On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to Allison Yarrow about her exposé of crisis pregnancy centers for Vice. NPR takes an in-depth look at abortion in El Salvador and the new White House anti-rape campaign makes Rush Limbaugh whiny.
Anti-feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has thrown her support behind a loosely organized online campaign to harass feminists out of gaming, mostly because some oversensitive crybabies in the gaming world hate it when someone points out that some games are sexist. Sommers made a video claiming to disprove that games are sexist, but she actually had to admit most games have male heroes and treat women like sex objects. She just said that is somehow not sexism because some men like it, because men liking something is apparently the measure of how sexist it is. Jonathan Mann, a video blogger who writes a song a day, autotuned her dumb video and rebutted it in song. An excerpt:
- gaming *
I like this. I want to see more video essays rebutted through song, especially when they are as poorly argued as Sommers’ original one was.
NPR has kicked off a series, run by their team at the Goats and Soda blog that chronicles life in the developing world, on the health implications of abortion laws in the developing world. It’ll be going on for about two weeks, but the first two stories involve El Salvador, which has some of the strictest and most strongly enforced anti-abortion laws in the world. So strict, in fact, that it’s not uncommon for women to be jailed there for miscarriage or stillbirth merely on the suspicion that they somehow did something to make it happen.
- El Salvador 1 *
In El Salvador, the law requires that doctors and nurses reported suspected abortions. That’s why, instead of getting proper medical care, Quintanilla was handed over to the authorities for a cruel and needless investigation. Quintanilla and her family say they were excited for the baby and that they’d even had a baby shower, but in El Salvador, if you’re young, single, poor, or all of the above, that often means that health officials automatically suspect you of aborting. And because she had so little access to any real help, Quintanilla was basically railroaded.
- El Salvador 2 *
Dozens of women, mostly poor and single, have been railroaded in just this way. Which makes sense: Abortion bans are about punishing women for not fitting what conservatives believe is the model of a “good” woman, and so women who are pregnant and single are treated like they must be guilty of something, and so they get accused of illegal abortion even when they didn’t do it. Punishing women for miscarriage, too, fits into this mentality, because the anti-choice view is that if you fail to produce a healthy baby, you’re a failure as a woman and deserve punishment. Intent just gets lost in the shuffle.
Quintanilla did four years of a 30-year sentence before a defense attorney found her case and appealed it, rightly pointing out that the law doesn’t actually allow you to jail someone for abortion when you have no evidence for abortion beyond just not liking a 17-year-old pregnant girl. But these kinds of cases continue, in part because no matter how much they try to ban abortion, people are still trying to get abortions, usually by buying illegal abortion drugs on the black market, which was covered in another episode in this series. They spoke with an herbalist who sells a tea that she says can abort pregnancies up to six weeks, which I will bet a lot of money is a tea made from the herb rue.
- El Salvador 3 *
This is no big surprise to anyone who has been following abortion politics in Texas. Since Texas borders Mexico, a lot of women in Texas are picking up on what they’ve been doing in Mexico, where abortion is illegal in most states. And that’s just buying misoprostol to terminate unwanted pregnancies, either from pharmacies or on the black market. It’s terrifying that it’s come to this and women are aborting without a doctor’s supervision and, as we’ve seen, running the risk of going to jail for it. However, the fact that this drug is becoming more known and widespread has been, strangely enough, a big victory for public health in El Salvador.
- El Salvador 4 *
Things are so bleak for women in El Salvador that the proliferation of a black-market drug has been a major improvement in women’s health. Just think about that for a moment. Of course, it’s easy for those of us living in the United States to feel superior, but in fact, we have the same problems here and it’s getting worse. A woman in Pennsylvania was just sent to prison for nine to 18 months for buying abortion pills online for her daughter who wanted them. The mother was caught when she took her daughter to ER for stomach cramps. It turned out the girl was fine, but the ER called the CPS anyway. They didn’t go to an abortion clinic because they couldn’t make the 75-mile drive and endure the 24 hour waiting period in a dual-income family with only one car.
[Read more of Rewire‘s coverage of abortion in El Salvador here: http://rhrealitycheck.org/tag/el-salvador/]
One of the big myths that anti-feminists like to hide behind is the claim that feminists are a tiny minority of quote-unquote radicals and that most people, women even, are perfectly happy with the status quo. You know, the one where there’s really high rape and domestic violence rates, women don’t get equal pay, and just the basic act of controlling when you have a child is politically contentious, leading to many women not having basic access to abortion and contraception. But, in fact, feminist ideas are not only more popular than anti-feminists would like you to believe, but they tend to be very persuasive if and when feminists are given a fair shot at making an argument. And so very few things freak out anti-feminists as much as when someone like a popular, say actor or politician, steps out in public and makes a common sense feminist argument. It demonstrates that feminist arguments are, in fact, mainstream and are nothing like the radical man-hating scariness anti-feminists make them out to be.
I mention this, because the White House is rolling out another anti-rape campaign called It’s On Us, which demands that we all contribute to the fight against sexual assault. They got some big celebrities to help.
- rape 1 *
So there were celebrities like Kerry Washington, Jon Hamm, Joel McHale, and Questlove in the ad. It’s really important in particular to note the number of men in this ad, because men are in a unique position to prevent sexual assault. Sexist guys who might not listen to women who are discouraging them from, say, trying to take advantage of a woman who is took drunk to stand might listen a lot harder if it’s another man interfering. This campaign also takes advantage of research that shows that one reason sexual assault happens is that rapists take advantage of other people’s unwillingness to interfere or to draw attention to themselves by standing up to creepy behavior, but that people can be encouraged to break that habit and instead find ways to keep the creepy, predatory guys away from women. Like, if you see a man feeding a woman drinks and trying to get her drunk, to stifle that instinct not to interfere and instead go up to her and offer to give her a ride home or get one of her girlfriends to. That sort of thing.
Unsurprisingly, Rush Limbaugh was absolutely livid.
- rape 2 *
I have to break in to say that if this was a written article, I’d have a gif of someone laughing hysterically, that lie is so enormous. The reason the NFL is getting so much grief is they don’t take violence against women seriously. Jeremy Stahl at Slate looked over the rosters of various NFL teams and found there are 13 teams who currently have a player on the roster who has been arrested or charged for sexual or domestic violence. Some of those teams, including the 49ers, the Cardinals, the Seahawks, and the Bears, have multiple players who have been arrested.
But Limbaugh knows who the real victims are here.
- rape 3 *
Yes, you may have been violently assaulted by someone you trusted and then subjected to victim-blaming and shaming after the fact, rape victims, but did you know that some people argue with conservatives when they say dumb things? I mean, have some perspective.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the only corporation whose profits are apparently evil edition. A student at an Arkansas junior high was sent home for wearing a “Virginity Rocks” t-shirt because the principal thought shirts with sexual content were inappropriate for school. But Todd Starnes, on the Family Research Council radio show. decided it must be because the principal is on the take from Trojan.
- starnes *
That comment was pure right-wing nut, starting with the claim that a public school has “profits” and that somehow the condom company is providing them through what? Magic? Who knows. You will not be surprised to find that it took five seconds of Googling to discover that Arkansas bans schools from buying and distributing condoms. But nice of Starnes to admit that “abstinence-only” is primarily a campaign to discourage the use of contraception.