Unapologetic progressive. Fearless activist. Plucky liberal.

Posts tagged ‘sexism’

Talking with Planned Parenthood and Right to Life

Last week I was at the county fair, where Planned Parenthood had a booth the next aisle over from Right to Life (Right to Life, coincidentally or not, was right next to the Republican Party booth). I stopped by Planned Parenthood first, to express my support and sign up to be a volunteer. We chatted a little bit about the current legal battle going on (a federal judge issued an injunction against Indiana trying to defund PP), I told them to keep up the good work, then I walked around to Right to Life. I had picked up a handout earlier in the week that listed alternatives to the local Planned Parenthood. However, none of the three listed “birth control” or “sexually transmitted infection testing” under “services provided.” I was 90% sure that was because none of the clinics offered birth control, but I wanted to double-check, so I asked the women staffing the booth.

First, the women didn’t recognize the handout as theirs, which should have tipped me off that the following discussion wouldn’t be very productive. My question tipped off a 10-minute conversation, which I knew wasn’t going to change any minds, but, as I’ve mentioned before about writing my representatives, sometimes I just have to go on record to let people know I disagree with them. Not only didn’t the women know they offered that handout, they had never heard of the Hyde amendment, believed Right to Life’s statistics over Planned Parenthood’s, said unmarried women shouldn’t be having sex and no women should use birth control (if you’re married and don’t want kids you have to either abstain or use natural family planning). They said abortion is murder and it doesn’t matter that the law says abortion isn’t murder. They said the fact my mother’s and father’s DNA created me wasn’t biology but “a miracle” from God. They didn’t believe a woman who faces the awful choice of having to abort a fetus to survive should ever choose to survive but should let God decide what happens because it’s all his plan. They couldn’t believe I was an informed citizen and not a Planned Parenthood spy. I said I’d stopped by the PP booth but wasn’t affiliated with them. A couple of times the older woman said I should go back to the PP booth, although she seemed to think they had brainwashed me, so I’m not sure why she wanted me to go back. To get more facts to confuse her with?

They asked if I believed in abortion across the board, and I said yes. (That was the first time the older woman said she’d pray for me. To her credit, the younger woman never said that.) They kind of reeled back like I had slapped them. That made the conversation worth it, just so they would know there are people in their community who believe the complete opposite of what they believe. The woman also said she’d pray for me as I walked away.

The conversation was both frustrating and reassuring. Frustrating, because these are the types of people making laws regulating what women can do with their bodies. Reassuring, because they have absolutely no facts or logic on their side. Everything they said was from a faith-based perspective, when we should be using science-based perspectives to craft our laws.

This was the first time I talked with anti-choice people about abortion in-depth in real life. I’ve had “debates” with people on Twitter, and certainly some of my friends and family are anti-choice, but we never discuss abortion. I know the two women from Right to Life don’t represent the entire anti-choice movement, but all the same our talk was educational.


On the difference between Good Dogs and Dogs That Need a Newspaper Smack. (via Sindelókë)

This is probably the best explanation of privilege I’ve ever read. All I can say is read it and absorb it.

Today I’m feeling 101-y, I guess, so let’s talk about privilege. It’s a weird word, isn’t it? A common one in my circles, it’s one of the most basic, everyday concepts in social activism, we have lots of unhelpful snarky little phrases we like to use like “check your privilege” and a lot of our dialog conventions are built around a mutual agreement (or at least a mutual attempt at agreement) on who has privilege when and how to compensate for tha … Read More

via Sindelókë

Offensive diamond ads

Seen on a billboard on I-80: “Buy a diamond. That’ll shut her up.”

It’s hard to express how much this grates on me. It wasn’t for a company that I had heard of, but it makes me not want to buy a diamond—ever. The idea that a woman needs to be “shut up” and that a diamond is just the thing to do it is incredibly sexist. Apparently there are similar ads for diamond jewelers that say “Maker her speechless. For a change.” Again it relies on a tired stereotype of women as motormouths who don’t know when to be quiet.

Jewelers just aren’t very creative when it comes to making up new ads. I saw this on a billboard a week after I saw the first one: “She’s lying. She does want a bigger diamond.” Not only is this offensive to women, implying they don’t know their own minds, like the other ad, it also puts men in the position of being the purchasers. As if women don’t buy diamonds? I bought a substanial amount of jewelry for Christmas presents this season. But the jewelers who advertise in such a sexist way can rest assured I won’t be giving them business anytime soon.

I found the website for the jeweler who thinks women lie about wanting a bigger diamond, and I e-mailed them about how offensive I find it. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

Men and shopping

In case you were wondering, this is what sexism looks like when it’s directed at men: Men and their holiday shopping battle. It reinforces all of those stereotypes about men who have no idea what to give their wives/girlfriends unless explicitly told by those same wives/girlfriends or helped by a sales clerk. (For a story written in New York, it’s also awfully heterocentric. Where are all the men buying for their boyfriends/husbands? Or are gay men just automatically assumed to be amazing shoppers?)

I know men whose wives leave the shopping to them because they enjoy it and are always looking for a bargain. I know men who give lovely gifts without any instruction at all. I also know women (myself included) who are like the men in the article: especially this time of year, I get in, buy and get out.

So it’s tiring to see these same stories year after year: men who are clueless about what to buy their families, women who have a gift picked out for everyone on their list. Why can’t reporters just write stories about shoppers they happen to come across instead of starting from one preconceived idea? I’d find it refreshing to read about a young woman struggling to buy for her girlfriend, or a boy who needs to find something for his dad, or a man who has the perfect present in mind for his grandmother. That would be a lot more interesting than the stories that usually come out this time of year.