Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Off-the-rails Virginia right-wingers ratchet up the Republican War on Women


"Virginia is for thugs and fugitive mental patients!"
(proposed slogan for new state tourism campaign)

"Imagine that a State were to enact a law that requires men to undergo an invasive rectal probing and prostate exam, for no medical reason, before obtaining a prescription for Viagra or undergoing a vasectomy. Such a law is unthinkable, because our public policies are responsive to the priorities and sensibilities of men. Protecting the basic dignity of women requires greater vigilance."
-- Tobias Barrington Wolff, in "The Republican War on Women: Invading the Vagina in Virginia," on HuffPost Politics

by Ken

Just last night Howie wrote about "The Republican Hatred for Women," focusing on the right-wing holy war against the female half of the population as it's being waged at the federal level. "I could never really understand how a political party could be so stupid as to pick a fight with a whole gender," he wrote. "I mean, like half the population." With an assist from Cory Robin's The Reactionary Mind, he concludes that "conservatives just can't help themselves," but wonders about the savvy of the GOP's consultant class in not acting to put the brakes on this surely self-imploding ideological bender.

I'm not so sure. If there's one thing we've learned about 21st-century American politics, it's that the price to be paid for promulgating evil, ignorance, and hate is uncertain at best, and barely measurable at worst. Then consider the components of the Coalition to Screw Women (in the Bad Way)

* conservatively minded men who believe, often as a matter of deep religious conviction, and often across party lines, that God's plan for the sanctity of women is to keep them barefoot and pregnant, and to make sure the goddamn bitches get the crap beaten out of them if they get uppity (or, to be honest, even they don't get uppity -- psychological abuse is all very well in its way, but it doesn't take the place of the physical kind);

* conservatively minded women who believe the same thing;

* not necessarily all that conservatively minded men who may or may not agree but at minimum don't disagree strongly as to override their mortal terror of the Fire and Brimstone Brigade of the Right-Wing Noise Machine.

This certainly proved a winning formula in the tumultuous 111th Congress, and in 2010 voters, far from inflicting punishment, voted in a whole slew of new spiritual and physical woman-bashers, turning an entire house of Congress over to them. And if the 111th Congress's assault on women's rights was horrible to watch, what can we say about the 112th? As Howie noted, it's a little harder in the Senate, where some Republican women (i.e., the Maine girls, Olympia Snowe and Suzie Collins) may -- and I emphasize "may" -- put their feet down if the right-wing anti-woman crusaders push too hard. (As he also pointed out, though, those famously "moderate" New Hampshire voters were kind enough to bestow upon the Senate a woman, Kelly Ayotte, whose attitude toward right-wing mysogyny is apparently, "Bring it on!"

The situation is probably even worse at the state level, where voters provoked by both economic terrors and the Democrats' general failure at all levels to offer a clear alternative to right-wing thuggery, countless legislatures have in the last couple of years been turned over to savage political primitives. Which brings us to Virginia, where weaselly Democrats succeeded in allowing one of the more primitive state Republican parties to wrest control of the state Senate by means of a 20-20 deadlock and a GOP lieutenant governor.

And while the state's governor, Bob McDonnell, manages to put on a face of ideological reasonableness, made especially easy by contrast with the certifiably insane and loathsome attorney general, "Cuckoo Ken" Cuccinelli, also elected in 2009, Governor Bob has a long history of ideological extremity and hasn't shown much interest in countering the forces of darkness roiling in his party. And so we now have, courtesy of HuffPost Politics:

The Republican Party has declared war on the dignity of women. This war on women is emerging as a centerpiece of the Republicans' 2012 election strategy. Around the country, women are being told that they should feel shame about their bodies, their sexuality, and the choices that they make as adults. The latest assault is taking place in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the invasion of women's bodies is so literal that it would qualify as farce if it were not chilling reality.

The Virginia legislature has passed a bill that will force women seeking an abortion to undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound. The mandated procedure requires that a woman's vagina be distended with a speculum and that a probe be inserted into the vagina and manipulated around so as to produce a high-resolution picture of the uterus and surrounding organs -- once again, for no medically sound reason. Governor Bob McDonnell has said that he will sign the bill. As part of the same package, the legislature also enacted a "personhood" law that would define life to begin at the stage of a fertilized egg, even before implantation, and hence would outlaw many forms of contraception and all abortions.

The Republican Party of Virginia showed no apparent irony in enacting this vaginal invasion bill on Valentine's Day. This, apparently, is what was on their minds.

"Every person who has a body should view this law as a direct assault," Tobias writes. "So, too, should every person who believes that women are human beings."
Take a moment. Try to envision the mindset of a legislator who would enact a bill the sole purpose of which is to mandate the forcible, medically unnecessary invasion of a woman's vagina as the price -- the attempt at forced shame -- for terminating a pregnancy. Whatever a person's views on abortion might be, this is an assault of a different order. It is one thing to believe that abortion should be restricted; it is quite another to use the law to impose humiliation and invasion upon women who seek out the procedure. A person cannot enact such a law without embracing a willful disregard for the personhood and dignity of all women.

And then he invites the reader to imagine the hypothetical situation I've extracted at the top of this post: What would happen if something like this were enacted to the humiliation and punishment of men? As he notes, it really isn't possible to imagine.

Yes, Tobias acknowledges, "there were women among the Virginia Republicans who enacted this appalling legislation. Sometimes members of a group disregard each other's personhood and dignity -- a cautionary tale for us all."
The rights of women are under systematic assault -- in Virginia, in states around the country that have enacted similar draconian laws, and in the hysterical Republican response to the suggestion that women's contraceptive care should be included in their health insurance coverage. Simply put, the Republican Party has declared war on women. If Virginia can enact laws that invade a woman's vagina in this fashion, then there is no limit to the indignity that can be directed at "unworthy" or "undeserving" people -- the category that Virginia Republicans obviously consider women who seek abortions to occupy. If we allow this attack to go unchallenged, then who will be next?

The Republican war on women stops here, and it stops now.

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At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They do this because we have gutless Democrats. Has anybody from Congress, Senate or White House ever spoken about this thing in Virginia. If it was the other way around, Lets say they legalize something the whole FOX DC republicans would be up in arms. This is the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans fight but democrats are sissies..

At 8:42 AM, Blogger John said...

Worse than sissies. As them filthy hippies so elegantly put it: if you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

And that's in trump for Mr Obumma, chronic appeaser of these jerkwads on the national scale.

John Puma

At 2:20 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Commenters, I couldn't agree more.


At 3:25 PM, Blogger blogger said...

Nebraska attorney general Jon Bruning leads Twelve attorneys general threaten to sue over contraception mandate

At 5:23 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Well, isn't that special?



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