Friday, October 24, 2008

Who's Your Daddy?

Apparently there are some in our state government who believe that the men we fuck should have more rights to our bodies if we become pregnant than we ourselves have.

As Introduced

127th General Assembly
Regular Session

H. B. No. 287

Representative Adams

Cosponsors: Representatives Wagner, Brinkman, Uecker, Huffman, Fessler, Wachtmann, Barrett, Goodwin


To enact section 2919.124 of the Revised Code relative to requiring paternal consent before an abortion may be performed.


Section 1. That section 2919.124 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:

Sec. 2919.124. (A) As used in this section, "viable" has the same meaning as in section 2901.01 of the Revised Code.

(B)(1) When the fetus that is the subject of the procedure is viable, no person shall perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman without the written informed consent of the father of the fetus.

(2) When the fetus that is the subject of the procedure is not viable, no person shall perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman without the written informed consent of the father of the fetus.

(C)(1) A pregnant woman seeking to abort her pregnancy shall provide, in writing, the identity of the father of the fetus to the person who is to perform or induce the abortion.

(2) No pregnant woman seeking to abort her pregnancy shall fail to comply with division (B)(1) of this section.

(3) No pregnant woman seeking to abort her pregnancy shall provide to the person who is to perform or induce the abortion the identity of a man as the father of the fetus if the man is not the father of the fetus.

(D) No man shall give a consent pursuant to division (B)(1) or (2) of this section as the father of the fetus if the man knows that he is not the father of the fetus.

(E) No person shall cause a man to believe that the man is the father of a fetus for the purpose of obtaining the consent required by division (B)(1) or (2) of this section, if the person knows that the man is not the father of the fetus.

(F) If, pursuant to division (C)(1) of this section, the pregnant woman identifies two or more men as possible fathers of the fetus, the person who is to perform or induce the abortion shall perform a paternity test, or cause a paternity test to be performed, to determine the father of the fetus prior to accepting any consent required under division (B)(1) or (2) of this section and prior to performing or inducing an abortion of the pregnant woman's pregnancy. No person shall perform or induce an abortion in violation of this division.

(G) It is not a defense to a violation of division (B)(1) or (2) or (C)(2) of this section that the woman does not know the identity of the father of the fetus.

(H)(1) Divisions (B)(1) and (2) of this section do not apply if the pregnant woman provides to the person who is to perform or induce the abortion either of the following:

(a) A copy of a police report or a complaint, indictment, information, or other court document that gives the person who is to perform or induce the abortion reasonable cause to believe that the woman became pregnant as the result of rape or incest.

(b) A copy of a paternity test that gives the person who is to perform or induce the abortion reasonable cause to believe that the woman became pregnant as the result of incest.

(2) This section does not apply if the abortion is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, to preserve the life or the health of the pregnant woman.

(I) The written consent required under division (B)(1) or (2) of this section and the written identification required in division (C)(1) of this section are confidential, are not public records under section 149.43 of the Revised Code, and shall be viewed only by the pregnant woman, the man claiming to be or the man identified as being the father of the fetus, the person who is to perform or induce the abortion, any law enforcement officer investigating a violation of this section, and a court and jury in a criminal case involving an alleged violation of this section.

(J) Whoever violates this section is guilty of abortion fraud, a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the person previously has pleaded guilty to or has been convicted of a violation of this section, abortion fraud is a felony of the fifth degree.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"No One is Pro-Abortion"

“No one is pro-abortion.” I think I did a happy dance when I heard Barack Obama say these words during the last presidential debate. “Finally!” I said out-loud to the empty room. I’m so tired of hearing so-called pro-lifers calling me and mine “pro-abortion” when I am “pro-choice.” Those who are anti-choice and anti-abortion call their position “pro-life,” as if being against a woman’s right to have an abortion makes up for being pro-death in every other area, which is often the case (pro-war, pro-death penalty, pro-gun, anti-environment, etc.), and call those of us who believe in that right “pro-abortion” because we must be actively and enthusiastically encouraging women to have abortions. If I heard John McCain say “pro-abortion” one more time I was going to reach through that TV and bitch-slap his privileged little straight-white-Christian-male face.

Branding us “pro-abortion” instead of “pro-choice” is a significant semantic difference that effectively paints us as a bunch of amoral, soulless, heartless feminazis jumping for joy every time a woman decides to rip her poor defenseless little baby from her uterus and kill it. That’s what “pro-abortion” says on a subconscious level. “Pro-choice” is very different. It says we believe a woman needs to have the right to choose whatever option is best for her, to privately consult with her health care provider, friends, family, faith community (if she has one), and her own conscience. It says that women’s bodies are more than mere vessels to be regulated by the government. It says that your religious beliefs should not govern my body. If you are Catholic and believe that life begins at conception, you should have the right to choose adoption or parenthood. If you believe that at 6 or 7 weeks into development, an embryo is not much more than a clump of tissue and has no feelings or soul, and you feel comfortable having an abortion, that should be your choice to make.

As a 13-14 year old girl, I was indoctrinated with some of the most heinous anti-choice literature out there. My step-mother would bring me pamphlets that described how little aborted babies were being thrown alive into buckets, and at the end of the day they sealed the lid on all the little babies and suffocated them. It would keep me awake at night. At just 14 years old, I spent all day on a bus travelling with a bunch of strangers to D.C. to march in a pro-life rally. I remember being 18 years old in my first year at a Christian university and hearing a few senior girls (of course from the Theatre department—they were always the most liberal) talk about being pro-choice, and not being able to fathom a person calling herself a Christian and saying she’s okay with abortion. I couldn’t reconcile that.

Somewhere along the way I began to grow up, to learn more, to develop a feminist consciousness. I began to think critically about a number of issues, and recognize complexity and ambiguity where it exists. I realized that belief in souls and whether a fertilized egg has one is based on a religious belief that not all in this country share. I realized that being anti-abortion means means saving embryos and fetuses at the expense of women's lives. Several years later, while attending one of the most liberal colleges in the country—an extreme contrast from my first college experience, to say the least—I heard a young woman speaking with such hatred toward people who are pro-life and I was taken aback. I realized at that point that both extremes are hurtful and lack depth of understanding. I have been fortunate enough not to have ever been personally faced with such a decision, not for lack of irresponsible dumb-ass twenty-something behavior once upon a time, I assure you. I have, however, heard first-hand from a number of friends about their experiences. I can say that all of my friends who have made the decision to have an abortion maintain years later that it was the right decision for them to make.

I believe it is possible to be personally pro-life while being politically pro-choice. I believe that beautiful, intelligent, spiritual women can choose abortion and feel good and right about that decision. I believe many women are conflicted about the decision to abort and suffer emotionally and spiritually after having an abortion. I believe it’s never a good thing for a woman (or a girl) to be faced with such a decision, regardless of the outcome. I believe most people who take a pro-life position are well-meaning people with good hearts. I also believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental to our freedom and personhood. And I believe that anyone who doesn’t feel just a little bit of ambivalence, regardless of their position, is being overly simplistic, uncritical, and ideologically zealous.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Biden v. Palin--Name That Supreme Court Decision

The following video gives us a snapshot of Joe Biden V. Sarah Palin, each answering the same questions asked by Katie Couric regarding Roe v. Wade and other Supreme Court decisions. We give WAY too much energy to Palin, allowing ourselves to be mesmerized by her flagrant ignorance and arrogance. It's almost fun, like watching a trapeze artist at the circus or a tight rope walker, and you can tell they're really bad, but it's okay because there's a net under them for now. But we need to start paying more attention to Joe Biden. Here he clearly demonstrates intelligence, wisdom, concern for the rights of all Americans, and specifically, great concern for the rights of women. Joe Biden has what it takes!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

PETA says, "Breast Is Best!"

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently sent a letter to Ben & Jerry's urging them to consider using human breast milk instead of cow's milk to make their ice-cream. When I first heard about this, I was reading about it on a number of feminist blogs, and then last night they mentioned it on "Weekend Update" on SNL. Everyone seems to be taking this request very seriously.

Now, while I'm a vegan, I've never been a PETA member or supporter. Their campaigns have often been controversial, sometimes sexist, and many times very aggressive and off-putting. I personally affiliate with MFA (Mercy For Animals), an organization which tends to take a much gentler and more peaceful, educational and less controversial approach. I have deeply ambivalent feelings about some of the campaigns PETA has put forward. However, I do think PETA has done some great work and I'm not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The cause they fight for is real and important. They truly speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves.

Anyway, my first reaction when I heard about this request was, "Wow! That's great! Maybe it'll make people think about what they're eating when they eat ice-cream and all the other dairy products they consume everyday." And then, regarding all the hoopla and outrage I thought, "You've got to be kidding--I know PETA couldn't have been serious... could they?" I just simply could not believe that they were making a serious request. It seemed like something completely crazy and out there that was meant to make a point and make people think. And now that I've looked into it a little, I'm even more certain. Of course if this request were meant to be taken seriously it would be very upsetting. It's true that this would disproportionately exploit already economically disadvantaged women. It would take nourishing food from the mouths of the children the milk was produced to feed. Of course. I think that's the whole point.

On the peta blog page, they updated information with Ben and Jerry's response: "In response to our letter, Ben and Jerry's issued the following statement: "We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child." Hey, guys, that's our point: Cow's milk is for baby cows." PETA is very clear about their assertion that using human breast milk to make ice cream is absurd. I'm afraid people have completely missed the satirical quality of this request. Please, read your Swift, people! Remember A Modest Proposal?

Cows are sentient beings who feel pain, both physical and emotional. Mothers cry when their babies die or are taken from them. On real farms (which are few and far between) cows will rally to support a mother cow who has lost her calf and is in mourning. Cows are naturally peaceful creatures. But we humans have taken them and imprisoned them in factory farms where they are tortured daily. They are forced to unnaturally produce far more milk than their bodies were made to produce. We take their babies from them and torture them for several weeks, depriving them of their mothers' milk and purposely keeping them malnourished, before killing them to feed them (veal) to privileged people. It's completely sick.

Let's please remember that most of the groups that we belong to and/or fight with/for can, to some extent, speak up and fight for themselves. Animals cannot. It's not just the men oppressing the women, the whites oppressing the people of color, the rich oppressing the poor, the straights oppressing the gays... It is human beings oppressing, exploiting, and torturing billions of animals each year for their own selfish desires. Gandhi said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." We pretty much suck.

Nobody is saying that what is currently done to cows should be done to human women and human babies. I think what they're saying is, "Hey! Cows milk is for baby cows!" Get it?

Smite Me! blog

The Meatrix

Human Diet and Its Effects on Natural Ecosystems

Mercy For Animals

Biblical Vegetarianism

Monday, September 22, 2008

"My Sister Rocks!" or "Who Would Jesus Vote For?"

For a while now, I've had the intention of writing a blog entry entitled "Who Would Jesus Vote For?" No need. My sister laid it all out perfectly in an e-mail to my mother that I'm going to post here. My mom had been sending my sister weird e-mails about Sarah Palin--prophecies about how God wants her to be VP (I'm not kidding you!) and stuff like that. My sister, who is a practicing Christian, but not a religious extremist and who uses her brain to think (imagine that), is voting for Obama. She decided to send my mother some e-mail links regarding McCain and Palin. This included the information about Sarah Palin's town when she was mayor charging women for their rape kits, as well as McCain's sordid past affairs and how he left his first wife. Here was my mother's response:

I'm confused. Since when did you become pro abortion? No one candidate is going to be perfect, but I would rather have the one who is not going to reinstitute partial birth abortion. There is probably more to the story on the rape kits, too. I figured as a Christian you would not be pro Obama given his stance on partial birth abortion and his muslim roots. I guess I was wrong. I won't bother you any longer. But it is clear that God wants Sara Palin in place as VP. It's going to happen.

Classic. So, my pissed off little sister proceeded to write back to my mother with a response that has never made me prouder. The following e-mail was my sister's response. I added some info and links before she sent it, but it's 95% her. My sister Rocks!

To be against Sara Palin and most everything she stands for does not translate into me being pro-abortion. You're much more intelligent than that, Mom. Do you think Jesus would not give a shit about the working class people and would hoard his money so he can live a lavish lifestyle? Do you think Jesus would dump money into huge corporations and not do a thing to help the millions of people who don't have jobs? Do you think Jesus would want high profile people who claim to work for him to blatantly lie over and over (with proof!) showing their true character which does NOT reflect Him? Do you think Jesus would leave his wife because he couldn't handle the fact that she no longer had her beautiful looks following a car accident and then go and marry someone much younger, prettier, and very wealthy? Do you think Jesus would want his people to live carelessly ruining the beautiful earth he created because they were too busy thinking about themselves? Do you think Jesus would make racial comments assuming someone is Muslim because they're black and have a different name? I'm pretty sure my God is compassionate and would help those who have nothing, yet struggle to take care of their families. Yes, God will pass judgment on those who do not follow His commandments and live their lives for him, but that is NOT our job. Matthew 25:31-46

As for abortion, if you do the research instead of continuing to think what Republicans want you to think, you will find that Barack does not want women to go out and start having partial-birth or late term abortions. "On an issue like partial birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. All I've said is we should have a provision to protect the health of the mother, and many of the bills that came before me didn't have that." So Barack is so bad to think that if complications resulted in my life or the baby's, we should choose the baby and let me die. Hmm... I would hope you would have a different opinion on that. And Joe Biden actually supports a ban on partial-birth abortions. Just because someone leans on the liberal side (I'm independent by the way) doesn't mean they are automatically pro- abortion! (Which, by the way, I've never heard of anyone being... the position is pro-choice. I'm pretty sure nobody is excited when they're faced with the decision whether or not to terminate their pregnancy. People who are pro-choice don't jump for joy whenever someone has an abortion.) What a ridiculous way of thinking!! Abortion is NOT a black and white issue, it needs to stop being treated as such... and it needs to stop being the only reason someone would vote for an individual to run a country!

It's funny that the Republicans reach out to the Christian extremists with ONE issue and hope the people are so stupid they make a decision about whether or not someone can run a country based on that one issue alone. It's obvious it's working. I used to buy into this as well until I realized I had a brain that could see the whole picture and realize that a president needs to be able to do so much more to fix our economy and have the people's best interests in mind...not just spout out that he is a Christian who is against abortion.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden are also Christians (check the facts—Obama belongs to the United Church of Christ and Biden is Catholic), and they use their brains to realize that yes, abortion isn't necessarily the right thing to do, but they realize it's a much more complicated issue than that. They also realize there are OTHER issues that are important for our nation as well.

It amazes me how arrogant so many Christians are. We all have to answer to God, even people who don't believe in Him. Since when did God tell us that as his followers, we are so righteous that we should judge others and "play God" ourselves. I'm pretty sure he is very disappointed in many Christians and the churches who have taken things too far.

Yeah, you never really know if the person we elect can fix our problems, but I'm pretty sure I'm voting for the person who has shown so much more integrity, compassion, and brains during this campaign.

On Obama being Muslim:

Palin's record on women's issues:

Evidence of Palin's role in charging rape victims:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Speaking of...


Speaking of sexism and racism, get a load of this youtube video that MY DAD SENT TO MY SISTER! Not because he wanted to show her something awful and wrong, but because he thinks it's right on! I think I'm hyperventilating. I'm seriously losing faith in humanity...

Oh yeah... Democrats are women and African Americans who are lazy, looking for handouts, not willing to help themselves and completely stupid. WTF?!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Here an "-ism," there an "-ism," everywhere an "-ism" "-ism"

Racism and sexism are two words that have made a big resurgence into mainstream vocabulary in the course of the current presidential election season. In some ways that's a great thing. At least people are talking about it. However, it seems to me that people are doing a lot of talking about things they don't know much about. These two -isms have been thrown around and misinterpreted--even co-opted--to the point of meaninglessness.

I am a feminist who, like most other feminists I know, is conscious of many other forms of oppression and seeks their elimination. This includes oppression based on race, class, sexual orientation, as well as animal and environmental subjugation. I do not see any of these as good or acceptable. I have an awareness of the interconnectedness of multiple oppressions. The number of people in the media, in politics, and in our country who have no idea what these things are (and the number of people who deny they exist!) really kind of terrifies me. And the number of people who see only one of these oppressions, disregarding all others, saddens me.

The 'big two' -isms--sexism and racism--while not identical, can be understood similarly. Both have to do with discrimination--one on the basis of sex, the other on the basis of race. Both involve false beliefs about the inherent superiority and inferiority of different genders/races. Sexism involves discrimination toward women on the basis of their sex, while racism involves discrimination toward people of color on the basis of their race or skin color. Many people mistakenly believe that there are women who are sexist towards men and black people who are racist against white people. While women may have prejudices against men and blacks may have prejudices against whites, it's not the same as sexism or racism. This is because these -isms require two things--power and privilege. Don't believe this is the case? Bill O'Reilly recently told John McCain, "Liberals...want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure of which you are a part and so am I." They admit it! While no racial or gender-based discrimination is ever good, it's not a level playing field. Not all discrimination has the same consequence or systemic effect.

In my view, racism has been (until the last few months) far more acceptable to discuss than sexism. We, as a culture, admit that racism is a problem and love to pay it lip-service. Please don't think I'm saying it's not a very real problem. I'm saying we've gotten really good at talking the talk without necessarily walking the walk. I believe that racism is alive and well in the hearts of many white people in this country. When a white person says of Barack Obama, "I just don't trust him. I think he's a Muslim," this is pretty clearly a more subtle way of saying, "I don't trust him--he's a black man." How do people not see this? Because it's much more subtle, this type of racism is far more difficult to confront.

Sexism, on the other hand, has been far more overt. Until the the last few months, we have poo-pooed at any mention of sexism. Now we're allowed to talk about it, but only if we don't really know what it means. When my brother-in-law who is a comedian would bring up Hillary Clinton at a show, there would almost always be a chorus of voices in the crowd calling her a "cunt." How about the people who would show up at her rallies and yell things like, "Iron my shirt!" Or the fact that many of the men running in the Democratic primary felt that her choice of pantsuit was a valid topic of discussion. There's also the fact that when Sen. Clinton shed a tear while discussing a topic close to her heart she was nearly crucified, yet John Edwards has always run campaigns that were highly emotional and has been praised for it. While sexism is more overt, it is more acceptable, so also difficult to challenge.

People called Hillary Clinton racist for challenging Barack Obama's views. That's not racism, any more than challenging Sarah Palin's policies is sexist. With all of the confusion and rhetoric, how are we supposed to really know what's racist, what's sexist, what's reasonable and what's not? How about this: ask yourself if you could apply the comment to a white man. This works on both accounts of supposed sexism and racism. Watch...

Statement 1. "I don't agree with Barack Obama's position on abortion." Would you say the same thing if he were a white man? Yes? Not a racist comment.

Statement 2. "I just don't trust Barack Obama. I think he's a Muslim." Would you say the same thing if he were a white man. Hell no. Racist.

Statement 3. "Sarah Palin is completely incompetent--she doesn't even know what the Bush Doctrine is!" Would you say the same thing if she were a man? You bet your ass. Not sexist.

Statement 4. "How can Sarah Palin be Vice President when she has 5 kids, and a new baby with special needs?" Would you say the same thing if she were a man? No way in hell. Totally sexist.

We could play this game all night long, but I think you get the point. I know this is incredibly simplified. It's a blog, not a master's thesis. My hope is that anyone who's been confused by all of the -isms flying around and doesn't know what to make of it will be a little bit clearer and be able to see the facts and the issues for what they are. Nobody should be afraid to examine Barack Obama's or Sarah Palin's records or stance on any issues for fear of being labeled a racist or sexist. People should, however, examine their criticisms of the candidates and ask themselves, "would I feel this way if he was white/if she was a man?" Let's root the -isms out of our hearts, call them when we see them, and call politicians out for crying-wolf when we hear it.

They really said it! Watch...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why We Don't Like Sarah Palin

I was sitting at my computer the other day after work, watching videos and reading newspaper articles, attempting to get myself up-to-date on the latest in our country's current political circus. The phone rang. It was my sister. "Tell me again why we don't like Sarah Palin," she said. It's easy to forget, isn't it? With all the lies and side-steps and rhetoric flying out of the mouths of the Republicans, as well as their successful co-optation of Democratic slogans and historic words (John McCain, who voted with Bush 90% of the time is really "the change we need?" Sarah Palin, with her anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-civil rights positions is really a feminist??), it's easy for the average person to be sucked in by this charismatic, spunky little hockey mom.

Although I would like to write about something other than this thorn in our collective feminist side, and I'd like to write about the issues in this election, about the environment, about what I do like about Barack Obama and Joe Biden and why I'm voting for them, and many other things, unfortunately this woman is still occupying center stage in much of the media, as well as in the minds of many Americans. So, here I am telling my sister--and all my sisters (and brothers and sibbies)--why we don't like Sarah Palin.

1. Sarah Palin's policies are clearly anti-woman. She is anti-choice, wishing to criminalize abortion. As pointed out in my last post, this takes freedom away from women and causes women to die. Criminalizing abortion turns women's bodies into reproductive containers controlled by the government. It's a step backward toward being property rather than citizens. Regardless of whether you personally view abortion as immoral or against your religion, not all women share this view and must have the freedom to choose when it comes to their own bodies. In addition, while Sarah Palin was mayor, Wasilla was the only town in the state of Alaska to charge women ($1200!) for their own rape kits.

2. Sarah Palin holds destructive views regarding the environment. She believes drilling in our national wildlife preserves is a good thing ("Drill, baby, drill!") and scoffs at alternative and sustainable sources of energy, making them a last priority. She also chooses to disregard what 99% of the reputable scientific community has to say about global warming--specifically humanity's contribution to it.

3. Sarah Palin is anti-civil rights. She does not believe that citizens of this country in loving, committed partnerships with someone of the same sex deserve the same rights as citizens in relationships with people of the opposite sex.

4. Sarah Palin is a liar. That "Bridge to Nowhere"--she's lying through her pretty little teeth when she says she was against it. Evidence proves she was 100% in support of it. She lies (or is at least very ignorant) when she calls herself a feminist, as she does not protect and support the rights of all women. "As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation" (1). Yet, she claims to be a reformer, fiscal conservative and against earmarks and lobbyists. Right. There are many more lies. Just google "Sarah Palin lies" and see for yourself. "Palin says Alaska supplies 20 percent of U.S. energy. Not true. Not even close" (2).

5. Sarah Palin is pro-death. She supports the death penalty; supports drilling in national wildlife preserves; supports hunting endangered animals; is against universal health care, opposes comprehensive, medically accurate sex education, which can save people's lives; seeks to criminalize abortion, putting women's lives at risk.

6. Sarah Palin is ignorant and inexperienced. Really. When asked by a reporter what qualified Palin in matters of foreign policy, John McCain, after a long pause said, "There's energy..." Huh? When a Republican spin-doctor was asked by a CNN reporter to give an example of one decision that Palin made as Commander-in-Chief of the Alaskan National Guard, he continuously tried to change the subject. When Palin herself was recently interviewed by Charles Gibson of ABC, she demonstrated that she had NO IDEA what the Bush Doctrine was. She's just plain clueless.

There's more, but I just can't give this person any more of my time. She does not deserve it.

Quoted sources:


Monday, September 8, 2008

Sarah Palin Is No Feminist

As I've been surfing the net, looking at news and blogs and the buzz about the newest lady on the scene, Sarah Palin, I'm hearing things like, "Sarah Palin represents the new feminism," or that she is part of feminism's "next wave." Let's get one thing clear: SARAH PALIN IS NOT A FEMINIST! Not 2nd wave, not 3rd wave, not any wave.

There seems to be a lot of ignorant rhetoric flying around conservative circles concerning what feminism is and exactly who is a feminist. Being a working mom, as a few conservatives have asserted, does not make someone a feminist. Evangelist Mike Azinger believes that the Republican party has, "join[ed] the Democrats in their acceptance of full-throated feminism." Don't worry, Mike, your anti-feminist/anti-woman views are still being fully supported by your party, and even by Sarah Palin herself, even though she is a working mom, spitting in the face of God's perfect plan for men and women. The Republicans are lying to you (or at the very least are very confused and deeply ignorant) when they tell you Sarah Palin is a feminist.

Feminists have fought long and hard for women to be full citizens in this society, and more than mere chatel to be owned and guarded by men. This began with the 1st wave feminists fighting for over 70 years for women to have the right to vote. Without that, women were not citizens at all, but property of their fathers or husbands. Their bodies were not their own. We now have the right to vote, but men (and patriarchy-supporting women) are still fighting us for ownership of our bodies. How many people still believe that a husband can't rape his wife? Laws are slowly changing, but the way they are enforced and the deep-seated beliefs that are held about them are following at a much slower pace.

The right to choose what happens to our bodies with regard to reproduction is only one piece (albeit a rather large one) in the struggle for freedom for women. This not only includes the right to safe and legal abortions, but also access to comprehensive sex education, birth control and child care. Sarah Palin wants to take all choices away from us. She thinks that she and those who share her beliefs are better equipped to make the decision for us. According to Sarah Palin, women should not have the option of abortion, even if they are raped or if their life is in danger. According to Sarah Palin, our daughters and sons should be indoctrinated with abstinence-only-until-marriage teachings and should not have access to information regarding birth control and safer sex practices. We all know how well that worked out for her teenage daughter. If left up to Sarah Palin and the Republicans, we will be stripped of ownership of our own bodies. Our bodies will become property of the government, mere containers for reproduction.

Sarah Palin calls herself a "Feminist for Life." She is neither a feminist, nor is she "for life." How exactly can one be pro-life and be pro-war, pro-guns, pro-death penalty, pro-killing of endangered wildlife? Sarah Palin is not pro-life, she is anti-choice. In fact, she is pro-death. When abortion is criminalized, WOMEN DIE. A feminist who is for life believes in and works for affordable health care for all, access to affordable child care, comprehensive sexuality education, peace in the world, protection of our natural resources and wildlife, and responsible gun laws. Hey--it looks like I'm a feminist for life!

Do not be fooled. Joe Biden may not have been my first pick for VP, but when it comes to the issues that I care about, he's light years ahead of what we're looking at on the Republican ticket. Despite his flaws, he did champion the Violence Against Women Act; he will, to an extent, protect our right to choose; he has a pretty favorable voting record on environmental issues (Biden and Obama both score 67% this year with the League of Conservation voters, compared with McCain's 0%). Yes, Hillary Clinton would have been my first choice. But to think that Sarah Palin makes a good second choice is simply not to think at all.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Exploring the "F" Word

With Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton coming in a close second for the Democratic nomination for presidential candidate, and now Gov. Sarah Palin receiving the VP nomination from the Republicans, the great "F" word--Feminism--has made a comeback into the American vocabulary. The word can be found all over the internet and on TV and in newspapers and magazines. It has been used in so many different ways to describe vastly different people and views. It seems that there is no general consensus as to what that word actually means, other than that it has something to do with women. I read articles that make me believe feminism is alive and well. Then I read pages of comments on those articles that make me believe that the average woman (and certainly, man) have such a completely ignorant and distorted misunderstanding of feminism that I am almost frightened for us. The words "feminist" and "feminism" have been so co-opted and misused that they are on the verge of becoming meaningless. For these reasons, before I launch into any commentaries on anything that is happening politically or socially, or even spiritually in this country, the very first thing I feel has to happen is a discussion of this powerful yet elusive word.

A Feminist is a person who 1. acknowledges the oppression, suppression and repression of women under patriarchy and 2. actively works to bring it to an end. This is my working definition of a feminist. Yes, this is a different definition than you'll find in most dictionaries, which tend to be true, but oversimplified. Most of us know that dictionary definitions are not the place to look for true meaning and deeper understanding. A Feminist may be any race, any gender, any sexual orientation, and from any socio-economic status or religion. Feminism is about 1. awareness and 2. action. Feminism is not simply about achieving the power and status typically held by men. It's about protecting and supporting the rights of women of all classes, races, cultures, and beliefs. (Blog edited 9/12 to add these last two sentences. A great definition of feminism--less philosophical, more tangible.)

Are all women feminists?
A vagina does not a feminist make. Many women are completely oblivious to their own oppression and to the oppression of other women. Many women take actions that are not in the best interests of women. Perhaps they have worked hard to better themselves, but feminism is not about elevating the status of one with disregard for the many. It is about elevating the class of women as a group. Many are not feminists, or may actually be anti-feminists.

Can a man be a feminist?
Yes he can! If he acknowleges the oppression, suppression and repression of women in patriarchal societies (like ours) and takes actions in his life that do not perpetuate, or even help correct said oppression, repression and suppression, then a man is a feminist.

Do feminists hate men?
Not as a rule. Many feminists are women married to men, or are even men themselves. Of course, many feminists are lesbians--women who love women--but loving women does not mean hating men.

Isn't it true that feminists are just a bunch of privileged white women?
Not even remotely. As mentioned above, many men are feminists. All white women are not privileged and many poor white women are feminists. Many women of all races and levels of economic privilege are feminists. Sojourner Truth, a former slave, was one of the first feminists on the scene, delivering her "Ain't I a Woman" speech at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851. During the Women's Liberation Movement (2nd Wave Feminism) in the 1960's and 70's, black feminism developed along with white (read Angry Notes From a Black Feminist by Doris Wright, 1970). Historic and modern feminists include bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, Michelle Tea, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, me, Margaret Cho, my husband, ... black, white, Asian, poor, wealthy, Latina, lesbian, mothers, married, single, man, woman, Christian, artist, philosopher, atheist, young, old... we are people from all walks of life. We are aware of the oppression, repression and suppression of women and seek to change it.

Where feminists often differ is in theory and approach. There are a wide range of theories and explanations for women's oppression, suppression and repression under patriarchy, and a variety of prescribed actions to remedy these conditions. Different people bring different perspectives to the table. A chicana lesbian from Brooklyn with a degree in Women's Studies will have a somewhat different perspective from a white married woman from the rural Midwest and a technical degree from a community college. Both have valid perspectives and meaningful life experiences, but very different ones. Feminists differ on which linked oppressions, other than sexism-if any-they focus on in their views and activism. This includes racism, classism, homophobia, environmental oppression, and more. Feminists tend to be humanitarian and broad in their desire to end oppression on all levels. Many feminists are involved in efforts for world peace, environmental sustainability, children's rights, and animal welfare.

Not all feminists make feminist choices at all times. Sometimes we fall prey to internalized oppression or peer pressure or are confused by sexist traditions masquerading as tradition. Sometimes we are selfish. But our overall intent and sum of our actions is that of acknowledging sexism/patriarchy and seeking to end it. As we examine our country's leaders--what they stand for, the actions they have taken, etc.--let's remember that a vagina does not a feminist make. Do they 1. acknowledge sexism and patriarchy at work in our society and 2. take actions to correct the problem? Are they in it for themselves, or are they in it for all of us? Are they protecting and supporting the rights of women of all classes, races, cultures, and beliefs, or are they (if they are women) just seeking to achieve the power and status typically held by men? (Last sentence added 9/12.)