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Thursday, August 23, 2012

I don't get it

There are lots of things I don't understand - things I use everyday and don't know how they work:

Electricity.  Radio - much less the difference between AM, FM and Sirius FM. Television - much less the difference between local and cable stations. Computers. The telephone. The cell phone. Cyberspace. Batteries.

And yet, I'm thinking that I could - if I really applied myself - learn to understand all these thing and do that better than understanding why anyone - but especially a woman - would vote for either Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan, given their stance on reproductive justice.

I understand. Reproductive Justice is among the top ten issues that concern voters. However, according to a recent poll, the top three issues votes are most concerned with are The Economy, Health Care and Medicare/Medicaid.

I get that. And, I agree with it. Here's what concerns me, however.

Demographic studies indicate that single, young women are one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups — there are 1.8 million more now than just two years ago.

They make up a quarter of the voting-age population nationally, and even more in several swing states, including Nevada.

They, too, are concerned about the economy and the debt, but their economic concerns are closer to home: employment, underemployment, paying the rent, affordable child care, quality education, and access to affordable, quality health care for themselves and their families.

I understand that. What I don't understand is why more women - especially those of childbearing age - aren't more outraged over the Republican Platform which will be ratified when the RNC has its convention in Tampa. It has been described “the most conservative platform in modern history.” Among other things, it calls for a “human life amendment” with no exemption for rape or incest and praises “informed consent” laws.

Is it apathy?  Or is it just that most young women have grown up not ever seeing women working in positions of authority: doctors, lawyers, politicians, judges, priests, athletes, etc., etc., etc? Have they simply assumed that this is the way the world works and don't know their history and don't understand how fragile the gains of social progress can be?

Or, is it that this generation of women grew up always knowing that reproductive justice had been won for them before they were born? Is it apathy informed by assumption and expectation?

Is it what Ann Coulter recently said in a Fox interview: "Ronald Reagan managed to win two landslides without winning the women’s vote, but it is as you say, it’s striking, it’s not the women’s vote generically, it is the single women’s vote. "

"And that’s because single women look to the government to be their husbands and give them, you know, prenatal care, and preschool care, and kindergarten care, and school lunches...."?

Or, is Ann Coulter just the (very unattractive) female mouthpiece for the RNC, telling them what they want women to say because she's discovered that she can make lots and lots of money on their ignorance and arrogance?

I really don't get it.

Do you?

If you do, would you fill me in? Honestly.

I would love to know.

Just leave your comment and I promise to read each and every one. Only those of you who identify yourself, however, will get your comment posted. No anonymous comments, please, unless you have something to say that would compromise you with your family or place of employment.

And, no nasty stuff, please. If you are a Democrat, no bashing, just explanation. If you are a Republican - especially if you are a woman, even if you're not of childbearing age  - please help me understand why you will vote for Romney-Ryan, given their policies on reproductive issues for women.  That would be really, really helpful.

Because, you know, I just don't get it.


Marthe said...

Here's one for you, the "why women vote for Mitt" ... see ... Kevin Williamson pointing out that young women just can't help themselves, they must chase the alpha male of the tribe. Caution: do not eat before reading this bilge ... but you did say you wanted to understand ...

auntie dasch said...

thank you, as always, for articulating things so beautifully. i think one of the things which kills me is that this is supposedly the party of limited government intervention, right? so (a) why do they want to legislate my ability to get married and (b), have you NOTICED? they ALWAYS want to legislate a woman's body! and women let them get away with it. is it the ultimate girl on girl crime? i've personally always believed that if i person wants to object to abortion rights they must first adopt a baby. then they may protest once. another protest? another adoption. lather, rinse, repeat. but ABOVE all, if you do not have the ability to gestate, then you do not have the right to legislate it, kay? yeah, i'm with ya ... i just don't get it.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Marthe - Alpha male? Blech! We're back to chemistry again, aren't we? Wonder if that causes the woman's tubes to spasm, too?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Auntie - I know, I know, I KNOW! I personally think that if you don't want an abortion, you shouldn't have one. Easy, right? No, the fundies want small government but they want to be in every woman's lady parts.

I don't get it.

hipumpkins said...

I just wanted to make a quick comment about the beginning of your post. I do not understand of that stuff either and I always joke that whole world is like magic to me. (Please carry on,now searching for answers)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, hipumpkins. I think most of us don't. We just use all those things like we do understand.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

St Augustine attributed all sin basically to the desire to control. Sadly this didn't stop or staunch his, or the church's, desire to do just that. It is most pernicious, but also easiest, when it comes to making rules that govern others, rather than oneself. The rest follows in its own peculiar logic. But it is still sin...

Matthew said...

I've tried to ask this question of my female republican friends. Most simply say, "its private" and refuse to discuss it. Much like discussing religion and sex, or maybe, its because they know me so they don't want to admit what the real reasons are so they'd rather just not tell me. I get the, "you wouldn't understand" body language.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Tobias, There's a great article in Religious Dispatches with a great quote from Virginia Burrus on Augustine.

Virginia Burrus: As soon as I began hearing the news reports of Akin’s remarks, I was haunted by similarities with the thought of the late Roman theologian Augustine. I hasten to say that I would not want to compare Akin in any general way to Augustine, who was a brilliant theologian and writer, accolades I would not by any means assign to Akin! The comparison I have in mind is quite specific, and that is Augustine’s discussion at the very beginning of his famous work City of God of the rape of Lucretia, a traditional Roman tale that he revisits in the context of real or anticipated wartime rapes of women of the Christian community.

Lucretia was a Roman woman renowned for her extreme virtue, known to have killed herself after she was raped in an effort to restore her honor by making it clear that she in no way colluded with her rapist. That itself is sufficiently telling testimony to the burden that rape places on its victims! But Augustine—in one of his lowest moments—makes it worse. For what he does is essentially to blame the victim nonetheless, much as Akin seems to do. He suggests (while acknowledging that only Lucretia herself could have known this) that Lucretia must have been “so enticed by her own desire that she consented to the act” (City of God 1:19). And in this she is, in Augustine’s eyes, condemned.

Augustine was defending himself in the face of critics who asked how it was that Christian women could suffer rape if God was looking after them. We should question his mode of defense! In so doing, we should also question Akin’s assumption that the victim is to be blamed—a stance that has arguably been taken even without the extenuating wartime circumstances that shaped Augustine’s response (never mind its utter absurdity with regard to biological facts known by most women in this country).

Surely Lucretia did not “consent to the act” of her own rape, which led to her suicide. And surely no woman who is raped consents in any way to the conception of a child. To suggest that she has the power to resist or prevent this is not only biologically absurd but also morally wrong and deeply offensive.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Matthew - Interesting, but I was just thinking that I've never had a Republican male or female ask me why I feel the way I do.

Wonder why. Maybe because they really don't want to hear what I have to say. I wouldn't understand.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I'd seen that article and though it wasn't at the forefront of my thinking, it must have been there somewhere.

I was actually thinking beyond these current issues -- important as they are -- to that larger tendency to want to put people in boxes (or cages) and restrain them -- for their own good, the cagers and boxers would no doubt insist. Something drives that need to be in charge of others... so much easier to remove those specks and motes than deal with the unsightly (and unseen) beam in the judge's eye!

As to Augustine, the bishop who ordained me once said, "The Spirit of Augustine of Hippo hovers like a black malignant cloud over Western Christendom. It makes people afraid to live." Harsh, but true, as the Lucretia "twist" indicates. Denial, projection, how many other quirks of character have driven Western theology into such sad dead ends...

Preach on, Sister!

Jeffrey Wells, RN said...

It is very difficult to navigate the abortion rights debate because of the legacy and the language.

The legacy of Planned Parenthood is to reduce the number of black babies – a blatantly racist and bigoted goal. The founders of Planned Parenthood even spoke about legitimate rape – whatever that means. The legacy of abortion rights is that legal abortion could not be legislated and was rejected by popular vote. It needed a Supreme Court ruling to be made the law of the land – a very weak proposition. It was and is too unpopular for voter approval – very similar to gay marriage voting defeats in the 31 states – soon even in far left/lib Hawaii - baffling. And the folks voting against legalizing abortion and gay marriage are not just extreme fanatics on the far right or far left – it’s the general population that votes against these – I do not get it with gay marriage especially – for heaven’s sake, let these nice people get married! But it is what the people say with their votes...

The language is also difficult to navigate. “Pro-choice” means having abortions legal and most Americans believe and support this. “Pro-choice” does not equal “pro-abortion.” “Pro-life” means pro life – lordy, who is against life! But this term has been hijacked by the left and right to mean anti-abortion rights. “Pro-abortion” is where the Democrats, liberals, far left and President Obama are – where even partial birth abortions are OK for gender selection and contraception. Partial birth is birth – these are viable babies – and the MDs are allowed to stick an ice pick into the live baby’s brain to kill him/her. I have seen it – it is horrible – the baby did nothing to deserve being killed. Even though he carefully and cowardly modulates his words while barely speaking about abortion at all, President Obama voted for the horrible practice of partial birth abortion infanticide – which many Americans do not support.

Most Americans are pro-choice (for legal abortions) and pro-life (for life). Most are not pro-abortion (gender selection abortions, abortions for contraception, partial birth abortion infanticide). The language makes it difficult to understand. I am not a Democrat or a Republican – geez, the politicians in both parties are permanent political self-aggrandizing elitists. Most of my family, friends and colleagues are pro-choice and pro-life, but not pro-abortion.

Thank you again for this forum.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jeffrey - Some of your facts are inaccurate. Margaret Sanger did, in fact, think about abortion in terms of reducing the number of children of color, but it was a different time and different attitudes about race. She thought of it in the same way she thought of her Irish mother who had, I think, nine children. She thought of it in terms of reducing the financial burden on the family and the physical burden on the mother.

It's a bit like look back as scripture and saying that the Jews were racist because they kept Ethiopian slaves. They were, of course, but only through a post-modern lens.

As for your point about "language", well, we are just going to have to agree to disagree.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Tobias. I don't plan to stop any time soon.

Jim said...

We have an entire mythology of and about women that we seldom try to analyze or even think about. Women are as likely to believe it as men, with sometimes devastating consequences.

Rape crises counselors report that one of the things women ask is what they did to bring on the attack. Were they too predicatively dressed, too flirtatious, or too something else? The question arises from the mythology that somehow the female is the initiator of desire, and the rapist is in some sort of sexual fog persists in spite of all the data.

They key though is that it is part of the magic view of the female. Of course she can elect not to become pregnant after a rape -- she is the mysterious, magical one! It is a silly idea in the time of our greatest scientific and technological age, but it persists. I think it is particularly persistent among those most removed from understanding the science of our time, but that may well be my own prejudice.


Marthe said...

Yes, Jim, it IS about mythology ... and ...
The right to life extremists tend to also be the most radically homophobic for a reason: it’s all part of a lie under a myth under a fundamental misunderstanding of religion and biology and responsibility reinforced and propagated by fear. Here’s how it goes:

Women, beginning with the weak or evil Eve, are the cause of “lust”, the fall of Man, all the troubles. She tempted Adam, her actions led to the revelation of his nakedness, to the “need” for sex to have children to allow him to live on through his children. All that sex and lust are her fault and she wants it, and when she says she doesn’t want it, she’s lying or shirking her duty or just trying to avoid her “just” punishment for original sin which the righteous male must prevent her from doing (thus “protecting” her from committing yet another sin). Aborting the child conceived in rape is a firm “no” to that whole lie, a no he cannot allow, and instead of just being honest about it, calls it protecting the child.

The “temptress” leading men into sin/sex is a handy way to pretend male hormones don’t play any particular role in sex (except to enhance performance, of course), to pretend that men aren’t really responsible for their own actions, to pretend that the sin or weakness or helplessness in the rush of excitement isn’t their “fault”.

The presence of male homosexuals in the population terrifies the extremists because they reveal the lie of blaming women for sex/sin/lust, verifies the truth that men are indeed helpless in the throws of that hormone surge of sexual excitement, and ever so unmanly helplessness is to be avoided at all costs (and those costs must be borne mostly by women who started all the troubles, after all). The homophobes are terrified of the possibility of their own vulnerability, not just to the possibility of being raped by a gay male (which they protest so much in their vocal revulsion to and fascination with jailhouse male rape stories) but to admitting to actual responsibility for their own behaviors.

Blaming others is easier than dealing honestly with one’s own realities, with learning anything that doesn’t “fit” with easy certainties, with one’s own neediness and complexity. So those fundamentalists cover it all with certainty and hard lines and ignorance of science. And the consequences? Just someone else’s cross, or pregnancy, to bear.

Anonymous said...

I admit, I'm a female in a rural state who's leaning Republican, at least in some spots. I may split the vote. Not sure. I don't like any of the choices this year.

Reason 1, the economy. Stimulus didn't help. All local good jobs are in areas that Democrats want to regulate out of existence-oil,gas,mining, even farming. We do have a few new wind farms-they hire 3 technicians compared to hundreds in the other fields and don't run at full capacity because the environmental lawsuits block the electric lines needed. Obama/Dems have never given a real plan how to improve the economy here.
Reason 2: Immigration- I really hate Obama ignoring the immigration laws he doesn't like and creating laws/panels/Dream acts without Congress. You voted against Bush when he broke the law, seems similar here and immigrants make an impact here. I've also worked abroad and if I have to jump through hoops, and be legal....

Reason 3: I like state rights/independence. I don't understand people in the East and they sure don't understand me. You do your thing, we'll do ours.

As for abortion and or gay rights, they're way down the list of things I watch about candidates and candidates on either side who focus on them more than other things turn me off. My opinions aren't the "all or nothing" being pushed so I'd rather let them lie since I can't get behind either the extreme left or right.

Chris H.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, it's anonymous for me, because abortions of old had to be.

I think the reason young, single, well-educated women aren't alarmed by the Repub platform is that they can not imagine what they have never witnessed. Making abortion illegal does not stop abortions from happening. Those of us 60 years and older watched high school or younger friends go "on vacation" in order to get an abortion. They had to use fake names, sneak into backrooms and suffer for years over a simple decision. Often enough the consequences included not being able to bear children later on. Of course everyone worried that this would be the case, whether or not it turned out that way.

Some of us were best friends with those girls and listened and helped them heal themselves. Many of those men writing platform statements were there too, and don't care now any more than they did then. It was the woman's problem to get them off the hook, and when abortions were illegal, many of them were off the hook in secret. It was a great deal for them.

I have no explanation for Ann Coulter. Motivated by money is as good a guess as any.

Stephanie Ivy said...

I'm a young woman. I'm a Democrat and I don't know why any young woman would vote for the current GOP.

That said....I can see how people are, simply, tired. The culture wars took form in the 80s, and for many of us, that means this vicious debate that is waged has been going on our entire lives. For all we've seen women rise in power, for all we've had opportunities that our mothers and grandmothers did not...we've also grown up with the backlash. I don't know why any woman would back the anti-women agenda of the GOP, but I feel certain that growing up steeped in a culture that is so eager to shove the culture wars to the forefront does something to one's outlook.

M. Wright said...

I don't understand either. While I do not personally like abortion, sometimes it necessary to save a life. Abortion is a tragedy and nobody in their right mind likes it. A woman in such a position needs love, not judgement.

Nobody has the right to inflict their religious "morals" on anyone else.

There's a lot of people in my family who became very angry when I try to talk to them. I asked them about their 11 year old vulnerable bipolar niece: What if she is raped? It can happen. Especially because of the jailbirds her lovely, but naive mother is attracted to.

What happens when a woman's life is in danger?

Some old friends of mine had a young classmate who was raped by a pedophile. She died because she had no access to a safe, legal abortion. They saw her bleeding...

I was flamed and condemned for asking such questions. I am not sorry that I asked those questions.

The only explanation I can think of is that these people are sheltered. They're nice people and they are not stupid. But they live in the suburbs. They never travel. They have never walked among the homeless. They never seem to read anything but the town paper, watch FOX or network news and the local news. Maybe they listen to talk radio.

My apologies for such a long post. I have no answers.

Michelle Wright