Here are some things that happens to a dude when he first starts to speak up about feminist issues:
He discovers that women in his life whom he would never have associated with the word “feminism” have strong opinions about the things that he’s talking about. Because while we have the luxury of perceiving these things as not being about us, and thus not relevant to our lives, every woman he knows has had to consider what she’d do if she got pregnant when she didn’t not plan to. Every woman he knows has been talked down to by a man who wasn’t as smart or capable as she was. Almost all of them have been treated poorly or made uncomfortable by some dude at some point who saw getting into her pants as a prize to be won. Even women who seemed like just one of the dudes begin to share experiences that he never would have imagined that they’d had, because doing so around him begins to feel safe.—
Why Feminism Is Also Dude-ism, by Dan Solomon, on the always awesome Hay Ladies
(NB: Cis women are not the only people who have to worry about pregnancy and harassment.)
Planned Parenthood is the target of this legislation, and American women the primary victims. This isn’t about abortion — it’s about cutting access to health care for women. One in five American women has used Planned Parenthood’s services. The vast majority of care — more than 90% — offered at Planned Parenthood health centers is preventative. Every year, Planned Parenthood carries out nearly one million screenings for cervical cancer — screenings which save lives. Every year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses give more than 830,000 breast exams — exams which save lives. Every year, nearly 2.5 million patients receive contraception from Planned Parenthood — a service which prevents enormous numbers of unintended pregnancies and, by extension, an enormous number of abortions. Every year, Planned Parenthood administers nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV — tests and treatments which save lives, extend lives, preserve fertility, and maintain reproductive health.
That’s what “pro-lifers” in Congress are against: Health care access for the poor. Health care access for women. This is not, and has never been, about abortion. It’s certainly not about affirming “life.” It’s about an ongoing assault on women’s lives, and the lives of lower-income women in particular. It’s shameful. Stand with Planned Parenthood.— Jill at Feministe.
What I (Don’t) Miss About Feminist Blogging
So there’s this thing going on, with Penny Arcade and dickwolves and feminist and neckbeards and whatnot. I play video games, but I’m not a gamer as such; my exposure to gaming culture comes primarily through Mr Machine, who is a long-time fan of Penny Arcade and passes along the comics he thinks I’ll appreciate. What I’m saying is, I don’t have a dog in this fight, personally. But I’ve been following the increasingly misogynist debacle as an observer, occasionally retweeting things. As I’ve been participating in the #DearJohn protest against HR3, I’ve been thinking about the wearyingly familiar juxtaposition of feminist activists working their asses off to make us take rape more seriously and an upswelling of random dudes trying their hardest to make sure we take rape less seriously.
Probably anyone who’s reading this Tumblr knows that I blogged for several years at Shapely Prose, a major feminist and fat acceptance blog. At its height, I loved SP and its community; I loved the kind of writing I did there; I adored my fellow bloggers; I felt a part of a grand conversation about body politics that crossed continents and changed lives. I am really, really proud of what we accomplished at SP, and I feel a genuine warmth and gratitude for our regular readers (aka the Shapelings) and the impact we had on each other’s lives.
Which is why watching the dickwolves-splosion makes me, more than anything else, mournful, because it reminds me of a distressingly similar “controversy” at SP, which marked both our widest reach and the start of my own disenchantment with and eventual hiatus from blogging. See, I wrote a post that criticized a particular artifact of nerd culture for promoting what we ladybloggers call rape culture, and lo, the angry nerds descended upon our blog. And we ended up having an amazing, complex, important conversation about street harassment, rape, and fear. And we got so many abusive, hateful, and plain stupid trolls that I started a separate blog just to keep track of them.
That series of posts—that month when we had the most readers ever, where our guest blogger coined a phrase (Schrodinger’s rapist) that became sorta internet famous, when every day people wrote us privately to thank us for what we do—that time that should have been exhilarating but was actually depressing, exhausting, and kind of scary—that was when feminist blogging, for me, started to take a toll on my mental health. That was when running a blog became 75% about moderating and only 25% about writing and reading. That was when I would ask my therapist why stupid fucking trolls were making me feel subhuman, and she had to explain to me that people were verbally abusing me and my co-bloggers, and that receiving verbal abuse for hours each day didn’t somehow NOT COUNT just because it was on the internet. Arguing about rape and harassment all day, every day, was the worst experience I ever had blogging, even beating out the time when I posted about my mother’s death and immediately got a response saying that it was good she was dead because she probably hated having such a fat daughter. So yeah: bad times.
What I’m trying to say, in a roundabout way, is that feminist blogging, by allowing feminists of all stripes to connect with each other, to build communities and shared vocabularies, to talk about experiences we’ve never talked about with anyone before, IS threatening to people outside it. It’s threatening for the same reason that all social justice communities are threatening to the status quo: it allows people to articulate how, exactly, the system is rigged against them. I think Lesley puts this brilliantly in her open letter to Penny Arcade:
People who identify as feminists and other social justice activists do not live in a different world. We live in the same world, we live in a world that values and privileges certain experiences, abilities, and appearances over others, and that is why we are so angry. Because we are as steeped in the culture that marginalizes and yes, even oppresses us, as everyone else is — we can’t simply climb out of culture like getting out of a pool; we can’t wash it off and go on our way unaffected henceforth.
Feminist discourse doesn’t somehow create another world where rape is a constant threat to women and misogyny is part of the fabric of the culture. Feminist discourse allows us to articulate those characteristics of the world we already live in. Oppressed people and oppressing people (who almost always overlap in various ways, hello intersectionality) don’t live in different worlds; they live in the same world, on different sides of a two-way mirror. Oppressed people see the point of view of both themselves and their oppressors; oppressors only see their own point of view in the mirror. (Hence the persistence of the “language police” metaphor: how dare you ask me to see things from your side of the mirror! What are you, a cop?) This double vision is what makes it possible for the same post to generate these comments from women:
Beautifully done. Well thought out, perfectly worded, easily understood.
This is fucking perfect. Thank you.
I don’t usually comment, but I just wanted to say to this post: Yes. Just yes. It’s hard to articulate things like this but you nailed it. Fo’ realz.
Ok, that’s it, I’m making a few thousand copies of this in flier form, and I will give it out to every single man I meet.
Forget about handing this out to only a few people. This needs to be taught in schools.
Wow. This is exactly what I have been wanting to say, or wanting someone to say; I just didn’t have the right words.
…and these comments from men:
Don’t hold our penises against us for being in public and thinking you look nice.
Way to live in a world of fear. Here’s hoping you get raped..
Don’t rape? Thanks. The strict laws and social condemnation weren’t enough to keep me in my place, but this stupid little article has completely changed my mind. Thank god you wrote it. There is no other more constructive way to approach gender politics. I need shitty pick up tips.
And so on. To a feminist, the hostile responses prove the point of the post. To a non-feminist, the hostile responses prove that ladies be shoppin’.
So when I hear that the response of certain dickwolves defenders to women saying “This whole thing is fucked up about rape” is to go to their blogs and post “RAPE RAPE RAPE,” well: same shit, different day. That the same men who harass and abuse rape survivors just because they are rape survivors can scoff at the idea that we live in a rape culture is just more evidence that we do.
And this is why I am on Tumblr now, where comments go straight from the minds of trolls into heaven. Shapelings, I do miss you: I just enjoy the lack of assholes more.
‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…
I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.
But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.
And that guy? Thought you were on his side.— My brilliant friend Kate Harding: http://kateharding.net/2007/04/14/on-being-a-no-name-blogger-using-her-real-name/
Rep. Jan Schakowsky opposed to HR3
Yesterday I wrote to my Congresswoman, Jan Shakowsky (D-IL), to ask her to stand against HR3. I just received an email response:
Thank you for sharing with me your opposition to H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. I agree with you. I strongly believe that abortions should be kept safe and legal and that we must safeguard the right to reproductive freedom for all women. I am a leader of and active participant in the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.
H.R. 3 goes far beyond current law and would seriously compromise women’s access to reproductive health care.
The decision to have an abortion should be made by a woman and her doctor, not by her government. I will vigorously oppose any attempt the Republican-controlled House of Representatives may make to intrude into the most intimate aspects of women’s lives or erode the Supreme Court’s decisions in Roe v. Wade. This issue is a top priority for me.
Thank you, Rep. Schakowsky, for standing up for women’s rights.
If you haven’t yet contacted your representative, please do so.
PSA: The Girl’s Guide to the Girl’s Guide to Having an Abortion
Remember the kickass Jezebel post from earlier this week, The Girl’s Guide to Having an Abortion? My good friend (and friend of Shapely Prose) Epiphenomena put on her almost-doctor hat and gave me the following invaluable information. Please bookmark, forward, retweet this post in the interest of having more medically accurate, nonjudgmental information about abortion in the feminist blogosphere. The information below is an expansion and clarification of what you find in the Jezebel post.
Epiphenomena is an MD/PhD student and a member of Medical Students for Choice.
1. A positive home pregnancy test is very reliable, but a negative test is not. Tests can be negative because it is simply too early in the pregnancy for hormone levels to be detectable in your pee, especially if you’re well hydrated. The only definitive negative is your period.
2. It is especially critical that you be available for a followup appointment when you choose the medication method. Both medication and surgery carry a small risk that the uterine contents won’t be completely removed, however the risk is lower with surgery in part because the doctor will check to verify that the procedure is complete. Retained contents can lead to life-threatening infection, so around 2% of women who initially choose the medication method will have to have the surgery anyway, to remove retained tissue.
3. A medication abortion actually involves two prescriptions, mifespristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone ends the pregnancy and Misoprostol induces expulsion of uterine contents.
4. There is not medical consensus about how much pain relief to provide during a first trimester surgical abortion. Some clinics actually put the patient out; you should know the risk from the anesthetic is much greater than the risk from the procedure itself. Other clinics offer or require that the patient take a valium, which will require you to have someone to drive you home if the clinic is in a city with no public transportation. My own opinion: if you are offered a valium, take it.
5. There seems to be a wide variation in how uncomfortable the patients feel during first trimester surgery, but it tends to be reported worse among women who have not experienced labor. The pain comes from intense uterine cramping, which is your body’s method of stanching bleeding. You cannot feel the suction or the instruments. In any case the pain should last no more than about 2 minutes.
6. A terminology correction: D&C is the first-trimester surgical procedure. It stands for Dilatation (dilation of the cervix) and Curettage (removal of the uterine lining with a curette), but that is a historical misnomer because in fact curettage is no longer performed unless your doctor trained a million years ago and doesn’t keep up. A second-trimester procedure is usually a D&E, which stands for Dilatation and Evacuation. A second-trimester procedure is not a “late term abortion.” Those are for pregnancies past 20 weeks. But in the unlikely event you need one, you’ll have nearly or actually insurmountable obstacles to accessing that procedure anyway.
Thank you to Epiphenomena, Morning Gloria at Jezebel, and to pro-choice doctors everywhere.
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?—
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.
Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you