Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lady parts

No political meme infuriates me more than the silly, irrational “war on women.” It appeals to the very worst instincts of human nature. Everything about it oozes superficiality and condescension. Jessica Valenti’s article in the Guardian, “Why American women need Obama,” highlights the meme’s several delusions.

We know what an Obama presidency will look like for gender issues. Women appointed at the highest levels of office, from the supreme court to the state department, expanded access to birth control and healthcare and protections against workplace inequities.

Nothing like three or four affirmative action hires improves the quality of life of 156 million women, right? Not to mention “expanded access to birth control”—sex without consequences, woo hoo!—“and healthcare”—big government, yay!—“and protections against workplace inequities”—the result of career choices working women make and their “unequal” commitment to having and rearing children. Damn the facts of female sexual nature; misogyny and patriarchy are to blame.

Unfortunately, we have a pretty good idea of what a Romney presidency will be like for us as well. The former governor of Massachusetts has said he would remove Planned Parenthood’s funding and overturn the supreme court case that legalised abortion. His stance on pay equity – make sure women can get home in time to cook dinner for their families. This is to say nothing of marriage equality, help for low-income Americans, or gender roles (Romney says one parent should stay at home with children – not hard to imagine which one he means).

Why does Valenti think Planned Parenthood has a right to federal funding? Because Roe v. Wade didn’t “legalize” abortion, it created a right to abortion. Strike 1.

She ridicules Romney’s accommodation of a woman with a family who worked in his office. What was he supposed to do, drive her as hard as the men? “Workplace inequities” indeed. Strike 2.

Children can be attended to by neither parent, one parent, or both. For the majority of parents, both is unaffordable, and neither isn’t preferred. So, between mom and dad, who’s better suited to attend to children? Why not the one who’s very biology dictates she provide sustenance? Strike 3.

It’s not hyperbole to say that women’s lives hang in the balance. Romney has promised to reinstate the “global gag rule” – a ban on federal funds to foreign family planning organisations that either offer abortions or provide information or counseling about abortion. Global health experts have cited it contributing to maternal mortality across the world.

Studies on whether abortion in other countries results in dead babies are still pending.

If abortion is made illegal – a very real possibility under a Romney administration – women will seek out the procedure through unsafe means.

More unsafe than carrying the baby to term? Call it cosmic justice.

And if Obamacare is repealed, that means we’re stuck with a president who thinks no American has died for lack of insurance (a Harvard study says 45,000 people a year do).

Great. Rather than die for lack of insurance, they’ll die for the “greater good.”

How can we even think about what a feminist future might look like when we have male legislators who believe women can’t get pregnant if they are “legitimately” raped, or if they do become pregnant that it was the will of God? We’re still dealing with Biology 101 over here.

Valenti accidentally reveals her misandry by overlooking God-fearing Republican women like Michele Bachmann who believe the same thing. She relies on her readers’ irrationality induced by female victimhood (as well silence induced by male guilt) to perpetuate the lies about what Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock said. Here’s the truth underlying both their statements:

1. The trauma of forcible rape greatly reduces the odds of conception. In half of all rape cases the rapist pulls out prematurely or doesn’t ejaculate at all.

2. Every child, whether conceived by rape or not, is made in God’s image, and is endowed with rights granted by God.

After indicting Republican (male) lawmakers for believing birth control turns women into sluts, Valenti writes:

The fact that women’s financial security is intimately connected to the ability to decide if and when to have children seems to be lost on them.

Loose, slatternly, promiscuous, wanton, licentious: All are well-suited alternatives to “slut.” But it’s not the vulgar term that feminists object to, it’s the value judgment. It’s the “imposition” of a moral standard, an external check on uninhibited pleasure-seeking. “Slut” combines the activity and the condemnation of the activity in a single word. So let’s use the more neutral-sounding “slattern,” which describes the activity while only implying condemnation.

If the definition of a slattern is a woman who believes in the right to have sex without any of the responsibility, then Valenti and like-minded feminist ilk are indeed slatterns.

All that aside, her hyperbolic argument against Romney isn’t even true if you examine his mixed record on abortion. Oh well.

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