Posts Tagged birth control

Purity Balls and the Guardians of Vaginas

PurityIn case you did not already know (and I did not know) purity balls [insert your own joke here]  – where “ball” refers to a social gathering or dance, such as a prom, not a hairy gonad as I first thought – are a religious rite wherein girls pledge not to have sex until they’re married. 

Photographer  David Magnusson captures the, creepy, may I add,  institution of the Purity Ball in pictures where young girls pose with their fathers who glow with pride at the thought that their little girl’s vagina is safe and sound in their arms, protected from the evil penis.

Purity

It’s like the fathers own their daughter’s vaginas (just like they think they own every woman’s uterus and vagina and everything) and they are holding that “high priced” possession, that family heirloom, in front of them, like a trophy, so that everyone really understands that this vagina here, with the woman/daughter attached to it, really is theirs to give away  and do with what they want, and no one else’s.  The guardians of the pussy, the purveyors of all of womanhood’s sexual organs.

Purity

I must say that this one of the most fucked, creepiest and most inappropriate things have I have seen in a long while. It is amazing that this is a real thing in the world.

Now, many of you may agree that this is messed up and creepy and think that this sort of thing is confined to a few lunatics on the fringe, the extremes.

But it is not.

Purity

A lot of men, especially Christian men, do believe they have some kind of a say to and ownership rights over a woman’s body and what a woman does with her body – vagina and uterus included-  especially if that woman is a relative or spouse.

Just enter the world of anti-choice legislation where women are treated as incubators who apparently owe the world babies.

Also look at how women in porn, for example, are referred to as “whores” and, generally, a culture that places a woman’s value as a human being between her legs, which is why porn stars are viewed as whores and thus worthless. In fact, any woman who is confident in her sexuality and has a sex life similar or comparable to that of a man is valued as less than women who are “virtuous.”

The Purity Ball images by Magnusson are a stark, obscene and visual depiction of the culture of misogyny.

The same culture that puts rape victims on trial; the same culture that values a fetus more than it values the person carrying it; the same culture that works hard to subvert a woman’s agency and bodily autonomy by closing abortion clinics or else working on taking away a woman’s right to choose, which includes access to affordable and safe abortions.

It is the same culture that disbelieves rape victims and puts them on trial as opposed to the perpetrator; the same culture that pays women less than their male counterparts for the same work; the same culture that pays for a man’s erection pills, penis pumps and vasectomies, but takes a woman’s access to birth control pills to the Supreme Court so that some dusty old relics who neither have uteri and whose penises haven’t been functioning for years can decide whether insurance companies should pay for that woman’s birth control; the same culture that holds women to standards men are rarely held to. Note that there are no sons in any of these images, only daughters.

Purity

It is easy to view and dismiss misogyny as a relic of the past, as something that is going away, as something that only “those extremist” nut jobs engage in.

However, when talking about and looking at misogyny and the mechanisms and institutions, as well as mind-sets, that perpetuate and uphold it – in very real policy terms, it becomes apparent just how deeply misogyny is ingrained and interwoven into our society, determining ultimately how we treat women.

In other words, Purity Ball images, as creepy and amusing they may be, are not the only depictions of misogyny. They are a blatant and obvious part of it, something we can point the finger at and ridicule, even admonish, but it does not end there because misogyny is real everyday for countless women and it is deeply ingrained in our society and its institutions, from gendered slurs, jibes and insults to unequal pay and everything in between.

It is real for your daughter, your mother, your sister, your female girl-friend, your grandmother, your wife and battling it requires awareness every step of the way not just when some messed up fathers pose for pictures with their daughters whom they have shamed into thinking that sex is a terrible, sinful  thing and that it was their job, a man’s job, to tell them what to do with their bodies. These girls, when they do get older, will then just replace their fathers who tell them what to do with their bodies, with another man, such as a boyfriend, spouse or a Justice of the United Stated Supreme Court.

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The Mechanisms of Gender Inequality in Health Care

Do you suffer from erectile dysfunction? Do you have a hard time getting hard and good? Do you need a penis pump, also known as a “vacuum erection device” because you cannot go the pill route? (something which can also, quite conveniently, serve as a masturbatory aide. *wink*). Do you maybe need a penile implant because pharmaceuticals and penis pumps cannot get you hard and good? Are you done with having kids or simply do not wish to go down that route and need a vasectomy?

Well, worry no more as all of these procedures are covered by health-insurance, no questions asked- in case you missed that in all the cacophony surrounding  the things that health insurance should not cover (or does not cover) for women, such as birth-control and abortions. Some of them, such as the penis pump, are even covered by your handy Medicare.

If, as a man, you did not know that these items, devices and procedures are covered by most private insurances (and Medicare) then, quite frankly, I don’t blame you. After all, what reason would you have to question a society that so perfectly suits your needs?

Where your mere sex does not render you a ‘liability”, a “pre-existing condition” as far as insurance and access to medical care is concerned?

A society where you get to make your own health care decisions (within the confines of privately-run health-care schemes) for yourself without entities such as employers, a dusty clergy and legislators constantly feeling like they are entitled to step in and make those decisions for you, thus taking away autonomy over your own body and, crucially, the freedom of choice with regard to what you want to do with that body.

You don’t have to worry about someone questioning or taking away your choices, treating you like some object for which and over which others can make decisions as opposed to treating you like an autonomous, rights-bearing human being deserving of full equality.

As a man, your autonomy, agency, and the ability to consent—as your  own best decision-maker, your own best advocate, and your own best protector – are respected and never questioned.  You are born into a world in which your humanity, agency, dignity and autonomy are not in question – both philosophically and legally.

You don’t navigate a world in which everyone believes that policing your body and reproduction is an acceptable recreation. You don’t have to navigate the institutional misogyny that underlies the anti-choice movement where everything about it serves the interests of those who want to limit choice, and those who want to marginalize women.

While religious employers are choking to death at the idea of having to “pay” for a female employee’s birth control pills or, flying spaghetti monsters forbid, abortion, arguing that doing so would somehow compromise their delicate morals and religious convictions, they have no problem shelling out money to make sure you get to have an erection and a penis pump and penile implants and so on so you can fuck a woman, get her pregnant and make her have all the babies she may or may not want. That is irrelevant.

Even the government, even Medicare, is more than willing to pay for penis pumps and no one ever questions why tax-payers have to pay thousands of dollars to make sure a man can have an erection.

Your employer, the government, the clergy, some suit sitting at a mahogany desk in Washington do not have a problem tasking insurance companies to pay for a vasectomy that results in all these babies they all love so much to not be born.

Of course not. Those things are not an issue. They have not been an issue in major court proceedings, at state legislatures, with employers, insurance companies or even in the media and the public. In fact, it is a non-issue. As women’s reproductive choices are being eroded one by one, step by step, the national debate centers about the same few garbage notions about the alleged “rights” of fetuses, morality and god.  Be it Republicans or Democrats, ultimately it is about making women bargain away autonomy over their bodies to whoever feels entitled to them – in some sort of a insincere, deceitful “both sides have a point” false equivalency argument. As if people with uteri somehow owed the world control over some significant function of their body

No one talks about the duplicity inherent in the national debate we have on women’s agency where one group is systematically robbed of personal autonomy because another believes that they can make, and are entitled to make, better decisions for you than you can for yourself.

As a man, you get to make decisions about your sexual and reproductive health for yourself without anyone questioning their necessity, cost, or even morality.

Your personhood is not subject to inescapable, incessant and insistent debate. You are not made to feel that you are nothing if you don’t use your body to have children, where you are merely seen as a uterus with some vague female parts attached in service to its reproductive capacity.

 Women, on the other hand, have to stand by and let everyone decide on those things for them, everyone but the woman herself.

It is terrible to have to navigate a world in which you, as a woman, are made to feel that you deserve less respect,  less dignity, less autonomy, less opportunity, less agency, less voice, less ownership of self and ultimately less of your humanity.

A world in which you have to negotiate away the concept of absolute autonomy over your body to accommodate, please or else appease some privileged class/entity – be it a man or a church or whatever other institutions out there that believe they are entitled to make decisions about your own life and your body, for you.

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Things To Regulate

Nothing gets a Conservative’s juices flowing harder than government regulation and a social safety net. The anti-Christ himself could not have been a worse nemesis than regulation. Not being able to subjugate, abuse, pollute, steal or else abuse people and the environment at will cuts into profits, so naturally greedy, church-going, amoral Conservatives cannot have that.

But a woman’s uterus? Yes, that needs to be regulated. Regulate it long, regulate it hard, regulate it deep. In fact, for Conservatives, the words “regulate” and “women” go together like a wink and a smile. Or maybe like an ultrasound and a vagina?

Do you have binders full of women that need regulating? Then you will be hard pressed to not find a Conservative who is more than willing to step in and regulate them for you. Conservatives will not vote for such things as, oh I don’t know,  free daycare offered by the government so that mothers can work and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but they will vote for the government forcing women to have as many children as possible.

They will not vote for stricter regulation of air and water pollutants but they will make sure that a lot of children are born to parents who live in areas with some of the nation;’s worst air and water pollution.

See how being pro-life works?

Yeah, duplicity is a highly traded Conservative value with institutions couched in colorful myths and ardent sentiment to conceal bigotry, intolerance, greed and misogyny.

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Your Garbage Anti-Choice Supreme Court

Looks like it will be, once again, up to some old, male asshole, this time in the form of Justices Anthony Kennedy as well as Roberts, to decide what rights as pertaining to reproductive choices and bodily autonomy, women should be granted.

Justice Kennedy believes that the government’s case would basically “force corporations to pay for abortions” – making many believe that Kennedy’s belief that this is an abortion case was an indicator that the Supreme Court was going to side with Hobby Lobby and other plaintiffs. Kennedy has not cast a pro-choice vote in 22 years and is not likely to change his position this time.

It is interesting to note that Hobby Lobby objects to four forms of contraception on the mistaken ground that these contraceptive methods are actually forms of abortion — a brief filed by numerous medical organizations explains that they are not (not that even if they were, it should matter)

Roberts, however, suggested that someone’s mere belief that something is an abortion is enough to trigger a religious exemption to federal law.

Let me repeat what you just read:

Justice Roberts suggests that someone’s mere belief that something is an abortion is enough to trigger a religious exemption to federal law.

Beautiful. Now we are at a point where the highest court of the land and its Justices state that someone’s “mere belief” – absent any factual evidence – “is enough to trigger a religious exemption.”

When a Chief Justice is advocating for superstition in the from of religious belief to write the law of the land as opposed to facts, then we are in far more trouble than I had even imagined we could be. For such a notion to hold sway in a court of law is profoundly disturbing.

How can someone make a legal decision based on what someone “believes”?

If this goes through, you will have corporations filing for religious exemption on any and all laws they can find to pretty much discriminate against anyone they want – as long as they say they “believe” it, of course.

See, your Honor, playing the piano causes abortions, even though there is absolutely no scientific evidence supporting this, so I want to be able to ban my employees from playing the piano on their off time.”

See, you Honor, paying minimum wage violates my religious beliefs (and just take my word for it that it does, good sir), so I really don’t think I should have to pay abide by minimum wage laws.”

“See, you Honor, hiring blacks violates my religious beliefs (and just take my word for it that it does, good sir), so I really don’t think I should have to hire them.” 

“See, you Honor, having a black person sit at my lunch counter violates my religious beliefs (and just take my word for it that it does, good sir), so I really don’t think I should have to let them sit at the lunch counter of my restaurant.” 

Etc., etc. etc.

The SCOTUS is going to ensure that the “Slippery Slope/Hobby Lobby Act of 2014” passes, ensuring all employers that worship flying spaghetti monsters in the clouds and who believe that said flying spaghetti monsters who prohibit them from paying for any and all medical coverage because of “religious conscience” will be legally allowed to do so. Have cancer or heart disease? Too bad because your employer believes that prayer and herbal tea cures these things.

This is religious supremacy.

Now we are at a juncture in our history where those writing the highest law of the land (and not, as one would think, some “extremist religious nut jobs” – a strawman a lot of god and religion apologizers like to use as ostensible “proof” that religion is misunderstood because, allegedly, only a few on the fringe are like that, not everyone. Uh.huh)  really think that a person’s mere belief in something, regardless of the facts, was grounds for legally discriminating against another group in the grossest and most transgressive way possible.

See how religion and god have managed to stick and lodge their rancid, oppressive tentacles into the very fabric of society to the point where lawmakers assert that mere belief in something, whether based in reality or not, was enough to enact a law based on such a belief?

These are not the principles that this nation was founded on and making laws respecting establishments of religion or religious belief does not only go against the First Amendment but makes us a mere theocracy.

I find it frightening to think that in this day and age, and when presented with  the scientific fact that birth control is not abortion, people who “feel” that it is, can get their way and thus get to make decisions that affect millions – all over how they feel.

Religion really is a disease. Always interjecting, always fucking it up for everyone else and no one is allowed to talk about it openly because doing so is “rude” and non-PC.

It’s a good thing that with all these righteous, pious men who are only doing god’s work blah blah fart,  it is atheists who are the least trusted entities in the country, aside from rapists, that is.

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Rush Limbaugh Is a Vile, Unevolved Swine

Calling him a pig is an insult to the pig

Everytime I think it is impossible for the Republican Party and their spokes-whores to degrade themselves and those they offend any more, something like this happens, reaffirming my notion that there are no holes deep enough these sanctimonious right wing nut jobs won’t sink into.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh sunk below the deepest layer of prehistoric frog shit at the bottom of a New Jersey scum swamp when he, on Wednesday, called Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student, a “slut” and a “prostitute” for publicly advocating that employers cover contraception in their health plans.

Sandra Fluke

Fluke’s testimony in the hearing was not, as Limbaugh claimed, about the fact that she’s “having so much sex she’s going broke buying contraceptives.” Fluke told the story of her friend who had an ovary removed because the insurance company wouldn’t cover the prescription birth control she needed to stop the growth of ovarian cysts.

Limbaugh concluded his vile rant by insisting that if his tax dollars go to provide health care to citizens, they should be forced to also make sex tapes to provide him with plenty of jerk-off material.  I don’t even really want to repeat the despicable words that came out of his mouth, I am sure people can look it up everywhere.

Obama Calls – Republicans Reluctantly Follow Suit 

President Obama ended up calling Fluke on Friday, thanking her for speaking out on the issue.  Apparently cry baby John Boehner took a brief break from lying and also condemned the remarks. But at this point it seems more like an afterthought, like something he was compelled to do because the Republican PR machine advised him on this strategic move that would make Republicans appear less like barfinating biles of vomitous bigots. It is almost like he is checking off a pesky task from his to-do list so he can move on already and stop being bothered for apologizing for his beliefs. And I have no doubt that Boehner probably has more in common with Limbaugh than with Obama. They are all made of the same canvas.

What I don’t understand is why Obama did not make an official public announcement condemning what that worthless human being said and instead just sort of only called her up. Why not also publicly declare in a press conference that such behavior is unacceptable. I have never understood what virtue is to be found in being a doormat giving credence to hatred and bigtory. What is so heroic and classy about that?

Limbaugh, who has made a career and millions out of insulting people and spreading hatred, defamed this women in the worst possible way and those words of defamation reached all of his 20 million listeners, not to mention that he – together with fascists like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman – have been the unofficial spokespeople for the Republican party, and in particular the Tea Party, for the past four years, setting the direction and tone of the debates and policies we are having right now.

This man is a driving force behind all the bigotry and hate Republicans have been cultivating like a malignancy and which has ultimately been translating into public policy; he is not some minor player whose words are inconsequential. It’s bad enough that there has not been much Republican criticism and rebuke of this, they have stayed mum on the issue more or less and only “condemned” it as sort of a pesky afterthought, like it was a chore to get over with;  but it is just incomprehensible to me why Obama would not take his balls out of his wife’s purse and just make a public announcement already, stating firmly that as the President, he does not condone such behavior.

There is nothing honorable in staying really low-key and silent when you see injustice and hate against another human being. Limbaugh is a contemptible, sorry excuse for a human being and he should be fired for instigating and spewing such despicable hatred. This isn’t even an issue of free speech, this is pure, cold, unadulterated hate-speech and slut-shaming of a person who has had the unmitigated temerity to assert her right to participate in the public sphere.

Remember How We Thought We’d Have Flying Cars by Now?

Who would have thought that in 2012, basic contraception would be the major election issue.

There is a war going on against women and it is happening on all spheres and levels, subtle and overt, small and big, large scale and small scale.

A few days ago, in my review of the Season 2 episode of The Walking Dead, I recited the offensive nature with which women are and have been portrayed throughout the show, such as a bunch of incompetent bimbos and doormats incapable of tying a shoelace apparently without a big strong man around to guide and supervise them through it.  In this very last episode, Lori, who I am going to nickname Michelle, based on her role model Michelle Duggar, was giving Andrea shit for basically possessing insufficient skills to be dude property and every woman on the show who has made her own decisions this far has ended up regretting it five minutes later.

Women – Doing Laundry Even During the Zombie Apocalypse

A couple of weeks ago, the biggest doormat of them all, Michelle Duggar published her advise list on how to basically be a functioning doormat for your husband (the fact that women themselves advocate misogyny is disturbing and subject for another post).

And just last week the Virginia senate approved the ultra sound abortion bill, setting a precedent for other states to follow by requiring that a woman be probed with an ultra sound prior to getting an abortion, thus not only creating an unnecessary barrier between women and a lawful medical procedure but to also, in the finest tradition of oppression, humiliate a woman by patronizing her into taking a look inside, as if she didn’t know what she was doing and had to be sort of reminded.

Women are being knee-capped everywhere and all this is nothing but an underhanded attempt by men and religious people to shame and humiliate a woman into carrying a pregnancy they chose to abort, to term (remember how Rick shamed Lori into not getting rid of that baby from hell?).

Republicans piss and moan about government invasion into their lives and infringement upon their religious beliefs all the time, but they have no problem shoving their backwards religious beliefs, literally, up my vagina and uterus. It is like the King saying that the demands of his subjects for equity constitute an infringement upon his rights to oppress them.

Truth is that it in fact has been religious people and their beliefs that have been infesting the public sphere and public policy for decades now to unimaginable levels, such as defunding stem cell research  that could provide a cure for a myriad of currently incurable diseases, insisting on school prayer and  on teaching Creationism and Intelligent Design in public schools, infringing upon a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body and reproductive organs, prohibiting gay people from exercising their civil rights to get married and even going so far as to putting it on a ballot for others to vote on. The recent debates with respect to defunding Planned Parenthood, whose primary role is health promotion and disease prevention, and finding ever newer ways to shame and humiliate women at every turn they can, slowly eroding their rights, are just a couple of examples to the point.

Rick Santorum’s rant on how sex for any purpose other than procreation constitutes some kind of a moral problem in our society and Limbaugh’s recent slut-shaming of Sandra Fluke  and calling on her to make a sex video for him already to give him his money’s worth (and Ari Fleischer’s shameless defending of Limbaugh in some sort of a “what’s the big deal?” way)  are just the tip of the iceberg with respect to the kind of infestation of public policy we’ve had to endure at the hands of these self-proclaimed pious, god fearing people.

Liberals, atheists, feminists and gays are being constantly held responsible for the moral decay and all the ills of our society, when in fact it has been religious people and their beliefs that have caused a lot of grief for everyone. Until the devil makes himself known, we’re always a handy substitute and there certainly is nothing like an unembarrassed hypocrite from the Right.

I conclude this post by acknowledging that, of course, not all religious people are bigots. But if you are a bigot then chances are you are religious.

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