Commentary Religion

Where’s Your Shame, Woman?! Fundamentalist Pastor Takes to YouTube to Fault Women for All Social Ills

Vyckie Garrison

Popular conservative Christian pastor says "America is over" because shameless women who have sex and vote are running wild and screwing everything up.

Ever wonder what goes on inside the small minds of fundamentalist Christian men? Want to know how they justify their blatant anti-woman policies and practices? Are they for real? Do they even know how hateful and intolerably ignorant they sound? 

Thanks to Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a fundamentalist black pastor and up-and-coming Republican leader, there’s now a YouTube video which perfectly sums up the Religious Right’s core beliefs about women.

“One thing I know for sure, without a doubt, women cannot handle power,” says Peterson, in a 12-minute tirade posted to the “bondinfo” YouTube channel recently as a part of the Reverend’s “Exploring Your Destiny” video series.

“It is not in them to handle power in the right way,” he continues, “they don’t know what to do with it.” Really? That’s some blatant misogyny right there, folks.  Ah – but Rev. Peterson is just getting started …

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“It’s not real power anyway … it’s all ego-building. Real, true power come [sic] from God, and God is the one that gave man the power and authority over the wife, and to spiritually guide the world in the right way to go.”

According to the website listed at the end of the video, “BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, is a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to ‘Rebuilding the Family By Rebuilding the Man.’ BOND was Founded by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson who is also its President.”

Rev. Peterson has been busy lately making himself a reputation for strident religiously-motivated bigotry. In January, the Tea Party leader and author of “Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America,” caused a stir by suggesting that unemployed African Americans need to be sent “back to the plantation so they would understand the ethic of working.”

“I hope that once [black people] hear the truth, they will pull away from the Democratic Party and their godless leaders,” Peterson told the Huffington Post. “When you tell them the truth first, they become upset … They think if you’re black and conservative, you’re an Uncle Tom. Once you let them yell and scream and carry on — because they will carry on — and when they calm down, they understand.”

“Women are now degraded. Women have no shame,” Peterson laments in reference to Sandra Fluke’s courageous congressional committee testimony. “This woman’s sitting there testifying about … all the sex they having [sic] … and it’s really all about maintaining the freedom to kill babies in the womb.”

During his sermon, Rev. Peterson is wringing his hands as he explains how “all these women are into all this stuff [sex out of wedlock] with no shame – women would not have done that in the good old days.”

That’s right – it’s all about shameless women, whom Peterson says, do not realize they present themselves as sluts.

Apparently emboldened by the fact that none of the Christian women in his audience objected by hurtling heavy objects at his imbecilic head, Peterson continues, “It’s unfortunate that women are allow.., that men are so weak, they’ve been so intimidated that they allow these women to just run wild and screw up everything – including their souls, and their children.”

In the good old days, men knew that women are crazy and they knew how to deal with them … sadly for religious wannabe-cave dwellers, those days are gone …

“And if you speak up about it, Satan got [sic] it set up – through the women – that you’re gonna be punished in some kind of way.”

The Reverend is certainly not going to play into the Devil’s hands by refusing to speak his mind when it comes to the inherent, abysmal flaws of shameless women.

“They can’t handle stress. They can’t handle anything. You walk up to them with a issue [sic], they freak out right away. … They go nuts. They get mad. They get upset – just like that. They have no patience because it’s not in their nature. They don’t have love. They don’t have love.”

Heard enough? The majority of people who commented on this vile video could not watch more than a minute or two without feeling nauseated and violently angry due to the straight-out ludicrousness and unqualified misogyny of Reverend Peterson’s sermon.

Those lacking a masochistic proclivity to endure malicious, hate-filled bible-thumping missed the ironic spectacle of a black man bemoaning the evils of women’s suffrage:

“I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should’ve never turned this over to women,” Peterson complains. “And these women are voting in the wrong people. They’re voting in people who are evil who agrees [sic] with them who’re gonna take us down this pathway of destruction. And this probably was the reason they didn’t allow women to vote when men were men. Because men in the good old days understood the nature of the woman. They were not afraid to deal with it. And they understood that, you let them take over, this is what would happen.”

He goes on to blame women for all the supposed evils of modern society: homosexuality, “this gay marriage thing,” losing our right to bear arms, freedom to “speak truth,” … all this debauchery “because women are in a position of power.”

“Wherever women are taking over, evil reigns.”

It is no surprise that religious misogynists focus on shame when attempting to keep women in line. According to psychologist Dr. Darrel Ray, author of Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality, “religions have found shame to be a powerful tool for maintaining religious conformity and to control or limit sexual behavior.”

There is nothing so disheartening to me as when I hear women defending “The Big Guy” – and African American men who rationalize and advocate for the subjugation of fellow human beings in the name of God are no less pathetic.

As PZ Myers points out, Rev. Peterson is “incoherent and stupid, completely lacking in charisma, with a speaking style that makes you wonder if he’d been stunned with a hammer …” – so what’s the big deal? Nobody takes this loser seriously, do they?

As a former fundamentalist Christian woman and editor of a “pro-life, pro-family” Christian political newspaper for 16 years, I spent a lot of time in the company of patriarchal right-wing men – and from my experience, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is not exceptionally extreme or outlandish in fundamentalist circles. What makes Peterson “edgy” is that he has the audacity to speak aloud what most right-wing men truly believe about women – the Reverend is aberrant only because he is outspoken enough to post his misogynist views on YouTube.

Recently, conservative analyst, Kristen Powers, confronted Rev. Peterson about his misogynistic sermon when she and Peterson appeared together on Sean Hannity’s “Great American Panel.” Watch as Powers shamelessly hijacked Hannity’s program to lambaste Peterson, saying, “You are a pastor distorting God’s word for misogyny … when you say you leave a woman alone in charge a family and she destroys the family.”

Notice that when Powers directly called on the host to denounce Peterson’s regressive views on women, Hannity, who is a BOND advisory board member, issued not a single word of censure, but chose instead to steer the conversation back to the topic of President Obama taking credit for killing Osama bin Laden.

Peterson has endorsed Mitt Romney, saying, “Love of God, family and country are the most important values in my life. All are under attack in America as never before. I believe that Governor Romney, though not without flaws in his record, is a decent, highly capable man who believes in these same values.”

Yes, America is under attack – and she’s going down because brazen women are taking over.

Where’s your shame, right-wing Christian political leaders? Where are the outcries of socially conservative evangelicals protesting the Reverend’s anti-woman screed? Their silence speaks volumes. 

The real shame is this: as an ultra-conservative black man, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is the darling of the Religious Right. What he says is the undiluted substance of what the Republican troglodytes believe about “their” women.

Commentary Sexual Health

Don’t Forget the Boys: Pregnancy and STI Prevention Efforts Must Include Young Men Too

Martha Kempner

Though boys and young men are often an afterthought in discussions about reproductive and sexual health, two recent studies make the case that they are in need of such knowledge and that it may predict when and how they will parent.

It’s easy to understand why so many programs and resources to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) focus on cisgender young women: They are the ones who tend to get pregnant.

But we cannot forget that young boys and men also feel the consequences of early parenthood or an STI.

I was recently reminded of the need to include boys in sexual education (and our tendency not to) by two recent studies, both published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The first examined young men’s knowledge about emergency contraception. The second study found that early fatherhood as well as nonresident fatherhood (fathers who do not live with their children) can be predicted by asking about attitudes toward pregnancy, contraception, and risky sexual behavior. Taken together, the new research sends a powerful message about the cost of missed opportunities to educate boys.

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The first study was conducted at an adolescent medicine clinic in Aurora, Colorado. Young men ages 13 to 24 who visited the clinic between August and October 2014 were given a computerized survey about their sexual behavior, their attitudes toward pregnancy, and their knowledge of contraception. Most of the young men who took the survey (75 percent) had already been sexually active, and 84 percent felt it was important to prevent pregnancy. About two-thirds reported having spoken to a health-care provider about birth control other than condoms, and about three-quarters of sexually active respondents said they had spoken to their partner about birth control as well.

Yet, only 42 percent said that they knew anything about emergency contraception (EC), the only method of birth control that can be taken after intercourse. Though not meant to serve as long-term method of contraception, it can be very effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within five days of unprotected sex. Advance knowledge of EC can help ensure that young people understand the importance of using the method as soon as possible and know where to find it.

Still, the researchers were positive about the results. Study co-author Dr. Paritosh Kaul, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, told Kaiser Health News that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the proportion of boys and young men who had heard about EC: “That’s two-fifths of the boys, and … we don’t talk to boys about emergency contraception that often. The boys are listening, and health-care providers need to talk to the boys.”

Even though I tend to be a glass half-empty kind of person, I like Dr. Kaul’s optimistic take on the study results. If health-care providers are broadly neglecting to talk to young men about EC, yet about 40 percent of the young men in this first study knew about it anyway, imagine how many might know if we made a concerted effort.

The study itself was too small to be generalizable (only 93 young men participated), but it had some other interesting findings. Young men who knew about EC were more likely to have discussed contraception with both their health-care providers and their partners. While this may be an indication of where they learned about EC in the first place, it also suggests that conversations about one aspect of sexual health can spur additional ones. This can only serve to make young people (both young men and their partners) better informed and better prepared.

Which brings us to our next study, in which researchers found that better-informed young men were less likely to become teen or nonresident fathers.

For this study, the research team wanted to determine whether young men’s knowledge and attitudes about sexual health during adolescence could predict their future role as a father. To do so, they used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (known as Add Health), which followed a nationally representative sample of young people for more than 20 years from adolescence into adulthood.

The researchers looked at data from 10,253 young men who had completed surveys about risky sexual behavior, attitudes toward pregnancy, and birth control self-efficacy in the first waves of Add Health, which began in 1994. The surveys asked young men to respond to statements such as: “If you had sexual intercourse, your friends would respect you more;” “It wouldn’t be all that bad if you got someone pregnant at this time in your life;” and “Using birth control interferes with sexual enjoyment.”

Researchers then looked at 2008 and 2009 data to see if these young men had become fathers, at what age this had occurred, and whether they were living with their children. Finally, they analyzed the data to determine if young men’s attitudes and beliefs during adolescence could have predicted their fatherhood status later in life.

After controlling for demographic variables, they found that young men who were less concerned about having risky sex during adolescence were 30 percent more likely to become nonresident fathers. Similarly, young men who felt it wouldn’t be so bad if they got a young woman pregnant had a 20 percent greater chance of becoming a nonresident father. In contrast, those young men who better understood how birth control works and how effective it can be were 28 percent less likely to become a nonresident father.9:45]

Though not all nonresident fathers’ children are the result of unplanned pregnancies, the risky sexual behavior scale has the most obvious connection to fatherhood in general—if you’re not averse to sexual risk, you may be more likely to cause an unintended pregnancy.

The other two findings, however, suggest that this risk doesn’t start with behavior. It starts with the attitudes and knowledge that shape that behavior. For example, the results of the birth control self-efficacy scale suggest that young people who think they are capable of preventing pregnancy with contraception are ultimately less likely to be involved in an unintended pregnancy.

This seems like good news to me. It shows that young men are primed for interventions such as a formal sexuality education program or, as the previous study suggested, talks with a health-care provider.

Such programs and discussion are much needed; comprehensive sexual education, when it’s available at all, often focuses on pregnancy and STI prevention for young women, who are frequently seen as bearing the burden of risky teen sexual behavior. To be fair, teen pregnancy prevention programs have always suffered for inadequate funding, not to mention decades of political battles that sent much of this funding to ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Researchers and organizations have been forced to limit their scope, which means that very few evidence-based pregnancy prevention interventions have been developed specifically for young men.

Acknowledging this deficit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office of Adolescent Health have recently begun funding organizations to design or research interventions for young men ages 15 to 24. They supported three five-year projects, including a Texas program that will help young men in juvenile justice facilities reflect on how gender norms influence intimate relationships, gender-based violence, substance abuse, STIs, and teen pregnancy.

The availability of this funding and the programs it is supporting are a great start. I hope this funding will solidify interest in targeting young men for prevention and provide insight into how best to do so—because we really can’t afford to forget about the boys.

News Abortion

Mississippi Governor Signs Bill Outlawing Common Abortion Procedure

Teddy Wilson

"Governor Bryant just signed a clear attack on women's health care as part of a plan to ban abortion across the board,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who has said that it is his goal to “end abortion” in the state, signed a bill Friday that criminalizes a medical procedure often used after miscarriages and during second-trimester abortion care.

“We’re making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child,” Bryant said in a post on Twitter.

HB 519, sponsored by Rep. Sam Mims (R-McComb), would prohibit a physician from performing the dilation and evacuation (D and E) abortion procedure unless it is necessary to “prevent serious health risk” to the pregnant person.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that the law is not based on medicine.

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“Governor Bryant just signed a clear attack on women’s health care as part of a plan to ban abortion across the board,” Laguens said. “Planned Parenthood will continue to fight to protect the rights of our patients and their access to safe medical care, no matter what.”

Similar bills have been introduced this year in several states. The bills are copies of legislation drafted by the anti-choice group known as the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

State courts have blocked such measures passed by GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma and Kansas. West Virginia’s Republican-led legislature in March voted to override the veto of a similar bill.

The law takes effect on July 1.

CORRECTION:​ A previous version of this story stated that “federal courts” have blocked D and E bans in Oklahoma and Kansas, but only state courts have blocked such measures. We regret the error.