Eggs and Chicken and Abortion

(thanks to Dead Wild Roses

from Decisions and Dissents of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – quotes and notes

When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?

Her answer: When there are nine.

“[L]egal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures … center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature …” Gonzales v. Carhart

[She wasn’t pleased with the argument of Roe v Wage b/c it focused on privacy instead of autonomy]

“[T]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives …” Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey

Put that way, rape should be mentioned as well as access to contraception and abortion (though it’s irrelevant to the case, I get that).

“The Court’s hostility to the right Roe and Casey secured is not concealed.  Throughout, the opinion refers to obstetrician-gynecologists and surgeons who perform abortions not by the titles of their medical specialties, but by the pejorative label ‘abortion doctor’.  A fetus is described as an ‘unborn child’ and a as a ‘baby’, second-trimester, previability abortions are referred to as ‘late-term’ and the reasons medical judgments of highly trained doctors are dismissed as ‘preferences’ motivated by ‘mere convenience’.” Gonzales v. Carhart

Indeed.  The power of words.  The importance of word choices.

“The pedestal upon which women have been placed has all too often, upon closer inspection, been revealed as a cage.”  Reed v. Reed

I like that.  Well-put.

“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity.  … When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.  Abortion prohibition by the State … controls women and denies them full autonomy and full equality with men.” Ginsburg at her Senate Confirmation Hearing, July 21, 1993

Love it.

Wendy Murphy on Equal Treatment vs Equal Rights

sexual assault in the military

from “Dishonorable Behavior” Elizabeth D. Samet

Some good bits:

“Among the linguistic tics cadets most quickly acquire is the use of the noun female in lieu of woman. They see it in formal briefings and official documents, and they hear it in everyday conversation. Woman is by far the more usual choice in civilian culture, where female has at best a biological or zoological connotation and at worst a pejorative one. Yet female is ubiquitous in military culture. (The use of male as a noun is by no means commensurate.)”

“To my ear,  female carries a pejorative air in this setting, yet its speakers don’t seem to hear the same thing. They’ve already been conditioned. Clinical, technical, bureaucratic—female ends up making a woman sound less like an individual human being and more like a participant in a laboratory experiment. “

“…the rationale behind the application of an unambiguously restrictive term to women and men alike. It is as if the authors could not even conceive of appropriate conduct that wasn’t also, at bottom, the conduct of a gentleman, the conduct of a man.”

“The use of women and their reputations as a medium of exchange in a masculine commerce of honor has a long lineage. “

The Onion on condoms

Be sure to look at both slides, 6 then 7:

On rape and being drunk

So I watched “The Assault” (on peacock) last night … about a cheerleader who gets raped by the team … sigh … but there was something that really made me stop and think.  (Always a good thing.)

They claimed she consented, she was drunk/unconscious so even if she had consented, it would be considered invalid because when drunk, you’re incapable of consent.  All good.  (Well, sort of.  I think it’s more complicated than that: as I argued in my Master’s thesis 30 years ago, I think consent is best conceptualized as continuum …) 

But then one of the boys said “I was drunk too!  Doesn’t that matter?”  Fair enough.  If we absolve the girl of responsibility for her behavior because she was drunk, shouldn’t we also absolve the boy of responsibility for his behavior because he was drunk?

But then I thought, hang on, if a man sets my house on fire when he’s drunk, he should still be held responsible.  If a man beats me up and breaks my jaw when he’s drunk, he should still be responsible.  If that’s what you do when you get drunk, don’t get drunk.

But no, wait, there’s an important difference: sex, unlike a house on fire and a broken jaw, is something one does, reasonably, consent to from time to time.

So, okay, solution: he should have to prove she consented.  He’s the agent, the one who did something, so the onus on him is to prove it was acceptable.  This should apply in non-drunk cases as well, I might add.  The default should be ‘non-consent’–so he has to prove she said yes rather than, as is the case, she has to prove she said no. 

(And it’s a reasonable default: with any given man, most women would not consent to sex.  That is to say, most women want to have sex with far less than over 50% of men.  Measured another way, that would include even partners, at any given moment, most women would not consent to sex.  That is to say, most of the time, a woman isn’t interested in having sex.  We might want to adjust the average for women at a certain age, as sexual desire does change over one’s life time, but still.  A reasonable default, I think.)

But, what if the woman was the agent?  What if she climbed on top, engulfed, then rode him?  And both were drunk.  Can she still claim rape?

So, back to the beginning, in addition to being drunk, does she need proof that she was not the agent?

Men’s Studies Modified, Dale Spender, ed. (1981) – quotes and notes

“Adrienne Rich (1979) [commented that] objectivity is the name we give to male subjectivity.” Introduction, p5

“Anna Bexall (1980) [ has suggested that] males have a great emotional investment in objectivity.”  Introduction, p5

“… the ways we have been ‘protected’ from obscenity, yet made the object of much of it.” from “A Thief in the House: Women and Language,” Mercilee M. Jenkins and Cheris Kramarae, p11

“For those of us who studied literature, a previously unspoken sense of exclusion from authorship, and a painfully personal distress at discoverin whores, bitches, muses, and heroines dead in childbirth where we had once hoped to discover ourselves …” from “Dancing Through the Mine-Field: some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism,” Annett Kolodny, p24

And almost 50 years later, that’s still all we see on tv, in movies, in video games.

“… what we are asking be scrutinized are othing less than shared cultural assumptions so deeply rooted and so long ingrained that, for the most part, our critical colleagues have ceased to recognize them as such.” from “Dancing Through the Mine-Field: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism,” Annett Kolodny, p29

What’s that thing about fish not knowing they live in water?

“It is,after all, an imposition of high order to ask the viewer to attend to Ophelia’s sufferings in a scene where, before, he’d always so comfortably kept his eye fixed firmly on Hamlet.”  from “Dancing Through the Mine-Field: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism,” Annett Kolodny, p29

Read chris wind’s Soliloquies: the lady doth indeed protest.

“‘If Kate Chopin were really worth reading’, an Oxford-trained colleague once assured me, ‘she’d have lasted—like Shakespeare’; and he then proceeded to vote against the English Department’s crediting a Women’s Studies seminar I was offering in American women writers.”  from “Dancing Through the Mine-Field: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism,” Annett Kolodny, p30

Clueless.  Utterly clueless.

“We know from women’s autobiographies that most men kept back a portion of their wage, no matter how small, for the sake of ‘self-respect’, even though no such sum was either expected or given to women …” from “Women, Lost and Found: The Impact of Feminism on History,” Jane Lewis, p56

“[M]ale dominance is used to perpetuate male dominance …,” from “Education: The Patriarchal Paradigm and the Response to Feminism,” Dale Spender, p157

Posters, mugs, tshirts …

“Allowing females access but preserving the male ethos and definitions has been one way of ‘accommodating’ women without required modification from males” from “Education: The Patriarchal Paradigm and the Response to Feminism,” Dale Spender, p161

“[M]ost researchers do not even think it necessary to give reasons for excluding women.” from “Education: The Patriarchal Paradigm and the Response to Feminism,” Dale Spender, p163

“[M]any researchers have expressed surprise and bewilderment when they have ‘encountered’ women in their research and found the behavior of women inconsistent with or contrary to male predictions.”  from “Education: The Patriarchal Paradigm and the Response to Feminism,” Dale Spender, p163

Clueless.  So utterly clueless.

“A major debate has centred on whether law required moral content, but since the basic tenet of positism holds that law is the expression of the will of the soverign, that is, of those in power, the answer has been negative.” from ”Before and After: The Impact of Feminism on the Academic Discipline of Law,” Katherine O’Donovan, p177


“Bentham, the revered founder of this school of thought, justified the allocation of power and superior legal rights to men on the pragmatic ground that they already had physical power …” from ”Before and After: The Impact of Feminism on the Academic Discipline of Law,” Katherine O’Donovan, p177

And so it should be just the opposite (since men have the advantage of physical power, give to women the superior legal rights), to balance, to compensate.

“In her analysis of the marriage contract, Lenore Weitzman has shown that the marriage contract is unlike any other.  Its provisions are unwritten, its penalties are unspecified, its terms are unclear and the parties cannot either write their own terms or vary the existing terms.”  from ”Before and After: The Impact of Feminism on the Academic Discipline of Law,” Katherine O’Donovan, p180

Yes indeed.  I discovered this when I tried to find a copy of the marriage contract.   Discovered that you can only find out the terms of the marriage contract by studying divorce law.  (When you find out what’s considered a violation, you understand what’s considered a contractual obligation.)

“Turning to studies of our own species, is it an accident that scientists have been primarily interested in exploring contraceptive techniques that tamper with the female reproductive system, following the curious logic that because ‘fertility in women depends upon so many finely balanced factors … it should be easy to interfere with the process at many different stages …?’  Would it not be more sensible to conclude that it is more difficult and riskier to tamper with a woman’s reproductive system than a man’s because the eoman’s sstem is made up of ‘so many finely balanced factors?’ from “The Emperor doesn’t Wear any Clothes: The Impact of Feminism on Biology” Ruth Hubbard, p214 (the quotes are from Clive Wood, 1969)

“In it [a ‘matriarchal’ account of human reproduction by Ruth Herschberger in her 1948 Adam’s Rib], the large, competent egg plays the central role and we can feel only pity for the many millions of miniscule, fragile sperm most of which are too feeble to make it a fertilization.”  from “The Emperor doesn’t Wear any Clothes: The Impact of Feminism on Biology” Ruth Hubbard, p229

“In her life time, an average woman produces about four hundred eggs, of which in present-day Western countries, she will ‘invest’ only in about 2.2.  Meanwhile the average man generates several billions of sperms to secure those same 2.2 investments!”  from “The Emperor doesn’t Wear any Clothes: The Impact of Feminism on Biology” Ruth Hubbard, p229

How can we explain this?

Most (if several is just 3 billion, that would be .00000007% ) of the sperms a man creates are losers.

Men are by nature wasteful.

[Other amusing possibilities?]

“Clapping for your own erasure”

Great video. Watch to the end, as Irene Brit expresses the situation so … succinctly.

from Amazons, Bluestockings and Crones: a feminist dictionary, a woman’s companion to words and ideas, by Cheris Kramarae and Paula A. Treichler

A hefty book of over 500 pages of entries, but worth, at the very least, a skim through for words of interest to you.  Here are a few that I love:

Academia: a hierarchy whose “purpose is the production of prestige”  (Jo Freeman, 1979)

Acknowledgements: … where authors acknowledged the ideas and intellectual contributions of males and the clerical and editorial assistance of females and where men thanked their wives for critically reading their manuscripts without asking for co-authorship.

Adam: History’s first nonfunctioning head of household (Midge Lennert and Norma Willson, 1973)

Chivalry: In 1694, Mary Astell called chivalry a praise of women’s incompetence and ignorance …

Flattery; Words of praise commonly given to women in substitution of money and occupational status.

Jockocratic Society: “In a jockocratic society, you can turn on the TV and find out the score of some basketball game in Alaska—but you can’t find out how many states have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment.  You can turn on the radio, and hear every score in the country repeated all day long—but you don’t hear how many women died from illegal abortions.” (Florynce Kennedy, quoted in Gloria Steinem, 1973)

Love: Andrea Dworkin defines romantic love as the “mythic celebration of female negation…” (1976)

Marriage: [too long to retype, but I found them online:]

Maternal Instinct: Concept invented by males “to ensure that we would [assume] full responsibility for children per se …”

Men’s Studies: “The academic curriculum.” (Dale Spender, 1981)

Militance: “they call us militants, but General Westmoreland, General Abrams, General Motors and General Dynamics—they’re the real militants.  We don’t even have a helicopter.” (Florynce R. Kennedy, quoted in Gloria Steinem, 1973). 

Parenthood: A condition which often brings dramatic changes to new mothers—”loss of job, income, and status; severing of networks and social contacts; and adjustments oto being a ‘housewife’.  Most new fathers do not report similar social dislocations.  (Lorna McKee and Margaret O’Brien, 1983).

Politics: “A male invention that emphasizes conflict and confrontation.” (Tom Peterson, 1984)

Reproduction: “It is noticeable that those who urge women to breed are men, or imperialistically-minded women, to whom consciously or unconsciously more babies are but material in the great game of personal or national aggrandizement.” (B. Liber, 1919)

“Women are not oppressed because of the biological fact of reproduction, but are oppressed by men who define this reproductive capacity as a function.  ‘The truth is that childbearing isn’t the function of women.  The function of childbearing is the function of en oppressing women.'” (Ti Grace Atkinson, 1974)

Waitressing: A physically and mentally difficult restaurant job in which women facilitate the decisions of men.” (Susan Wood, 1979)

War: A sense brutality that causes many men to “forswear their culture, thei humanity, their intellectual efforts, their fruitful labours, to wallow in the joys of regimentation, brainlessness, the abandonment of the will, the primitive delights of destruction.”  H. M. Swanwick, 1935)

             “What connection is there between the sartorial splendours of the educated an and the photograph of ruined houses and dead bodies?” )Virginia woolf, 1938)

Welfare Queens: Women who through persistence and ingenuity have learned to operate efficiently within the welfare system and are therefore often assumed to be ‘cheating’ it.  “There’s lots of discussions of welfare queens.  No juicy word for businessmen who cheat the government of thousands of dollars.”  (Julia Lesage, 1982)

Woman: “If you are willing to grant that language and literature are important, why is it irrelevant to you that wimmin are called ‘girls’ until we die?  Wy is it irrelevant that female address terms (Miss, Mrs.) serve to indicate whether or not a woman is sexually available (on the market’) while the male Mr. does not?”  (Julia Penelope 1978)

Women and Work: “As if women who worked were the exceptions!”  R. J. 1884

A Law of Her Own: The Reasonable Woman as a Measure of Man, Caroline A. Forell and Donna M. Matthews

Well worth the read.  Some quotes and notes …

“Because law is based on male experience, it ‘understands’ men.  Thus, courts apply male values to conclude that sexual and sexist workplace conduct is merely annoying, that fear of a stalker is unjustified, and that sex against a woman’s will is seduction.” (p3)

“Men’s physiology defines most sports, their needs define auto and health insurance coverage, their socially designed biographies define workplace expectations and successful career patterns, their perspectives and concerns define quality in scholarship, their experiences and obsessions define merit, their objectification of life defines art, their military service defines citizenship, their presence defines family, their inability to get along with each other—their wars and rulerships—defines history, their image defines god, and their genitals define sex.”  Catharine MacKinnon in Feminism Unmodified (p5)  I never tire of quoting her!

“[E]ven if sociobiologists are correct [about men’s reproductive drive being evolutionary …], it does not follow that men must prevail when their interests conflict with those of women, nor that men are justified in behaving badly.” (p13)

“In her [MacKinnon’s] view, it is because women are dominated by men that they are different.” (p13)  Wow.  Very interesting reversal of status quo interpretation …

“As Senator Paul Simon put it: ‘Many men were stunned to learn what women regard as sexual harassment.'” (p24)  Then they fucking haven’t been listening.  Sigh.

“… the average sentence for a woman who kills an intimate is fifteen to twenty years; for a man, it is two to six years.” (p158)  I knew it was different, but geez loueez.

“… women do not generally kill their intimates unless hey reasonably believe there is no other solution to their situation.” (p161)   Right, whereas men—how could killing even be considered a last resort?  That there is no other solution to, what, the problem of her insulting him?  Arguing with him?  Leaving him?  Um.  Walk away.  Let her go.

“… male-based inquiry focuses on her instead of him, asking ‘Why didn’t she leave?’ when she kills him … instead of [asking] ‘Why didn’t he let her go?'” (p162)  YES!!

“… women in the United States are five to ten times more likely to be killed by their husbands than are European women.  This difference, among other factors, shows that men killing their intimates is not biologically predetermined.”  (p162)  Indeed.  It shows that American men are soooo fucked up.  Well, at least more fucked up than European men.

“… most men do not kill women intimates when they leave or commit adultery.  The small percentage of men who do not take responsibility for their rage and violence, who hurt and kill their intimates, define a perverse legal norm.”  (p178)  So why aren’t those other men doing something about it?  Why aren’t upset that the few are giving them such a bad rep?

“Despite the frequency with which men commit violence against other men, our law and society do not thereby conclude that men like or want to be beaten, nor that men provoke the violence by their appearance, ‘merriment’, or failure to repeatedly communicate their nonconsent.” (p223)

Load more