I hate being right
Long ago, I predicted myopic right wingers would eventually wrest away our reproductive rights
By Ellen Snortland 03/01/2012
Cassandra, the Greek poster girl of profound understanding and prediction, was cursed by Apollo because she refused to return his love. His curse was that she would prophesy but never be listened to. In a way, feminists of my generation are Cassandras; for decades, we’ve been warning about the right-wing fanatics whose crusade is largely a backlash against our having fought and won a certain degree of self-determination for ourselves and our bodies.
I wish I had a dollar for every person who told me I was exaggerating, or that my columns warning about the right wing’s obsession with women’s bodies was hyperbole — I’d literally be wealthy. But there’s no money in being a Cassandra. Sadly, here’s an excerpt from a column I wrote for PW in March of 1996:
“I hope I’m very wrong, but I predict that as abortion rights are whittled away, state by state, the emboldened anti-abortion activists will focus their formidable attention on the next level of choice: the very private matter of birth control. Some of the politically active fundamentalist Christians are candid about their agenda, including opposition to pregnancy prevention, and will most likely act on their assertion that eggs and sperm have the right to life … I’ve been clear since my teen years that control of the reproductive potential of my body is a question of power. This is all about the struggle to maintain male dominion over female bodies …”
In 2012, I now know it’s not just me, “Cassandra-ing” away like a broken record, er, CD. The fury unleashed on the Internet and in social media has been refreshing and way overdue.
Oh, and guys? You have skin in this fight, too. Where’s your outrage? If it’s there, mainstream media isn’t reporting it. Put yourselves in our high heels for a moment: Imagine what it would feel like if your urologist had something called a “Men’s Reproductive Health Clinic,” and you had to wade through hostile picketers and religious zealots every time you had to visit your doctor, even though you’re not going in for a vasectomy but for a prostate exam instead. That is EXACTLY what women have to go through to keep an appointment at Planned Parenthood. Doesn’t that upset you? If it doesn’t, it should.
Have we finally arrived at a place where even the more complacent among us will yell “Enough!”? Was the recent brouhaha over the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s attempted de-funding of Planned Parenthood enough to make you see just how far these fanatics will go? Or does the spectacle of so-called serious Republican presidential contenders seeing who can be more anti-birth control than the next guy — and yes, they are ALL guys — amaze and astound you? Does the spectacle of Indiana Rep. Bob Morris branding the Girl Scouts as pro-abortion, anti-Christian fanatics crumble your cookies? (“Good grief,” my husband says, “The Girls Scouts’ only conspiracy is to make us all fat!”)
How about the audacious and moronic statement made to Andrea Mitchell by Foster Friess that, in his day, the gals used Bayer Aspirin for birth control — they held it between their knees. Yeah? I’d like to freeze his foster. Andrea Mitchell literally had the wind knocked out of her as he babbled on, impervious to any lack of respect he’d displayed for the depth and breadth of the importance reproductive rights has for an enormous number of people, and not just women.
Or the boneheads, (that’s a technical term) who served on the panel to testify at Fallbrook Republican US Rep. Daryl Issa’s hearing on contraception comprised — the panel made up solely of men? REALLY?! So nutty is all of this that Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers performed a “Really?!” segment on “Saturday Night Live” about the recent GOP focus on Women’s health issues. You can see it here: http://tinyurl.com/6uegzsc.
These are absurd times. Over the years, I’ve had polite cocktail and dinner conversations with Pro-Choice Republicans who assured me the party would never backtrack on reproductive rights. Oh yeah? Where are the loud voices of the real Republicans, the folks that my Democratic parents used to golf with? Kaput. The ones who stood with Nixon, Goldwater and Ford on family planning? Where did they go? Are they bound and gagged somewhere in a Mega-Church janitor’s closet? Even über-conservative Pat Buchanan thinks this recent assault on reproductive issues is taking things too far. Gag. You’ve gotta be worried when Pat Buchanan is concerned about radical conservative politics.
Muckraker and author Upton Sinclair famously declared, “When Fascism comes to America, it’ll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” He forgot to mention they’d be carrying aspirin and chastity belts for all the Girl Scouts and Cassandras out here.
NOTE: March, as you hopefully know, is Women’s History Month. One way to celebrate women’s accomplishments is to join us on Sunday, March 11. I’ll be serving as emcee at the 4th Annual Women of the World Awards, co-sponsored by 50-50 Leadership and the United Nations Association Pasadena/Foothills Chapter. For information and tickets, go to 5050leadership.org or call (818) 243-2322. n
Ellen Snortland is a writing coach in Altadena. Visit her at snortland.com.