No Privacy for Women

This shouldn’t be surprising. Still, I have somehow managed to watch the onslaught against the reproductive rights of women without becoming completely cynical. So, when Amadi posted the response she received after writing to her state representative, I was a bit shocked.

Today, I received an oversized manilla envelope from Rep. Readshaw. Inside was a printout of HB 1077, a printout of some database’s information about me, indicating where I live, that I’m not the head of the household (why/how it knows this I do not know) and a few other things about me, like ethnicity, that no elected official should or needs to know. I’m going to have to get to the bottom of that.

Not content to make it blatantly clear that he had violated Amadi’s privacy, he went on to violate his daughter’s in the letter. [Read more…]

Atheists Talk: Darrel Ray on “Sex and God”

Last year, psychologist Darrel Ray surveyed 10,000 atheists on their relationship to religion and sexuality. The results showed that there wasn’t much difference between believers and nonbelievers–though there were large differences in the amount of guilt. Atheists who had been religious reported that they experienced far less guilt after leaving religion and far better sex.

In Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality, Ray documents how religions incite guilt over sexuality and how they use this guilt to maintain control over their followers. Join us this Sunday as he explores this control in both historical and modern contexts.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

The Pink Ghetto

I used a term in the title of yesterday’s Doctor Who rant that I never quite defined, and I’m not sure the meaning is obvious in context. The term is “pink ghetto”. It describes the tendency of our culture to treat the things associated with women as being only of importance to women. This happens for most (all?) groups not in power, but when it happens to women, we call it “pink”.

Thus, the fellow who was talking to someone between sessions at Science Online last month. When the woman he was talking to asked whether he planned to stay for the next session, he asked what the session was. When he found out it was “Blogging Science While Female”, he practically fell over himself to assert that he wasn’t staying for it. It had “female” in the title. It wasn’t for men (though several sat in the audience, quite engaged to all appearances).

This phenomenon is very easily seen in the choice of issues on which politicians campaign, in nominations for popular awards and in the list problem, and in art/popular culture. Oh, does it happen in art, where the subjective taste of critics and award-granting bodies is elevated over that of the consumer.

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Heard but Not Seen

You remember that panel testifying before the House Oversight Committee about contraception? The one that contained no women? Yeah, that panel. (Ranty rant over here.) Well, the House Democrats have put convened a Steering Committee meeting tomorrow morning to hear the (female) reproductive justice activist who was excluded from the original testimony by Chair Darrell “Martin Luther King” Issa.

There’s just one little catch. You won’t get to see this public testimony. [Read more…]

When Sex Isn’t Enough

We’re all hearing (if we’re paying any attention at all to U.S. politics) the refrain that sex by itself, for fun and pleasure, is somehow “less” than sex that carries out the sacred duty of procreation or sex that expresses the divine love of marriage. It’s a common trope that most of us who argue for a reality-based, shame-free view of sex argue against…at least when the religion involved is conservative and Abrahamic.

Chris Hall notes that we’re not always particularly good at being consistent in this view:

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#MenCallMeThings, Dragon’s Age Edition

If you’re having a bad day, if you get creeped out by heaping loads of abuse, this is probably not the post you want to be reading. Try the baby foxes instead. If you keep reading this, you will once again be confronted with how women are treated on the internet.

The woman in question is Jennifer Hepler, who wrote for Dragon Age II, among other games. I don’t play role-playing games myself, but this is one of the ones I heard about constantly on Twitter after it came out. People lost hours of their life to this game and went sleep-deprived without complaint…at least until morning. They chattered about the characters as though they were real people. In other words, my friends did exactly what you’d want from a game’s audience.

That wasn’t enough for some people, however. The Mary Sue has a good rundown of the objections of some gamers to the game and to an old comment by Hepler that if what you like about a game is story, you ought to be able to tweak your game experience to maximize the story. In other words, in a world with more games than most people can play, some gamers are upset that one company’s game(s) might be different than everything those gamers have played to date. They might be…inclusive.

The Hepler hatred has been going on for almost a year. It recently flared into bright, shining misogyny, however, first with a thread on Reddit that got enough out of hand to be taken down after Hepler started getting phone calls at home. Then Hepler got a Twitter account. Suddenly people no longer needed to stalk her to touch her.

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The Medical Facts Behind Pre-Abortion Ultrasound

Who knew that the Virginia legislature was packed full of doctors, specifically OB-GYNs? Oh, wait. They’re not. So what the hell is up with them legislating medical care? Is it somehow okay because they’re onlly legislating it for women? (No need to actually answer that.)

Dr. Jen Gunter, on the other hand, is an OB-GYN qualified in two countries. So maybe we should listen to her when she talks about the medical science behind pre-abortion ultrasounds. I know I learned something.

Second-trimester abortion

Let’s just take that off the table. Every second trimester abortion needs an ultrasound and often gets more than one. Second-trimester abortions are more often done for birth defects, typically diagnosed or confirmed by ultrasound (sometimes a few ultrasounds are done). In addition, these procedures require more skill the further along, so it is essential the practitioner knows the gestational age with as much accuracy as possible. Ultrasound laws will not change any procedure costs for 2nd trimester ultrasounds, but they may affect the viewing requirements (whether the woman sees/hears a description of the ultrasound). I’ll get to that in just a bit.

First-trimester abortion

Many providers already do a 1rst trimester ultrasound, especially with medical abortion. This is because a medical abortion can only be done up to 63 days (9 weeks). However, there is a growing body of literature suggesting medical abortion can safety be accomplished without an ultrasound for 98% of women. So these laws will prevent practitioners from doing away with an ultrasound (i.e. prevent them from practicing evidence based medicine) which will halt efforts to expand medical abortion into low resource settings. Ultrasound requirements will also affect many women getting a surgical procedure as and ultrasound is typically not required if the size of the uterus agrees with the dating of the pregnancy (although some providers do ultrasounds anyway, generally for medico-legal reasons).

Go read the whole thing. Send a copy to your state and national representatives as well. If they insist on passing laws on this stuff, don’t let them deny that they’ve seen the scientific information.

Bonus: While you’re at Jen’s blog, check out her proposal for National No Non-Procreative Sex Day.

The Great Hurt

It wasn’t that no one was willing to share the story.

After writing the script for the play in 1972, Gawboy could not find anyone interested in helping to produce it. “The Great Hurt” sat in his desk drawer until he was asked recently if he had any material on the historical trauma that American Indians suffered in boarding schools. Audiences are now ready for his play.

Tad Johnson, an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Bois Forte Band, is head of the American Indian Studies Department at UMD. He saw the performance. He said, “I thought it was very moving and very powerful. It used actual words of Capt. Pratt, who founded Carlisle School, and the children. It was very stirring.” He said the use of actual photos “had a big impact on me and a lot of the people in the audience.” Johnson’s maternal grandparents attended boarding schools. “People lost parenting skills and lost their language,” he said. “I knew all that, but hearing the actual words was moving.”

The play is scheduled to be shown at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul on March 9.

Someone needs to record this. It will always be more powerful in an auditorium filled with other people’s reactions, but it needs to be shared more widely. Whether we’re ready or not.