At Violet Socks’ place, there is an incredible discussion going on regarding why mainstream feminists trashed Sarah Palin so viciously, and even made up lies about her to justify their hatred. There are about 300 comments in response. I highly recommend that you read it if you have the time.
Make no mistake, soon-to-be-ex-Governor Palin can easily be legitimately criticized on the issues. As a liberal, I don’t agree with her on much. But the amount of manufactured outrages that were passed around, from Trig’s parentage (still going on, at least in Andrew Sullivan’s diseased mind) to the rape kit smear to the banning books smear, all passed on by feminists…it is utterly baffling to Dr. Socks. Why all the hatred and vitriol for this woman? Why couldn’t they just tell the truth about her and have done with it?
Although there was no doubt some elitism involved (her accent! her lack of Ivy leage education! that hair!), to me, the answer is clear, and comes down to one word: Pro-Life.
It is an unfortunate reality that people in the pro-life movement have been the source of a great deal of pain for American women in the past few decades. They are the ones who develop smear campaigns to label us pro-abortion (we are not; no one is!) instead of pro-choice; and of course, there is a whole “abortion is murder” meme that has been extremely successful, even to the point that people in the pro-choice community believe it.
But the name-calling is not the worst of it; not by a long shot.
Legislatively speaking, the pro-life movement has done its very best to make it impossible for women to control their own reproductive organs, and they continue to do so at every opportunity. From attempting to overturn Roe v. Wade and return us to the days of the coathangers and back-alley abortions, to their latest crusade against contraception (falsely conflating it with abortion) and pushing abstinence-only education (which, ironically, has led to more unwanted pregnancies and STD’s), to the heartless lies the Pope recently told about condoms and AIDs, to the senseless murder of Dr. Tiller (which the lovely Ann Coulter has characterized as “termination in the 203rd trimester“), the pro-life community has been utterly consistent in its refusal to see the massive amounts of harm it is doing to its own sisters and brothers; real, fully adult sisters and brothers who have to live with the consequences of their moral myopia.
I honestly do not see how in the world a woman can call herself a feminist, and still reserve the right to meddle in and ruin the lives of other women (and the men who love and support them). Bearing an unwanted child can be immeasurably harmful to a woman, especially if it is a child of rape. (One in every six women will be raped in her lifetime in America, so please do not tell me this is a rare occurrence.) By contrast, despite the pro-life community’s attempts to “prove” that abortion causes mental and physical harm to women, no scientific study has actually done so. I am very sorry that the pro-life movement sees abortion as murder, but it’s not. I am very sorry that the pro-life movement values the potential life of the baby over the life of the mother; however, to say I think this is ethically wrong would be an understatement.
Do I think Sarah Palin deserves the misogynistic treatment she has gotten from the feminist movement? Of course not. I have defended her from it and will continue to do so. Moreover, I like soon-to-be-ex-Governor Palin’s straightforward personality, and the only “pro-life” action she has taken as governor is to support an initiative for a parental notification law for children under 17. Given that many pro-choice people approve of parental notification (I don’t, by the way), this is hardly the action of a right-wing ideologue.
But because of the pro-life movement’s malicious intent towards me and my pro-choice sisters and brothers, I don’t blame any pro-choice person for not trusting Sarah Palin on this issue; and on a visceral level, I simply do not trust anyone who calls herself a feminist and is pro-life.
I want to; I really really want to. I would love to believe that, as the New Agenda is doing, we can put abortion and reproductive rights on the back burner and take on other issues, such as the ERA, for example. Surely if one is a feminist, one can work towards the passage of the ERA?
But not so fast; the passage of the ERA will enable women to become fully-enfranchised citizens, like men; no longer considered sub-human and subject to the whims of their “betters” in the government and in church. Just as the State would never be allowed to control a man’s reproductive organs, so then would any State control over a woman’s reproductive organs be unthinkable and illegal. Do we really believe that the pro-life movement would fight for something that would make it obsolete? I certainly don’t.
Are there pro-life men and women who think it is wrong to impose their beliefs on others? I believe that there are, and I would absolutely welcome them into any women’s group I belonged to. I personally don’t care that I disagree with them, as long as they realize that it’s none of their business what I do with my own body (and it’s none of my business what they do with theirs, either). But is there room in today’s feminism for the type of pro-life men and women who think God has given them permission to misinform my children about sex (sometimes with deadly consequences) and to prevent me from deciding whether or not I get pregnant or have an abortion? In my opinion, hell fucking no. We’ve suffered enough at their hands, haven’t we?
If pro-life and pro-choice feminists are ever to unite, then, I believe, it is the pro-life feminists who must change. As feminists, they should accept the ability of their sisters to own their bodies, and respect their rights to make their own decisions about abortion. They should stop pushing for the total outlaw of abortion, and the institution of abstinence-only education, and the ability of doctors and pharmacists to refuse healthcare to their sisters. They should condemn those in their number who murder abortion doctors and bomb clinics. And, they should stop using terms like “pro-abortion” and “murderers” to describe their pro-choice sisters and brothers.
Will they be able to do that? I hope so. After all, the pro-choice community doesn’t lobby the federal government to control the amount of children women can bear. We may find the “Quiverfull” crowd misogynistic in the extreme, but we recognize that this is a free country, and we, as a movement, don’t try to pass legislation to push our beliefs onto them.
It is they who should do the outreach, because after more than thirty years of malicious aggression against pro-choice women and men, we don’t trust them. And we shouldn’t.
Pro-life sisters and brothers, you have a lot of work to do. Are you up for it?