Allies

First, a little back story.  Last night, my husband and I were watching The Ed Show.  Ed was interviewing a couple of women about the response to Richard Mourdock’s tone-deaf comment about the sanctity of life created by rape (I’m certain you’ve all been beaten to death with the quote, so I’m not going to repeat it here) and about how outraged women are about the ways in which their bodies and lives and choices are so callously talked about (and decided) by prominent (yet utterly clueless) members of the GOP.

It was right about there that my beloved nearly scared me out of my seat by YELLING at the t.v. (and this is pretty much a direct quote), “WHAT ABOUT THE MEN!?  What about the men who are fucking outraged by this bullshit, HUH?!”

God, I love that guy.

Ever since the GOP stopped bothering to hide its misogynist agenda – in fact, they’ve gotten downright giddy about it –  I’ve been wondering about the relative silence from (some) men about the things that women have been complaining about for a while now.

I’m fortunate in that I associate with some pretty wonderful men who understand, without anyone having to point it out to them, that there are a lot of really important women in their lives that they would like to keep safe and healthy and free from government interference.  Mothers and sisters, wives, girlfriends, lovers, office mates, neighbors, aunts, cousins, in-laws, best friends; I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that literally every man can think of at least one woman he cares deeply about in one way or another.

Accepting this as true, it stands to reason that there should be more men speaking up about this (as my husband so eloquently put it) bullshit.  I mean, really; ask any straight guy how he feels about the ease with which the woman/women in his life should have access to contraception, for example, and I bet you’ll find more than a few of them who are all for universal coverage.  Talk to any man whose (insert relation here) has had a cancer scare (or, worse yet, an actual diagnosis) and ask them how they feel about mammograms and PAP smears and Planned Parenthood, and I’ll bet you’ll find more than a few of them who are all for them.  I’m betting you’ll even find a few men who, even if they’re not crazy about the idea of abortion, understand that to force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is tantamount to denying her personhood; Frederick Douglass is quoted as saying “I did not know what a slave was until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.”  To deny women choice is to enslave them to the State, plain and simple, and there are a lot of men (at least, in my circle) who actually understand that.

WAY back in March, a friend of mine wrote a short but powerfully persuasive piece about why he stands up, and about why more men should (it made me well up when I first read it, and it hasn’t lost any of its punch; “You want to go after our sluts and prostitutes?  The women I love? You’re going to have to go through me first” gets me every time).  I was excited to see Kevin Bacon in one protest ad against the GOP agenda and Jason Alexander in another.  I’ve heard Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert speak – in some pretty explicit and uncompromising (and bitterly funny) ways – about why the GOP’s policies toward women are dead wrong.  I’m pretty sure I remember Jay Smooth doing a video about it, too, but of course I can’t find it to link to that particular edition.

My point, though, is that these are the best examples I can come up with of men speaking out about the draconian, dehumanizing, and just wrong things that the GOP is doing and saying (out loud, in public, and with no shame).  I want more men to get angry.  I want more men to understand that these are NOT just women’s issues; if he loves a woman – ANY woman – these issues should matter to him, too.  While I’m heartened that my husband is infuriated by all of this nonsense (though I do hope he’ll give me a little warning before his next enthusiastic expression of that outrage), I’m saddened that I’m not hearing it from more men.

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32 Comments

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32 responses to “Allies

  1. Brandon

    I think one of the things that is so annoying about this whole “War On Women” meme, besides the fact that is a ginned up controversy, is the fact that it assumes that women are some soft of monolithic block that share exactly the same opinions on these issues. Why are all women expected to think the same way?

    • No war on women? So telling women they can’t have an abortion, calling them sluts for wanting birth control, restricting access to birth control and demonizing the very USE of birth control is….? What? Just a phase the GOP is going through?

      Hey, how about all that effort to redefine rape as only counting if the woman is beaten first? Does THAT count as an act of aggression towards women’s rights? Heck, Paul Ryan certainly thinks the only legitimate rape is one involving violence and he’s the goddamn VP nominee! Think he’s some kind of outlier? I certainly don’t and neither does the GOP.

      How about the slut shaming the GOP regularly engages in? Is that just friendly teasing? A man can sleep with a hundred women and get a pat on the back, A woman sleeps with five men in a year and she’s a whore. And, hey! Isn’t it just like a woman to dress sexy and make herself get raped?

      No war on women? Only a fucking idiot would say that.

    • As for all women thinking the same way? Guess what? If a woman doesn’t want an abortion, she doesn’t have to get one. What Republicans say is “If I don’t want an abortion, you can’t have one, either!” That’s imposing your will onto another person. THAT is an assault on their freedom. THAT is the Republican war on women in a nutshell: Old white men telling women what they are allowed to do with their own bodies.

    • Hmm. Where to start. Lets start with “ginned up controversy”. You obviously dont follow state politics. Lets use Arizona first- they just decided that life begins two weeks prior to conception. Read that again. Then there are the felony abortion” laws – tennesee, wisconsin, florida, north carolina, oklahoma just to name a few. We let insurance companies cover Viagra – which has a sole clinical use of fixing men’s sexual equipment, but no, some pills that treat women’s sexual equipment – nope, thats wrong, you pay for that yourself. Fact is, it doesn’t matter one fucking bit that all women do not have the same opinions. That is not relevant to the argument. These are essentially religious argument being used to pass legislation so that regardless of how a woman feels, she is forced into certain behavior. The whole “life begins at conception” is bullshit, and they claim that this means any harm done to a fetus is essentailly assault – most educated people realize that until a fetus has developed enough that it can survive outside the womb, that it is not a distinct person.
      Why don’t you go out and talk to some women freinds and ask them? Right, I forgot. You don’t have any.

    • Brandon is just an out-of-touch idealogue with a “Anything to Win” “My team is the best” sports metaphor junkie without the intellectual fortitude to forge his own opinion or thought outside the established conservative media establishment.

      • Brandon

        That’s an interesting double standard you have there Rick. To hold a conservative opinion on these matters somehow means that I am incapable of forming my own opinion, but holding a liberal opinion on these matters means one is the epitome of independent thought and inquiry. Got it.

      • Mark

        Brandon what I think CV Rick is getting at is that you are out of valid arguments and just swinging wildly. I sincerely wish you were capable of forming your own opinion instead of taking the side of oppressing others. It is sickening that you believe the conservative views on women are acceptable. What you really need to get is you are a sexist. Women don’t wish to be told what to do with their bodies, nor do they deserve less pay for simply having a vagina. Frankly, I hope no women ever has to suffer your close-minded personality.

  2. Bowyer

    Brandon, Do you really believe this is a “ginned up” controversy or are you just that ignorant. There is certainly a movement to suppress the rights of women hidden behind multiple guises, religious, political, and personal. I do not believe that all women have to feel the same way about something to validate it. I do not agree with the term “War on Women” FOX News (and I use that “News” term as sarcastically as possible), uses the term “War on _____” more often and in a worse way than any meme I have seen on the internet. They have used the term so often that it has lost its “oomph” and has become a news parody. If we want to stick with the military euphemisms, I would say that women are embattled. The fact that some men such as yourself, and by your estimation some women, do not understand the enormity of the problem is frightening. If women wish to behave in ways that agree with certain factions of the religious and political ultra-conservatives, then that is a choice they make. And that is the KEY: they have the right to make that choice. What they, or any other person/group should never be allowed to do, is to take away that right to choose. Since you read Mrs. Chili’s blog I must assume you are reasonably intelligent and therefore your comments are meant to provoke a response from her rather than a meaningful dialog. If that is true then you are wasting her time.

    • Brandon

      They were not meant merely to provoke a response. I comment here because typically a discussion and dialog can occur which is why I asked about all women having to think the same way and chose not to specifically comment on the particular issues that are driving this war on women campaign.

      • What difference does it make whether all women think the same way about an issue? First of all, I know that is never going to happen; it’s patently ridiculous to think that it ever would. Second, who cares? I’m not TALKING about women here; what I’m complaining about is the (relative) silence of men on this issue. I think it’s ENTIRELY reasonable to equate silence with complicity; if you don’t speak up against something, you don’t get to complain when someone assumes your silence means you’re okay with it.

      • Mark

        Brandon the fact isn’t that they must all want the same thing. The idea is offering them their own choices. If there are women out there who believe they don’t deserve equal pay, then it is because men like you have oppressed them to believing they aren’t equal.

  3. Brandon, I’m so very sorry that this annoys you so much. I’m sure it must be difficult for you. I’m sure if you were violently raped and impregnated you might be annoyed too (not outraged, I’m sure, just a bit annoyed). Of course, this can’t happen to you because you’re a man. So you’ll just have to settle for being annoyed by all of these ungrateful harpies.

    I can just imagine all of the women who get raped and impregnated (about 32,000 per year in this country alone) deciding to keep their little gifts from God that look just like their assailants because they don’t want to annoy you by speaking up about it.

    To suggest that this is a “ginned up controversy” is, frankly, offensive. Abortion is an issue that splits this country right down the middle so, by definition, it’s a controversy. And one that, although it touches us all, only affects the bodies of a subset of the population. Yep, that would be women. There is very little chance that you, sir, will ever be raped, but if you are you will never be impregnated as a result. (Although if you were, even I might consider that a gift from God!)

    You are correct that not all women share the same opinions, but there’s one thing that they all do share, and that is their baby-making organs, something that you lack. This isn’t about all women sharing the same opinions. It’s about being dictated to by those who share neither your opinions nor your plumbing and by those who have different ideas about what kind of gifts God feels like bestowing on their wombs. I guarantee that if there were a sustained effort to tell you and everyone like you what you could do with your body you’d be more than annoyed.

    Yes, Brandon, there is a war on women. Or if you don’t like that we can call it something more anodyne like, say, The Highly-Coordinated Push to Restrict Rights That Only Happen to Affect Half of the Population. Whatever you call it, it is real and it is serious. And if that annoys you, well, tough shit.

    • Brandon

      It apparently annoys you much more than it does me. The thing is, there are plenty of those with your same plumbing that disagree with you, which was my point. You don’t seem to understand that and are under the impression that it is only men who hold a counter position.

      • Mark

        I’m fairly positive that if you truly believe the conservative view on women then you will attempt to force it on the women in your life. Get over your overly entitled ass. The fact is the majority of women want their rights and anything less is an infringement on their freedom so to use your party’s favorite argument “that’s just unamerican.” Why don’t we let women determine what goes on with your reproductive organs, because I believe the general consensus would be for castration.

  4. Brandon, what you seem to missing in a slew of really beautifully written explanations (MAB, you are, as ever, my critical thinking hero) is the fact that having all women share the same opinions, views, and practices is not what we’re asking. Almost every person responding to you above has included this in their comment and you’ve simply reiterated that not everyone shares the same opinions, views, or practices.

    We know.

    We hear you.

    We agree.

    However, that is not what we’re asking for.

    By legislating to restrict the right of over half the population to govern the workings of their own bodies, or even to properly care for the health of them, these politicians and voters are the ones who are expecting all women to share the same opinons, views, and practices. When we accept these differences we leave options (read also: CHOICES) open so that those who wish to use them are able and those who do not are able to decline. So, if you are advocating with the anti-choice people then it is you who are asking that everyone have the same opinions, views, and practices not the rest of us advocating for choice.

    In addition to that, when you restrict my choices in these ways you make me a vessel, less than a fully participating member of society. I’m as smart, as capable, as strong, as kind, as creative, as everything as men and to draft any legislation that tries to tell me otherwise is to attack me. Don’t do it. Clearly from the comments above I’ve got a bunch of people covering my back.

    • “In addition to that, when you restrict my choices in these ways you make me a vessel, less than a fully participating member of society.”

      I think my biggest frustration is in trying to get people to understand how profound a point this really is. When I, as an adult, participating member of society, am told that I do not have autonomy over my own body – that someone who is not me gets to decide what care I can (or cannot) have and when or whether I get to have that care – I cease to be an autonomous HUMAN BEING. When that happens, I belong to someone else; my life ceases to be my own.

      When I try to explain this to some people, I am told I’m “overreacting.” I don’t think it’s an overreaction or an overstatement to say that the efforts of the GOP to limit women’s choices (indeed, to limit the choices of a NUMBER of different groups in a NUMBER of vitally important areas) is tantamount to an effort of enslavement.

      • I think that’s the hope of the people marketing it with cute titles like War on Women. They want to frame it as overreactions to minor issues. What they don’t want people to connect the dots with is economic policy. When you restrict access to birth control or force a woman to carry a baby to term in any situation that has an impact on her economics. Her earnings will go down while her expenditures go up exponentially, she may have a hiatus in her career that means she’ll be an older person looking for a job later. She’ll have another human being to pay for so she’ll be unable to use her proverbial bootstraps to pull them both up together as far as she might on her own or if she were able to decide on her own when and how to have a child. You pile on the opposition to the Lily Ledbetter act for equal pay and there’s another shot to the knees of any woman trying to live her life under her own financial power. Given that women are half of the population you’re then undermining the ability of half of the country’s citizens to stand on their own two feet while running a platform that denigrates people for not doing so. It’s not overreacting, it’s not irrelevant, it’s not accidental. It’s a fundamental issue and people who try to make me believe that it’s anything different are trying to pull the wool over my eyes and think I’m stupid enough to believe it.

        Think again.

  5. Brandon

    Mark, you really don’t get it, do you? Your comments seem to indicate that you have no clue as to why people actually oppose abortion, for instance. In your mind it can only be about sexism, control, oppression, etc. Pretty ironic that I am supposedly the one who can’t form my own opinion, when I have serious doubts that you even know the reasons and the rationale behind abortion opposition. If you did, you could certainly disagree with the reasons and conclusions, but you wouldn’t impugn the motives of people like me.

  6. Still not addressing the fact that opposing choice is the restrictive action here?

  7. Oh, for FUCK’S SAKE!

    Okay – here are the rules, Everyone. For the purposes of discussions here – this one and any others that will follow (because I KNOW more will follow) – we ALL AGREE that abortion is a terrible thing. NO ONE gets up in the morning thinking, “Gee! Today would be a great day to have an abortion!!” No one walks out of an abortion clinic feeling gleeful and giddy. I’m not going to entertain the “abortion as birth control” meme or the “life begins at conception” trope – a seed is not a plant, an egg is not a chicken, a fetus is not a person. Get the fuck OVER THAT.

    The point is that we’re not TALKING about abortion right now; at least, not specifically. What we’re talking about here is CHOICE and the right of all women to have sovereignty over their own bodies. This discussion is about the efforts of some (most of them men, most of them in the GOP political structure or those who identify with it) to not just limit but outright eliminate women’s choices, and about the fact that I think that more men should see this not just as an attack on the women they love, but on themselves, as well.

    THAT’S the issue that I want addressed. Stay on topic.

  8. Another fun stat for all you sports fans is that, after the initial response to a post by a woman, Brandon has yet to address any comment made by a woman. Tangential, sure, but so much fun to watch!

    • Brandon

      That is hilarious Kizz and oh so clever!! And it points to the impugning of motives I mentioned earlier. “Let’s imply he is sexist and that is why he won’t deign to respond to a woman!” I didn’t realize I was under a time limit and had a particular order of responses I was required to follow.

  9. Absolutely not but our priorities tell a story about what we value, don’t you think? That’s actually at the crux of this discussion. Honestly, dude, I’m just kidding, I don’t really care. I think the discussion has wound down and made all the points it’s going to make. I just thought it was interesting. I also think it’s interesting that you prioritized speaking to that silly remark and not the more important and substantial ones that both Chili and I made earlier. I have to go to work now so I’m out and we don’t have to worry about any of it any more.

  10. Brandon

    Chili, maybe the reason more men don’t see this as an attack on the women they love and on themselves, besides the fact that many men share a differing opinion, is because nothing has changed. Abortion is legal, contraception is widely available and none of that is changing anytime soon, if ever. A woman can have an abortion if she desires and she can go into any drugstore, Walmart, Planned Parenthood, etc. and obtain birth control. There are plenty of choices out there.

    It is very hard to avoid the abortion discussion since the issue is tightly integrated into this topic. I am pleased to see that everyone agrees that abortion is a terrible thing, although if one doesn’t believe that a fetus is a person, then it doesn’t seem to follow that abortion is a terrible thing. It would seem to have no more moral significance or ramifications than any other medical procedure.

    • Mark

      Planed parenthood was shutdown dumb ass. Also there is plenty of men on here defending her. The war on women is not a new internet meme started for attention it is a battle for inequality that has gone on for thousands of years. When your balls recede into your body and turn into ovaries and you grow a uterus why don’t you keep your ridiculous sexist ideals off a good blog.

      • Brandon

        Heh, I have no idea what reality you are living in, Mark, to claim that Planned Parenthood was shut down. But apparently I’m the dumb ass.

  11. Anonymous

    Brandon, I suspect that you’d see this differently if the variables were different. From my point of view, EVERYTHING has changed. Yes, abortion is legal and contraception is widely available, but I am increasingly aware of the fact that it has not always been so and may not always continue to be so. The language that our legislators and media are using, (and the conversations that are happening because of that language) not only scare the crap out of me, they make me feel clearly and specifically threatened.

    I am a woman of childbearing age, and I made the decision to terminate a pregnancy. It is a decision that I agonized over and that I frequently revisit in my mind, and I come to the same conclusion over and over again: it was the right thing to do, it was the most responsible choice, and I received expert advice that was factual, unbiased, and compassionate from Planned Parenthood. To this day, PP is the one and only health care provider that I unequivocally recommend. Every single representative of the organization that I interacted with, in multiple locations (and over the phone) over a substantial span of time was overwhelmingly competent, and in every interaction my expectations were exceeded. I was required to have a transvaginal ultrasound, I had to go to the location twice because of the mandatory 24-hour waiting period (and the second time there were protesters outside who got up in my face), and I worked very hard to keep my situation and decision secret. It’s been more than three years, and there are still less than 5 people who know what happened in any level of detail.

    People like me don’t have abortions. I have stable relationships (with family, friends, and a partner), I am gainfully employed and healthy, and I am generally a responsible and kind human being. I used contraception in the encounter in question, and it was part of a loving and consensual encounter. I’m not “too young” or “too old” to have children, and I don’t dislike them – in fact, my livelihood depends on small children liking, trusting, and performing for me. But here’s the kicker… I was raised in a large, stable, Christian family where children are treasured; I am here because my mother made the conscious choice to keep me, which was a loaded choice as she was 17 when I was born. Everyone who offered their opinion recommended abortion or adoption. I was kept, I was loved, I was treasured… and so were my four siblings. And yet, I had an abortion, and it was the right thing to do.

    Why? Because I didn’t want every conversation, every relationship, every transaction, and every decision to be based on needing something from somebody. It was an unplanned pregnancy, where contraception and emergency contraception failed. I didn’t have health insurance at the time, because even though I was working it was contract work without a benefits package and paying for an individual plan out of pocket was more than I could afford, and the father’s employment/insurance situation was better but not by much. I knew that I couldn’t afford the pregnancy, proper prenatal care, delivery and hospital bills for even a routine birth, time away from work, or the childhood that was to follow without significant help. I knew that adoption was not an option that my family, clients, or social circle would be able to understand, and there was no reasonable way to keep it from them. And, above all, I had never wanted a baby and did not see how it could be considered reasonable or responsible to bring a tiny, helpless person into the uncertainty of my world if I could not absolutely commit to its care. The father agreed.

    But, back to the point: from my point of view, everything has changed. In my state, Planned Parenthood’s ability to operate, receive funding, and prescribe has been challenged by the executive council and legislature. My decision is ridiculed, politicized, and trivialized by the talking heads on a weekly (if not daily) basis. The tone of the conversation about contraception in all its forms has changed, and has become a “women’s issue”… where in my experience (and for Chili, Mr. Chili, and most of the men and women I know of my generation) family planning has been an issue that affected both men and women. Every man I’ve ever been in a relationship with valued our right to family planning, and helped to shoulder the responsibility. Every man I’ve known well enough to call a friend felt just as strongly about family planning, and understood that the possibility to create life demands responsibility from men as well as women. No man I know would walk away from a pregnant woman, nor would he deny her reproductive choice.

    Abortions are terrible. But they should be safe, legal, and within reach, because every child deserves to be a wanted child, and no adult deserves to feel what I would have been forced to feel… and I’m one of the lucky ones.

  12. Thank you. Just..thank you.

  13. Alex

    Couldn’t agree more with the entry from Anonymous. Thank you for sharing your story and providing the most eloquent reason why women’s rights must exist and cannot be taken for granted.

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