State-imposed Violence vs Rape Violence

Anti-choice politicians just cannot keep their mouths shut. And I hope their insatiable urge to comment on reproductive issues continues. I want everyone to know just how utterly insulting and horrifically extreme their beliefs about  women’s right to control their bodies really are.

Yet another anti-choice politician, John Koster – a councilman of the state of Washington, has honored Americans with his cogent opinion about women and “the rape thing.”

Wow. And his calling it “the rape thing” is not even the worst part. This dude thinks an abortion that a rape victim chooses of her own free will is “putting more violence onto a woman’s body?” I want to ask this Cro-Magnon, “What would you label state-mandated pregnancy?” Pregnancy can have life-altering consequences. Pregnancy can change a woman’s body forever. Pregnancy may require invasive surgical procedures. Pregnancy can result in death!

So, when a state forces a woman to bear a child against her will, is that not “putting more violence onto a woman’s body?” When a state forces a woman to risk her life and health against her will, is that not state-mandated violence? When a state mandates that a woman be strapped to a table while doctors slice her abdomen open against her will, is it not violence? Is that not state-mandated brutality?

And where does it end? Since an innocent child is his main concern, maybe we should mandate that all Americans register in bone marrow databases. Maybe we should mandate that all Americans donate their organs after death. Maybe we should mandate that any American that is a kidney or liver donor match to a child that is dying, sacrifice their life and health. I mean, the probability of adverse side effects from donation is “so rare,” maybe we should collect blood from everyone!

Strap those healthy Americans to a gurney! It’s their patriotic duty to sacrifice their bodies for innocent children!

Living in a Ring of Fire

The future of this country is too important to observe the social niceties of quiet chit-chat.

I live in red country. My home is a doorstep to the country. The housing market is booming here, pushing farmland ever further afield. But though the area is growing fast, I can still see stars at night. And thunderstorms seem louder and more epic than they ever did in the city. (Just ask my cat.) This is rural suburbia surrounding a metropolitan living – often called the ring of fire because my county and the other surrounding counties are dominated by republican voters.

I have an Obama t-shirt. The one with a shamrock and O’bama 2012 on it. When I wear it around here in red country, I get quite a mixed bag of reactionary commentary. One man saw fit to tell me there was no way “Obama” would get reelected, saying, “We’re gonna put him out.” Other people repeat the veiled racism they hear on Fox news, some of these characters being more colorful than others.

But then there are those people who have got President Barack Obama‘s back. Even living in a seemingly terminally red county, I run into Obama supporters everywhere.

Yesterday, I finally became an active member of the Obama for America grassroots campaign. I’ve made phone calls and canvassed, and I am encouraged at how many people are supporting the President in 2012. It is truly uplifting to knock on someone’s door, tell them I’m a volunteer with the Obama campaign, and learn they too are totally for the POTUS in 2012. It’s funny because I inevitably get the comment, “Good luck finding any other supporters around here.”

People living here tend to believe they are surrounded by a glut of Romney supporters. That simply is not the case. I rarely encounter someone that is a true Romney supporter. I even spoke to an evangelical woman who could not bring herself to support Romney because he is a Mormon. (I must say, I can’t blame her. That shit is cray! But I think all religions are.)

One thing that resonates to me is how many undecided friends and neighbors I have. Some many voters are unsure how they’ll vote, are waiting for the debates, or simply don’t follow the issues. This means the election, far from what the media might tell us, is far from decided. This spells OPPORTUNITY!

So, if you are an Obama supporter (or a Romney abhorrer), now is your opportunity to open the lines of communication with your family and friends and even strangers. Don’t be afraid to talk about politics! The future of this country is too important to observe the social niceties of quiet chit-chat. When the discussion gets heated, you know you are getting someone to question what they think they know.

Knowledge is power. Spread the word. Talk about Obama’s record – tough budget cuts, education reform, increased pell grants, keeping student loan interest rates down, health care reform, supporting economic growth, tax cuts for small businesses, tax cuts for the middle class, ending military discrimination, equal pay for women, strong support for Israel.  And GET OUT THE VOTE!

Politically Correct Sex Talk

I published an essay recently where I argued that sex should not have to be eliminated from our daily interactions since sex is such a large and valuable part of the human identity. I got some comments I did not expect. I expected people not to “get” it. I mean, I’m a wacky scientist. But I didn’t expect that, because I relayed my own experience and opinion on sexuality (and not anyone else’s), readers would accuse me of “denying the idea that people have diverse forms of sexuality”, “refusing to accept any identities other than straight” and “erasing the experiences of an awful lot of people.”

Since when does one have to be an expert in representing every sexual identity in existence to present a valid position about human sexuality? I am straight. I am a woman who likes men. I don’t like women. I have sex! And, I won’t apologize for any of it. I have friends who reside on all shades of the sexual spectrum. I love and respect them dearly. But just because I know and respect someone who is gay or lesbian or bi, doesn’t mean I can speak to their human sexual experience. To do so would be highly presumptuous and wildly fake.

I am of the opinion that anyone who purports to speak representatively of all sexual identities is swimming in their own arrogance.

But It IS All About Sex, Isn’t It?

If you roam in feminist circles, you’ll inevitably be involved in a discussion about the sexualization of women. I constantly consume commentary about the “consumption of Black women’s bodies” and patriarchal equation of women’s worth with their sexual prowess or body image. These arguments are a vital part of the gender discussion and achieving true parity between women and men. But methinks the totality of the arguments against representing women’s bodies as sexual bodies dodges the fact that we are all sexual beings.

The human body is tuned for species survival. To do that in a fashion wholly unassisted by modern technology (or an old-fashioned turkey baster), sex usually has to be involved. Therefore, it stands to reason that the human body is hard-wired for sex. And there is some of scientific evidence to support this statement. The sexual differences between men and women are exactly what makes our species so biologically successful.

Though many of life’s exploits can be detached completely from human sexuality, there is personal value in asserting ones sexual identity. Notwithstanding the potential for exploitation, sex workers use sex or sexual prowess to make their living. People with satisfying sex lives tend to also have healthier personal relationships, higher self esteem, and assertiveness as well.

The totality of personal identity and self worth should not solely be based on sexual identity. But sexuality is a vital part of human identity. It seems to me the efforts to reject the inherent sexuality of the human species for an asexual sociological model is fallacious at best.

What Does the GOP Know About Rape?

For a party that insists discussions about social issues (namely, abortion) are a distraction, Republicans spend an awful lot of time legislating, talking about, and litigating against abortion access. It would seem that were the GOP actually unconcerned with the abortion issue and more focused on creating jobs and boosting the American economy, the unemployment rate would be well below 8 percent and the economy would have seen substantial growth above 2 percent. But alas, as evidenced by the introduction of over 1,100 reproductive health and abortion-restriction bills in federal and state level the 2011 legislative session nationwide, the GOP and their Tea Party progeny are well focused on usurping control over women’s private parts.

Abortion is a polarizing issue in the United States. A majority of Americans believe a woman should be able to control her own fertility, including having the choice whether to continue a pregnancy. Most americans agree that abortion should be allowed for victims of rape or incest, or when a woman’s health or life is at risk. But the GOP platform committee approved a party platform this week that supports banning abortion altogether without any exception for the life or health of the woman or for cases of rape or incest. The Republican National Committee will vote on this platform in full next week. The platform, including it’s careless abortion position, is likely to be approved in stride.

This week, one especially ignorant and dishonest republican, Senator Todd Akin, claimed that women cannot get pregnant from rape saying, “If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.” (I guess he’ll say anything to score points with pro-life extremists. Or maybe he is just THAT ignorant.) I don’t believe I can pull a more bullshit claim out of the ether than that.

Akin and his buddies including Paul Ryan claim that exceptions to abortion bans for women’s health, or rape and incest victims are a “red herring.” Their meaning – “exceptions to abortion bans for rape are unnecessary because women who were REALLY raped cant get pregnant”. The GOP audacity to categorize rape according to the physical state of the victim is absolutely dispicable and illustrates just how much contempt for women’s autonomy the Republican party harbors.

The statistical occurence of pregnancy among rape victims has actually been studied. According to a study presented at The South Atlantic Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1996;175:320-5), the national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0 percent per rape. Holmes, et al also concluded that rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency – to the tune of 32,101 pregnancies resulting from rape each year – and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.

But the GOP doesn’t believe “legitimate” rape victims actually become pregnant.

The real GOP policy is to force impregnated rape victims to sacrifice their bodies and their lives because a fetus is more important than any woman’s sanity, health or life.

The real red herring here is that the GOP is unlikely to confirm any woman’s rape as “legitimate” enough to sanction the woman’s choice to terminate her pregnancy. Apparentlyin GOP-land, a woman could not have possibly been raped except if she lay on her death bed after the attack. So those of us who were raped by our abusive husbands – not really raped. Those of use who were raped after we passed out from drinking – not really raped. Those of us who were slipped a date rape drug – not really raped. Those of us who stopped fighting because our attacker had big fists and a knife and we didn’t want to die – not really raped.

So next time, struggle a bit more so you have some STAB WOUNDS to prove your rape was LEGITIMATE! And since you can’t get pregnant from “legitimate” or “forcible” rape, if you do turn up preggo you must just be some kind of masochist.

Yes, Chick-fil-A Supports Hate Groups

There is a monumental difference between disapproving of same-sex marriage and actively working to assure homosexual and transgender people can make no socio-economic contribution to civil society. The owners and CEO of Chick-fil-A are starting to learn this lesson. After the company’s CEO Dan Cathy made public statement cementing Chick-fil-A’s public stance against gay marriage, the Jim Henson Co. announced they would sever all ties with the restaurant chain and donated royalty money received to GLAAD.

CEO Cathy’s remarks have caused public outrage across the internet. But the CEO’s words are not the root of the offense that Chick-fil-A commits. What really offends people is the message Chick-fil-A supports with their donations to anti-gay organizations. Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm WinShape Foundation donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay organizations in 2010. “So, who are these organizations,” you may ask. Let me tell you about the worst offenders.

One group that received Chick-fil-A money is the Family Research Council (FRC). The FRC is officially certified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their vitriolic (and highly inaccurate) statements against homosexuals. Yes, Chick-fil-A donates money a hate group. The FRC routinely spreads lies about gay and lesbian people as it seeks to outlaw same-sex marriage, and overturn hate crimes laws, eliminate anti-bullying programs and reinstate the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. An FRC pamphlet released in 1999 made the startling claim that, “One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.” FRC’s president Tony Perkins also makes the ridiculous claim that pedophilia is a homosexual problem.

Chick-fil-A also donated money to Focus on the Family (FOF), which used to partner with the FRC. According to Right Wing Watch, FOF is anti-choice, anti-gay, and against sex education curricula that are not strictly abstinence-only. The founder of FOF, Dr. James Dobson, regularly makes disparaging remarks about gays and lesbians, and purports that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

Exodus International – another chicken-funded org – advocates the message that there is something wrong with LGBTQ people; and up  until a month ago espoused the theory that homosexuality was an illness that could be cured with prayer and “reparative” ex-gay therapy.

Other funding recipients included the Marriage and Family Foundation Inc, the Fellowship Of Christian Athletes, and the Georgia Family Council (an FRC affiliate). This is where Chick-fil-A puts your money.

Chick-fil-A donates money to organizations that actively promote hatred and intolerance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, organizations that promote criminalization of LGBTQ life, organizations that assert LGBTQ couples aren’t fit to raise children, and organizations that condone and actively spread the ideas that LGBTQ people are child molesters, are sexual deviants, that there is something fundamentally wrong with LGBTQ people’s brains or that being gay is a disease that can be cured, and that allowing LGBTQ people to live freely will destroy society. That is a message that I and many others just cannot support.

The Muslim Brotherhood – Whether You Like It Or Not

I can’t believe that people even listen to Michele Bachmann anymore. In my view, Michele Bachmann is a pathological liar and a charlatan at best. Lately, she has been badmouthing a civil servant who happens to be a Muslim-American working at the Department of State, for having personal ties to people connected to the Muslim Brotherhood – as if that would present any inkling of treasonous behavior.

The latest to pop out from Bachmann’s bassinet of lies is a smear campaign against Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff to Hilary Clinton. Huma has served under Clinton in several roles, and is a personal friend of John McCain, who defended her reputation characterizing her as, “what is best about America.” (That is an awesome compliment!)  That Muslim-American Huma is married to Jewish former Congressman Anthony Weiner* should attest to her ultimate American-ness. (Melting pots rule!)

The Muslim Brotherhood is not our enemy. And, like it or not, the Muslim Brotherhood is a democratically elected political party heading the newly formed parliament in the single most populous and only recently freed country in the Middle East (Egypt, for those who live under a rock). The United States must solidify diplomatic ties with Brotherhood leadership and any other party that may come to head the Egyptian Parliament – via a fairly contested election process – to protect our national security interests. To make an enemy out of the Muslim Brotherhood would be disastrous for U.S.-Middle Eastern diplomacy.

The real fact is, Michele Bachmann is quite simply a McCarthy-like conspiracy theorist, a religious fundamentalist, a liar, and an alarmist who will do anything she can to protect and codify her far-from-mainstream religious beliefs, even if her actions are unpatriotic and damaging to our nation.

In contrast to Bachmann, Huma Abedin has a reputation of personal loyalty, trustworthiness, patriotism, openness and plain old hard work and perseverance. She is a noble, stalwart woman.  That is something to be commended.

*I sure do miss Anthony Weiner in Congress. That man is a firebrand! I can’t wait to see his next steps in public office.