Thursday, February 15, 2007

How "Ashley's Treatment" Is Like Abortion Rights

Her parents lovingly named her their "pillow angel" because she is "so sweet and stays right where we place her—usually on a pillow." But the simple and ethereal term belies the controversy that has surrounded Ashley, the "pillow angel", and her parents for the last six weeks.

In January of this year, a story broke that unleashed a media torrent and a worldwide outwardly centered on medical ethics. Unpeel the layers, however, and you find a story that shares a great deal in common with the quest for reproductive justice and what it means to be able to sincerely and lovingly make a choice that may seem, to outsiders, the wrong choice—and therefore the unacceptable choice—but an individual's loving choice all the same. At the center of the story, Ashley, a now nine-year-old girl who was diagnosed at 3 months old with "static encephalopathy of unknown etiology"—an unchanging brain abnormality that sentences Ashley to live the mental and developmental life of a three month-old infant while her body continues to age normally. Ashley cannot move or talk but she is expected to live a long life. To read the story of Ashley's early life on her parent's blog is both heartbreaking and beautiful.

Continue reading on Reproductive Health Reality Check!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

When Bloggers (that are women) Are Attacked

Amanda Marcotte of the blog Pandagon was hired on as John Edwards 2008 official blogmistress. She's an experienced writer, smart, witty and clearly knows where she stands on a host of issues. She's not afraid to state her opinion on any topic from sexual assault to reproductive rights to Catholicism. In short, she's a strong woman with strong perspectives - a perfect choice for blogmistress for a democratic candidate's presidential campaign. Melissa McEwen, from the blog Shakespeare's Sister, was hired on as Edwards' campaign's netroots coordinator. Melissa is also a powerful writer with a clear, feminist framework for her positions. She's what I like to call "badass." Yes, I said it.

So, I was not only surprised, but elated really that Edwards had hired on these two amazing women to represent his campaign to the blogosphere & beyond.

Apparently not everyone was as elated as I was. Conservative bloggers were angry that Edwards dared to hire two out of the closet feminists to make their opinions known to the world.

And then came crazy Willy Donohue who didn't just make disparaging remarks about Amanda & Melissa but called for their immediate firing!! And didn't just call for their immediate firing but somehow got two NY Times articles written and a host of mainstream media coverage about it!
This is the William Donohue who has these lovely gems to be proud of:

* "People don't trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/9/06]

* "Name for me a book publishing company in this country, particularly in New York, which would allow you to publish a book which would tell the truth about the gay death style." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/27/04]

* "The gay community has yet to apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 4/11/05]

* Addressing former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) in a press release, Donohue said: "[W]hy didn't you just smack the clergyman in the face? After all, most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn't allow themselves to be molested. So why did you?" [10/4/06]

* "I'm saying if a Catholic votes for Kerry because they support him on abortion rights, that is to cooperate in evil." [MSNBC's Hardball, 10/21/04]

* "We've already won. Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. ... Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 12/8/04]

* "Well, look, there are people in Hollywood, not all of them, but there are some people who are nothing more than harlots. They will do anything for the buck. They wouldn't care. If you asked them to their own mother in a movie, they would do so, and they would do it with a smile on their face." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/9/06]

But it didn't stop there. reported that the Edwards campaign fired both women. But Edwards said they weren't. But then Amanda quit. And Melissa. And now I"m angry - really angry.

Why the uproar? You know full well why the uproar. Because these are women who dared to speak up against the powers that be. These are two women who dared to believe that they could be strong, opinionated women who challenged the discourse of diluted campaign speak in favor of discussing real issues that reflect a diversity of though. Both of these women thought they could be themselves - young women in a society still infused with sexism, racism, classism; a society that still does not address its inherent inequalities & sometimes outright misogyny. Amanda & Melissa thought they could be critical of the radical, fascist elements of Christianity that ensure women and girls remain oppressed; both Amanda and Melissa thought they could take their deep-down-in-their-hearts belief systems out into the world with at least the support of the so-called "Democratic" left.

But it is clear to me that this is not about politics. Read what is up on Pandagon right now. The site is down but Amanda's got a page of evil, violent tirades and threats from the "Christians" who feel insulted by her (blasphemous!) existence as a feminist woman with a yearning to be free.

While Amanda was busy using expletives in her blog writing to emphasize her anger at the status quo (how inappropriate for a woman to express anger at the world in public!), while she was daring to be critical of some of the more anti-woman, patriarchal Catholic doctrines as well as expressing frustration & anger about a whole host of "issues" from reproductive rights to violence against women, she did not know that the world around her continued to bubble and boil with hate towards "her kind":

It's just too bad your mother didn't abort you. You are nothing more than a filthy mouth slut. I bet a couple of years in Iraq being raped and beaten daily would help you appreciate America a little. Need a plane ticket ?

Lest you think that is just one wormy, rotten apple in the hearts & roses bushel, take a visit to the page on Pandagon right now.

John Edwards is a coward. This country is still severely misogynistic. I am enraged. But I am not at all cowed.

Quick Update: Apparently Rebecca Traister sees William Donohue's oh so subtle hatred towards women as well. She's got an article on about this.

Also, you've got to check out Echidne's most recent post about this. Please.

Feminist Peace Network