What if you want to focus on something else besides crazy James Dobson’s cult commercial on Superbowl Sunday?

There has been excellent and inspiring critique around CBS’ heinous decision to air the anti-choice ad bankrolled by Focus on the Family. I really like NARAL’s call to use social networking sites to spread the word about the importance of NOT focusing on this add tomorrow. (To read the call about updating your facebook status and twitter feeds with posts showing your support for pro-choice, go here.)

During the superbowl, I will choose not to focus on CBS, the football machine, nor FonF’s anti-choice ad. Instead, I will focus on spending time with my kids and ensure we discuss the importance of reproductive justice and pro-choice legislation/activism. My daughter deserves the right to make choices about her body and its reproductive capacity. My son deserves to live in a world where all humans are supported to make the best reproductive choice for their bodies and futures.

I do have to admit that Like Elizabeth Gilbert of Mother Jones, “I have a general, albeit sometimes irrational, distaste for quarterbacks.” She explains her distaste as follows: “There’s something about their deified status, the fact that they’re often positioned as Great White Hopes on mostly black teams…”

I agree, and would add that my distaste includes all of football, not just quarterbacks. My dislike is fueled by the history of rape, sexual assault, homophobia, misogyny, and violent masculinity linked to the football machine. It is also fueled by my personal history – I was dragged unwillingly to all my older brother’s football teams as a kid.

I realize my stance lands me in the “anti-American” camp according to some. (That’s ok, because I don’t put much truck in nationalistic patriotism…) I imagine I am in the minority for insisting my son NOT play football – I don’t want him ending up with serious injuries like my dad, brother, nephew, and cousin. Neither do I want him to be part of a sport that too often seems to glorify aggression and the “tough guise.”

So, like Gilbert, I am happy to weigh in on the Superbowl add abortion debate and come down on the side of this-is-yet-another-reason-football-sucks…

As Gilbert notes, the poster boy of the anti-choice ad, Tim Tebow, is known for “declaring his virginism and etching bible passages into his eye-black for every game.” Charming.

The ad is sponsored by the scary, scary Focus on the Family cult, headed by the anti-choice deity James Dobson.

The ad will reportedly include testimony from Tim’s momma who will wax emotional about how wonderful it is she chose life – or chose to have the now mega money making handsome Timmy. I would wager (did I just use a Palin word?!?) that the ad will NOT include details about maternal mortality rates or other icky details about how “choosing life” often also means choosing generational poverty let alone frames future children’s lives as more important than the lives of existing women.

The ad is even more odious considering it features a woman who “disregarded the advice of her doctors and risked death to give birth to the Football Messiah” (as noted in this excellent post). What else the ad probably won’t share is that Pam Tebow had constant medical care, something most of the worlds mamas-to-be don’t share (especially if they don’t share Pam Tebow’s white skin privilege).

The controversial ad was made even more contentious with the news CBS refused to run an ad from ManCrunch, a gay dating site. As Michael Rowe writes at Huffpo,

“The network’s rejection of it merely highlights the obvious: that CBS had already decided where its ethical priorities lay when they accepted the commercial from Focus on the Family last week. Those priorities clearly don’t lie with women, or with progressives, or with any group that happens to find itself on Focus on the Family’s no-fly list.”

No, their priorities lie way, way, way on the right side of the bed, on the same side as Focus on the Family. I don’t wish to sleep anywhere near that side of the bed and I sure as heck wish it wasn’t so crowded.

I am reminded of the childrens song “Ten in the Bed.” I wish we could all roll over and knock this ad out of CBS’ bed, that’s for sure. Let’s at least keep airing our voices and proudly share our support for a woman’s right to choose. Let’s focus on creating families where female lives and choices are valued just as much as those of football heroes…

What if Obama and crew have their eyes and ears attuned to the feminist blogosphere?

Well, after Blog for Choice Day 2009 and the many, many posts around the feminist blogosphere decrying the Global Gag Rule, the day is FINALLY here – NO MORE GGR! Hurray, hurray, hurray. Perhaps right now, at the White House, Obama is reading feminist bloggers as he formulates what is most pressing on his political agenda. Maybe he is even wearing a “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt as he does so. One can dream!

What if you are on GW’s Xmas* list this year?

For my coverage of GW’s generous gift giving, I am drawing on the article by Tim Dickinson, “Bush’s Final F.U.,” from Rolling Stone. (Read the full piece here.) As Dickinson details, Bush is leaving a plethora of parting gifts to “screw America for years to come.”

What are some of these gifts?

Well, if you make your bucks in the oil industry, Bushy has a special treat, 2 million acres of land in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming for you to pillage! If you are more of a coal tycoon, you no longer need worry about pesky air-pollution standards. If you’re a factory farmer, guess what? All that icky waste can be dumped right into local waterways thanks to GW’s generosity.

What does Bush have under the tree for those who make their ka-ching from polluting? Well, rules about emissions of lead have been lessened and, as a bonus gift, hazardous waste can now be recycled or burned as fuel. Never mind that this will increase cancer-causing air pollution, it’s the thought that counts.

If you do actual work for a living, sorry, but Bush ran out of gifts before he got to you. In fact, he found it necessary to take away the ability to take time of for medical conditions. He also took away more of those annoying rules that help to protect workers form toxic chemical exposure. But, it you drive a big rig for a living, you can now drive for 11 hours a day and up the number of big truck crashes and driver death tolls. How festive!

If you are on Medicaid, sorry, but your vision and dental care had to be taken out from under the tree. Co-payments have been raised. You all must have been naughty this year.

Got a vagina? Well, Bush has a big old lump of coal for you. Under new “conscious laws” (discussed further in this post), healthcare workers can now refuse to supply you with birth control prescriptions, to participate in abortions (even participating in making appointments for them!), and can determine whether or not they feel like giving you any services related to reproductive health and family planning. So, if you have a vagina, an STI, or are a non-heterosexual, plan to have your reproductive justice go up even further in smoke in 2009.

However, if you like the idea of an Orwellian state, Bush has got a special treat for you this year. More domestic spying! Joy to the world!

Unfortunately, as Dickinson’s article details, most of these gifts will be very difficult to return.

Oh, if only the Who’s down in Whoville could make Bush’s heart grow as they did for the Grinch. Alas, seems like GW’s heart may not be two sizes too small, but rather, non-existent.

(With thanks to Feministe for alerting me to the Dickinson piece!)

*As a non-religious person who loves the holidays nonetheless, I always write Xmas in this way – for me, it is not about “Christ” and thus I avoid this way of spelling the holiday… BTW, for an interesting take in how the birth of Christ narrative is hardly unique, see Zeitgeist.

What if Bush has morphed into an incurable STI?

(The “What if you could buy social justice” series will continue after the New Year. For your holiday pleasure, there will be some more “festive” posts for the next few weeks.)

While you might have thought you could rid yourself of Bush this January, it seems that he cannot be gotten rid of easily. Rather, like an incurable STI, he cannot be completely eliminated but keeps causing different symptoms in the body politic, symptoms that will continue once he vacates the oval office, symptoms that will effect  the US body for years to come, unless, that is, Obama and co. can “cure” the festering sores left by GW…

The most recent flare-up of the Bush Virus will cause all sorts of symptoms in the reproductive organs of the populace.  Allowing ANYONE employed in the arena of healthcare to refuse services based on a “right of conscience,” this ruling will lead to more unplanned pregnancies, more STI’s, less prenatal care, less healthcare for society’s ‘others’ – those with STIs, those in poverty, those who are not of the ‘idealized norm’ and may have, gasp, HIV and non-white skin.

Work at Wal-Mart but don’t like people doing the nasty? Refuse to dispense birth control! Work as a receptionist making appointments for patients but think “every child is a gift from God”? Refuse to give appointments to those abortion-seeking heathens! Work as a nurse at a school and don’t think kids should learn ANYTHING about sex except to ABSTAIN? Refuse to give reproductive health information to students!

The great thing about this 127-page ruling is that it will GIVE to everyone – not just women. While much commentary rightly focuses on how this is another knife in the back to the female populace, it is also a knife in the back (or groin) to ALL peoples as it will exacerbate STIs, unplanned pregnancies, and, yeah! it can even spread the virus of poverty further! Ensuring that those who can’t “shop around” for needed healthcare, it also ensures that those who already have the shit end of the stick will be given even more crap to deal with. Can’t afford healthcare or groceries? Well, guess what, now you can’t get your birth control prescription filled either, so hear is another glorious mouth to feed to help you and your future generations stay down in the poverty quicksand.

As Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL pro-choice America, puts it, “This horrible eleventh-hour rule is a reminder that even though Bush is on his way out the door, his anti-choice legacy will continue to harm women’s health and privacy.” Yes, even though he is on his way out the door, he is leaving women (and men) with a gift that will keep on giving, kind of like herpes.

P.S. For coverage of this issue on the Rachel Maddow show, see the video link at Blog for Choice here: http://www.blogforchoice.com/archives/2008/12/rachel-maddow-o.html

What if the Yes on Prop 4 group dropped the deceptive language and opted for the more fitting slogan “Bring back the wire hanger”?

 

As per usual with propositions that are based on draconian measures, there is all sorts of misinformation regarding Proposition 4 here in California. While the proposition aims to make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to have access to an abortion without parental consent, Prop 4 is advertising itself with the logo “stop child sexual predators.”

Just this morning, as I drove onto campus, I saw a large sign with the above logo. How does criminalizing abortion have anything to do with stopping sexual predators? This is blatant misinformation and propaganda of the ugliest kind. Orwell (and Sanger) are rolling in their graves…

Rather than being anything remotely related to “sexual predators,” Prop  4 aims to be another nail in the Roe coffin. As the subtitle of an editorial from the LA Times, notes, “Proposition 4 isn’t really about parental notification; it’s an attack on the right to an abortion.” This odious proposition being touted in California as a “stop predators” law is also called “Sarah’s Law.” The story behind this name, as the piece in the LA Times documents, reveals a great deal:

“Sarah” was, according to Proposition 4 supporters, a 15-year-old girl who died from an abortion gone wrong 14 years ago, a death that might have been prevented had her parents been notified beforehand. Much of that is false. The girl’s name wasn’t Sarah; she lived in Texas, not California; and though she was 15, she already had a child and was in a common-law marriage, which means she wouldn’t have been covered by the law Californians are being asked to consider.

Wow! The scare tactics and deception surrounding Prop 4 is off the charts. While Prop 4 pretends to be about “teen safety,” what it is really about is eradicating reproductive freedom and providing the first legal step to outlawing abortion in California. Moreover, this is the third attempt to pass such a measure. Shouldn’t there be some sort of limit as to how many times we have to vote this down?

The proponents of this measure are acting like toddlers, hoping if they ask again and again and again the answer might finally be yes. Here is the scenario dramatized in this way – with a child who keeps asking the same question in slightly different ways in hopes of finally garnering a ‘yes.’ (The role of the ‘child’ represents Prop 4 proponents – imagine a man-child who does not ever face being pregnant in order to accord with the fact that those without pregnancy capabilities (MEN!) make the majority of repro rights laws; the role of the “Mommy” represents prop 4 opponents — imagine a feminist mother who understands that women’s advancements, health, well-being etc are directly related to their ability to own and control their own reproductive capacities):

Scene:

“Mommy, can we please outlaw abortion?”

“No.”

“Please, mommy. I want to protect teenagers from the dangers of abortion. Plus, I like the bible.”

“No. Abortion is a very safe procedure, safer in fact than pregnancy. And, your personal fondness for the bible should not translate into laws affecting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own life and body.”

“Please, please mommy. I want to stop sexual predators and I don’t like baby killing!”

“No. Don’t be ridiculous. Outlawing abortion will do nothing to stop sexual predators. This may be over your head, but sexual violence and abuse is linked to our patriarchal society that champions violent masculinity NOT to a female’s ability to control her own reproductive capacity. And, Roe V. Wade never did give absolute abortion rights. Abortions in the third trimester have always been limited to those cases where the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is not viable. Plus, an embryo, zygote, and fetus is not a “baby.” You are mixing terms, sonny!”

“But, mommy, please? Life begins at conception!”

“No. The way you are characterizing life is simplistic. If the embryo/zygote/fetus cannot survive outside the womb on its own, does it represent an individual life? A potential life, maybe, but not a ‘baby’ that could survive without relying on its mother’s body/womb. In this type of scenario, the ‘life’ of the fetus is given far more precedence than the ‘life’ of the mother. Please refrain from throwing around terms like ‘life’ until you understand the complexities of the argument.”

“But, Mommy, please, can we? Can we just outlaw abortion? Pretty please?”

“No. Stop asking! Now run off and do something useful. And leave your sister alone!”

Curtain.

So, this dramatization might seem a bit of a stretch, but what I am trying to convey is that the Pro-4 group is acting like spoiled children who just want their way – they are lying to get what they want and trying to tug on the heartstrings of voters with misinformation. Despite the continual rejection of such propositions (this will be the THIRD TIME in California!), and despite the hard work of groups like The Feminist Majority Foundation, the “children” (re: anti-choicers) keep asking the question! In so doing, they ignore the fact that most teens already inform their parents of pregnancies. And, although the anti-choicers claim Prop 4 has loopholes that would allow girls/young women with abusive parents an out, the hoops one has to jump through to be able to avoid parental consent are preventative. How many 12 year old girls that are pregnant as a result of sexual abuse by their father are going to make a written accusation to take to the authorities or go before a judge to petition to avoid parental notification? How will said twelve your old get to the court? What will she tell her parents she is doing? Seems like this “judicial bypass” would create the need to deceive and sneak around as well as likely require girls/young women to try and navigate transportational needs and the court system on their own. Yeah, but the law is about “protecting and helping teens.” BS!

What a passage of Prop 4 would do is promote UNSAFE abortions, not curtail the number of abortions. Prop 4 is not going to make teens have any less sex, it is not going to do anything to promote safe sex or the use of contraceptives, it is not going to do one damn thing to “stop sexual predators.” If anything, teens who would have likely told their parents about their pregnancies might feel less inclined to do so when this sharing of information is mandated by law. Wouldn’t focusing on good, trusting, open communication with one’s child/teenager be the best option for parents/caregivers to take? Does this sort of thing really need a law? And what message does this give to children/teens about personal responsibility and maturity? Do we really want to raise a generation of youths who are forced into revealing information by law rather than by choice?

When I was in high school in the late 80s, I recall a number of stories of attempted self-induced abortions – and this was in the pre-Bush empire days when there was a lot more access to family planning clinics, etc. The most horrific example involved a good friend of mine who was afraid to tell her mother that she was pregnant as her mother was already verbally abusive and controlling in the extreme. It was just her and her mom, with no support of involvement on the part of the father, and they were financially struggling. Thus, she had no financial means to seek out an abortion, let alone the car that would be needed to get her to the clinic in our no-public-transportation locale. So, she opted for a hanger. Her mother found her passed out, surrounded by a pool of blood. She nearly bled to death. This was in 1987 – not 1957! If this was happening pre-evangelical USA, what must be happening now? And how much worse would laws like Proposition 4 make things?

Before the passage of Roe V Wade, the number of illegal abortions occurring each year was in the range of 1 million – this is an estimate as this 1 million number represents women willing to divulge such information. Thus, the actual number of yearly abortions pre-Roe is likely much higher. Would we like to go back to the pre-Roe days of knitting needles, wire hangers, bleach solutions, Drano douches and the like? Um, NO! No! No! No! (Sorry for the repetition — the anti-choicers seem to have trouble hearing “No” when it comes to their desires to curtail reproductive rights.) The slogan for the Yes on 4 group should NOT be “stop sexual predators” but “Bring back the wire hanger!” Sadly, even if this were the slogan accompanying Yes on 4 signs, there are still all too many people – some of them women – who would vote yes.

If this disturbs those of you in California, go here to sign a pledge, donate, or learn about No on 4 events in your area. And, go here to see a No on 4 video by the Feminist Majority Foundation, and, of course, vote NO on 4 come election day