It’s 2012 and I can’t believe we are still having the same dumb argument about abortion

Permit me a quick rant this Sunday morning while the boys nap and I ignore some work I need to be doing.

Not only can I not believe we are still having the same dumb argument about abortion, but I can’t believe things have deteriorated to the point where we actually, earlier this year, had an outrage-sprinkled discussion about the legitimacy of legal birth control.

Really? This is why some of us still identify as feminists. Because it’s a marker that says, “You know what? Fuck you. So-called women’s issues aren’t fringe issues and I’m going to keep banging the same old drum and I don’t care if it makes you uncomfortable or if you’re bored with it.”

Joey posted a link to this Jezebel account of the bizarre sisterhood at the RNC this year.

And there’s so much sad stupid cluelessness that I want to ignore it like the fringe craziness that it is, but I can’t. Because it’s not fringe. Actual people I know, people who have drivers licenses and voting rights, believe this stuff. There are actually people who believe that women routinely get pregnant after recklessly unprotected sex, waffle on whether or not they want to have a baby until the fetus has been cooking for eight months, decide they aren’t up for it, and then waltz in to the Abortionplex to “get it taken care of.” People seriously believe that THAT scenario constitutes the reality of abortion.

It’s baffling to me.

And guess what, just because you breathlessly announce that you LOVE WOMEN!!!, Ann Romney or any other person interested in a social or legal structure that commodifies and polices women’s bodies, doesn’t make you pro-woman or feminist so stop trying to co-opt our terms. If you do not support abortion rights, you cannot call yourself feminist or pro-woman. Period.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO THIS. I am going to quote, liberally, commenter mcjulie at that Jezebel link above, because she breaks it down for a “pro-life-ish” commenter who is having trouble understanding how pro-choicers can square legalizing killing something that is clearly human life:

Here are some things I want you to think about. First, the issue isn’t really life, it is personhood. Of course the fetus is alive. The sperm cell was alive, and so was the egg. Both of them carried human DNA as well. Does that make them human beings, the equivalent of a baby? Nobody seems to argue that — not for individual sperm and egg cells, anyway. Is a newborn baby a person? Nobody seems conflicted on that score either. So these things, these cells, which are alive and not people, exist on a continuum with a human baby, alive and definitely a person.

At what point does the fetus stop being a collection of cells and start being a person? We have no precise answer to that question. Until fairly late in the pregnancy, a fetus has ambiguous personhood. The woman carrying the fetus, however, has unambiguous personhood. So, if both entities are competing for “ownership” of the same body, who has the better claim? The ambiguous person, or the unambiguous person?

When that is the question, I have no trouble granting the right of decision-making to the unambiguous person.

Any attempt to make abortion illegal is taking that right of decision and giving it — not to the fetus, which has nothing to say on the matter, but to the state. The state says, your fetus has a greater claim to your body than you do. I find that a grievous violation of women’s civil rights. Right-leaning politicians who seem to fear communism — the state taking ownership of the means of production — above all else, nevertheless advocate for the state taking ownership of women’s own bodies.

Further, in that scenario, the state takes ownership of the woman’s body, but no responsibility for the result. Anti-abortion activists take no thought for the welfare of the child once it is born and an unambiguous person, or for the welfare of any other children the woman might have, also unambiguous people. Places such as El Salvador that have implemented draconian anti-abortion laws have seen the results, as impoverished, motherless, starving children run wild in the slums.

No matter how any one person feels emotionally about abortion — and I believe a conflicted feeling is entirely natural and expected — as a society we have only two choices: legal and illegal. Illegal is clearly tyrannical and invasive. It is harmful to the welfare of women, children, and society as a whole. It renders women inherently second-class citizens, with the state taking ownership of their reproductive capacity. And, with all of that, it does nothing to prevent abortions.

It cannot be any clearer than that.

Related: Legislative war on women.

The one about the Weiner

Like everyone else with a functioning limbic system, I am sick of hearing and talking about Anthony Weiner. But this is one of those controversies where so many people seem to be willfully missing important points, and before you know it, the Dow’s back in the crapper and planes are falling out of the sky while we’re all yelling at each other about a socially retarded congressman who sent prick pics to near-strangers. It’s stupid. But I am going to contribute to the noise because I need to get this out of me so the toxicity of even having to think about this crap does not eventually give me cancer.

I’m glad he’s resigning. I hope this means all the news people will stop saying his name and we can move on now. I think it really, really sucks for the Democrats to lose him because he was an incisive, funny, politically whip-smart pain in the ass to the Republicans. The party needed someone like him because the rest of them, by and large, seem to be able to engage the public about as easily as rotten carp. But you know what? He’s not my ally anymore. He did something exceedingly stupid, he lied about it, he got caught, he needs to go.

Some people keep bringing up other Great Mean in History and pointing to their unsavory personal lives as proof that what Weiner does in his personal life has no bearing on his life as a politician. Saying Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. were dogs with the ladies is a stupid argument. You mean to tell me that American men were freer to womanize without consequence decades and decades ago? When women couldn’t vote or own property or, later, when women were fighting for their civil rights to be recognized as full people and not just homemakerbots and babyfactories? You mean there were men of power who took advantage of their privileged station in life to fuck (and fuck over) whoever they wanted without having to answer for it? Next thing you are going to tell me is that toasters aren’t powered by wishes. Well then, let’s just all agree that since men once upon a time could point their penises at things and declare “WANT!” to a backdrop of trumpet blasts and rainbows, we might ought to keep it that way, or there might not ever be another Great Man In History ever again!

Horse shit.

On that note, the Bill Motherfucking Clinton argument needs to go on and die a stabbed death. “Bill Clinton actually had sex with someone who wasn’t his wife and he didn’t step down!” Believe it or not, Dems with amnesia, there WERE people on your side saying that Clinton should step down. Clinton abused his power in egregious ways and then lied about it (just like some of those other presidents Dems love to villify). He should not be awarded sainthood, he is not the best president ever, and conveniently forgetting about or glossing over his fuckups does not make them disappear. Letting Weiner slide because Bill Clinton lowered the personal-morality bar is a dumb thing to do.

Saying “so and so did a much worse thing and kept his job!” is a non-starter. If we continue to set the pace of the present and future based on how much we let people in the past get away with stupid, egregious fuckups, we are heading for trouble. How does that give us any incentive to evolve toward something greater, to strive to be better tomorrow than we were today? Isn’t that the chief charm of progressivism — to move forward, make progress?

Oh, and here’s something to think about: The fact that we consider abusing power in order to get sex a much less serious issue than abusing power in order to get money says something about how we value the human body and human dignity, doesn’t it?

There is a bit of “boys will be boys” attitude floating among Weiner’s defenders. Again, who’s the wacky man-hater in this scenario? Here’s that bitchy man-hating feminist, who wants all people — especially our supposed leaders — to aspire to be better people than the average flailing dumbass with his dick out on ChatRoulette. And then here are people defending Weiner by saying that men are just programmed to be complete idiots who are at the constant mercy of the muscle twitches of their genitals. Hint: It’s not me, the bitchy man-hating feminist who actually hates and devalues men. I think men are better than the bullshit standards they are often held to.

This scandal is not exclusively about sex and wanting Weiner to go away does not make me or anyone else anti-sex. This is not about legislating morality. It’s about judgment, doing the right thing, leadership, and earning the right to be a representative of the public. We’re not talking about a man who is polyamorous and in a marriage where his wife knows about his sexual proclivities and agrees to them. (If that had been the case, then I’d be the first to say we should all shut up and let the man work. But that requires that all parties involved in the the activities are up to speed on what’s going on. Clearly that is not the case.) We’re talking about deception. Sneakery. He took an oath of total commitment to his wife — who is having his child — and look how he treated her. How on EARTH could he ever treat constituents with any more respect than the one person he promised in a fancy frigging ceremony to put above all others?

Remember when we argued that saying George W. Bush is the kind of guy you could have a beer with is a dumb argument for why he should be president? This is along the same lines. I want my leaders to be better and smarter than the average douchebag. Saying “Anthony Weiner is just another dbag in pursuit of poon so give him a break” is not good enough for me. I want my leaders to be better than that. Smarter than that.

It’s a disservice to continue to think that it’s impossible for us to ever expect that kind of goodness from our leaders.

Taming of the shrew

That sound you hear is this week sucking the life out of me. It’s been … not great. Apparently my karmic retribution for being in a horrible mood midweek was to turn the tail end of the week into my own private failfest at work.

I got called on the carpet for my participation in this conversation, and I can’t say I don’t see why. I’m an asshole! I don’t mince words! I speak to commenters with the same amount of respect they use when speaking to me and others! I’m a horrible diplomat! But, I know. Put the word “staff” in red allcaps by my name and I guess I seem like a MAJOR asshole. To quote Le Tigre: I get it, I get it, I get it. So I will voluntarily resume shutting the fuck up in story comments since I know I can’t just suddenly get nicer, and I’ve been told that my not niceness isn’t going to fly. Fair enough. I’m a big (biiiiig, according to some critics) girl.

It’s humiliating, though. I hate knowing I’ve done something wrong enough to get in trouble for. Makes me feel like an eight-year-old again, like everyone’s looking at me and thinking about what a fuckup I am. The only difference is that this time I was standing up for something I believe and I don’t have an ounce of regret about it. I am grossed out by the pervasive idea that dudes have the right to gaze at Hot ChicksTM on demand and at all times, including on a NEWSPAPER’S website. And if you don’t think that’s where that comment thread was heading, then maybe you don’t know the internet very well. Ugh, I need a shower now.

Oh, and compounding my failure rate for the week was the fact that I lost the “forced sex”/”rape” word battle again in this story. Editors are still sticking by the notion that we can’t call it rape if the court isn’t calling it rape. (Related: We used the word “rape” without hesitation over “coerced sex” in this story.) No one seems to really want to acknowledge the point I’m trying to make: That the court terminology is necessarily muddied because it’s motherfucking COURT and there are all KINDS of shenanigans happening there that laypeople don’t get. In a news story, it is possible to both describe what a person is pleading to/charged with AND what he admitted to doing. Are we afraid of being sued for libel at saying the officer raped a woman? Because, uh, he admitted to it, even if he didn’t technically plead to it. Therefore it’s true and libel-proof. Where does our fear of calling a spade a spade come from?

I don’t know. I love my job. I love journalism as an entity and what it can do for a community. I love working for a newspaper and being a total newspaper wonk. But it’s a lonely life being a shrill feminist harpy bitch hag who raises these questions repeatedly and sometimes to ridicule, not just at work but from everyone.

But hey, I’m not a feminist to make friends, you know?

On a decidedly more positive note, I won an award of excellence from SND for two True Crime packages (this one and this one). I’ll finally make it into the SND yearbook. So at least there’s that to stanch the flow of fail this week, I guess.

Because it’s important that I teach my cats feminist values

Me: Sally, you’re so pretty.

Sally: [unblinking stare]

Me: You’re also very smart.

‘So much fuckin’ bullshit but we won’t give in’

What’s stuck in my head today:

Fun with infantilization!

Barf:

“It’s a girl power kind of thing,” Shafman says. “You’re kind of making a statement: I know I’m a woman. I know I’m the most sought after victim in regards to sexual assault, sexual abuse. So please stay away from me. If in the event you do come after me, I’m going to use my pink Taser to put you on the ground.”

“Most sought after victim in regards to sexual assault”? Wow, there’s a superlative for the yearbook.

Also worth noting is the potential victims’ very polite regard for their potential attackers’ physical well-being (ie “please stay away from me!”):

Amnesty International, an activist group, frowns on the C2 and any attempt to spread the use of stun guns.

Shafman has a quick answer for Amnesty International. If she had a choice of getting shocked or being attacked with something else, “I’d much rather be assaulted by a Taser.”

Yes, ladies, even when you’re trying to defend yourself from deranged rapists, it’s important not to do anything that could really hurt them. Just zap them with your cute pink Taser and then run away — slowly, I guess — in your stilettos. Girl power!

Ugh, fuck. I’m going back to bed.