Comments from the giant thread: who speaks for feminism?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009 · 128 Comments »
Dr. Socks is still working on the new curtains for the lounge.

Dr. Socks is still working on the new curtains for the lounge.

I’m brewing up a post on the question of litmus tests for feminism, and why it’s okay for dishonest misogynistic patriarchal tools to call themselves feminists as long as they’re in favor of choice, while a “pro-life” woman who’s a feminist in every other respect is reviled by these same paragons as a despicable anti-feminist bitch who needs to shut and up die. (You can probably guess what my take is going to be.) But I need to wake up a little more and do some reclusive things first.

In the meantime, as a kind of hors d’oeuvres platter, I invite you to consider these two comments from the giant thread:

#62 Reader says:

I think the explanation for the excoriation of both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin by Third Wave Feminist bloggers is pretty straightforward, myself. They are trying to carve out careers for themselves as public intellectuals. The fastest, most efficient way to do this is with the mentorship and assistance of people who have already reached a certain level of fame and connectedness. Most all of these people are men. To gain approval from men they desperately want to impress, folks like Amanda Marcotte, Jill Filipovic, Jessica Valenti, Ann Friedman, Megan Carpenter, to name but a few, went after Clinton and Palin and anyone who defended them, doing a service for men who would be accused of sexism for invoking that level of dishonesty and vitriol.

Seems to be paying off for them, too, at least in the short run. But someday they are going to reach a little too high and experience the same sort of smack downs from younger women on the way up that they have administered to anyone who supported or even defended Clinton and Palin. I can only hope they have enough self awareness to reflect on what they’ve done, when that happens. And maybe then they will become more principled feminists.

#97 Gayle says:

“To gain approval from men they desperately want to impress, folks like Amanda Marcotte, Jill Filipovic, Jessica Valenti, Ann Friedman, Megan Carpenter, to name but a few, went after Clinton and Palin and anyone who defended them,”

Approval and those all important links. I don’t know who Ann Friedman is and I can’t speak to all of those bloggers so I’m leaving (most) names aside for a moment. What I will say this that the better trafficked progressive feminist blogs used to exist somewhat independently of the big boy political blogs but that disconnect is all but gone now. I think this began, more or less, when Jesse Taylor invited Amanda Marcotte to blog on Pandagon. She linked to Feministe a lot; Feministe linked to Feministing, etc., and, eventually, this whole circle was connected to the progressive political blogs. There was an uneasy alliance made with some pro-feminist men welcoming the Third Wavers while other wanted nothing to do with them. The Third Wavers with integrity did call out sexism in the progressive blogosphere back then. I remember a few big flame wars.

Close to the beginning of the last primary election those women were invited to Yearly Kos (now called Yearly Netroots, but whatever) and a big to-do was made of their attendance there. Marcotte was given a two thousand dollar award from Act Blue at some point around that time. Extra added effort was put into bringing the Third Wavers into the Dem-blog tent and I have no doubt HRC’s run for the Presidency was behind those efforts.

I don’t know if people here know about the “Town House” email list but it’s kinda interesting if you want to know how the political blogs operate or if you’ve ever wondered why you read the same messaging over and over again, in predictable cycles. Town House is/was a by-invitation only group that hands out acceptable talking points to be disseminated by its affiliated blogs. The idea of Town House was to create a method by which progressives could do what right wing radio does with its audience: get those memes started and re-enforced through sheer repetition. Challenge those talking points and you get chased off the blogs.

Now lots of bloggers want readers and links and will link and repeat what’s popular on larger blogs to gain those rewards with or without a Town House type e-list. It’s not too hard to figure out what talking points are acceptable to those blogs without Town House. The problem is the larger progressive blogs are stuffed with political operators and outright misogynists. If you’re trying to be an honest blogger, you’re going to come up against this at some time and have to make a decision.

During the primary feminist bloggers did tend to point out and condemn outright sexist comments about Hillary Clinton. But at the same time, they were repeating all those other ridiculous talking points against her without any critical analysis. How could they trust the very same people who were calling HRC a castrating you-know-what when they were repeating lies about her killing Vince Foster? How could they not see through all the other lies and call them out? Did they really believe SHE was the risky candidate when it came to abortion rights?

My own hypothesis is a number of those bigger feminist bloggers aren’t really interested in raw politics all that much, anyway. They’re certainly not wonks. If you’re not the type to delve deep into political analysis, to study issues and politicians on your own you’re more likely to repeat what you hear without question. Especially if you don’t much care about what’s true or not true because you’d rather be discussing something more interesting to you: like racism or burkas or sexist advertising, etc.

If you read the larger third wave blogs you’ll see their interest in women’s issues is somewhat limited to two or three hot button topics: abortion, abstinence and rape. Now let’s see what political points were used against Palin in the GE. Hmm. Not too surprising, is it? Some feminist bloggers were well used. We’ll see what it wins them in the end.

PS: In fairness, around the time the Town House list was “outed” on-line, A.M. claimed she declined the invitation to join. I don’t know if there’s anyway to know who belongs or doesn’t or if it even exists anymore. I used it only as an example of how a group-think mentality has been purposely created in the blogosphere.

Now, just to be clear, since some folks reading this may not be friendly to feminism:

Feminism is both a philosophy and a political movement. As a philosophy, it’s noble and true and just plain right. As a political movement, it’s subject to the same weaknesses that plague any other political movement. There are hypocrites, fellow travelers, and a whole bunch of people who are there “in name only.” That’s true of feminism and Christianity and the civil rights movement and the Democratic Party — everything, in fact, that humans undertake.

No one should expect feminists to be perfect, and no one should expect the feminist movement to be any more pristine than any other political movement. But when the realpolitik starts impinging on the message itself, then as feminists we have a right — and a duty — to start asking questions.

Filed under: Various and Sundry · Tags:

128 Responses to “Comments from the giant thread: who speaks for feminism?”

  1. pm317 says:

    The second comment about the “Town House” email list reminds me of an article I referred to in a post I wrote for NQ in Dec (What is Google up to?.) In the article the author talks about how easy it was to redefine an anti-war slogan by a handful of A-list bloggers in 42 days and not for the better. Looks like the “Town House” email list bloggers were attempting a similar feat with of course Google’s help.

  2. Is Sarah Palin a feminist? « The Confluence says:

    [...] Violet Socks seems to be on the same wavelength as me. If I was her I’d be worried. [...]

  3. myiq2xu says:

    Seems like we think alike. You should be worried.

    http://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/is-sarah-palin-a-feminist/

  4. myiq2xu says:

    Philosphies can seek the “ideal” but political movements have to deal with reality – which means compromise and imperfection.

  5. Alison says:

    The Town Hall email list? That’s fucked up. I had no idea how big this web is….

  6. gxm17 says:

    Quite illuminating. Even the non-political board I got kicked off of had those “Vince Foster” posters. Well, those “Town Hall” (snark) e-lists are certainly a systematic approach to keeping creative thought and “dangerous” ideas in check. Orwell would be proud.

    I’m not one for excluding men from the feminist circle but I do think that there is good reason for feminists to maintain their independence from the boys club, especially when the price of admittance is silence and censorship of feminist, as well as feminine, perspectives. (Independence not exclusion.) My experience with Interactive (internet) groups in the graphic design world is that they are by and large a Gen X boys club echo chamber; and I’ve begun to wonder if this is what’s happened in the political blogosphere. The worst thing that feminists can do, or for that matter anyone who cares about freedom of speech, is allow their opinions to be handed to them.

  7. octogalore says:

    It is an interesting point that the definition and the movement as articulated by prominent A-list bloggers are two different things.

    A couple of years ago, I mentioned to a senior partner that I was interested in feminism and involved in feminist circles. This is a conservative, mid-50s dude. He said “feminism! what do you want to be involved in that for!!!” as if it was some kind of wacked out highly alternative thing, as opposed to the fairly basic notion that women are people.

    This is a guy who, despite a fondness for Glen Beck, is pro-choice (although not as passionate about it as, for example, I am), married to a very feminist-minded WOC who’s a former competitive bodybuilder (and he has posters of her in full flex adorning his office), and while he has some problems in terms of emailing around the occasional sexist joke, is no worse and in fact somewhat better in that regard than the Kos kids who call themselves feminists.

    At the time I was disgusted and after telling him I didn’t understand his reaction, I dropped it and wrote him off as totally misguided, which he basically was.

    Recently, though, as a Palin fan, he started using the F word to describe various views of his, and to describe his daughter. I called him out on his earlier reaction to feminism. He said he’d never thought of himself as one or supported his daughter in being one because he thought you had to be liberal in every sense (he is libertarian). He thought feminism was a subset of liberalism, and that feminists had to report directly to Sean Penn and Keith Olberman, neither of whom he can stand.

    But the interesting thing is, while one would think the only difference here is nomenclature, somehow “getting” that feminism isn’t something alien to him, that you can be liberal and feminist but also moderate or conservative and feminist, has freed him up to be a bit (I’m not claiming there has been a dramatic change) more radical in his views, not just defending Palin, but noticing more when female candidates we are representing, or women in the news, are treated differently based on gender, and trying to help where he can.

    So to your point: I agree “when the realpolitik starts impinging on the message itself, then as feminists we have a right — and a duty — to start asking questions.”

    People who attempt to speak for feminism, and to set up a list of required “feminist party” positions as dictated by the Blogger Boyz, may be doing two things:

    1) Stating that key feminist goals like choice are not just key goals but are dealbreakers – if one doesn’t subscribe to them but does subscribe to many others, one is persona non grata in all respects;

    Or maybe even worse:

    2) Stating that not-specifically-feminist goals like Kos-designated positions on the economy, foreign policy, immigration, affirmative action, taxes, etc. are required for one to be a feminist.

    We all have variations of (1) and (2) that we think are the only possible combinations for righteous-thinking people to uphold, but I’d submit that there are many acceptable variations that people can uphold and still be feminists, to the extent that they are willing to work on equal rights for women. I’d also submit that if prominent speakers for feminism declaim that there is only one definition, we will not have the participation of these people in areas of common concern.

    Sometimes I think some of the folks mentioned in your examples don’t really care, as they are in it for their own prominence and therefore the more exclusive the club, the better. But I would hope this isn’t a widely held view.

  8. Sis says:

    myiq2xu this is for you. It’s in response to a post of yours on Confluence, but I cannot post this there. We don’t need to derail the thread, but this is somewhat related, if we are concerned about “who speaks for feminism?”.

    http://tinyurl.com/cvvx4e

  9. donna darko says:

    The Tomato Nation classic, Yes, You Are, is a litmus test for feminism http://tomatonation.com/?p=677

    “If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.”

    Third Wavers cannot be feminists after condoning and participating in the worst sexism this country has ever seen.

  10. donna darko says:

    As per that definition, Clinton, Palin and Fourth Wavers are feminists.

  11. Sis says:

    That’s a lot of good work over there Donna.

  12. donna darko says:

    Chez The Confluence? Thank you, Sis! I always love your comments here. It’s funny how bloggers and commenters don’t comment on other blogs that are so similar to one another i.e. Egalia/Twisty/Violet but that’s none of my business.

  13. mary martha says:

    I think that trying to make a division between the philosophy of feminism (which I basically support) and the political movement that is now known as feminism (which I do not support) is challenging. It’s almost like there needs to be separate terms. Maybe ‘philisophical feminism’ and ‘progressive feminism’ to distinguish between them.

    I am very sad that I can’t be a feminist. To be honest, I am living a feminist life. Single, professional women with a couple of graduate degrees working in a male dominated industry. I’m a poster child for feminism if it’s a question of women being able to compete equally with men and thrive.

    However, I am deeply opposed to abortion … that means that I am not welcome in the feminist club. Add to that the fact that I am a Christian… it’s hard to have a conversation with feminists without them making every effort to insult me. No, I am not a ‘tool of the patriarchy’ don’t you realize how insulting it is to call someone a tool? All it does is show me that you think that as a woman I am incapable of using my brain.

    I don’t expect feminists to be perfect… but not insulting would be a nice start. It would also be a nice start if we could work together on issues we agree on without them always being somehow linked to abortion (by either side of that debate).

    A rough guess is that half of the women in this country are pro-life (I don’t want to debate statistics – it’s just a guess). I don’t get why the feminists in power don’t want to have those women as part of the feminist movement. One imagines that if women stopped fighting over turf battles on issues of abortion, and started fighting together for equality it would be a very different world.

  14. foxx says:

    Many, many times recently on sympathetic blogs I have read “let’s focus on equality, not pay so much attention to abortion.”

    Abortion is about equality. It is the core of equality, there is no equality without it. Men own their bodies, they are not legally compelled to have them used as life support systems by another being. That is, they are not slaves. When women have the same right, in practice as well as theory, everywhere, we will be free.

    All the other inequalities–economic, political, social–are the means of subjugating women so men can control reproduction. That’s what it is all about.

    I will work on a feminist issue with any woman who believes in it. But when I was pregnant I knew immediately and absolutely that I had the right to abortion. If I did not want to risk my life and health I did not have to. That gut understanding is what I look for in other women. It is the fire at the heart of feminism.

  15. Northwest rain says:

    Wasn’t the issue of who is or is NOT a feminist settled by that *&*&^%^$ Ms. Magazine with “you-know-who” on the cover? Well if he is — then I am not — was my response to that stunt pulled by backstabbing fools.

    It seems like a line has been crossed — an invasion of everyone’s privacy. Both parties are involved in trying to own women’s bodies (or so it seems).

    In a way I see parallels with the strict Evangelical Christians — on one hand they want to keep women subservient to males (husbands, ministers, male gods etc.) and on the other hand the men of the Evangelical churches are the first to embrace new technology — the newest cars, toys and gadgets. But at the same time they want to utterly destroy women’s human rights. ALL of the major religions are involved in controlling women to some extent (except perhaps Buddhism). And it is often other women who are used as enforcers. (Try going to a Fundamentalist college — and you will understand how it is the WOMEN in charge who are enforcing the male dominated rules.)

    This Progressive/Liberalism is a belief system — and there are high priests who are enforcing their vision of a “perfect” world. (No such place exists — as we realists know.) To own the label — the brand — you must follow the high priests who decide what the membership rules are.

    I don’t follow rules very well — especially the rules made by the new age/new era high priests (of the high tech virtual world of the internet).

    Besides which the threshold for who can play in the new virtual temple of the new holy ones — keeps changing.

    What we are also seeing is a new version of the double standards. There is no (zero — none) evidence that Obama done anything for women. He has stabbed women in the back to get where he is today. We are given a version of his mother — that paints her in a very wicked way — and this is his story. She’s dead — so we don’t know her side. He is such a liar — that it is impossible to believe anything he says.

    Right now I feel like an observer of a strange primitive ritual — one that happened before and one that will be played out again. Women are being used to attack other women — and they seem to be ignorant of the fact that they are being used.

    I believe the word/label “feminist” has been so misused that the word is basically meaningless.

  16. SYD says:

    Sis,

    Thanks for that link. I have blogrolled it at Stray Dawg blog.

    Dr. Socks, thank you for keeping this discussion alive, sane and logical.

    We have a long way to go, sisters. The incline is steep. The “arc toward justice is long” …. but “failure is impossible.”

  17. SarahG says:

    MaryMartha, I think you need to take it down a notch, and I say that with love, as one Conservative Christian (Catholic?) to another. No one here has offered you any disrespect at all, so maybe you could return the favor.

  18. LV says:

    I’ve always thought it’s very interesting that ‘feminism’ is a more visible term than ‘sexism’. It’s as if by labelling people who oppose sexism ‘feminists’, society neatly ‘others’ them – meaning that feminism is at best optional and at worst crazy. Such terminolgy doesn’t really exist in regard to racism, for example. A person with discriminatory views of or conduct towards to people of other races is a racist, but a person who opposes racial discrimination isn’t labelled as a ‘minorityist’ or an ‘anti-racist’. Society, liberal society anyway, just assumes that people from racial minorities (and anyone else, for that matter) are anti-racist.

    A few months ago, the UK Guardian did a feature aking various high-profile women where they stood on women’s issues. Among the questions was ‘would you consider yourself a feminist?’ An astonishing proportion of them said no, and several said that they weren’t because being a feminist meant being anti-men. It’s hard to imagine a group of high-profile people from racial minorities saying they weren’t anti-racists, because that meant being anti-white.

    That isn’t to say I think there’s anything wrong with the term, or the concept, by the way – I absolutely call myself a feminist, a pretty militant one as it happens. But I do think these linguistic labels are highly revealing of how society regards us.

  19. gxm17 says:

    mary martha said:
    A rough guess is that half of the women in this country are pro-life (I don’t want to debate statistics – it’s just a guess). I don’t get why the feminists in power don’t want to have those women as part of the feminist movement. One imagines that if women stopped fighting over turf battles on issues of abortion, and started fighting together for equality it would be a very different world.

    I doubt there’s a clearly defined 50/50 split. I think it’s much grayer than that. There are probably quite a few women who are personally pro-life yet politically pro-choice. There are even women who are personally pro-choice and politically pro-life (though they’d never admit it). Then there are those women who when faced with an unwanted pregnancy or dire amnio results find out where they really stand on the issue. I believe the one thing we women share, a true common ground, is that we understand intellectually and emotionally how deeply personal the issue of choice runs. We “get” it more than most men ever can. And, yes, we need to stick together and stop allowing ourselves to be divided and conquered.

  20. SarahG says:

    LV, that’s a great point. Just the fact of having a label makes it more difficult to achieve any kind of real community, because everybody is always trying to define what the label means, and by extension who can be in the club.

    I think this also explains the (to me) interesting phenomenon described by Octogalore @7. I know so many men, red-state conservatives to their toes, who are also feminists. They would NEVER describe themselves that way, but that’s what they are, at least by my understanding of the term.

  21. SarahG says:

    Okay, let me ammend my previous comment. The men I know are feminists in the most basic definition of the term: supporting equality for women, in theory and in practice.

    And yes, I also know some conservative troglodytes. But not as many as you probably think. And the nice thing about conservative cretins, is that they’re extremely easy to spot.

  22. yttik says:

    It’s a shame that we have so many rigid labels and political boxes. Everything gets reduced to judging people based on are you a Republican or a Democrat? Liberal or Conservative? Prochoice or prolife? As if all of those labels were clear cut, one size fits all boxes that we can place people in.

    I think a lot of stereotypes and illusions where shattered during the last election. It wasn’t conservative troglodytes that were being all misogynistic, it was the liberal ones. It wasn’t just men lining up to to run the girls off the playground, it was the traditional feminist establishment, place like NOW and MS.

    Democrats, politicians, hijacked feminism. It worked for a while because Dems were tossing women a few crumbs here and there, but several times in recent history we have seen feminists take a back seat to the Democratic party’s agenda. We’ve seen feminists compromise their values and integrity in support of the Dem party. The two have become so entwined that often there is no feminist agenda at all, there are simply women working their butts off to promote the Dem party.

  23. octogalore says:

    I just noticed something I think is a key example of “speaking for feminism” in a way that twists its meaning and skews those who’d claim the label.

    While eviction prevention, violence prevention, food issues, etc. are interesting and worthwhile, the only feminist urban policy mentioned is reproductive health assistance, which gets one sentence in a long post.

    It seems like the alliance with the BloggerBoyz that Gayle alludes to in the quoted section in the OP is resulting in A-list “feminism” being “solving the world’s problems from a liberal, utopian perspective, with the occasional female footnote.”

    So that feminists who are all for poverty-reduction but whose focus in coming to a feminist site is — newsflash — feminism, aren’t represented well in such prominent A-list sites. And of course, those people — young women, conservative women or men — who aren’t sure what “feminism” is and encounter such “speakers for feminism,” may not want to sign up to the whole kit and caboodle.

  24. octogalore says:

    Sorry — meant to link to the whole post, not to the one comment.

  25. choosefree says:

    I am pro-choice, if you want to use labels, in that I believe that all women should have the right to choose…BUT, I also believe that once that baby (yes, I say baby) could become a viable human being AND live outside the womb, then abortion is a horrific way to die. At a certain point within the womb, that child can feel the horrific pain that comes with an abortion. That in itself is a tortuous way to die. Exactly how less dangerous to the mother’s health is an abortion, at that point, than a c-section? I venture to say that most in the health industry will tell you that a c-section is the best way to proceed for the mother, and it certainly is the best way to preserve both lives.

    From what I’ve seen, many who believe in abortion, at that point, seem to be more outraged & horrified over the death of an animal, for any reason, than that of an innocent human being. Just doesn’t make sense to me.

    I do consider myself a feminist, and will, until the day I die, always stand up for women’s rights including the right to choose, but I, also, think there should be limits to abortion.

    As a woman, I don’t consider myself Republican, Democrat, conservative or liberal. Those labels are too confining for me, as I have innate beliefs that cross all those lines. What I am is a female human being that should be afforded all the rights of life and liberty, as any other human being on this planet.

  26. Violet says:

    While eviction prevention, violence prevention, food issues, etc. are interesting and worthwhile, the only feminist urban policy mentioned is reproductive health assistance, which gets one sentence in a long post.

    That post you linked to is actually kind of hilarious. Unintentionally, of course. Not quite as funny as the post about how the police shooting of a black man is a feminist issue, but similar.

    Are they really that stupid over there, or are they deliberately trying to re-define feminism as synonymous with liberalism? Because if the latter, then that’s essentially sabotage.

  27. Nina M. says:

    @ Octagalore:

    “1) Stating that key feminist goals like choice are not just key goals but are dealbreakers – if one doesn’t subscribe to them but does subscribe to many others, one is persona non grata in all respects;

    Or maybe even worse:

    2) Stating that not-specifically-feminist goals like Kos-designated positions on the economy, foreign policy, immigration, affirmative action, taxes, etc. are required for one to be a feminist.”

    It is most definitely the latter. What we are seeing is the result of the giant push a lot of people made in the eighties and nineties to create a unified progressive movement, to work in coalition. From my little place in the universe, I can tell you that the big foundations / funders who back the women’s organizations were all hot on this for years – they shelled out millions of dollars to underwrite structures that would make the choice community work with the environmental community, the environmental community work with the labor community, the people of color community work with every community, faith groups work with every community…. really, millions of dollars and unquantifiable hours of staff time devoted to nothing more than setting up joint mailing lists, voter lists, coordinating committees….

    What they didn’t understand while they were essentially wasting all this money and everyone’s time is that the issue agendas and belief systems in the different communities overlap, but are not exact matches. To function, you have to agree to not talk about the issues you don’t agree on, and talk only about the issues you do agree on. This keeps everyone locked within certain parameters, and criticism or disagreement is not allowed. (Why? Because if you don’t “play nice” you get your funding yanked).

    Thus we wound up where the groups were locked into these relationships where, yes, to be a feminist meant you also had to have a certain position on environmental issues, on poverty issues, etc.

    It took a lot of hard work by a bunch people to whom we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to make it so that the allied progressive groups adopted pro-choice positions. But for that, feminist groups would truly be entirely on their own. That must be respected. Were it not for them, we’d be even further up shit creek than we already are.

    But overall, what we experienced in the last election was the implosion of the notion that we’re all on the same ideological page. Because when push came to shove, we found out that the other groups – the enviros, anti-poverty, progressive economic, anti-war, etc groups – don’t really care about feminist (or LGBT) issues. And we found out we have more in common with a lot of the people who’ve been categorically excluded from the progressive coalition, than those we’d been working side by side with for decades.

    And you know what the sad thing is, besides the wasted resources and the painful ripping-away-of-illusions? I think the original problem — fetishizing coalition building – came from well intentioned rich people not understanding how the staff at advocacy groups do their jobs. It was a bunch of rich people who were donors to, say, one enviro group, one choice group, and one anti-poverty group all sitting around saying – hey, it looks to me like you groups are all doing the same thing. Why are we giving money to each of you, when you could just work together without duplicating each others efforts? This way, you save money through an economy of scale, and you have more money to spend on advocacy! And the cash-strapped groups, as is typical, said, yes yes yes, whatever you say, you are brilliant just give me your money. And the donors put out a big chunk of money that got sucked up into creating a new layer of bureaucracy needed to administer these funds (with some of these bureaucracies then taking off and themselves becoming separate organizations!), and everyone got forced into little boxes that didn’t make sense.

    And on the ground there’s people like yourself who are saying, wait a minute, why am I being told I need to be an environmentalist ala the League of Conservation Voters in order to be a feminist?

    Even sadder – some donors are still pushing this, to this very day. A lot of time and money still being spent trying to develop points of agreement between different agendas, so we can be forever yoked at the neck to causes that may or not may not represent the opinions of rank and file members / supporters.

    The day people who need money start talking turkey to people who are giving money will be a glorious day indeed.

    —-

    On a general note: I can’t emphasize enough how ridiculous it is to blame “choice” or choice advocates for the preeminent role this issue has played among feminist issues. The problem is not that choice activists were too successful in pushing their concerns forward. The problem is that the other groups sucked massively at getting their issues on the agenda. If you feel that choice has gotten a disproportionate share of attention over the years, then your beef is not with choice groups but with the groups who should have been – but were not – getting more play for issues related to women and employment, women and economic policy, women in the military, and so on.

    What we want is for all feminist issues to be at the forefront of the nation’s political agenda. What we don’t want is to rip down the one sector of the feminist movement that has been engaged in non-stop hand-to-hand combat at every level of government for the past 30-some years.

  28. Lorenzo says:

    If feminism has a broad agenda, then maximising support for each particular item seems a sensible approach. In which case, making a single issue, however important, “make or break” seems just plain dumb.

    Secondly, saying equal rights for women = no rights for children until they are born is just going to be hard sell to lots of folk because there is going to be a series of points where people are going to drop off accepting that equation.

    Thirdly, if feminism is about advancing women then how can it just dismiss women who have problems with abortion at various points?

    Me, I believe people own their own bodies (so legalise narcotics!). I am, however, not convinced that birth is the point when a person becomes a person. I am happy to agree that a person becomes a person some time well after conception, I am simply not sure when and completely understand people having differing views about when personhood “kicks in”.

  29. yttik says:

    “I can’t emphasize enough how ridiculous it is to blame “choice” or choice advocates for the preeminent role this issue has played among feminist issues”

    I’m not saying that at all. But where are the choice advocates while 19 pro life Dems are writing Pelosi demanding that this health care policy they are working on not cover abortion? I know where they are. They’re busy trying to ridicule the soon to be former Governor of Alaska for her personal choices.

    See, it often stops being about choice at all, or any other feminist issue, and starts being about doing the work of the Democratic party.

  30. octogalore says:

    Violet: it’s like the joke that keeps on giving, huh?

    The idea of “a feminist perspective that saw feminism as being about more than just women and incorporated queer, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist perspectives” strikes me as a Trojan horse.

    The Feministing interviewee sums it up:

    “My hope for the future is that more people identify feminism with these kinds of projects, and that I no longer hear people calling neoliberal, centrist politics that don’t challenge white supremacy or capitalism at all feminist just because they address gender, or women. … My feminism is not something separate from other progressive or radical or left politics.”

    Another Feministing interviewee states, when asked if HRC is a feminist:

    “Geez, no. I feel like she’s a convenient distraction, that people are thrilled that there’s a woman candidate, as if that was the answer (laughs). I don’t think she’s a feminist. She’s just so mainstream!”

    Why this is all a Trojan Horse: it masquerades as empowering feminism by draping it with other worthy causes, but instead weighs feminism down with the requirement that it be all things to all people, otherwise it’s unworthy. This is basically what (patriarchal) men have been doing to women for ages. And of course, some of us start buying into it. Unfortunately, if feminism has to take on what other human rights movements do, but also do it backwards and in heels, guess what? It’s going to come in last. Is that the hidden agenda, or are these “my feminism is…” types simply dupes?

  31. Sis says:

    It’s very hard to keep feminism about women, but we have to do it. I’m grateful to see your posts Octagalore. It’s something I’ve thought for some time, but couldn’t articulate it as thoroughly as you’ve done. Thanks.

    I am interested in all those other ‘isms’ but they’re not at all interested in women’s rights, and I won’t stand silent and let them co-opt any feminist endeavour I am part of. I saw that in the late ’60s and ’70s, when it was even harder to say feminism was distinct.

    So far, it’s only radical feminists who seem to recognize this. Unfortunately, many of them have lost interest in burning up their energy to dragging the ‘ism’ populace to women’s rights.

  32. david in iowa says:

    I am a feminist and political activist. I am very busy with work, family etc and during campaign years even more so. Cheers to the intellectual feminists. Write books go on talk shows, blog until the cows come home and enjoy life in the safe zone. Try knocking on dooors, organizing rallys, phone banks, in the dead of winter. I did that for Hillary.

    I wrote letters to the editor and boycotted msnbc for its blatant sexism and constant Hillary bashing.

    As for Ms Palin, the election altho focused on her, she was not running for President. John McCain would be President. There would be NO discussion of DOMA, or DADT, the Gag Rule would be in still be in place, the Supreme court would be lost to right-wing crazyness for generations.

    Both Clinton and Palin got slammed by male dominated sexist attacks. And yes women found themselves pulled into conversations agreeing to a point just to be able to speak.

    As a feminist and NOW member I did speak up for both Palin and Clinton. I never considered voting for Ms Palin but proudly wrote in Hillary Clinton on my ballot last November

  33. Who speaks for feminism? « Blue Lyon says:

    [...] latest: Comments from the giant thread: who speaks for feminism? I’m brewing up a post on the question of litmus tests for feminism, and why it’s okay for [...]

  34. Violet says:

    Another Feministing interviewee states, when asked if HRC is a feminist:

    “Geez, no. I feel like she’s a convenient distraction, that people are thrilled that there’s a woman candidate, as if that was the answer (laughs). I don’t think she’s a feminist. She’s just so mainstream!”

    What makes that even more hilarious is that the interviewee is pictured wearing stripper shoes.

    Not that you can’t be a feminist and wear stripper shoes, mind you; it’s just that it kills me the way these young twits are utterly convinced that those other women are tools of the patriarchy, whereas they of course are doing real feminism.

    Yeah, what did HRC ever do for feminism? She’s just so mainstream! Not like Stripper Shoes.

  35. octogalore says:

    Thanks, Sis. That is great to hear.

    Interesting insight re radical feminists losing interest in “dragging the ‘ism’ populace to women’s rights.” Who could blame them, though? The “ism” populace has as spiritual leader a charismatic male politician full of “hope” and (increasingly squishy) promises, with rewards for those who spread the word (as Gayle has noted). On the other side, we have: women. Burning up time to convince the ambitious A-list thought leaders to choose the latter, or even to give the latter equal airtime, seems a futile exercise.

    I find it interesting that various Hillary supporters who were fairly active in the feminist blogosphere last year at this time have now been sidelined to a degree. Even I, with my various unpopular views and demographic unattractiveness, was chosen to guest-blog at a large feminist site. Now, not only outcasts like me who didn’t vote for Obama but Hillary supporters who eventually did (many of whom, interestingly, are 40+), seem to be less prominently featured or included in the dialogue, either by choice or result. It is interesting that such a bountiful, broadly-defined “feminism” couldn’t make room.

  36. SarahG says:

    “The problem is not that choice activists were too successful in pushing their concerns forward. The problem is that the other groups sucked massively at getting their issues on the agenda.”

    It’s a problem for me, personally, that feminists with opposing viewpoints on this topic are not even allowed at the table. It isn’t a clear-cut issue, and choice advocates IMHO do women a disservice by dismissing (as stupid? evil? batshit crazy?) what is, after all, a pretty common view among women of all colors and classes: that we may own our own bodies, but we don’t own our children, and that includes the ones we don’t want.

  37. WMCB says:

    Lorenzo @ #28, you have a very valid point. Women are all over the board on the choice issue. It is not as simple as pro-choice vs. pro-life. I know several women who self identify as pro-life, believe that abortion is morally wrong, period, and want to work to see an end to it.

    But they don’t want to criminalize it. They want to end what they see as the taking of human life, but in ways that don’t punish women. They want better access to birth control, better societal support for women who choose to carry to term, etc. They accept the fact that they might not end all abortions in this way, but want to work toward it as their ultimate goal.

    One could then argue that “well, if they don’t want criminalization, then they are really pro-choice”, but these women would bristle at that, and flatly reject that label. To them, accepting the label pro-choice lumps them with those who feel abortion is a morally neutral choice, no different than choosing to carry, and they adamantly refuse to be so labeled. To them, acceptance of the futility of criminalizing abortion is not the same thing as saying “safe, legal, rare”, because they are coming at that result from an entirely different mindset, that they’d like respected for what it is. Are those type of women my enemy, despite their “every fetus is precious” rhetoric? I don’t think so. They are not in line with my approach, but to say they are the enemy in the same way that a “make draconian laws and punish the sluts” wackos are is not fair.

    Women in the middle, who have no qualms about early abortions, but get increasingly uncomfortable with it as that fetus gets closer (in whatever fuzzy way you measure it) to “personhood” may label themselves pro-choice, or pro-life. But one thing I’ve noticed is that they forcibly reject attempts by either camp to label them as “on our side”. There are thousands of those type out there, they get dismissed and reviled by both sides of the conflict.

    Women believe what they believe on this issue, and want to be heard for themselves, for the way they themselves self-identify, not their label. It’s not simple.

  38. madjuana says:

    If abortion is the central issue of feminism, what about women who don’t sleep with men or don’t care about having children? Are we second class feminists or second class women? Is feminism a predisposition from birth or an awareness that must be learned? Did third wavers carve out any political territory of their own or did they spend their time engaging in male-centered issues? Since when did feminism become defined by a single party and why should conservative women feel excluded from any intelligent discussion? What do Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have in common and how do they relate to us? If women have a hard time grasping Feminism 101, then how much time and energy do you want to take breaking it down into a language that a man can understand? Do you think a man can understand the oppression of women without first relinquishing power, and is such a thing possible?

  39. Toonces says:

    Maybe we need a new term for women who are personally pro-life but politically pro-choice (meaning they wouldn’t criminalize it). Most people recognize that even if you make abortion illegal, women will still have them and then die, and most people don’t want that. If it’s very important for some women that others know that they would not personally have an abortion, that’s okay with me. Any ideas?

  40. mary martha says:

    WMCB @ #37what a wonderful post.

    I really think that the straight division between ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ is very destructive to feminism. I agree that the positions people have on the issue are really more along a continuum and many people (including me) are uncomfortable with the labels that others slap on them.

    Those labels are destructive, because the ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ label is slapped on right over the ‘feminist’ label and completely obscures all the ways in which we could work together.

  41. Andrea says:

    If there’s a word for women who are personally pro-life but politically pro-choice, I’d like a subset of the word for those of us who have a serious problem with abortion in general (not just personally) but who understand that criminalizing does nothing but send it to the blackmarket, and that we as a culture need to do much more than just talk about condoms and/or abstinence (what about, for example, university housing options that support young mothers and other innovative “keep the baby” options?) to work toward a world without abortion.

    Maybe it’s the shorthand labels that fit into a soundbyte that are the problem. Maybe people need to feel like they can discuss the complexity of the issue without taking up sides.

  42. gxm17 says:

    octagalore said:
    Why this is all a Trojan Horse: it masquerades as empowering feminism by draping it with other worthy causes, but instead weighs feminism down with the requirement that it be all things to all people, otherwise it’s unworthy. This is basically what (patriarchal) men have been doing to women for ages.

    Exactly.

    With all due respect to those of faith, it reminds me a lot of organized religion and the whole “helper” mode so many religious traditions and communities relegate women to. We are supposed to put our needs second and get to work helping/serving/accommodating everyone else.

  43. WMCB says:

    Toonces, it’s not only that they personally wouldn’t have one. It’s that some feel it is immoral no matter who does it, but STILL don’t want it criminalized or women punished for what they see as an awful and sad choice. That may seem like a splitting hairs distinction to us, but to some women, making that statement about how they self-identify is very important. Then there is the other sub-group who, as you said, feel it would be immoral for them personally, but not in general, but still prefer to be called pro-life.

    But yeah, in talking with women with all sorts of varied views on this (I am a retired nurse, and have discussed this with women all over the political map), being able to self-identify and not have labels assigned to them and assumptions made about them is important. Other than the activists on both sides, many women seem to be deeply wary of and resistant to being included in any sort of group-think on the issue, whether for or against.

  44. choosefree says:

    Maybe, that’s what’s wrong to begin with. We keep trying to put labels & terms on women to define what their reproductive choices are.

    That, in itself, should not define who we are, but for so many, it seems to. IMO that is the underlying problem.

    I think, as women and feminists, we should just be standing up for all women, so that they are free to make the life choices that are best for them without interference or pressure from anyone.

    Did I fail to mention that I hate labels?

  45. Toonces says:

    Okay, labels have a downside, but I still like to be able to have shorthand for the complex issues, simply for timesaving’s sake. I always thought that if you weren’t for making abortion illegal, you were pro-choice, but many people want to wear a label that says life in it. It’s fine with me if women decide they don’t want to be called pro-life or pro-choice, I really only care about what they support, but it seems like women actually are often attached to the labels.

  46. gxm17 says:

    Andrea, How about pro-life choice? Which to me means that you are pro-life yet also respect that we each must make our own life choices. I always wanted to create a t-shirt with the words: Choice, what a beautiful life.

  47. WMCB says:

    You are right, Toonces, that it makes discussing it difficult. We often react to the label, because it takes too long to find out what that label actually means to that particular individual. So how can we function without the shorthand, but then what assumptions do we make if we use the shorthand?

    *sigh* I’m sure I don’t have the solution to the label problem. I’m just musing on what I’ve seen and heard from various women. It’s complicated.

  48. Andrea says:

    Yeah, it all gets so muddled with labels. I’ve started to call myself pro-life recently, but only because I got tired of not being able to have my own ideas about it, and I’ve seen the pro-life realm opening up to discussion much more lately, while the pro-choice realm (at least the people I’ve talked to and the websites I’ve looked at, before this one) seems to have their heels dug in pretty deep. But I’m not for criminalizing abortion or punishing women at all, so I’m probably technically pro-choice. I’d also like pro-choice to extend to birthing options, not just abortion, but that’s another can of worms.

  49. Andrea says:

    gxm17 — I like “pro-life choice” a lot, even though it’s a label. That can extend beyond abortion, even.

  50. Toonces says:

    I just reread my last comment and I’m a little worried it comes off as caustic. There’s a downside to multitasking, too!

    What I meant was that I agree there’s a downside to labels but I think having even just one or two more options beyond pro-life and pro-choice might better reflect the complexity of opinion on the issue.

  51. lahana says:

    I have often thought of starting a group labeled something along the lines of “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” to ask people who are against abortion what they would be willing to do to help a girl/woman who is considering an abortion. Not writing letters to the editor, not protesting at Planned Parenthood — but what would they be willing to do to HELP the woman. Would they provide free or low cost babysitting? Would they invite her to live with them for a number of years while she went to college or got started in a career? It is easy to write letters or protest — but to really do some good you have to put in time, money and effort. The first five years of a child’s life in this country are very expensive and time consuming. While it never gets easy, once the child is in school time is opened up to be able to work without spending as much in child care as you earn. If we could do something about this, maybe we could reduce the number of abortions that occur because the woman just can’t afford to have a child.

  52. Toonces says:

    Universal daycare like they have in France is something that might help, lahana, but I am under the impression most pro-life people are opposed to that because they are often also fiscal conservatives. But then again, as we’re discussing here about labels, who knows?

  53. WMCB says:

    lahana, I agree. I don’t want women forced into keeping a pregnancy they don’t want, but the flip side of choice, for me, is that I don’t want women to feel that they have no choice but to terminate.

    Good prenatal care (not a crappy clinic with 5 hour waits) Better daycare options. Paid maternity leave. Better and simpler child-support laws, that are automatic and not a legal and bureaucratic nightmare for the woman. Career options that have flexible schedules.

    I personally terminated a pregnancy that I wish I could have kept. I was happily married at the time, but was caring round the clock for my terminally ill mother-in-law, as well as a handicapped daughter. Maybe if I’d had a better support system, in-home elder care covered by Medicare, etc, I would have not been cornered into a choice I’d rather not have made. I’d still make the same very painful (for me) decision again, in the same circumstances, as there just wasn’t any way. I was running on 3 hours of sleep and weight loss and anemia and fumes as it was. But a society more supportive of the familial burdens women bear could have opened up for me the choice I WANTED to make and couldn’t – to keep that pregnancy.

    Opening up reproductive choices for women has two sides to it. Both need attention.

  54. octogalore says:

    “what did HRC ever do for feminism? She’s just so mainstream! Not like Stripper Shoes”

    Touché.

    Even if HRC were “mainstream,” and I think there’s a much larger argument that Mr. Magazine Cover in Swim Trunks fits that label much better, what is the point of glorifying “non-mainstream?” Wouldn’t we want feminism to be “mainstream,” in the ideal world? Isn’t the point that we want this to be at the core of the culture, instead of fighting to get in?

    I also missed, on first reading, the signficance of “feminism as being about more than just women.”

    JUST women!!??

  55. gxm17 says:

    Andrea, I’m glad you like it. I do too. It’s meant to extend beyond abortion. The only reason I’ve never done the t-shirt is because I’m concerned it would be misunderstood. Don’t want to start any brawls in the check-out line. It’s been my experience, that men, especially, can be quick to make assumptions and can get very abusive with the abortion debate

  56. Violet says:

    All this talk about labels and people choosing what to call themselves, ay yi yi. You know, the whole abortion thing is a cooked up propaganda war. Women have been having abortions for millenia. But before the 70s, people weren’t passing around pictures of fetuses and sobbing over imaginary dead babies (imaginary because blastocysts aren’t babies, for chrissake). All those men with beer guts camping outside abortion clincs: do you think that 40 years ago they would even given a second’s thought to abortion? Or to all the women scarred or killed by backstreet abortions?

    The entire “pro-life” movement is just a wedge issue that’s ballooned into an enormous national propaganda train. Hyper-emotional, hyper-irrational, all sentiment and not much reason.

  57. WMCB says:

    octogalore, that statement floored me as well. I have no patience with the way some have tried to appropriate and subvert feminism to their other causes. Despite the fact that I agree with many of those causes, they are not the same as feminism, and I do not wish to have feminism lumped in with and subsumed and ultimately made powerless by them.

  58. alwaysfiredup says:

    “The entire “pro-life” movement is just a wedge issue that’s ballooned into an enormous national propaganda train. Hyper-emotional, hyper-irrational, all sentiment and not much reason.”

    Violet, that’s a very broad statement, and
    I would also venture to call it somewhat unreasonable and irrational. WMCB posted a fairly reasonable statement above defending what could be labeled a pro-life stance, if one is into labels. Can you at least acknowledge that some pro-lifers may have unsentimental reasons for thinking it desirable to limit (not eliminate) the right to choose?

  59. Toonces says:

    Violet, I truly believe that if abortions went to an approval panel made up of mostly male (you know those sneaky wimminz always taking up for each other) doctors, most pro-life men would be okay with them. It really seems to come down to the loss of control for many of them who will admit they don’t want them to be illegal, they just don’t want women making the choices “on their own.”

    However, the pro-life women I’ve known have seemed to me much more sincere in their beliefs and also much more empathetic to women’s situations.

  60. votermom says:

    One thing Judge Ginsberg pointed out, the abortion debate today is really a debate impacting only low-income women. Women with money are always going to have access to abortion, whether they have to go across state lines or across the border. I think more conservative voters would see the that inherent inequality in that and support choice.

  61. Violet says:

    Can you at least acknowledge that some pro-lifers may have unsentimental reasons for thinking it desirable to limit (not eliminate) the right to choose?

    Sure. But I maintain that the movement as a whole is a propaganda circus. The very fact that this is a huge national issue, and that women feel like they have to choose which label to stick on themselves, is a result of a manufactured propaganda campaign. It starts in grade school and is reiterated in church sermons and the emotion is kept at a fever pitch with endless harping on the babies. Those poor babies! If only they could get out from their cages inside those evil women!

    The pro-life movement is so fixated on the babies that it’s entirely typical for people to debate abortion as if there were no women involved at all. As if it were just a question of freeing that poor little baby from its prison. Never mind that it’s not even a baby at all, but a clump of cells or an embryo.

    The fact is, abortion is about a pregnant woman. It’s about her life and her body. People who oppose choice are saying that when a woman becomes pregnant, she stops being a citizen. She has no right to control her own body, her own internal functioning. The state owns her womb and she’s just a vessel until that baby is born.

    As Gloria said, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. Can anyone even imagine men’s rights as citizens being suppressed in favor of the clump of cells growing in their bodies?

    Yes, there are some reasonable pro-life people, but they are relatively few. And they are reasonable because they do realize FULLY that what’s at stake in the abortion debate is the fundamental bodily integrity and civil rights of women.

  62. Andrea says:

    While I’m fiscally conservative, I really appreciate when discussion of universal daycare and such comes into this discussion. Personally I think things like that work much better on a private/local basis, since a big one-size-fits-all federal program would unlikely function in such a way that supports women in their individual situations. But we can hash out the logistics later, it’s a very good start if we can just discuss it.

    And Violet — I actually agree with you on the pro-life wedge, but in my own life pro-choice has been the same kind of wedge. And I was a pretty adamant wedge-driver back in the day.

  63. gxm17 says:

    Violet,

    My theory is that it all coincides not just with Roe v. Wade but with the so-called sexual revolution, women’s “liberation” and prenatal medical advances. We saw age-old restrictions removed, seemingly overnight, that had previously curbed women’s sexuality and maintained a wife’s fidelity (or at least a cuckold’s awareness of it). Several longstanding patriarchal narratives had been quickly rewritten with a new and frightening story line. And, a very loud, very aggressive return-to-the-patriarchy narrative was needed. Pronto.

    As long as abortions were hush hush and done in secret in back alleys, fathers, husbands and priests could pretend that abortions were only sought by “loose” women. Suddenly they were confronted with the fact that their wives, daughters and parishioners were among those women. Add in the introduction of genetic selection (“playing god”) and the primal patriarchal brain went into meltdown. And they’ve been trying to club that genie back into the bottle ever since.

    At least that’s my opinion (the short version).

  64. octogalore says:

    Votermom at #60 makes a great point. I noted that as well about Ginsburg’s argument. In that sense, it’s an economic and class issue. What would inevitably happen is first, as Ginsburg says, the states that had legal abortion prior to Roe would continue to do so. Women’s groups could set up nonprofit organizations that, either overtly or covertly, depending on the law, transport poor women to other states, but there would be a number of complications. This would be even more complicated with minors, re parental consent.

    Inevitably, even if such groups could operate successfully, there would be abuses of such a system, especially if it had to operate covertly. Strangers could more easily kidnap young girls and women, and back alley shops could result in physical harm to them.

    This is why I don’t think (and disagree with Pres. Obama in this regard) that there is a middle ground here. We can all agree about education as to contraception and in my own view, advising young teens to wait on sex. But illegal abortion, IMO, won’t mean fewer abortions for the most part, it will mean fewer safe ones. I think most women who don’t want to go through with a pregnancy will find a way not to have to.

  65. SarahG says:

    Damn, Violet, that’s pretty harsh. It seems to me a lot of very reasonable people have expressed reservations about abortion here without any references to dead bay-bees.

    On the other hand, I find referring to a fetus past the embryonic stage as a blastocyst or “clump of cells” to be every bit as ignorant and/or offensive as calling it a baby. In fact, if it’s past week 27 or so it’s a lot more baby than blastocyst. Those of us who have had premature infants can tell you that there’s no magic moment when the fetus becomes a person: one minute she’s inside, the next minute she’s out, and you’re looking around wondering what the hell happened.

    So I know pro-choice die-hards love to congratulate themselves on their intellectual superiority, but you know what? I don’t really see it.

  66. choosefree says:

    I truly do not believe that Roe v Wade will ever be overturned. It’s one thing to be pro-life, as it were, but it’s another to bring back the horrors that women had to endure before it was passed.

    I agree with Violet about the propaganda BS. What I don’t agree with is that it’s only on the “pro-life” side. Some of the statements like “It’s just a parasite sucking the life out of a woman” doesn’t help to further anyone’s cause. All that does is enflame both sides to go after each other. It wouldn’t hurt to choose our language more carefully.

    Maybe, if we all just try to understand each other’s various points of view, as women first, we can learn to co-exist with each other without making it a battle. Otherwise, we’ll never win the war.

  67. choosefree says:

    Oops! Now that I’ve read my post, once submitted, it looks like I was saying that Violet had made the pro-choice statement I quoted. That was not the case. It was a statment that I had read a few days ago. Not sure from who.

    Sorry, Violet!

  68. femina says:

    I’m waiting impatiently for Violet’s next post on feminism — the philosophy and the activism. I’m waiting impatiently for July 20th after which I can re-join NOW. It is sad that all women aren’t feminists and aren’t helping to push the boulder up the hill, but I’m not impatiently waiting on them.

    The debate over abortion is a divide-and-conquer tactic, as in you’re being played. Why not have a DADT policy? I could be a card-caring NOW member, call myself a feminist, vote, and participate in most programs or alerts and no one would ask me if I’m pro-choice or pro-life. I am pro-choice, actually pro-contraception with abortions being rare, and am a former member of NOW, and I’ve yet, over decades, to be asked about my position.

    Women who aren’t feminists no longer sadden me as I’m in hurry for a movement, a second wavers squared movement. I’m definitely in the activist phase.

  69. The Countess says:

    Regarding this:

    “Approval and those all important links. I don’t know who Ann Friedman is and I can’t speak to all of those bloggers so I’m leaving (most) names aside for a moment. What I will say this that the better trafficked progressive feminist blogs used to exist somewhat independently of the big boy political blogs but that disconnect is all but gone now. I think this began, more or less, when Jesse Taylor invited Amanda Marcotte to blog on Pandagon. She linked to Feministe a lot; Feministe linked to Feministing, etc., and, eventually, this whole circle was connected to the progressive political blogs. There was an uneasy alliance made with some pro-feminist men welcoming the Third Wavers while other wanted nothing to do with them. The Third Wavers with integrity did call out sexism in the progressive blogosphere back then. I remember a few big flame wars.”

    If you want a history of the “where are the women bloggers” and the male left wing blogger sexism debates, please read my posts on the subject. I was one of the top tier feminist bloggers until I changed the nature of my blog (I’m now a sex blogger and I have an adult warning posted on my blog, just to let you know about the subject matter I write about now), but I wrote about the “women bloggers” debate when it reared its ugly head approximately every three months starting around 2004. The following posts go into a great deal of detail about that whole business, in case anyone here is interested.

    The Invisible Woman Blogger
    http://trishwilson.typepad.com/blog/2004/03/the_invisible_w.html

    Here We Go Again…
    http://trishwilson.typepad.com/blog/2004/06/here_we_go_agai.html

    I Hate Being Right
    http://trishwilson.typepad.com/blog/2004/08/i_hate_being_ri.html

    Oh, Not Again! And A Month Early
    http://trishwilson.typepad.com/blog/2005/02/here_we_go_agai.html

    An Update On The Woman Blogger Question
    http://trishwilson.typepad.com/blog/2005/02/an_update_on_th.html

    Ladies, It’s Time To Go Skeet Shooting Again
    http://trishwilson.typepad.com/blog/2005/03/ladies_its_time.html

  70. Violet says:

    Damn, Violet, that’s pretty harsh. It seems to me a lot of very reasonable people have expressed reservations about abortion here without any references to dead bay-bees.

    Yep, all of the reasonable pro-life people are right here on this blog. I’m serious. No, that’s an exaggeration, but I’m kidding on the square. I maintain what I said before: the pro-life movement as a whole — the fact that it exists on such a huge scale and sucks up all the oxygen in the room — is because it has been relentlessly souped up by propagandists for three decades. The reasonable people here don’t change that basic fact of our national life.

    Look at this conversation. I wrote a post about feminist bloggers and why some of the young twits are pruning their feminism into whatever is deemed suitable at DailyKos. And instead of talking about that, the whole thread has turned into whether women want to call themselves pro-life or pro-choice or pro-life-choice or what particular label.

    My larger point, in case I’m too sleepy to make myself clear, is that this whole abortion thing is a massive red herring. We’re being played. All of us. Pro-lifers are definitely being played, but pro-choicers are being played too, by Democratic hacks who keep Roe on ice just to scare us into voting.

    And by the way: I am adamantly pro-choice, and I will never be shy about saying so or about pointing out the logical fallacies in the pro-life position. But obviously — I would hope it’s obvious by now — I’m entirely willing for reasonable women to discuss it in good faith.

  71. tinfoil hattie says:

    So I know pro-choice die-hards love to congratulate themselves on their intellectual superiority, but you know what? I don’t really see it.

    Well that certainly adds to the discussion.

    Who here has proclaimed herself a “pro-choicer of superior intellect”? Aren’t you tossing around some straw here?

    Also, there is a HUGE difference between a clump of cells at 8 weeks and a fetus at 27 weeks.

    As an aside, men in Congress are FIGHTING MIGHTILY to have any provision for abortion stripped out of any national health insurance program. This is just WRONG. It infantilizes women and treats our bodies as vessels, as Violet stated eloquently above. One pompous ass on NPR said something along the lines of, “Roe v. Wade guarantees women the right to an abortion, but the federal government absolutely should NOT pay for abortions. Absolutely not.”

    Asshole.

    So yeah, abortion is a huge wedge issue, and it’s used to begin the legalization of discrimination against women. Feminism can’t ignore the abortion issue.

  72. T.I. says:

    Short answer to your 800 billion dollar* question– any woman who hasn’t been silenced by a man wielding a knife in one hand and his bible in the other.

    * not a random figure

    I’d like to also invite you (everybody here) to check out the new blog-a-zine of my friends, Kathryn and Victoria:

    http://www.miscellani.org/blog/

    They’re starting with two posts about Feminism– Kathryn’s is about the 4th wave and challenges to women to “get over the diverse strands and confusion of theory” while Victoria is taking a no-waves, historical and cross-cultural view of waves & feminism.

    Plus there’s a third commentary about WordPress, of all things.

    Quite a spicy variety, as they say.

  73. SarahG says:

    Well, I dunno about strawmen, but calling the entire pro-life position “Hyper-emotional, hyper-irrational, all sentiment and not much reason,” seems like staking out the intellectual high-ground, wouldn’t you say?

    Listen, I’ve never in my life identified with the Pro-Life movement (more labels!), but I know a lot of intelligent, compassionate people who do. And having been through the reproductive wringer myself, I’ve been taught by hard-won experience that biology is a big ol’ mess, and unfortunately there are no clear lines.

  74. octogalore says:

    In addition to the logical fallacies in #61, does the anti-choice contingent ever consider whether abolishing Roe would even lessen the rate of abortion?

    Not to repeat myself from #64, but I think the majority of women with unwanted pregnancies will find a way to end those. Women with economic means will travel to another state or country if need be, and those without will find some most-likely unsafe way of ending the pregnancy.

    For me, even if abolishing Roe reduced the number of abortions, I’d still want Roe. But can those who are anti-Roe really back up their feeling that getting rid of it would reduce abortions?

  75. Sis says:

    Today Obama promised the pope he would limit abortions. Is that what he’s heading to? Abolishing Roe?

    I apologize for asking here but follow ups on this brief news item provided only that Michelle wore a black mantilla when she met the pontiff.

  76. RKMK says:

    As an aside, men in Congress are FIGHTING MIGHTILY to have any provision for abortion stripped out of any national health insurance program. This is just WRONG. It infantilizes women and treats our bodies as vessels, as Violet stated eloquently above. One pompous ass on NPR said something along the lines of, “Roe v. Wade guarantees women the right to an abortion, but the federal government absolutely should NOT pay for abortions. Absolutely not.”

    Just as an aside, I would like to note that in Canada, abortions are (rightly) considered a procedure necessary to the care of women’s health, and are covered by provincial health care. And that I find it ironic that whilst so many Americans seem terrified of implementing public health care for fear of “bureaucrats” and “politicians” making health care decisions for them, our government-run system assures us far more freedom and privacy than your private system.

    Just sayin’.

  77. Violet says:

    calling the entire pro-life position “Hyper-emotional, hyper-irrational, all sentiment and not much reason,”

    Except I didn’t do that. I referred repeatedly to the “pro-life movement as a whole.” I also made it clear, repeatedly, that I know (and even am personal friends with) reasonable pro-life people who seriously grappling with the complexities.

    I get very irritated when people twist my words.

  78. Jamie W. says:

    #37 WMCB: Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s exactly my position! I’ve never heard it put that way before — thank you so much!

    May I be forgiven for saying I wish to heck this comments section, for days back, was actually a big cocktail party?

  79. TeresaINPa says:


    name three rational reasons……

  80. TeresaINPa says:

    “The entire “pro-life” movement is just a wedge issue that’s ballooned into an enormous national propaganda train. Hyper-emotional, hyper-irrational, all sentiment and not much reason.”

    Violet, that’s a very broad statement, and
    I would also venture to call it somewhat unreasonable and irrational. WMCB posted a fairly reasonable statement above defending what could be labeled a pro-life stance, if one is into labels. Can you at least acknowledge that some pro-lifers may have unsentimental reasons for thinking it desirable to limit (not eliminate) the right to choose?……

    name three

  81. Sis says:

    Ahhh RKMK I wish it were so. Privacy? No. Our medical records belong to the healthcare provider and govt insurer, not the patient, and are available to any medical professional (your orthotician can see when you last had treatment for an STD) including insurance companies, who (when we go completely private as some of provincial govts are in the process of doing) will deny you health care over what they read in your file. And, you need to be near an abortion clinic, and know you have the right to an abortion, before you can avail yourself of their services: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Fredericton, St. John’s. http://www.morgentaler.ca/ Suppose you live in Prince Albert? Or Smithers B.C. adn don’t have plane fare? Suppose your doctor won’t provide you with information about where you can get an abortion? HE/she doesn’t have to. Suppose the pharmacist won’t provide you with information where you can get Plan B? He/she doesn’t have to.

  82. Sis says:

    Long ago, I worked more front line on the abortion issue. I’m well acquainted with the type of pro-life activist who does not want to criminalize women. And sees us as poor misguided souls who just need an introduction to what we are “really” doing, and some TLC from a person who will “really” care about us (because we must lack that to be have gone so wrong as to want to kill a child). Woe you if you adamantly hold your course. My experience is they will turn on you with fierce and unbridled venon. That’s when they become the other kind of abortion foe. So if you are out there on the front lines, my advice is don’t let them know where you live.

  83. yttik says:

    “Can you at least acknowledge that some pro-lifers may have unsentimental reasons for thinking it desirable to limit (not eliminate) the right to choose?……”

    No. I don’t believe anybody has the right to limit, restrict, or make decisions for other women about their own bodies and medical decisions. But I will say that the pro-choice side can be just as filled with misogyny and outright women hate. Abortion can be promoted because it prevents an inconvenience to men. As President Obama said, “punished with a baby”. Abortion can be used as an excuse for men not to take responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies, or not wanting to be burdened with child support. Women bodies are often carelessly and casually dismissed as not worthy of respect, as simply a receptacle for male pleasure.

    In society abortion rights can be used as an excuse for being one of the very few countries to offer no policy for paid maternity leave, for access to daycare, healthcare, welfare. Poor women who bear children are viewed as a drain on public resources, as “welfare queens”, as the root of all evil.

    Women do not have actual choices in this country because we’re one of the worst countries in the world for bringing the community together to support the bearing and raising of children. Homicide is also the leading cause of death for pregnant women. We’ve got the some of the highest infant mortality rates in the industrial world. Women who choose to have children are not well supported in the US, they are on their own.

    Instead of trying to limit or restrict the right to choose, we should be working to make child bearing a supported venture, to teach men to take responsibility for not causing unwanted pregnancies, and to promote a basic cultural respect for women all the way around. That means respecting those who chose not to have children, also.

  84. Sis says:

    I’m quite willing to allow I can work with someone who is pro-choice on *other* women’s rights issues. I’m not willing to be subjected to a constant seep-cum-barrage of concern trolling on this issue. I’m pro-abortion, on demand, at any stage of gestation. End.

  85. SarahG says:

    “So if you are out there on the front lines, my advice is don’t let them know where you live.”

    Oh, brother.

    Anyway, Violet, I believe you referred to the “ENTIRE Pro-Life movement,” but if I misconstrued that, my bad.

    This isn’t my fight, in any case. I’m too conflicted.

  86. femina says:

    Last year about this time, I watched a video of Hillary Clinton speaking in what appeared to be an empty Senate chamber on what Bush and HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt were cooking up at HHS. This post, “HHS Moves to Define Contraception as Abortion”, explains that the religious right wants to label up to 40% of the contraception methods Americans use,including the pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, the IUD, and emergency contraception, under the classification of “abortion”:

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/07/15/hhs-moves-define-contraception-abortion

    This HHS “proposal” didn’t receive much attention, but feminist Clinton was there in the Senate to put her alarm and protest on the record. The administration changed.

    Clinton is an excellent example of a feminist activist.

  87. tinfoil hattie says:

    Women do not have actual choices in this country because we’re one of the worst countries in the world for bringing the community together to support the bearing and raising of children. Homicide is also the leading cause of death for pregnant women. We’ve got the some of the highest infant mortality rates in the industrial world. Women who choose to have children are not well supported in the US, they are on their own.

    Bears repeating over and over.

  88. Sis says:

    Just read this thread. It’s turned into proselytizing and evangelism. That’s not, I’d venture, what any of pro-choice posters meant when we said we’d work with you. I’m not interested in changing your mind. Kindly give me the same consideration.

  89. bob coley jr says:

    It seems to me that the use of “people labeling” is a not so invisible attempt at control. Whatever one believes. It is an attempt at spin or insult or pigeon-holing something or someone. Just a tactic that has effect but serves no useful purpose in SOLVING ANYTHING! I exercise choice though sometimes not wisely. My choice is to act in a way that allows choice in an equal way, regardless of gender. But your choice ends when it becomes a dictate to me for me. The only label I will accept and submit to is that one that defines me as your equal as a person of value to life itself. The pro-life/pro-choice/pro-life-choice labels when used as a definition of all ones decisions limits freedom to make choices based on the circumstances at hand. This is true of all labeling, political or otherwise. Think for yourselves people!

  90. Gender2010 says:

    Allfiredup, I must respond to the ‘desire to limit abortions’ on the part of pro-lifers.
    First I find it interesting that many pro-choicers are willing to give Palin the respect to see her in her entirety. I see that as very encouraging. I am pro-choice.
    Don’t you think the pro-life movement should give equal time to their cause and attempt to seriously curtail men’s lack of control over their bodies?
    I mean , it takes two to tango and men have the ultimate choice when it comes to pregnancy. I also think that men’s “choice” ends once sperm is deposited. They need to keep it
    zipped.
    Now that I have helped derail this intellectual thread I will take my leave.

  91. yttik says:

    Sis, did you read our new science czar, Eric Holden’s book, Ecoscience? He’s a zero population guy with some of the most misogynistic ideas for saving the planet. Basically punishing women who have children out of wedlock, mandatory abortions, forced sterilization, etc. He talks about Choice, forcing women to make a “choice” for the good of the community and the environment. It’s not “choice” it’s the same old crap, putting men in control of women’s bodies.

    We aren’t in the 1970′s anymore, we’re entering the realm of creepy science fiction. If women wish to protect and defend actual female autonomy over our own bodies, we’re going to have to broaden the discussion. I don’t have any tolerance for evangelicism either, but I do believe that pro-choice advocates are going to have to become willing to discuss these issues. We’re going backwards in terms of the number of people who identify as pro-choice.

  92. jz says:

    I read this upstream and want to correct.

    Homicide is also the leading cause of death for pregnant women.

    Actually, it’s auto accidents. The four leading causes of death in pregnancy, in order:
    -car accidents
    -homicide
    -suicide
    -blood clots

  93. JadedByPolitics says:

    87 comments to prove the problem in the feminist debate ABORTION. If we ladies do not put the one thing that divides us on the side and deal with all of the things that pull us together we will continue to be used and abused by the male hierarchy.

    It would appear that most “groups” have gotten what they want except women and the gay community and yet women are 51 percent of the vote. Pro-lfe or Pro-Choice who are the politicians running this debate? mostly men since women’s numbers in the Congress are pathetically low for the amount of us in the population.

    Me personally I want Roe back to the states so that We The People can go right on up to the cowards (Congresscritters) office in our neighborhoods and hold them to account. Roe took the debate out the States and removed them from ever hooking a Politician to how they really would vote on such an issue. I personally am a SMALL GOVERNMENT Conservative/Libertarian and not a religious bone in my body but I want those Politicians to be on record with a vote not a speech because their speeches are lies but their votes are their true feeling on the issue.

    In my non-religious thought pattern I don’t think their should be abortion after the 4 month since I know scientifically that a fetus can survive after that. Young women today are more pro-life in a non religious sense because they have seen the baby in the womb alive and kicking on sonogram usually in the 4 month.

    So that is take and opinion on the issue for today so when Violet writes her next blog will we then talk about those things that bring us together? or will we devolve back into a debate on abortion? I shall stay tuned :)

  94. JadedByPolitics says:

    and can I just say PREVIEW is my friend..jeez the writing is atrocious but the sentiment is good.

  95. JadedByPolitics says:

    Actually yttik on that EcoScience idiot I would say Ruth Bader Ginsberg said the exact same thing about how she saw Roe v Wade…

    ““Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.”

    Who are these populations that people like Ginsberg or Mr. EcoScience thought would be lessened or eradicated? I found both of these people very interesting this week in that it really is that whole “perfect race” that Eugenics, Margaret Sanger and obviously Ginsberg and Holdren are getting at. It is some very un-choice like thought patterns in the elite’s minds and pretty damn disgusting attempts on telling women what they will do with their bodies under the guise of “population control”.

    In reading some of that this week I thought I was reading a storyline for a Science Fiction movie of the week and yet this has been going on since a Republican Rockefeller who introduced Margaret Sanger to the upper elite and funded her early attempts at Planned Parenthood in the 1930′s.

    I tell you ladies this is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue that kind of language used by those two and the history of Sanger is a woman’s rights issue. We must stand together on all issue’s and agree to get 99 percent of our agenda moved forward while keeping a wary eye on some pretty explosive people and idea’s in our intelligentsia class.

  96. AniEm says:

    Gender 2010

    Thank you! I never see vasectomy promoted by anyone and, until that happens, there is a tacit assumption that men have no responsibility in reproduction.

    As I’ve posted elsewhere, ‘pro-privacy’ is the only label that can be applied to abortion. It is a medical procedure governed by HIPAA rules for privacy. Extract the emotionalism and you’ve extracted the “propaganda circus” Violet correctly diagnosed.

  97. TeresaINPa says:

    OI…

    In my non-religious thought pattern I don’t think their should be abortion after the 4 month since I know scientifically that a fetus can survive after that. Young women today are more pro-life in a non religious sense because they have seen the baby in the womb alive and kicking on sonogram usually in the 4 month.

    a fetus can survive at 17 weeks? Do tell!
    true viability happens at about 24 weeks. From 17 to 24 weeks women get abortions for health reasons. After that is always about a fetus not be being compatible with life.
    Why do you believe that you have the right to make a judgment that forces other women to risk their health or carry a fetus, lets say without a brain, to term?

  98. JadedByPolitics says:

    Oh TereseIN Pa

    “Why do you believe that you have the right to make a judgment that forces other women to risk their health or carry a fetus, lets say without a brain, to term?”

    I am sure you feel all smart and full of yourself however I did not make a judgement on anyone I gave MY get that MY opinon and I do believe I stated that is was MY opinion and what I get that I would do without telling YOU get that YOU what to do but very insightful look into your thinking when you decide what I get that I am saying…kreskin you are not.

  99. sister of ye says:

    I don’t think their should be abortion after the 4 month since I know scientifically that a fetus can survive after that.

    TeresaINPa already corrected the 4-month inaccuracy. I’d like to add that even those “viable” babies require massive medical support. Many have permanent disabilities. They survive because their parents are wealthy enough and/or have insurance that will cover the neonatal expenses and the ongong care thru childhood and even adulthood.

    Poor kids often get the support cut off; it even hits the news once in a while. There are cases like the woman who recently murdered her severely disabled niece who she had little financial or personal support to help care for. Or the 12 year old boy who died from a tooth abscess because his mother couldn’t afford $80 for an extraction and couldn’t find a dentist who accepted her government insurance.

    When these kids and their caregivers are being given support, come talk to me about the rights of “viable fetuses.” I still may not agree with you, but you might have a leg to stand on.

    P.S. As someone who survived an attempted abortion and has several chronic health problems that resulted, I’m expecting marymartha over to help me with my heavy housecleaning. How about next Saturday about 1-ish? I’ll buy the pizza. Just think of me as an overgrown blastocyst instead of a feminist and we’ll get along fine.

  100. choosefree says:

    “P.S. As someone who survived an attempted abortion and has several chronic health problems that resulted, I’m expecting marymartha over to help me with my heavy housecleaning. How about next Saturday about 1-ish? I’ll buy the pizza. Just think of me as an overgrown blastocyst instead of a feminist and we’ll get along fine.”

    WTH??

    We’re starting to do here exactly what Violet was talking about! Playing right into the BS propaganda!!

    What we should be doing is agreeing to disagree, and understand that we all have varying and complicated opinions on the issue of abortion, but we agree on so much more!

    I, personnally, don’t use abortion as the litmus test on whether someone is a feminist. AND…I don’t know that it has ever been the first thing that I have ever wanted to know about another woman.

  101. Alison says:

    Well, pro-choice women aren’t even united. Most pro-choice female democrats act like they could give a shit about FOCA but seem content to forever fear who the next judge is on the supreme court.

  102. sharon says:

    I am stunned at how every thread Violet posts on feminism turns into a debate on abortion. I am noticing an increase in posters here from conservative, libertarian, and Christian viewpoints – welcome – come on in and take your shoes off. Having open conversations like this IS what’s required to move the ball forward, so I would like to thank you for meeting with us in this forum, and opening up the conversation.

    But the direction of this discussion needs to be significantly expanded. Abortion is but one subset of a much larger discussion that some posters are picking up on: economics, discrimination, and women’s bodies. Our capitalist system favors women who are producers, educated, and able to advance themselves economically. Whilst unburdened by children, you can often advance at the same pace and income levels as men. When you get pregnant, however, no matter what your ideological position, that all changes.
    Women who are advancing in their careers and who decide to have a baby will find their maternity leave is actually disability from having a child, as though they’d broken a leg on the job or something. This is how we feel about women giving birth in this country: you’re disabled. Do you see the discrimination inherent in that?

    Upon returning to work after maternity leave, women have often been demoted, or placed into a ‘mommy track’ job. See, according to corp America, when you have babies, you’re not as able to jump on planes when needed and to work long-ass hours like the boyz and womynz who haven’t had babies (third wavers, anyone?). As a new mother, you’re now diminished, even though your talents are as sharp as they were before you got pregnant. Somehow, having a child equates to the death of your career, as a woman. And look at the liberal reaction to Palin: how DARE she travel, and pursue her ambitions when she has all those baybees – she should stay home, damn it! Years before, HRC evoked the same reaction when she chose to pursue a career instead of ‘baking cookies’.

    Do you see the discrimination in this?

    Private or corporate insurance (largely) won’t cover abortions, and neither will the feds. Only those who can pay can get them. Poor women who really might need one will have a hard time pulling together the $400+ to do so. Even though it’s legal, it’s not always economically accessible, which discriminates against women of every class and color.

    Ginsberg’s comments – she worried that Roe meant WOC would be targeted and forced into having abortions paid for by the Feds as a form of population control. Instead the opposite happened. White women of some means have the majority of abortions. Poor women, and many WOC are locked out by lack of finances.

    The true situation we face is far more vast than our personal feelings on abortion. The truth is women face very widespread, rampant discrimination on every front for the one thing we can do that men can’t: become pregnant, and have, or not, a baby. In the examples above, it doesn’t matter whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice or in that vast no-man’s land in between. Corporate / career women of means get penalized and discriminated against for having children. Women of means get damned for having abortions. Poor women get damned for having babies since they couldn’t afford abortions. No matter what you pick, as a woman, with or without means, YOU CAN’T WIN. The women who exercise some control over their lives and reproductive choices are the target of hate on both sides. That means Violet is partially correct about the propaganda hype in the area of morality. Use Palin as a litmus: if you can bear children in a comfy middle class lifestyle like Palin, with a nice supportive hubby, you’ll be damned for going after your ambitions and not staying home with them. If she’d have chosen to abort Trig, she’d have been damned for that too.

    THAT’S the crap feminism has to start fixing.

  103. tinfoil hattie says:

    If we ladies do not put the one thing that divides us on the side and deal with all of the things that pull us together we will continue to be used and abused by the male hierarchy.

    FWIW I HATE being called a “lady.”

    YMMV

  104. Gender2010 says:

    I would like to have a discussion with anti-choice people without anger or judgement. I would bring in examples of countries that made abortion illegal; Romania, El Salvador, for example ,but I feel that I am threadjacking. So I will wait for proper time.

  105. octogalore says:

    @JadedbyPolitics: I am a small gov’t left libertarian, but don’t believe Roe should go to the states as that would mean more government, not less. Roe keeps government largely OUT of women’s abortion decisions. If it went to the states, some would inevitably put government right back in.

    Also, I agree with those who’ve talked about viability being at 24 mos. 20 month babies require herculean efforts. (I had my daughter at 34 weeks and a few days; we were lucky that there were no complications). Personally, I could live with last-trimester restrictions, but not ones that could surmount the mother’s health.

    After indulging myself in the above, I do agree with you and choosefree about the futility of arguing amongst ourselves on this. I think pro-choicers need to be vocal when advocating our cause to decisionmakers, but nobody here is going to change each others’ minds within this format. It’s better to discuss, strategize and work on issues of common concern

  106. Nina M. says:

    I admit ahead of time that I haven’t read all comments in this thread. I can’t. It makes me nuts. That feminists would even have a “should abortion be a ‘litmus test’” discussion is nuts.

    Personally pro-life? Wouldn’t have an abortion? Don’t like being called a blastocyst, or whatever? Republican? Religious? Whoo-hoo!! Good for you! Not only can you be a feminist – you would be welcome on the board of directors of any Planned Parenthood affiliate in the country.

    Politically pro-life – meaning, you support criminalizing abortion – or certain abortions, for certain people – before the point of viability? Then you have a lot of explaining to do.

    People who are politically pro-life and wish to think of themselves as feminist have the moral and philosophical obligation to explain their position (just as politically pro-choice people have been doing ad nauseum since forever, thank you).

    Explain what abortions you want to criminalize, for whom, and when. Explain how this would be enforced, and what the penalties were be. Address the various ramifications. And then we can have a real discussion of whether your position is consistent with feminism.

    Because anyone who calls herself pro-life (politically pro-life, that is, not personally pro-life) but doesn’t explain what laws they support and how these laws should be implemented, if FULL OF SHIT. And doesn’t deserve anyone’s time and attention. Put up or shut up.

    Personally pro-life, and wouldn’t support criminalization? I hate to tell you this, but you are pro-choice. You may wish to call yourself pro-life, but you are pro-choice. Now get with the program.

    Jesus fucking christ. Enough already.

  107. angienc says:

    I think discussing the viability of the fetus is a trap that leads to the whole “killing babies/life is precious” meme. The question should be do women have the right like every other person in this world (i.e., the men) to personal autonomy? No discussions about fetus viability, when does “life” begin, etc. Are women human beings or not? If so, they have the right to an abortion for any reason & at any stage of the pregnancy.

  108. sister of ye says:

    Perhaps “abortion” shouldn’t be a litmus test to being a feminist, but allowing other women the freedom to act by their consciences and beliefs should be. IMHO.

    The reason I made my comment re marymartha (besides giving into a smart-ass moment; sorry!) is to show that it’s not a warm, fuzzy crusade to “save babies.” Those “innocent babies” can grow up to be cantankerous adults. Women aren’t foosl; they know what they can handle. If you want to change the equation, get in and help, personally and by supporting child- and woman-supporting policies.

    BTW, what I said about my mom’s abortion attempt on me is absolutely true. I’m sure I’m not the only one born in the pre-Roe era.

  109. Violet says:

    Actually, it’s auto accidents. The four leading causes of death in pregnancy, in order:
    -car accidents
    -homicide
    -suicide
    -blood clots

    No, I don’t think that’s right either.

    According to this article about statistics reported in The American Journal of Public Health in March 2005:

    Contrary to what has been reported in the media, the leading cause of death for a pregnant woman is complications due to the pregnancy. This number is hard to overlook, because 57.7% of the deaths reported to the PMSS–4,200–fell into this category. Death due to injury came in next, with 27.1% of reported to the system, or 1,993 cases. The rest were not related to the pregnancy and not injury related. That number is 1149.

    The source of misinformation is within the injury related death category. Of the 1,993 injury related deaths of pregnant women reported, only 617-31%– were due homicide. More pregnant women died as a result of motor vehicle accidents at 44%. Suicide came in third place at 10.3%. The article quoted the ratio of pregnancy associated homicide at 1.7 deaths per 100,000. Consider the fact that there were 274,087,000 women in the U.S. at the time of the last census (2000), and the number seems even smaller.

  110. SarahG says:

    “Just think of me as an overgrown blastocyst instead of a feminist and we’ll get along fine.”

    Okay, that cracked me up. I still don’t agree with you, but that’s funny.

  111. Gender2010 says:

    “Pro-Life Nation”

    NYTimes 2006

    http://tiny.cc/qOiHX

    “And this was why I had come to El Salvador: Abortion is a serious felony here for everyone involved, including the woman who has the abortion. Some young women are now serving prison sentences, a few as long as 30 years.”

    ~snip~

    “The pope’s appointment of Lacalle 11 years ago brought to the Archdiocese of San Salvador a different kind of religious leader. Lacalle, an outspoken member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei, redirected the country’s church politics. Lacalle’s predecessors were just as firmly opposed to abortion as he was. What he brought to the country’s anti-abortion movement was a new determination to turn that opposition into state legislation and a belief that the church should play a public role in the process. In 1997, conservative legislators in the Assembly introduced a bill that would ban abortion in all circumstances. The archbishop campaigned actively for its passage.

    ~snip~

    “Nationwide, after the ban came into effect in 1998, the number of legal cases initiated nearly doubled, according to a study published in 2001 by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Today the number of abortion cases investigated each year averages close to 100, according to Luz McNaughton and Ellen Mitchell, policy consultants with Ipas, an abortion rights advocacy group in Chapel Hill, N.C., who gathered the statistics for a study to be published later this year by the American Journal of Public Health. In 2004, the most recent year for which any statistics are available, there were 93 investigations of people associated with a clandestine abortion. In 2003, there were 111 investigations; in 2002, there were 85. (El Salvador’s population is 6.5 million, roughly that of Massachusetts.) The vast majority of charges are brought against the woman or the provider. In a few cases, the boyfriend or mother or someone else who has helped out is also charged. Typically, the woman can avoid prosecution altogether if, after she is arrested, she names the provider.

    When the woman is first detained, the form of custody can vary. Wandee Mira, an obstetrician at a hospital in San Salvador, told me that she had seen “a young girl handcuffed to her hospital bed with a police officer standing outside the door.” In El Salvador, a person accused of a major crime is typically held in jail in “preventative detention” until the trial begins.”

  112. anne says:

    One of the reasons I don’t have much trouble accepting that Sarah Palin is a feminist or at least that she supports a number of feminist principles is that I’ve been able to accept third wavers as feminist despite their support of patriarchal, women-destroying institutions like pornography and prostitution.

    Considering I’ve seen a number of them squealing (yes, I’m thinking of you Amanda Marcotte) about radical feminists supposedly taking their feminist cards away from them, it’s amusing to see them actually doing it to Sarah Palin. Third wave feminism is the only type of feminism that exists apparently.

    I’d have thought the litmus test for an anti-abortion stance being incompatible with feminism was whether you want to see legislation against abortion put in place. If it’s a personal opinion that’s between you and your conscience and as far as I know Palin hasn’t gone much further than that. Feminism is a big tent political movement, it’s one of our strengths.

  113. Violet says:

    One of the reasons I don’t have much trouble accepting that Sarah Palin is a feminist or at least that she supports a number of feminist principles is that I’ve been able to accept third wavers as feminist despite their support of patriarchal, women-destroying institutions like pornography and prostitution.

    Considering I’ve seen a number of them squealing (yes, I’m thinking of you Amanda Marcotte) about radical feminists supposedly taking their feminist cards away from them, it’s amusing to see them actually doing it to Sarah Palin. Third wave feminism is the only type of feminism that exists apparently.

    Thank you! That’s my 2000 word post, boiled down to its pithy heart. Great — now I don’t have to write it.

  114. anne says:

    I think I must have been doing a bit of channeling there Violet!

    I did write it before I read your new post, honest.

  115. DancingOpossum says:

    What Nina M. said. That was a perfect summation, Nina M.

    “the leading cause of death for a pregnant woman is complications due to the pregnancy”

    Which is why the “abortions for convenience” argument from pro-lifers makes my head spin and my eyes bug out. “Yes, I’m having an abortion because risking my life right now would be just soooo inconvenient.”

  116. Ellen D says:

    No woman WANTS an abortion. It’s the most painful decision any woman has to make.
    But it’s hers alone. Not mine and not yours.

  117. Sis says:

    I would WANT an abortion. It’s not a painful decision for every woman, or for every pregnancy. Overall, too much generalizing here from one’s own position to what other women would feel. Too much assuming it’a a wrong thing to do. Not for all women. I’d prefer it to birth control, or an IUD, or the morning after pill, or the last several years of my periods when I menstruated every 16-18 days. I would choose menstrual extraction abortions.

  118. Jeff says:

    Evening, Dr. Socks.

    I believe Jonita Davis might have got in a hurry and forgotten the ‘divide by two’ part of the census number.

    Love your fearless posting and steady hand. I like watching history being made.

  119. mountainaires says:

    I can’t think of a worse example of feminism as a movement than Riverdaughter’s little cabal–except maybe the Kossacks. Please. It’s enough to make me gag seeing them band together in their little herd here.

    Group-think has killed true feminist ideals. The best course now is for women to reject group-think and start to think for themselves. You can’t achieve by being part of a group; you’ve got to break out of the group. In every group, every community, group norms constrain independence of thought, and individualism. Leaders begin to set the tone, establish the language, and the process of exclusion begins. When Riverdaughter’s blog started, it was a fresh face, a new voice; unfortunately, it quickly devolved into DailyKos–banning independent thinkers, and setting group norms, constraining opinions, and excluding those who didn’t fit the norm.

    Feminists have fallen into that sad, pathetic process over the past 3 decades, and it’s dead, as a “movement.” Perhaps individualism can now rise from the dead among women, and inspire a new independent thinkers–FREE THINKERS?–movement. Who knows?

  120. SweetSue says:

    anne says:

    Considering I’ve seen a number of them squealing (yes, I’m thinking of you Amanda Marcotte) about radical feminists supposedly taking their feminist cards away from them, it’s amusing to see them actually doing it to Sarah Palin. Third wave feminism is the only type of feminism that exists apparently

    Ah, yes, third wave feminism, or as my sister calls it “empowerment through pole dancing.”

  121. TeresaINPa says:

    I am sure you feel all smart and full of yourself however I did not make a judgement on anyone I gave MY get that MY opinon and I do believe I stated that is was MY opinion and what I get that I would do without telling YOU get that YOU what to do but very insightful look into your thinking when you decide what I get that I am saying…kreskin you are not.

    your opinion was about what should be allowed, you did NOT say you wouldn’t get an abortion after 17 weeks. Your opinion was based on lack of knowledge.

  122. DancingOpossum says:

    mountainaires, were you one of the people who left riverdaughter’s site because she refused to denounce Joseph Cannon as a vile hood-wearing anti-Semite? Some of these folks subsequently spent much time bombarding her and dakinikat with hateful e-mails.

    Not accusing, just asking. You sound quite bitter about a site I’ve always found insightful and highy open to diverse opinions.

    Well, moving on.

    “I would WANT an abortion. It’s not a painful decision for every woman, or for every pregnancy.”

    Yup. Both the American Psychological Association and former Surgeon General Koop found that the overwhelming number of women who had abortions did *NOT* experience long-lasting emotional pain; au contraire, their primary emotion was “relief.”

    Millions of women who’ve had abortions, and doctors who perform them, can attest to the same thing. One of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had was coming across an old book that was a collection of Margaret Sanger’s early letters, and reading story after story of a woman whose life was saved by an abortion.

    I’ve been pro-life since I was born I think, in the way Bette Midler’s character in The Rose said “People ask me, when did you learn to sing the blues? And I say, honey, it was the day I was born–and you know why? Because I was born a woman.”

  123. DancingOpossum says:

    ACK…”pro-CHOICE since I was born!!”

    How did I make that mistake? I guess I meant “pro-woman’s life.”

    Eesh, more coffee, stat.

  124. Sis says:

    It’s right to say you’re pro-life. It’s very damning when a clump of cells or a parasite is called a life, but considering the act of saving the woman’s life…not. And I mean, life in all its living.

    Apart from the recent glut of fertility treatment babies (brought about by women’s dangerous birth control pill use in a culture where men don’t have to risk anything) when did the overwhelming majority of women “plan” a pregnancy? I know of *not one*.

    This is false, this wailing and making it something about shame, regret, emotional pain, because we’re supposed to always want to be mothers, and always want another, and never, ever put ourselves first.

    Abortion=cramps=aspirin=plan an outing. I’ve done as much after major gyne surgery. Sheesh. A well-timed abortion is nothing. And they would all be well-timed if the anti-lifers would get out of the way.

  125. octogalore says:

    It’s interesting how new young entrants to the third wave so quickly receive their marching orders.

  126. octogalore says:

    Sis — nice comment over there. Always good to be in the company of grown-ups.

  127. TeresaINPa says:

    Group-think has killed true feminist ideals.

    What true feminist ideals are you talking about? and dhow exactly does a movement for women’s rights work if women do not band together in common cause? Are men just going to hand us 51 percent of the congress, for example?

  128. Gayle says:

    Knock. Knock. Knock.

    Is anyone still here?

    TeresaINPa, absolutely correct. I don’t believe mountainaires is aware of the concept of collective action. I don’t see how anything gets done without it.

    I’m sorry I missed this thread. I’ve been on a ridiculous work schedule and, although I’ve been able to peek in, I have not had time to comment.

    There’s some great stuff in here. Octogalore mentioned ageism above and I think that is a huge issue on feminist blogs which doesn’t get enough attention. Sis reminded me of how radical feminists and second wavers are both persona non grata on the third wave blogs and I agree with that as well. I also think there is a connection between the two. It seems to me that third wavers view both as more old school and less palatable to younger feminists and the progressive men they are trying to convert. Although there are younger feminists that voted for Clinton and older people (feminist or not) that voted for Obama: there is a generational divide that needs more consideration.

    Third wavers, particularly third wave bloggers, seem to believe they can do feminism better than their elders. I’m old enough to remember some more liberal and less radical second wavers felt the same way. They thought if they could make feminism more acceptable to men, if they explained how feminism helped men too, they would be more successful. Frankly, it didn’t really work then and I doubt it would work now. I agree with a newer comment by Sharon (I think it was Sharon, I’ll check)in another thread. Women need to push forward without worrying about how they will be received.