Category Archives: women’s rights

Don’t Shush Me, Bro

It seems the only thing of importance that happened at last night’s Democratic debate is that Hillary Clinton interrupted Bernie Sanders and he shushed her. This has erupted into a big debate on the Twitters and Facespace thing, but I actually think it’s an important topic we need to discuss.

The rules of communication are different for women and men.

Here’s the deal, guys: women don’t like to be shushed. At all. If my husband ever tells me to be quiet or shush — yes, it’s happened — it elicits an intense, visceral, negative response. It makes me furious. And when it happens in a professional setting? It pushes every feminist button I own.

Why? Because you’re telling me I’m not important. You’re discounting me. You’re saying my ideas don’t matter, and that I don’t have the right to express them.

Men interrupt each other all the time and I daresay they don’t have that same response. It’s just how they communicate. But men and women come at communication from very different places.

The way we communicate is one of the many subtle ways women are expected to take a subservient role in society. I know it looks like we’ve come a long way, baby — hey we can vote and wear pants, huzzah — but when you look at basic social interactions, we’re constantly sent the contradictory message that we are second place. We get talked over, our ideas don’t matter, our issues aren’t important to the country at large they’re “women’s issues,” so who really gives a shit. Our work is worth less. Our effort is less valuable. This is the world from a professional woman’s point of view.

“But Beale,” you say, “Hillary interrupted him.” Yes, she did. Of course she did. And this is another thing about the difference between male and female communication: professional women always have to assert themselves to express their opinion. Because women are talked over all the damn time, it’s something we’ve lived with for generations, and many of us have learned how to interrupt if we want to say something.

I’ve become a really brazen interrupter, I am the first to admit it. Because if I don’t, I don’t get to speak!

Men interrupt each other all the time. And they are okay with each other doing it. It’s how they talk. When women assert their right to express themselves, we’re shushed. I’m pretty sure you guys don’t even realize you’re doing it, but we notice it, and we don’t like it. Because again, you’re telling us we don’t matter and our opinions aren’t important. You’re not recognizing our right to express them. I know it’s subtle — subconscious even — but it’s there.

This morning I was asked, “Well, what would you have done if you were speaking and a man interrupted you?” I’d have let him, of course. That’s what we women always do when we’re interrupted, most of the time. It’s how we’re socialized to behave. If we don’t we’re rude, bossy, brassy, bitchy, too aggressive. That’s the world, people.

As a professional woman I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in meetings where I’ve had to assert my right to express my opinion. And that means interrupting. I’ve become a master interrupter, and it’s not a pretty habit, but if I want to speak, that’s how it happens. Too often, it’s different when a woman does it than when a man does it. That is my experience.

I’m sure this sounds really unfair to a lot of men out there. Women should be allowed to interrupt but they shouldn’t be called on it? What was Bernie supposed to do?

Well, life isn’t fair, guys. Bernie could have raised his hand, or that infamous waggling finger of his, as a sort of “placeholder” social cue. I’ve seen men do that, and it’s not a shush, it’s a “I want to respond to that.”

One thing I’ve noticed Republican woman do — Liz Cheney is really expert at this — is that they just talk without pausing. Liz Cheney literally never comes up for air once she gets going. I’m sure these women have received media training for this, and I’m sure this is a big reason why they basically recite talking points. It’s really hard to speak without pausing and also do so extemporaneously (see Palin, Sarah — someone else who speaks without pausing but she ends up coming off like a ditz.)

This is a real thing, people. If you ever watch Bill Maher’s show, you will see it in action. There’s always one woman on the panel and she never gets to speak unless she interrupts. The men interrupt each other all the time but when women do it, it’s rude, so many women are reluctant to assert that right. And once we do get going you’d better not pause for air or else you’ll get interrupted in turn, which isn’t rude when it happens to you, only when you do it.

Something to think about. Have at it.


Filed under 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Election, feminisim, Hillary Clinton, Women, women's rights

Big Government, Liars & Abortion

Government is sooooo teeensy weensy teeny tiny in the State of North Carolina that doctors performing abortions must send their required-by-law ultrasounds to the state:

Per The New York Times, doctors who perform abortions at or after the 16-week mark must send North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services “the method used to determine the ‘probable gestational age’ of the fetus, the measurements used to support the assertion and, most controversially, an ultrasound showing the measurements.” The law states that this information is being collected for “statistical purposes only,” and that patients’ and doctors’ names will remain confidential.

But Melissa Reed, the director of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic, argues that the law, which went into effect on January 1, is “medically unnecessary and purely politically driven. The true intent of the law is clear—to shame women and intimidate the doctors that care for them.”

Anti-abortion activist Tami L. Fitzgerald, who consulted on the bill with Republicans in the legislature, told the Times that the law should “act as a deterrent to the doctors themselves from lying about gestational age. The state has made a public policy decision that babies after 20 weeks have a right to live. So this law is about protecting the rights of those unborn babies.”

Why would doctors lie about gestational age? Just for kicks?

Several years ago I did a blog post where I recounted a conversation I had with my own ob/gyn about mandatory ultrasound regulations the state of Tennessee was proposing, as well as other healthcare issues currently being debated nationally. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why doctors were remaining quiet on an issue that affected their business.

From the 2013 archive:

[…] I asked her if she was aware that there were bills in the legislature requiring women to get an ultrasound before receiving an abortion.

“Really?!” She seemed genuinely surprised. Jesus, lady! I wanted to scream. You’re a gynecologist! This is your field! Don’t you pay attention to what legislators are doing affecting your own business?

I asked if there was any medical reason why this procedure would be necessary. “They need to do it,” she said, “to determine the age of the fetus.”

“But what if a woman is positive that it’s within the first trimester?”

“They still need to do it, to make sure.”

“To make sure?”

“To make sure she’s telling the truth.”

So, ultrasounds are needed to make sure women are telling the truth. This was my own doctor of going on 20-something years telling me this. And now, we have taken that idea to its next logical place: state government bureaucrats must review these ultrasounds becase the doctors might be lying.

Oh and also, “statistical purposes.” Right. (Statistics? Seriously? Of what?)

Where do we go from there? I have to think we’ll need some kind of federal oversight, don’t you? In case the state government bureaucrats are lying, especially if one of those ‘bortion lovin’ LIEberals gets in the governor’s office, right? Could happen! You know it could!

I mean, why not? If a universal background check is the first step towards Obama coming to confiscate everyone’s guns with his magic gun-grabbing super magnet device, how is this not the first step toward fascism?

If government has to check an ultrasound because they think a doctor might be lying about a fetus’ gestational age, and that ultrasound itself is required because the government thinks a woman might be lying about gestational age, it’s not a big leap to assume everyone is lying about everything and the government better just Big Brother-up on everything. Amiright?


Filed under abortion, feminism, Women, women's rights

Battle Of The Sexes

What is it with Conservatives these days? They seem to have come down with a terrible case of Truth Tourettes — you know, like how Rep. Kevin McCarthy accidentally told the truth about the Benghazi Committee really being about taking down Hillary Clinton?

Now we have Dr. Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, the group organizing anti-Planned Parenthood rallies all around the country, telling the truth about the attacks on Planned Parenthood:

“Planned Parenthood from the top to the bottom is a corrupt organization,” Miller told Ave Maria Radio’s Teresa Tomeo, “corrupt in its view of the sanctity of human life and corrupt in its view of human sexuality. And I say even if Planned Parenthood didn’t perform one single abortion, just the mere fact that its sexual ethic is corrupted means right there, should be the reason right there, that they should not receive any federal money. The kind of sexual ethic that Planned Parenthood promotes is sex for recreation, sex for mere pleasure.

Sex for pleasure? Quelle horreur! Perhaps she’d like us to adopt female circumcision and nip that in the bud, so to speak?

So, are we clear? The attacks on Planned Parenthood aren’t about abortion. It’s about controlling women’s sexual freedom. It’s about controlling women’s sex lives.

She forgot to use her indoor voice.

Of course, we on the Left have been saying this forever. That’s why right-wingers have been attacking birth control, after all. They just don’t want women getting it on. They are trying to undo the sexual revolution which started, oh, 50-plus years ago. They rail against “consequence-free sex” and talk about babies and life and all that other stuff but really it’s about controlling women. That’s why so many of the movement’s leaders are men, after all.

There is a deeply-rooted womb-envy among certain penis-enhanced members of the human species, and it plays out on the political field as controlling women’s reproduction. This is not a new thing, after all. This has been going on for thousands of years. As I wrote back in 2011:

Look fellas, I’m sorry you lack the plumbing that would enable you to get pregnant, gestate and give birth and all that. I’ve long suspected your inability to create life in the same way we ladies do has been a source of equal amounts fascination and disgust on your parts for thousands of years. Grow the fuck up already.

You know, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have my reproductive organs flying around loose in the breeze where any predator, fungus or hunting accident could come along and snip it all off, making me evolutionarily irrelevant. That’s a hard burden to bear, a not-so-subtle reminder of how biologically dispensable you guys really are. There are always more males out there willing to spread their seed; it’s the female of the species who carries the burden of the species’ survival. We’re the ones who not only bear the young but care for them as well.

This isn’t me talking feminist claptrap, this is basic evolutionary biology: the bird that’s going to get snapped up at the feeder is the bright red highly visible male cardinal, not the drab brown female blessed with a natural protective camouflage. She’s more important in the grand scheme, which is why she’s been given this protection. God I know that chaps y’all’s ass big time.

It’s the battle of the sexes, played out over thousands of years. Men are bigger and stronger and take down a mammoth but for all your bravado it’s we women who keep the species going. And you’re just dying to control that, too.

Women usually win these battles, though. Man smart, woman smarter. Except those dumb-fucks like Monica Miller playing for the wrong team. Except Dr. Miller forgot that other people were listening when she spilled the beans on what the fundies really hate about Planned Parenthood. They hate the sex part.

You know what, Dr. Miller? If you don’t want to have sex, or non-procreative sex, please don’t. Please have a monumental migraine every fucking night of your life. But stop forcing everyone else to live your miserable life.


Filed under abortion, religious right, women's rights

Maybe David Fowler Should Just Shut Up Already

Here’s an interesting admission from David Fowler, the far-right religious nut who heads the Family Action Council Tennessee:

It happened on a family rafting trip in North Carolina.

David Fowler’s daughter went into the bathroom and never came back out. He sent his wife in to investigate and was later told his daughter had begun menstruation.

“For me, at the time, it was a relief my wife was there to handle a situation I felt utterly incapable of addressing,” Fowler said.

“It truly took both of us to raise our daughter; one without the other would have been a total disaster. My daughter might still think it was a total disaster,” he said with a laugh.

Fowler’s inability to deal with his daughter’s first period is supposed to be the reason we can’t let gays marry, which seems rather weird and not relevant. Should we remove all children from single-parent households, then? But beyond the illogic of his argument as relates to marriage equality, I have another question:

If David Fowler can’t handle his own daughter’s menarche, WHY THE FUCK HAS HE SPENT HIS ENTIRE CAREER TRYING TO LEGISLATE WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS????????!!!!!!

Just Go. The Fuck. Away.


Filed under GLBT, religious right, Tennessee politics, women's rights

No, But His IQ Test Was Conducted During His Proctology Exam

Cheese and rice, people:

BOISE, IDAHO — An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.

The question Monday from Republican state Rep. Vito Barbieri came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine.

Barbieri later said that the question was rhetorical and intended to make a point.

Dr. Julie Madsen, a physician who said she has provided various telemedicine services in Idaho, was testifying in opposition to the bill. She said some colonoscopy patients may swallow a small device to give doctors a closer look at parts of their colon.

“Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?” Barbieri asked.

Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

“Fascinating. That makes sense,” Barbieri said, amid the crowd’s laughter.

Here’s a thought. Before you idiots in the Republican Party try legislating women’s bodies, why don’t you first learn something about them? Or is that too much like work?

Okay, he now says he was trying to get the doctor to testify that colonoscopies aren’t the same as abortions or whatever. I would think that would be patently obvious, but of course you’re dealing with a Republican here. They aren’t “scientists,” as they will frequently remind you.



You know, after giving this more thought, I’m going to come back and say no, I don’t know what the fuck this idiot was trying to say. I’m not sure why swallowing a pill with a tiny camera for a colonoscopy (which, near as I can tell, is by no means the standard practice for these routine exams anyway) would preclude a tiny camera being put on the tip of a tampon or whatever. I mean, we all know how transvaginal ultrasounds work. Surely Idaho already has one of those vaginal probe abortion bills on the books — we do in Tennessee. Why he thought a tiny ingestible camera would be his “ah-ha” moment, I have no clue.

You know, my advice for you Republicans is to just shut up about women’s stuff. You continually make fools of yourself.


Filed under abortion, feminism, Republican Party, women's rights

Small Govt. Loving MT Republicans Mansplain Decorum For The Ladies

The menfolk sure do love to tell us ladies what to do! Is anyone surprised that a patronizing dress code for Montana state legislators was written by a male Republican?

Montana’s one-page list of fashion guidelines (officials say they are not formal rules) were handed down Dec. 5 in what Representative Keith Regier, the House Republican majority leader, said was a response to questions from newly elected lawmakers about what to wear on the floor.

“We do hold decorum at a high standard,” Mr. Regier said. “What we’re saying is: Be appropriate in what you wear. Don’t wear something that could be a distraction from the legislative process.”

(… yes that would be the same Mr. Regier who compared pregnant women to pregnant livestock — repeatedly — during debate over anti-choice legislation … but I digress …)

The seven-point list covers men’s attire, calling for a suit or a jacket and tie, dress slacks and shirt, and “dress shoes or dress boots.” But the guidelines for women are a little longer and more detailed, and had many female lawmakers rolling their eyes. The list includes what kinds of footwear they should avoid (flip-flops, tennis shoes and open-toe sandals), declares that leggings are not considered dress pants, and encourages modesty on skirt lengths and necklines.

“It’s like something out of ‘Mad Men,’” said Representative Ellie Hill, a Democrat from Missoula, referring to a television drama set in the 1960s. “The whole thing is totally sexist and bizarre and unnecessary.”

Apparently the dress code was written by a Republican staffer who decided to model it on Wyoming’s — but stricter:

Montana GOPers also removed an item from the Wyoming dress code allowing sleeveless dresses–IF and only if they were worn under jackets that is. Apparently however, the thought that some woman might be sleeveless underneath her suit coat was too much for MT Republicans, so they took it out.

Finally, although Wyoming lawmakers have generously been allowed to wear knit dresses–if sufficiently covered by a jacket. That language is also removed from the MT dress code. Perhaps one of these items was the mysterious item number six which was missing from Montana’s dress code. That document skips from 5 to 7.

I’m trying to imagine the guy whose job it was to write the dresscode for Montana’s female legislators. Did he sit around and think of all the ramifications of a knit dress? Did he perhaps have this in mind?


I’m trying to imagine where the poor guy’s mind went. “Nope! Can’t have a sweater dress! Too many curves!”

Look, I don’t have a problem with things like “no flip-flops” when it’s applied to both men and women — hey, men wear flip-flops, too! — even though I think it’s asinine and patronizing. Do legislators really not know what “business attire” is? Whatever, it’s Montana … it’s a casual place. But no sleeveless dresses even when worn under a jacket is just sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.

I once had a job back in the ’80s in a teensy weensy two-person office where my Israeli boss told me I needed to wear stockings to work. (This was the same boss who — even though I was never late — tried to tell me what route I should take to work because, mansplaining!)

Nobody wears stockings in Southern California, it’s too damn hot for one thing; also, I’m pretty sure women stopped wearing stockings at all somewhere around 1973, I’m not sure. But I told him I was not going to wear stockings to work and he could find my replacement if he wanted to. I kept the job.

Ladies, there are some men in the world who just love to tell you how to run your life. Sadly, too many of them are elected to office.


Filed under feminism, sexism, women's rights

More Follow-Up Questions, Please

This is why I watch Aljazeera America:

Ah, those pesky “follow-up questions.” Don’t see them too often from the likes of Chuck Todd or David Gregory.

The fact of the matter is, when you ask the follow-up questions it becomes apparent that Republicans are not only legislating shit they don’t understand, they’re legislating shit they never bothered to think about. “Why would a woman want to get an abortion?” “Well gee now, I’ve never thought about that …”

Maybe you should, asshole. This should be asked of every anti-choice politician. If they can’t answer it they need to get to the end of the line.


Filed under abortion, feminism, media, Republican Party, women's rights

Consequence-Free Sex

It was entirely predictable that right-wing males would act like giant assholes in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling; after all, these are the perpetually-aggrieved folks who have felt neutered by “feminazis” since women first demanded the vote.

My favorite response was from Douchebag Emeritus Erick W. Erickson, who tweeted:


And yet, because Hobby Lobby pays for men’s Viagra, that is exactly what this employer is doing: subsidizing consequence-free sex, only just for men. Because, by virtue of biology, all sex for men is consequence-free. It just is. Birth control levels the playing field for women. And it is no surprise that conservative men, whose most unifying feature is an overarching inferiority complex, have been threatened by that since the first cave lady brewed her special cup of herbal tea to keep the babies away. Insecure men will always try to control that which they cannot control. And that’s what we have here.

This, from The New Republic, sums it up thusly:

There’s a reason so many women were outraged on Monday. They saw the decision as yet another attempt to preserve the old double-standard—to dump most of the responsibility for reproductive health and child-bearing on them, in ways that inevitably deter gender equality. With comments like Erickson’s bouncing around cyberspace, it’s easy to see why they had that impression.

Yeah, it’s not an “impression.” It’s called reality.


Filed under birth control, feminism, sex, Supreme Court, women's rights

Religion Is Dead

That will be the upshot of today’s completely outrageous Hobby Lobby ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court has effectively killed religion.

I know, it looks the opposite, but what have I said here a gazillion, bajillion times, folks? When religion gets forced on people by government or corporations, religion always dies. People don’t want this shit foisted on them. As I’ve said a thousand times before, the surest way to kill off religious belief is to declare a “state religion.” The bigger religion’s role in the secular aspects of life, the more people run away from it.

And in this ruling SCOTUS said some corporations can impose the beliefs of some religions on some employees, effectively legalizing discrimination against women and certain religions. If you’re a company owned by Jehova’s Witnesses, sorry, you have to pay for blood transfusions. No out for Scientologists who object to psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. Christian Scientists who don’t believe in most healthcare at all still have to pony up. But if you’re a Christian fundiegelical who believes completely erroneously and incorrectly that IUDs cause abortions — even though they don’t! — you can refuse to offer a healthcare plan covering that form of birth control to your female employees. That’s what SCOTUS just ruled.

The debate wasn’t even really about the Hobby Lobby peoples’ religious beliefs, it was about their completely erroneous, counter-factual scientific beliefs cloaked in religion:

Hobby Lobby already covered 16 of the 20 methods of contraception mandated under the Affordable Care Act, but it didn’t cover Plan B One-Step, ella (another brand of emergency contraception) and two forms of intrauterine devices because of aforementioned ideologically driven and not medically based ideas about abortion.

“These medications are there to prevent or delay ovulation,” Dr. Petra Casey, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic, told the New York Times in a piece on the science behind emergency contraception. “They don’t act after fertilization.” As the Times noted, emergency contraception like Plan B, ella and the hormonal IUD do not work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb. Instead, these methods of birth control delay ovulation 0r thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, meaning that fertilization never even occurs. That said, when used as a form of emergency contraception, the copper IUD can interrupt implantation, but this still does not mean a pregnancy has occurred.

This ruling was stunningly ham-fisted on so many levels. In a nutshell, in “going narrow” SCOTUS picked a religion — the fundiegelical Christian kind — over the rights of female employees who may not be of that religion, and also over the rights of every other religion out there. This is going to have repercussions, people — and not good ones for the religious folks. It’s gonna get messy, and I think it’s gonna smack religious people on the ass so hard they won’t sit for a month. Stories like this one are going to ripple across the workplace in every state. It’s a ruling that basically legalized gender discrimination and religious discrimination. When it all shakes down it’s not going to be pretty for the people currently doing a happy dance.

In the meantime, folks calling for a Constitutional Convention to repeal corporate personhood just got a little more ammo.

[UPDATE]: ThinkProgress agrees with me.

[UPDATE] 2: Charlie Pierce at Esquire also agrees with me. SCOTUS just perpetrated an act of religious discrimination while professing to do the opposite. WTF is up with that, people?


Filed under birth control, corporations, healthcare, religious fundamentalism, religious right, Supreme Court, women's rights

Those Who Do Not Learn From History Are Doomed To Repeat It

This is what happens when you restrict women’s access to abortion services:

As policies restricting access to abortion roll out in Texas and elsewhere, the use of miso is quickly becoming a part of this country’s story. It has already made its way into the black market here in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, where abortion restrictions are tightening, and it is likely to continue its trajectory if anti-abortion legislation does not ease up and clinics continue to be closed.

The Texas law which sparked Wendy Davis’ famous filibuster has already shuttered 12 of the state’s 40 abortion clinics, and counting. It was predicted that the law would keep 23,000 Texas women — one third of those who seek them — from getting abortions. Meanwhile,

Many of these women can be found in the Rio Grande Valley, where the admitting privileges provision forced both of the county’s abortion clinics to shut down. Now, the closest clinic for the region’s one-million-plus residents is 150 miles away. For many poor, uninsured South Texas women, that distance is beyond feasible. Few have access to a set of wheels for the long haul, and others lack the right paperwork to cross immigration checkpoints on highways that run through the state.

Meanwhile, the flea market is close to most people living in the Valley, and the massive Alamo pulga looks like just the kind of place to pick up miso. According to several of my local sources, the drug is sold here and it’s not difficult to get—you just need to know who to approach and what to ask for.

God, stop me if you’ve heard this story before. Like we don’t already know that women will do anything to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Like we don’t have a gruesome history of coat hangers, knitting needles, women throwing themselves down stairs, etc. etc. etc. Jesus, but pro-lifers are stupid. Closing a Planned Parenthood clinic doesn’t stop abortion. It stops safe, legal, clean, compassionate abortion care. It makes women criminals for doing what the Supreme Court has said is legal.

Meanwhile, forcing women to seek out black market medication for a perfectly legal procedure puts vulnerable, poor women at risk:

One woman I interviewed at a Mexican restaurant in Brownsville told me her good friend nearly died after taking pills that her husband bought in Mexico. Instead of ingesting four of the 12 pills every three hours, as is recommended by the World Health Organization, she took two pills under her tongue, then four pills vaginally, then two more under her tongue, then four more vaginally. She began to bleed profusely, doubled over in pain. But because she was undocumented, she was afraid to seek medical help at a nearby hospital or clinic. Instead, she crossed the border to Mexico with her five children—all the while hemorrhaging—in search of medical assistance. She has since recovered but is still in Mexico with her children because she can’t cross the border back into the United States.

Women will always find a way. Always. It doesn’t matter what the law says, desperate people will go to any lengths to get what they need. This is something we women know deep in our bones, because pregnancy is something that affects our bodies and our lives, while for men it’s a mere abstract concept. Men don’t get it, they will never get it because it’s not the same issue for them.

The fetus-fetish crowd are true monsters.


Filed under abortion, healthcare, women's rights