Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stacey Campfield's Madonna-Whore Complex is Showing Again!

Sen. Stacey Campfield, that perennial source of humor, consternation and embarrassment for all people who follow Tennessee politics is once again showing what he really thinks of women: we are all either virginal paragons of virtue or we're worthless whores.

The first time he expounded on this misogynistic theme, it had to do with funding for Planned Parenthood. In this news article, Campfield compared cutting political deals in an attempt to "defund" Planned Parenthood to being forced to kiss ugly girls at the prom. Because, you know, the ugly girls are undesirable and therefore completely useless to Stacey Campfield and every other self-respecting man. Aunt B wrote a very insightful and scathing blog post about this at the time. Quoting her: "Campfield equates a situation where he can’t control women’s healthcare with being forced to kiss ugly girls and a situation in which he can actively harm women by denying them healthcare as being able to take a pretty girl home" have sex with. (Aunt B didn't say that last part, but, come on, I think it's understood, right? I mean, that's why a man would take a girl home, right? Not for stimulating intellectual conversation.)

So, Campfield's latest misogynistic metaphor is about going to the whorehouse looking for a virgin.
That's literally what he titled his blog post. I was a little disappointed to find that this post was really about a Democratic jobs tour. See, Democrats don't know anything about creating private sector jobs, right? (Irony, see?) So, Campfield sees fit to make fun of Democrats for trying to do something about the jobs crisis in Tennessee--which is more than the Republicans have done even though they control both houses of the General Assembly and the Governor's office.

It is so odd and telling that Campfield would bring up this Madonna-whore imagery in reference to something as mundane and non-controversial as jobs. But maybe it's not such a stretch. After all, if things get much worse out there in the labor market, a whole lot of nice Tennessee women may have to contemplate taking up the world's oldest profession.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Price of "Purity"

Something has come to my attention that I find so creepy and disturbing that I feel I have to write about it. The Rangeline Neighborhood Community Development Corporation is holding a "Purity Ball" on June 25th. Here's the webpage:

Here's the mission: "To instill the principles in our teenage daughters on how important it is to protect their heart and body until she commits to a man on her wedding day. On this day, Fathers make a vow and promise to protect their daughters and guard their virginity. As the fathers are making these vows and promises, they present a purity ring (or other item) to their daughters. These daughters are then under their fathers guard and protection until they are married and replace their purity ring with a wedding ring. The daughters promise their fathers that they will stay pure until a man replaces the purity ring with a wedding wing. This ceremony will be symbolic of an actual wedding."

Okay, in addition to the grammatical errors in this statement (and there are many), this is just beyond creepy. I don't have a daughter, but I am a daughter and I know that parents have a hard time thinking of their children as sexual beings. Many struggle with the knowledge that their little darling is going to have sex someday. But this is the wrong way to go. Fathers who take seriously the exhortation to "protect their daughters and guard their virginity," are going to find themselves in a very uncomfortable situation.  With the average age of first marriage now in the mid to late 20's, that's a long time for fathers to be "guarding" their daughters' virginity. How exactly is a Dad supposed to determine whether his daughter is still a virgin? Fathers often have a hard time talking about sex with daughters anyway. Many fathers describe the discomfort they feel when their daughters begin to develop sexually. Some even worry they will become sexually attracted to their daughters.  For this and other reasons, most fathers leave "the talk" with their daughters to the mothers. If fathers are reluctant to discuss menstruation and the birds and bees with their daughters, how are they ever going to discuss their daughters' first sexual experiences? And wouldn't participating in a simulated wedding with his daughter feel really creepy to most men?

Someday many of these daughters will forget all about this "Purity Ball," or it will seem an unrealistic goal. Making young people take oaths of virginity at an early age is doomed to turn many of them into hypocrites or saddle them with a lifetime of shame and guilt if they don't live up to the expectation of "purity." And let's make it clear--95% of Americans have premarital sex. And purity pledges as a form of birth control are spectacularly ineffective. A recent study of teens who made a public pledge to abstain until marriage questioned the youth again six years after they made the pledge. Researchers found that over 60 percent had broken their vow to remain abstinent until marriage. The study also found that teens who took virginity pledges begin engaging in vaginal intercourse later than non-pledging teens, but that pledgers were more likely to engage in oral or anal sex than non-pledging virgin teens and less likely to use condoms once they become sexually active. The study found that pledgers were much less likely than non-pledgers to use contraception the first time they had sex. So, if this event is aimed at stemming the high teen pregnancy rate in the Frayser area, it may have just the opposite effect.

My other problem with this shindig is the fact that it's so expensive. It's $105 for the father and first daughter and $50 for each additional daughter. That's a lot of money for a family living in Frayser, one of Memphis's poorer suburbs. And what do they get for that? A "boutique" of flowers for the daughter, a "purity" band for the daughter (no doubt made of cheap base metal), a photograph of father and daughter and a "certificate of purity" for the daughter. I think any family would do better putting that money in the bank to fund the daughter's post-secondary education. 

And here's another thing: what about the many families headed by single women? Won't all this "father-daughter" stuff make girls whose fathers are not around feel different and inadequate? Yes, teens need parental support and they need to know they can say "no" to sex. But this kind of fear and guilt-based sex education that reinforces "traditional" gender roles and expectations (boys always want sex and girls need to tell them no), has not been proven to work and may be counter-productive. It's hard enough being a teenage girl without laying on all this purity and "accountability" crap on them. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reporting from LaLa Land...

If you've driven on Poplar Avenue near East Parkway any time in the past couple of months, you probably saw some people on the sidewalks holding signs. You may or may not have known why they were there. You may or may not have cared that they were there. But you should care, and I'll tell you why.

The protests are part of the biannual "40 Days for Life" protests at Planned Parenthood health centers around the country. They're schtick is "pray to end abortion." They are supposed to be praying and standing vigil. But recently they've become more aggressive--approaching and even yelling at people walking into the building. One of their leaders has posted a video blog post about it. You really should watch in order to hear what these "prayer warriors" think they are doing. The audio is crap, but that's on their end. Skip to 7:01 on the timeline to hear about the "sidewalk counseling" (harassment and trespassing) that they were doing on private property. (Which, by the way, is illegal.)

What is wrong with praying to end abortion? Like a lot of people, I fervently wish that there was no more need for abortion. I wish that women would never again get pregnant when they they don't want it or don't expect it. I wish that every pregnancy was a wanted pregnancy. I want every pregnant woman to get the best possible care during her pregnancy so that she carries to term and delivers a healthy baby. I wish every baby was born healthy and no family ever had to suffer the pain of stillbirth or infant death. If I were the praying type, I would even pray for these healthy and happy outcomes for our women and their families.

But praying outside of a woman's health center is a lot more than that. It is, in fact, an attempt to shame and intimidate women who seek care and the medical staff who serve them. It is sending the message: "You are doing something wrong and evil. You will suffer and go to Hell for it."

Jesus himself spoke out against public prayer. "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." -Matthew 6:6. He also said, "Judge not that ye be not judged." -Matthew 7:1. (I could go on and on. I went to Sunday school, too, you know!)

What would Jesus say about "40 Days for Life"? I honestly don't know. But I think he might ask these judgmental "sidewalk counselors," who drive Mercedes and pricey SUVs, when they are going to give up their worldly goods and follow him.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The State of Choice in Tennessee

Today is NARAL Pro-Choice America's "Blog for Choice" Day. The question asked of bloggers this year is: Given the anti-choice gains in the states and Congress, are you concerned about choice in 2011?  Here in Tennessee, a woman's right to access safe, legal abortion faces a very serious threat: proposed legislation to change Tennessee's Constitution so that women in our state are no longer guaranteed a right to abortion. The measure is called Senate Joint Resolution 127, known as SJR127.

You can read the language of the resolution here.  SJR127 is designed to circumvent a 2000 ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court that found the Tennessee constitution provides even greater protection of women’s privacy rights regarding abortion than does the U.S. Constitution. SJR127 is an extreme measure that would take away rights and freedoms that Tennessee women currently take for granted. 

Worse yet, the language of the bill is deceptive. It implies that exceptions have been made for victims of rape and incest and for women whose lives are endangered by their pregnancies. However, the version of the bill passed by the General Assembly last session spells out no such exceptions.  If passed again by the Tennessee House and Senate by a two-thirds majority this session, SJR127 will go on the ballot in the general election in November 2014. If it is approved by a majority of voters who cast ballots in the Governor’s race, the measure will become law, allowing the Tennessee General Assembly to enact any number of unreasonable restrictions on abortion in Tennessee or even ban it outright if the Roe v. Wade decision is ever overturned.

SJR127 does nothing to increase access to contraception, prenatal care or childcare for Tennessee women or offer them any other options to make it easier for them to prevent unwanted pregnancies or carry unplanned pregnancies to term. It would allow government intrusion in the personal health care decisions of women and their families, putting bureaucrats in charge of a crucial life decision best left to a woman and her family in accordance with her own faith and personal beliefs. Women do not make the decision to have an abortion lightly, nor do they do it for frivolous reasons. 61% of women who have abortions already have at least one child, and 75% of abortion patients cite obligations to their existing children or other family members as the reason they chose abortion.

If the goal of policy-makers is to reduce the number of abortions in Tennessee, the best way is not by over-reaching government interference, but by reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies. We must provide accurate, complete, age appropriate sexuality education in our schools that encourages responsible behavior including abstinence, but also information about contraceptives. And we must take practical steps to increase access to birth control for all girls and women of child bearing age. Making contraception available and affordable reduces the number of unintended pregnancies and allows women to plan their families, while improving their health, the health of their children and their futures.

Everyone in Tennessee have a vested interest in preserving the right to access safe and legal abortion. If you believe that all people, both men and women, should be free to make personal, private health care decisions without the unnecessary intrusion of government bureaucrats, please ask your legislators to vote against SJR127.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why Curry Todd Stands by What He Said

There's been a lot of outrage in the blogosphere by what state rep Curry Todd of Collierville said in a meeting of the Fiscal Review Committee in Nashville this week, and well there should be. Todd asked a state health official whether potential patients are asked to show proof of citizenship before receiving prenatal care. The official tried to explain to Todd that they are actually prohibited from asking for proof of citizenship by federal mandates. Todd then rather huffily said, "They can go out there like rats and multiply, then." You can watch the entire exchange here:

If Todd's concern is about what health care for indigent people is costing the state, he should be much more concerned about the health of native born Americans who are covered by TennCare. Care for TennCare patients who have chronic diseases caused by "lifestyle" factors costs the state many millions every year. In contrast, immigrants are relatively young and healthy compared to native-born Americans. Most have not lived here long enough to have become sickened by our toxic lifestyle. They don't require as much medical care, so covering them is fairly inexpensive.

Pregnant women can get "presumptive eligibility" coverage under TennCare to pay for prenatal care and labor and delivery. Would Todd prefer for them to get no prenatal care and deliver at home without medical assistance? That's very short-sighted, since the resultant child will almost certainly be covered under TennCare--because he/she is automatically a US citizen. It makes much more sense to make sure that child gets a healthy start in the world by providing adequate prenatal care for the mother than to have TennCare pay for much more expensive medical care for that child later.

My point is that Todd's outrage at people who come here and "breed like rats" is not based on fiscal concerns at all, because there's plenty of evidence that providing relatively inexpensive preventive care like "presumptive eligibility" for pregnant women actually saves the state money in the long run. If Todd had not shouted down that poor lady who was trying answer his questions, she could have told him that. But really, the whole point of the exercise was for him to look tough to his teabagger constituents, many of whom really do think of immigrants as "rats." They are just as pleased by Todd's outburst as we are horrified by it. So, I guess Todd can consider this "mission accomplished." It's so sad that this is what our great immigrant nation has come to.

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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Cute, fluffy, and not afraid to leave a mess on the sidewalk!