My support of Sandra Fluke brought out a surprising number of negative comments on my last post. Here is what I wrote in response to those commenters:
Lots of women need and use birth control, including married women and mothers, but it is not up to anybody to question who or why. Contraception is a basic part of women’s healthy care. Insurers absolutely should cover it. Why is there so much upset over contraception, and not Viagra? Why is it anyone else’s business what a doctor prescribes for a patient? Why do extremists like Rush Limbaugh label women who are in charge of their sexuality and stand up for their rights horrible names like “slut” and “prostitute?” There is a deep thread of misogyny, sexism and desire to control women that Limbaugh is both exposing and tapping into. Anyone who believes that women deserve human rights and autonomy must stand up for Sandra Fluke and support all women. Let’s remember that Limbaugh slandered Sandra Fluke not only in judgement of her behavior, but in reaction to her even daring to speak her mind.
What I want to know is how extremists on the right can get away with the incredible hypocrisy they practice. People like Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney want liberty and freedom from government intrusion–but they seem to mean THEIR liberty and freedom alone–with no concern for the rest of us. If you are a woman, Santorum and Romeny want to intrude in your most personal decisions and relationships, including what goes on in your bedroom and what your doctor prescribes. And Rush Limbaugh will call you a slut in the process.
Am I volunteering for President Obama’s re-election campaign? You bet! If you believe in women’s rights and liberty I invite you to join me:
And, here is a petition to Rush Limbaugh’s bosses at Clear Channel to cancel Limbaugh’s show:
Comments are now closed for this post.
What more can be said about what a despicable person Rush Limbaugh is? Limbaugh’s unfounded, profane diatribe against Sandra Fluke, who had the courage to insist on testifying to Congress about women’s heath and access to birth control, lays bare the utter misogyny that has roared to life in this current election season. If anyone wonders why feminists can seem “militant,” well here it is, a coordinated war against women–we need to be on guard and fight back. Perhaps calling these outbursts an assault against women is even more relatable–who among us has not felt vulnerable at one time or another? And here was Sandra Fluke, speaking truth to power, and what does she get for her forthright insistence on raising her voice? Being called a “slut” and a “prostitute” for speaking up for birth control.
Well, Rush, news flash–almost all American women use birth control, so if you are calling Sandra Fluke a slut, you are calling us all sluts.
Honestly, for the first time in my life I think I can really feel all the way to my core that someone’s name calling reflects only on them. No matter what insults anyone slings, I will be on Sandra Fluke’s side in this fight.
And, isn’t it interesting that radically conservative men say they are SO concerned about free speech and the First Amendment, yet look at how they treat a woman who dares to speak her mind and say things they don’t want to hear.
It is time for women to stand together and stand up against this hateful speech, policy and action aimed at destroying women’s rights, autonomy and power. 2012 is an election year in full swing and it’s a crucial time to speak our minds, take action, and elect leaders who will represent our interests, our heath and our rights.
This week as David Brooks and Gail Collins discussed “Who Decided That This Election Should Be About Sex?” Brooks laid bare the core of the Conservative philosophy:
“I do think it’s consistent to be economically libertarian and socially paternalistic. In fact I’d argue dynamic capitalism requires a stringent and coherent social order to help guard against its savageries — tight families to educate children, anti-materialist values to police rampant consumerism, a spiritual public square to mitigate the corrosive culture of greedy self-interest.
Free market beliefs and socially conservative beliefs require each other, so long as those socially conservative beliefs are traditional, not theological. I’m for traditional values, with government playing a small role to support them. I get worried when some politician begins trying to legislate his faith’s version of Natural Law.”
This statement seems almost unintentionally revealing to me. Isn’t it interesting to see what makes it into his statement of core values and what gets left out? He has a definite view of what constitutes a “stringent and coherent social order” and “tight families”: he admits that his approach is explicitly paternalistic, as though empowering women to lead their own lives out from under the thumb of male control leads to the breakdown of the social order and rampant “savageries” (a charged word if there ever was one!).
Brooks thinks that government can play a “small role” to support “traditional values” while the Republicans are currently trying to legislate what happens inside our bedrooms and inside women’s bodies. Only a man could see current Conservative causes such as state-mandated transvaginal ultrasounds as non-invasive small government.
But what is really at the core of our country’s problems as we try to recover from the worst recession in memory? Look what has happened as capitalism has run unfettered and unregulated in the past decade–near economic meltdown which required a bailout of Wall Street and untold behind the scenes shenanigans by the Treasury department (see for example quantitative easing and the $7 trillion secret loan program).
David Brooks can come across as a reasonable guy at times, which makes him even more interesting to me. We can’t afford to ignore the core of the worldview he is laying out. It is not consistent and it is certainly not inclusive. It asks for small government when it doesn’t want interference but has no problem trying to get laws or constitutional amendments passed that restrict other people’s very personal liberties (“personhood” for zygotes and amendments to “protect” marriage by limiting which relationships can be defined as legal partnerships). Brooks’ whole framework is clearly protecting the interests of those in power, as defined by wealthy, heterosexual white men. Even “pretty nice” people can feel that they are not actively racist, sexist or homophobic but they want to preserve a system that structurally reinforces their privileges–privileges that may be invisible to them, but very real to the rest of us. Racism is no longer culturally acceptable, but controlling women and the sexuality and relationships of gay people shows how threatening the Right feels by anything other than their paternalistic world view.
It is time for Progressives to stand up and shake off our “live and let live” tendencies to realize that we need to fight for fairness, inclusiveness, and equality on many fronts. Here in North Carolina we are facing a vote on a proposed Constitutional Amendment that not only would ban gay marriage, which is already illegal, but it would invalidate any domestic partnership other than marriage between a man and a woman. This has far-reaching implications for many issues such as domestic violence. By encoding these restrictions into the state Constitution, domestic violence laws could become unconstitutional. It is very scary to think about what happens when we start encoding this kind of discrimination and liberty restriction into our Constitution–it feels like we’d be messing with society’s “source code” without understanding all the damage that could be done. Bad amendments are even worse than bad laws because they are much harder to overturn. Even Jim Crow Laws enforcing segregation, and anti-miscegenation laws, which banned marriages between people of different races, were enacted through laws and not Constitutional amendments. By the way, if anyone can tell me how the bans against gay marriage are fundamentally different than the bans on interracial marriage, I would be very interesting in hearing a substantive argument on that.
I will leave you with two thoughts that illustrate the world views we will be voting on in this election year:
Ellen Degeneres: “I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.”
or more from David Brooks: “So let’s return to our normal subject. Men, men, men. Let’s go back and have a normal election: men talking about themselves. The love that won’t shut up.”
In 2012, the choice is ours and the differences couldn’t be clearer.
So, we ladyfolk finally got our own viral internet giggle yesterday when Apple really did name its new tablet computer the iPad. “iTampon” quickly became a hot trending topic on Twitter.
Even as the “Mac’s-i-Pad” period jokes continue, a little bit of a backlash has begun (“really from all the noise we should just call it the i-bitch,”) and people are also asking will period jokes will hurt the iPad?
I think the iPad name is a major mis-step for Apple, but not just because it’s embarrassingly funny. For me the iPad naming fiasco pulls back the curtain on Apple Computer’s branding and marketing and reveals it as another Silicon Valley boy’s club.
I say this as a devoted Apple user. I got my first computer as a college freshman back in 1986, a “Macintosh 512K enhanced.” I was in one of the first college cohorts in which just about everybody had a personal computer. And yes, there was a day when you could put “512K” and “enhanced” together and it made sense. (Take that, Fanboys, I’ve been using a Mac since some of you were in diapers, or, egads, before you were born.) Over those 23 years I have personally bought at least a half dozen desktop Macs, four laptops, two iPhones, and more generations of iPods than I can keep track of. I run my whole Mojo Mom media empire, from book authorship, to blogging and podcasting, on a Mac.
And all the while Apple’s branding made me feel like I was part of something, “I’m a Mac,” after all. And with their intuitive, elegant design, as Apple brought new products to life that I hadn’t even known that I needed, but now can’t imagine living without, I felt like Apple knew me, too. But now with their naming choice of the iPad and all it’s testosterone-fueled cluelessness, it became immediately more noticeable how overwhelmingly male Apple computer is. Can you name one woman associated with Apple, as an employee or its image? Watch Apple’s own near-orgasmically-fawning video promoting their new gadget. It’s eight minutes of male developers talking about how awesome the iPad is.
So then we get thinking about the iPad and wonder, “Were there any women involved in its design process? Its naming or marketing?” And reporting comes out, such as Business Week (via Jezebel) saying that “women account for 40 percent of gadget spending…” and the inconvenient fact that Apple doesn’t have any women in its top corporate positions.
I have spent a lot of time in the tech world socially (my husband is a computer guy) and professionally, when I was a freelancer writing the parenting and technology blog for CNET in 2007 and 2008. I appreciated that opportunity and I thought I did bring a different perspective to the conversation. Unfortunately, my opinion was not always appreciated. I received a lot of nasty, hurtful comments. I had not how realized how radical it would be to bring a mom’s-eye view perspective to the tech world. Many libertarian, male commenters seemed to instantly view me as the enemy, someone who represented the “nanny state” that clashed with their worldview. I should have realized what a culture clash I was walking into. It’s a shame that a wider diversity of opinions are not represented and respected on tech websites, as I did report on some interesting stories that other journalists may have overlooked, some of which made it to the main front page of CNET. (I should say CNET was great to work with. And I know there were people who liked what I wrote, but they tended to email me directly rather than leave a public comment.)
So, just as we women have an uncomfortable relation with public displays of pads, perhaps all the brouhaha also has a connection with how women feel overlooked and excluded from the world of high tech. I had been pretty happy with the illusion that Apple knew me. But now, while they can still win me over with their products, my decades-long relationship with the Apple mystique has evaporated in a flash–surely not what the Apple marketing department was hoping to accomplish with their sexy new product release.