February 21, 2011
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Planned Parenthood has a really descriptive name. It does exactly what the name implies. We don’t talk much about “family planning” these days, and we should.
Before modern science kicked in, conception was, for the most part, a game of roulette. Folk remedies and leather condoms weren’t nearly as effective as people wanted them to be, but they kept trying. All it took was some observation and life experience to see how inconvenient–and dangerous–the lack of control could be.
When a woman gives birth too young, she and the child suffer. (18 is the minimum recommended.) If she has children too close together, she and both children can suffer. Doctors and midwives knew these things; parents knew them. But what do you say to a couple who have had the number of children they want? Spend the rest of your lives together in separate beds? More babies happened.
Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s first president, was a remarkable woman who saw the effect this had on people, particularly poor people and women. She also saw this suffering as, at best, unnecessary. At worst, it was a deliberate means of keeping women in subjugation.
In 1912, after a fire destroyed the home that William designed, the Sanger family moved back to New York City, where Margaret went to work in the East Side slums of Manhattan. That same year, she also started writing a column for the New York Call entitled “What Every Girl Should Know.” Distributing a pamphlet, Family Limitation, to women, Sanger repeatedly caused scandal and risked imprisonment by acting in defiance of the Comstock Law of 1873, which outlawed as obscene the dissemination of contraceptive information and devices.
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September 18, 2010
We’ve run several posts recently about women achieving in politics, both through election and appointment. But there are plenty of women getting ahead in politics right now who I am not happy to cheer for. I’m talking about women like Sharon Angle, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Christine O’Donnell–the list is growing apace, which is itself highly unusual. When did women become so ubiquitous in US politics? And why on earth are so many of them conservative?
There’s a notion floating right now that conservative women are ‘taking back’ feminism. They’re gonna wrench the womens movement out of the hands of screechy, man-hating, too-ugly-to-get-a-date-so-I-went-lesbian feminists, and turn it into a means to justify the lifestyles they themselves are now leading (lifestyles made possible by those feminists). I am happy for these women who are taking to politics, but I’m not happy about the ones who use their soapboxes to work against womens’ interests. There’s nothing like the hypocrisy of, say, Ann Coulter, who says women are too stupid to vote or manage money, yet she herself has made quite a pretty penny telling people how they should vote.
This year’s influx of female candidates is so anti-abortion, they qualify as anti-woman. Too many do not support the one clause that usually makes anti-abortion legislation more widely palatable–they don’t support exceptions in the case of rape or incest.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ran a segment this week about “Women Candidates vs. Womens’ Rights.” Go watch the video here, or continue reading for quotes. There are some beautiful ones from both her and her guest, Melissa Harris-Lacewell.
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