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"Texas is heaven for men and dogs, but it’s hell for women and horses.”
August 12, 2013 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives. "In 2011 the Texas state legislature slashed family planning funds, passed a new sonogram law, and waged an all-out war on Planned Parenthood that has dramatically shifted the state’s public health priorities. In the eighteen months since then, the conflict has continued to simmer in the courts, on the campaign trail, and in at least one PR disaster. Meanwhile, what will happen to Texas women—and their fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands—remains very much unclear."
posted by zarq (35 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very good overview of this infuriating situation. Dislike the "mothers, sisters, daughters, wives" line though, only because it reminds me of Obama saying it - that annoying usage of a man defining women by their relationship to men.
posted by agregoli at 9:13 AM on August 12, 2013 [28 favorites]


“Colleagues, this is what we’re talking about. . . . This is government intrusion at its best. We’ve reached a”—she searched for the word—“climax in government intrusion.”

This reminds me of Samantha Bee's coverage of the RNC a year ago.
Delegate: That's what our country is. Is the individualism. We get to be who we are. I mean, everybody gets to choose the path they choose because that's their choice.

Bee: Except in the case of abortion.

Delegate: Um…

Bee: My right ends where my uterus begins.

Delegate: I guess I'd have to agree with you on that.
And in the end, that was A-OK with enough Texans that this shit passed.

Smaller government, until it comes to getting involved with the rights of women (and minorities, but that's another thread/discussion).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:20 AM on August 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Time to pull a Lysistrata?

Course - if you're married to a conservative, you most likely are conservative (not always, of course), so... fat lotta good that'll do.
posted by symbioid at 9:21 AM on August 12, 2013


"that annoying usage of a man defining women by their relationship to men."

Women can have sisters—I don't see how this is uniquely related to men. Also, if the speech was directed at men, then it makes sense to appeal to how women relate to men to help men understand the interests of women. I would need more context for this but I don't understand why this is objectionable.
posted by koavf at 9:27 AM on August 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Texas weighs ban on women.
posted by grounded at 9:29 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I explained what it reminded me of - a usage that is objectionable. I did not say that the usage here was objectionable.

I do find it problemactic to try to provoke empathy from men about a woman's situation by making it personal to those men. Women deserve empathy because they are people, not because men are related to them. But sorry, no derail here. There's far more to be upset about than phrasing, obviously.
posted by agregoli at 9:32 AM on August 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Dislike the "mothers, sisters, daughters, wives" line though, only because it reminds me of Obama saying it - that annoying usage of a man defining women by their relationship to men.

...Yes, and it's a shame that that title ended up on this article, because the article itself really doesn't fall into that trap at all. The central characters are all women with their own goals and positions and resources, getting shit done however they can manage.

In fact, that was the thing I ended up liking most about it — of all the descriptions I've read of the current situation in Texas, this is one of the few that focuses on women as agents first and foremost, rather than as an abstract Worthy Cause to be supported or a sea of faceless victims.

(But oh man I agree with you that the phrase — and the whole rhetorical strategy that goes along with it, where feminism is repackaged as a Mother's Day present your son should be buying you — is annoying as hell.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:33 AM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


"mothers, sisters, daughters, wives"

3 of 4 of these apply to women's relation to women as well, in some states 4 of 4.

All that aside though.. war on women is right. *sigh*
posted by edgeways at 9:34 AM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


These exercises in throwing red meat to The Base have been de rigueur in The GOP ever since the Dixiecrat infusion gave them a working majority. I'm sure many professionals in the party realize this crap is nonsensical and ineffectual policy but as long as it keeps working at the ballot box they'll keep doing it. And if it gets beaten down in the courts, as is often the case, they'll be right back at it again next session...
posted by jim in austin at 9:37 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, my very most favorite thing about the article might have been the brief mention of Barbara Bush. You get the sense that the author (a) disagrees fundamentally with everything that she stood for, but (b) still gives her credit for being a hell of a smart independent woman.

There's this irritating tendency on the left to think of conservative women, even ones in leadership roles, as being mere sheep or victims or dupes of the patriarchy or whatever — another agency-denying move: "men I disagree with are smart enough to be responsible for their own position; women I disagree with just don't know any better" — and I totally gave the author a little mental high-five for not pulling that shit here.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:43 AM on August 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


that annoying usage of a man defining women by their relationship to men.

Even if it isn't about their relationships to men -- though implicitly the mothers/sisters/daughters/wives is, except maybe for mothers -- it is about how they aren't important on their own, but only inasmuch as they have biological family.
posted by jeather at 9:44 AM on August 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I think getting "the base" to understand that this stuff is bad for them personally and not just those lazy, immoral, entitled others will be key to them rejecting this stuff once and for all. I just want to shake their collective shoulders and say YOU'RE HURTING YOURSELVES.
posted by bleep at 9:45 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


They refuse to see parallels though, because of classism and racism.
posted by elizardbits at 9:47 AM on August 12, 2013


They don't care if they're hurting themselves so long as dem poors/dem browns get hurt worse. "The base" is all about government by spite.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:08 AM on August 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


When you consider how much of this is also about various Texas politicians and their aspirations toward national office (I'm looking at you, Rick Perry), it's doubly tragic. Molly Ivins used to call us the national laboratory for bad government, but now we're the showcase for how great it is for Republicans when they get their way on taxes and punitive anti-woman and anti-poor-folks laws.

When I was a kid, they called Congressman Bush (George the elder) "Rubbers" because of his enthusiastic support for Planned Parenthood. How far we've fallen.
posted by immlass at 10:10 AM on August 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


"The base" is all about government by spite.

So, I guess the problem with the republican base is how base it is?
posted by aubilenon at 10:16 AM on August 12, 2013


I feel like it's more acid than base.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:20 AM on August 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


Smaller government, until it comes to getting involved with the rights of women (and minorities, but that's another thread/discussion).

It's individual freedoms, unless you have ladyparts or are suspiciously dark. It's state's rights, unless it infringes on the market's ability to discriminate or damage. It's constitutional rights, unless it requires the government to help those being discriminated against or hurt.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:24 AM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I feel like it's more acid than base.

"Caustic" describes them rather well.
posted by ogooglebar at 10:40 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


“What we’re attempting to do is to provide women all available information while considering abortion and allow them adequate time to digest this information and review the sonogram and carefully weigh the impact of this life-changing decision,”

What if instead of this, all pregnant women were forced to view video of baby shit being spewed, screaming children at 4 am, parents visiting their children in juvenile detention, shown realistic spreadsheets of the cost of raising a child for 18+ years, to ensure that they knew what decision they were making.

I'm not actually in *favor* of such bullshit, but if were talking about 'the impact of a life-changing decision', it seems to me having a child is the largest life-changing decision a person could ever make.

(I knew when I started to read the article, it would just provoke my outrage filter - I was right).
posted by el io at 11:47 AM on August 12, 2013 [21 favorites]


Actually, my very most favorite thing about the article might have been the brief mention of Barbara Bush. You get the sense that the author (a) disagrees fundamentally with everything that she stood for, but (b) still gives her credit for being a hell of a smart independent woman.

We'd all be a lot better off if she'd run for office herself instead of channeling her ambition into her idiot menfolk.
posted by fshgrl at 12:20 PM on August 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dislike the "mothers, sisters, daughters, wives" line though, only because it reminds me of Obama saying it - that annoying usage of a man defining women by their relationship to men.

The problem I have with it is not that it's wrong to define people by their relationships. (It's important to remember that if something affects women, it doesn't just affect women but also the men or women who are close to them.) The problem I have with it is that it's verbose. Everyone is someone's son or daughter, and it'd be fine with me if people stopped pointing out this obvious fact as if they're possessed of a great insight.

Also, the fact that people are interrelated is a problem with the title: "Texas is heaven for men and dogs, but it’s hell for women and horses." This idea that men and women have nothing to do with each other is not realistic — if something's bad for women, that's typically bad for men too, and vice versa.
posted by John Cohen at 12:49 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I came in ready to cheer this piece on, but it got too weirdly judgy about lifestyles for me to be able to do so. The whole "women had to do these things barefoot and pregnant because of individualist husbands" thing was completely unnecessary, and alienating possible allies. It is possible to be an individualist and still support the legality of abortions.

Not to mention the unspoken assumption that women are the ones who were "too weak to make it on their own", unable to make it in the rough country. For an article supposedly holding women up, it does a great job of bringing them down.
posted by corb at 12:56 PM on August 12, 2013


John Cohen: "Also, the fact that people are interrelated is a problem with the title: "Texas is heaven for men and dogs, but it’s hell for women and horses." This idea that men and women have nothing to do with each other is not realistic — if something's bad for women, that's typically bad for men too, and vice versa."
"Describing American land as “paradise for men and dogs, but hell for women and horses” goes back to the early nineteenth century and has been applied to Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee, Kansas, and elsewhere."

Yes, the laws being passed by the Texas lege impact men, too. But the ones we're discussing directly target and affect women. Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted baby to term, removing access to their health care options and forcing them to undergo unnecessary and intrusive medical examinations in an attempt to shame them into carrying a baby to term.... all of these directly affect women. The impact those specific laws have on men is secondary.

That's not to say that the Texas' lege's idiocy isn't affecting men. It is. Governor Perry's refusal to accept billions in Medicaid expansion funds have practically eliminated low-cost healthcare. An estimated 29% of Texans have no health insurance.

But yes, his refusal also will directly, negatively affect many women: Get pregnant in Texas and having an abortion is now going to be harder and more complicated than in many other US states. Want to have the baby instead? Well, that can be an expensive undertaking if you don't have insurance coverage.

There is a reason why the GOP's incessant efforts to curtail womens' rights are called a "War on Women." Pointing out that men are being affected tangentially by such legislation too is all well and good but a bit beside the point, in my opinion.
posted by zarq at 2:14 PM on August 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes, the laws being passed by the Texas lege impact men, too. But the ones we're discussing directly target and affect women. ... Pointing out that men are being affected tangentially by such legislation too is all well and good but a bit beside the point, in my opinion.

Well, we seem to be in almost complete agreement, except that you think my point (which you agree with) is "beside the point" for some reason. I'm trying to make what I think is a very important point: that these issues aren't just about women, they're about everyone. This has the potential to double — doubble! — the number of people you can reach on this issue. To try to convince half the population that your position on an issue doesn't concern them strikes me as politically suicidal.
posted by John Cohen at 2:44 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, it's actually not true that funding for Planned Parenthood is something that affects men only "tangentially." Planned Parenthood is not just for women. They provide many services that are just for women, and many other services that aren't gender-specific, and they also provide a substantial list of services that are exclusive to men. That's a perfect example of what I mean when I say that the attempt to disenfranchise men from this issue is politically suicidal: you needlessly miss out on the chance to explain to men why this affects them directly.
posted by John Cohen at 2:48 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guys. Guys. What about the men?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:13 PM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


John Cohen: That strikes me as saying that caring about African-American rights without talking about non-African Americans is political suicide. Certainly institutional racism impacted 'whites' as well, but that wasn't the big problem with it...

I can and do care about issues that only impact women, and it seems appropriate that this is the focus of the discussion. If we were only to discuss things that also directly impacted men, we wouldn't be talking about state legislatures almost literally raping women who want to have an abortion.

So, respectfully, lets not make this about the menfolk, because that's not really what the issue here is.
posted by el io at 3:54 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


John Cohen: " Well, we seem to be in almost complete agreement, except that you think my point (which you agree with) is "beside the point" for some reason.

I agree with you that fomenting change requires showing men (who outnumber women 5 to 1 in the Texas lege,) why these issues matter to them.

But in this case, women are an oppressed class. Men aren't. They are not affected equally. There's a nice explanation here which expresses the concerns I'm trying to voice.
posted by zarq at 3:59 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I... just... can't... finish reading.

I tried, but my brain keeps exploding over the fact that Texas legislated forced insertation. It's wand-rape by people who won't even be present for that trauma (a second rape for a few). Words are failing me because of the brain explody parts. I got really upset when an ER clinician inserted without warning me. I don't even...
posted by _paegan_ at 4:28 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a well-written and incisive piece, for sure. I don't want to derail, but I also don't want to let shit like this pass: "The men who settled the state were a tough bunch. They had to survive a harsh, unforgiving climate; murderous Comanche; soil that was in many places relentlessly resistant..."

In 2013, tarring an entire native culture with the label "murderous" in this context should sound a bit like saying "In order to survive, Southern gentlemen were forced to subjugate humans as slaves…" But instead we have this cowboys-and-indians crap.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 5:49 PM on August 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Meanwhile, just a bit north of Texas:

Kansas clinic under fire from anti-abortion activists
Tuesday morning, abortion opponents went before the Wichita City Council seeking to shut down the South Wind Women’s Center, a clinic that provides abortions. Among their complaints: The clinic draws gun violence.

This struck some, including the clinic’s director, Julie Burkhart, as ironic. After all, South Wind opened in April in the same building that housed George Tiller’s clinic. Before Tiller was murdered in church by an anti-abortion extremist in 2009, there was indeed documented gun violence in front of the clinic—by Shelley Shannon, an abortion opponent who shot Tiller.

“That’s the only gun violence that I’m aware of,” Burkhart, who has been fielding attempts to shut down the clinic since before it even opened, told MSNBC. “We talk to law enforcement regularly and I’ve never had any complaints of gun violence.”

Reached by phone, Mark S. Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life and one of the petitioners, had a rather different account. He said he and his fellow volunteers had counted 18 incidents involving guns — none actually discharged — between 2004 and 2009, two of which were security staff employed by the clinic pulling guns out of a holster, Gietzen said.

He also counts as “gun incidents” the guns toted by male associates angry at women in their lives getting abortions, including, he said, a “high-powered rifle” pulled on Gietzen himself by a man angry at his anti-abortion protesting.

“I talked him out of killing me,” Gietzen told MSNBC. “That’s why I’m still here.”

But if much of that alleged violence was directly related to the presence of the protesters, wouldn’t it make more sense to restrict their very own protests rather than shut down the clinic? Gietzen was unmoved.

“The fact is that this is typical about what happens at the abortion clinic,” he said. “Abortion clinics are going to bring that sort of clientele. You’re not going to have a mad husband or a Shelley Shannon showing up at a dental office.”
posted by zombieflanders at 6:23 AM on August 14, 2013


zombieflanders: " He also counts as “gun incidents” the guns toted by male associates angry at women in their lives getting abortions, including, he said, a “high-powered rifle” pulled on Gietzen himself by a man angry at his anti-abortion protesting.

“I talked him out of killing me,” Gietzen told MSNBC. “That’s why I’m still here.”

But if much of that alleged violence was directly related to the presence of the protesters, wouldn’t it make more sense to restrict their very own protests rather than shut down the clinic? Gietzen was unmoved.

“The fact is that this is typical about what happens at the abortion clinic,” he said. “Abortion clinics are going to bring that sort of clientele. You’re not going to have a mad husband or a Shelley Shannon showing up at a dental office.”
"

See that abortion clinic over there with its big welcome sign out in public like that? It was just askin' to be violently protested.

What an asshole.

Abortion clinics attract violent, gun-wielding protestors who harass pregnant women. So of course, the only possible solution is to shut the clinic down rather than do something about the people who are actually carrying guns and pointing them at people.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gietzen refused to say whether he or his fellow protesters are armed. “That’s not a polite question to ask an individual,” Gietzen said. “That’s why it’s concealed.”

How does this asshole not explode from irony?
posted by inertia at 12:10 PM on August 14, 2013


"Reached by phone, Mark S. Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life and one of the petitioners, had a rather different account. He said he and his fellow volunteers had counted 18 incidents involving guns — none actually discharged — between 2004 and 2009, two of which were security staff employed by the clinic pulling guns out of a holster, Gietzen said."

And yet, no one points out in this article the reason why the security staff were armed.

They were put in place by Dr. George Tiller, who was shot to death by anti-choice protesters in 2009. He had been the recipient of death threats and violence from protestors in the years prior to his murder. In the 80's, his clinic was bombed. In 1993, protestors shot him. The Planned Parenthood in Kansas City had received similar threats. It's not hard to imagine why armed security guards whose boss had received multiple death threats might pull their guns out of their holsters in response to angry, potentially armed anti-choice protestors.

If it hadn't been for the repeated actions of violent, murderous anti-choice zealots, perhaps Tiller wouldn't have needed armed security.
posted by zarq at 12:29 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


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