GOP shame game hits snag, still winning the long con

24 February 2012

Richmond, VA: The Virginia personhood bill has been tabled by the state senate. Don’t worry, folks! It’s only been tabled until next year. Because the real con game here isn’t about personhood or abortion, it’s shaming women! (BTW: the unnecessary ultrasound bill is ready for the VA governor’s signature, even though it’s no longer a trans-vaginal probe ultrasound!)

Ever disliked a woman? A female boss, an ex-girlfriend, Nancy Pelosi, that mean girl in high school, that woman who got into a college that rejected you? Weeellll. This game shames all women, and that’s gotta be good for all of us!

This game is a lot like chess, except with blunt instruments. This is the long con, the game that stretches out for years. This game is not for the faint of heart.

Step #1 has already been accomplished: Making the abortion issue solely about women’s shame. When was the last time you saw a woman in one of those t-shirts that says, “I had an abortion”? Ha! All that screaming outside of women’s health clinics = success!

Step #2: Shift those glasses you’re wearing to black and white. Don’t be fooled by talk of “incest exceptions,” “women’s health,” “rape,” or “Republicans favor small government.” There is right and there is wrong, folks! Never the twain shall meet! And what is right is that men get to have patriarchal control over everything, and that women be shamed into silence and sexual submission.

Step #3: There is no hyperbole too outrageous. Propose a bill that requires all women seeking birth control to undergo religious counselling. A bill that requires female circumcision of all girls starting at the age of 10. Nothing is too extreme if you’re draped in the righteousness of Christianity!

Addendum to Step #3: Don’t worry if you lose these small battles — that’s not the point! The point is that we win the war, and the war is about shaming women and requiring female silence! In fact, the more hyperbolic the bill, the more we make all women think, “Hang on, am I supposed to be ashamed that I need birth control pills to manage my fibroid condition?”

Step #4: Shame all women in the public sphere who might offer up a counter-argument to female shame and silence. Let’s take the story of Quanitta “Queen” Underwood, the female boxer who’s likely to be the US’s best Olympic hope for the lightweight belt. Just recently she revealed something she had never told her closest friends: that between the ages of 10 and 13, Queen’s father raped her and her older sister on a regular basis. At first, he raped her older sister while Queen lay next to her in bed, pretending to be asleep. Eventually they told their (absent) mother, and he was imprisoned. This kind of coming-through-slaughter story is exactly what we need to squelch!

Solution: Propose that female boxers be forced to wear skirts when they compete. See how wearing a skirt reminds women athletes that the only important thing about their skill is their lady-business and/or how pretty they are? Get everyone distracted by the skirts question such that they ignore the Queen’s tale of survival — it doesn’t matter that you lose this campaign, because we’ll just propose skirts again for the next sport!

Our favorite part of this proposal: the perversion of the notion of choice. The outcome of this battle is that now, female boxers get to “choose” between shorts or a skirt.

And that leads to our last Step, #5: Rewrite the notion of choice. Bombard the airwaves with new definitions of the “right to choose” in a campaign so intense that everyone forgets that this terminology once had anything to do with abortion.

Example: Michelle Bachmann calls herself a feminist and speaks of the right to choose to raise 23 foster children. See how that muddies the water about choice, narrowing it down to the issue of how to be a mother?

Example: Sarah Palin calls herself a feminist and speaks of the right to choose between using a vacuum cleaner or crawling around the house on one’s hands and knees with a sponge and a bucket of water. You gotta leave room open for the fundamentalists who decry vacuum cleaners, after all.

Example: Lawmakers decide to end what some feminists call “rape culture” by urging Americans to “choose femininity, not rape.” This will mean nothing aside from shutting up those ugly women who want to break the silence. “Why do you choose rape?” we can ask in response. “Why talk about such nasty things as infections, diseases, humiliation, injury? Why not choose femininity?”

The shame game is one we will win, provided we all commit to it for the long haul. Down side: your daughters will grow up stupid, hunchbacked, and will cringe annoyingly whenever they’re spoken to. Up side: you won’t have to pay for college! and when you get bored with your alternately pregnant/breast-feeding wife, you can sleep with whomever you like, free of consequences.

Men = winners!

17 Responses to “GOP shame game hits snag, still winning the long con”

  1. Didion,
    I just love your blog and the way you call out misogyny and hypocrisy. It is time we start to Police Sperm the way we police women’s eggs!

    Your fan,

    • Didion Says:

      Many thanks, Michael! And I really need to tell all readers to check out your post on policing sperm, because it’s one of three cases I know of in which Democrats have tried to call out the misogyny & hypocrisy within state legislatures (Virginia and Georgia are the others).

      I’m sorry to say that my own post is just not very funny, because I really do see this as a long con, and I really do see the outcome being the shaming and silencing of women. In fact, if I were to narrow down my whole reason for being a feminist, I’d say it had to do with combating women’s shame and silence. I can’t believe that in my own lifetime I’d see girls cease to feel shame for being smart — such that there’s now a college gender gap of 57 women for every 43 men enrolled — yet those same women would embrace new extremes in sexual shame re: their bodies, their reproductive rights, and the violence they experience. It’s really hard to be funny about this, or even to see a satirical way into the topic.

      And hence I confirm the humorless feminist stereotype (again).

      • And what further shocks me is how many women are so anti-women–this type of internalized oppression scares me. You are spot on when you talk about the shaming of women and the continued objectification of women.

      • Didion Says:

        Women shaming women is neither new nor surprising to me — it’s such an effective, immediate pathway for some women to gain power. We couldn’t have Bachmanns and Palins unless they’d committed to high levels of women-shaming. Even in fictional roles on TV or in film, female characters articulate the most violent levels of women=shaming. How else can a female character display herself to be an independent thinker unless she clucks at a prostitute character, or wags her finger at a sluttily-dressed teenager who’s gotten raped?

        Ugh. I’m in a foul mood today.

      • Dear heart,

        I’m sorry you are in a foul mood. I hope you know that I, and many others, take so much inspiration from your words/blog. You are making the world a better place and isn’t that what it is all about?

        Your fan,

      • Didion Says:

        Really, really, really: thank you! Because I want to feel encouraged by how gay rights has moved ahead — by the fact that even Rick Santorum isn’t attacking gay marriage or gay sex or “man-on-dog” whatever. I want to feel encouraged that at least his handlers have warned him that this kind of gaybashing is just not on anymore. Yet I feel as if whereas the 2004 election was all about gaybashing, now it’s women-bashing — and women make up a slight majority of the US population! How is this possible?

      • I am completely nonplussed by such virulent misogyny! It is up to all of us to educate.

  2. servetus Says:

    This is great satire, but every time I read about this there are two words my brain catches on: “vaginal ultrasound.” It’s an amazingly unpleasant procedure. Like all the hate for women with which we are suddenly surrounded, it just makes me want to crumple.

    • Didion Says:

      I know. I know perfectly well that none of this is very funny. I want to know, why stop at vaginal probes? Why not require all abortions be accompanied by a mandatory disembowelment? That’s not very funny, either.

      • servetus Says:

        Or just save money by summarily executing every woman who mentions she might be considering getting an abortion.

  3. One more dark reality is the cost in dollars and cents. That’s our cash sent to organizations working to hold onto our modest gains over the last forty years.

    • Didion Says:

      Glad to see I’m not the only one susceptible to pessimism this Friday. Just last week I sent off a check to Planned Parenthood and thought, why is it that I can work so hard — in my private life as well as my life as an educator — only to have years of settled wisdom like the importance of birth control thrown into question by a moron like Rick Santorum?

  4. JSA Lowe Says:

    Damn, Feminéma. You just KILLED it. Reposting to FB—

    • Didion Says:

      I’d like to say that we should all print t-shirts saying something like FEMINISTS AGAINST SHAME. But you know what? It’s really, really easy to make me feel shame. One of my friends told me recently that she was aggressively sexually harassed by a senior colleague (touching, hugging, kissing, propositions) and that she still feels ashamed for not figuring out what to do about it. Another feels ashamed because she never lost weight after having a baby. Another feels ashamed because she can’t find a job in this brutal job market.

      But maybe it’s something to try for, yeah? Because if I can admit being susceptible to shame, I’m also willing to stop being silent about it.

  5. Aldine Says:

    oh dear. I feel ashamed about going on and on again last year about how we need *more* shame in our culture (i was thinking of rude people on their mobile phones, who don’t shut up even when you glare at them; or kids who don’t give up their seat to elderly people on the bus; or the students in my class who say “i didn’t do the reading because i thought it was boring;” or the rising levels of incivility in public generally.) After reading your post Didion, I can see that we have shame about all the wrong things.

    It is just so depressing to contemplate the slight of hand that goes on with debates over women’s fertility. The number of children dying of starvation around the world right now is truly staggering; and the increasing rates of child poverty in the US are horrendous. Where are the Rick Santorums to care about these children? They worry about restoring the nuclear family, yet they have no problem supporting continual wars and mass incarceration which inevitably breaks up family units. Oh, and they’re keen to abolish the EPA, so companies can further poison the environment in which children live. They clearly couldn’t give a toss about actual children. They’re only interested in lecturing women on why they should have MORE kids. Why can’t shame be turned back on the Santorums for their lack of interest in live children, and their focus on fictitious ones?

    on a lighter note, we took your advice last night and went to see Martha Marcy May Marlene, which was brilliant. Thanks.

    • Didion Says:

      I love it that “on a lighter note” you saw Martha Marcy May Marlene. Very un-light, that movie, but man has it ever stuck in my mind.

      I am all about shaming Rick Santorum and all the rest of them. I am a shame re-distributor. All the shame has been dumped on poor women and none has been picked up by politicians, CEOs, those misogynist pigs who comment online using ALL CAPS, and fundamentalists who think weirdly that Jesus was all about punishing the poor.

      Also: now Rick Santorum is against college education? Where does one even begin with him?

  6. […] more enlightened by my research, but perhaps you’re wondering: why does it seem that U.S. Republicans seem so eager to shame women, Blacks, Latinos, and/or the poor? Well, duh! The Shame Differential© explains all! Who do you […]

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