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On this episode of Reality Cast, Scott Lemieux [an assistant professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York] will be on to explain what exactly is going on with this contraception lawsuit Hobby Lobby is taking to the Supreme Court. I’ll examine the diverging trends in Texas and New Mexico. Also, is the country finally, finally getting smarter about the problem of rape?
Speaking of, Sarah Silverman has a new stand-up act out, and it has what I would call a good rape joke in it.
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There’s this notion that feminists generally oppose any jokes about rape. But most of us don’t. We oppose jokes that are approving of or minimizing of rape. This joke, however, is mocking a culture where it’s often easier to make fun of rape victims than it is for rape victims to get support. Which is an important thing to mock and draw attention to.
Bad news coming out of Texas.
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Even if the pro-choice side eventually wins the case, many of the clinics that only do abortions will be shut down permanently. As the newscasters note, Planned Parenthood, which provides a variety of services with abortion only being a small fraction, will be staying open. However, there are a number of other clinics, some in rural areas, that only perform abortions. They will have no reason to be open while this case works its way through the courts, which could take months or worse, years. They’ll have no way to pay the rent and the doctors and nurses that work for them will have to go get jobs somewhere else. Because of that, even if they eventually win the case, they will never be able to reopen. Which means that even if anti-choicers lose, they win by at least preventing some women, especially poor women, from accessing abortion services.
Because this is such a major blow to abortion access in Texas, Sarah Silverman and Lizz Winstead decided to have a fundraiser to help women in the state out. They went on “All In” with Chris Hayes to talk about it.
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The notion that this is about red states vs. blue states is only floated by conservatives who are trying to confuse the issue. I get conservatives trying to play that card all the time. Oh you’re just a New York liberal and don’t tell us what to do. Except that I’m from Texas and care very much about what goes on in my home state where so many friends and family live. Which leads to what Lizz is talking about here: It’s not black and white and clearly there’s a lot of opposition to the law from inside the state. And finally, it’s worth pointing out that blue states will be helping out red state women no matter what. If abortion becomes unavailable in many red states, women will start coming to California and New York to get abortions. The help is going to happen, and it is wanted, and anyone trying to deny that is just blowing smoke.
Sarah Silverman was her usual funny self talking about this issue. Chris Hayes asked this elaborate question about how comedy can be a force to break taboos and talk about complex, touchy issues, and this was her response.
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The answer did prove the point better than an in-depth examination. Vaginas do scare people. But it’s also worth pointing out that while anti-choicers have created the illusion of having popular momentum of vagina-fear behind them, the reality is much different. Which was demonstrated, yet again, when abortion was put to a vote in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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Time and time again, when legislators take their attempts to ban abortion to the voters, voters tell them no. The hope was that doing this with a 20-week ban would get a different result, because the hope is that people will assume that women who get those abortions are just lazy or something. But that lie didn’t work, and voters decided to keep their rights. Which is why they use backdoor methods like exploiting health regulatory power to pass unnecessary red tape on clinics, instead of just putting it to the voters for a vote.
Is the tide turning in how this country understands and deals with the problem of sexual violence? The Steubenville, Ohio case continues to be a touchpoint, where the old way of doing things—cover it up, blame the victim, exonerate the rapists—is being abandoned and feminist demands that rape be treated like the crime it is are being honored. Not just because the young men who attacked the victim actually were punished for their crime, but because the possibility that there was a cover-up of the crime was actually investigated. And now we’re seeing results.
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A reporter from the Cleveland Plain Dealer came onto ESPN to explain the charges further.
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To be clear, these are only indictments and not convictions. The prosecutor may not be able to make a case and it may be that they really are innocent of the charges. However, the fact that a grand jury was convened and there was enough evidence to get an indictment is a huge deal. In all the years I’ve been doing this, I can’t think of many rape cases where conspiracy was taken so seriously. There has been some of this kind of thing when it comes to the Catholic priest sex abuse scandals, but that was a matter of adults molesting minors. Basically, this represents a new, emerging belief that yes, rape is not only not the victim’s fault, but that preventing rape and reporting rape is a collective responsibility.
Another thing that seems to be changing is the belief that victims should be cringing quietly in the shadows, instead of aggressively putting their face out there and demanding justice. While the Steubenville accuser has remained nameless, as is her right, other victims have decided that they want to come forward and share their name. That includes Daisy Coleman, who was 14 at the time of her alleged rape. And now it includes Courtney Andrews. Courtney was repeatedly raped by the same man during her adolescence, and while he was found guilty of the rape, he was also given a slap on the wrist and will never see the inside of a jail cell. Melissa Harris-Perry had Andrews on to talk about the case.
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Coming forward is incredibly hard to do and someone who isn’t able to do it should not be blamed. But for those who can, like Courtney Andrews, it helps so much, I think, because if you can put a face to the victims of sexual violence, it becomes that much harder to dismiss them and dismiss their suffering. Inspired by Andrews, Melissa Harris-Perry opened up and spoke about her own experiences as a survivor.
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It’s really amazing TV because Harris-Perry is trying not to cry, but clearly she has choked up. This is a really hard topic. No matter how many years go by, the fact that you looked in someone’s face while they decided to treat you like you were subhuman and undeserving of basic dignity will always feel bad. That’s why it’s even more important that people like Courtney Andrews and Melissa Harris-Perry are willing to talk about their own experiences surviving rape. Because it makes you realize that you are not alone and that lots of other people have been treated this way, and it really drives home how unfair and wrong it is.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, really bad rape metaphors edition. The Senate decided to end the filibuster for judicial nominees and leave it to a clean majority vote. Rush Limbaugh reacted in a classically tasteless way.
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He’s trying to argue against the basic principle of democracy, and he knows that’s a hard sell, so he uses rape as a distraction. It doesn’t even make sense, because in his metaphor, the majority of people are against rape. So, uh, whatever. He’s really hoping you don’t think about it.