Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Morning: My Open Tabs

I keep tabs open in my web browser. Maybe no individual one is worth posting about, but the array of them may be meaningful. At least, if I write about them I can close them. There is a bit of a pattern here.

The all-male GOP panel to discuss contraception. It's like a bad joke.

It reminds me of this 2009 New Yorker cartoon:

And as contraception was discussed on the news, guess who was invited onto the TV news shows to talk about it? Media Matters paid attention:

Can you see that little bit of green on MSNBC? Look at the statement this makes about a woman's private and personal decisions about whether to become pregnant or not.

Then there is this, a listing from CBS, who will be on the news shows today:
NBC's "Meet the Press" — Reps. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
CBS' "Face the Nation" — GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum
CNN's "State of the Union" — GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul; Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind.
"Fox News Sunday" — GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich; Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Does that seem weird to you, that no show on any network could think of a woman they would want to interview? All men. At least NBC found a Democrat.

Oh, and did you see this video that's going around like wildfire through the rightwing web sites? How Planned Parenthood hooks kids on sex -- Planned Parenthood is creating sex addicts so they can sell contraception and abortions to them. I guess I was the last to know about that, I thought Planned Parenthood provided reproductive health care for women, mostly, and sometimes men. I didn't know they had a hidden agenda of getting children hooked on sex to create a market for their products.

If you Google this video you will see that it is linked from hundreds of conservative web sites. You might watch it and think it is a joke but there are many people believing this stuff.

I don't like the "war on" terminology that is so easy, war on drugs, war on Christmas, war on women. In some of these cases it is clear that the men who are running things want to send a message that it's a boys-only club.

Virginia just passed a new law saying that any woman seeking an abortion in that state will be forcibly penetrated by an ultrasound probe inserted into her vagina. It is not medically necessary, it is just to humiliate her and to coerce her into continuing her pregnancy rather than considering an abortion. Under that state's laws, shoving something into a woman's vagina against her will is considered rape; this is essentially state-mandated rape of women who want abortions. This is not a political abstraction, it is as intimate and personal an invasion as you can have.

On another front they are arguing about whether employers should pay for insurance that covers birth control pills for women. I don't like to call it "the Republican war on women," let's just say they see it from one point of view.

And really, can you believe that we are still debating The Pill?

There is an asymmetry built into biological reproduction. The investment of the sexes in gestation is not equivalent. The female's body is changed in profound ways by pregnancy, the baby growing within her is part of herself, is connected to her nutrition, her emotions, she is aware of it every time she moves. It is deeply disrespectful of women to decide for them whether they will become pregnant or stay pregnant.

I don't like to call it a "war on women" because real wars are physical and bloody, destructive and heartbreaking in a concrete way, there is maiming and death and fear. Every movement against a group is not a war, sometimes it is just an ideological tide that washes through a society. For some reason, right now, at this point in history, it makes sense to a lot of Americans to disregard the needs of women, it makes sense to many people to keep women pregnant as often as possible, whether they want to be or not.

This might be a time of ebbing of the women's movement, or it may be the opposite, the last kick of a dying paternalism. You saw the reaction when Komen cut their funding to Planned Parenthood, the American population was outraged, and personal contributions to Planned Parenthood exceeded what Komen could give them.

I think that to most Americans, the idea of contraception being "dangerous" (as Rick Santorum put it) sounds like crazy talk. I would bet that there are a lot of households where the couple do not share an opinion about abortion, but very few where there is any disagreement about birth control. As someone on Twitter noted, if these Congressmen don't have eighteen kids, their wife is on the pill. So is that it, they find it easy to tell some poor woman she can't go to Planned Parenthood, but can't stand up to the wife when she says enough is enough?

Our society is undergoing a kind of transformation that is, as far as I know, unprecedented in human history. Imagine, a hundred years ago women were not allowed to vote. As our society has moved away from an economy that places the highest value on brute strength toward one that values thinking, the interdependent roles of men and women have shifted in ways that are too fundamental for us to be consciously aware of. There are those who would want to go back to simpler times when everyone knew what was expected of them, but the gender roles that evolved on the farm don't fit the modern office very well.

So what you end up with is a group of men who can understand hypothetical women but have no idea how to deal with real ones. They come up with ideas for making the world a "better place," and then cannot understand when actual women in the real world do not enthusiastically go along with them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for publishing the picture that shows just exactly how out of touch with women the GOP is.

Rep. Issa held a hearing about contraception and didn't think it was necessary to invite a single woman to sit on his opening panel of experts.

This issue has done for the GOP what it has done for Koman, turned it into a fundraising pariah to women.

"Democrats are off to a fast start on the fundraising front for the year, with the three major Democratic campaign committees all beating their Republican counterparts for January.

House Democrats outraised House Republicans, Senate Democrats outraised Senate Democrats, and the national Democratic Party raised about $7 million more than the GOP.

Fundraising figures from congressional committees, the national party and President Obama's reelection campaign suggest Obama's struggling poll numbers and frustration with the economy aren't keeping Democratic donors from opening their wallets.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pulled in just over $6 million in January to the National Republican Congressional Committee's $4.8 million. Despite Democrats being in the minority, it was the DCCC's best January ever, an aide said."

And similarly

“Mission accomplished, Komen. We are now aware of breast cancer. And now we are also aware that the Susan G Komen Foundation is more about bringing awareness to Susan G Komen and its corporate benefactors than it is about “Racing for a Cure”. Last I checked, a pink breast cancer awareness toaster isn’t a substitute for affordable screening and chemotherapy, ” says The Guardian’s Lizz Winstead. And I couldn’t say it better.

Then Komen made it even worse by staying silent for so long, declining even interviews from major media. In staying silent for so long (in the context of crisis communications), they enabled PP to fill ears, eyes and minds,“ accidentally re-branded themselves as an anti-abortion organization,” according to Kivi Leroux Miller.

Komen’s failure to be honest, consistent and direct about the driver for the defunding undermines all their good work on women’s health issues, while staying out of the abortion issue morass.

What’s worse is that this behavior—refusing to be open, clear, direct and consistent about its decision making—is a pattern not a one off. Three strikes you’re out!

Komen underestimated the intelligence, focus and passion of its audiences, including those who love any woman anywhere. That’s lot of trust to lose.

Planned Parenthood Triumphs, and So Do Women

Planned Parenthood’s PR team, well-schooled in dealing with pushback, is clearly stomping all over Komen, who was not ready for the backlash its received. PP is headed to surpass the Komen grant dollars it lost, and has generated significant support and publicity as it fills the gap. It looks likely that PP will be able to continue providing its breast cancer services. Let’s hope so

But that’s just the tip of this iceberg. Planned Parenthood’s triumph comes from its strengths. PP was (and is):

Ready and waiting: PP is experienced in crisis management and has mobilized a strong team of grassroots advocates ready to go.

Skilled in crisis management skills and tools: Crisis management 2012 necessitates social media focus, skills and network development. PP had all three in place which enabled the controversy to jump from a operational snafu to a national outrage within minutes.

Honest and real: PP sticks to its brand—putting women’s health first—now and forever. I trust them now, I’ve always trusted them and I bet I’ll trust them tomorrow."

February 20, 2012 10:24 AM  

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