The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 2 February 27, 2010

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 1 found here.

Note: I briefly had this post under password protection, as it dealt with some personal/intimate details and feelings. If you read the post and have strong opinions on whether or not it should be publicly published, please drop me a line in the comments (I can delete your comment after if you want).

[trigger warning]

This is a continuation of the sentiments expressed in the other day’s post, Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex). In it, I describe how when I was younger, I assumed pretty much any sexual media to be “sex-positive” and empowering, as some sort of “take that!” to the social conservative, decidedly sex-negative movement. I conflated objectification and rape apologism with empowerment and sexual freedom and agency, in part because none of the former words were in my vocabulary at the time. I discussed how the lack of feminist terminology in popular discourse, or the misunderstanding of same, leads to the phenomenon of all criticism of pornography, etc. being labeled as prudish and anachronistic, and had I realized that at least some of the criticism was based on ideas I would actually agreed with, I would have come to certain realizations much earlier.

Today, I’m going to discuss more thoughts about sex I had at that age and how they were influenced by popular culture and education, so this is your fair warning to leave if it’s something you’d rather not hear about (Hi, Mommy!).

When I was a teenager, one of the paramount themes in representations and discussions of relationships was sexual intimacy (shocker, I know). I was lucky enough not to be in an area of the country or religion where abstinence-only sex education or purity pledges abound, but the impressions I got were still mixed, at best. In discussions with health teachers, other adults, friends, and of course almost all popular media, the following messages were disseminated:

  • Teenage boys are the horniest creatures on the planet. They are perpetually masturbating, or thinking about it, and this is both completely acceptable and very funny. In almost no situation can a teenage boy control his sex drive, whether this means becoming aroused at an inappropriate times or trying to “get” sexual activity from a hesitant (female) partner.
  • Teenage girls are boy-crazy, but any sexual contact with said boys is a result of peer pressure. The vast majority of girls don’t masturbate, which is why any discussion of it is both rare and considered much more”shocking”. Teenage girls can’t control their emotions and fall hopelessly in love with boys at the drop of a hat, which leaves them vulnerable to being “made” to do something they’d rather not (have sex). This is not a funny thing in the same way that boys humping apple pies is, but the girls aren’t pitied very much either, because as the possessors of a lower libido they are the Designated Kill Switch for any teenage sexual activity, which is universally considered to be bad unless we’re just talking about boys having sex with nameless figures, in which case it’s cool and funny. Any girl who fails to properly control her boy’s sexual urges is to be blamed and shamed; any indication that she might have actually invited or (gasp!) wanted said sexual activity should lead to even more blaming and shaming. The terms “fast”, “loose”, “easy”, “whore”, and “slut” should be employed whenever describing a girl that someone thinks might have wanted sex, or had sex, or been “made” to have sex, and are universally acknowledged as the worst things a girl could ever be.

People were not entirely without sympathy for the female half of the population, though. We also received frequent admonitions and instructions on how and why we should “resist” our potential boyfriends’ inevitable (and inevitably unwelcome) sexual advances. I remember distinct moments in health class, for example, where we all discussed what we would say if our boyfriend told us “you would [have sex] if you loved me” – the proper response was “if you loved me, you wouldn’t make me”. A boy who is trying to have sex with a girl who doesn’t want to (pretty much all sexual activity was assumed to fall into this category) is inconsiderate and not a nice person, and it might even be good for you two to have a Serious Discussion About Your Feelings, but breaking up with a boy who was pressuring you into sex was a last resort (don’t want to be a prude! And all boys are gonna do it anyway, so do you really want to be alone?). (more…)

 

Dr. George Tiller, 1941-2009 June 3, 2009

I know I’m kind of a day late and an hour short on this story, but it’s taken me a couple of days to process. For those of you who have been living under a rock with only sporadic Internet access, Dr. George Tiller, a doctor at the Women’s Health Care clinic in Wichita, Kansas, was murdered in his church on Sunday. As Cristina Page, author of one of my favorite books, writes in an editorial for the Huffington Post, this is the first casualty in the near-inevitable upsurge in domestic terrorism directed at abortion providers in the United States since Barack Obama’s election. Abortion clinics have already experienced huge increases in harassing phone calls (1401 in four months versus 396 in a year in the Bush administration), blockades, stalking, and other tried-and-true tactics that the anti-choice movement uses to intimidate women seeking abortions and those who would provide them.

When I first heard the news on Sunday, I was surprised but not shocked – coming as it does on the heels of the DHS report on the growing danger of right-wing extremism in the country, I had braced myself for the worst. I was angry, certainly, and sad in an abstract way, as one is whenever hearing about someone who’s died, but my attention was mostly focused on monitoring the maelstrom in the progressive blogosphere. I read lots of things I hadn’t known about abortion availability, and the extent to which anti-choice activists will go to get their way, and became increasingly outraged. As I think I have made clear, I feel very strongly that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy is paramount, and those that would campaign to remove it from her get on my shitlist right quick. I started collecting and bookmarking and compiling posts, planning one of my own on the matter. One thing that I noticed in several posts (such as this excellent one from Shakesville) was the mention of personal sorrow on the author’s part – something that I couldn’t really identify with. I mean, I was super-pissed, but heartbroken? Weeping? Not really. It’s not that I’m heartless – on the contrary, I’ve been known to bawl during Disney movies and Buffy season finales without reservation – but I just didn’t feel personally affected by the event. There were some vigils held across the country last night, and I could have gotten to one very easily, but I just didn’t think I’d fit in. I wanted statistics and scathing analysis, not some pseudoreligious sobfest. What would be the point? So I stayed home, and I read some more. (more…)

 

On Appeasement April 1, 2009

Today, we have two recent examples of political appeasement – one in Afghanistan, and one in the United States. In the U.S., Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, who is nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services, has signed into law a bill passed in the Kansas legislature, restricting women’s abortion rights (via).

As far as fetal ultrasound mandates go, I think Twisty says it best:

Because stupid ignorant women apparently don’t have the slightest idea what pregnancy is; they need this vital information, available only through a medical procedure, about what is really going on in their lady-ovens. If they are given the opportunity (i.e. forced) to endure a fetus-screening (”Here’s baby’s precious little beating heart, here’s his adorable little brain stem …”), they will see the error of their ways and comply with the godbag mandate to shut up and be punished for the sin of fornication by incubating to term, followed by a lifetime of child-rearing drudgery.

[…]For a woman seeking an abortion, this weepy ultrasound intervention, like most state and medical interference in private lives, is wildly inappropriate. It’s nothing but pressure to conform by shaming the woman into a culturally-mandated response. No “information” is imparted, only social cues. The only possible rationale behind any […]anti-abortion bill is to make abortion as inconvenient, shaming, and difficult as possible.

(more…)

 

“Pro-Life” Myth No. 3.5: Pro-Choicers hate babies, so they should…have more of them? January 25, 2009

This thought occurred to me during the writing of my last post in this series, about the “pro-life” myth that people who are in favor of reproductive choice hate babies. As I (hopefully) demonstrated in that post, a lot of the the time, someone’s reason for getting an abortion is the exact opposite: they care a great deal about children, both preexisting and potential, so having an abortion when unable to care for (another) one is an expression of that respect and love. I stand by those statements, but wonder: why is it that that argument gets under people’s skin so easily? (more…)

 

“Pro-Life” Myth No. 3: Pro-choicers hate babies!

This is a persistent one. Besides being chanted by every Planned Parenthood protester with a fetus picture, it got a lot of mileage during the latest presidential campaign. Basically, at a campaign event in March of last year, Obama said the following scandalous statement:

“I’ve got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old. I’m going to teach them first of all about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.”

I dislike his equating “values and morals” with abstinence and lack thereof with sex, but I do like that he’s encouraging contraceptive use (this speech was not actually about abortion at all). He also recognizes, as most reasonable people do, that being pregnant when one does not wish to be is distinctly unpleasant, and when this unpleasantness is the result of sex, a pregnancy (particularly a pregnancy that one is unable to get rid of) can reasonably be called “a punishment” for said sex.

Well. I’m sure you can guess how that radical sentiment worked out. (more…)

 

Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey… January 24, 2009

Filed under: Abortion,Obama,Uncategorized — theradicalnotion @ 6:10 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Curse my lack of faith! The Global Gag Rule, officially known as the Mexico City Policy?

Buh-bye now.

To celebrate, please enjoy the following clip of the late and irrepressible George Carlin, on abortion rights: (more…)

 

Obamadinistration, Day 3 January 23, 2009

Feministe has a good post up listing some of Obama’s executive orders since he’s started working. He clearly came out of the gate running; one of the most interesting is that he has frozen all pending policies and legislation passed by the Bush Administration, subject to review. Among the affected policies? Our old favorite, the HHS “conscience clause” rule! According to California NOW,

While the regulatory process had been completed and the final regulations reported in the Federal Registry, HHS had not yet developed guidelines for implementation. [A contact at HHS confirms] the Department believes the regs. fall under President Obama’s executive order “freezing all last minute Bush administration regulations for review prior to final implementation”.

Woohoo! In other reproductive health news, yesterday was the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. (more…)