Lights, Camera, Hypocrisy!

Andrea Lynch

Just in time for the Christmas season, there's a hideous little movie being advertised online by the Gunn brothers, the celebrated cinematic duo that brought us Shaky Town (on how marauding bands of San Francisco-based gay terrorists want to burn your churches and eat your children). The film is The Monstrous Regiment of Women and the title is just the beginning. With the stated goal of "blasting feminism" and "extolling femininity" (since they are mutually exclusive, natch), The Monstrous Regiment of Women seeks to set the record straight on feminism, which, in case you hadn't heard, has "restricted choices for all women, brought heartache to the lives of many, and perpetuated the largest holocaust since the beginning of time."

Watch a video clip from "Monstrous Regiment of Women" at the end of this post.

Just in time for the Christmas season, there's a hideous little movie being advertised online by the Gunn brothers, the celebrated cinematic duo that brought us Shaky Town (on how marauding bands of San Francisco-based gay terrorists want to burn your churches and eat your children). The film is The Monstrous Regiment of Women and the title is just the beginning. With the stated goal of "blasting feminism" and "extolling femininity" (since they are mutually exclusive, natch), The Monstrous Regiment of Women seeks to set the record straight on feminism, which, in case you hadn't heard, has "restricted choices for all women, brought heartache to the lives of many, and perpetuated the largest holocaust since the beginning of time."

Make no mistake: this is not a bunch of men telling women how they should act. This is a bunch of women telling women how they should act. So, if you were planning on challenging the filmmakers' credibility, you can stop right there. In the trailer alone, we hear from the full gamut of womanhood: an anti-feminist campaigner, spokesperson, and author; an anti-feminist homemaker; an anti-abortion ex-abortion provider who has had an abortion; another anti-feminist homemaker; another anti-feminist author; a lady academic; and a former lady soldier. What views could possibly be left unrepresented by this group? Highlights follow.

First up, there's celebrated anti-feminist and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, who's made a decades-long career out of condemning career women. She trots out the now-familiar argument that feminism actually oppresses women, because it convinces them that they're victims of an oppressive, patriarchal regime. But who needs patriarchy when you've got Phyllis Schlafly? She keeps women in their place more effectively than centuries of male domination ever could.

Then there's Carol Everett, who shudders to recall her days in the "abortion industry," spent trying to push girls into sexual activity so that they would later need abortions. Everett got involved in the abortion promotion racket after her husband and her doctor forced her to have an abortion herself (Don't tell Phyllis Schlafly, you self-victimizing patriarchy-imaginer!). Today, Everett runs the Heidi Group, which offers "support services" in the form of anti-abortion counseling to young, poor, unwed mothers and mothers-to-be (From their online FAQ: Q: "Can I bring my children with me to my appointments or classes? A: At this time, child care is not provided. To serve you better, we encourage you to make arrangements for your children when you come to an appointment or class."). The full testimony of Everett's abortion-profiteering days is available from Priests for Life.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Moving on, we get the obligatory anti-Hillary screed from celebrated authoress F. Carolyn Graglia, who informs us that real women have more than one child. Graglia penned On Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism, which, according to a Library Journal review, blames the following on social ills on the f word: "the demise of the traditional family, the degradation of the homemaker, the spread of venereal disease, the growth of income disparity, and the defeat of the United States in Vietnam." According to a reader, Graglia also believes that when a father sexually abuses his daughter, it's actually the mother's fault for not doing a good enough job of sexually satisfying her husband. Obviously.

In another clip, author-homemaker Stacy McDonald gently admonishes us not to dress like whores ("If you wear a uniform that says you're a police officer, you shouldn't be surprised if people think you're a police officer"). Here's what HomeschoolChristian.com has to say about her book, Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and Daughters: "[McDonald's] studies stress control of mouth, hospitality, modesty in dress and manners, faithfulness to the future husband in thought and deed, family relationships, and maintaining purity in a fallen, sinful world…College is not recommended for girls, but rather homemaking skills and preparation for marriage should be their focus." Yes, higher education will only corrupt women. Unless, of course, you're Phyllis Schlafly, who has a B.A. from Washington University, a J.D. from Washington University Law School, and a Master's in Political Science from Harvard; or F. Carolyn Graglia, who has a B.A. from Cornell and a J.D. from Columbia.

Most distressingly, the Gunn brothers interview Jane Doe, an ex-cadet who describes how women are verbally and sexually assaulted during U.S. military training (from which the viewer is to conclude that women should not be allowed to serve in the military, though I had to watch it a few times to figure that one out). I'm not even sure that "Jane" intends us to draw that particular conclusion from her interview, since I wouldn't be surprised if the Gunn brothers told her she was being interviewed for a film about sexism in the military. I was alerted to the existence of this film by some friends who met the filmmakers at the Southern Girls' Convention (an annual feminist student conference), where they claimed to be interviewing participants for a film on the history of feminism and young women's views on feminism. Ethical filmmaking incarnate.

Then again, when you're working toward the higher purpose of "demolish[ing] the feminist worldview," who needs ethics? With so many lessons to keep track of from the trailer alone, I think we need a review checklist. So, ladies, do make a point of avoiding the following activities, as they may disqualify you from being a real woman:

  • Working
  • Having only one child
  • Getting raped
  • Crying
  • Wearing clothes that brand you as "loose"
  • Believing you're a victim of an oppressive, patriarchal male-dominated society (this will lead to a "chip on your shoulder," which is very unwomanly)

Of course, it's okay to write books, go to graduate school, edit magazines, maintain websites, and go on lecture tours. As long as you focus your numerous public activities on condemning women who work outside the home, you should still safely count as a homemaker. Do the Academy Awards have a special category for hypocrisy?

Play Feministing's Monstrous Regiment of Women-inspired anti-feminist drinking game here.

Watch the video below:

Roundups Politics

Trump Taps Extremists, Anti-Choice Advocates in Effort to Woo Evangelicals

Ally Boguhn

Representatives from radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue praised Trump’s commitment to its shared values during the event. “I’m very impressed that Mr. Trump would sit with conservative leaders for multiple questions, and then give direct answers,” said the organization's president, Troy Newman, who was in attendance at a question-and-answer event on Tuesday.

Making a play to win over the evangelical community, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump met with more than 1,000 faith and anti-choice leaders on Tuesday for a question-and-answer event in New York City and launched an “evangelical advisory board” to weigh in on how he should approach key issues for the voting bloc.

The meeting was meant to be “a guided discussion between Trump and diverse conservative Christian leaders to better understand him as a person, his position on important issues and his vision for America’s future,” according to a press release from the event’s organizers. As Rewire previously reported, numerous anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ leaders—many of them extremists—were slated to attend.

Though the event was closed to the media, Trump reportedly promised to lift a ban on tax-exempt organizations from politicking and discussed his commitment to defending religious liberties. Trump’s pitch to conservatives also included a resolution that upon his election, “the first thing we will do is support Supreme Court justices who are talented men and women, and pro-life,” according to a press release from United in Purpose, which helped organize the event.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, told the New York Times that the business mogul also reiterated promises to defund Planned Parenthood and to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a 20-week abortion ban based on the medically unsupported claim that a fetus feels pain at that point in a pregnancy.

In a post to its website, representatives from radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue praised Trump’s commitment to their shared values during the event. “I’m very impressed that Mr. Trump would sit with conservative leaders for multiple questions, and then give direct answers,” said the group’s president, Troy Newman, who was in attendance. “I don’t believe anything like this has ever happened.” The post went on to note that Trump had also said he would appoint anti-choice justices to federal courts, and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Just after the event, Trump’s campaign announced the formation of an evangelical advisory board. The group was “convened to provide advisory support to Mr. Trump on those issues important to Evangelicals and other people of faith in America,” according to a press release from the campaign. Though members of the board, which will lead Trump’s “much larger Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee to be announced later this month,” were not asked to endorse Trump, the campaign went on to note that “the formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Much like the group that met with Trump on Tuesday, the presumptive Republican nominee’s advisory board roster reads like a who’s-who of conservatives with radical opposition to abortion and LGBTQ equality. Here are some of the group’s most notable members:

Michele Bachmann

Though former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann once claimed that “women don’t need anyone to tell them what to do on health care” while arguing against the ACA during a 2012 appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, her views on the government’s role in restricting reproductive health and rights don’t square away with that position.

During a December 2011 “tele-town hall” event hosted by anti-choice organization Personhood USA, Bachmann reportedly falsely referred to emergency contraception as “abortion pills” and joined other Republican then-presidential candidates to advocate for making abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. During the event, Bachmann touted her support of the anti-choice group’s “personhood pledge,” which required presidential candidates to agree that:

I stand with President Ronald Reagan in supporting “the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death,” and with the Republican Party platform in affirming that I “support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children.

Such a policy, if enacted by lawmakers, could outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception. A source from Personhood USA told the Huffington Post that Bachmann “signed the pledge and returned it within twenty minutes, which was an extraordinarily short amount of time.”

Bachmann has also claimed that God told her to introduce a measure to block marriage equality in her home state, that being an LGBTQ person is “ part of Satan,” and that same-sex marriage is a “radical experiment that will have “profound consequences.”

Mark Burns

Televangelist Mark Burns has been an ardent supporter of Trump, even appearing on behalf of the presidential candidate at February’s Faith and Family Forum, hosted by the conservative Palmetto Family Council, to deliver an anti-abortion speech.

In March, Burns also claimed that he supported Donald Trump because Democrats like Hillary Clinton supported Black “genocide” (a frequently invoked conservative myth) during an appearance on the fringe-conspiracy program, the Alex Jones show. “That’s really one of my major platforms behind Donald Trump,” said Burns, according to the Daily Beast. “He loves babies. Donald Trump is a pro-baby candidate, and it saddens me how we as African Americans are rallying behind … a party that is okay with the genocide of Black people through abortion.”

Burns’ support of Trump extended to the candidate’s suggestion that if abortion was made illegal, those who have abortions should be punished—an issue on which Trump has repeatedly shifted stances. “If the state made it illegal and said the premature death of an unborn child constituted murder, anyone connected to that crime should be held liable,” Burns told the Wall Street Journal in April. “If you break the law there should be punishment.”

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland founded Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM), which, according to its mission statement, exists to “teach Christians worldwide who they are in Christ Jesus and how to live a victorious life in their covenant rights and privileges.” Outlining their opposition to abortion in a post this month on the organization’s website, the couple wrote that abortion is wrong even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. “As the author of life, God considers an unborn child to be an eternal being from the moment of its conception,” explained the post. “To deliberately destroy that life before birth would be as much premeditated murder as taking the life of any other innocent person.”

The article went on to say that though it may “seem more difficult in cases such as those involving rape or incest” not to choose abortion, “God has a plan for the unborn child,” falsely claiming that the threat of life endangerment has “been almost completely alleviated through modern medicine.”

The ministries’ website also features Pregnancy Options Centre, a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) in Vancouver, Canada, that receives “financial and spiritual support” from KCM and “its Partners.” The vast majority of CPCs  regularly lie to women in order to persuade them not to have an abortion.

Kenneth Copeland, in a June 2013 sermon, tied pedophilia to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, going on to falsely claim that the ruling did not actually legalize abortion and that the decision was “the seed to murder our seed.” Copeland blamed legal abortion for the country’s economic woes, reasoning that there are “several million taxpayers that are not alive.”

Copeland, a televangelist, originally supported former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) in the 2016 Republican primary, claiming that the candidate had been “called and appointed” by God to be the next president. His ministry has previously faced scrutiny about its tax-exempt status under an investigation led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) into six ministries “whose television preaching bankrolled leaders’ lavish lifestyles.” This investigation concluded in 2011, according to the New York Times.

James Dobson

James Dobson, founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family (FoF), previously supported Cruz in the Republican primary, releasing an ad for the campaign in February praising Cruz for defending “the sanctity of human life and traditional marriage.” As Rewire previously reported, both Dobson and his organization hold numerous extreme views:

Dobson’s FoF has spent millions promoting its anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ extremism, even dropping an estimated $2.5 million in 2010 to fund an anti-choice Super Bowl ad featuring conservative football player Tim Tebow. Dobson also founded the … Family Research Council, now headed by Tony Perkins.

Dobson’s own personal rhetoric is just as extreme as the causes his organization pushes. As extensively documented by Right Wing Watch,

Dobson has:

Robert Jeffress

A Fox News contributor and senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Jeffress once suggested that the 9/11 attacks took place because of legal abortion. “All you have to do is look in history to see what God does with a nation that sanctions the killing of its own children,” said Jeffress at Liberty University’s March 2015 convocation, according to Right Wing Watch. “God will not allow sin to go unpunished and he certainly won’t allow the sacrifice of children to go unpunished.”

Jeffress spoke about the importance of electing Trump during a campaign rally in February, citing Democrats’ positions on abortion rights and Trump’s belief “in protecting the unborn.” He went on to claim that if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or Hillary Clinton were elected, “there is no doubt you’re going to have the most pro-abortion president in history.”

After Trump claimed women who have abortions should be punished should it become illegal, Jeffres rushed to defend the Republican candidate from bipartisan criticism, tweeting: “Conservatives’ outrage over @realDonaldTrump abortion comments hypocritical. Maybe they don’t really believe abortion is murder.”

As documented by Media Matters, Jeffress has frequently spoken out against those of other religions and denominations, claiming that Islam is “evil” and Catholicism is “what Satan does with counterfeit religion.” The pastor has also demonstrated extreme opposition to LGBTQ equality, even claiming that same-sex marriage is a sign of the apocalypse.

Richard Land

Richard Land, now president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, was named one of Time Magazine‘s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” in 2005 for his close ties with the Republican party. While George W. Bush was president, Land participated in the administration’s “weekly teleconference with other Christian conservatives, to plot strategy on such issues as gay marriage and abortion.” Bush also appointed Land to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2002.

According to a 2002 article from the Associated Press, during his early academic career in Texas, “Land earned a reputation as a leader among abortion opponents and in 1987 became an administrative assistant to then-Texas Gov. Bill Clements, who fought for laws to restrict a woman’s right to an abortion” in the state.

Land had previously expressed “dismay” that some evangelicals were supporting Trump, claiming in October that he “take[s] that [support] as a failure on our part to adequately disciple our people.”

Culture & Conversation Media

‘I Could Have Written This Myself’: Jessica Valenti’s Memoir Is Painfully Relatable

Feminista Jones

Jessica Valenti's latest, Sex Object, is a book that many women will read and think, at least 20 different times, “I could have written this myself.”

When I was 11 years old, a much older man followed me as I walked home from school. He made comments about my body in suggestive ways that made it very clear he wanted to do more than simply say, “Hello.”

It was the first time I recall feeling like a sexual object, though I did not quite understand what it meant at such a tender age. I did know that the way that man spoke to me was wrong, very wrong. I knew that I felt dirty, ashamed, and uncomfortable, so much so that I wanted to cover myself up before ever going back outside again.

Nearly every day since then, I have been acutely aware of at least one man on the street or in other spaces who has felt bold enough to engage me as his possession, if only for a few seconds. Never quite a human being, never quite an emotional being whose day can be ruined by licentious whispers or random grabs, I was simply an object, likely one of many those men would pass by throughout the day.

My reading of Jessica Valenti’s newest book, Sex Object, took me back to so many of these encounters, some more painfully vulgar than others.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Valentico-founder of the popular blog Feministing and author of several feminist tomes confronting rape culture and championing sex-positivityoffers a series of anecdotes in Sex Object on the life experiences that have made her acutely aware of her status as a sexually objectified being.

I immediately connected with her narrative as though I had dictated my life story to her. Not only do she and Itwo highly visible, outspoken feminist women assumed by some to exist at theoretical oddshave so much in common in this regard, but these stories echo the realities of many other women who feel silenced by fear and shame.

Through my work as an advocate for victims of street harassment, I’ve witnessed other women speak out and share their stories of being made to feel like sex objects. Like me, they can certainly connect to the feeling of being repeatedly objectified just by virtue of being women (or girls in many instances). That there are so many of us who can relate to the pain, the anxiety, or even the occasional numbness, is how I am reminded of the importance of the work that I and others do as feminists to make the world safer for women, particularly the work of rejecting the notion that we should feel shame or fear for we are all connected by the universality of the experience.

The feminist movement, particularly in America, has ebbed and flowed in its waves over the last century. With each new wave comes a set of key issues those of us who openly identify as feminists focus more of our energy on. Whether we feel compelled to challenge a new outlandishly oppressive legislation proposed to further limit women’s rights and the rights of other marginalized groups; we rally to protest and demand justice in a series of heinous acts of violence against women, trans women of color in particular; or perhaps we are motivated by reports from leading advocacy groups that suggest women’s equal access to resources, legal protections, and bodily autonomy remains tenuous at besteach generation of feminists rises to the challenge of continuing the fights of those before us.

I appreciated Valenti’s discussion of victimology and how it has factored into some of the splits within the feminist movement. There are those feminists who reject the victim label according to the long-standing practice of denying victimhood based simply on womanhood. There are also those who, like Valenti, understand that “despite the well-worn myth that feminists are obsessed with victimhood, feminism today feels like an unstoppable force of female agency and independence.”

No stranger to criticism from within factions of the feminist movement, Valenti also touches briefly on the challenges of a decentralized movement while acknowledging the value in approaching these issues with an intersectional lens. In the book, she readily acknowledges her privileges as a white feminist woman and notes the efforts of those living at the intersections of gender, race, and sexuality to push the movement forward. At times, she seems to be writing on eggshells, and I gather it might be due to the backlash she has received over some controversial statements or pushback via her Twitter feed. Sex Object is personal, yes, but Valenti’s choice to note the nuances of modern feminism (given her own contributions as a respected thought leader) is admirable.

One could argue that the exposure of conflicts, particularly via social media like Twitter or Facebook, weaken the movement and its broader intentions. But I offer that healthy disagreement has strengthened us allveteran feminists and newcomers alikeas we have been given opportunities to engage each other in ways that our foremothers were unable to.

Followers and subscribers are learning as we share our experiences, as Valenti has done here, and the critical need to respect these unique lived experiences cannot be understated. While some have all but completely bowed out from engaging in what can be an unnecessarily vicious behaviors associated with “call-out culture,” other feminists like me, who are regarded as representatives of particular factions, remain willing to listen, share, learn, and unlearn. And what we who willingly engage in such public discourse have discovered in the middle of all of this is that we do share these common experiences with being objectified as women, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, orientation, or gender identity and presentation, and not always on the street. Many of us encounter this type of harassment in other areas of our life as well, such as at the office or even in our own homes. “The individual experiences are easy enough to name, but their cumulative impact feels slippery,” Valenti notes in her introduction.

One of the most important takeaways from the book is that there is no such thing as a perfect or ideal feminist: We are each humanly flawed and have a lot of learning and unlearning to do. “It’s okay if we don’t want to be inspirational,” she writes. If I had a church fan at that moment, I would have waved it in strong agreement.

The current wave of feminism inspires us to openly acknowledge that our experiences as sex objects have had lingering effects on our mental health, such as disrupting our ability to form healthy intimate partnerships. I appreciated how Valenti opened up about her own process of navigating various intimate encounters and partnerships through this lens. For example, she writes about her own anxiety and how her post-traumatic stress disorder affected her relationship with her husband. Though Valenti and I come from vastly different backgrounds, we connect heremy relationships have been largely negatively affected by the sexual traumas I’ve endured in my own life.

Like Valenti, I sought therapy to deal with my experiences. I’m a social worker by profession and recognized that I needed to engage someone with professional skills to help me address the lingering trauma. Valenti opens up about the therapy sessions she’s had, both alone and with her husband, and how they helped her better understand her responses to certain triggers. It is important, for those who are able to do so, to seek support and not live with fear or shame associated with the negative mental health side effects resulting from sex harassment.

To be a woman in this world is to be aware that, in at least some way, your body is supposed to exist for the consumption and control of men. “It’s not a matter of if something bad happens, but when and how bad,” she writes.

But Sex Object reminds us that we can be vocal about generational sexual trauma and abuse of girls and women because these experiences are common—too common, really. And however feminism manifests in our lives, whether we identify as sex-positive feminists, Black feminists, or womanists, embracing this liberation movement aids us in doing the incredibly difficult work of rejecting the burden of shame.

We can speak more freely about our abortions, as Valenti did in what becomes her signature frank, straight-no-chaser narrative style. Her straightforward, often explicit descriptions of her experiences leave the reader with an understanding that abortion is matter-of-fact and should not be as taboo an issue as it continues to be.

If one takes anything away from Sex Object, it should be the empowering liberation that comes when speaking the truth about one’s experiences as a woman, good and bad, amazing and horrifying, even if only to oneself.

Read this book not as a sex-positive feminist manifesto, but as a personal, therapeutic memoir. I get the sense that writing this book was way more important to Valenti’s own personal growth as a woman, mother, partner, and feminist than it was serving as a feminist guidebook for navigating female sexual objectification. Sex Object is raw; it is relatable and blatant in its (occasionally triggering) honesty. It is a book that many women will read and think, at least 20 different times, “I could have written this myself.”