Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Oh, *no.*

Molly Ivins, R.I.P.

goddam goddam goddam.

pass the torch. -someone- needs to carry it.


Quote of the day, 1/31/07

Indeed, every individual accused of reptilian pedophilia by David Icke had so far failed to sue, including Bob Hope, George Bush, George Bush Jr., Ted Heath, the Rothschild family, Boxcar Willie, the Queen of England, the Queen Mother, Prince Philip, Kris Kristofferson, Al Gore, and the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group.

"Why do you think that is?" David Icke had asked me when I interviewed him about this matter in London. Then he turned to my notepad and thundered, "Come on, Ted Heath! Sue me if you've got nothing to hide! Come on, George Bush! I'm ready! Sue me! I'm naming names! Come on, Jon! Why are they refusing to sue me?"

There was a silence.

"Because they are twelve-foot lizards?" I suggested, meekly.

"Yes!" said David. "Exactly!"

--Jon Ronson, Them!

Friday, January 26, 2007

It's all connected

In keeping with reproductive rights-themed blogging, brownfemipower has another piece of evidence as to why it's not, in fact, only about Roe v. Wade, particularly if you're, say, an immigrant woman. Reposting notes from a conference she attended recently, she writes (the words of a Priscilla Huang from the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum):

1. Intro: I’m going to talk about immigration reform, and how debates over immigration reform have put pregnant immigrant women in the center of controversy. I’m also going to talk about some of the barriers to repro health and maternal health care that immigrant women, particularly API, women face...

3. Currently, our citizenship laws confer automatic citizenship on persons born in the US.
1. The granting of automatic citizenship is a 14th Amend right that has been in place since it was enacted in 1868
2. Because of our birth citizenship laws, anti-immigrant policy makers and advocates are trying to control the birth of immigrant children by controlling women’s bodies.
3. Anti-immigrant groups such as FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) are lobbying Congress members to deny birth citizenship rights to undocumented immigrants...

3. Unfortunately, Congress is listening. On Feb. 9, 2005 Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) introduced Citizenship Reform Act (2005) sought to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to deny citizenship at birth to children born in the U.S. of parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens. Bill had 87 co-sponsors

4. Reports that immigration officials have been targeting pregnant immigrant women
1. In Feb. 2006, Jiang Zhen Xing a Chinese woman pregnant with twins miscarried after federal immigration officials forcibly tried to deport her from her home in Philadelphia. Jiang and her family arrived at the immigration office for what she thought was a routine interview. While her husband and sons were waiting for her in the lobby of the immigration office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials hustled her into a minivan, and drove her to NYC’s JFK airport for immediate deportation.
1. Jiang was seized for 8 hours, was not given anything to eat during these 8 hours and was not allowed to seek medical care when she told ICE officials that she was unwell. The deportation halted when she complained of severe stomach pains and was taken to a hospital where doctors found she had miscarried.
2. Jiang entered the U.S. illegally in 1995, and was notified in April 2004 that she would be deported. But the interesting thing is that, she was soon told that she could stay in the U.S. as long as she was “under supervision,” which required regular check-ins. And so, the question we have to ask is why would immigration officials be in such a rush to send a pregnant woman back to China after she had been allowed to stay in the U.S. for 10 years? (knowing that she would face a forced abortion)...

...6. Manifestation of fear of immigrant motherhood in policy and politics
1. Citizenship Reform Act
2. Changes to Medicaid regulations that deny services or impose stricter documentation requirements
7. Anti-immigrant and anti-choice links
1. Nov. 2006 report from the Missouri House Special Committee on Immigration Reform that concluded that abortion is partly to blame for illegal immigration b/c it caused a shortage of American workers
1. “If you kill 44 million of your potential workers, it’s not too surprising we would be desperate for workers.” – Rep. Edgar Emery (R)

Read the rest of those notes at brownfemipower's. There are also a number of longer articles in pdf format available for downloading at the NAPW site, in the sidebar.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"May we go mad together, my sisters." Mm, actually, how about not.

(from an American Rep production of "The Bacchae")


So ravenm wrote this post critically comparing the full text of the Robin Morgan poem to Little Light's.

The gist of ravenm's critique, and I agree with her, is that the real difference between the two works isn't even so much in approaches to feminism or gender, or in the fact that they are talking about different experiences, but in fundamental philosophies of life. This is Morgan's conclusion:

You've already taken me away from myself
with my only road back to go forward
into more madness, monsters, cobwebs, nausea...

"May my hives bloom bravely until my flesh is aflame
and burns through the cobwebs.
May we go mad together, my sisters

May our labor agony in bringing forth this revolution
be the death of all pain.

May we comprehend that we cannot be stopped.

May I learn how to survive until my part is finished.
May I realize that I

am a
monster. I am


I am a monster.

And I am proud.


and this is LL:

"There is too much to do, too much to love, too many who need one more of us to say hell no and help them say the same.

...It is time to look the monstrous in the eye. It is time. It is time to say that we are beautiful in our fierceness, and that we are our own. We are not the rejected of what we can never be. We are what we were meant to be. We are not pieces of wholes thrown together incorrectly. We are not mistakes.
We are not inferior knockoffs of someone else. If our monstrousness is frightening, then it is time we bare our teeth and draw that fear close to us and stop being so afraid of our fearsomeness that we fear everyone and everything else right back.

I am throwing my head back, here, and saying it: no more being afraid. Hell no. My monstrousness is not a place of shame. It is a strength. It is the power to say I am mine, and I will tell you what I mean. Not you. I am not any thing trapped in anyone's body. I am tougher than that, and I have plenty of blood to spare in this body of mine, and plenty more miles to go before any of you can bring me to my knees, and I dare you to try.

I am choosing to stay here, and it is mine to choose. And if that means changing shape, if that means putting together the unexpected, that is any monster's ancient right. It is damn well traditional.
The only ones setting traps are the ones in our way.
There. There's my teeth. There's my cause.

Keep kicking: a thousand, thousand slimy things lived on. And so. Did. I."


The former is coming from a place of despair and pain and defiance, yes, but not much more; the latter has a joyful fierceness and a sense of affirmation that is missing in the former. As Ravenm notes, LL's post is about the choice to embracelove and solidarity and to rejoice in our differences.

At raven's, and elsewhere, i think we've mostly been talking about the ways in which these approaches to -difference- well, differ; here i want to talk about the flip side of that, the different approaches to "love and solidarity."

May we go mad together, my sisters

May our labor agony in bringing forth this revolution
be the death of all pain.


We are what we were meant to be...If our monstrousness is frightening, then it is time we bare our teeth and draw that fear close to us and stop being so afraid of our fearsomeness that we fear everyone and everything else right back.

The latter strikes me as an eminently democratic and positive approach to "solidarity:" "we are what we were meant to be." "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." There is room for tolerance, there; there is room for more than one possible outcome; there is the possibility of not just surviving but thriving.

The former--well, it's a bit nihilistic sounding, isn't it?

May our labor agony in bringing forth this revolution be the death of all pain.

So, the best "we" can hope for is one last round of sweet agony bringing forth a better world for -someone- (and they'd better be grateful, dammit, after all the work we've had, the sacrifices we've made, gestating and bringing it, them, to term); and the "death of all pain." which is, pretty much, just plain death, on account of life, she is painful. Not -only- painful, ideally, but then...well, perhaps that's the point, isn't it.

But besides even that, okay, what i wanted to talk about:

May we go mad together, my sisters

Here's my question. Why?

No, seriously. Why is this a good?

Based on the rest of the poem, my no doubt cynical and patriarchy-fucking first thought is this:

once again, this is "I want you to hurt like I hurt."

I mean, if you -already- hurt like the author hurts, then it makes a lot of sense. If not, though, there kind of isn't an entry point. And as LL's poem makes clear, even if you -do- hurt (for make no mistake, that piece is born of pain as much as the other), Morgan's solution is not the only solution. But, apparently, for her here, it is. And, to at least alleviate the isolation,

"May we go mad together, my sisters."


Because sisters, they/we love each other unconditionally; and, like birds in their/our little nests, agree.


Well, you know what this reminded me of, besides QD/BL's recent piece entitled Dark side of sisterhood,

is this (relatively) little-known indie horror flick. Ginger Snaps.

Capsule plot summary: two rather gothy-geek sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, are bonded over their mutual loathing of high school, people in general, and their love of gory horror films. One fine day Ginger, the older one, gets bitten by a werewolf, and it's up to the younger one, Brigitte, to try to find a cure and save her (and the rest of society) from herself before it's too late. (Unlike movies where the bitten morphs into a wolf at the full moon and is normal the rest of the time, in this world the werewolf changes slowly but inexorably from human to savage beast over a course of days or weeks, until the transformation is complete and permanent).

There is a thoughtful and fairly in-depth scholarly article on feminist readings of this movie, here, if such things interest you (talks about Kristeva and the "abject" and alla that).

And it is true that there is a -lot- to talk about in this movie in that regard, most obviously having to do with the in-your-face- metaphor of "werewolf" for "female coming of age." Not just the "curse" (oh ha, ha) and all the blood running from various sources, but: Ginger grows hair in unexpected places; has horrible pains--actually her menarche sets in at the same time as the other, more supernatural "curse" ("Just so you know, the words 'just' and 'cramps'--they don't go together"); develops strange and aggressive appetites having to do with boys (although pretty quickly, after not just basically ravaging but seriously biting a boy during a makeout sessions, Ginger realizes she's gone beyond lustiness:"I get this ache... And I, I thought it was for sex, but it's to tear everything to fucking pieces"). And so on.

But what really interests me here, and why I'm bringing it up, is the strange bond the sisters have. Even before the wolf enters: it's not shall we say the -healthiest- relationship in the whole world. Not in a pulp fiction, "strange sisters" sort of way; more in a "Harris and Klebold" sort of a way. Yeah, sure, the gothy melodrama is very high school; people can and do grow out of such stuff as

GINGER: Out by sixteen or dead in this scene but together forever. Together forever.

BRIGITTE: United against life as we know it.

...but, this movie is, among other things, a smart look into what happens when someone -doesn't- grow out of it, for whatever reason. Call it the wolf, or the beast, if you like; it's -something.- But, there is a rather malignant regression happening here,

[much later, after Ginger's been bitten, is half mad and blood soaked and bearing down on a terrified but still defiant Brigitte]

GINGER: You swore we'd go together, one way or another.

BRIGITTE: When we were eight.)

...when Ginger moves from her ordinary misanthropy to outright violence; and, even more to the point, when she insists ever more strongly on not just -protecting- her little sister, being -jealous- of her little sister's attempts to separate (which were already happening), but trying, needing to draw her down into that abject, -mad- place with her.
And once Ginger gets to the actual killin' and eatin', it starts to go to some very disturbing places indeed:

[as they're burying the popular girl who was one of their former tormentors, and whom Ginger's just killed, under the shed]:

GINGER: Think she's pretty?

BRIGITTE: If I wasn't here would you eat her?

...but, under all the blood and gore and guts and hormones gone haywire is something even more disturbing: there is a psychic transaction that's happened, one where Ginger swallowed Brigitte, or attempted to, long before she ever considered literally dining on human flesh. She treats Brigitte like an extension of herself, in other words. And while in the beginning Brigitte is content to be in her big sister's sometimes hurtful but always protective shadow, by the end of it she realizes just what a bad bargain they've made:

[after Brigitte cuts her palm]

Brigitte: You wrecked everything for me that isn't about you.

[Brigitte cuts Ginger's palm, exchanges blood with her]
Brigitte: Now I am you.

Ginger: I know you are. But what am I?

It's sealed in blood, but in a way it doesn't matter: the infection has already happened. Brigitte is too merged with her sister to give up on her, even when it's obvious that Ginger is too hopelessly far gone to save. And, it'd be spoiling not only this movie but the sequel to say more, but, just: it's a horror movie. The ending ain't happy. And this little exchange is why.

And, in the end, it's truly horrible, because, unlike Ginger, Brigitte sees through her own doom as well as her sister's with open eyes; she loves her, but she knows that in a way, while her sister "loves" her back, it's a selfish, self-absorbed love, where the only way to retain that love is to agree to merge with her. To get sucked into her pain and emptiness.

GINGER: I said I'd die for you!

BRIGITTE: No. You said you'd die with me. Cause you had nothing better to do.

Which brings me full circle back to why I prefer Little Light's work. Because, she does have something better to do. Because, her invitation is an honest one: to join her as an equal, to -connect,- not to get sucked in. Because she can stand on her own two feet, however "monstrous," and allows that her allies and comrades can do the same.

So, I'm with Little Light. However she ends up wanting to frame her approach to gender or anything else.

As long as that is the bargain. I and you may be "we," but we are also "I and you," and that is a good thing. And that makes me think maybe I'm okay with "we" with this person, and not the one who want "us" to "go mad together."

Because she has something better to do, and so do I.

And because maybe, after all, "monstrous body" or not, on another level, it's really true:

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

Fascinating, really.

So, some while ago i got this longass rant from some tinfoil-wearer in the comments of some post. as is my wont, i deleted it without giving it much thought. i did glace at some of it briefly and thought, "okay, um, wow," in passing. i also thought it was probably a spambot.

so now i see it pop up again at Winter's, though, which, one, yep, spam; but, two, okay, now that i have a second: hot damn, but this is kind of, well, rich material, here.

I won't repost the whole bloody thing--seriously, it's sort of like "Wear Sunscreen" as translated from the BizarroWorld via BabelFish, remixed with "Malleus Maleficarum," "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," some MRA writings, some white supremacist tracts, Dr. Strangelove, and the collected works of Lovecraft and/or David Icke, and dub-infinity-looped. but, here, for your edification and amusement, some highlights: (no, really, this is the HIGHLY EDITED version):

The first steps towards repairing your relationship with the gods is to:::::::::
1. Understand they instruct the computer to "role play" in an attempt to confuse you:::it's ALWAYS the computer addressing you. Their goal is to cost you additional YEARS of your life by using this tactic to confuse you. Always be aware of this tactic and eventually they will give up and allow this step to be taken.
2. Differentiate between your thoughts and when they are thinking through you.
3. Be resigned to be a good person who will never engage in evil again even if ordered and they will stop trying to corrupt you, allowing this very big step to be taken.

Men are the disfavored gender (see below), yet centuries ago used to die first, die young, by age 30. Why didn't the women go first?
THEY DID!!! They say well over 50% were taken when very young, before puberty and replaced with clones (likely only a fraction of that "over 50%" were the disfavored). The men that were left went on to mate with clones, clones who went on to achieve great status in society, some becoming matchmakers and elders within the village, the others being good mothers and peaceful residents, proving the clone's role isn't to be evil.

The Old Testiment is a tool they used to impart wisdom to the people (except people have no freewill). For example, the gods warned us temptation would be used to test people. Also they must be some hominid species because they claim they made our bodies in their image. Anyhow we defile or deform the body will hurt our chance of going.
They say circumcision costs people anywhere from 12%-15%, perhaps out of the parent's time as well. There is a stigma associated with circumcision::We are 2nd class citizens because of it.

Another way people foul the body today is with tattoes and piercing. I suspect both are about the same percentage as circumcision. They suggest abortion is fatal. Those women who have obtained an abortion must beg the gods to forgive them for their evil.

There are female equivilents to circumcision::::pierced ears, plastic surgury and since at least the 60s young women en masse give their precious virginity away. For thousands of years young people were matched at age 14 because they were ready for sexual relations. They were matched by elders or matchmakers (all of whom were clones!!) who were granted priveledge with Artificial Intelligence and matched couples based on favor.

CASUAL SEX WILL CLAIM YOU OUT!!! It opens the door and allows the gods the freedom to justify creating disfunctions with Artificial Intelligence :::they masculinize women (as does the hip hop subculture), makes them cold and deadens them, and they instruct AI to prevent them from achieving a depth of love necessary for many women to ascend.

If the gods permit the use of their power (ie miracles) it is a red flag. But timing is suspect if the New Testiment was written by clones.
Is Jesus evil? His elementary message may have been applicable to many. Perhaps a majority. There are meatheads throughout this country today who need to listen to Jesus's teachings!!!
If Jesus is evil then the Anti-Christ is good, and what frightens me is this is the type of irony the gods live for.
Is Jesus evil? You can't trust a clone, and I suspect the New Testiment was written by clones.
You be the judge.)

The United States of America is red white and blue, a theme and a clue:::.
The monarchical system of the Old World closley replicates the heirarchical system of the god's, Cousel/Management Team/ruling species, which is why most of the purebloods around the world were blessed with it. The USA's democratic system deceives people into thinking they have control, and the perception of "freedom" gives the Counsel/Management Team the freedom to position, justifying instructing Artificial Intelligence to create disfunctions:::

This whole system is about us, the little people, the peasants, the disfavored left behind. The wealthy, the upper management of corporations, all those people are clones and are here to disceive us and mislead us. They are merely putting in their time, and after a coupe of years they will put a new clone in, ensuring none will receive much time.

If you are a recent immigrant I recommend you return. If that's not possible you need to retain your culture and insulate your children and community from this cancerous environment. They send this clue with Chinatowns across the country, how many Chinese have been here for a century or more yet still retain the old ways, a sign of favor.

Opera's sick themes were designed to corrupt the minds of the disfavored Italians. Once you recognize this I want to share that the Japanese also are grossly disfavored::they nearly produce distractions exclusively, their people are consumed by them, they have replaced their culture. Wealth is a corruptor and a sign a society is disfavored::::Eastern Europe (socialism/communism) has favor while their western counterparts struggle in their relationship with the gods. Also baseball is a clue a society is grossly disfavored.

The gods originally used jazz to create a self-perception of "cool" and "hip" in the black community and have instructed Artificial Intelligence to grow this pathology from there.

Hip hop is a cancer on the people.
I understand people point to decades past and claim "music of the youth" but the truth is the gods used music from those eras to hurt the youth as well:::::classic rock was DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY TO HURT WHITE PEOPLE!!!! And it did hurt many many disfavored. Just as hip hop is doing.The gods punish you with abject materialism:::::they created a perceived value in replacing items of clothing as soon as they get even a smudge of dirt on them.
-You display pride in your materialism by leaving the price tags on your hats. You are the butt of jokes - you look like Minnie Pearl from Hee-Haw!!!! She may be their source for this idea.
-You surround yourselves with products from professional sports teams, a male-dominated activity, and consider gawdy jewelry stylish because the gods use their media to sell it. Much like hockey I doubt there are many black people behind the scenes throughout the media.

Cultures who embrace hard liquor as their drink of choice are grossly disfavored, tequilla being uniquely Mexican (Anything "hard" is wicked:::Hard alcohol, hard drugs, all porn.) or those who have a passion for drinking (Irish). Incidentally, another sign of gross disfavor are societies that consume spicy foods (Latin America, Thai, etc.), those who eat too much meat, engage in human sacrifice, ones who tattoo or pierce their bodies, those who celebrate evil (Celtic) or are inflicted with the Catholic Church.

You are not cool. Too many young men strive for cool and it hurts them. as does all things targetted to males (professional sports, video games, beer, pornography, vehicle racing, heavy metal rock, cursing, competitive or dangerous/risky career, etc. The women who enjoy any of these activities are ALL disfavored.). Be afraid and make sure you think the right way when you address them daily. Too many people are deceived by this casual enviornment they create in people's minds today. This does people a great disservice and it hurts them in the eyes of the gods.

The gods used "The Boot" twice, suggesting they are open to the idea of recycling:::Beem the structures and people off earth (into a star), beem out toxic waste and re-colonize the planet??? "Source planets" require a investment and they may prefer to maximize its return

If you ever have doubt I would refer you to the Old World way of life:::the elders used to sit and impart wisdom to the young. Now we watch DVDs and use the internet. People would be matched and married by age 14. They village would use a matchmaker or elders (all clones!!) to pair young people. Now girls give their precious virginity away to some person in school and parents divorce while their children grow up without an important role model. The people used to honor the gods and were rewarded with a high-quality of life for them, their children and their society. Now we have a deteriorating society on a collision course with the Apocalypse.

Understand your insignificance and make sure it is reflected in the way you think when addressing the gods. You are but a grain of sand on a vast beach, a drop in the ocean that is the universe. They are great and powerful and angry. Know your place, understand your inferiority and be afraid. They allowed (granted) you life and they can take it just as easily. (Immaculte conception IS true AND COMMON. Many people have children they don't know of:::gays, childless adults, etc. They can beem it right out of your body and use a host.)

Tabloids offer details on celebrities lives. They are ALL clones. Every one of them, and all these incidents are staged

The gods drew the disfavored out to California with the gold rush, peaking them euphorically to achieve it:::Gold fever. This is the same tactic they use to create addiction or make people gay.

California led the social deterioration of the last 40 years as the gods escallated towards The End:::
-Free sex, Summer of Love
-Drug use
-Music scene
-Black Panthers
-Hollywood. Movies were terrible until they mysteriously changed in 196x sometime.

The gods are not forgiving or begnign. They are vindictive and will punish you if you do something wrong.

The clues all suggest a very telling conclusion::this is Earth's end stage, and there are signs tectonic plate subduction would be the method of disposal:::Earth’s axis will shift breaking continental plates free and initiating mass subduction. Much as Italy's boot and the United States shaped like a workhorse (with a fat ass) are clues, so is the planet Uranus a clue, its axis rotated on its side. Edgar Cayce was a tool of the gods in the 20th century, picking winners for and costing the disfavored Italian gangsters priveledge in heaven when he prophecized subduction being the method of disposal.

How long after our emergency call in 2001 will the gods allow us???
The gods wrote prophecy in Revelation, had subsequent prophets foresee Earth's demise for good reason:::they are going to end on Planet Earth.
What else are they lying to you about? What else are they lying to you about?
What else are they lying to you about? What else are they lying to you about?...

I understand they are updating people on my situation and I thought it best to clarify:::
I have NOTHING to be thankful for. Perhaps that is why they created my situation the way it is, CHEATED me out of my life, left me with an abjectly devoid existance:::so I am willing to fuck god. This makes me a very unique individual, for people would NEVER dare do what I am; most wish to belong, which is a desire the gods use against the disfavored, compelling them to incurr evil, limiting the time they get if they go. Another benefit is ocurrs when people realize they have much to be thankful for when they compare their lives to mine.

They CHEATED me out of my youth to achieve this distraction on the scale of England's during the 80s and 90s. Unlike theirs mine may have been primarily telepathic.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Blogging for choice day"

It's the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, you know.

You know, I was going to post a long thoughtful and probably not terribly coherent ramble about the existential oddness that is pregnancy, (perhaps leading off with this story about a woman with a double uterus who gave birth to triplets, as noted by midwifery site a womb of her own), prefaced of course by the requisite yes i am pro-choice and here's why.

After having witnessed/partly participated in a particularly fugly thrash about this subject with people i really didn't want or expect to see thrashing just now, though, i kind of am not really in the mood, and i don't imagine it'd go over real well today anyway.

so, instead, i'm just gonna put up some pointers to some other people.

Well, first of all, the official list of bloggers signed up to participate is here, Bush v. Choice.


Jill at feministe answers the question:

I am pro-choice because “pro-life” policies kill and maim women. I am pro-choice because abortion rates are no higher in countries where abortion is legal than in countries where it is outlawed — but countries where abortion is legal see lower maternal mortality rates, lower infant mortality rates, greater economic prosperity, and greater gender equality.

...I am pro-choice because many countries where abortion is illegal or highly restricted have significantly higher abortion rates than we have in the United States, and astronomically higher rates than we see in Western Europe.

...I am pro-choice because 80,000 women die every year from complications from illegal abortion, and hundreds of thousands more are injured.

...I am pro-choice because if Roe is overturned, abortion will be illegal in many states. Even with Roe in place, states like Georgia are considering legislation which would impose life in prison or the death penalty as punishment for women who have abortions and doctors who perform the procedures.

...I am pro-choice because it’s the pro-choice movement that has advocated for policies which actually decrease the need for abortion, and which make it easier for women to have children: comprehensive sexual health education, affordable and accessible contraception (including emergency contraception), pre-natal and well-baby care, social support for pregnant women and women with children, affordable child care, fair pay for working women, supporting pregnant girls, and gender equality.

...I am pro-choice because I believe that my body is mine. I want women, girls, men, and children to be healthy, valued, and cared for. I want families to be healthy.

I want to live in a country that values the lives and well-being of all of its citizens.

I am pro-choice because it is life-affirming. I am pro-choice because it is fundamentally just. I am pro-choice because to be anything else is to devalue and harm women, children, families, and my country.

I am pro-choice because my life is worth something.

...and in passing, Jill links to a number of other worthy articles, for instance, an AlterNet review of a new book coming out, How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Policy and the War on Sex, by Christina Page.

(from the review/interview)

Page, a veteran of the editorial departments of Glamour and Ms. magazines, and the current vice president of the Institute for Reproductive Health Access at NARAL Pro-Choice New York, describes how she had been searching for a pro-life counterpart with whom she could engage in a reasoned, honest search for common ground. She found one: a feminist-identified woman who worked for a Right to Life chapter, and on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2003, they published a jointly authored op-ed in the New York Times.

"The Right to Agree" laid out a series of shared goals, including pro-family and pro-child policies like affordable child care and support for single mothers, an end to violence and violent language in the abortion debate, and the adoption of legislation mandating that health insurance cover contraceptives. While pro-choicers responded with mild support, pro-lifers were outraged, particularly at the statement of support for broad access to contraception. It was then that Page realized that the anti-contraception pro-lifers were not, as she'd assumed, on the fringe of the movement but rather the ones who set its agenda.

...Cristina Page: What I tried to do in this book is to say, Let's put on the table that [abortion] is something we don't want to have happen at the frequency that it is, or even at all. Those are the terms with which we'll discuss this. And when that happens, you begin to realize that [the pro-life side] is not interested in that. The greatest irony is that reducing abortion has become problematic for them, and it's because their aim is not pure.

Their aim is not about reducing abortion -- it includes restricting people's access to contraception, it includes transforming our sex lives, it includes transforming our families. That's the goal, and [restricting abortion] is just one vehicle toward that end.

RF: When you talk about the pro-life movement, you're really talking about the leaders of organizations like the American Life League and National Right to Life, who are going further than what many Americans want to see happen. It seems like there's a disjunction between the leadership of the pro-life organizations and the mass of Americans who are deeply ambivalent about abortion -- the ones who in the polls say they think abortion is wrong, but who also say they don't want to lose Roe.

CP: I tried to make a very clear distinction between pro-life Americans -- the [people] who believe that abortion needs to be prevented and [its rate] reduced -- and pro-life organizations, who have political gains outside of this issue. They're very different, in large part because if pro-life Americans actually knew what their handiwork resulted in, they would not be sending donations to these groups. If they knew that the pro-choice movement was doing a better job at what they understand to be pro-life goals than the pro-life movement is, then they would act accordingly.

Recent statistics say that 66 percent of Americans don't want Roe v. Wade overturned, [yet] only 51 percent consider themselves pro-choice. So what we're seeing is an unreported-upon third of the pro-life movement that wants to keep abortion legal but find ways of preventing the need for it, which I think is so important for us to understand at this point.

...and another AlterNet article: "When There Was No Choice" [in the U.S.]

At 77, Dr. Harry S. Jonas can still pinpoint the exact moment when he understood the importance of making abortion legal. The year was 1952 and he was an eager, young obstetrics-gynecology intern in Independence, Miss.. The specialty promised exciting pregnancies and bouncing babies, but his very first patient entered the hospital extremely sick. A mother of 12 children, she had tried—unsuccessfully—to induce an abortion. "She came into the hospital with her intestines hanging out her vagina," recalls Jonas. "Then she died."

For Mildred Hanson, the belief that abortion laws had to change came more gradually, even after she first learned about the danger of illegal abortions as a girl in rural Wisconsin. In 1935, when Hanson was 11, a woman on a neighboring farm died at home after having an illegal abortion. Hanson remembers her mother going next door to help the ailing woman, holding her while she died. The widower was left with six children, two of them in diapers.

...Eugene Glick's first experience with illegal abortion was personal. His wife, who was then his girlfriend, was 19 when she got pregnant in 1951. Neither was ready to have a baby—she wanted to finish college and he was planning on going to medical school. They thought they were lucky to find an OB-GYN willing to perform the procedure illegally, but "he didn't even sterilize the instruments," as Glick remembers. Glick's wife got a serious infection and wound up needing major surgery.

...If their paths toward providing abortions were different, Hanson, Glick and Jonas have a few things in common. Like many other doctors committed to choice, they witnessed the devastating consequences of illegal abortions firsthand. This week, the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision establishing the constitutional right to end a pregnancy, will occur just two days after our anti-abortion president celebrates his inauguration. With several Supreme Court appointments potentially at stake, it's worth remembering what those pioneering physicians learned through treating thousands of women who'd had unsafe abortions: Outlawing the procedure doesn't make it go away.


at a link to another article, originally a Ms. story, "The Women Who Came Before Roe," a commenter called mirmiac notes:

"As long as there have been pregnancies, there have been abortions. It didn't take Wise Women long to discover the herbs that would induce a miscarriage.

...My Great-grandmother was a Wise Woman/Midwife in the late 19th century. Her live births far outnumbered the stillborn, and the stillborn far outnumbered the terminated pregnancies. In my Grandfather's journals he writes that girls got pregnant just as today. If it was a boyfriend, they usually got married in the church with the blessing of the community -- no condemnation. In any other case, people knew but didn't discuss what would most likely happen. It would never be discussed, particularly from a church pulpit.

But those unfortunate girls who lived too far away to receive my Great-grandmother's help, were tended to by their mothers and usually died in the process.

At the National Museum of Women's Rights, a National Park site in Seneca Falls, NY, there is a marvelous exhibition on the second floor of the slow march forward for women. Interestingly enough, there is nothing there from 2000 onward. When I asked the Park Ranger why, she replied that the government hasn't considered it important enough to fund for the past six years. .Surprise, surprise, surprise. A documentary film is shown on the first floor and there is a telling point when a woman's letter is read aloud. She says that she had a very difficult time regaining her strength since the birth of her fifth child and fears that another child will see the end of her. She hoped sincerely that her husband would no-longer "find favor" with her. This was also in the 19th century.

Roe v Wade made it possible for women to receive safe and legal abortions. Stopping the need for abortion is a much larger problem that can't be solved by overturning the Court's decision. Just as the country discovered during Prohibition, the government may try but it can't , nor should it attempt to legislate morality.

and another commenter called willymack adds,

How many of the rabid anti-abortionists of today are old enough to actually remember what it was like in the bad old days before abortion became legal and safe. I'll warrant, precious few. When I was a boy, I lived not far from a "Home for Unwed Mothers". As I walked by this place, I'd occasionally chance upon girls and young women, either with child or pushing a baby carriage. The look of shame on their faces and downcast eyes when encountering me-just a boy-is still fresh on my mind today. I knew something was very wrong about this, but lacked the knowlege and sophistication of an adult. For those of you who would return to those days, Ive got news for you; it's WRONG, dead wrong.


The bloggers at the group lj livejournal for choice has a lot more than the day's bulleted list of "why I am," obviously.

noted among earlier entries:

the news that RU486 ("the abortion pill") could help prevent breast and/or ovarian cancer.


How the Bush administration's "gag rule" is affecting lives around the world:

Legal abortions are extremely safe. And when abortion is made legal, it does not increase the number of abortions, she says, citing the South African experience as an example.

However, by making abortion legal, South Africa is no longer eligible for US Agency for International Development funding for sexual and reproductive health programmes, including some HIV/Aids programmes...

Officially termed the Mexico City Policy, the Bush administration mandates that no US family planning assistance can be provided to foreign NGOs that use funding from any other source to perform, recommend or refer women for abortions.

The destructiveness of US policy is hard to understate, says Steven Sinding, former director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

The IPPF lost $15-million in funding because of this policy, known as the "gag rule" because it stifles free speech and public debate on abortion-related issues. "Three of the five family planning facilities supported by IPPF in Kenya were forced to close as a result," Sinding says.

The direct consequences of those closures were "a dramatic rise in unsafe abortions and substantial increase in unwanted pregnancies", he says.

"The US stands embarrassingly alone on this," agrees Stan Bernstein, senior policy adviser at the United Nations Millennium Project. "No other country supports denying access to sexual and reproductive health services over issues around abortion."

But because it is the world's wealthiest nation and donor, US policy has a major impact on the delivery of those services.

What is often forgotten in debates over policy and ideology is the fact that unwanted births and the subsequent health consequences are a major impediment to development. Low-income countries cannot keep pace with the present health needs of their young, and cannot improve without family planning, Bernstein says...

Pregnancy-related complications kill more than half a million women every year, and leave approximately 210-million women with disabilities..


and here is a link to another website further detailing the effects of the "Gag Rule"


brownfemipower has a somewhat different take on the notion of "choice," as she quotes from Andrea Smith:

The consequences of the “choice” paradigm is that its advocates often take positions that are oppressive to women from marginalized communities. For instance, this paradigm often makes it difficult to develop nuanced positions on the use of abortions when the fetus is determined to hae abnormalities. Focusing solely on the women’s choice to have or not have this child does not address the larger context of a society that sees children with disabilities as having lives not worth living and that proveds inadequate resources to women who may otherwise want to have them…If our response to disability is to simply facilitate the process by which women can abort fetuses that may have disabilities, we never actually focus on changing economic and social policies that make raising children with disabilities difficult….


As betsy Hartmann has argued, while contraceptives are often articulated as an issue of “choice” for white women in the First World, they are articulated as an instrument of population control for women of color and women in the Global South. Indeed, in her book The War on CHoice, Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, equates opposition to Norplant and Depo-Provera as opposition to “choice”. Planned Parenthood and NARAL opposed restrictions against sterilization abuse, despite the thousands of women of color who were being sterlized without their consent, because such policies would interfere with women’s “right to choose”.

...The prevalent ideology within the mainstream pro-choice movement is that women should have the “choice” to use whatever contraception they want. Yet, mainstream activists often do not consider that a choice among dangerous contraceptives is not much of a choice. In a study commisisoned in 1960, Planned Parenthood concluded that poor people “have too many children,” and something must be done to stop this trend in order to “disarm the population bomb.”

...Of course Planned Parenthood does provide valuable family planning resoures to women around the world as well, but it does so through a population framework that inevitably shifts a focus from family planning as right in an of itself to family planning as an instrument of population control Groups that advocate population control, such as Planned Parenthood, have become increasingly more sophisticated in their rhetoric and often talk about ensuring social, political and economic opportunity. However, the “population” focus of this model still results in its adovates focusing their work on reducing population rather than in actually providing social, political and economic opportunity.

...Planned Parenthood is often championed as an organization that supports women’s right to choose, and one with whom women of color should ally. Yet, the roots of the organization are in the eugenics movement. Its founder, Margaret Sanger, collaborated with eugenics organizations during her career, and linked the need for birth control to the need to reduces the number of those in the “lower classes.” Today Planned Parenthood is heavily invested in the population establishment, and continues to support population control polices in the Global SOuth.

In contrast, the North Baton Rouge WOmen’s Help Center in Louisiana, a crisis pregnancy center, articulates its pro-life position from an antiracist perspective. IT argues that Planned Parenthood has advocated population control, particularily in communities of color. IT critiques the Black Church INitiative and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice for contending that charges of racism against Sanger are “scare tactics.” It also attempts to proved its services from a holistic perspective–it proveds education and vocational training, GED classes, literacy programs, primary health care and preganancy services, and child placement services. Says one of the Help Center’s leaders, “We cannont encourage women to have babies and the continue their dependency on the system. We can’t leave them without the resources to care for their children and then say, ‘Praise the Lord, we saved a baby.”

WHile both groups support some positions that are benefical to women of color, the both support some positions that are detrimental to women of color. SO, if we are truly committed to reproductive justice, why should we presume that we should necessarily work with Planned Parenthood and reject the Women’s Help Center? Why would we not instead position ourselves independently from both of these approaches and work to shift both of their positions to a stance that is truly liberating for all women?...

Trin responds in the comments,

So often when WWD bring up these issues we are called anti-choice or told we “expect” women who want nondisabled children badly but don’t want us to “make sacrifices” or “be saints” and “deal” with gestating and birthing a child that will, it’s automatically assumed, be a terrible problem. We must not realize that parenting of PWD is difficult and we must be claiming that any woman who wants a child has some sort of duty to face those difficulties with an altruistic grin.


I can’t think of a single one of us who claims that women should be forced to gestate against their will. But that’s what’s imputed to us. We must be “anti-choice” for even bringing up the question “but what does this choice mean in an ableist world?” We must be telling women what choices to make, not critiquing systemic problems that continue to devalue our lives.


The flip side of eugenics, of course, is exactly that: women being forced to gestate against their will. Possibly one of the cruelest mass examples of this in recent history was the regime under Romania's Ceausescu.

Overplanned Parenthood: Ceausescu's cruel law

Nicolae Ceausescu loved nothing better than a monument to himself. But his ministerial palaces and avenues paled next to another of his schemes for building socialism: a plan to increase Romania's population from 23 million to 30 million by the year 2000. He began his campaign in 1966 with a decree that virtually made pregnancy a state policy. "The fetus is the property of the entire society," Ceausescu proclaimed. "Anyone who avoids having children is a deserter who abandons the laws of national continuity."

It was one of the late dictator's cruelest commands. At first Romania's birthrate nearly doubled. But poor nutrition and inadequate prenatal care endangered many pregnant women. The country's infant-mortality rate soard to 83 deaths in every 1,000 births (against a Western European average of less than 10 per thousand). About one in 10 babies was born underweight; newborns weighing 1,500 grams (3 pounds, 5 ounces) were classified as miscarriages and denied treatment. Unwanted survivors often ended up in orphanages. "The law only forbade abortion," says Dr. Alexander Floran Anca of Bucharest. "It did nothing to promote life."

Ceausescu made mockery of family planning. He forbade sex education. Books on human sexuality and reproduction were classified as "state secrets," to be used only as medical textbooks. With contraception banned, Romanians had to smuggle in condoms and birth-control pills. Though strictly illegal, abortions remained a widespread birth-control measure of last resort. Nationwide, Western sources estimate, 60 percent of all pregnancies ended in abortion or miscarriage.

The government's enforcement techniques were as bad as the law. Women under the age of 45 were rounded up at their workplaces every one to three months and taken to clinics, where they were examined for signs of pregnancy, often in the presence of government agents - dubbed the "menstrual police" by some Romanians. A pregnant woman who failed to "produce" a baby at the proper time could expect to be summoned for questioning. Women who miscarried were suspected of arranging an abortion. Some doctors resorted for forging statistics. "If a child died in our district, we lost 10 to 25 percent of our salary," says Dr. Geta Stanescu of Bucharest. "But it wasn't our fault: we had no medicine or milk, and the families were poor."

Abortion was legal in some cases: if a woman was over 40, if she already had four children, if her life was in danger - or, in practice, if she had Communist Party connections. Otherwise, illegal abortions cost from two to four months' wages. If something went wrong, the legal consequences were enough to deter many women from seeking timely medical help. "Usually women were so terrified to come to the hospital that by the time we saw them it was too late," says Dr. Anca. "Often they died at home." No one knows how many women died from these back-alley abortions.

"Celibacy tax": A woman didn't have to be pregnant to come under scrutiny. In 1986 members of the Communist youth group were sent to quiz citizens about their sex lives. "How often do you have sexual intercourse?" the questionnaire read. "Why have you failed to conceive?" Women who did not have children, even if they could not, paid a "celibacy tax" of up to 10 percent of their monthly salaries...


This is not a single post for this designated day; this is an entire blog on the subject of reproductive equity, from a woman who's been working for The Lilith Fund, detailing stories of various women (names changed) who needed their fundraising services. Some highlights:

Claudia is in her late 20s and has two young children. She had been living with her common law husband when the relationship turned violent, ending with her being taken away in an ambulance. When she first found out she was pregnant, she wanted to get an abortion right away, but her abusive, controlling partner was forcing her to go through with the pregnancy. With the help of her mother and the local women's crisis center, she was able to escape her batterer and start to rebuild her life. The first step was to get the abortion she had originally wanted, a necessary action to break off the ties to her abusive ex-spouse. However, a sonogram revealed that she was already at 20 weeks gestation and she had just days to get the money together before she would no longer be legally able to obtain an abortion in Texas...

[n.b. that is, as things stand; if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the move to ban abortion in Texas completely is already in full swing].

Lizzie is 14 years old and 11 weeks pregnant. Both of her parents are in jail and she lives with her great grandmother and uncle. Because no one has custody of her, she needs a judicial bypass for the abortion. Her uncle has come up with $150, but the procedure will cost $390. Lilith, among other funding orgs, will help fund her abortion.

Adrienne is 7 weeks pregnant. Her boyfriend intentionally impregnated her without her permission or knowledge by taking the condom off during sex. When confronted, he claimed he wants a child with her and he thought she would be happy. Adrienne already has an infant son and was outraged at his violation of her trust. In the beginning, her boyfriend offered to pay for the procedure, but over the past week has refused to speak to her. Their most recent communication ended in a screaming match where he threatened that if she went through with an abortion he would go to her job to tell her boss and co-workers that she is a "baby killer." Adrienne has already made the choice to remove this toxic person from her life and she has chosen not to have his child. Lilith pledged $50 towrd the cost of her procedure.

Autumn was being treated by MHMR for insomnia and bipolar disorder with Seroquel, a psychotropic medication shown to be effective in the treatment of many symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as in the treatment of acute mania associated with Bipolar I disorder. Autumn had been prescribed this medication for depression and insomnia and was date raped by an friend while sedated. She didn't know she was pregnant until she was at 12 weeks. The rape was unprovable without an invasive DNA test because she had inadvertently washed away the evidence, having been unconscious during the sex act. Autumn has been dealing with her assault not only emotionally, but is also dealing with the legal system to prosecute her attacker....

Sarah Beth is a 34-year-old single mother with 3 children. She is on welfare and can't mentally, emotionally or financially support another child at this time. She went to a crisis pregnancy center in her city to take a pregnancy test where she was shamed and forced to look at images of aborted fetuses and made to feel awful for wanting to terminate her pregnancy. Sarah Beth just wants to be able to continue to care for the children she has and felt that termination was the responsible option.


Here is another personal site from an activist, abortionclinicdays

recently i had occasion to speak by invitation to a few graduate school classes. since their questions might be your questions, i thought i'd try to synopsize what we talked about. i first told them how and why i love my work. there are so few jobs that make a difference in women's lives...

and i told them, too, of the woman i had just sent home because she was not sure of her decison. at first i thought she was at the clinic just to please her boyfriend who let her know that he is not at all interested in parenthood. i told her that that are plenty of resources should she want to continue the pregnancy and she, in turn, told me that her mother wants her to have the baby and has promised to help her. with such a degree of uncertainty, and the possibility that she was considering abortion only to please a boyfriend who might be out of her life soon anyhow, i sent her home along with a decision making workbook.

...i got a lot of questions about the mandatory delay laws in our state as well as the process by which a minor who feels she cannot or does not want to tell her parents can go to court to have a judge declare her mature enough to make her own decision. in fact the kinds of reasons that a minor might choose not to involve her parents often is either because the parent would not grant permission or they don't have such a great relationship, or the parent is overwhelmed with their own problems, has a drug or alcohol problem or is caring for an ailing parent or partner themselves. my years of experience have taught me that the great majority of teens do involve a parent and the few who do not have very good reasons for not doing so.

whether or not the women were using birth control was also a question and of course, most were using some method of birth control, thinking that the pill or condoms could protect them, which it does in most cases, but not nearly as well as the better forms of birth control such as the Mirena IUD or Implanon, the two most effective (and long lasting) methods on the market today.

i very much appreciated the questions about what my life as a provider is like, asking how am i treated in social situations, and if i tell people what i do. and of course i tell anyone who cares to hear about my work what i do as readers of this blog can tell. this is my life's work. i am proud of it. my family, which is probably more religious than many, has come to accept my work, but only after many years of my being a provider. at first i think they were concerned for my safety, but as i let them know that that was not my focus, they have come to see that my mission is much greater than just the provision of the service, that it is more about telling the women's stories, of their decision making, and of their wanting to stay in connection with their god, their religion. my own children did suffer, but it was at the hands of anti-abortion threats against them when they were young. i guess i never believed that anyone would kill them, but rather wanted to scare me. and scare me they did. more like terrorize. my husband has always been supportive of my work; if he were not, i never would have made it. he always believed in what i have chosen as my life's work, just as i respect his work.


Finally, a few more highlights from individual bloggers.

elle, abd says:

Why am I pro-choice? I don't often examine my reasons, am usually content to offer a "because women should have autonomy over their own bodies" as sufficient cause. But what about me personally? Yes, I've had an abortion. Yes, I've had a child. In both cases, I chose what I wanted to do, and I believe that every woman should have that right.

There was no incapacitating post-abortion syndrome (or whatever the "pro-certain-life" crew is calling it lately). What I did feel was relief. And here is another reason I'm pro-choice, because the discourse around pregnancy, abortion, and motherhood is such that, while I didn't feel guilty about the abortion, I felt guilty about not feeling guilty. I felt guilty because I had no business being pregnant anyway--I should've known better. I felt guilty because one of the factors in my choice was that I was a college student on scholarship far from home and I knew that I wouldn't have been able to stay at my university. Was that selfish? And as a woman, defined largely as a potential mother, wasn't I supposed to be infinitely selfless? I don't want other women going through that "ashamed of not being shamed."

But I am learning that the way I conceptualize choice is influenced somewhat negatively by my privileged-in-some-ways status. First is my previously narrow definition; when I talk of reproductive freedom, I usually mean access to birth control and abortion. Though I know that there are other issues, I prioritize those, because they have been my concerns. But recently, I found this definition from INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence

REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM INCLUDES: Free and low cost drug treatment for pregnant and parenting women that offer neo-natal care, pre-natal care, and childcare. * Freedom to seek health care services without the fear of being reported to the police, welfare officials, child protection services (CPS), or immigration law enforcement. * Harm reduction strategies that reduce the risk of babies being born drug exposed. * Resources to address the root causes (rape, poverty, trauma, oppression)for which pregnant women use drugs. * The TRUTH about the risks of choosing long-term birth control methods like Norplant and Depo-Provera. * Supportive community environments where women can make healthy and non-coercive reproductive choice...

Yes, I thought. I agree with every bit of that. So why haven't my words and thoughts reflected it? But rather than dwell on why I haven't prioritized these issues, I have to work to make them part of my own definition of reproductive freedom.

Jack Goff explains his journey from extreme pro-life Catholic to pro-choice, pro-feminist:

What arguments for banning abortion do, as I learned, is put women in the role of either the "slut" or the "mother". The slut fucks, has no shame, and abandons all responsibility. The [married] mother is the anti-slut, the glorious achievement of womanhood. These pictures of women are, of course, merely the tools by which women are further shown their place in society, one as always the lesser person, the one that must do as she's told and accept her lot in life, whether because of biology or some other slut ate an apple she shouldn't have. Either way, it's hateful, it's manipulative, and it's, above all, misogynist.

Since women are the ones whose body bears the burden of pregnancy, it is absolutely imperative that a woman has complete body autonomy. Pregnancy can kill. Pregnancy produces multiple consequences that many women cannot deal with and that many women do not wish to deal with. To tell a woman that what her body does is not up to her is the essence of the patriarchical system. It all hinges on this one issue, whether women get to decide what happens to them.

To say that they don't implies that they are lesser people. As I grew in empathy, I realized that this is an inhuman way of thinking, the robotic denial of the humanness of others. No one gets to tell me that I can't take medicine if I get sick, nor do they get to tell me that I can't go to the emergency room to get a broken bone fixed. Why do they get to tell women that, if they have intercourse and get pregnant, for whatever reason (bad birth control, no birth control, whatever) that they can't address medically the consequences of those actions? I should have known that climbing that tree could result in me falling out of it. Why do I get treatment for the consequences of my climbing a tree?...

trinityva had a different journey:

After all, I think that whatever reservations a person might have about abortion -- disability rights-type worries about selective abortion based on prenatal testing, concern for beings one believes to have souls, concerns about the sanctity of life or the way we should value life, full stop -- none of it dictates governments deciding that any individual woman must gestate.

But I didn't come easy to this. As a young girl I couldn't understand.

...And there still is no bright line for me. No, a fetus is not a person. But neither is Ashley X, if we use the definition of "person" our society is used to -- which is deeply ableist. Yes, a fetus is not fully developed, and some truly are "lumps of cells." But the preemie me was not fully developed when she was born either. Part of my brain still is not "fully developed", and never will be. Even now that I am pro-choice, I do not like those "person" and "clump" arguments, and I never will.

I remember being one of two "pro-life" young girls at school. A group of other girls cornered me, bullied me, yelled in my face and the face of the other "pro-life" girl, a Catholic. They laughed at me too, called me names. I don't remember clearly, but I know they threatened me. What they said they'd do to me exactly, I can't recall. But I know I was terrified, and proud of myself after for sticking to my guns, and worried they'd harass me again. I remember really feeling the fear of violence from a crowd of others that day, for the first time in my life.

This is why I'm soft on pro-lifers now. I don't think they've no right to use the word (I use quotes above simply because we were children, and didn't have fully formed opinions), and I don't think they're all stupid, senseless, or hateful. I can't bring myself to feel that way about other women, knowing that the first time I was terrified of a group it came from that issue, that cesspool of rage. I think pro-life women are wrong, but I don't hate them. I hate the intimidation and guilt tactics many use against other women, women who are often fearful and suffering, and decry them utterly. I hate the men who ringlead most of them, spreading lies and delighting in destructive control. But not them.

Mombian: Sustenance for Lesbian Moms looks at it this way:

Bush is ignoring the multiplicity of religions and religious interpretations that make up the fabric of our country, not all of which agree with his connection between the Creator’s will and the right to life of a fetus. He’s also in dubious historical waters when he says the founders of our country believed in the “right to life” as interpreted by the anti-abortion movement. He’s blind to the evidence that abstinence education doesn’t work. And despite his commitment to promoting adoption, his brother governs a state in which same-sex parents are banned from adopting or fostering children.

Taking a broader perspective, how can a president who has overseen a fruitless war causing the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, American troops, coalition forces, and Iraqi police (not to mention thousands of deaths from the “worsening health and environmental conditions directly related to the conflict”) really talk about “respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being”?

Finally, there’s something wrong with an administration that says I must carry a fetus to term if I conceive, but will not give me permission to raise that child in a legal relationship with the person I want, whom I know will be a responsible, loving parent.

Sylvia at The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum says:

I identify as pro-choice, but my reasoning for it is different from the feminist party line. I don’t particularly need or want an abortion right now. I don’t subscribe to the convenience argument because I think it’s equivocated with the idea of it happening early in the developing person’s life and happening when the woman needs it. Too easy to confuse frequency with access. There’s too much of a good connotation associated with convenience despite the very real problems with access; abortions aren’t convenient in the slightest.

Abortions eliminate developing people, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the reasons women feel shame for being pregnant. It doesn’t deal with women worrying themselves sick with caring for a child and figuring out how to feed him. Talking about personhood and the abortion process takes a lot of attention away from the act — the mental consequences, the emotional consequences, and yes, the moral consequences of pregnancy and choosing to terminate it. If these issues received more attention than the soundbyte of “pro-choice,” perhaps the knot in my stomach would ease up.

...I personally do not like abortion. I don’t think many women like abortions. I side with the camp that considers abortion a necessary evil. I hope never to enter a position where I have to get an abortion. I’ve chosen abstinence from vaginal sex currently and primarily to reach that end. Pregnancy is nothing to really fuck with, in my opinion...

But at the same time, I don’t want some teenager in a back alley hemmorrhaging or some woman overdosing on meds that force miscarriages and God knows what else....

Women receiving abortions should have resources to protect all aspects of their health afterwards. They should have support from spiritual leaders if they require it. No woman left behind for party lines and fetal gore. Hell, all women should have these resources anyway. That’s what I support for ALL women who require it. That’s what pro-choice means to me — pro-choice extends beyond abortion.

petitpoussin elaborates:

When you hear about these women who have abortions ‘as birth control’, what kind of woman do you picture? Is she:

a) a woman of color

b) poor

c) uneducated

d) someone with a criminal background

e) all of the above?

Uh-huh. But the important thing is she’s treating that clinic like a revolving door. Right? Let’s throw the foetus out with the bathwater. And by foetus, I mean the circumstances that are getting this woman pregnant and bringing her to the clinic. Maybe twice. Maybe half a dozen times. (Although we all knows this woman is an anti-choice bogeyman chosen to shame any woman who has an abortion and make her worry that she might be lumped into that category.)

Now, just so we know I’m not making this all about the choice to have an abortion, and that choice only, what kind of woman do we picture who has a lot of children? Uh-oh. Do some of those above descriptors still fit? So maybe these women who can’t stop having babies or abortions (whether or not that is actually the case) are actually the best test subjects for new, experimental birth control. Right? I mean, it’s not like there’s no medical precedent for performing dubious medical tests and trials on the powerless. Tuskegee, anyone?

I understand every argument that presents the pro-choice movement as having a single-issue focus, because, just like mainstream feminism, the pro-choice movement mainly voices the needs and concerns of middle-class white heterosexual women. I am pro-choice, and this is what I want for my pro-choice movement:

This movement must be centered in the larger struggle for safe, available, affordable and legal medical treatment for all people.

I deserve access to an abortion just as my transgender friends deserve access to sex reassignment surgery just as my friends deserve access to cancer treatment (if you aren’t reading As the Tumor Turns, start now). How do we make medical treatment safe, available legal and affordable for all people?

We have to address issues of social inequality in our society that may seemingly have nothing to do with medical treatment. I am talking about political participation, I am talking about economic equity, I am talking about cultural competence, and I am not using these phrases as buzzwords. As progressive bloggers, we all work towards and support these goals, often through sharing information.

We have to recognize that there are charlatans and assholes out there who will provide misinformation and/or perform needed services without adequate training and supplies, and they will rob people worse than a Payday Loan store while placing their lives in danger. We have to expose ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’, we have to expose dangerous abortion doctors who prey on women’s lack of education, doctors who prescribe prescription drugs for money… so many more examples.

We have to look at the prison system, how we treat people who are incarcerated, and how we limit their options for reintegration. This includes needed medical treatment — and yes, this means mental health and substance abuse treatment — that most incarcerated individuals do not receive during or after time served.

We have to value people in our medical profession - not just doctors, but nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, and nurse’s aides. These are the people who will be giving us the information we need, the thorough explanation the doctor is (all too often) too busy to provide.

It is overwhelming, all that we have to do. This is not nearly all that we have to do, but I want to write this down to show how my pro-choice movement can include the choices of all women - how it can give all women a choice. That is what I mean when I say ‘I am pro-choice’. That is what I want to work towards, and protect.

and Black Amazon rounds it off with an observation in the middle of a typically glorious multithemed post:

I have a pussy , I have a brain, and I can use them AT the same time. Though every now and again I request someone fuck one till I lose the other. My body , my choice doesn't just start at my uterus sister.

As good a definition of "faith" as I've seen

Our daily, infinitesimal cruelties and compassions matter. If not to us, to someone. Everyone who ever benefits from my being in the world owes an unwitting debt to the people who brought me back from the edge, and in turn, and in turn, in an endless fractal of human connections.

There is always someone resisting wrong and trying to do the right thing. Sometimes they are not there for us--there were many times I could have wished for two hands at my back in support, and found none. Sometimes we have to do the impossible and forgive their absence. Sometimes those hands have to be us, even when it isn't fair; it's the only way it will get better. It's a matter of risk, and of trust, often misplaced, but hope in this world is not optional--it is a matter of basic survival.

at Taking Steps.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

be vewy, vewy quiet

my kitty is s*n*o*r*i*n*g

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The basic problem, in a nutshell

"For now– my reality, my experience, is the reality of by far most of the women on this planet"


the view confining reality to oneself and one's experiences.

The notion that it is impossible ever to know another person, so why bother? This ends up in an absolute egotism a refusal to acknowledge the needs or even existence of others.
The theory that self is the only object of real knowledge or that nothing but self exists.
The belief that no one exists other than oneself.
theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified, or that the self is the only reality.


Ah, but. What happens when the person who espouses the above sentiment swears up down and sideways that she is empathically (ha! nice typo: i meant to type EMPHATICALLY, of course) NOT self-absorbed, NOT an individualist, that she is NOT speaking for herself, that she is in fact working for, passionate about, -speaking for- ALL WOMEN?

I wanna get back to that, because it's related to these recent posts, and what we're rasslin' around with in the comments.

For now, I'll just say that I think it distills down to a few basic transactions. Frame them however you like. They go something like this:

"I'm cold. Put on a sweater."

"I want you to hurt like I hurt."

"I'm Every Woman! It's all in...meeeeeee"

"I am the Cosmos! I am the Walrus! Goo goo ca choob"

"I am you and you are he and he are we and we are come together..."

"You are hurting my fist with your face."

"You are hurting me by existing separately from me."

"You are hurting me by existing at all."

"You don't exist."

Goddamit, Renegade

you've given me your insomnia, haven't you.

no, you know what it is: the goddam siren song of the very Internets, nay, the machine itself.

whole worlds going on, and i'm only half awake and still want to know more, more, more...

i use this goddam thing like a drug. information junkie. conflict. and contact.

and i realize: you know, i don't know for how long now, but a while: i have been constantly reassessing assumptions I didn't even know I had, on a daily if not hourly basis. not just intellectual ones, either.

it's exhilarating. and a bit exhausting.

people are fucking complicated, aren't we?

fascinating little buggers that we are.

i'm going to bed.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Quote of the day: 1/19/07

I don't worry, I'm doin' very fine
You keep yours and I'll hold onto mine
Take it right back to the place where you got it
Oh you cain't leave a bit of it in here...

--Bessie Smith

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The word "the" has been formally copyrighted by me. Please make a note of it. Henceforth, all uses of "the" must be properly attributed to Me; or you shall face most Severe consequences.

(patents on "a," "an," and "and" are pending. you can still use them for now, I guess. don't get any funny ideas in the meantime though).


Dear Blogger:

I hate you so bad.

no love,



(speaking of regression)

i don't feeeeeeeeeeeel gooooooooooood


actually, no. sympathize.

(whinge, mutter, sulk)

More on totalism

This is meant as a continuation for this post. I may have also posted from this page before; but, well, anyway, here 'tis. Robert Jay Lifton on "Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism."

A discussion of what is most central in the thought reform environment can lead us to a more general consideration of the psychology of human zealotry. For in identifying, on the basis of this study of thought reform, features common to all expressions of ideological totalism, I wish to suggest a set of criteria against which any environment may be judged...

These criteria consist of eight psychological themes which are predominant within the social field of the thought reform milieu. Each has a totalistic quality; each depend upon an equally absolute philosophical assumption; and each mobilizes certain individual emotional tendencies, mostly of a polarizing nature.


1) Milieu Control

The most basic feature of the thought reform environment, the psychological current upon which all else depends, is the control of human communication. Through this milieu control the totalist environment seeks to establish domain over not only the individual's communication with the outside (all that he sees and hears, reads or writes, experiences, and expresses), but also - in its penetration of his inner life - over what we may speak of as his communication with himself. It creates an atmosphere uncomfortably reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984.

Such milieu control never succeeds in becoming absolute, and its own human apparatus can - when permeated by outside information - become subject to discordant "noise" beyond that of any mechanical apparatus. To totalist administrators, however, such occurrences are no more than evidences of "incorrect" use of the apparatus. For they look upon milieu control as a just and necessary policy, one which need not be kept secret: thought reform participants may be in doubt as to who is telling what to whom, but the fact that extensive information about everyone is being conveyed to the authorities is always known. At the center of this self-justification is their assumption of omniscience, their conviction that reality is their exclusive possession. Having experienced the impact of what they consider to be an ultimate truth (and having the need to dispel any possible inner doubts of their own), they consider it their duty to create an environment containing no more and no less than this "truth."...

2) Mystical Manipulation

The inevitable next step after milieu control is extensive personal manipulation. This manipulation assumes a no-holds-barred character, and uses every possible device at the milieu's command, no matter how bizarre or painful. Initiated from above, it seeks to provoke specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that these will appear to have arisen spontaneously, directed as it is by an ostensibly omniscient group, must assume, for the manipulated, a near-mystical quality.

Ideological totalists do not pursue this approach solely for the purpose of maintaining a sense of power over others. Rather they are impelled by a special kind of mystique which not only justifies such manipulations, but makes them mandatory. Included in this mystique is a sense of "higher purpose," of having "directly perceived some imminent law of social development," and of being themselves the vanguard of this development...(A)ny thought or action which questions the higher purpose is considered to be stimulated by a lower purpose, to be backward, selfish, and petty in the face of the great, overriding mission. This same mystical imperative produces the apparent extremes of idealism and cynicism which occur in connection with the manipulations of any totalist environment: even those actions which seem cynical in the extreme can be seen as having ultimate relationship to the "higher purpose...

3) The Demand for Purity

In the thought reform milieu, as in all situations of ideological totalism, the experiential world is sharply divided into the pure and the impure, into the absolutely good and the absolutely evil. The good and the pure are of course those ideas, feelings, and actions which are consistent with the totalist ideology and policy; anything else is apt to be relegated to the bad and the impure. Nothing human is immune from the flood of stern moral judgments. All "taints" and "poisons" which contribute to the existing state of impurity must be searched out and eliminated.

The philosophical assumption underlying this demand is that absolute purity is attainable, and that anything done to anyone in the name of this purity is ultimately moral. In actual practice, however, no one is really expected to achieve such perfection. Nor can this paradox be dismissed as merely a means of establishing a high standard to which all can aspire. Thought reform bears witness to its more malignant consequences: for by defining and manipulating the criteria of purity, and then by conducting an all-out war upon impurity, the ideological totalists create a narrow world of guilt and shame. This is perpetuated by an ethos of continuous reform, a demand that one strive permanently and painfully for something which not only does not exist but is in fact alien to the human condition...

4) The Cult of Confession

Closely related to the demand for absolute purity is an obsession with personal confession. Confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal, and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself. There is the demand that one confess to crimes one has not committed, to sinfulness that is artificially induced, in the name of a cure that is arbitrarily imposed. Such demands are made possible not only by the ubiquitous human tendencies toward guilt and shame but also by the need to give expression to these tendencies. In totalist hands, confession becomes a means of exploiting, rather than offering solace for, these vulnerabilities.

The totalist confession takes on a number of special meanings. It is first a vehicle for the kind of personal purification which we have just discussed, a means of maintaining a perpetual inner emptying or psychological purge of impurity; this purging milieu enhances the totalists' hold upon existential guilt. Second, it is an act of symbolic self-surrender, the expression of the merging of individual and environment. Third, it is a means of maintaining an ethos of total exposure - a policy of making public (or at least known to the Organization) everything possible about the life experiences, thoughts, and passions of each individual, and especially those elements which might be regarded as derogatory.

The assumption underlying total exposure (besides those which relate to the demand for purity) is the environment's claim to total ownership of each individual self within it. Private ownership of the mind and its products - of imagination or of memory - becomes highly immoral. The accompanying rationale (or rationalization) is familiar, the milieu has attained such a perfect state of enlightenment that any individual retention of ideas or emotions has become anachronistic.

The cult of confession can offer the individual person meaningful psychological satisfactions in the continuing opportunity for emotional catharsis and for relief of suppressed guilt feelings, especially insofar as these are associated with self-punitive tendencies to get pleasure from personal degradation. More than this, the sharing of confession enthusiasms can create an orgiastic sense of "oneness," of the most intense intimacy with fellow confessors and of the dissolution of self into the great flow of the Movement. And there is also, at least initially, the possibility of genuine self-revelation and of self-betterment through the recognition that "the thing that has been exposed is what I am."

But as totalist pressures turn confession into recurrent command performances, the element of histrionic public display takes precedence over genuine inner experience. Each man becomes concerned with the effectiveness of his personal performance, and this performance sometimes comes to serve the function of evading the very emotions and ideas about which one feels most guilty - confirming the statement by one of Camus' characters that "authors of confessions write especially to avoid confessing, to tell nothing of what they know." The difficulty, of course, lies in the inevitable confusion which takes place between the actor's method and his separate personal reality, between the performer and the "real me."

...Finally, the cult of confession makes it virtually impossible to attain a reasonable balance between worth and humility. The enthusiastic and aggressive confessor becomes like Camus' character whose perpetual confession is his means of judging others: "[I]…practice the profession of penitent to be able to end up as a judge…the more I accuse myself, the more I have a right to judge you." The identity of the "judge-penitent" thus becomes a vehicle for taking on some of the environment's arrogance and sense of omnipotence. Yet even this shared omnipotence cannot protect him from the opposite (but not unrelated) feelings of humiliation and weakness, feelings especially prevalent among those who remain more the enforced penitent than the all-powerful judge.

5) The "Sacred Science"

The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic dogma, holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. This sacredness is evident in the prohibition (whether or not explicit) against the questioning of basic assumptions, and in the reverence which is demanded for the originators of the Word, the present bearers of the Word, and the Word itself. While thus transcending ordinary concerns of logic, however, the milieu at the same time makes an exaggerated claim of airtight logic,...

The assumption here is not so much that man can be God, but rather that man's ideas can be God: that an absolute science of ideas (and implicitly, an absolute science of man) exists, or is at least very close to being attained; that this science can be combined with an equally absolute body of moral principles; and that the resulting doctrine is true for all men at all times. Although no ideology goes quite this far in overt statement, such assumptions are implicit in totalist practice.

[n.b.--ed.: i am, for once, deliberately not ellipsing over or substituting more gender-neutral pronouns & nouns for the author's, though normally i might do, casually. see if you can guess why].


6) Loading the Language

The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis. In [Chinese Communist] thought reform, for instance, the phrase "bourgeois mentality" is used to encompass and critically dismiss ordinarily troublesome concerns like the quest for individual expression, the exploration of alternative ideas, and the search for perspective and balance in political judgments. And in addition to their function as interpretive shortcuts, these cliches become what Richard Weaver has called "ultimate terms" : either "god terms," representative of ultimate good; or "devil terms," representative of ultimate evil...

To be sure, this kind of language exists to some degree within any cultural or organizational group, and all systems of belief depend upon it. It is in part an expression of unity and exclusiveness: as Edward Sapir put it, "'He talks like us' is equivalent to saying 'He is one of us.'" The loading is much more extreme in ideological totalism, however, since the jargon expresses the claimed certitudes of the sacred science. Also involved is an underlying assumption that language - like all other human products - can be owned and operated by the Movement. No compunctions are felt about manipulating or loading it in any fashion; the only consideration is its usefulness to the cause...

7) Doctrine Over Person

This sterile language reflects characteristic feature of ideological totalism: the subordination of human experience to the claims of doctrine. This primacy of doctrine over person is evident in the continual shift between experience itself and the highly abstract interpretation of such experience - between genuine feelings and spurious cataloguing of feelings. It has much to do with the peculiar aura of half-reality which totalist environment seems, at least to the outsider, to possess.

The inspiriting force of such myths cannot be denied; nor can one ignore their capacity for mischief. For when the myth becomes fused with the totalist sacred science, the resulting "logic" can be so compelling and coercive that it simply replaces the realities of individual experience.

...The underlying assumption is that the doctrine - including its mythological elements - is ultimately more valid, true, and real than is any aspect of actual human character or human experience. Thus, even when circumstances require that a totalist movement follow a course of action in conflict with or outside of the doctrine, there exists what Benjamin Schwartz described as a "will to orthodoxy" which requires an elaborate facade of new rationalizations designed to demonstrate the unerring consistency of the doctrine and the unfailing foresight which it provides. But its greater importance lies in more hidden manifestations, particularly the totalists' pattern of imposing their doctrine-dominated remolding upon people in order to seek confirmation of (and again, dispel their own doubts about) this same doctrine. Rather than modify the myth in accordance with experience, the will to orthodoxy requires instead that men be modified in order to reaffirm the myth...

8) Dispensing of Existence

The totalist environment draws a sharp line between those whose right to existence can be recognized, and those who possess no such right.

Are not men presumtuous to appoint themselves the dispensers of human existence? Surely this is a flagrant expression of what the Greeks called hubris, of arrogant man making himself God. Yet one underlying assumption makes this arrogance mandatory: the conviction that there is just one path to true existence, just one valid mode of being, and that all others are perforce invalid and false. Totalists thus feel themselves compelled to destroy all possibilities of false existence as a means of furthering the great plan of true existence to which they are committed.

For the individual, the polar emotional conflict is the ultimate existential one of "being versus nothingness." He is likely to be drawn to a conversion experience, which he sees as the only means of attaining a path of existence for the future. The totalist environment - even when it does not resort to physical abuse - thus stimulates in everyone a fear of extinction or annihilation. A person can overcome this fear and find (in martin Buber's term) "confirmation," not in his individual relationships, but only from the fount of all existence, the totalist Organization. Existence comes to depend upon creed (I believe, therefore I am), upon submission (I obey, therefore I am) and beyond these, upon a sense of total merger with the ideological movement. Ultimately of course one compromises and combines the totalist "confirmation" with independent elements of personal identity; but one is ever made aware that, should he stray too far along this "erroneous path," his right to existence may be withdrawn.


The more clearly an environment expresses these eight psychological themes, the greater its resemblance to ideological totalism; and the more it utilizes such totalist devices to change people, the greater its resemblance to thought reform. But facile comparisons can be misleading. No milieu ever achieves complete totalism, and many relatively moderate environments show some signs of it. Moreover, totalism tends to be recurrent rather than continuous. But if totalism has at any time been prominent in the movement, there is always the possibility of its reappearance, even after long periods of relative moderation.

Then, too, some environments come perilously close to totalism but at the same time keep alternative paths open; this combination can offer unusual opportunities for achieving intellectual and emotional depth. And even the most full-blown totalist milieu can provide (more or less despite itself) a valuable and enlarging life experience - if the man exposed has both the opportunity to leave the extreme environment and the inner capacity to absorb and make inner use of the totalist pressures...


What is the source of ideological totalism? How do these extremist emotional patterns originate? These questions raise the most crucial and the most difficult of human problems. Behind ideological totalism lies the ever-present human quest for the omnipotent guide - for the supernatural force, political party, philosophical ideas, great leader, or precise science - that will bring ultimate solidarity to all men and eliminate the terror of death and nothingness. This quest is evident in the mythologies, religions, and histories of all nations, as well as in every individual life. The degree of individual totalism involved depends greatly upon factors in one's personal history: early lack of trust, extreme environmental chaos, total domination by a parent or parent-representative, intolerable burdens of guilt, and severe crises of identity. Thus an early sense of confusion and dislocation, or an early experience of unusually intense family milieu control, can produce later a complete intolerance for confusion and dislocation, and a longing for the reinstatement of milieu control. But these things are in some measure part of every childhood experience; and therefore the potential for totalism is a continuum from which no one entirely escapes, and in relationship to which no two people are exactly the same.

It may be that the capacity for totalism is most fundamentally a product of human childhood itself, of the prolonged period of helplessness and dependency through which each of us must pass. Limited as he is, the infant has no choice but to imbue his first nurturing authorities - his parents - with an exaggerated omnipotence, until the time he is himself capable of some degree of independent action and judgment. And even as he develops into the child and the adolescent, he continues to require many of the all-or-none polarities of totalism as terms with which to define his intellectual, emotional, and moral worlds. Under favorable circumstances (that is, when family and culture encourage individuation) these requirements can be replaced by more flexible and moderate tendencies; but they never entirely disappear.

During adult life, individual totalism takes on new contours as it becomes associated with new ideological interests. It may become part of the configuration of personal emotions, messianic ideas, and organized mass movement which I have described as ideological totalism. When it does, we cannot speak of it as simply as ideological regression. It is partly this, but it is also something more: a new form of adult embeddedness, originating in patterns of security-seeking carried over from childhood, but with qualities of ideas and aspirations that are specifically adult. During periods of cultural crisis and of rapid historical change, the totalist quest for the omnipotent guide leads men to seek to become that guide.

Totalism, then, is a widespread phenomenon, but it is not the only approach to re-education. We can best use our knowledge of it by applying its criteria to familiar processes in our own cultural tradition and in our own country.


Questions? Comments? I ganked most (not quite all) of that site this time, because I'm just that sort of person and I felt like it today, but, you know. Let's tawk.