Why are GLBT rights ‘Evolving’ while the Rights of Women are Devolving?

I’ve been wondering about this question since we’re beginning to see a jonjohnjpg-b5ccf3bd3972c7b1number of male politicians ‘evolve’ on the subject of marriage equality.  At the same time, restrictions on women’s access to abortion, birth control, and basic health care needs has taken a terrible hit.  Why are women’s rights always the last priority?  Rights shouldn’t be a zero sum game.

According to Daniel Cox, the Public Religion Research Institute’s research director, there’s been a recent “decoupling” of abortion rights and LGBT rights — whereas they were assumed to go hand-in-hand as recently as the mid-2000s, that’s not necessarily the case anymore. The shifting reality is evident in the polling over the past several decades. As support for legal abortion has remained fairly steady, hovering at just over 50 percent, support for marriage equality is on a clear upward trajectory and recently soared to a record high.

So why are social conservatives losing the battle against LGBT equality but winning the war on women’s reproductive rights? There’s no one answer to explain the growing momentum for marriage equality and the simultaneous record-breaking restrictions on abortion services, particularly since the LGBT movement and the reproductive rights movement have very different histories. But Cox told the Washington Post that it could partly be due to public awareness and the increased visibility of LGBT people. “In our research, having a close friend that’s gay or lesbian can have a profound impact on support,” Cox explained. “We see this across Democrats, Republicans, and Evangelicals. It really cuts across a lot of demographics and, in a lot of ways, is more powerful than ideology.”

The same isn’t true for women who have abortions. Most Americans know someone who is gay or lesbian, but they often don’t have the same personal connections with women’s own abortion stories. That’s not because women who have abortions are rare — in fact, one in three U.S. women has had an abortion by the time she is 45 years old — but rather because of a lingering stigma surrounding this aspect of women’s reproductive care. That societal stigma ultimately dissuades women from being open about their experiences with abortion by reinforcing messages about how the procedure is morally depraved, something to be ashamed of, and something women always regret.

That’s why women’s health advocates encourage a “coming out” model for the women who have chosen to terminate a pregnancy, similar to the process within the LGBT community. If politicians like Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) can “evolve” on pro-equality policies because they have personal connections with gay and lesbian individuals, perhaps they will also consider supporting a wider range of pro-woman policies if they hear more from women in their lives who have chosen an abortion. But until women feel safe to share their stories without shame and stigmatization, that isn’t likely to happen.

It’s not just about abortion.  Look at the resurgence of ignorant comments about rape and domestic violence.  Look at the lack of discussion on the ‘family annihilator’ in discussions on mass murderers.  Far more women are murdered by their spouses and the men in their lives than we’ve got public official murdered by neo-nazi cults within the prison system but which topic grabs more headlines? We live in a culture of men that claim that women ‘ask for it’.  The problem is that their definition of ‘it’ is not ours.

icky republican menI am very happy about the increasing number of people that believe our GLBT citizens should not have to live in a perpetual state of second class citizenship.  But, isn’t it about getting every one to that level?  Religious persecution of GLBT and women has been quite evident recently. But, women have not been able to sustain their rights while the GLBT community is expanding theirs. How is this possible? Is it because part of the GLBT community is male?  After all, lesbians—while being able to access marriage now–will still find themselves on the short end of their civil rights in the area of access to equal pay for equal work, maternity leave and a bevy of other rights.  They will still be second class citizens as women while gay men can be out of the closet and still gain access to male privilege; especially if they are white.

Toxic masculinity is still pervasive in our culture. It knows no bounds.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Rick Ross as of late, given all the controversy surrounding him and his disgusting, indefensible lyrics condoning rape (and his subsequent non-apology that was almost as bad as lyric that prompted it). In a way, I feel partially responsible, having been a fan of Ross’ music despite the overt misogyny, and I’ve had to wrestle with what exactly draws me to his music. His first two albums sucked, but somewhere around Deeper than Rap he mastered the craft of constructing anthemic tracks well-suited for driving around aimlessly on a perfectly sunny day with no concern for the rabid flock of imaginary haters or your carbon footprint.

But that was never the sum of his appeal. And in one of those epiphanies that only come when you’re in the shower or meditating or high (I don’t smoke, I was in the shower), it finally hit me: Rick Ross is basically hip-hop’s version of Don Draper.

I don’t mean to compare the rapper and Mad Men’s leading character’s status as sex symbols, because the parallels go beyond the superficial. They are both products of fiction. They’re both identity thieves whose actual life stories hold the potential to ostracize them from their chosen communities. But more importantly, they both have constructed elaborate fantasy worlds around an idea of masculinity they know isn’t true to who they are. And neither one can escape.

It is little wonder that we have still have men who believe women ‘ask’ to be Rick-Ross-Promo-486x650raped by the way they dress, by drinking alcohol or by just being with men without a body guard.  It’s also evident that the misogynist culture of many religious institutions is running rampant in statehouses around the country.  In all of the report card discussion in the republican party, there is talk of appealing to many minority groups. They’re speaking of moderating or some issues  However, there is still no discussion of going back to the party’s support of the ERA, its abortion rights stance, and its general support of women’s equality.  Why is our country ‘evolving’ on the rights of GLBT and “devolving” on the rights of women? Are we the expendable citizens?

Doesn’t Rob Portman have a wife or a mother?  Don’t some of these folks evolve because they have daughters?    There is nothing more pervasive than misogyny and the pink ghetto.


Thursday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

Today I’m going to start out with some stupid politician stories. And I’ve got some about politicians from both legacy parties.

First up, Rick Perry. At this point, I’m convinced this Texas good ol’ boy is dumb as a post. After the debate last night Perry spoke to Beta Theta Pi Fraternity at Dartmouth College. Check this out:

“Our Founding Fathers never meant for Washington, D.C. to be the fount of all wisdom,” the candidate explained. “As a matter of fact they were very much afraid if that because they’d just had this experience with this far-away government that had centralized thought process and planning and what have you, and then it was actually the reason that we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown if you will.”

The Houston Press published a few of the Twitter responses to Perry’s moronic gaffe. Here are a few examples:

@drgrist Why else did Daniel Boone fight alongside George Patton if not free America from health insurance mandates? #perryhistory

@ ObsoleteDogma Ronald Reagan told Peter the Great to “tear down this wall”… and put it up on the Mexican border #perryhistory

@ FenrisDesigns In 1576, Teddy Roosevelt signed the Magna Carta, effectively inventing bald eagles. #PerryHistory

@ cheetapizza #NathanHale had but one life to give against General #CarlosSantana at #TheAlamo.” #PerryHistory

Dakinikat has been highlighting the nutty Republican candidates over the past few day. She mentioned this recently, but I just have to do it again. Texas is moving toward offering a license plate with the Confederate flag on it. What will Perry do? Probably something stupid.

Texas’ Department of Motor Vehicles will soon vote — or perhaps table — a Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate that features the Confederate flag. Proceeds will go to that group to help maintain grave stones and monuments. But the group also has a dark side: though they claim to be dedicated solely to history, a faction have recently become more aligned with extremist celebration of the Confederate States, crossing well over in secessionist and racist territory.

Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee called on Perry to repudiate the license plate in last night’s debate. So far Perry hasn’t done so.

Salon’s Justin Elliott reported earlier this year that Perry has “warm relations” with confederate groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that once described him as a member, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. And in 2000, Perry went against the NAACP by defending two Confederate flag plaques on the state’s Supreme Court building.

“I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques, and memorials from public property. I also believe that communities should decide whether statues or other memorials are appropriate for their community,” he wrote at the time. The plaques, however, were ultimately removed.

The license plates differ slightly in that they explicitly benefit a specific organization, just like the Confederate plates they’ve championed in Mississippi and other states. The Mississippi plate, you’ll remember, honored late KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Herman Cain called Perry “insensitive.” I’d use a stronger word.

Yesterday Michele Bachmann displayed her ignorance of what really happens to poor people in America when she responded to a question from a toothless man in New Hampshire.

At a campaign event in New Hampshire yesterday, Bachmann fielded a thoughtful question from a man who asked about the future of Social Security and Medicare….”We have uncertainty right now,” Bachmann told him, launching into a wide-ranging answer that mostly focused on how Barack Obama will personally walk into hospitals and old folks’ homes and throw people out windows.

Turns out, this guy’s got enough uncertainty already: He’s losing his teeth. Bachmann’s policy answer: Maybe he should go to… a church? Or, oh! Better idea: Sit on the street corner and beg for change.

“We have charitable organizations and there’s universities who are willing to take care of people who are indigent,” she told him, lovingly. “If you’re indigent, there are programs set up for the indigent. But don’t destroy the finest health care system in the world to have socialized medicine.”

Now let’s look at some stupid Democrats. A Democratic Assemblywoman in California became concerned about young people attending raves after a young girl died of an overdose of Ecstasy.

A California assemblywoman on a quest to end raves was surprised to find that electronic dance music could not be outlawed. Democratic Assemblywoman Fiona Ma tried to ban the music after a 15-year-old girl died at The Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles, apparently from an ecstasy overdose.

“We found out later on that, constitutionally, you can not ban a type of music,” she told Reason.TV.

Where do they find these people? The last one is sad as well as stupid. Dakinikat sent me this article from the Daily Mail about Anthony Wiener.

Anthony Weiner accused his Muslim parents-in-law of being ‘backwards thinking’ and never accepting him because of his Jewish background, it was revealed today.

Newly released messages from the disgraced former congressman’s text conversations, obtained exclusively by MailOnline, show how Weiner had explicit exchanges with women comparing them to his wife.

OMG, what an a$$hole! I’m not going to quote anymore from that story, so as not to make anyone sick.

In other news, Anita Hill has written a book, so she’s making the media rounds. She gave an extended interview to NPR

On Oct. 11, 1991, Anita Hill told the Senate Judiciary Committee that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her.

Hill’s testimony was part of a second round of confirmation hearings to appoint Thomas to the court. He was ultimately confirmed by both the committee and the Senate, and has held the post for the past 20 years.

As for Hill, she has spent the past 20 years mostly out of the limelight, focusing on her academic work as a professor of social policy and law at Brandeis University. She says the tens of thousands of letters she has received since the hearings inspired her to write her new book, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home.

“They’ve inspired me at times when I really did not feel very good about the subject of equality,” she tells NPR’s Neal Conan. “They’ve inspired me to keep pushing and to keep working and to keep really being myself.”

Listen to the whole interview at the link. There’s good article about Hill at the San Francisco Chronicle–first published by Bloomberg. And here is an NPR story by Nina Totenberg about Clarence Thomas’s 20 years on the Supreme Court. We can thank Joe Biden for that.

Eric Cantor has called for a floor vote on the “Let Women Die” Act of 2011, AKA HR 358. According to Care 2,

The deceptively-titled “Protect Life Act” will allow hospitals that receive federal funds to turn away a woman seeking an abortion in all circumstances, even if the procedure is necessary to save her life.

Under current law, any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If that hospital can’t provide that service, including a life-saving abortion, it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.

But under the bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that would require termination.

Because women’s lives aren’t human lives, you see.

Jonathan Schell has an article in The Nation that I highly recommend: Cruel America. Schell considers some of the horrifying things we’ve seen in the Republican Debates so far–cheers for the notion of letting a man die if he doesn’t have health insurance, a governor of Texas who sleeps just fine after learning that he executed an innocent man, the lack of concern over the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia–and argues that America is devolving into cruel society.

There have been many signs recently that the United States has been traveling down a steepening path of cruelty. It’s hard to say why such a thing is occurring, but it seems to have to do with a steadily growing faith in force as the solution to almost any problem, whether at home or abroad. Enthusiasm for killing is an unmistakable symptom of cruelty. It also appeared after the killing of Osama bin Laden, which touched off raucous celebrations around the country. It is one thing to believe in the unfortunate necessity of killing someone, another to revel in it. This is especially disturbing when it is not only government officials but ordinary people who engage in the effusions.

In any descent into barbarism, one can make out two stages. First, the evils are inaugurated—tested, as it were. Second, the reaction comes—either indignation and rejection or else acceptance, even delight. The choice can indicate the difference between a country that is restoring decency and one that is sinking into a nightmare. It was a dark day for the United States when the Bush administration secretly ordered the torture of terrorism suspects. On that day, the civilization of the United States dropped down a notch. But it sank a notch lower when, the facts of the crimes having become known, former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney publicly embraced their wrongdoing, as they have done most recently on their respective book tours. To the impunity they already enjoyed, they added brazenness, as if challenging society to respond or else enter into tacit complicity with the abuses.

And still there was little reaction. For in a further downward drop, President Obama, even as he ordered an end to torture, decided against imposing any legal accountability on the miscreants, and in fact shunned any accountability whatsoever. He did not even seek, say, some equivalent of the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa after the end of apartheid.

There’s more, please read it all if you can. In most of the stories in today’s reads, there is a thread of cruelty. The cruelty of ignoring racism, poverty, the inability of people to care for their health. The cruelty of men to women–the hatred that must be in the hearts of these Congressmen who vote to kill women rather than allow them to have an abortion; the repressed anger that leads a man to hurt his wife and future child by throwing away his career for a few fleeting moments of sexual arousal.

Schell is right. We are becoming a cruel and degraded culture. How can we rescue our country from the haters? I wish I knew.

So what are you reading and blogging about today?