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  • (16)

    There's an email going around, calling for a boycott of the new NBC show, "The Book of Daniel."

    Despite receiving nearly a half-million emails, NBC still intends to
    begin their new series The Book of Daniel next Friday. While NBC
    refuses to release the sponsors of the program, AFA has identified 10
    potential sponsors. Send them an email asking them not to sponsor the
    show. Ask local advertisers on your NBC affiliate to pull their
    advertising from the local station if they carry The Book of Daniel.

    The network is promoting "The Book of Daniel" as a serious drama about
    Christian people and the Christian faith. The characters include:
    Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest; his alcoholic wife;
    his son, a 23-year-old homosexual Republican; his daughter, a
    16-year-old drug dealing daughter; a 16-year-old adopted son who is
    having sex with the bishop's daughter; his lesbian secretary who is
    sleeping with his sister-in-law; and a very unconventional
    white-robed, bearded Jesus who talks to the priest.

    I don't know. This actually sounds kind of funny. But wait, it's a drama. Let's get a different take:

    "I honestly don't think it's going to be nearly as controversial as some people may now be afraid of," he declares. "It just has the courage to deal with some of the real issues that go in on people's lives."

    Like, for instance? Quinn laughs as he recites a litany.

    "Well, I'm an Episcopalian priest who struggles with a little self-medication problem, and I have a 23-year-old son who's gay, and a 16-year-old daughter who's caught dealing pot, and another son who's jumping on every high school girl he sees, and a wife who's very loving but also likes her martinis.

    "I can't tell you how many people have said to me, `Hey, that sounds like my family.'"

    Don't forget the Rev. Daniel Webster's recent cruel loss of another son to leukemia. Or the kookie extended family that, among other things, is about to put Daniel's priesthood (and parish) in jeopardy by forcing him into business with the Mob.

    Or the fact that he has regular visions of, and frequent conversations with, a flesh-and-blood Jesus Christ.

    Let's see if we can figure out just what's offensive. That the father of a gay son might have a personal relationship with Jesus? Or that a priest might be fallible? (Hey, it's only pills. The real world offers worse.) Or that homosexuality exists? (So many people fighting shame.)

    Back to what makes Wildmon wild with outrage.

    The writer for the program is Jack Kenny, a practicing homosexual who
    describes himself as being "in Catholic recovery," and is interested
    in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation and isn't sure exactly how
    he defines God and/or Jesus. "I don't necessarily know that all the
    myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true," he said.

    Aidan Quinn, who plays Rev. Webster, said if the show offends some
    Catholics, "I don't really care..."

    Take Action Now! Time is Short!

    Well it's not on for a week, so aside from noting your calendar or programming your Tivo, there's not much to do but wait.

    Of course, if this kind of thing offends you....

    What can you do:

    Print out the AFA pass along sheet and distribute it in your
    Sunday School class and at your church this Sunday. Ask your pastor to
    urge members to call their local NBC affiliate asking the station
    not to air the program.
    http://www.afa.net/passalong/pdf/nbc_bookofdaniel.pdf

    Contact local advertisers on your NBC affiliate and ask them to
    pull their advertising from the local affiliate if it carries the
    show. (By Federal Law, NBC cannot force the local affiliate to air the show.
    The
    local affiliate has the option not to air the program. Federal Law -
    47 C.F.R. 73.658(e))

    Send an email to ten potential sponsors asking them not to sponsor
    The Book of Daniel.
    https://secure.afa.net/afa/afapetition/takeaction....

    Forward this information to your family and friends.

    Finally, would you consider a small financial gift to help AFA
    continue this battle? Click here to help.
    http://www.afa.net/donate.asp

    Outrage doesn't come cheap, you know.

    Sincerely,

    Don

    Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
    American Family Association

    P.S. Please forward this e-mail message to your family and friends!

    Consider it forwarded. Now if you're the impatient type, you can go right now to RateItAll and join in on the trolling of the show. All the good Christians are there.

    I wonder how the gay community would respond if this was a story about homosexual characters being cast in such an unfavorable light. My, how the tide changes when it's an "unpopular" segment of society (we Christians) who are being offended. The show's writer sees his work as creative and "edgy" ... I find it discriminatory and oppressive. I am respectful of the gay community ... I'd appreciate their being respectful of the Christian community.

    Yes, because we all know that gays have never ever been stereotyped in our popular culture. And we know how Christians are such an oppressed majority.

    Anybody of real faith knows that this is not the case and one of the real struggles of faith is that Christ has the Sovereign right to say "no" to our pleas and prayers, and that He does not pop up out fo the blue when we want Him to.

    One might think one's faith could not be shaken by a tv show, either.

    Once again it's open season on Christians and Jesus Christ! They're the drug-addicted, perverted hypocrites. And the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is dethroned and belittled in portrayals of His appearances to a clueless cleric! Have you noticed the networks never serve up programs about hypocritical Muslim or Jewish clerics? Think about that.

    I think about how few Muslims and Jews there are in the American television market.

    Still, I wonder at all this todo about a television show.

    Does this demean a man of God?

    Not a bit, says the 46-year-old Quinn, who, Chicago-born and of Irish descent, has taken the vows for his first series after a diverse career in made-for TV movies, theater and feature films (including "Legends of the Fall" and "Michael Collins"). Diverse? He may be the only actor whose credits include Paul McCartney, Benedict Arnold AND Robinson Crusoe.

    Now Quinn plays a priest who must be taken on his own human terms – a good man who wants to do right by his family and flock, keep up necessary appearances, and cleanse his soul.

    "He is caught up in the modern malady of extreme busyness and stress," Quinn says. "But he can have moments of great lucidity and humor, and he cherishes his moments of quiet in the church, and in prayer."

    Communing with his inner self takes the form of those tete-a-tetes with Jesus – a loving, good-humored comrade whose robes-and-beard style stands apart in the starchy, posh suburb just outside New York City where "Book of Daniel" is set.

    Jesus is demonstrably there for Daniel _ but delivers no easy answers even when, in a frequent state of befuddlement, he seeks them.

    "You know it doesn't work that way," Jesus reminds him.

    "Yeah," Daniel sighs. "I just don't know why."

    This doesn't sound all that outrageous. But then I'm one whose childhood was tainted by reruns of The Flying Nun, so you can't trust me.

    Aidan Quinn, the star of the show, discovered some differences between Episcopalian and Catholic approaches:

    Quinn, who calls himself a non- observant Irish Catholic, went miles to understand his character, an Episcopalian. After attending Episcopal services in New York, New Jersey and California, he came away impressed. (The pilot was shot in L.A.; the series, in New York.)

    "The ministers all had sermons that dealt with social issues relevant to the local community, and they dealt with them in a brave way, with a sense of humor."

    Not so with the Roman Catholic church, according to Quinn.

    "There are exceptions, but for the most part the sermons are pretty dry and boring. Basically, they're more focused on what you're doing wrong and what a sinner you are."

    So there you have it. If you're offended by the premise, or have no sense of humor when it comes to religion, are just too shaky in your faith, or just don't care for network dramas, stay away.

    As for me, I don't normally watch much network television any more, but I just may have to tune in next Friday and see what all the fuss is about.

  • (16)

    Equality under the law surely is an American value. Who, if they had the facts, would support a law that results in subjugation? Perhaps the oppressor might vote for such a law, but not those who are disadvantaged by the law. Yet, in the United States, women have not yet had the political will to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Its language is simple.

    Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

    It outlaws sexism.

    And yet, the amendment is still not part of the United States Constitution.

    Women are governed by a set of laws that have evolved over time, which stem from issues around human reproduction. The sexual organ difference between men and women has led to two sets of laws and rights.

    The megablogs, such as Daily Kos, Boomantribune, and mydd, are advancing an argument that the issue of women's reproductive rights is not important, and that if a Democrat wants to restrict a woman's rights, that is okay since women's reproductive rights are not as important as electing a certain slate of candidates.

    If I chose to support another candidate, who supports women's reproductive rights, but who is not of the "correct" slate of candidates, I risk being accused of being a traitor and deserter of the cause. But what cause, pray tell?

    Why would I care about a candidate who doesn't care about me? It's as simple as that and the machinations of megablogs like Daily Kos, Boomantribune, and mydd, come off as flummery - I am urged to vote against my own interests because it is in my interests. Huh?

    The Democrats, of late, have abandoned women's rights as an issue as the Democrats swing ever rightward. I ask myself, why should I join this made race to nowhere, whose only promise is oblivion? Either way, the Democrats will lose. The megblogs tell us there will be few Democrats in power; fewer Democratic bodies in Congress. But that's one price I am not going to pay, no matter how many elections it might win, for in the end, the Democrats will have struck a bargain to win an election, only to find out that they have sold their souls.

  • (15)

    For anyone still digging in their heels against the idea that women's equality is a core moral value, I recommend reading this post by Morgaine, where she takes on the idea that abortion is the heart and soul of women's rights.

    What you didn't address, and what prompted my comment, is that this issue goes beyond whether or not a woman can have an abortion. It goes to whether or not women are people. We aren't talking about a political issue - we are talking about my uterus, and the fact that neither the Congress, nor any man, is authorized to negotiate the disposition of it. The only role of government in the matter should be to assure that my doctor is competent and the hospital up to standard. I am not the property of the state. I am a citizen of the state who is guaranteed a certain level of personal liberty that has so far not been acknowledged in our legal system.

    She's responding to Jeffrey Feldman, whose article I have not read.

    But I would say this is a most-eloquent rebuttal to the assertions by Markos and other (mostly) men that women's equality is either (a) not part of the "important shit" or (b) not necessary.

    If the State were to move in and claim sovereignty over men's penises and testicles, you can be damn sure that Kos and other male liberals would be howling. But they don't have to worry about such things, and thus "abortion" is just ground taken by liberals, and to them the only reason to support "choice" is because Republicans want to take it away. The rest of what so often are called "women's issues" are just too fringe for them.

    And thus the miss the very heart of the matter when it comes to this issue.

    The ironically self-named "pro-life" crowd are actually advocating the enslavement of all women who get pregnant, making them wards of the state. If they really wanted to eliminate abortions, they would be advocating better birth control and family planning services, education and access, so that unwanted pregnancies are brought to a minimum.

    But reducing abortions is not their goal. Enslaving women is. They just can't stand the idea that women might have sex without the "punishment" of pregnancy. So they try over and over to pass laws banning sex education and availability of birth control to teenaged women, who account for a huge percentage of unwanted pregnancies. And they pass out pamphlets that make ludicrous claims like condoms cause cancer. And they pass laws allowing pharmacists to play doctor and deny even a married woman's prescription for birth control. And they keep birth control from being covered by Medicare and Medicaid (while supporting coverage of hard-on meds like Viagra). Everything they do is about disempowering women and removing our ability to take care of ourselves and our own bodies.

    This is not a fringe issue. It gets down to core principles.

  • (15)

    However, to listen to the pundits and many SCLB, you'd never know it. Yesterday, prominent blogger and NDN-PAC co-founder Kos, who's proudly anti-pro-choice -- which may or may not mean anti-choice, but many are wondering -- once again indulged in his obsession with NARAL.

    As Reid's votes on virulently anti-choice (and anti-labor, anti-environment) judges shows, it's better to have a Democrat than a Republican hold any seat in Congress. Better, that is, for those of us who care about the broad palette of progressive issues. That doesn't mean that NARAL is forced to support Casey. Neutrality is an option.

    Why he thinks one senator's actions are proof of anything is a mystery, especially given all the Democrats who advocate TRAP laws. It's like he doesn't really care, but rather is trying to rationalize his Democrats-right-or-wrong worldview for those of us who fancy our constitutional rights and don't cotton to gang colors logic. Why he repeatedly harps on NARAL, who has marginal influence at best on Democratic Party politics these days -- especially when he likes to advocate for the "big tent" -- who knows?

    Here's the news flash: pro-choice is the big tent.

    It's the anti-choice folks that Kos and friends are pushing who are against the big tent. It is the anti-choice folks who say that everyone must obey their views. It's the anti-choice folks who push to criminalize women's reproductive rights. It's the anti-choice folks who are the intolerant ones.

    But to hear Kos and others, you'd think that the anti-choice folks were just trundling along, just minding their own business, and we big meanie pro-choice folks with our "pet cause" and "litmus tests" are out to impose our will on everyone, when just the opposite is the case.

    Pro-choice means tolerance for all views. Pro-choice means it's not the government's place to decide. The pro-choice tent is big, already including people who are anti-abortion. It's the anti-choice people who want to kick out the pro-choice folks -- not just out of the Party, but out of the very fabric of our society. The anti-choice people want the government to seize control of wombs and institute reproduction controls that violate the woman's body, and thus her very fundamental constitutional rights of equal protection under the law.

    Let's be clear: When Kos and other self-proclaimed "Democrats" attack pro-choice folks, they are carrying water for the right wing, whether they mean to or not, and are undercutting the very foundation of progressive values that have been at the heart of Democrat politics for decades. This isn't about "pet causes" but about fundamental human rights, and to argue that the Democrats must make room for people who don't believe in fundamental human rights for all Americans, in the name of "big tent" politics, is self-contradictory and patently absurd.

    The radicals pushing their dominionist agenda on America are bad enough. We don't need our rights to be attacked from so-called allies. Nor do we need our strongest advocates to be fragged right when the battle is turning against us. This is war, and the very fundamental human rights of women are at stake. Now is not the time to start offering up constituents as bargaining chips to gain territory.

  • (15)

    For he doth not tip-toe:

    [Ann Coulter] is a bitch. Period. I don't give a damn whether you like the word or not, but I'm a fan of the old school (non-racial, non-genitalia-based) classics.Except if you call a man a bitch, you're disparaging his masculinity. Why? Because bitch is a gender-based epithet.

    It pisses me off that liberals are supposed to tiptoe around all the time. Tiptoeing around is exactly what has been wrong with lefties for too damn long. I'm not saying that saying everyone has to go around saying bitch bitch bitch, but you can't just let these people keep throwing shit at you and think they'll go away.So the answer is to resort to misogynistic verbal assault. After all, how else is a liberal man to assert is macho pride but by denigrating women for being women?

    I've gotten several e-mails saying that I shouldn't give her the satisfaction. The satisfaction! That's what the geeky guy in the high school movie says when he gets his underwear pulled halfway up his back! "I won't give you the satisfaction of a comment, sir." Whether he's right or not, he comes off as (here comes another one) a pussy. That's the last thing we need, people.Because being a hothead, like our fearless leader in the Oval Office, is how to be a man and not a "pussy." (Yeah, real men have dicks.)

    Look, I'm probably one of a small number of Kansas boys from the middle of the state to have called himself a feminist in print and just maybe I've hung out in a different crowd, but the men and women I hang out with don't really think twice about "bitch." Yeah, we're prone to rude jokes and the suggestion that whomever we're talking to is gay, but that guy's likely to play it off. Are we anti-gay? You may want to claim so, but dammit all to hell if I haven't donated my time to Topeka's Equal Justice Coalition.Translation: "Don't expect civilized behavior from me, I gave at the office."

    You know, when I hear people conversationally say "bitch," I don't like it, unless it's with the ironic pronunciation: bee-atch! And calling things "gay"? I suppose that if homophobic attitudes are unexamined, then everyone gets a pass, right?

    And he's a "feminist," right? Oh yeah. And some of his best friends are gay, too, I bet.

  • (15)

    We have yet another case of corporate experimentation with food genetics has been released into the food supply.

    Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced late yesterday that U.S. commercial supplies of long-grain rice had become inadvertently contaminated with a genetically engineered variety not approved for human consumption.They say that genetic modification of foods is so that agriculture companies don't have to use so many pesticides. That's not quite true, is it?
    Johanns said he did not know where the contaminated rice was found or how widespread it may be in the U.S. food supply. The agency first learned about it from the company, he said, after it discovered "trace amounts" during testing of commercial supplies.

    The variety, known as LLRICE 601, is endowed with bacterial DNA that makes rice plants resistant to a weedkiller made by the agricultural giant Aventis.
    And this is not an isolated case.

    Bayer said in a statement it is "cooperating closely" with the government on the discovery. It added that the protein conferring herbicide tolerance "is well known to regulators and has been confirmed safe for food and feed use in a number of crops by regulators in many countries, including the EU, Japan, Mexico, U.S. and Canada."

    Johanns acknowledged that the discovery could have a significant impact on rice sales -- especially exports, which are worth close to $1 billion a year. Many U.S. trading partners have strict policies forbidding importation of certain genetically engineered foods, even if they are approved in the United States.

    Those restrictions reflect a mix of science-based fears that some gene-altered foods or seeds may pose health or environmental hazards; cultural beliefs about food purity; and political wrangling over trade disparities.
    Is it any wonder? These companies are playing with fire, and have pressured the federal government into prohibiting the labeling of these Frankenstein foods.

    If other countries cut off imports, the political and economic impact could rival or exceed that of the last such major event -- the discovery in 2000 that the U.S. corn supply had become contaminated with StarLink corn. StarLink, which was engineered to be insect-resistant, was approved for use in animal feed but not for humans because of its potential to trigger allergic reactions.

    That's right. The world is a science project for corporations looking for bigger and better ways to make money off of what we eat.

    Do the modifications make the food more nutritious? No.

    Do the modifications make the food more tasty? Quite the opposite.

    Do the modifications make the food prettier? Oh yes, packaging is everything.

    Do the modifications make the plants more durable to stand up to even more massive sprayings of toxic pesticides? That's the point.

    Don't worry. The Bush Administration is on the job. Doesn't that make you feel better?

  • (14)

    It hasn't taken long for the big blog boys on the right and left to sound off on Harriet Miers. Not surprisingly, Markos and John Aravosis are already salivating. Apparently a Bush insider is just dandy for them. They seem to think this is a huge GOP blunder. Markos goes so far as to claim that Miers is a moderate -- though how he would figure that, given that she has virtually no paper trail, who knows?

    Here's another take:

    Karl Rove is no fool, and perhaps John and Markos and gloating Dems are falling for a feint. What happens if there's enough suspicion and resistance on both sides of the aisle so that she cannot win an up or down vote?

    After all, while Miers has some questionable episodes in her partisan past, it's also clear that she's not quite the right's cup of tea.

    Remember, we're entering an election season, and the radicals need political cover, and Miers is not it. They push back, and Bush then is "forced" to name a radical wingnut like Owens or Brown or some crazy outsider like Dobson himself (don't laugh ... well, okay, laugh), and the GOP goes into the election reinvigorated with hot excitement in its base, and renewed energy to push back the fiscal conservatives who would spoil the party and end the pig-outs at the taxpayer trough.

    In other words, Miers is the attenuated virus to stimulate the white corpuscles in the right wing body, thus strengthening the body against infection. Miers could be rejected and a verifiable wingnut will be called in to unite the right.

    Meanwhile, such developments would further alienate the Democratic Party-über-alles folks from progressive voters, who already are rather mistrustful of aspiring flacks, perhaps for good reason. In other words, it could be that Miers was nominated to be rejected by a bipartisan bloc, leading to reactions that will strengthen the Republicans while pitting the Democrat appeasers against their progressive voter base.

    Too crazy? Too Machiavellian for Karl Rove? Come on, be honest now.

    [Update: Lindsay notes that the set-up theory has been posed elsewhere by Tom Goldstein and Rick Hansen Hasen. Interesting....]

    Look at how already, mere hours out of the starting blocks, the Dems are already once again at odds with their progressive base. Reid has come out endorsing Miers, which has won him few friends. And no doubt if Miers is rejected, Kos and company will jump back onto the game of blaming us progressives for our "pet issues," which does nothing but bring Karl Rove joy.

    And the Dems in '06 will be in total disarray.

    Then again, this gambit may not exist at all. Or she may be confirmed anyway. But that's hardly cause for gloating on the left. Sterling Newberry offers caution:

    All it takes to get the left to roll over is a well coordinated right wing campaign that Mier is unacceptable to the right. The right did the same thing with Roberts - screamed that he wasn't acceptable. This is part of the strategy people - have the right scream so that the muddled middle has to think that she is one of them.

    When "US v Rove" comes before the court, you'll see what this really means - Bush is lawyering up the court, appointing two long time conservative hacks to the bench to block anything that might lead back to him.

    (As a sidebar attraction, Ana Marie opts to chase the obviously pertinent question of whether Miers once fought Gang of 14 poster-child Priscilla Owen over a man. Anyway....)

    For a good run-down on links around the blogozoid, including the unhappy wingnuts who'll assist in the potential Rove gambit I posit above, go see The Heretik.

  • (14)

    Blogiversary? Anniblogary? Blogday?

    On November 12 of last year, I started this site. I had no idea what to expect. My blogger site was but an obscure little thing with like 5 readers. Before that, I'd never blogged about anything but personal trivia, which was utterly boring -- to me and everyone else.

    For mediagirl.org, I chose Drupal for the site software because of its flexibility. I'd hoped to build this into a community site, but since then it's kind of morphed into more of a group site, where 2-3 dozen women have blog posting access. (Thank you Matsu, ferdette, gballsout, Morgaine, Sour Duck, Pseudo-Adrienne, The Heretik, truthinboots, laurentayloris and everyone else for helping make mediagirl.org a worthwhile stop!)

    [Helping to make Our Word succeed has been a nice extension of this initial desire, and I urge anyone looking for robust open women's discussion to go there.]

    Some (boring) factoids:

    I'm delighted that the traffic has grown here. Statcounter says we're averaging around 900 a day, but to be honest, that fluctuates quite a bit. The server logs say another 10,000 pages are viewed by crawlers and bots. The Feedburner counter has remained under 10, but the server logs say 186 people (or 'bots) are subscribed to the direct feed. Sitemeter says that the average visit for the past week lasted 1:36, which tells me that most people are actually reading what they find, which is a good thing, even if they aren't sticking around to read everything else -- or anything else.

    But I'm under no illusions that the site's modest success is because I'm especially insightful or entertaining. More people stumble here from Google or Yahoo than from bookmarks or blogrolls. (Recent searches include "trailer clips of women oil wrestling"; "no knickers girl photos" (hello, England!); "signs of men on the down low" -- but also: "pain in ovary"; "pregnancy ERA television"; "male insecurity".) The site has won no awards (and actually I find all the "vote for me" posts to be rather obnoxious and sad.) Sometimes we've benefitted from a kindly link from Daou and Digby and Pandagon and other bigger and better blogs. And I'm sure having to scrub the database of multiple URL aliases for every page hasn't helped things. Still, every day we get 80-150 return visitors.

    Thanks everyone for dropping by!

    Enough about boring numbers. They count only for advertisers, ego lists and blogwhores who are afraid to link to smaller sites lest they lose their PageRank.

    Getting to the point:

    I'd really really like to know what you all think. I feel like I'm flying blind here most of the time. Traffic aside, is anyone getting anything out of what I'm writing here?

    What do you like or dislike about mediagirl.org?

    What should I/wewe focus on in this coming year? Please share your suggestions, recommendations, complaints, rants. (No, this isn't an invitation for trolls.) Would you like to see more on politics. (As if that were possible!) Less? More feminist stuff? More whimsy? More sarcasm? More pictures? Less?

    I'd love to hear from you. (Comments are open for the next 30 days or so.)

  • (14)

    So much hedging. So much equivocation. So much paternalism. So much patronizing.

    We like to think we're a country of equal rights for all. Of course, in practice, that's not the case. Racial minorities still struggle against double standards. Gays live in the shadow of homophobia and institutionalized sexual insecurity. And women bear the burden of having wombs.

    Of sometimes being nothing more than wombs.

    Of bearing the progeny of men.

    Now, this may sound all radical to many of you. "There she goes again, going on about evil men and poor suffering women!"

    But think about the rights of a woman who deals with sexism, the glass ceiling, domestic violence, sexual assault and cultural objectification.

    And then think about the rights of a woman who's gotten knocked up.

    Tag, you're it!

    A woman is entitled to all to which every other person is entitled -- liberty, privacy, self-determination ... the pursuit of happiness. You know, those "self-evident" "truths"? But if and only until she is pregnant.

    Then, quite suddenly, there seems to be room for "reasonable debate." Suddenly, a woman's rights are subject to the political agendas of politicians and religious agendas of zealots. Suddenly, a woman's rights are weighed and found wanting in the political calculus of party hegemony.

    When a woman is "tagged," she's no longer "she" -- now she's an "it."

    There's no question that the matter of aborting a pregnancy is complicated. There are many viewpoints on the subject. A lot of it is circumstantial -- Is she able to support a family? Is her health sufficient? Does her domestic situation allow for it? Does her mental or economic well-being support it?

    And, in political realms, others find themselves predisposed to weigh in on her life. They'll say, "Well, if she was raped..." or "Of course, if it was incest...." -- as if passing moral judgment on the woman's life.

    As if the woman somehow gave up her constitutional rights by getting knocked up.

    Consider the implication of "fault" in pregnancy. Many so-called moderates will offer up the rationale that if a woman was knocked up violently, against her will, then of course she should not be ... what? ... punished? for the act?

    Does that mean that if a woman is not raped or molested, then somehow she should be punished for the act of getting pregnant?

    Does a woman, by merit of getting pregnant by any means, under any circumstances, automatically lose her constitutional rights, lose her equal status and equal protection under the law? Are the rights of women in this country subject to old patriarchal concepts of "virtue" and "chastity"?

    Are human rights simply a game of tag?

  • (14)
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ...

    Men? All men are created equal? What about women?

    In elementary school we learned that "men" meant "both men and women," and for a while we bought that ... until the Women's Movement. Unexamined sexism allowed us to say "doctor, he" and "nurse, she," and how language became a tool of control. A lot of time was spent in the 1970s removing sexist preconceptions from the language. The language lost some poetry as a result, but women gained some rights.

    But are the high flowing words of the American Declaration of Independence only an ideal? The Soviets came to that conclusion about their own system. Pure Communism was an ideal, but practicality prevented it and The USSR renounced Communism ... at least officially and in large part.

    Perhaps the struggle of the last 30 years in the Women's Movement has led us in the United States to the same de facto conclusion about principles alluded to in the Declaration of Independence.

    Perhaps most people - rightly or wrongly - believe that the biological difference between men and women are so different, that there never can be true equality. And men, who on the surface would seem to gain most from keeping women "not equal," are not the only culprits. Perhaps the majority of women agree.

    And yet all around, people want to have their cake and it it too. On the one hand, women are told in some states that once they are impregnated, they must carry the baby to term - as we saw in the recent publicity over the South Dakota Law. A woman does not have the right to choose.

    In another case, one in the UK, a man has asked that the eggs he fertilized be destroyed. The woman wants to bear the children, but the man - claiming "choice" - is asserting his right to choose. Judges will eventually decide.

    Indeed, these are different legal jurisdictions, but the unspoken assumption is so very much ingrained that it is never debated or discussed. People believe there are two categories of people ... despite the Declaration and elementary school English ... that say that men and women are not equal.

    Men are equal as a class. Women are equal as a class. People will subscribe to that and the courts can thrash that out when one group of men gains at the expense of another. Same with women. But, what happens tacitly is that men and women are not equal and society seems to run on that assumption.

    The abortion debate at one moment runs on the argument of equality, then on the argument of inequality - each side using both arguments to make its point. The Women's Rights Movement has been marginalized and maneuvered into the Reproductive Rights Movement - a long way away from what the women of the Women's Liberation Movement were talking about in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Feminists of the 1960s and 1970s almost managed to get the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed. This would have made our elementary school English teachers' assertions correct; that the word "men" means "men and women" in the context of rights.

    However, as we left the barricades and entered corporate and marital life and a host of 30-something realities, equality suddenly did not look the same as it did when we were idealistic students and fresh graduates. Maybe our mothers knew something we didn't. Maybe institutionalized sexism was so pervasive and the institutions so fundamentally "male," that we really did not want that sort of equality. A law, even a Constitutional Amendment, was not going to get us into the Old Boys Network, nor were we going to let men into the International Women's Grapevine. In fact, what would that look like? We were stumped.

    At we hit 30-something, we started to get serious about having babies. Even lesbians were having children, and Reproductive Rights trumped most of the other demands, and maybe an Equal Rights Amendment wasn't such a good idea - not after Prince Charming proved not-charming, and possibly ran off with someone else, leaving us with the pregnancies and the brood. Shouting out "equality," he demanded alimony, or at least insisted he did not have to pay much in child support since we women now had access to cool careers and could make do - never mind we put off childbearing for some additional years - until maybe we could no longer conceive.

    The differences between men and women became more clear as time wore on and we wondered if our mothers hadn't gotten it "right," after all, and suddenly Phyllis Schlafly, for all her insipid rhetoric and hypocrisy, began to make a sort of perverse sense. Sexism was so ingrained in the culture that if the ERA got passed, men would use it when it suited them, while maintaining business-as-usual the rest of the time.

    We saw it with our husbands. We both had power careers, but guess who always ended up doing the dishes? Well, it wasn't him. Granted, men got better at helping around the house and in a number of other realms, but men did not change at a fundamental level nor has including women markedly changed institutions. Most of the women who have made it have not transformed the institution. The institution has transformed them, and it is hardly something most of us envisioned, nor would we have wanted to become like them.

    People despise Hillary and/or Condi, yet they are the blue and red exponents of the 1960s/1970s and are not what we had in mind when we asked for Constitutionally guaranteed equality.

    The gains made by the Second Wave of Feminism have been masterfully utilized by these young women - and fact boys have been raised (by us!) to be less overtly sexist has helped - and things have gotten better in one sense, so much so that Women's Rights have fallen of the radar, altogether. They're in there with "save the Spotted Owls" on the list of the social agenda.

    But it is not the fault of the men or even the women. Women have defected from the Progressives and the Progressives have returned the favor and dropped much of the pro-woman and pro-choice language from their platforms.

    Some of the political bloggers say we should vote Democrat, regardless. Some say that a third party is a pipe dream.

    As for me, I'm going to vote for every woman I can. If there are two women in the race, I'll vote for the more Progressive one.

    Is this a flawed concept? No more flawed than voting for a Democrat, just because he is a Democrat.

    Right now, women are in largely male governing institutions such as government and large corporations. There are a few who have risen to the top - Hillary and Condi, as stated earlier - but they are products of institutions shaped primarily by men and whose male traditions are longstanding. What woman can stand in the face of that? Second Wave Feminists know all about being the only-woman-in-the-group. We recall how isolating it was and that there were no role models.

    Later, younger women came in and they did not experience this same isolation, nor did they go through quite the trial by fire - and that is good they were spared that. And yet, if there were more women - red, blue, green, whatever - the women would start to think about what it would mean to be equal and to restructure institutions that are not based on the Old Boys Network.

    I can't hate or blame Hillary or Condi for who and what they are having emerged from that morass. They have survived in a world which thinks (right down to the grass roots - blue grass and red grass) that men and women are simply not equal.

    However, if there were more women in all positions of leadership, over time the women would get it right - just as we do when we meet as women in our own gatherings. We have divisions and don't all speak with the same voice, but when we don't have men looking over our shoulders and there aren't men to have to cater to, the dynamic is different - even in the face of differences.

    So that is why in the next election, I will vote for the women, then for progressives. Finally Democrats.

    Equality will not happen until women are represented in half the institutions - and then they will work their magic.

    My only regret is that it may take another century.

    But it has, at least, begun.