[UPDATED: fixed video link.]
In the context of discussing MoveOn’s new ad and the recently-recognized-but-long-raging Republican War on Women, a loyal
subject correspondent asks: “How can any woman possibly support the Republicans?”
Short answer: CPD.
Long answer: Conservative Personality Disorder.
Okay, okay. This question deserves serious analysis, not some glib blogger flipping it off just because she wants to go to brunch with some hottie.
First, it’s the wrong question. The correct question is this: “How can anyone possibly support conservatives?” This is important for a couple reasons. First, the original question assumes this is only about a “war on women.” It is not. This is a war on liberals, waged by conservatives, and women’s lives and health are among many casualties. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.
Second, implicit in the original question is that attacks on women’s reproductive rights are only a women’s issue, and thus that this is their fight alone. Given that women presently make up only 17% of Congress, the odds of winning that fight look pretty dismal if men who are presumed allies are not fully on board. Considering that some of those women in Congress are conservatives, the odds are actually much worse: Minnesota congresscritter Michele Bachmann, for instance, recently said Obama’s contraception coverage mandate could be a slippery slope to a point where a “health dictator” decrees that women could only have one or two children. Conservative women are just as deranged and misogynist as conservative men — and conservatism explains how women can support Republicans.
Part of conservative pathology is a peculiar form of narcissism: they really do believe they are Super Superior Special Snowflakes. See, e.g., The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion: When the anti-choice choose. Or this piece I wrote about a truly terrible Times article wherein we are introduced to conservative after conservative who all just positively hate the idea of government assistance — for Other People — and yet live off of it themselves. In this view, Republicans are only committing atrocities* against Those Other Women, those slutty sluts who deserve it.
It’s no secret that conservative religions explicitly codify misogyny: that’s why we can expect it from the Sarah Palins and Michele Bachmanns of the world. But the connection that never seems to get made in this discussion is that conservatism doesn’t stop at misogyny.
Reproductive freedom is human freedom. If men’s access to condoms or vasectomies were under constant assault, perhaps this fact would be more apparent — although It is quite telling indeed that those rights are not under constant assault. In the conservative worldview, men have rightful dominion over themselves and over women. In the liberal worldview, women have dominion over their own bodies, just like men do. (Anyone who thinks that women should not have the right to full autonomy over their own bodies needs to explain why I should not have the right to harvest one of their kidneys against their will when someone else needs it to survive. There is no coherent moral basis for denying one but not the other.)
But back to that war on liberals. Obviously, shrieking harpy feminazis like yours truly have been shrieking feminazily about these assaults on reproductive rights for years. But I think we harpies do ourselves a disservice by isolating this issue as a war on women — although there is no question that it encompasses that. This is not happening in a vacuum. It’s part of the same war on Social Security. Unions. The environment. Education. Food and water. Immigrants. Cancer patients. Muslims. The poor. Gay and trans people. The oceans. Palestinians. The middle class. Black people. Brown people. The young. The elderly. The disabled. Science. The Earth. The godless. History.
I am mystified that supposed allies of women are themselves mystified at where all the attacks on women’s reproductive rights are coming from. There is no mystery. The cause of all of this evil is and always has been as plain as day: conservatism.
It really is that simple. Occam’s razor carves it up into a nice, neat, tasty little soundbite. I am really at a loss as to how anyone can fail to recognize it, beyond a deliberate refusal to see it — perhaps because of an awareness of one’s own complicity in perpetuating the status quo, or the personal benefits one gains in maintaining it. To be clear: I am not saying that all woman-haters are social conservatives — Bill Maher, for example, is living proof that this is not so. I am saying that all social conservatives are women-haters, and place a very high value on their continued oppression, marginalization and subordination. To whatever extent it is unleashed in one arena, conservatism is also unleashed to inflict its many miseries on others, too. As go women’s rights, so go civil rights and human rights.
Both parties have lurched rightward. There are plenty of Democrats who are conservatives, not just on reproductive rights but a whole host of social and fiscal issues. So, I have this message for my supposed allies in congress and elsewhere: women need your help. Right now. We need your righteous anger. We need you to stop fucking compromising on this issue, no matter how politically expedient doing so may appear to be in the short run. We need the leaders of the Democratic party to stop exploiting this issue for fundraising, because they are lying hypocrites when they do. We need Democrats to stop supporting, electing, and promoting anti-choice politicians like Harry Reid, Bob Casey, and every other conservative who sports a D after their name. Because I can guarantee you that their conservatism does not stop at misogyny. We need you to fight for women’s reproductive rights because it’s the right goddamn thing to do — and to recognize that you are doing so not just for women, but for yourself, your country and your planet.
* “Atrocities?” Geez, Iris — isn’t that a bit harsh? Good question. Let’s look at exactly what we are talking about here:
- 50 House bills attacking women’s health care and reproductive rights before a single jobs bill was brought to the floor.
- concerted efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, which prevents more abortions in a single day than the entire anti-choice movement has during its existence.
transvaginal ultrasoundrequired rape laws.
- the blocking of VAWA reauthorization.
- the degrading and demeaning words Rush Limbaugh and his ilk have used to refer to women for umpteen million years.
- “fetal personhood” laws, which dehumanize women to the status of incubators.
Or — okay, I’m really trying to be fair and open-minded here — perhaps there is some other word for this?
March 14, 2012 marks the one-year anniversary of Bei Bei Shuai’s unprecedented and inhumane incarceration for having experienced such a profound sense of depression while pregnant that she attempted to kill herself.
Ms. Shuai was arrested, charged, and has been held without bail based on the claim that Indiana’s murder statute (death penalty or 45-years-to-life) and attempted feticide statute (up to 20-years) may be used to punish pregnant women who cannot guarantee a healthy birth outcome.
Katha Pollit wrote about Ms. Shuai in The Nation:
In December 2010 Shuai was running a Chinese restaurant in Indianapolis with her boyfriend, Zhiliang Guan, by whom she was eight months pregnant. Just before Christmas, he informed her that he was married and had another family, to which he was returning. When Shuai begged him to stay, he threw money at her and left her weeping on her knees in a parking lot. Despairing, she took rat poison and wrote a letter in Mandarin saying she was killing herself and would “take this baby with me to Hades”; friends got her to the hospital just in time to save her life. Eight days later her baby, Angel, was delivered by Caesarean section and died of a cerebral hemorrhage within four days. Three months later, the newly elected prosecutor, Terry Curry—a Democrat—brought charges, claiming that the rat poison that almost killed Shuai had killed her baby. If convicted, she faces forty-five to sixty-five years in prison.
As digby points out, “this woman is only valued for the fact of her pregnancy.”
How about this story at Alternet:
[I]n Alabama alone, the claim that eggs, embryos and fetuses have separate legal rights has provided the basis for arresting approximately 60 women.
[P]rosecutors have argued, and the Alabama’s Court of Criminal Appeals has agreed, that the word “child” in the statute includes a “viable fetus” and therefore may be used to arrest and jail women who become pregnant, eschew abortion, go to term, and try to bring life into this world, despite having used a controlled substance.
The Appeals Court decision reaches far beyond women who use illegal drugs or even drug use at all. Many prescription drugs are controlled substances and there is no defense under the law if the drug is prescribed to the pregnant woman. This means that a pregnant woman who is prescribed a controlled substance (and her doctor who prescribed it) are now potentially subject to criminal penalties as well.
Or this story at the guardian about criminalizing women who have miscarriages:
Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.
Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
At least 38 of the 50 states across America have introduced foetal homicide laws that were intended to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties – usually abusive male partners – but are increasingly being turned by renegade prosecutors against the women themselves.
South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned. Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.
So yeah. I think we’re going with “atrocities.”