Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things


It Looks Like House Republicans Have Decided It’s Not Okay to Hit Women, Again

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(Flickr/Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights)

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act reached a new low (or high, depending on your point of view) Tuesday, as Republicans in the House announced that they’d introduce a new, less far-reaching version of the Act already passed by the Senate, reports Talking Points Memo. Except this time, if the bill fails to pass, they’ll just vote on the version that made it through the Senate.

The difference between the two bills comes down to whether gay and lesbian victims of domestic violence would be clearly labeled as eligible for protection from domestic violence (the version passed by the Senate includes such language; the one proposed by House Republicans does not). It also specifically calls out acts that occur in Native American communities and cases involving illegal immigrants. TPM says:

“The big admission implicit in this latest move is that House GOP leaders don’t believe they have the votes to pass their version of the bill but that the Senate version is likely to pass the chamber. So this way they’ll give House conservatives the first bite at the apple as a way of saving face and still resolve an issue that has hurt them politically.”

A Democratic aide in the House also went as far to focus on Speaker of the House John Boehner for attempting “to appease the crazy wing of his party,” painting this forthcoming loss as yet another sign that party unity is not working anymore. As the New York Times reported in early 2012, the slow movement surrounding the reauthorization of this bill sits in sharp contrast to the many renewals the Violence Against Women Act received over the years since it was introduced in 1994.

There’s been a great deal of attention to the illegal immigration and gay rights aspects of this bill, but author Louise Erdich wrote in an op-ed focusing on the part of the act that would protect tribal women. “What seems like dry legislation can leave Native women at the mercy of their predators or provide a slim margin of hope for justice,” she wrote. “As a Cheyenne proverb goes, a nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.”

What’s Wrong With The Discussion About Defunding Planned Parenthood

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I have a couple issues with the language people that I agree with (LIBERALS) are using to talk about the (potential and likely) defunding of Planned Parenthood by Congress.

1. Emphasizing that abortion services count for only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services

To those opponents of funding Planned Parenthood, it doesn’t matter that organization performs relatively few abortions in proportion to their other services. Republicans might be harping on and exaggerating the number, but they’re doing this for dramatic effect. To them, the number could be .5 percent, or 90 percent, as one of our lovely senator’s claimed. It doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that abortion is an option at all that is the sticking point, whether they’re framing it like that or not.

Additionally, getting upset that defunding Planned Parenthood over one, tiny little thing like abortion because it would damage lots of other services like birth control is fair, but not helpful. Abortion isn’t the issue; it’s the tip of the iceberg. These people aren’t going to go halfsies with you on a PB&J; they want all or nothing, and they’re not going to stop until they can refuse women the right to purchase Plan B, or birth control, or anything that lets women take control of their own bodies. Abortion is just one small thing in a list a mile long of things Conservatives will try to take away from women and men to make their lives that much more difficult under the guise of being holding up “morals” and having a “conscience.”

2. Framing this issue as a “War Against Women”

I don’t disagree with the stance; Republicans are attacking women, who, let’s remember, count for over 50 percent of our population and are half the reason that we all exist in the first place. But framing this issue as a war against only women is isolating members of that other half. This is a war against everyone, men included, and a fundamental fight to the death about the way we should be allowed to live our lives. Painting Planned Parenthood as an organization that just benefits women (or, alternatively, only helps men on the macro scale) is not only inaccurate, it does a disservice to the millions of men who should also be up in arms about this issue because they are people too.

None of this changes where I stand. But history has shown us, time and again, that the way we frame our arguments during contentious times has long and lasting effects on the potential for broad-sweeping change in thought. And it doesn’t change what you should be doing this weekend: Writing letters, signing petitions, donating to Planned Parenthood, and generally girding your loins for what looks to be the hardest of fights.

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