Tag Archives: Abortion

Meet the New Pope, Same as the Old Pope

Pope Francis

If you’ve ever been in, or even had a close friend who was in, an abusive relationship, you recognize the pattern.

The abuser has been acting like a complete shit for quite some time. Eventually, he realizes that he needs some good PR to balance it all out. So suddenly he does a few nice things — actually takes out the trash without a scene, throws the ball back and forth with the kids, or doesn’t hit you for a day or so. Or maybe he doesn’t really do anything different, but he starts to talk sweet. Yeah, maybe he will go with you to counseling; he’ll think about it. “Hey, Babe, you look decent today.” Or maybe it’s just that he speaks at all, instead of screaming or grunting. If any of this can happen in public, so much the better, as far as he’s concerned.

He doesn’t really relax any of his insane controls nor does he change any of his underlying behaviors. But the victim is so desperate for things to improve that she’ll grasp at almost anything as a sign of change.

Well, you can call me an ungrateful, cynical bitch (and, trust me, I’ve been called a lot worse, while dodging slaps and avoiding thrown crockery), but that’s what I see going on with Pagans and progressives who are falling all over themselves because the new Catholic pope has realized that the church — watching the number of “Nones” and Pagans increase, while the number of priests and nuns continues to shrink — could use some better PR.

None — zero, not one — of the underlying behaviors have changed. Women still are second-class humans who cannot be priests, cannot lead, should stay home and raise children. He has not discontinued Ratzi’s “investigation” of American nuns. Birth control is still verboten and abortion is still a sin. His American minions are still doing everything they can (with tax-free dollars) to keep the government from paying for or requiring insurance companies to cover birth control, abortion, or maternity care. They still sexually abuse children and they still use church money to cover it up. Homosexual acts are still sins and the church still opposes civil same-sex marriages. The Catholic church still hordes massive wealth (earned, inter alia, from South American slave mines, the Magdalene Laundries, and African “missionary” churches), and, via its policies concerning women and birth control, does much to keep large swaths of the population in miserable poverty. Its insane policies also discourage the use of condoms, thereby helping to spread HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases. NONE of that has changed.

But he talks pretty — well prettier than the previous abuser. He washes some feet at a very public ceremony. He complains about capitalism, while the church continues to profit off of, well, capitalism. He suggests that maybe beating up on gay people isn’t the entire purpose of the church. He makes vague noises about some “other” role for women, although he’s careful to make clear that they still belong at home, raising dozens of babies.

And like the battered victims that they have, for many years, been, Pagans and progressives perk up and grab at the PR crumbs that Francis strews. At least he’s not still hitting us! At least he took out the trash! At least he called me “Babe” again! It’s a sign! If we just show how grateful we are and how willing to we are to meet him at least halfway, why, next thing you know, he’ll be bringing home his whole paycheck and never smacking us, ever!

And, of course, it simply helps his PR effort that conservatives are now calling him socialist, too liberal, misguided, etc. It’s no different from when the abuser comes home on a Friday night and announces, as if it ought to earn him a free pass on his next several punches, that his buddies at the bar laughed at him for coming home early to you, Baby. Now get me a beer. Conservatives long ago mastered, in a way that Pagans and progressives have not, how to work the Overton Window. So they make sure to call Obama, whose policies are to the right of Eisenhower and Nixon, a “socialist.” So Ann Coulter is accepted as a serious commentator, and the new pope is some kind of hippy Liberation theologist.

I’ve said this of Obama and I’ll say it of the new pope: We know he can speechify. Get back to me when he can actify.

Until then, I’d appreciate it if more of us had the dignity not to slobber.

/Rant off.

Picture found here.

Crowdsourced Clothes Shopping


OK, I know someone’s already made the t-shirt that says, “Rosa Sat. Wendy Stood.” I want one; who’s got it?

Today, Texas Governor Rick “Oops” Perry took a potshot at Wendy Davis because she was a teen-aged mother who, through more hard work that Perry can ever imagine, pulled herself and her children out of poverty (getting her health care from Planned Parenthood) and earned a law degree.

I know a little bit about being a teen-aged mom, raising a child on my own, and getting a law degree. And, like Wendy Davis, I support a woman’s right to choose. I made my choice, and it worked out wonderfully for me. But I’d never impose my choice on another woman.

Shame on Rick Perry.

Picture found here.

Dead DOMA Potpourri


* Yesterday, I posted about chef & historian Michael Twitty’s wonderful letter to cooking show personality Paula Deen. He’s posted a follow-up today and it’s every bit as wonderful as yesterday’s. Discussing how he learned about his ancestral history, Twitty says:

Now I know we were enslaved. Slave is an identity, enslaved is a condition.

You should definitely read the whole thing.

And you can listen to Twitty discuss Baltimore’s Afroculinary history and current food deserts here.

* I had serious plans to get to sleep early last night.

Then, Wendy Davis’ filibuster hit Twitter.

I’m an old woman with a once-broken ankle that still swells by the end of the day and demands to be elevated. I need to sip water just to get through a conference call. I can’t imagine standing, without even sitting or leaning on my desk, and with no water or bathroom breaks, for 13 hours.

But Wendy Davis did it.

One fifty-year old woman put her ankles and her back muscles and her vocal cords directly in the gap and said, “You. Shall. Not. Pass.

I can’t do what Wendy Davis did, but I am a Witch and what I can do is work magic. And so I cast a circle and called those whom I call and I did what I do and I sent what I send. And today I wore a scarf with both Coyote and Hare.

And although Rick Perry has called another special session for Monday, at which the abortion restrictions will likely pass, Wendy Davis won an important victory last night.

I think that it’s really important to reward good behavior. You can donate to Wendy Davis’ re-election campaign here.

*BTW, grammar and law nerd that I am, I was fascinated with Motivated Grammar’s discovery about the Texas Rules.

Claire Cardona wrote at the Dallas Morning News’s filibuster liveblog:

“Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, raised a point of order on the filibuster because Davis had help from Sen. Ellis to readjust her back brace. […] but Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, brings up a part in the rules that would permit Davis to sit. […] Zaffirini notes that the rules said ‘may not lean on his desk, his chair, and that note doesn’t apply to Sen. Davis.’”

The rule in question, which I think is Senate Rule 4.01 [PDF, p. 8-9], reads:

“When a member has been recognized and is speaking on a motion to re-refer a bill, he must stand upright at his desk and may not lean thereon (61 S.J. Reg. 1760, 1762 (1969)). When a member has the floor and is speaking on a bill or resolution, he must stand upright at his desk and may not lean or sit on his desk or chair (61 S.J. Reg. 1059 (1969)).”

Of course, we all know what is meant there, that the intended interpretation is gender-neutral he. We see such usages regularly, probably think little of it, and move on. To claim that the use of he in this rule means it doesn’t apply to a woman is crazy, surely.

Or is it? During a filibuster, pedantry is everywhere. I learned but one thing from the time I volunteered at a Model Congress convention: intent and common usage mean little as the parliamentarian sifts through Robert’s Rules of Order to decide which of the fourteen simultaneous objections takes precedence over the rest. Grammatical pedantry, so often out of place, is only fair in this situation.

. . .

I’m no legal expert, and I’m certainly not an expert at what terminological choices are taken as given in the Texas Senate rulebook, so take this discussion with a grain of salt. But Zaffirini’s argument isn’t without merit. I found no declaration at any point in the Senate Rules that he is to be assumed as gender-neutral. In fact, there are eight instances of “his or her” in the rules — one occurring in the first sentence of Rule 4.01, the very rule being debated. If he is understood to be gender-neutral in the third and fourth sentences of Rule 4.01, why is he insufficient in the first?

. . .

It’s all hair-splitting, of course, but it’s a hair that may need to be split. When the issue at hand is so entwined with gender, maybe it’s a good time to examine our assumptions, starting with a little pronoun.

* Dear Xians, Please listen carefully.

Your bible (or, more accurately, your current interpretation of your bible) is not a Get Out of Bigots’ Jail Free card. We all get that your new meme is that you’re being persecuted simply because when you try to persecute other people those other people now fight back and sometimes call you on your bigotry. It’s such a transparent and fifth-grade-style ruse that it’s really amazing you’d even imagine that it would work. Sure, you have First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. You’re free to adopt a religion based upon bigotry and hatred and you’re free to talk about it. But others are also free to adopt other beliefs and to talk about what bigots you are.

Waving your bible around won’t change that. Besides, people who supported slavery waved their bibles around. People who opposed equal rights for women waved (and still wave) their bibles or korans around. Antisemites waved (and still wave) their bibles or korans around. And you know what we call those people today? Bigots.

Obviously, bigots don’t stand up and say, “I hate gays because I’m a bigot, and I get off on hating them, and it helps me to displace my own shadow issues.” No, they always stand up and say that their bigotry is based upon god’s law, or the bible, or whatever.

You’re on the losing end of history, the backwards curve of the arc of the moral universe, but, yes, you have First Amendment rights to hate in the name of your god and to express your hatred.

And we have the right to call you bigots.

Get over it. Be gone, before someone drops a lion on you, too.

* David Whyte writes:

The very shape we make with our bodies when we hold the conversation between the solid ground we stand on and the horizon to which we go, is the complete journey in itself. Our body’s intent, the way we hold that strange and very passionate here to there, far inside us, is the momentary representation of the whole conversation, the whole journey. There is no need to move a single inch. From that place we are ready, once again, to get up and go.

~ Thoughts from Avignon: © David Whyte 2013.

I want to remember this tomorrow morning on the treadmill.

Picture found here.

I’m Just Going to Print Out Copies of This & Hand Them Out from Now On, Instead of Arguing with Fundies

Pro-life? That’s a lie. You don’t care if women die.


/hat tip: Echidne.

Picture found here.

Rape. It’s Just Different. Wait. No, It’s Not.

So, by now, unless you live under a rock — and by that I mean a rock without wifi where you have no smartphone, no tv, no radio, and no access at all to the outside world — you’ve heard that yet another Republican candidate slipped up and admitted what he really thinks about rape, women, and living in the patriarchy.

It’s always interesting to me how differently, from almost every single other crime, we perceive rape and what this difference tells us about living in patriarchy.

The most obvious example is the way that we’re almost inalterably programmed to blame the rape victim for her rape. Thus, we hear all sorts of justifications: she was in a bad part of town, she was drunk, her skirt was too short, she let him kiss her and get excited, she’d previously (my own, almost ancient by now, moot court hypo) checked out movies that showed rape and therefore must have wanted to be raped, she was, in one way or another, asking for it.

Oddly, we don’t say those things about crimes that routinely happen to men.

Take robbery, for example. If someone shows up with a gun and demands a man’s wallet, we don’t say, well, that man shouldn’t have been walking with a wallet in a bad part of town, having had more than a few drinks, and wearing a nice suit that advertised how much money he had, as if he wanted to attract robbers. He shouldn’t have stopped and offered to give the robber a dollar before saying that, no, he wasn’t willing to give the robber all of his money. We don’t say that he’d previously checked out movies that showed people getting robbed and, therefore, must have wanted to be robbed. We don’t say that he was, in one way or another, asking to be robbed. We don’t blame it on the homeowner when there’s a breaking-and-entering. We don’t blame it on the owner of a credit card when someone commits identity theft. We don’t say that the murder victim was really asking to have poison put in his coffee. We don’t say that if your broker transfers all of your cash to her account in the Caymans, you must have wanted her to do that because you gave her access to your accounts.

You can, I’m sure, come up with many other examples.

And Mr. Mourdock’s assertion that rape victims should have to bear and give birth to the fetus that results from rape is yet another example of how rape — a crime committed almost exclusively by men and suffered overwhelmingly by women — is treated differently from other crimes. If someone rapes you and you get pregnant, that is, according to Mr. Mourdock, the xian god’s will (and what an unfeeling, brutal, weak, nasty, dirty, snarling, ill-mannered, id-controlled god he is, too). As a result the state should step in and prevent modern science and modern medicine from helping, to, as much as possible, put you back in the position that you occupied immediately prior to the rape (i.e., the state should prevent you from having an abortion or using the morning after pill).

I’m unable to think of any other crime of which this is true. In fact, in almost every other crime (and/or contract violation), returning the victim to the position occupied just prior to the infraction is the primary goal of our legal system.

If someone steals your car, the state will, if possible, make them return your car. If they wrecked your car, the state provides mechanisms that will allow you to sue the robber and get back the value of your car, the money you spent renting a car in the interim, the money you spent on counseling to make you feel better after the theft, etc. If someone assaults you, the state provides mechanisms to, if possible, make them pay for your medical bills, missed wages, pain and suffering. Even murder. If someone murders me, the state again provides mechanisms to make that person reimburse my estate, paying attention to my life expectancy, what my future earnings would have been, my value to my family, etc. I may not be able to be put back in the position that I occupied before the murder, but my estate can be and the state will labor to do so.

Yet what Mr. Mourdock proposes is that the state step in and actively prevent me, even with my own resources, from restoring myself to the position that I would have occupied prior to the rape. (As Echidne reminds me, and as I should have remembered from my good friend Literata, forcing women to carry a pregnancy to term can, in fact, be a death sentence. We don’t often sentence the victims of other crimes to death.)

Mr. Mourdock’s proposal is doubly wrong because it violates the United States Constitution. The First Amendment provides, inter alia, that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .

That means that the xians can believe whatever misogynistic, patriarchal, illogical, punitive shit they want to believe. That means that xian women who are raped can go ahead and give birth to the children that result from rape. That means that there’s not a damn thing I can do about that, even if I don’t think that adding to global population overload or bringing unwanted children into the world is a good thing. But here’s what it also means. It also means that Mr. Mourdock is wrong. The state may not step in and prevent me from having an abortion when I’m raped, simply because some xians don’t believe in women’s rights. My Goddess wants me to take responsibility for my own body, my own actions, any life that I manifest into this world. She wants me to be in control of my body. She wants me to have an abortion any time that I find myself pregnant and unwilling to bear a child.

I’ve been living in the patriarchy for 56 years. I’m getting tired of this shit.

(As is so often the case, my friend Echidne says the same thing, only earlier and better.)

If You Can’t Listen to the Word, You Can’t Legislate About It


Dear Michigan Legislature:

Is ‘vagina’ suitable for use
in a sonnet? I don’t suppose so.
A famous poet told me, ‘Vagina’s ugly.’
Meaning, of course, the sound of it. In poems.
Meanwhile he inserts his penis frequently
into his verse, calling it, seriously, ‘My
Penis’. It is short, I know, and dignified.
I mean of course the sound of it. In poems.
This whole thing is unfortunate, but petty,
like my hangup concerning English Dept memos
headed ‘Mr/Mrs/Miss’ – only a fishbone
In the throat of the revolution –
a waste of brains – to be concerned about
this minor issue of my cunt’s good name.
– Joan Larkin


Picture found here