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This quote is from the Harper’s Magazine archive. We Do Abortions Here: A Nurse’s Story, is a powerful piece that goes beyond the well worn positions that are still being dragged about today. I recommend a full reading, go to Harper’s Archive to read it.
“Women have abortions because they are too old, and too young, too poor, and too rich, too stupid and too smart. I see women who berate themselves with violent emotions for their first and only abortion, and others who return three times, five times, hauling two or three children, who cannot remember to take a pill or where they put the diaphragm. We talk glibly about choice. But the choice for what? I see all the broken promises in lives lived like a series of impromptu obstacles. There are the sweet, light promises of live and intimacy, the glittering promise of education and progress, the warm promise of safe families, long years of innocence and community. And there is the promise of freedom: freedom from failure, from faithlessness. Freedom from biology. The early feminist defense of abortion asked many questions, but the one I remember is this: Is biology destiny? And the answer is yes, sometimes it is. Women who have the fewest choices of all exercise their right to abortion the most.”
A small slice of what the emancipation of women looks like can be found here. There is a distinct lack of ’empowerment’ and empty consumerist gestures in the second wave – just women liberating the space for women to make the tough calls in their lives as they see fit. It is not happy-fun-times, not empowerful, but rather it is the cold embrace of the bitter-sweet choices in life that, till recently, only half of the population was deemed worthy enough to experience.
Warning – Crusty Second Wave Analysis ahead :>
OK, let’s say your plane crashes on a desert island, where a mysterious group of Others brings you to a temple. They give you two options: One, you can stay with them and have all your needs met, as long as you wear a little bikini and feed them grapes. If you don’t like that, you can go back out into the jungle. You’ll probably survive, but life won’t be easy; you’ll be cast out from the only society existing on the island, and you’ll miss out on a lot of comforts, and you might get eaten by a polar bear.
One castaway, Claire, has genuinely always wanted to wear a tiny bikini and feed people grapes. She’s hot, she’s maternal: it’s perfect. She still doesn’t really get to make that choice freely, because it’s the only one available that lets her stay in society — when the options are “cake or death,” it doesn’t really matter how much you like cake. But at least she lucked out! She’s not just making the best of a bad situation; she’s actually enjoying it.
Sun, on the other hand, didn’t spend the whole first season becoming self-actualized just to take a job at Dharma Hooters. She flips the Others the bird and goes back out to the jungle, and once she’s there, she joins forces with other jungle-dwellers to destroy the Temple and its unfair restrictions.
Guys, this would be a WAY better show than “Lost” ended up being! But that’s not the point. The point is, it’s not fair for Sun to judge Claire — the problem isn’t her, it’s a society whose main rule is “You must be decorative and servile or be cast out.” Claire’s just trying to get by, and enjoy her luck at actually liking the thing she’s supposed to do anyway.
But if Claire rolls her eyes at poor humorless Sun — “I love wearing bikinis, you buzzkill” — she’s missing the point. Wearing a bikini because you love it is great, but that choice is diminished when it’s the only one available. Making it OK to wear other kinds of clothes and do things besides serve fruit won’t keep Claire from passing out grapes in a bikini, if that’s what she likes. It’ll just mean that she gets to do it solely because she wants to.
The real world, being many times the size of the island and also not magic, is significantly more complicated. But the same basic principles pertain: If there are only a handful of options available to you, then it’s damn fortunate if you like one, but that doesn’t make it OK that there aren’t more. If your favorite pastimes are dieting, getting shiny hair, and having your legs looked at, hallelujah: You will receive plenty of support in doing the things you like best. But liking your limited options doesn’t mean your choice is free. It’s still constrained — you just happen to be lucky.
So you should go ahead and do things that are patriarchy-approved, if you want to.
But don’t fool yourself that you’re doing so of your own unconstrained free will. Until the woman who doesn’t want to be seen as sexually available can go out with certainty that she won’t be harassed or ogled, your choice to turn heads and revel in attention is a privileged one. Until the woman who doesn’t prioritize appearance gets taken just as seriously in just the same contexts, it’s a privileged choice to achieve certain standards of beauty. You may be doing what you love, but you’re also doing what you’re told.
If we are all over regulating women’s bodies, I’m thinking guns should not be a frakking problem.
What if gun rights were regulated like abortion rights? Here’s a list of just some of the hoops you’d have to jump through before you could own a gun:
- Only one store in the entire state would sell guns. (See: Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming for states with only one abortion provider.)
- You’d have to fill out an enormous personal background check including intrusive personal information that has nothing to do with your ability to own or use a gun. Then you’d have to wait at least 72 hours and come back to the store. (Remember, it’s the only one in the state. You better hope you don’t live on the other side of Wyoming.)
- Upon your return, you’d have to sit through intensive mandatory counseling. Your counselor, regardless of his personal beliefs, would have to tell you that gun ownership is actually a bad idea, and that it would negatively effect your mental health to own a gun. (This, despite there being no scientific evidence to support the claim.)
- Next, you’d sit through a gruesome movie showing the actual aftermath of domestic gun crimes. You’d see people with half a head. You’d see dead children in their beds. You’d see the bloody aftermath of a school shooting. You’d be shown statistic after statistic warning you that you’d be contributing to this morally degenerate sanctioning of murder.
- If you lived in Virginia, you’d have to come back (again) for an invasive and uncomfortable fMRI (which costs around $300 out of your pocket) to ensure your honesty in answering all the background check information and your intentions to use your gun responsibly. (This was as close as I could get to the invasive transvaginal procedure included in the recently passed Virginia bill.)
- Oh… and if you were married, your spouse might have to sign off on your gun ownership.
The Swiss, being sensible, have denied the US and France’s requests to shut down WikiLeaks.
“The site’s new Swiss registrar, Switch, today said there was “no reason” why it should be forced offline, despite demands from France and the US. Switch is a non-profit registrar set up by the Swiss government for all 1.5 million Swiss .ch domain names.”
Pretty embarrassing, but hardly surprising, when the “land of the free and home of the brave” do their utmost to destroy the very lifeblood democracies thrive on, namely information. Hey of course, it is ‘sensitive state information’. You can find it on google now, perhaps like other state apparatus google should be censored as well. Back in the ‘home of the brave’ the censorship is not so obvious:
“The reassurances [from the Swiss] come just hours after eBay-owned PayPal, the primary donation channel to WikiLeaks, terminated its links with the site, citing “illegal activity”. France yesterday added to US calls for all companies and organisations to terminate their relationship with WikiLeaks following the release of 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables.”
Of course, you target the infrastructure that keeps WikiLeaks afloat. The Americans, let their poor die in natural disasters (Katrina anyone?), but watch the organization and money being spent when an attack on the elite happens. The response to Wikileaks is a case study in who has the power in the US and who is really driving that national agenda.
It makes one wonder, with all the furor, what is still classified and quietly festering in the background on a hard drive somewhere of actions that our governments take in our name.
The George Orwell quotations are being dusted off again and rightfully so – consider…
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
This quote prefaces the video, also released on WikiLeaks, of the American Army gunning down men and children while in Iraq. Does anyone, anymore have the gall anymore to say “why do they hate us?”
If there is one general feature of North American psyche that does not appeal to me, it would be our inability to see how privileged we are, and the small things we take for granted that other people are fighting for right now. Take Lebanon a state riddled with sectarian violence and all the divisiveness that comes with running a country on religious principles. Al Jazeera reports:
“Thousands of protestors have gathered in Beirut to demand a separation of politics and religion in Lebanon.
The demonstrators marched on parliament on Sunday chanting “secularism” and waving placards calling for the recognition of civil marriage in the Mediterranean country.”
Wow. A secular state not ruled by the wisdom of 2000 year old magic books and the delusional rantings of assorted high priests and mullahs. We take it for granted that we can keep the tomfoolery out of state affairs and run a marginally rational state and by that extension a marginally rational society.
“The idea of a secular political system has faced stiff opposition from ruling politicians who fear an erosion of power if the complex power sharing system between the different religious communities is abandoned.
Power. Control. Influence. Make no mistake, religion rules by no heavenly mandate; only the lowly aspirations of pernicious, greedy men who value power over any so called ‘ethical’ pronouncements their assorted magic books may make.
“What is missing is the political support. In the last election in 2009, all the main political parties paid lip service to the sectarian system,” Elias Muhanna, a Boston-based political analyst and blogger, told Al Jazeera.”
The Lebanese people are rallying for a secular nation. This should be front page news here in the North America where we purport to hold the institutions of Liberal Democracy and personal freedom so dear to our collective identity as a nation. Of course the religious nuttery of the USA precludes covering any movement so clearly geared toward freeing a country from religious rule. Depending on the news cycle it can look like the US is regressing toward some flavour of a theocratic state, where delusional behaviour is openly celebrated.
“Lebanon is home to 18 religious sects, and is deeply divided between Christians and Muslims.
Its sectarian system was soldified in a 1943 national accord in a bid to avoid religious conflict, but the country was torn apart by a brutal 15 year civil war that started in 1975.
The agreement that ended the conflict called for the abolition of sectarianism, but the system has endured.
Under the complicated rules, public sector jobs are subject to religious quotas that change year-on-year in a bid to maintain the delicate balance.”
Such a waste of time and resources all just to keep the people who wear funny hats and irrational attitudes happy and in check.
North Americans should take notice and see what a religious state is like and realize it is not a good outcome if we are interested in maintaining the liberal democratic society which we seem to regularly take pride in while at the same neglecting the institutions that maintain it.
They have set out 25 statements that contravene the law and here they are:
“If you run a website, blog or other media publication, please feel free to republish this statement and the list of quotes yourself, in order to show your support for the campaign to repeal the Irish blasphemy law and to promote a rational, ethical, secular Ireland.”
List of 25 Blasphemous Quotes Published by Atheist Ireland
1. Jesus Christ, when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.
2. Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.
3. Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.
4. Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy – he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.” Twain’s book was published posthumously in 1939. His daughter, Clara Clemens, at first objected to it being published, but later changed her mind in 1960 when she believed that public opinion had grown more tolerant of the expression of such ideas. That was half a century before Fianna Fail and the Green Party imposed a new blasphemy law on the people of Ireland.
5. Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: “Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who’s got religion’ll tell you if your sin’s original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!”