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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Act Up for Women’s Health, Choice Nation, Run Riot!

I’m sure you’ve already read about Virginia state senator Janet Howell, who brilliantly proposed an amendment to an intrusive paternalistic anti-women’s health bill that would require women to pay for an impertinent, costly ultrasound before they can have an abortion, requiring that men undergo a rectal exam before they can be prescribed medication for erectile dysfunction. Although this medically unwelcome and likely humiliating procedure was offered up as a direct analogy to the ultrasound, the truth is that for a non-negligible number of the men in question a rectal exam would prove an unexpected remedy to their erectile dysfunction (believe me, boys, just relax, you might just find it’s awesome).

I don’t have anything to say about Howell’s most excellent and righteous proposal that a million other people who happen not to be patriarchal pricks in a full froth of hysterical sex panic aren't also saying, I'm sure. But I will add that there is something about the way Howell’s proposal viscerally dramatizes both the hypocrisy and costs of sexist and anti-choice politics that reminds me of the sorts of dramatic queer politics Queer Nationals and ACT UP and Riot Grrrls engaged in for nearly a decade, from roughly 1988 to 1997, and which energized educated queer activists built on in powerful coalitions online and on the ground with representatives and popular culture figures over the next decade or so, culminating soon enough in the end of DADT, anti-discrimination statutes, gay marriage initiatives... and I believe this is very much to the good. (By the way, I say this as an anti-militarist queer who disapproves of marriage and who is pleased that my critiques of patriarchal heteronormativity are now voiced from a position of righteous refusal rather than of marginal exclusion.)

I believe that the politics of choice have everything to gain from the absolutely vindicated strategies of parodic spectacular radicalism that have brought queer folks unprecedented equality in a breathtakingly short time in the United States (opposition to the racist War On (some) Drugs might also benefit from reflection of the tactics and strategies of millennial queer activism). I think that women and girls who have had abortions should come out loud and proud and en masse, I believe that the wives, daughters, and girlfriends of rich and powerful anti-choice figures should be outed as hypocrites when they make recourse to healthcare they would deny others, I believe that those conservatives who are both anti-choice and pro-capital punishment should be forced to say in public places that they believe rape victims and health care providers should be executed as murderers, and the arrant madness of their positions exposed to the glare of scrutiny. For far too long a bland faith in the availability of abortion coupled with a nervous distaste for the topic has provided a smoke screen behind which this nation has drifted via a thousand small regulations and cultural pressures into a nation in which a perfectly legal and absolutely necessary medical procedure has become disastrously de facto unavailable to millions of the poorest and most vulnerable through the efforts of the most ignorant, hypocritical, hateful zealots imaginable.

It’s time to stop pretending that anti-sex anti-women bigots and psychotics could care less that abortion rates factually decline when women have access to contraception, education, and healthcare or that pregnancy is an inherently risky process taking place in their own bodies over which women have the competence and right to consider on their own terms and in private consultation with their doctors. It’s time to stop letting the war-loving, gun-loving, execution-loving, child-poverty loving, insurance-profiteer loving death dealers get away with declaring themselves a Party of Life.

Fuck them! Keep Your Laws Off Our Bodies! Act Up! Fight Back! Out of the Back Alley and Into the Streets!


jollyspaniard said...

I suspect that things like this are done primarily to piss off progressives more than anything else. They don't really believe their own rhetoric.

Dale Carrico said...

Given the levels of organized violence and harassment women's health clinics and abortion providers and women seeking family planning services face -- and given the extent of the circumscription of women's health services in states where wingnuts prevail -- it would seem to me that the anti-choice Death Eaters have gone well beyond "piss off progressives" level. Given the race and hysterics I have seen from so many of these "love the fetus, hate the child" foot soldiers I must say that they don't seem exactly hypocritical about their rhetoric, even if there is certainly something, er, symptomatic going on in a lot of them. But all this seems all the more reason to test-drive rad-queer tactics on them, inasmuch as outing and kiss-ins and boycotts and so on effectively targeted comparably knotty irrationalisms.