feminism

Video: Susan Jacoby at the Women in Secularism conference

Susan Jacoby had the difficult task of taking on the 8:30am slot during the Women in Secularism conference…and she rocked it. It’s a long talk, but worth the time:

One of my favorite parts was when she talks about how some men have responded when people ask why more women aren’t involved with secularism… “Because women are stupid” they told her. We looked around the Women in Secularism conference wryly, wondering why the audience was mostly women. Obviously using the same logic, it’s because men are just stupid.

Pro-tip: That logic is terribly wrong.

This is post 16 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Female Michigan legislators to perform Vagina Monologues at their capitol building

This is such a fantastic response to a mind-numbingly stupid controversy. For those of you who aren’t up to date, Michigan legislators barred Rep. Lisa Brown (D) from speaking in the House after she used the word “vagina” during a debate on an anti-abortion bill. Yes, people are losing their shit over the word “vagina”:

“That comment would be very inappropriate,” [Rep. Rick Johnson (R)] said. “You have young children? Is that something you want them to hear from your state rep?”

Actually, yeah, I wish young children had comprehensive sex education and didn’t respond to the medical terminology for a body part the way you do. Heaven forbid they know about vaginas in addition to arms, stomachs, brains, eyeballs, and what have you. Heaven forbid little girls know about their bodies! Why, we can’t have that – they may start touching their vaginas then! APOCALYPSE!

And this:

“What she said was offensive,” said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”

Uh…does this guy realize that (most) women have vaginas? I think this says it all:

But female Michigan legislators have come up with a wonderful idea to protest this puritanical nonsense. On Monday they’ll be performing the Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan capitol building, led by Eve Ensler herself (who wrote the play). The legislators include Senators Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) and Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing), and Representatives Barb Byrum (D- Onondaga), Stacy Erwin Oakes (D-Saginaw), Dian Slavens (D- Canton Township), Rashida Tlaib (D- Detroit), Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills), Joan Bauer (D-Lansing).

This is such a fabulous idea. If you’re in Michigan, check it out and email your legislators messages of support (or messages of anger, depending on their stance).

This is post 11 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Creepiest pickup line ever?

Seattle buses provide ample opportunity for creepy, bizarre, and/or uncomfortable situations with strangers. The one I just witnessed is the current “winner,” as the creepy older guy managed to somehow simultaneously hit on and witness to an attractive young woman sitting behind me.

Guy: You’re so beautiful, intelligent, and spiritual.. I know because I can look into your soul through your eyes, because I’m a warrior of Christ. I’d love to have a relationship with you.
Gal: Um…no thank you
Guy: Well if you change your mind my address is (address) and you can visit whenever you like…you’re so wonderful.

He then proceeded to ask her questions about her name, age, profession, and if she would go on a date with him for the next 15 minutes…which she stupidly answered, albeit in a way that screamed “please stop talking to me.” EDIT: Hopefully she was giving fake information. When she got off the bus he started chanting all these facts to himself, including the intersection she got off because he assumed that’s where she lived. He then started groaning about how hot she was and how badly he wanted her for the rest of the bus ride, until he got off at his stop.

Lesson 1: Don’t give personal information to creepy people on the bus. Eek. WTF. I hope this guy doesn’t turn out to be a stalker. Women are socialized to be polite even in situations that make them incredibly uncomfortable. We need to feel more comfortable saying “No” or “Please stop talking to me” or even moving to another part of the bus.

Lesson 2: Women have to deal with this stupid shit all the time.  I had a similar event happen about a week ago where an older man tried to convince me to get off the bus with him to go on a coffee date, and was trying to pry all sorts of personal information out of me. Even though this time the guy wasn’t talking to me, I was incredibly uncomfortable. I was worried about the young woman (who was the same age as me) and worried that he may start talking to me next. It’s worse because a bus is a situation where you feel “trapped.” You can technically get off (if it won’t make you late for something important), but there’s the chance someone will follow you, so staying trapped on the bus with that person is actually the safer situation.

I know a lot of guys don’t understand why getting hit on by strangers can make many women so uncomfortable. I hear “I’d love random women hitting on me!” all the time. But when you can’t ride the bus in peace…when you dread sitting at a bus stop with other people because they’ll do the same…when you stop wearing nice or flattering clothes because you want to decrease your odds of receiving wolf whistles and cat calls…when you have no idea if any of these people are potentially dangerous…

“Flattery” turns into “fear” very quickly.

I get comments: Slut edition

Someone found an ancient post just to call me slut:

I’m gonna have to side with the hater–using the term “sex positive” doesn’t make you come across as a well-rounded human being. It depresses me to think of how young you probably were when you lost it. And since then you haven’t slowed down your tampin’ around, clearly

I’m all about liberalism, but a slut is a slut, even if you do have good politics. Sex has ruined a lot of people. Be an infidel if you want, but God does exist–I’m sure of it, honey. And if you’re not with God, well, you’re with…

I assume their answer is Satan, but we can come up with something more entertaining than that. Dear readers, can you please enlighten me who I’ve been hanging out with instead of God that’s turned me into such a slutty-slut?

Video: The Intersection of Non-Theism and Feminism

The first video from the Women in Secularism conference is up! It’s a panel on the Intersection of Non-Theism and Feminism featuring Annie Laurie Gaylor as moderator, Sikivu Hutchinson, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson, and yours truly:

Who are your Champions of Reason?

After a long day of studying, I turned to reddit to relax a little before bed. I stumbled upon this artwork in r/atheism titled “Champions of Reason”:

The artist explains:

“This is a depiction of people I intellectually admire. I say admire because it is rather impossible for me to take someone as a hero, looking past their human flaws. But it is their flaws that makes them human, which makes their intelligence all that more admirable. There are many, many others who didn’t make in this art who are just as awesome. They have my appreciation although not on this art.”

I couldn’t help but notice a pattern in the selection of champions. But I didn’t have to say anything; on reddit ADMcD76 already brought it up:

“I like it, but…not a single woman? Not even Ayaan Hirsi Ali?”

guysholliday replies:

“Why does a work of art need to be an equal-opportunity enterprise? He didn’t choose Hawking because he was disabled or Kaku because he’s Asian.”

The artist explains:

“I couldn’t think of one that influenced me as a person of reason, unfortunately.”

I’m fine with the artist choosing whoever he wants. This is supposed to represent people he personally admires, which happen to be all men (and overwhelmingly white). If this was commissioned for a conference or supposed to represent rational thought in general, I’d be a little peeved. But instead of being annoyed, I’m just sad. You can’t think of a single woman who’s influenced you as a person of reason? Not one? Yet again, there are plenty of wonderful female atheists and skeptics out there that so many people just don’t know about. It’s a really shame.

So how about you guys? Who are your champions of reason? Anyone who draws their champions of reason (stick figures acceptable!) get bonus points.

“Oh yeah? Well you’re UGLY”

A winning argument made by Scented Nectar and Abbie Smith of ERV:

Proof women can be sexist assholes too! I really feel like we should have a law for this, like Godwin’s law. “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a woman’s appearance being mentioned grows larger.” The type of remark can vary. I’ve been called both pretty and ugly as insults (hurrrr, or pretty ugly!). Women just can’t win.

Sadly, I’m used to this. You know, because I went to high school. And middle school. And elementary school. I was a slightly chubby awkward nerd, which means spent age 5 through 18 constantly having my appearance made fun of. I think my favorite endearing nickname bestowed on me was Sasquatch, since I had the audacity to be a foot taller than other girls my age. Honestly I’m always more befuddled when people attack me by calling me pretty or sexy, since it’s a concept I’m still not totally used to. Anyway, glad to know some people never outgrow that stage.

And ERV is shocked that National Geographic wants her to pull down some inappropriate material? Calling someone ugly for a laugh is the most benign thing she’s done.

Dealing with badly behaving speakers

At last weekend’s Women in Secularism conference, I accidentally set off a lot of discussion with something I said during a panel. I say “accidentally” because I wasn’t planning on talking about this specific point, nor did I think it would result in such a reaction. I remarked that when I was about to attend my first major atheist/skeptical conference, multiple people independently sent me unsolicited advice about what male speakers to avoid at the con. The same speakers were mentioned by different individuals, with warnings that they often make unwanted and aggressive sexual advances toward young pretty women and that I should not be alone with them.

It certainly made my first big con a little more stressful. But it became more stressful when I realized this was far more pervasive than I thought. As I started getting more involved in these communities, more and more stories came out of the woodwork. Both female friends and strangers confided in me, telling me stories of speakers that talked only to their chest, groped them against their wishes, followed them to their hotel room, or had goals to bag a young hottie at every speaking gig they did. Once after I had publicly criticized someone on my blog, people made sure to warn me that this person had a skeevy record. I had to request friends attending the con to be extra diligent about making sure I wasn’t alone.

The same names kept popping up over time. None are particularly shocking, honestly. They’re all people who have been criticized for public sexist comments that they’ve made. Which does not mean everyone who’s made a sexist comment is also making inappropriate advances – it’s a subset. But women in the movement had formed an unofficial underground network of knowledge, making sure to warn people about who to avoid.

There are obviously problems with this. A commenter at Almost Diamonds summarized it well:

You will, of course, do whatever you want, but I find it very upsetting to be told that, “You should come to our conferences! Of course, some of the people who really have a chunk of power at the conferences (the speakers) are known to treat women badly, and thus might treat you badly. But I won’t tell you who they are, so you’ll just have to hope you don’t encounter them or, if you do encounter them, that they won’t treat you badly. But do come!”

I’ve been to one secular/atheist/freethinker conference, and I was treated badly by a man (not a speaker). As awful as it was, the one of the things that made it bearable was the thought that no one knew this was going to happen and that if they had, they would have acted to support me. To think that I might go through a similar experience with a speaker while knowing that other people knew what was going to happen but felt no need to warn me makes me very angry, and it makes me feel like I’m not safe to go to conferences.

It’s all well and good to advise “networking behind the scenes,” but I don’t have a fucking network, and that’s part of the reason I feel like going to conferences might be good for me. But if I have to network behind the scenes to be safe at conferences, then I have to already have what I’m looking for to be safe.

Maybe I’m being selfish about this. Maybe I’m too angry. But I’ve been abused enough in my life. I am not about to set myself up to be abused again, and it makes my eyes tear up and my throat constrict to think that going to these conferences means going to interact with people who everyone else may know is abusive but won’t warn me because I don’t have connections.

This commenter has every right to be angry. I’m angry at myself for being part of the problem – for being someone with this knowledge who has no clue what to do with it.

“Why don’t you just publish a list of names?” you ask. If only it were that easy. Imagine what would happen if I published a list of names based on hearsay alone. I don’t have video evidence. I don’t even have personal experience – people now know I’m a loud mouth blogger, which makes me a terrible target. Even though I trust my friends to be truthful, and patterns of bad behavior make the hearsay convincing, it’s an easy target for skeptics. There’d be a flood of accusations that people are lying or oversensitive.

Not only that, but I fear the consequences. Look at what happened to Rebecca Watson when she simply said “guys, don’t do that” about an anonymous conference attendee. Imagine the shitstorm if there were public accusations of sexual misconduct of some very famous speakers. I’m not ready for the flood of rape and death threats. I’m not ready to be blacklisted and have my atheist “career” ruined by people more powerful and influential than me. I’m not ready to be sued for libel or slander. I’m not ready for the SSA or other organizations I’m affiliated with to also be harmed by association. And that’s exactly how all of these other women feel – hence the silence (See Stephanie Zvan’s lovely FAQ for this situation).

It’s a terrible Catch 22.

And I frankly don’t know how to navigate this minefield. I’m a scientist by day, with atheism and feminism as my hobbies. I’m not an HR specialist. I’m out of my element.

But because of my random comment, progress is already being made. For one, I didn’t realize so many people were oblivious to these problems. I thought because I was so quickly brought into The Know, this had to be something everyone in the movement was aware of. But it wasn’t. After I made my comment, dozens of people kept asking me for the names on The List (which I didn’t give – see my previous points). I was independently approached by multiple big names at the conference who wanted to help and learn what they could do to make their conferences safer.

Stephanie Zvan has given an excellent suggestion: Our conferences need to start adopting anti-harassment policies with guidelines of how to handle harassment that are clearly known to everyone, including speakers. It’s not a cure-all, but as Stephanie says:

“The problem with speakers didn’t develop overnight, and given the difficulties in dealing with them, they’re not going to disappear overnight. However, not only does having formal policies in place help protect your guests while this is being sorted out, but they provide a means of collecting and tracking this misbehavior. It’s much simpler to push back against pressure to include a speaker with formal tracking. It’s much simpler to share information with, “We had X number of violations of policy reported to us, and we have the records to back that up,” rather than, “So-and-so did such-and-such according to some person I can’t name.””

And her blog post is already having results. Groups are pledging to adopt this policy, including American Atheists and the Secular Student Alliance (which had an anti-harassment policy last year but will make it more prominent). I encourage you to ask other major atheist and secular organizations to adopt similar policies with a link to Stephanie’s post. Because an easy first step is to put pressure on organizations to address this problem. EDIT: Freethought Festival and the Minnesota Atheist Convention have also pledged to adopt a policy.

Obviously more needs to be done. An idea that has been floated is to create a list of speakers who will not attend events unless there’s a strict anti-harassment policy with them. I would happily sign up for this list, and maybe if enough big names did as well, it would put pressure on organizations to accept.

An idea is to make conference organizers and speakers agree to not partake in sexual activity with attendees at their events. The SSA already has this policy, which I’ve received as a member of their Speakers Bureau. If you’re a conference organizer or a speaker, you are in a position of power. If you are making advances toward someone, you are abusing that position of power. Full stop. Speakers and conference organizers should not be looking to get laid at conferences because they are there in a professional setting, even if attendees are there for more entertainment reasons. Even if things seem consensual, that power differential makes things inherently unbalanced. Women are already socialized to not directly say no – it’s even more difficult to do so when power differentials are involved.

And I say this as a sex positive person. There’s a time and a place for flirtation and mating rituals, and when you’re a speaker, a con is neither the time nor place. I understand if attendees want to flirt and hook up with each other, since the event is not necessarily a professional setting for them (but please do your flirting during at the pub and not in the middle of a lecture, and please take no for an answer). But in my opinion, this just shouldn’t acceptable for speakers.

Again, this isn’t my area of expertise. What do you think we can do to deal with badly behaving big names? Is the anti-harassment policy enough? Do you like the idea of a list of speakers who want anti-harassment policies in place? What can we do to solve this problem?

The Women in Secularism conference ROCKED

In the months leading up to CFI’s Women in Secularism conference, I admit I had my worries. I was worried attendance would be low because men wouldn’t be interested. I was worried it might be the same feminist talk over and over again. I was worried that any perceived failure would be trumpeted by the sexist atheists and skeptics as proof that women just aren’t as good at speaking, don’t know anything about secularism, and don’t have issues that are relevant to secularism.

My worries were unfounded.

I can’t stress enough how wonderful I thought WIS was. It was one of the most fun, enlightening, informational, and moving conferences I’ve been to. The material was so refreshing. As Paul Fidalgo said in The Morning Heresy, “This was no egg-headed snoozer, this was no reiteration of why we like Darwin so much (not that there’s anything wrong with those).” We didn’t just repeat the 3827 arguments against God’s existence.

I want to end on a positive note, so let me briefly comment on some things that weren’t so great (other than both of my panels being at ~9am, which is cruel for a grad student from the west coast). For one thing, the audience was a little small for a speaker lineup of this calibre. Part of the overall lower turnout was due to the temporal and physical proximity of the Reason Rally and the fact that graduations and finals were going on. But part of it was the dearth of men. While it was weird and refreshing to look out at an audience that was a majority women, I wish more men would have realized these issues affect them too. The men who did come kept telling me what a great time they were having – it definitely wasn’t a women-only conference.

As for content, there were only a couple of things I didn’t like. It really bugged me how Liz Cornwell of the Richard Dawkins Foundation kept stating how genetics and evolution explain how religiosity came to be. It’s an interesting hypothesis, but she presented it as undisputed fact and didn’t cite any studies. I mean, we hardly known the genetics behind highly heritable traits like height – I know of no good evidence for the “genetics” of religion. Alas, I wasn’t on the panel and my question didn’t get picked for the Q&A, so I couldn’t ask for a clarification or citation.

My other complaint is Edwina Rogers’ lackluster talk. I should be glad that only 15 minutes of an entire conference was lackluster, but I was disappointed. I was hoping she would use those 15 minutes to give a passionate talk about her motivations to join the secular movement, focusing on women’s issues – I thought maybe she could save a little face from the weeks of botched interviews. Instead she gave a canned “Intro to the SCA” talk that I’ve seen Sean Faircloth do before. It was a 15 minute advertisement that had little do with women in secularism (other than a couple of bullet points on the end), and she basically read off the list and lacked the passion and charisma that Faircloth had. Then she rushed out to leave for another conference so there was no Q&A or even time to say hello. Bah.

But now that’s out of the way, I want to stress why I had such a blast:

1. Moving beyond Feminism 101. When I’m invited to speak at conferences, I’m often the only woman or one of few. And as our movement begins to recognize the importance of addressing diversity, sexism, and women’s issues, they usually request that I talk about it. Which I’m happy to do – I think it’s very important! But when I (or another female speaker in my boat) am giving a talk to a general audience, we often have to spend our hour on stage walking through basic concepts about feminism, sexism, and privilege. Because everyone at WIS had that same background, and because we had a whole conference instead of an hour to talk about it, we got to talk about so much more interesting stuff. It also meant the questions in the Q&A were wonderfully thoughtful, instead of the same infuriating uninformed arguments we’ve debunked 37618295 times before.

CFI will be putting the talks online (yay!). If you can’t wait until then, you can satisfy your curiosity in a number of places. The Skeptical Seeker has a great summary of the main ideas presented at WIS. If you want a more detailed summary, check out the detailed liveblogging coverage of Ashley F. Miller (123456) and Ophelia Benson (1234567). If you want a highlight of the main concepts and great one-liners, peruse through #wiscfi on twitter.

2. Discovering new role-models. It’s funny. When I talk about diversity, I always mention how there are all these wonderful female atheists out there doing wonderful things, but we’re just unaware about it because they don’t get promoted as much. Hell, I keep a list of them (that sorely needs an update, I know) precisely for that reason. And I saw that in action:

  • While I knew of Susan Jacoby, I had never seen her speak. She’s now my hero. Not only did she manage to keep us awake with the dreaded 8:30am time slot, but she was hilarious, incisive, and strong. I’ll post her talk when it’s online, since my summary can’t do it justice.
  • Bernice Sandler was wonderful, and her talk should be required listening for anyone who has to run a department, or committee, or classroom, or…hell, anyone who has to interact with groups of people. She talked about the little differences in how people treat men and women – how women are interrupted more, more likely to have their ideas attributed to others, more likely to be called a bitch instead of aggressive, etc. You can see the full list on her website. She also gave practical advice on how to counter these things, and I’ll be sure to share the video.
  • Wafa Sultan. Wow. I’ve never seen such a powerful, moving talk at any previous conference. I quickly realized my goal would be to not cry, which I promptly failed. She talked about the abuses she and her friends, family, and patients faced under Islamic rule. “Just walking early in the morning to Starbucks without being called a whore…that is freedom.” You can probably guess by now, but yeah, I’m gluing your eyeballs open and making you watch the video.

3. The stereotype-breaking. We embraced the term “promiscuous assembly.” We joked about baby eating and Jamila Bey’s “Show me on the doll where Jesus touched you” shirt. Even people with softer voices like Annie Laurie Gaylor and Margaret Downey were anything but soft-spoken – they were just as fierce critics of religion as Hitchens or Dawkins. We’re not all demure gentile ladies, or humorless killjoy feminists. We are human.

4. Meeting wonderful people. I always love seeing my atheist friends. Greta Christina, her wife Ingrid, Jamila Bey, Debbie Goddard, Ophelia Benson, Jessica Ahlquist, Ashley F. Miller, Stephanie Zvan, Brianne Bilyeu, Rebecca Watson…I wish I could have drinks and dinner with these people every week. But I also love meeting all the new people. And no, I don’t just mean hobnobbing with speakers (though I was so happy Wafa Sultan sat next to me at dinner and we got to chat a lot). I love meeting the random blog readers and Secular Student Alliance members. I feel honored getting personal feedback, but I love it even more when I meet someone who is just overjoyed about the conference in general. I met so many women who had never gotten involved in secularism before, but this conference had them hooked. “Finally!” one told me. Finally indeed.

I’m sure I’ll continue to think about wonderful things from the weekend, but I only have one more thing to say: I hope there’s a Women in Secularism 2.

Today’s example of Christian privilege: Delta Airlines

I’ve racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles with Delta, but I’m going to have to consider other airlines next time I’m booking a flight. I just don’t feel comfortable supporting a business that easily succumbs to the orders of religious bigots.

The Catholic League announced Monday that Delta Air Lines had pulled its sponsorship of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show following a boycott launched by the organization.

“I encourage everyone to choose Delta the next time they fly,” Catholic League president Bill Donohue said. “We need to support advertisers who act responsibly.”

What could the Daily Show have done that possibly justifies Delta pulling its support?

The Catholic League launched a boycott against the sponsors of the The Daily Show in April over a segment that featured “vagina mangers.” In the segment, which aired on April 16, Stewart mocked Fox News for criticizing the phrase “war on women,” even though the network promoted the phrase “war on Christmas” for years.

“What can women do to generate the same sense of outrage from Fox as” the alleged war on Christmas, Stewart asked. “Perhaps they could play into the theme. Maybe women could protect their reproductive organs from unwanted medical intrusions with vagina mangers.”

A picture of a nude women with a nativity scene ornament between her leg appeared beside Stewart, which Donohue described as an “unprecedented vulgar assault on Christians.”

Let’s back up and review this situation:

  1. A photo of a manger is photoshopped to cover a woman’s genitals
  2. This is to illustrate how Christians care more about forcing their own religion on everyone else on this country than the health and lives of women.
  3. The Catholic League responds by forcing their own religion on everyone else in this country because that’s more important than the discussion about the health and lives of women.

Leave it to Ol’ Bigot Bill Donohue to miss the point that badly. It’s not shocking – forcing Catholicism down everyone’s throats is the goal of the Catholic League. But that doesn’t mean businesses need to succumb to their will. Yet that’s the choice Delta made – to show that Christian privilege is more important than women’s health.

Donohue’s next target is Kellogg’s:

“Donohue outlined his attack strategy against Kellogg’s on the Catholic League website today: “Today, all the top management at Kellogg’s will receive a color photo of a naked woman with her legs spread and a nativity scene ornament in between. Let’s see if that jars them. Over 700 photos have been sent to leaders in Battle Creek, Michigan.”

Ah yes, the tactic of relying on misogynists being terrified of the naked female body in order to enact social change. I like it better when liberal groups do it to point out bigotry, rather than bigots using it as some sort of bigot bat signal.

Let’s hope other sponsors of the Daily Show aren’t so quick to fall to religious pressure. And make sure to let Delta (@delta on twitter) know about how you feel.

Liveblogging Abby Johnson’s “Do women have too many rights?”

(7:17pm) Well, I’m here. Tonight is Abby Johnson’s talk “Do women have too many rights?” at the University of Washington, sponsored by Students for Life of America and the Catholic Newman Center, who had this ironic poster hung outside the room:

Human rights! …unless you’re a pregnant woman.

I’ll be making updates throughout the talk, so keep refreshing!

(7:20) I’m not the only pro-choice person here. There’s an impressive amount of protesters civilly holding signs. Good job, ladies!

(7:33) On my way in I picked up the various literature they were giving away. Let’s see what goodies I got! Would you like some lies about Planned Parenthood and how contraception works?

Or maybe the terrifying thought that med students are supporting these unscientific claims:

(7:37) I kept ruffling through my various flyers. I was pre-raging when I saw the words “scientific truth,” expecting to read a pile of the typical anti-abortion garbage that parades behind the word “science.” I was pleasantly surprised…the protesters managed to hand out flyers with actual science on it! Wooooooo! Good job, ladies!

(7:39) The presidents of both student groups just said their names, which caused about a minute of crazy cheering and booing. Oh dear, this is going to be interesting.

(7:40) A police officer just confiscated plastic coat hangers from the people sitting behind me. I feel so much safer now.

(7:42) Some of the feminists behind me keep shouting out and booing loudly to drown out the speaker, and they need to stfu. Let the ignorance speak for itself. You’re coming off as intolerant douchebags.

Abby just got announced (I think, I could barely hear). Standing ovation helped locate where all the pro-lifers are in the room.

(7:45) Well, I’d live blog what Abby is saying, except I can’t hear what she’s saying, and she can’t talk because feminists keep screaming over her. Come on, guys. You sound like brats. This isn’t “freedom of speech” to shout down an invited speaker. Ugh.

(7:46) Abby says supporting Planned Parenthood is “uninformed choice”, and that she hopes there are no male pro-choicers in the audience because pro-choicers don’t want them to have an opinion.

(7:48) She just said pro-choicers want women “to be bought and sold for sex.”

(7:51) Abby said Planned Parenthood is in it to make money. Someone from the audience shouts that they bet she makes a lot of money speaking doing this, and agrees…then adds that she made a lot more money when she was at Planned Parenthood “coercing young girls and killing children.”

(7:53) Abby says that Planned Parenthood has an abortion quota, and they fire people if they don’t meet a monthly quota. Someone shouted “Citation needed!” She responded “I don’t know why they want a citation, because according to them, abortion should be everywhere. Everyone here should be having an abortion.” …I have no idea what that has to do with citations.

(7:55) Abby questions why Planned Parenthood wants every clinic to eventually offer abortion services if they claim to want to reduce unintended pregnancies. “Not about the health of the women. They’re not about keeping women safe. They’re about abortion. They’re about making money. They are not about unintended pregnancies.” Even though, you know, only 3% of PP services are abortion related.

(7:57) Someone just made an announcement that the police were going to start removing people if they keep being disruptive. She couldn’t even get through the announcement without people screaming to drown her out. Abby says she’ll say something that will make sure to upset the pro-choicers so they’ll get kicked out.

(8:02) Photos of the audience. Room is packed. Police officer is looming in the back where all the noisy pro-choicers are.

(8:06) Abby is telling her story about watching an abortion performed over an ultrasound, and how the baby tried to flee and move away from the abortion instrument. Even though this has been shown to be a complete fabrication. There was no ultra sound guided abortion performed that day where she worked.

(8:08) “If we saw a two year old in the parking lot and saw a man beating her to death, what would we do? We’d stop them from harming this child.” Yes, a two year old is totally equivalent to a couple week old embryo  ಠ_ಠ “People justify their own hurt by the killing of an innocent.”

(8:13) The most disruptive woman just got escorted out by the police. She started shouting “Women’s rights are under attack, what do you do?” and people replied “Stand up, fight back!”

“I know here in the state of Washington you feel discouraged because you’re in the minority. But know you’re not alone. The majority of this country sides with you when it comes to the sanctity of human life.” Blah blah blah circle jerk, claps from the pro-lifers. “Their anger comes from hurt.”

(8:15) “They’re only tolerant of your point of view.” I’m sorry, I am intolerant. I’m intolerant of people taking control over women’s bodies because some sky daddy told them to. I’m intolerant of someone resulting in the death of women because “awwww, a baby duurrr.” This is a more complicated ethical issue than any anti-choicer will admit.

(8:17) “I don’t believe women have too many rights. I believe women don’t have enough rights in this country.” Well, I’m glad you titled in your talk in such a trolltastic way. “They don’t believe in choice, they believe in abortion. They don’t believe in a woman’s right to choose, they believe in a woman’s right to have an abortion.”

(8:23) Holy crap I don’t know what just happened. Some officer just tackled a woman in the back with general chaos. More people are getting escorted out.

(8:24) “The truth is the truth. If we weren’t speaking the truth in the pro-life moment, THEY wouldn’t be here!” I think that’s a logical fallacy…

(8:27) “The truth is scary and is often offensive. Never be scared to offend someone with the truth.” Oddly I agree with that. Except that, you know, pro-lifers don’t generally present the truth.

Annnddd they just ended the talk with no Q&A because the pro-choicers are so loud and disruptive. Good job, guys *facepalm*

The pro-choicers behind me are loudly chanting “Pro-life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die.” I’m sure they’re changing lots of minds  ಠ_ಠ  This was such a shitshow.

(8:32) You know, I was totally expecting to be in a frothy rage at the end of this talk. But I’m just vaguely confused. And hungry.

Look, I consider myself a firebrand. I don’t mince words or hold back. But the people screaming in the back weren’t firebrands…they were obnoxious and accomplished nothing. Did screaming the whole time change any minds? I wish she would have been able to give her dumb talk, then people could have asked her damning questions during the Q&A. But instead it just turned into a giant clusterfuck. I’m actually more angry at the pro-choicers than Abby right now. Blargh.

I’m going to go grab dinner. Goodnight!

When abortion is the more ethical choice

The other day I posted on Facebook, “Is abortion ever the MORE ethical choice over giving birth?” I left it at that. I didn’t want to explain why I was asking the question or what my views were because I was curious how my friends would reply. Here are some of the answers I received (with permission to share):

Beth Presswood (Godless Bitches Podcast):

“Certainly, especially in cases of extreme disabilities.”

Joel Klinepeter:

“Tay Sachs, Bringing a child into the world for no more than a couple weeks of abject agony is deeply immoral. Aborting a child with Tay Sachs is absolutely more moral than giving birth to one.”

Anonymous:

“Trisomy 18, anyone?”

Julie Lada (My DVM Vacation):

“In my opinion, wiping out a non-sentient bundle of cells rather than forcing a rape victim to undergo months of further psychological trauma during pregnancy and giving birth, no to mention her mental state afterward whatever decision she makes regarding adoption, is pretty fucking ethical.”

Nick Wallin:

“With population as high as it is, an ethical case can be made for any abortion. (This is, of course, if the woman wants said abortion.)”

Anonymous:

‎”(w/o reading previous comments) one possibility is if you have strong reason to believe you’ll be a terrible parent (you’re an alcoholic, say), and adoption options aren’t practically available.”

Sarah Moglia (Twitter):

“Mother’s life in danger, child’s life in danger, can’t financially provide for a child, trying to make sure you can support your other children (both financially and emotionally).”

Ashley F. Miller (Blog):

“In my opinion, any time a woman does not want to go through a pregnancy, forced birth is less ethical than an abortion. That is psychological and physical torture that will likely leave wounds for life”

Anonymous:

“A friend of mine was going through chemotherapy for brain tumors. She got pregnant by her husband, a complete freak accident (the pregnancy, not her husband). Doctors said that the baby would not survive the chemo, and the pregnancy hormones would boost the tumors’ growth. Her husband, her family, and her friends all think she made the right choice by aborting. Besides, she didn’t want to leave her 2-year-old without a mother, or her husband without a wife. I’d say that’s ethical. :)”

So, why did I make that update? I wasn’t looking to be convinced – I already thought there are many, many situations where abortion is the more ethical choice over giving birth. But I never see abortion framed in terms of being “more ethical.” I always see it described as this necessary evil that we all have to feel sad and guilty about.  That the choice must be a terrible struggle only allowable when followed by a certain amount of weeping and self-destruction as penance. We never talk about women who decided to give birth in those situations as making the less ethical choice. Birth is by default seen as morally superior and self sacrificing, when there are a number of situation where it is actually the unethical choice.

I obviously still think women have the right to choose either way. Forcing a woman to give birth or get an abortion against her will is so unethical it trumps the other arguments about ethics, at least in my mind. But I hate whenever I find a thread in 2XC where a woman says “I don’t feel guilty about my abortion…is something wrong with me?” No, nothing is wrong with you…something is wrong with our culture.