Arizona, Aliens, and Abortion


What do two laws recently signed by the Republican Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, have in common?  Both unreasonably invade the privacy rights of human beings.  Both laws treat some people as more “alien” and less human than others.

The most talked-about law, SB 1070, makes it a crime to be a woman (or a man) walking or breathing in Arizona without the right identity papers.   SB 1070 effectively legalizes racial profiling and definitively authorizes the police to require anyone–anyone at all–to show evidence that they are not “aliens.”  That word choice is sickeningly ironic, since fear and hatred  for people who don’t look, speak, and act the way that the dominant group thinks they should have inspired this legislation.  And it gets worse!  The law actually allows any Arizonan who thinks that the browner people in the State have not been sufficiently interrogated to bring a lawsuit.

The second law, SB 1305,  is being called a “mini-Stupak” and is the first in the nation to prohibit insurers in the state-run health care exchange “from providing coverage for abortions unless the coverage is offered as a separate optional rider for which an additional insurance premium is charged.”  Mcjoan, writing on the Daily Kos, notes that his bill

prevents insurers from offering abortion services, except under the most extreme circumstances, even if only private money were used to pay for those services. Most if not all women in the exchange would only be able to purchase coverage through an impractical, separate abortion “rider” or leave the exchange entirely and find coverage in the shrinking individual health insurance market. Since it’s unlikely that many insurers will offer abortion riders or that women will purchase them in anticipation of needing an abortion — in fact, “in the five states where abortion riders are currently required, no insurance company offers them” — the Arizona law will severely disadvantage poorer women who would likely have to pay out of pocket for abortion services.

Immigrants are often the poorest people.  This law makes it even harder for immigrant and other women of poor means to make their own choices about their reproductive health.  It effectively forces some women who have gotten pregnant to stay that way.

Let’s just forget about how economically foolish it is to pass a law that will result in the expansion of the very population that the xenophobic racists in the state would like to reduce, and consider the way that both laws invade the privacy of individuals.

Our legal tradition places an incredibly high value on bodily integrity.  Over 100 years ago, the US Supreme Court stated:

No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right to every individual to the possession and control of his [sic] own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by a clear and unquestionable authority of law.  As well said by Judge Cooley, “The right to one’s person may be said to be a right of complete immunity: to be let alone.”

[cit. Susan Bordo, "Are Mother's Persons?" in Unbearable Weight(UC Press, 1993)]

The women and men who voted for the laws that Governor Brewer signed recently violate the basic right to “be left alone” that the Supreme Court acknowledged so long ago.

Anyone who looks like an “alien,” who doesn’t walk and talk in a way that pleases an Arizona officer of the law has now just lost the right to the possession and control of his or her own person and bodily integrity.  As Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)  exclaimed,

This is a slide back on the rights of each and every American,…Arizona has become ‘a show me your papers’ state. I read the Arizona law, and it’s just replete with the type of broad descriptions that invite discrimination, that invite racial profiling, that invite violations of constitutional rights and civil rights.

The anti-choice legislation that Brewer signed makes it legal for insurance companies to  treat women as less than human than men, who do not need to sign any special riders for legal, medical procedures that can only be performed on men, such as a vasectomy, or treatments for testicular cancer.  Abortion is legal in the United States of America, and insurance companies should not be allowed to discriminate against women by treating procedures that only women undergo differently than procedures than only men undergo.

The Arizona legislation is designed to invade women’s privacy and to prevent women from exercising their constitutional right to terminate their pregnancies.

So are two anti-choice laws recently passed in Oklahoma.  The governor of that state, Brad Henry, a Democrat, vetoed both laws.  The legislature voted to override.  One of them requires a doctor or technician to set up an ultrasound monitor so the woman can see the fetus before she aborts it.  The doctor or technician must then describe its heart, limbs and organs.  No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims.  This legislation is designed to torment and punish a woman for exercising her constitutional right to choose.

The other law, as Governor  Henry explained, grants “a physician legal protection to mislead or misinform pregnant women in an effort to impose his or her personal beliefs on a patient.”  It protects doctors who withhold information about the disability or malformation of the fetus from suing after birth.

Let us not forget what the anti-choicers are after:  they want to force every women who gets pregnant, no matter how, to stay pregnant.

They want to the law to reflect their belief that women’s bodies are nothing more than incubators, and that a woman’s body, faith, rationality, psychological and/or physical well-being are secondary to the so-called “right to life” of a mass of cells.

This theologically driven agenda treats the fetus–or even a zygote–as a “human being” endowed with “rights” that override the rights of a living, breathing adult woman.   Susan Bordo refers to this way of thinking as the “subjectification of fetal being” that points out that it amounts to an attack on the personhood of women:

The nature of pregnancy is such …that to deprive the woman of control over her reproductive life–whether by means of involuntary or coerced sterilization, court-ordered cesarean, or forbidden abortion–is necessarily also to mount an assault on her personal integrity and autonomy (the essence of personhood in our culture) and to treat her merely as pregnant res extensa, material incubator of fetal subjectivity.

Anti-choicers who subscribe to this thinking deliberately disregard the beliefs, choice, health, and well-being of the mother while they elevate  the thing inside of her to the status of a “super subject” whose alleged rights supercede her own.

Anti-choicers treat the mother as the “alien” or the “thing” whose rights are less meaningful than the fetus inside. They  elevate their will and desires over the will and desires of those others.  In short, they regard pregnant women as “aliens” whose rights to breathe, walk, work, and make choices are non-existent in comparison to the rights of the narrow-minded people who  change the laws.

What have the people of Arizona have just shown us?  that it’s not just Mexicans, Latinos, and other darker-skinned people  whom they treat  as less than human “aliens,” but also women, especially mothers.

The Smallness of “Big Ben”


Let’s just get some facts straight about the Steelers’ most embarrassing player, Ben Roethlisberger:

  • Two women have publicly accused him of rape.
  • Roethlisberger came on to a young woman working in Harrah’s, A Lake Tahoe Casino, in 2008.  The woman has charged him with raping her  in a civil case; she  has also filed a lawsuit against Harrah’s officials, including the casino’s chief of security, for attempting to silence her and for trying to undermine her credibility.
  • She said the security chief,

Guy Hyder, told her she was “over reacting,” that “most girls would feel lucky to get to have sex with someone like Ben Roethlisberger”

  • As  number of scummy people have made death threats to the woman whom tiny Ben aggrieved and probably raped in Nevada.
  • The second woman was a 20-year old college student in Milledgeville, Georgia. She says that Roethlisberger assaulted her in the bathroom of a bar where she met him on March 5, 2010.
  • The policeman who took the report that she filed,, Sgt. Jerry Blash, posing here with the inebriated thug, has recently retired from the force after admitting that he made derogatory comments to her.

In a statement to police on March 5, the young woman said Roethlisberger encouraged her and her friends to do numerous shots. Then one of his bodyguards escorted her into a hallway at the Capital City nightclub, sat her on a stool and left. She said Roethlisberger walked down the hallway and exposed himself.

“I told him it wasn’t OK, no, we don’t need to do this and I proceeded to get up and try to leave,” she said, according to the police documents. “I went to the first door I saw, which happened to be a bathroom.”

According to her statement, Roethlisberger then followed her into the bathroom and shut the door.

“I still said no, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me,” she wrote. “He said it was OK. He then left without saying anything.”

Two of her friends said they saw a bodyguard lead her into the hallway and then saw Roethlisberger follow. They said they couldn’t see their friend but knew she was drunk and were worried about her.

Ann Marie Lubatti told police she approached one of Roethlisberger’s two bodyguards and said, “This isn’t right. My friend is back there with Ben. She needs to come back right now.”

She said the bodyguard wouldn’t look her in the eye and said he didn’t know what she was talking about.

  • The bodyguard who wouldn’t look her in the eye was Ed Joyner, a Pennsylvania trooper.
  • The bodyguard who led the  20 year-old college student into the hallway where Roethlisberger allegedly exposed himself was Anthony Barravecchio, an officer on the force in the Pittsburgh suburb of Coraopolis.
  • Steelers president Art Rooney II has yet to discipline Roethlisberger in any way.

These are the facts.  Isn’t it nice to know that the security officers and policemen on duty around asshole bastard creepos likes Ben Roethlisberger do their best to cover up for his shitty behavior?

There are undoubtedly some fine men serving on the police force in Pennsylvania, but the low-life monsters who protect and serve  the stinking hulk of filth who calls himself Ben Roethlisberger have no place in our city or our state.

And what can we say about Rooney?  How can this guy keep on slapping his most revolting player on the hand while patting him on the head?  Why does he allow this man, who has a clear pattern of manipulating, abusing, and tormenting women, continue to play on his team?

O, that’s right.  It’s only women these assholes are attacking, either with their tiny words or their tiny body parts, and everyone knows that they don’t really think women are nearly as important “big” NFL quarterbacks.

Frankly, I can’t see why any woman or man would spend 3 seconds talking this foul-smelling muck of man, who uses his fame and money to entrance and then exploit other people.  The idea of anyone willingly having sex with this monster strains the imagination, and the thought of him forcing himself on others makes me vomit.

Tiny Ben is a cancer.  Cut him out, and cleanse our police force of the men who enable and then cover up his putrid messes.

In Merry’s Land


The following is an attempt to transcribe actual conversation between actual women.

NIE: How in the heck did you get this guy?

YROD,  pretending to be magic by pulling her wrists down like snakes between her eyes:

Penis size.  No man should be wearing white tights.  There should be a law.  They have no right! BAD!!!!

NIE: What, have tight whites turned you into a lesbian?

TAK: He still has gas and he’s breaking through those whities.

YROD:  Should be off limits.  They should be banned.

TAK: No, if he has to fart it’s gonna get stained.  You cannot keep them clean! They fart all the time and they kill their underwear.  They get blasted.  They’re just not well designed.

YROD, from a distance: We are the anti-tight white women.

I swear to GOD we are going to march in the street!

TAK is the queen of butt quarters.  She loves ENJA and is so glad that she is okay.

YROD has just come in from smoking outside.  The others, we sang “smoking in the boys room.”  But now they are talking about smoking in the girls room without any prompting from me.

ENJA says you can’t shave his hairy back.

TAK says you have to shave your armpits.  

YROD says she’s traumatized because she has a hairy back and feels really bad and we will never see it now.

NASH, returning from the bathroom, shouts, “C’mere!” because she doesn’t believe and wants to see.  YROD “takes it back.” But now we all want to know if we can braid the hair on her back.

NASH snorts and chortles.

The consensus is that YROD really does have a hairy patch on her back.

LEN thinks it’s cute.  And ENJA says if she showed it to someone else they would find it cute.

YROD is going outside to cry and have a cig.

NASH, who missed it, is still crying, “I want to see it!”

ENJA: But YROD is seriously crying out there.

Now we’re talking about how sex is work.  

Everyone is tired.   TAK says that American Idol and her snuggi have ruined her sex life.  It’s the end of  the day; can we just go to sleep?  I don’t need any more cock in my life.  I’m all f*cked out.

You’ve got your snuggi and your American idol and you’re all fucked out.

We do it once a  month and it is work.  Work.

ENJA: When I first met him we f*cked like wild rabbits.  It was like, get me here!

TAK: Now the last thing on my mind is your f*cking nut sack in my face.

Many words about nut sacks and penis and what it is doing in my face and please remove it.

TAK: For him it is work, too.  You have to bend in different ways

This is followed by a discussion of various ways that one has to bend.

NIE: So, you don’t have to go to the gym?

TAK: I take the bus.  I f*cking run for the bus.  I climb onto it.  I’m on the bus and I’m like, I can’t believe this is my life. People on their cell phones telling all the details about their lives.  Everyone’s urinary and testicular problems are right there.  I wanna ask the driver if I can get off at the Smithfield bridge because I’m jumping.

Apparently, the most unlikely people are having active and satisfying sex lives.

TAK: I’m like, you’re like 500 pounds and you’re happier than I am.

We have taken a vote and YROD is going to keep her hair, which truly is not significant enough to even to be considered a “patch.” However TAK has suggested that YROD’s true father was Sasquatch.

YROD says she can go there.

Oestre Morning


Hi everyone:

The photos are in!  I have a new camera and am still learning how to use it, hence the weirdly blue light.  What a great time we all had.  Thanks to all the good spirits, human and canine, who were there.  Especially to Nadine, the canine queen.

Kimberly

The Origins of Easter and some thoughts about fertility and gadflies


220px-Ostara_by_Johannes_GehrtsChristians celeberate a feast day called “Easter,” on which they honor a murdered son and his miraculous return to life through the power of the Father.  This story reinterprets the much earlier, Babylonian myth of Osiris, in which Isis, “the Giver of Life,” mother of the sun, and “oldest of the old,” restores Osiris to life, mates with him, and then begets a falcon-headed sun-god, Horus.  Representations of Isis suckling her son were commonly associated with Mary and Jesus from the 5th century, A.C.E., onwards.

 

Jews celebrate a kind of renewal of life during Pesach, or Passover, and recall the time when the Destroying Angel “passed over” those houses whose doorways had been sprinkled with blood, but killed the firstborn sons of all others, giving Pharoh yet another powerful sign that he should release the Jews from captivity.

Blood and eggs feature prominently in both Easter and Passover.   Christian children hunt for and devour eggs that a magic rabbit has hidden, and Jews place a roasted or hard-boiled egg, the Beitzah on the Seder plate to commemorate and mourn the sacrifices that they used to make in the destroyed Temple. But the Beitzah also symbolizes the joyful return of life at springtime.

A tradition that appears to predate Judaism and Christianity, whose traces have lingered in the Middle East, Asia, and Old Europe, is the honoring of women’s power to give birth, symbolized again by blood and eggs.  Decorated goose eggs were found in a German grave that dates back to the 4th century.   Lithuanians began to decorate and share eggs with one another at least as early as the 13th century.  Common motifs on these eggs are  spirals, suns, teeth, trees, flora and birds.  According to  Lithuanian historian Marja Gimbutas, who pioneered archaeomythology, an interdisciplinary approach to scholarship that combines archaeology, mythology, ethnology, folklore, linguistic paleontology, and the study of historical documents,  these symbols represent fertility goddesses worshiped by the people of ancient Europe.

Persians have exchanged red-colored eggs to celebrate the beginning of their solar year for millenia.

According to Bede, the Northumbrian monk living c. 720 A.C.E., the oldest origins of Easter began in rituals for Eostre, or Ostara, a Saxon goddess associated with the Moon.The moon-hare was sacred in both eastern and western ancient practices.  When Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Holy Roman Empire, defeated the Saxons in 700s, all the months of the year were changed from their Latin names.  April was called “Osteranoth” in Frankish and Ostermonat in German.  Jacob Grimm speculated that the German equivalent “Ostern” derived from the name of the same goddess, Ostara, or Oestre.

A goddess with a similar name is found on some Roman altar stones from the Lower Rhine in North-West Germany.  These altars were dedicated to local mother goddesses, who frequently appeared as triple deities and were associated with fertility.   Similar altars dedicated to goddesses with Celtic names occur throughout northern Italy, France, Spain, and Britain, where the goddesses often have Celtic names.  Very close to St. Bede’s  Easterwines monastery at Monkwearmouth there is an ancient Roman fort where many inscriptions are found on an altar dedicated to Astarte, the Syrian and Phoenician fertility goddess.

Detail of ancient Mesopotamian so-called “Ishtar Vase” from Larsa, early 2nd millennium BC. The pubic triangle and belly-button are heavily emphasized, while the breasts were crudely scratched in as an afterthought.

Some scholars believe that Isis and Astarte are Egyptian and Syrian names for the same moon goddess whom the  Europeans worshipped.

As historian Richard Sermon observes, the name Ostare or Easter may derive from this goddess’s name:

It is theoretically possible to project forward the name Astarte to an intermediate *Astare or *Astre, which could then have appeared in Old English orthography as Eostre/Eostre. Furthermore, there is an earlier precedent for this intermediate name on the bilingual gold tablets from Pyrgi in Italy (c.500 Bc), that contain dedications to the Phoenician goddess Ashtaret… and her Etruscan counterpart Astre …

 Sermon also rightly points out that
 It is spurious to suggest that the early Church (centered around the eastern Mediterranean) would have timed its most important festival to coincide with that of a north European pagan goddess.

Nevertheless, the timing of the festival and the symbols with which it is associated, eggs and rabbits, also suggest that the Christian feast adapted local customs that far precede Christian practices.  Archaeological evidence strongly indicates that human belief in feminine deities as creators of all life is older than the current, dominant myth that a male father-god.

Fertility celebrations are found throughout ancient European and Mediterranean regions.  The Saxons, the Irish, and the Persians  all kept a movable feast on the first day of the week after the first full moon of the Spring equinox.

Bohemians also had a ritual on the day after Oestre Sunday, which was a “Moon-day,” in which village girls sacrificed the “Lord of Death” by throwing him into the water and singing,

Death swims in the water, spring comes to visit us,

With eggs that are red, with yellow pancakes,

We carried Death out of the village

We are carrying Summer into the village.

Ritualistically casting death into the river, the villagers celebrated the return of the growing season and new life, preparing for summer’s bounty with red eggs and sun-shaped and colored food.

“Oestre “also is the source of our scientific term, estrous, from the Latin Oestrus and the  Greek οἶστρος).  The Oxford English Dictionary defines the estrus cycle as

the period of sexual receptivity and fertility during the reproductive cycle of most female mammals; the time of being in heat.

Lefthandofeminism likes Wikipedia‘s version better:

The estrous cycle comprises the recurring physiological changes that are induced by reproductive hormones in most mammalian placental females. Humans undergo a menstrual cycle instead. Estrous cycles start after puberty in sexually mature females and are interrupted by anestrous phases or pregnancies. Typically estrous cycles continue until death. Some animals may display bloody vaginal discharge, often mistaken for menstruation, also called a “period”.

In The Left Hand of Darkness, all people of the planet Gethen experience estrus cycles, or periods of “kemmer,” which come and go.  As Le Guin observes,

Consider: Anyone can turn his[sic] hand to anything.  This sounds very simple, but its psychological effects are incalculable.  The fact that everyone between seventeen and thirty-five or so is liable to be…’tied down to child-bearing’ implies that no one is quite so thoroughly ‘tied down’ here as women, elsewhere, are likely to be–psychologically or physically. Burden and privilege are shared out pretty equally; everybody has the same risk or choice to make.  Therefore nobody here is as free as a free man anywhere else.

Consider: There is no division of humanity into strong and weak halves, protective/protected, dominant/submissive, owner/chattel, active/passive.

Imagine how extraordinary our world would be if, instead of obediently rehearsing these polarities in the liturgies of the Jewish, the Christian, and the Muslim traditions,  every year, we celebrated this time of year by considering the sexes as equals, as companions, as equally powerful and active agents.

What if we were to celebrate Eostre and the oestrus in Easter by recognizing our commonality with mammals, who, like us, give birth by virtue of the blood that softens our wombs and ebbs and flows in us, like the river of life?  What if, instead of lording it over mammals and all other animals, or granting supremacy to those who do lord around, we celebrated our mutual dependence on one another and on the planet from which all life springs?

We should especially celebrate  the oestrus, the gadfly that, by stinging, moves the more bovine among us out of the mud, where we are wallowing.

Let us also remember that the figural meaning of estrus and oestrus is “Something that incites a person to passionate, esp. creative, activity.”  Let’s all be gadflies tomorrow and incite one another to passionate bursts of creative activity.

And really–to all of you who celebrate the holiday, Happy Easter!