Tag Archives: Women’s Rights

Go Buy Your Damn Craft (and craft) Supplies Somewhere Else


As we all know, today the Supreme Court heard oral argument on the Hobby Lobby case, which presents the issue of whether a corporation should get away with the claim that its religious beliefs (actually, the purported religious beliefs of the current owners because, pace Mitt Romney and Citizens United, corporations are not people, my friend, and they can’t have religions) are entitled to such deference that the corporation can refuse to provide its employees with health insurance that covers birth control. Or in other words, whether Hobby Lobby’s right to swing its “religious” fist ends where its employee’s vagina begins.

As I’ve noted before, the Supreme Court (in general) chooses, with absolute discretion, which cases it hears. This court didn’t select this case (“grant cert.,” in lawyer-speak) because it wants to defend women’s right to control their own bodies.

Sarah Posner has a good write-up of today’s argument. She observes that:

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, arguing the government’s position, highlighted that if the Court ruled for Hobby Lobby, it would mark the first time a court granted an exemption that “extinguishe[d] the statutorily guaranteed benefits” of someone else: Hobby Lobby’s employees. As Kagan noted, “Congress has made a judgement to provide an entitlement,” in other words, the birth control coverage, “and that entitlement is to women” who are “harmed” if they are denied it. Justice Anthony Kennedy, thought to be the swing vote, asked Clement, “how would you suggest we think about the rights of employees?”, noting that their religious beliefs might not square with those of their employer. But Justice Antonin Scalia questioned whether RFRA was even intended to take into account the interests of third parties at all.
It was hard not to sense that somehow, if the coverage had been for something other than contraceptives — say, as Sotomayor pressed several times, vaccinations or blood transfusions — the question of the impact on employees might have been treated differently.

NTodd has more.

And echidne, as usual, speaks truth to power. (She’s as pessimistic as I am.)

Mr. Pierce does grok that it’s always about women’s (at first he tries to make it broader, but then the truth outs) sexuality.

Atrios explains, in his usual succinct style, what it’s really all about.

Literata has a lovely prayer to Columbia and Justica.

We’ll have to wait until early Summer to find out, but I’m less than enthusiastic about our chances, especially given Justice (often the swing vote) Kennedy’s questions. And, Justice Roberts needs to re-ingratiate himself with the wingnuts; this case provides him with a perfect chance.

Picture found here.

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.

No Compromise. No Surrender.

War on Birth Control = War on Women

This is a fascinating discussion of the history of opposition to birth control. Interestingly, it started in reaction the initial move for women’s rights. And that’s something to keep in mind when people try to tell you that it’s really religious and that it really isn’t anti-woman.

hat tip: @sarahposner

Worth Remembering

As I promised the other day, I’ve been getting up a little bit early to sit at my altar and hold the modern Pagan community in my heart. This morning, what came into my mind was this speech by Sojourner Truth.

Oh, That’s Never Where I’ve Learned to Be Comfortable

A million years ago when I was a girl, my mother let me stay up late one night to watch an episode of Upstairs, Downstairs. It was, for me, a great education in, not only sexism but, also, classicism.

In this episode the wealthy daughter of a privileged English family engages in civil disobedience in support of women’s suffrage. (And, Goddess bless them, those women who risked their v. nice lives in support of that cause. I mean that. Sometimes, the privileged have to get out in front of an issue that’s “too expensive” for those less privileged to risk. I have a suspicion that global climate change is like this.) There’s a mass arrest and, once at court, the wealthy young woman is (natch) immediately let go. Her servant, however, who really isn’t interested in women’s suffrage, is sent, along with the other women, to jail. Comforting noises are made. Suffragettes have been refusing to eat and, then, after three days, allowed to leave jail before they harm themselves. So Miss Elizabeth goes home, thinking that Rose will “simply” go hungry for three days and then be released.

However, there’s a new development.

Prison officials show the women a device that will be used to force feed them (through the nose, if the women “misbehave” by throwing up when force fed through the throat). It reminds me of nothing so much as when the Catholic church showed Galileo the “instruments of torture.” (Although, since he was a man, that incident echoes down through history.) A prison matron describes the process, in rather grisly detail, to the imprisoned suffragettes. One woman whispers, in a line that has never left me, “Oh, that’s never England.” And, of course, the point is that, yes, that was England. And the women (and children, and men) in India, and Africa, and the South Seas knew it.

Over and over for the past few decades, I’ve found myself thinking, in response to attacks on our safety net, to torture, to pollution, to endless war, to officially-sanctioned corruption, “Oh, that’s never America.” And, of course, it is America.

I thought about it this weekend when G/Son and I — hanging out at the RenFaire and enjoying a day of perfect Autumn sunshine, abundant good food (we have our own special tradition of buying up a ton of candied spiced nuts to get us through the Winter), great music, educational exhibits about beekeeping and wool spinning, and buying ourselves wooden swords and shields, chain mail costumes, inlaid wooden boxes, and other accoutrements of the privileged G/Son of a privileged Nonna — had an interesting discussion.

The recent death of Rev. Shuttlesworth led to a discussion between Son and DiL about the civil rights movement and, G/Son, off playing in a corner but paying keen attention (acorns not falling far from trees), had asked his father why little girls were killed in a church. Son had to explain to G/Son (who goes to a Montessori school that is almost literally a rainbow of children and teachers, whose closest buddy in the world is of mixed “race,” and whose closest cousin is a lovely shade of cafe au lait) what “racism” was. While G/Son and I were chilling in the sunlight and waiting for Son to return from buying roast turkey legs, an African American family wandered past and one of the little boys and G/Son enjoyed comparing the flavors of honey (orange, clover, blueberry (G/Son’s favorite), meadowmarsh, and Killer Bee (second favorite, of course)) that they’d recently purchased. After they left, G/Son said to me, “Nonna, have you ever heard of people who hate other people for stupid reasons?”

And I just wanted to cry. I just wanted to die and melt into the straw for failure. I just wanted to say, “Oh, that’s never 21st Century America, where I have to talk to my G/Son about racism.” But it was. It was. Ain’t that America?

G/Son and I hung out together the day that Obama was inaugurated (and had special Obama cupcakes from the local bakery and went outside and beat on pots with wooden spoons and cheered “O-ba-ma!” after we watched the new president make his “special promise” to us that he would follow the laws), and, whatever else I’ve felt about Obama, I’ve always been incredibly grateful to him for the fact that my G/Son will grow up believing that it’s “just the way it is” for African Americans to hold even the most important positions in America. I was born just before Brown v. Board of Ed. My G/Son will mostly only remember an America where skin color doesn’t matter (but sex and gender still do) when it comes to electing presidents. (My Grandma was born before women could vote. Women from her (lower, lower) class weren’t suffragettes. They couldn’t afford it. Before my grandma died, she cast a lot of Democratic votes. I’ve always been proud of that progress. I’ve never, once, voted w/o thinking of her, but someday my many-times-great grandchildren will vote w/o a thought for how women won the vote. That will be progress.) What G/Son mostly knows about “Preznident Obama” is that he caught some pirates shortly after he went to the White House, that he has two little girls and a dog, and that Mrs. Preznident Obama wants children to eat healthy food and play outside. G/Son is v. impressed w/ anyone who catches pirates.

But as much as some privileged part of me wants to say, “Oh, that’s never America,” I can’t forget what “America” did to suffragettes just a few miles from my home, in Occaquan, Virginia. I can’t unread the poem that says, “America Never Was America, To Me.” I can’t pretend that America didn’t have its beginnings in slavery, genocide against the First Peoples, patriarchy.

And so, as much as I want to say, “Oh, that’s never America,” at least half of me has to say, “America! Wake up! Stop being who you’ve been and start to be who you were meant to be! There’s no honor in the course that you’re pursing.”

There’s one other thing I’ve always remembered.

When Rose is finally returned home, she has a cup of tea. And then she immediately scolds another servant for not having already scrubbed her mistress’s floor. And that’s how it goes. I, too, have found a clean cottage to be a bulwark against everything that I do not want to acknowledge. That doesn’t mean that clean cottages are evil. It means that we always need to be conscious. Doesn’t it? That’s always England. That’s always America. Be Here Now.

Picture found here.