Posts Tagged viagra

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Today in “But Why Do You Hate God?”

Birth Control and Religious Freedom

tumblr_lhr0b36CaU1qhb2nco1_r1_500Banning insurance coverage of abortion is an anti-choice strategy to restrict access to abortion without having to actually navigate the political and legal difficulties of banning the procedure outright, thus violating Roe v. Wade.

This is how the war on agency and bodily autonomy works.

Over the past few years, abortion opponents have been working around the clock to make it too difficult for doctors to provide abortion care by enacting dozens of complicated state-level restrictions that dictate how these services may be performed. Once state legislatures pass tighter restrictions, anti-choice activists can start filing complaints alleging clinics are breaking the new law and endangering their patients. Sometimes they’ll conduct undercover “stings” — posing as a minor trying to get an abortion without telling her parents, or pretending to be a woman forced to have an abortion against her will — in an attempt to catch the clinic staff making a wrong move.

Ultimately, they’re hoping to trigger the state’s agencies to step in and conduct surprise inspections, which, in turn, are expensive and time-consuming for clinic staff who have to spend a substantial amount of their time and efforts refuting these false claims.

This week, Georgia will be the 25th state to forbid abortion coverage on the insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In fact, the debate on birth control and thus President Barack Obama’s health care law  – in a case that pits the religious rights of employers against the rights of women to the birth control of their choice and thus bodily autonomy and agency – is going to the Supreme Court as well this week.

On Tuesday, the court will be hearing arguments in a religion-based challenge from family-owned companies that object to covering certain contraceptives in their health plans as part of the law’s preventive care requirement.

Under the ACA, health plans must offer a range of services at no extra charge, including all forms of birth control for women that have been approved by federal regulators.

Some of the nearly 50 businesses that have sued over covering contraceptives object to paying for all forms of birth control. But the companies involved in the high court case are willing to cover most methods of contraception, as long as they can exclude drugs or devices that the government says may work after an egg has been fertilized.

The largest company among them, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., and the Green family that owns it, say their “religious beliefs prohibit them from providing health coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices that end human life after conception.”

The other company is Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. of East Earl, Pa., owned by a Mennonite family and employing 950 people in making wood cabinets.

A victory for the companies would prevent women who work for them from making decisions about birth control based on what’s best for their health. If they win, then employers would be able to invoke religious objections under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act to opt out of other laws, including those governing immunizations, minimum wages and Social Security taxes.

Interesting to note is that a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 85 percent of large American employers already had offered such coverage before the ACA required it, raising the suspicion that this may be yet another political stunt by those who oppose Obamacare to attack the legislation from this angle and gut its provisions as much as they can.

The Greens say they have no desire to make health care decisions for their employees, other than, of course, when it comes to sticking their noses into said employee’s vagina and uterus to tell her what she may and may not do with her own body.

One key issue before the justices is whether profit-making corporations may assert religious beliefs under the 1993 religious freedom law or the First Amendment provision guaranteeing Americans the right to believe and worship as they choose. The court could skirt that issue by finding that the individuals who own the businesses have the right to object.

Accommodating the Religious, Once More

I am no legal expert but if the government, through laws and legislation, were to actually grant business owners the right, the legal right, to deny services  – or in this case a particular health-care coverage – to people and/or employees whom a religious business owner does not like and objects to if he or she felt that providing those services would violate his or her religious rights, then that would, in fact, constitute the government “respecting an establishment of religion”, which is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Legalized Discrimination

If discrimination remains illegal, except for on religious grounds, then that would open up a Pandora’s box unleashing the intolerance and bigotry of religious people onto peoples’ lives in unimaginable ways with real harmful consequences.

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What the Greens and other plaintiffs in this law-suit are doing is demanding a deeply misogynistic piece of legislation to be enacted by the government whereby employers can, indirectly yet remotely,  regulate and control a woman’s personal choices as pertaining to her body. It is one of the grossest transgressions of agency and bodily autonomy and would set this nation back a century or more.

The legal precedent that would be set if these religious nut jobs win would not only result in the government having made a law respecting an establishment of religion, but in some terrifying Twilight Zone scenario this would basically just give companies free reign to do with their employees whatever they damn well please as long as it is done under the “right to religion” provision.

After all, what is to prevent the Greens from also not hiring gays and lesbians in any of their stores because it violates their religious beliefs? Or Muslims? Or Atheists? Or unwed mothers?

What if they feel that they also do not want to cover the medical needs for their gay and lesbian or transgender employees, provided they hire them in the first place?

The next thing we know an employer who is a Jehovah’s Witness, for example, will object to having to pay for blood transfusion for their employees and their dependents. Individuals who develop certain types of problems such as leukemia or other things could end up with bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or die because they can no longer pay for transfusions. Hospitals and other institutions charge a fortune for each transfusion in blood costs and administrative costs.

Such a piece of legislation would essentially grant an employer the right to make health-care decisions for their employees, including taking away a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions especially as pertaining to her reproductive choices.

I want to point out that no one ever questions paying for maladies and situations which only affect men such as for erectile dysfunction drugs, prostate treatments and penis pumps. But women are always placed in a special category (almost as if being a woman was a pre-existing condition) to be either charged higher premiums or routinely have services they need questioned, scrutinized and right out denied.

Lack of access to abortion is directly linked with income whereby women who attempt to get abortions but are denied have been found to be three times as likely to fall into poverty than those whose efforts were not blocked.

Pro-Birth Not The Same As Pro-Life

A few weeks ago I talked about the common misconception that people who claim to be pro-life are, in fact, merely pro-birth because wanting a child to be born but then not giving a damn what happens to it once it is out of the womb is unequivocally not pro-life but, it is, in fact, hostile to life.

If the Greens really are “pro-life” and care about doing the right thing as dictated by their faith, then maybe they should start with emulating their number one Messiah, Jesus, by being generous and fair to their employees, which includes more than just doing the bare minimum in terms of pay and benefits to stay competitive.

If you care about life, as you proclaim, then maybe you should consider paying your living, breathing and grown employees livable wages, plus health-care benefits, vacation time, sick time, disability pay and a host of other things that make life livable and bearable for people, not to mention that are the decent thing to do.

Why is it that religious people who oppose abortion and claim to be so much pro-life are only so for some accumulation of cells in the gestation period but somehow lose all that care when it comes to the actual person carrying such an accumulation of cells in the gestation period.

Will you, dear Green family, make sure that those women you just forced to birth out babies they do not want to have, also get paid maternity leave? Will you make sure there is a work-life balance for them so they can both do their job and be there to raise their kids? Will you increase the mother’s pay on a regular basis to make sure it keeps up with inflation and increased cost-of-living so she can take care of this kid and properly provide for it?

Because being a Christian is more than just merely being against abortion.

I really do not see any of the companies who proclaim to be objecting to paying for birth control pills and abortions acting particularly Christ-like in many other ways. Their morals just seem to begin and end in a woman’s vagina.

Finally, I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously believes that paying insurance premiums somehow violates their religious beliefs. It is not like the employer would be billed directly for certain procedures, they merely pay the premium. The insurance company pays for the procedures because that is what insurances are for.

If an insurance company were to not pay for the birth control (or abortion), then said employee would be using her wages to buy such birth control, thus Hobby Lobby would still be subsidizing an abortion as employers cannot tell their employees what to do with their wages.

Not that at the end of the day an employer should be given a say in what medical procedures employees may utilize to begin with (this, by the way, is another reason why putting the providing of health care into the hands of employers is such a terrible idea. Between the insurance company that is in it for the money and employers who are doing everything to gut an employees pays and benefits, also for money, the employee gets the shit end of the stick. Access to health care is a human right, because the right to life is a human right, that should not be placed in the hands of entities that merely have a profit motive in mind).

Separate But Equal

Denying certain people a number of rights that others are granted is discriminatory (reminiscent of Segregation and Jim Crow laws), not to mention deeply un-American.

The double standard here is phenomenally discriminatory. If women are denied the ability to make integral choices in their health care for issues which just affect them, then health-insurance plans should have to deny choices and coverage for men for issues which just affect them as well, such as payment for erectile problems and prostate problems. But they don’t.

Far worse, the “right to discriminate” legislation would, undoubtedly, give religious people the “right” to go after everyone and anyone they do not like. This would not just become a law solely addressing birth control. Once you set it into motion, corporations will step in and try to pull all sorts of things under the “right to religion” clause.

This would be legislated hate and discrimination on grounds of religious freedom. It cannot get more intrusive than that.

Why Do You Hate God?

Of course, I do not hate God. Technically speaking, you cannot hate something that doesn’t exist. What I am contemptuous about, however, is the extent to which religious people, and theists in general, use this tiresome accusation and rhetorical as a silencing meme when talking to atheists or critics of religion/god/theism.

Religion is harmful. I have mentioned that before and you know I will never stop repeating it.

Religion is harmful and the above example, which is one among many, makes that point quite clear.

Last week I talked about a bakery in Oregon that refused to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple stating that baking the cake allegedly violated their religious beliefs and that because it did so, they were subsequently entitled to deny services to such a couple and that doing so was totally ok and not discriminatory at all since it happened under the auspices of “religious freedom.”

Oh I am sorry, your honor, but see, I don’t hate them, God hates them.”

Indeed.

Religious people have put everyone on the defense, playing the victims whose rights are being allegedly neglected and stomped on. As the privileged, dominant entity they really believe that they are entitled to their privilege and dominance and that demands for equality infringe upon their rights to subjugate, discriminate, oppress and harm others. And they think they have that right, that entitlement, because it is in the name of god and religion.

So why do I hate your god, so to speak? Because your fucking god is meddling in my life everyday resulting in my rights as a woman and human being to be regularly pissed on to accommodate your god and faith.

Personally I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if you wanted to believe in hobbits, unicorns, flying pigs, Big Foot, Jesus, Mohammed, or easter bunnies as your personal savior. Have at it. Whatever makes you go through the day.

But the moment you infringe upon my human and civil rights and bodily autonomy because your belief in your savior says so, that is where the buck stops, as they say. That is where I will step in and criticize you and your religion and your messiah and the bigotry, intolerance, ignorance and harm they cause ad nauseum. Teaspoon by teaspoon.

I am tired of religious people meddling in and thinking that somehow their right to religion was a special one and thus superseded other peoples’s human and civil rights.

Freedom From Religion

What all this birth control debacle and employers suing to not cover birth control etc. show is that what Americans really need is a “Freedom From Religion” law to protect people from becoming the victims of religious people and their skewed, backwards and harmful beliefs. It is long past time to tax the damn church that is no longer a religious institution but a political one as witnessed here and with PropH8 in California, NOM, The Family Research Council and Bryan Fisher and all their Missionaries of Hate.

Religion a personal matter that needs to be respected, my ass. Religion is harmful because it continuously interjects itself into other peoples’ lives in really detrimental ways. Criticism of religion, therefore, is not something angry atheists who have nothing better to do, engage in but, more than anything, a public service to protect those directly harmed by someone’s religious beliefs and practices.

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On Their Campaign of Immense Love for Women, Republicans Compare Women to Insects

In an interview addressing the issue on the war on women that Republicans are accused of having engaged in, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus stated “If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars. It’s a fiction.” 

Memo to Republicans and all misogynists – who don’t even have the character to stand by their beliefs – when you are arguing that you and your party are not waging a war on women or else are driven by blind misogyny as you are being accused of, you might not want to compare women to insects.

Mitt Romney, who isn’t even capable of maintaining a coherent stance on an issue in the same sentence, much less during a whole campaign, believes that Democrats have done a good job at mischaracterizing their views.

Hmm…let’s see, how can you mischaracterize misogyny?

Maybe by being callously indifferent to their health and their priorities, as evidenced by an obsession to make sure that women can’t have affordable access to birth control, legislation aimed at humiliating and shaming a woman into carrying to term a pregnancy she doesn’t want to by making her undergo a medically unnecessary and humiliating procedure she is required to pay for out of pocket and of course through the dismissive way the chairman of the RNC referred to those concerns as mere fiction; as a war on caterpillars.

Mischaracterization? I don’t think so. There is no room for grey areas here.

 

No Going Back For Republicans

For Republicans, especially for Romney, there is no going back. Across the party, women have been so appalled by the policies and outlandish anti-women legislation pushed by Republicans, that some believe that this might place Romney at a huge disadvantage this fall.

Romney himself has paved the path to his own demise by his support for personhood amendments, his bleief that Roe v. Wade is one of the worst decisions ever made by the Supreme Court and that it should be overturned and his support for the Blunt-Rubio Amendments which state that bosses get to decide for their employees what kind of access to health care they can have.

As Gloria Steinem said “when or whether to have children is the single biggest element in whether [women] are healthy or not, whether [they] are educated or not, how long [their]  life expectancy is, and whether [they]  can be active in the world or not.” By stripping those rights away, Republicans control and diminish those things.

Ultimately, this is about personal liberty. Republicans talk a lot about personal liberty and complain about the Mandate in Obama’s health care legislation – which is aimed at making it possible for Americans to have access to affordable, quality healthcare really – but they themselves are putting mandates on women, in terms of not allowing access to contraception and abortion and engaging in various kinds of behavior that simply reeks of disrespect and disdain for women, their causes and priorities.

It is outrageous that in the 21st century we are still having the kinds of debates we had in the 50s with respect to a woman’s access to contraception and say over her own family planning, which is one of the most fundamental of rights.

No one is mischaracterizing Republicans on the issue. They have characterized themselves and made a mess out of things and now they are sore it backfired, so they resort to the next best action they are capable of: deflect and project to distract. In short, they want to blame democrats for the mess they created.

Every woman – or just every decent human being with integrity – has to ask themselves whether they want someone in the White House who respects and loves women or whether they want someone who thinks that women are second class citizens and human beings to be patronized and condescended to.

As Ohio State Senator Nina Turner said, some of these people apparently have not been “birthed”, they were hatched, because if you hold the kinds of views and notions we have seen Republicans hold, you do not love women. Period.  You do not love women and you do not respect them.

I feel sorry for Romney’s daughters and for Santorum’s daughters and for the daughters, mothers, sister and wives of all these legislators that have been pushing for these blunt anti-women laws without shame. I wonder if those women realize the disrespect and disdain their fathers, husbands or sons have for women deep down and in a very fundamental way.  I cannot imagine any woman with an ounce of self respect and integrity condoning such policies.

Cialis Ok, Contraception Bad

No one asks any questions when Viagra and Cialis, medications aimed at helping men get hard, are covered by health insurance. But it is a national “issue” when contraceptives are to be covered under the same health insurance plan that covers viagra. Forget the policy outcomes, the fact that this has even been an issue that requires “debates” and “policy decisions” – as if there are legitimate pros and cons to the issue which have to be discussed and evaluated – is what is truly outrageous here. This shouldn’t even be an issue, just like Cialis and Viagra are never, ever an issue.

They want men to get hard but they don’t want the women they get hard for have any say in what is to happen to them and their bodies post coitum.

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