Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Girly Questions

So I have this list of things that I've been thinking about using for post ideas.  But I mostly just want to share them and ask some girly questions.  So here goes:

  • Here, we are arguing whether women get to have abortions or use birth control.  In China, they are arguing whether to continue forcing women to have abortions (even as late-term as 7-months) as they enforce their historically anti-girl one-child policy.  Either way, the mostly-male governments would really, really like to be able to tell women what to do.  The good news is that China has undermined its own progress by short-sightedly messing with its gender dynamics and age dynamics.  123 boys to 100 girls under age 4.  How's that going to work out for you in 20 years, guys?  One thing about democracy: you end up talking about things a whole lot before you do them.  But which argument is more anti-girl?  Why do governments spend so much time trying to control reproduction?  Is there a better way to have this conversation?

  • Washington Monthly would like to know Where Are All the Women Wonks?  I'm not sure, maybe we're at home with kids.  Maybe we're working for the wonks who get to go out and testify.  Here's what I do know: we aren't wearing shirts like this one, are we?  

  • A 17-year-old girl was sexually-assaulted by two guys after she passed out at a party. Then the boys shared pictures of the assault with their friends.  They made a plea deal that she thought was not enough of a punishment (the terms are private, so we don't know what their punishment was, but they pled to First degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism).  The terms of the plea agreement said that the victim could not publicly identify her attackers.  The victim went on Twitter, identified her attackers, and said "There you go, lock me up.  I'm not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell."  She now faces a contempt charge.  Is it fair to ask a sexual assault victim not to name her attackers?  What if (as in this case) they are juveniles?  Can a guy make a moral comeback from this kind of behavior, or are these guys just a-holes for life?


  1. Governments definitely want to control reproduction. As reproduction goes, there goes your nation in essence. They ideally would want the "right" people to reproduce, and the "wrong" people not to reproduce. This is a much easier proposition in an autocratic government than a democratic one.

    -Women Wonks- the picture encapsulates it all. A guy wonk is expected to be smart. A girl wonk must be both smart and *sexy* to get anywhere. There aren't too many men who have the intellect of Stephen Hawking , but look like Brad Pitt, and if we expected them to be both, there would probably be far fewer of them too.

    - I read about the rape plea deal on another site. How horrific. They are saying she could possibly get a longer sentence than the guys who raped her. I don't see how she can be a party to a plea deal that she didn't agree to? Doesn't she have 1st Amendment rights to talk about what happened to her? What about her family, are they also forbidden from talking about it as well? Or everyone else in the school who received the pictures?

    -Romney would have been a horrible running mate for McCain. For one, they don't like each other very much. They are also both from the same wing of the party (business/technocrats). McCain needed someone to appeal to the fundies. Too bad most of them would not have been much better than Palin. Because the fundies are crazy, yo. Which is why Romney doesn't want her speaking at the convention.

  2. I can't believe that I didn't comment about the last snippet! That woman is awesome! Why can't more woman indulge n their feminine side while running? Somewhat sad that femininity still equals unserious. Not that I think she is being serious with a tagline like, "I'm Senator, and I know it." Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.

  3. I understand that governments want to have a stake in who reproduces and why, but unless you have an autocratic government, you don't get to choose that. You can set up incentives and disincentives. That would be the rational way to go. But for some reason, this always gets emotional and all about controlling women. It's like the prospect of not being able to tell women what to do is just too difficult for men in power to handle. And it reminds me of your post from yesterday about how everybody wants to tell poor people how to live.

    Women wonks: I read a post awhile back about how every woman a poster knew had "lose weight" as her new year's resolution. Every man had a career-based resolution. Nuff said.

    Rape plea: yep. Seems like a First Amendment issue. I recognize the different position we put juveniles in, but I dunno, I can't see any court telling a girl she can't talk about her sexual assault. Seems pretty awful, and to compound the assault.

    Romney would have been a horrible running mate for McCain. But worse than Palin? I'm not so sure. Palin is pretty incompetent.

    That woman is NOT awesome.

  4. And then there's this lady: http://wonkette.com/479089/american-thinker-magazine-why-does-barack-obama-refuse-to-be-a-republican-woman

  5. 1) It's really, really, really not about controlling who gets to reproduce, or controlling women in general. it is about realizing that a baby is a human being, whether it is in the womb or out, capable of rational thought or not, self-aware or not, and that it is never ok to kill an innocent human, no matter how good or desperate or rational your reasons might be. This is my number-one problem with the pro-choice movement (well, other than the legalization and normalization of abortions) -- the kneejerk assumption that we are pro-life because we want to control women. (And for the record, I also get annoyed at pro-lifers kneejerk assumption that pro-choicers hate babies, and that's why they want them killed.) I know, there are sexist misogynistic jerks who are pro-life*, which complicates things at least superficially, and governments are, well, governments and always doing something wrong or doing something right in the wrong way, but at heart it is about correcting a grievous wrong. There is a reason why it is often compared to slavery, although obviously pro-choicers don't feel the comparison is apt.

    2) I hate the word "wonk." And don't get me started on the fact that whether a woman is scientific or artistic, sporty or princessy, tough or gentle, old or young, a CEO or a stay-at-home mom, she must always be sexy. No matter what.

    3) Yeah, I was horrified at that plea deal too. But apparently her parents and her attorney are on her side, which gives me hope that maybe it can't be enforced (especially since a plea deal is between the state and the defendants -- she can't be bound to a contract she is not a party to, right?), and people have been giving donations for any legal defense she might need.

    4) See no. 2, above. Why can't a woman embrace her girly/feminine side without fulfilling every tacky or bad cliche out there?

  6. Whoops, I forgot my footnote.

    *There are also sexist, horrid pro-choicers. Like Hugh Heffner, and a certain member of the GULC class of 1999 who has been disbarred and who I had the "pleasure" of knowing.

  7. Ooh, do I know that story?

    I totally agree that there are nonsexist pro-lifers and sexist lefties/pro-choicers. In fact, I am enraged, often, by the sexist way many lefties talk about Hillary. I also know that there is another part of the pro-life viewpoint, and I totally get why if you think life begins at conception, or some place other than the Roe timeline, you would be doing everything in your power to reduce the number of abortions. But the people who are at the top of this movement, politically, are overwhelmingly well-off-white-male, very few of them adopt kids or support government programs to support families and children, and most of them oppose wide dissemination of birth control and real sex ed - which would be the two most successful ways to reduce the number of abortions. But that's not the way the movement has gone. The pro-life movement has been hard-core trying to punish women for having abortions and doctors for performing them - even though they are legal - rather than creating incentives and disincentives that would actually reduce the number of abortions. I guarantee you that if the pro-life movement were to succeed in overturning Roe, there would be a backlash that would bring it right back. So the smartest political plan for people, in America, who want to reduce the number of abortions, would be to support moves like the birth control coverage mandate, while doing more to support women and girls who choose to carry to term (I know some Catholic groups do this). That choice - to focus all political activity on treating women like we are too stupid to understand abortion and must be forced to do all kinds of things to obtain a legal procedure - is what makes people think this is about controlling women. That, and the constant stream of vitriol about women and sex from pro-life guys like Rush Limbaugh, Bob McDonnell, and Santorum.

    As for China, anybody who thinks forced abortions at 7 months is a good idea is pretty much of a monster in my book. Then again, anybody who thinks we ought to force women to have medically unnecessary intravaginal sonograms is pretty monstrous, too. I'm anti-torture.

    And on the "I'm senator and I know it" lady, I know. She's the Bridget Jones of political candidates.

  8. "But the people who are at the top of this movement, politically, are overwhelmingly well-off-white-male, very few of them adopt kids or support government programs to support families and children"

    One of my many complaints with conservative Catholics who ally too much with the GOP is for this reason -- they are ignoring that the Church calls on all of us to help the less fortunate, and that the family, not business interests, should be the number-one priority of government.

    "and most of them oppose wide dissemination of birth control and real sex ed - which would be the two most successful ways to reduce the number of abortions."
    I used to think this true, because it intuitively makes sense, but it turns out that better access to ABC does not reduce abortions -- quite the contrary. We can see it in this country, where different kinds of ABCs have proliferated over the last couple of decades, but the abortion stats have not gone down. There was also a recent study out of Spain that confirmed that greater access to ABC leads to a dramatic increase in abortions. I can track down the citation if you want.

    "The pro-life movement has been hard-core trying to punish women for having abortions and doctors for performing them"
    Unfortunately there are sucky people everywhere, but the Catholic pro-lifers I know, especially the activists who are actually trying to improve things, aren't at all about punishing women but rather helping them. Insulting people is no way to get them to change their minds.

    "treating women like we are too stupid to understand abortion "
    We shouldn't be treating anyone like this, but I have to admit I have seen a handful of instances of profound stupidity on the part of women. Like the ones who really do use it as a form of birth control. Or the students who, seeing photos and slides from a educational presentation about abortion (and one that was focused purely on the medical aspects, not at all on the politics or rightness/wrongness -- in medical school I think?), accused the doctor of faking the photos because fetuses could not possibly have arms and legs and faces. Some people know exactly what abortion is, and are ok with it for a variety of reasons. Some people believe that the fetus is a human, but nonetheless feel it is ok to kill it because the mother should have the final say. But I also think that some people are willfully blind to the reality, because they so much want to help the pregnant woman who does not want to be pregnant. After all, we can't actually see the fetus, so it is easy and understandable to focus solely on the woman, whom we can see.

    I'm genuinely curious, Emily. When do you think a fetus becomes a human, and has a right to live? Do you feel both those things happen at the same time? Obviously I think it happens at conception, because for me that's the only one that makes sense. I know one writer who thinks babies don't become fully human until a couple months after birth when they show signs of consciousness/self-awareness (I forget the technical term). And of course lots of people focus on viability.

  9. So, you didn't hear about Peter Barta? http://abovethelaw.com/?s=peter+barta

    He was a card-carrying member of NOW. That was his pick-up line at bars -- showing women his actual NOW membership card. He asked me on a date to see a Tori Amos concert (a sign of how squicked out I was by him -- I said no to Tori Amos tickets). He berated Emma for wearing a cross instead of a crucifix. He complained that the Christian GULC group, in their Christmas charity program for poor kids, at Christmas time, mentioned "Christ." He tried to convince me of the one-to-one relationship between being pro-choice and being a feminist, and vice versa.

  10. I'm going to tread lightly, I always worry about offending people when I get into abortion on more than a surface level...

    I'm not sure I know when an embryo or fetus becomes "human." Honestly, I haven't given it a whole lot of thought, though I imagine if I seriously contemplated an abortion I might. I don't think a zygote is a person. For one thing, way, way too many zygotes spontaneously abort - for good reasons - for me to think that a zygote should be considered a person. When I heard about the 7-month forced abortion I was appalled - and not just because it was forced, so I probably think of a fetus at 7 months as mostly baby. I mean, my dad was a biology teacher when I was a kid, and I think I tend to think about it as a development process. There is a period in there where the embryo has the start of gills, looks like a shrimp, etc. That has always been something that freaks me out, so I have always tried not to think about that period of development. I don't spend, and never have spent, a whole lot of time thinking about the concept of the soul. I probably believe in one, I certainly feel that there is a thing that makes a person individual and precious, a thing that it seems to me lasts beyond death. But I don't feel like I am supposed to know a lot more than that about it, because it feels like one of the spiritual things that is a bit beyond human reckoning. I'm not sure viability is a workable concept, because at some point we will be able to grow embryos outside a woman. I don't like thinking about that, either, but I know it will probably happen. There's an extent to which I feel like our science outgrows our capacity to cope with moral decisions. But how do we as a society make that kind of decision? I guess I think it's a deeply personal thing, the decisions about how and when and whether to build a family/new life. And I know that birth control has led to many, many freedoms for women. And I know that the decision to be a parent is a profound one, one that invests untold effort, love, and money, and one which I think is taken entirely too lightly by many parents. I do believe in that feminist credo "every child a wanted child." I think it would reduce child abuse, poverty, and be better for the environment and the world at large if we really invested in every child and only had as many as we could parent well. I think that's a way of parenting in line with my religion. I'll tell you, even though I don't love the structure of Roe v Wade, I appreciate the awesome (in the old fashioned sense of that word) task Blackmun was undertaking, and the fact that he managed to strike a balance that a lot of people think was about right to this day.

    Ah, no, I hadn't heard about P Barta. That was when N was being born and a small baby, I missed a lot :-) That's pretty shocking. I don't think I remember him.

  11. He was in my year, and had nothing to do with G&S, so you probably didn't run into him.

    I agree with a lot of what you wrote. And don't worry -- I wouldn't be offended. And to a certain extent, it's partly because there is so much we don't know and can't know that I take the views I do -- better safe than sorry. A zygote doesn't seem like a human, but when else would be the transition? As a Catholic I believe that the soul is infused with the physical self at conception, so it does not matter if the zygote is a clump of undifferentiated cells, it's human. Another perspective: you get a DNA sample from a zygote and give it to a biologist and she will identify it as human, not a "potential human" or anything else non-human or non-alive. I guess what it really boils down to is: What makes us human? A particular level of development or thought or self-awareness? DNA? A rational, eternal soul? A set of physical characteristics?

    Your bit about our capacity for science outgrowing our capacity to cope with moral decisions is dead on, and I'd go one step further and say that we need to be reminded that just because we CAN do something doesn't mean we SHOULD.