexual people, when the professor was asking people to privately divulge to her whether they were heterosexual or homosexual, and I wasn't willing to be labeled as either). And for ten minutes or so, in class, an academic setting where I should be able to be free from that kind of shit so I can focus on learning and succeeding at school...I got to listen to multiple people holding forth on my "sexual immorality" and making sure I knew they "couldn't condone" my loving who I have loved. As if I had ever asked them to.

And it hurt. Their words left bruises on my Self, left me shaking slightly in class and feeling lessened, Othered, and hated. Not a personal hate, I know, but an impersonal sort of de facto hate that is nonetheless every bit as damaging, and perhaps even more so, for it's not a hate based on anything I've *done*, but is based solely on what I *am*. I rolled my eyes so hard I may have sprained them, but dared express nothing more vehement in class. Instead, I came home and told my fiance about the whole ugly experience and cried while he hugged me.

Those people, those Christians, were the only ones in the class to express any problems with other peoples' orientations. All the rest espoused a live-and-let-live attitude. Every one of those who decided it was ok to hate on me and those few others like me in that class, used their precious holy book to justify their nasty prejudices. So right now, while the bruises are still fresh and I still find tears in my eyes when I think too hard about it, I direct my anger and hurt and hate at their justification. The kind of Christianity these people embody is a toxic thing, a rigid religion of hate and holier-than-thou. And if it's the Bible that's giving them the green light to be like that, then it's toxic too.

So I hate the Bible today.

Please don't bother to comment on this post, defending Christianity. I am well aware that not all Christians are like these intolerant asshats. Half of my family and several of my friends are some flavor of Christian or other. So I don't need reminded of the good Christians, and today, frankly, I am not willing or interested to hear it. I need to vent about my hurt, and this is my damn blog, so this is where I get to do it. Cope.


Blog Issues

So I'm having trouble getting the comment box to appear below posts, something to do with the theme I installed last week, I'm pretty sure. I'm going to try to get comments back to normal, but until then, I've got it working as a pop-up window when you click "Post a Comment". So let your pop-up blockers know to let me through, ok?

Sorry for the inconvenience! Also, if anyone who reads this happens to be the kind of person who would know what to look for in fixing this issue and is willing to help, please email me or leave a comment. I know a bit of basic HTML/CSS, and can figure out small tweaks, but I don't know what's wrong with the comments-related code in this template.


I Get Emails

This landed in my inbox today, courtesy of my very, very, very Republican social-conservative father:

Pop quiz: What billion-dollar multinational receives hundreds of millions in tax dollars even though it is enormously profitable?

If your thoughts turned to defense contractors, you would be right about the purpose --

killing --

but wrong about the recipient.

The answer, in fact, is Planned Parenthood.

According to its most recent annual report, in fiscal 2008, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation's largest abortion provider, had annual revenue of more than $1 billion. Of this, about 34 percent was made up of government grants. In other words, almost $350 million of American taxpayer dollars supported the work of Planned Parenthood from October 2007 to September 2008. And, according to tax records from the same time period, this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization had a net income $85 million greater than its expenses. That looks suspiciously like a profit....

The enterprise of abortion in America is big business. It turns a profit, and for the American taxpayer, the bailout of a financial behemoth -- one engaged in an activity most Americans find troubling -- is obviously unnecessary.

Normally, when I get my father's conservative e-blasts, I just sigh and delete them. But this one was just way too wrong to let slide like that. So I, being the troublemaker I am, hit the reply-all button and said:

"First and most obvious wrongity-wrong-mcwrong: The idea that Planned Parenthood = ABORTIONS! Planned Parenthood actually provides a full range of family planning and reproductive health services. They provide free condoms, free or sliding-scale birth control - in the forms of the Pill, the patch, the ring, diaphragms, IUDs, and the female condom, to name a few - yearly pelvic exams, STD testing, pregnancy testing, and early prenatal checkups. These services actually comprise the bulk of PP's operating, with abortion being a minority of the appointments made. Additionally, the name Planned Parenthood does not automatically mean a clinic which provides abortions. *Some* PP locations also provide abortions, but not all. This conflating of Planned Parenthood and abortion is one of the most pernicious lies of the far-right when it comes to the abortion debate. It erases, covers up, and tries to distract from all the other services Planned Parenthood provides. Which I've always thought was strange...I mean, I'm sure if one is genuinely looking to decrease abortion rates, any place that provides free or low-cost birth control to low-income women deserves support in its mission, rather than lies and opposition, right?

Second wrongity-wrong-mcwrong: The taxpayer dollars that Planned Parenthood receives cannot legally go toward abortion services anyway, making this email one big FAIL of fearmongering about something that can't happen anyway. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, barred federal dollars from being used to pay for abortion care in any way. The money the government grants to PP goes instead toward providing other reproductive health services, such as the aforementioned birth control and STD testing.

On to the smaller side-note issues. I'd like to question the assumption that abortion is "an activity most Americans find troubling". Got a source on that? Poll data (from a RELIABLE organization, not a rightwing or anti-choice organization)? Anything to support the assertion that "most Americans" find abortion "troubling"? Because me, and my pro-choice friends, we're Americans, too, and I'm not so hot on being spoken for like that without data to back the assertion.

And lastly, for conservatives being all about the free market and free enterprise and pro-business and pro-profit, y'all make a SCREECHINGLY fast 180 when it comes to certain businesses. Making a profit is fine if you make it by selling people stuff they don't need, scamming the gullible, exploiting your workers, and ignoring environmental concerns...but gods help you if you make your profit by providing services *certain people* have issues with. Then profit is THE DEVIL OMG EVILNESS. Can has consistency, please? Is profit an acceptable thing, or is it not? Or is it an acceptable thing when conservatives do it and evidence of immorality and wrongdoing when progressives do it?

If you're truly pro-life, and not just anti-choice, support Planned Parenthood. Because their pregnancy-prevention efforts save a lot more hypothetical babies than any anti-choice moralizing ever could."

...I probably won't change his mind. I don't know about the minds of anyone else on the email list I sent this back to. But...teaspoons.


Black Children an "Endangered Species"

So this is all kinds of full of facepalm. Or facepaw, as the case may be. (Yes, I'm totally going to abuse this graphic. Get used to it.)

An antiabortion group has begun putting up billboards in and around Atlanta that declare "Black children are an endangered species". Via Renee at Womanist Musings, it seems the organization is basing this on the fact that while black women make up 30% of the demographic, they account for 56% of the abortions performed.

The first epic FAIL of this billboard campaign is in their phrasing. Black children are an "endangered species"? Really? Because gods know, it's not like there's a history, stretching back centuries, of African-Americans being framed as animalistic and therefore subhuman to justify white peoples' abuses of them. And it's not like that shit is the distant past, either. When even as recently as 2008 conservatives felt free to make monkey-caricatures of Obama, referring to black children the same way you would refer to some Amazonian tree frog is incredibly problematic. Black children are not some other species. They are not animals. Please do not refer to them as such.

The second epic FAIL is their statistics. Or rather, the fact that they're using those statistics without ever considering some of the potential reasons behind them. Ok, so black women are aborting at a higher rate than their white sistren. Ever wonder why that is? These people think it's a eugenics conspiracy. But consider that the poverty rate for blacks is three times higher than it is for whites (in 2008, 24.7% vs 8.6%, according to the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan). Combine that with the fact that, according to the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 3/4 of women obtaining abortions cite inability to afford a child as one of their reasons for aborting, and it might occur to you that black women abort more often because they're much likelier to be unable to afford a kid, hmm? I'll also point out that a third of black children live in poverty, and 60% of women who have abortions are already mothers of at least one child, and again, you might think that these factors point toward socioeconomic reasons for the higher rate of abortions among black women, rather than some evil eugenics conspiracy.

Black women deserve the right to choose when and how they will bear children. Attempting to bully them into having children they can't afford or don't want is a shitty way to deal with the real problem here. The real problem is that our society makes it damn difficult for black women to be successful mothers. There are a whole lot of well-off white people who sniff about "welfare queens" when a black woman chooses to reproduce. Bristol Palin was commended for "doing the right thing", but think about the shaming and censure a 17-year-old black girl would face in the same situation. That's a social disincentive to parenting. Of course there's the economic aspect, with poverty rates being as disproportionately high as they are among black communities in general and for black children in particular. On the day when black women face no greater difficulties in having and raising and supporting children than do white women, yet are still aborting at much higher rates, THEN you can look for evidence of a eugenics conspiracy. Until then, consider working on the REAL issues here by actually supporting black women and their children, and keep the fearmongering and bullying tactics to yourselves.

A Cult I Can Believe In!

The Teabagger Convention is taking place this weekend in Nashville. Whoopdedoo. I hope they enjoy their Freedom Coffee and teabag necklaces.

But the opening speaker said something in his very predictably angry rant on Obama and socialism that I want to focus on for a moment. In his ire over the way liberals are ruining America, he denounced the "cult of multiculturalism".

I'm taking Intro to Sociology this semester, and just this past Wednesday we discussed the concept of multiculturalism. Let me pull out my textbook and see what it says...

Multiculturalism: The coexistence of several cultures in the same geographic area, without any one culture dominating another. (SOC, Nijole V. Benokraitis, 2009-2010 ed, p. 53)

This is somehow a cult? If so, where do I sign up???

Looking at the definition, it becomes easy to see which part of the definition of multiculturalism has teabagger types freaking the fuck out. It's that little caveat, "without any one culture dominating". They are grudgingly willing to let other cultures exist, sort of, sometimes. But their culture must always be the one on top! It's the same mindset that has certain types of Christians screaming persecution anytime a minority faith or the nonreligious manage to pry one of their clenched little fingers off of some position of de facto superiority. In their minds, failure to acknowledge their culture/religion/w'ev as Teh Bestest Evar is tantamount to persecution. It's also the same reason men's rights activists - aka misogynists - whine that feminism is about hurting men. To them, rights and power are a zero-sum game. If someone else gains access to the same rights they have, their rights are diminished by it. Which logically makes no sense, but look at the groups we're talking about here - teabaggers, hard-right Christians, and MRAs. Not the most logical bunch at the best of times.

Listen, you people clinging tightly to your pedestals: I know the idea of being simply normal scares you. I know you don't want to be just one more in the sea. I know you like feeling Super Speshul. But you're fighting a losing battle. Multiculturalism is a horse long done bolted, and here you are slamming the barn door and screaming at it. It's been said of Gavin Newsom's "whether you like it or not!" comment regarding the legalizing of same-sex marriage, that it was impolitic. But it was also true. Equality is coming, whether you like it or not. The only question now is, will you accept the elevation of the formerly oppressed masses to stand freely at your side gracefully? Or will you be dragged kicking and screaming to eventually sulk in a corner, muttering about the good ol' days when all these people knew their place, darnit?


Rights For Me, But Not For Thee

I guess some faiths are more equal than others. (via)

Patrick McCollum is a Wiccan chaplain who has been fighting the California Department of Corrections for the right to serve pagan and Wiccan inmates. His case challenges California's "Five Faiths" policy, a policy of the corrections system that allows chaplains of only five faiths: Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Native American. (Though those five choices are in themselves problematic; it's not like all Native American peoples had the same religion or rituals. That's like saying someone "speaks African". Same goes for lumping all the Protestant denominations together.) Up until now the CDCR has been arguing that McCollum lacked standing to bring the case, as he is not himself an inmate. But just recently it's come out that their real argument is something a little different - and a lot more offensive.

Lawyers for the CDCR are claiming a 2-tier system of religious rights: that "traditional" faiths such as the five mentioned above are first-tier faiths, and as such are meant to receive full rights and protections under the Constitution, and that other faiths, like Wicca, are second-tier faiths, not entitled to the same protections. Which is bad enough, really. Wasn't the whole point of the separation of church and state that the government wouldn't be making decisions like which religions are good and which ones are bad?

But here's where it gets fun. The other day, an amicus brief was filed in the McCollum v CDCR case on behalf of WallBuilders, a Christian Dominionist organization, claiming that not only should we be second-tier faiths, our religion does not even count as a religion under the Constitution. From the WallBuilders brief (pdf):

The problem is that everything they [Interfaith Community Representatives, in their own amicus brief on McCollum's side] write explains why witchcraft and paganism are religions as the term is currently used in non-legal circles; nothing they write addresses whether witchcraft and paganism are religions as that word was used by the Framers in drafting the Religion Clauses. Thus, Amici can quote all the Founders they want for the proposition that various religions and faiths must be treated neutrally, but they will have accomplished nothing unless they demonstrate that paganism and witchcraft were included within the word “religion” as used in the Religion Clauses.

So because we weren't recognized as a religion 200-some years ago, we aren't allowed to be recognized as a religion now? That makes about as much sense as trying to run a modern society on the social mores of Bronze Age tribal societies! ...Wait. Christian Dominionists. I forgot who I was talking about here.

All I can say is, feel free to restrict minority faiths at your own peril. Because you don't know the future; Christians might one day be the minority faith, and at that point, precedent will have been set that the government DOES have the right to choose which faiths are deserving of protection and equality.

Christian Dominionists Have Hurt Fee-fees Over Inclusion Of Pagan Faiths; In Other News, Water Still Wet

I am reminded of a song/chant/thingy that my high school marching band used to do on band trips. (Yes, I was a band geek. Shush.) I don't remember how it goes, but I do remember that we chanted it the first time at a whisper, and at the end of the verse the person leading would say "Second verse, same as the first - a little bit louder and a little bit worse!" and we would do so, over and over until we were all screaming it at the top of our lungs.

Because this? This whole "Ignore the desecration of a religious minority's worship space by Christians - WE'RE the persecuted ones here!" attitude is incredibly familiar, and incredibly annoying. Also, Bill Donahue needs to STFU already.

So the story goes like this: The Air Force Academy has recently created a worship area for its pagan students; a stone ring near the student living areas, scheduled for dedication in March. Yay, inclusion of a minority faith and accommodation for those students who practice it! Except it seems some Christian students took exception to pagan students having a place to worship, because someone nailed together a cross out of railroad ties and left it in the circle. I suppose I should pause here to say, I'm actually glad it was something so easy to remove, as opposed to a cross burnt in the grass or painted on the rocks. Anyway. The administration at the Academy is taking this seriously, and treating it as the act of desecration it is. Let me be absolutely clear about this: it is hate speech. Putting a large version of the holy symbol of a dominant faith which has historically been rather hostile towards this minority faith, in the worship area of the minority faith, is an act intended to violate the safe space that a place of worship should be. It is a very clear statement of "You Are Not Welcome Here"; it is an attempt to bully members of a minority group. The Academy's administration seems to get that, with one spokesperson likening it to finding graffiti on the Student Chapel. So, while the incident itself is fucked up, at least it's getting serious attention from the Powers That Be.

And then I, like the glutton for punishment I am, clicked through to LifeSiteNews and read their coverage of the incident. *facepalm* Here, share my pain:

The Air Force Academy has defended its policy to make a place for witchcraft on its campus as an expression of its commitment to cadet’s freedom of religion. However, critics have replied that the move represents a further rejection of the United States’ Judeo-Christian heritage, and makes little sense given that the numbers of actual neo-pagans at the Academy is miniscule compared to other followers of non-Christian faiths, such as Islam.

Oh noes! We're permitting other faiths to worship openly! This means we are rejecting our (questionable) Judeo-Christian heritage! ...wait, what's wrong with that? If such a heritage exists at all in the sense that these people mean it (Amurika is a Christian Nation!), which is a shaky proposition at best and an outright lie at worst, I see nothing wrong with moving away from that in favor of the kind of multicultural approach that reflects the tolerance, equality, and freedom we as a nation claim to espouse. Also, I'm curious about something. They seem to think that there aren't enough pagans to make dedicating a circle for us "make sense". So, at what threshold are there enough members of a faith to merit a place of worship? If we constitute 5% of the population? 10%? 25%? Or is it number of bodies? Are ten regular attendees enough? 20? 50? Why does that honestly matter?

But Catholic League President Bill Donahue decried the reaction from Academy officials as “boilerplate” and stated that they were going way too far by treating the incident as “hate speech.” Donahue stated that if he found another religious symbol placed at a Catholic site, he would complain.

So in the same breath that he says people are overreacting, geez, relax, it's just a giant wooden cross in your circle, what's the big problem here? he also says that if he were in the exact same position, he would complain? How in the hell does that make sense? Listen, boyo, if you reserve the right to complain if someone else left their holy symbol in your church, we get that same right. Cope.

But here's the best part. Referring to the comparison of the cross in the circle to graffiti on the chapel, Donahue decided to air his hurt fee-fees:

“These remarks have added to the chilling atmosphere that Catholics and Protestants must endure,” said Donahue. He added that he was going to take the matter to the members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, just as he had done in 2005.

“We need to know why hypersensitivity to non-Christians has evolved into insensitivity to Christians.”

Oh, for fuck's sake. "Chilling atmosphere"? Really? I guess if you believe it is your inalienable right to a position of constant religious superiority, to never be exposed to those *other* religions, to be treated as the One True Faith For Everybody Everywhere, it's chilling to see someone treating pagan religious spaces like they're as worth defending as your chapel. But guess what? Those are not your rights. Your rights are the same as ours, asshole. You have the right to worship in peace. You have the right not to be proselytized at if you do not want to be. You do not have the right to deny others the ability to worship in peace, nor do you have the right to insist that they prioritize your religion above all others.

And as to this alleged insensitivity to Christians...yeah. Let me tell you about the prayers I heard as part of official military ceremonies when I attended, as extended heart-family to a Lieutenant of the Army National Guard. The prayers which specifically referenced God the Father and His Son. I remember gritting my teeth when everyone, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof, was expected to stand and bow their heads in prayer together. I did it, because I did not want my behavior to reflect poorly on the person on whose behalf I was attending. But let me tell you about insensitivity to one's faith, Mr. Donahue. The simple accommodation of my faith within military ranks is vehemently not by its very existence "insensitive" to your faith. It's time you, and other Dominionists like you, learned to fucking coexist already. WITHOUT whining about how it makes you sad to have to share the world with us icky non-Christians.


The Bush Era Continues To Fade...

Some good news today! Back in the Bush era, emergency contraception (aka Plan B, the morning after pill) was not available in overseas military pharmacies. The women who were putting their lives on the line for us did not have the same access to EC that their civilian counterparts at home do. I can walk into any pharmacy and buy myself EC if the condom breaks or if I am raped. A soldier overseas could not do the same in the same situations. (And given that a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by her fellow soldiers than killed by enemy fire, they really and truly *need* that access.)

But the DoD has just announced that they're reversing the Bush-era policy and recommending that EC be stocked on our bases overseas, available to our female soldiers when they need it. Yay!

It's nice to see something go right for a change.


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