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The Abortion Question Must Be Cleared Up

June 2, 2009

Are the conservatives crying reverse racism so that the liberals will not notice Sotomayor’s (and Obama’s) failure to confirm if she is pro-choice or not? After reading Reclusive Leftist concerns about the lack of evidence pointing to Sotomayor’s political position on abortion, I have to wonder. The conservatives are very good at smoke screens. After all, they did manage to dupe the American people into a war with a country that had absolutely nothing to do with what happened on September 11, 2001 (Cassandra here did tell many people not to listen though. Cassandra was called a Nazi). Imagine if you are a conservative and you would very much like another anti-choice judge to be on the bench, but you have to save face and keep up appearances, you know, yada yada, “we must protest anything and everything coming from a president who ran on the Democratic ticket.”

It is all a performance on a stage, people!.

Without a doubt, I think Sotoymayor’s religion and lack of a clear stance on abortion is in fact worthy of suspect. Of course there are already people citing Catholic bigotry, — as if Catholic is not synonymous with anti-choice. To argue otherwise is merely to ponder exceptions to the rule.

I have first hand experience with Catholicism and anti-abortion. Under pressure from my mother (and being a very young mother who desperately wanted to please my demanding mother), I sent my oldest daughter to Catholic school for four years. Since she had not been baptized and put through all the dog and pony playacting showmanship the Catholic Church loves to roll around in, she was behind in punching her dance card. Being behind, we had to attend extra special classes to catch her up. They were boring and cold classes that trained one in rituals and responses. Nevertheless, one Saturday class was to take place at an anti-abortion rally an hour north. When I asked, what a rally had to do with classes, I was just stared at with vacant possession. We needed to have the box checked and the only way to get the box checked was to attend the rally. Father reminded me of my duty to my child and her Catholic education. Only claiming work got me excused, so I claimed I had to work. (I guess making money trumps everything, since it was rumored that the Father had ways of knowing if you were truly tithing what the Church expected you to tithe). Although I was not very political at the time, it all seemed wrong. And not soon after that, we quit the Catholic Church all together. (Mainly because I was too poor to continue to pay for private school, but you know, I do assert that I have been lucky in life. Unfortunate situations have saved me from other potentially unfortunate situations).

Interestingly, Racism Review is calling out white feminists for not defending Sotomayor against sexist remarks flung her way. Racism Review wants to know where are the bigwig white feminists such as Gloria Steinem. The Review has constructed an argument that basically concludes that white feminists are racists because they have not spoken out against wanker G.Gordon Liddy going on about Sotoymayor’s menstruating, or if they have spoken out,  they have not elevated that injustice over other concerns (I do know one presumably white feminist who has said something about the racism and another who discusses the sexism and racism). Of course, Liddy is a misogynist simpleton, he is G. Gordon Liddy. However, going back to my opening sentiment, I believe his blatant public misogyny is all an act (not saying he is not indeed a misogynist), nevertheless, all an act. There must always be a conveyance of resistance when one is dealing with one’s enemy (or I should say, the image of an enemy, because I am convinced the two sides are in bed together). Liddy and cronies cannot display public accord with Obama.

Nevertheless, racism allegations should not be ignored. Are the white feminists being racist by not firebombing Liddy? Most likely.  I think their prioritizing is the main culprit, or perhaps the rationalizing that prioritzing.  Having legal access to abortion affects all women and girls. To lose that access is to hurt all women and girls. Women and girls come in all colors, not just white. In the Sotomayor’s case, focusing on anti-racism benefits both men and women and does nothing to determine if Sotomayor is pro-choice or not.  Focusing on anti-catholic bigotry at this time benefits both men and women and does nothing to determine if Sotomayor is pro-choice or not. Until most feminists (and I don’t suspect all are white, but since the argument was directed at white feminists specifically) get an assurance about Sotomayor’s stand on abortion, it looks like little else is going to be addressed, I am sorry to say.

The conservatives want pro-choice advocates to run around in twenty different directions. Then when Sotomayor gets in, they look like they protested (thus they get to play the victim, white men love to play the victim, and they get points for “holding their ground against those horrible liberals”) and they get what they wanted (an anti-choice judge) (Unless she makes a clear pro-choice position).

When it comes to Supreme Court nominees, abortion seems to blind many (white) feminists from seeing anything else.

8 Comments
  1. atheistwoman permalink
    June 2, 2009 8:35 pm

    “(Cassandra here did tell many people not to listen though. Cassandra was called a Nazi)”

    Hey there can only be one Cassandra-Nazi in these parts. Maybe I’ll just take conspiracy theorist and call it a day.

    Well I would “firebomb” Liddy (hiya FBI, have a nice day!) but I hadn’t been aware of it, and frankly, what difference would it make?

    You are right about the abortion thing though…Ugh.

  2. June 2, 2009 10:13 pm

    Yeah, I am really out of the male-political loop. I mean, I knew Sotomayor had been nominated, but that’s really about it. The Roe thing, though, jeez. Abortion is important and all, but I can’t help but focus on the fact that if men weren’t fucking/raping all the damn time, women would have more of a say in when they got pregnant to begin with, and not just the choice to end a pregnancy once it had already begun. It’s not as if abortion being technically legal *now* means that every woman who needs one gets one. So, it just seems a little beside the point – not pointless, mind, just not the main point.

    • June 2, 2009 11:17 pm

      The freedom not to be fucked or raped is the No. 1 freedom women should have, but I think the freedom to choose whether to give birth is probably the No. 2 freedom, so I do think it is very, very important.

      It seems these days presidents have to pick a supreme court nominee who hasn’t ever ruled on abortion, or else the nominee won’t get confirmed. However, reading Sotomayor’s past rulings, she has referred to the sides of the abortion debate as “pro-choice” and “anti-abortion.” The fact that she didn’t call the anti-abortion side “pro-life” makes me suspect she’s not anti-abortion herself. Kind of grasping at straws, but with the way the system works you’re unlikely to get a clearcut answer on abortion before confirmation.

  3. June 2, 2009 11:46 pm

    Hey, joceclaire 🙂 I’m not saying that I don’t think abortion is important at all or that I don’t think it should exist. I’m just saying that, as things stand, with men and boys encouraged from day one almost to put their penises in women (and women and girls taught from day one that their vaginas are for men to put their penises into), there is *no way* that a legal, paper acknowledgment of women’s right to an abortion will *ever* ensure that all of the women who need and will need abortions under these circumstances are able to get one or any.

    So, I just think the issue ought to be approached from a different angle is all, one that gets to the heart of the matter.

  4. June 3, 2009 2:03 am

    VERY good post. Again.

  5. adia permalink
    June 3, 2009 2:08 am

    Just to clarify–my point in the Racism Review article wasn’t that “white feminists are racists because they have not spoken out against wanker G.Gordon Liddy going on about Sotoymayor’s menstruating, or if they have spoken out, they have not elevated that injustice over other concerns.” My point was that when white feminists don’t address issues of sexism that affect women of color, they undermine feminism at large. I don’t think it’s an issue of elevating one issue (sexist/racist attacks against Sotomayor) over others (presumably you mean here her stance on abortion), but instead recognizing that these are *both* issues that affect women and deserve attention. I view it less as a matter of prioritizing and more about taking a broad view that renders women’s right to choose just as important as denouncing those who subject women of any race, class, etc. to disgusting sexist attacks.

    On a related note, Jennifer Nelson has an interesting book out called “Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement,” (NYU Press) which argues that an exclusive or heightened focus on abortion w/in the reproductive rights movement may also marginalize poor women of color, for whom issues like forced sterilization, welfare reform, and access to child care are more immediate reproductive rights issues. Make no mistake: I am staunchly, ardently pro-choice and would not support Sotomayor (or any other potential justice) without assurance that she would uphold Roe v. Wade. But in keeping with my point above, I believe that as feminists, we must make sure we are cognizant of how race, class, sexuality, et. al shape women’s experiences. That doesn’t mean that white feminists are racist, simply that they should remember (or may need to be reminded) that they must address sexism’s various manifestations for all women.

    • June 3, 2009 4:48 am

      My point was that when white feminists don’t address issues of sexism that affect women of color, they undermine feminism at large.

      Yes, not addressing the sexism flung at woc does in fact undermine feminism in general (and it is racist, whether you said so or not). That is why I implied that the failure to do so is most likely racist.

      I don’t think it’s an issue of elevating one issue (sexist/racist attacks against Sotomayor) over others (presumably you mean here her stance on abortion), but instead recognizing that these are *both* issues that affect women and deserve attention.

      Perhaps it is not an issue for you , –and I do believe it would be best for feminism to recognize that both issues deserve equal attention, but it appears that elevating abortion over everything else is an issue for many white feminists. When it comes to abortion, it has been my experience that many white feminists do not want to hear anything else, argue or go in any other direction, until it is clear if the person they may support is pro-choice. Abortion is the Holy Grail. It does not matter if the person in question is male or female, white or non-white, it is for abortion or against abortion. Abortion is the center of every thing. I am sure now my point did not come through; because, I suppose I was trying hard not to add to the already established divide when I could have just said, “Don’t hold your breath.” But that seemed a little too cynical and in need of further explanation.

      There is already an adversarial relationship between white and woc feminists, with white feminists having less reasons to be the first to display good faith, –bury the hatchet if you will (it is that old, “why should I give up how good I got it, but I won’t admit it because this issue is for the good of all of us, can’t you see.”). Look at one of the very first comments you got, something like woc throw white women under the bus. I am inferring, but I assume that comment is referring back to the perception that woc supported Obama over Clinton. But, I cannot explore that headache right now. The reason I brought it up is because many white feminists will use that as a reason in the political sphere to justify a distrust of woc. By no means do I feel their methods/views are right, it is simply an observation regarding white feminists and how they leverage abortion issues. Mix a rationalized distrust of woc with a threat to legal abortion and there will be no generosity extended to Sotomayor by white feminists until it is clear she is pro-choice. For the record, I do think it will help if Sotomayor would state unequivocally her views on abortion. However, for the record, I don’t think white feminists are justified in demanding/expecting woc to be the first to demonstrate good faith. And, for the record, I think woc are justify to point out that white feminists have not rushed to defend Sotomayor against sexist attacks. So, I guess what I am saying is, there it is.

      *I went back and edited a few spots in an attempt to make myself clear. Sometimes it takes quite a few edits.

  6. adia permalink
    June 3, 2009 2:36 pm

    Fabulous Kitty: Thanks for clarifying. I see and agree w/your point that for many white feminists, the pro-choice question must be answered satisfactorily before any support is forthcoming. But that goes back to my point re: Jennifer Nelson’s book. What about poor women of color for whom the right to choose abortion is less salient than stopping forced sterilization? Accessing quality child care? The right to raise children in safe, violence-free environments? These are ALL reproductive rights issues if various groups of women have input in defining the issue, but poor women of color are so marginalized in the reproductive rights movement that it’s easy to think abortion is the beginning and end of this issue. At the risk of being repetitive, it is imperative that white women feminists realize that a feminist agenda includes the issues of sexism facing *all* women, which means recognizing that abortion rights are no more important than the issues of sterilization, poverty, and child care that I raise above. Thanks again for your clarification of your points; I appreciate the dialogue.

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