i've got nothing to say today, but instead of trying to distract you from that fact with shiny objects or another video, i thought i'd just yell at these people for a little while: they call themselves 'feminists for life.' I learned about them on an extended car-ride chat w/ my new friend who works over at canadians for choice here in ottawa (forgot to ask if i can use her name here, so for now we'll just call her... jo-jo). as jo-jo was explaining, they're like the american version of the self-declared 'REAL women of canada' (apparently the rest of us are faking it), but they employ a far, far more irritating tactic: using the f-word... right in their name.
real feminists (not 'REAL' feminists) have a lot of reasons to worry about how the f-word gets maligned as well as misappropriated. it seems that in the anti-choice camp, you have your pick of two crowds: on one hand, the clinic-burners, whose primary source of inspiration is the bible verse "i formed you in your mother's womb," (ie - life is holy and, what's critical, it starts at conception). these people share no epistemological ground with pro-choice feminists, and mostly think we're women of low morals who hate babies. the second group is a much more wily bunch, who dress that same position up in some pleasant 'pro-woman' rhetoric (they steer clear of explicit biblical references) and say things like "women deserve better than abortion." better than abortion? what could possibly be better than abortion? isn't it the funnest time you'll ever have?
ok, let's step back and imagine for a moment that they're going somewhere w/ this. how's about we start w/ the little blurb from their 'celebrity' spokesperson, patricia heaton (aka. wifey from 'everybody loves raymond' - i never did like raymond or his show, and now i feel vindicated): "women who are experiencing unplanned pregnancy should expect unplanned joy." but note the disclaimer: "women expecting unplanned joy should ensure that they are independently wealthy, of a certain socio-economic class, and have nothing else going on in their lives... for the next 18-20 years. unplanned joy is enhanced by likelihood of partner and paternity leave if you're hetero (which you damn-well better be). unplanned joy may be complicated by impregnation by your rapist, especially if said rapist is also a member of your family." (ok, i made that disclaimer up.)
you can float around the site yourself: pretty much every page is rich with well-spun half-truths, or blatant lies, doled in saccharine tributes to the 'inherent peacefulness' of 'the womb' and the untold loveliness of mothering. but my favourite was their 'feminist history' section. they reached way back to pull out some susan b. anthony quotes on "willing little ones away from their mothers" and such. because, you know, nothing has happened w/ the women's movement since then. not to appear ungrateful for the luxury of my personhood, but if we're really going to get down to our first-wave roots, we might also consider reviving the temperance debate, and maybe also become super-vile racists, to follow in the footsteps of canada's own 'famous five' (esp emily murphy - you remember her, from the heritage moments. you know you do). like any movement, feminism - as bell hooks has noted, the most important and successful social movement of this century - has grown and changed, like, a whole effing lot. you get the sense these people are backed by certain *cough* interests simply by their use of selective history - the right-wing's strategic centre-piece.
as the car-ride continued (which is to say, we got lost) and jo-jo aired her frustrations with the 'pro-woman' anti-choicers, she brought up a good point: that they wax heroic about saving the poor babies (ostensibly from purgatory), but once the babies are actually born, to hell w/ them. after surviving its pre-natal existence, that baby's fate is in the hands of the market. god maybe formed it in its mother's womb, but once outside it's got to earn its own way like the rest of us.
if they cared that much about saving the lives of innocent babies, you'd think they'd also push for national day-care, or take a stance to maintain the public health-care system (here in canada - or just to install it, in the US). or what about lobbying for proper sex-ed in schools? or focusing energy on combating poverty and ending race discrimination? they claim a policy of non-violence, so how about working to end violence against women? these are all 'pro-life' things to do - and they do none of them. as it stands, i'm a better pro-life feminist than the pro-life feminists: the people who support choice are doing more to end abortion than the so-called pro-lifers.
all this said, the 'feminists for life' organization might seem like pure crazy and not even worth paying attention to, but we have to pay attention, because our elected representatives do. the only 'women's lobby' PM stephen harper gives audience to these days is REAL women. more important, they've got dollars (jo-jo informs me that focus on the family has just put down a cool $1 million for headquarters in alberta). canadians are complacent about the choice debate, and tend to regard the whole thing as settled. and so the mainstream media is complacent. which is why the discussion has to happen elsewhere. here, for instance.
a la prochaine!
an addendum to the white stripes post: i understand it is fashionable to be bored and disinterested at rock concerts and to comment later on the 'bad sound.' well, call me easy or unsophisticated, but they were wicked, intense performers who seemed to genuinely like each other and their audience (sadly, rare features in big, big rock acts). they made me smile and i came away dancing, and that's all it takes to win my heart.