Montana’s CI-108

November 6, 2011

As promised, I’m posting about CI-108, the latest personhood amendment attempt from the MT anti-choicers.  I’ll be honest though. It’s actually difficult for me to get fired up about it this time around.  Montana’s citizens have rejected similar attempts before.  None of the previous initiatives have gathered enough signatures.

My concern, however, is that I’m not the only one having a hard time getting fired up, and the signature gatherers will be able to use that to their advantage this time around.  Are they just reintroducing the same initiative over and over to wear us down?  It might not be a bad strategy.

CI-108 would be a particularly dangerous amendment, if it made it to the ballot.  It modifies the Due Process clause of the state constitution to define “person” as anything from a fertilized egg onward.  And you may recall the the Due Process clause reads “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

Ponder that for a moment, if you will.  Replace the word person with fertilized egg, zygote, embryo or fetus.   No fertilized egg shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.   Can you see where this is going?

It is clearly a method of outlawing abortion or at least making it so difficult to obtain that it is effectively outlawed.  It could even be used to outlaw the use of certain types of birth control, including Plan B, IUDs, or anything that might prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

And even though many people think this is a bit ridiculous it could actually bring about a situation where miscarriages had to be investigated to determine if they qualified as negligent homicide or something.  Did the woman drink or smoke, exercise too much or too little?   Did she eat sushi that included raw fish?  What about unpasteurized cheese or anything else known to be harmful to fetal development?

These amendment attempts keep cropping up all over the place.  I believe Mississippi and Colorado are also targets at the moment.

My sincere hope is that the initiative will fail to qualify for the ballot again due to lack of signatures.  I haven’t quite figured out when the deadline for submission is, though.  As always, I encourage everyone to be very aware of what it is you’re being asked to sign.  We’ve had instances of petitioners being very deceitful in the past.

I’ll share more information as I find it.

 

I’ve posted about Dollhouse before.  You can see previous posts here, here and here. The big thing I took away from most of the eps of Dollhouse was consent.  It seemed to me that Joss Whedon was exploring differing levels of consent and how valid the consent of the person who signed themselves over to the Dollhouse could really be.

It couldn’t really be informed consent, could it?  So is it really valid?

I’m not sure the show has, or ever will answer that question, but I believe it is worth pondering in any case.

Season 2 of Dollhouse starts tonight.  By all accounts it will be darker than season 1.  I’m really looking forward to finding out where the series goes from here.

I also happened across (thanks to Whedonesque.com) this, somewhat dated, but recently posted interview with Joss Whedon about Dollhouse.  It gives a little insight into how he sees the show and what he intends.  It’s worth reading.

The way we use language

March 20, 2009

Yesterday, Courtney over at Feministing posted a list of five issues she wishes feminist men were taking on and asked commenters to add their own.

I’ve been pondering which issues I wish feminist men were taking on, and then I came across this post, On Language and the Comodication of Sexism via Humor at Shakesville, by Melissa McEwan.

At the top of my list of things I wish feminist men were thinking about, talking about and addressing more is the use of sexist, reductive language. When I hear men, especially feminist men crack jokes using words like slut and cougar, it really depresses me. And as Ms. McEwan points out, often taking a stand and pointing out that these sorts of things are not acceptable results in being viewed as humorless, over-sensitive and weak.

Ponder this for a second. Everyone understands the ridiculous, sexist difference between studs and sluts. Men who have sex with a lot of women are praised as studs. Women who have sex with a lot of men (or maybe even not that many) are vilified as sluts. So why would any reasonable feminist man use the word?

Cougar is even more offensive. It likens any 30+ year old woman who considers dating younger men to a predatory animal. It’s reductive and disgusting. Full-stop.

I wish that people in general would give more thought to the language that they use, but particularly feminist men. The way we use language affects the way we think. Accepting the use of certain terms makes it harder to to battle the concepts behind them. Feminist men are in a good position to take on this issue, pointing out to their friends and acquaintances that such language is sexist, hurtful and gross.

So now that I’ve ranted a bit, here’s my list of four (’cause that’s what I came up with) things I wish feminist men would take on more:

  1. The use of sexist, racist and homophobic language.

  2. Sexist, racist and homophobic “jokes.
  3. Access to birth control.
  4. Sex Education in schools (See Courtney’s #1).

Oh, and as a bonus, how about crap like this? Read this post at feministing in response to a disgusting post over at askmen.com.

Whedon vs. Whedon

March 19, 2009

Joss Whedon the feminist, vs. Joss Whedon the writer, director, creator.

There are a lot of folks out there who consistently try to judge Joss Whedon’s television shows through a very strict feminist lens because he’s a professed feminist and sometimes writes strong female characters. On one hand, I think discussion of feminist issues is always a good thing. On the other hand, I’m insanely bored with people criticizing Mr. Whedon because the women in his shows aren’t all strong, or always strong and don’t always win and aren’t always right.

It doesn’t seem to matter that he writes television where the women are often very strong, win a good portion of the time and are very frequently right. It also doesn’t matter that who or what a person is in real life doesn’t always translate directly into their art. Or that in real life even strong women aren’t always strong or right or win every battle, or are even always happy.

It seems to me that balancing a feminist sensibility with a desire to write a show that enough people will watch and enjoy to keep it on the air has got to be a nearly impossible task.

What I think Mr. Whedon does better than most television writers is write female characters who are real and have dimension. They’re not just eye candy, they don’t just serve a single purpose and they’re not cookie cutter or stereotypes. Buffy, Anya, Faith, Willow, Tara, Zoe, River, Kaylee, Cordelia and Fred (to name a few) all had depth. None of them were perfect. They all had flaws, pain and weakness. Some had more flaws, more pain or greater weaknesses than others. But to be fair, Mr. Whedon’s male characters are certainly no less flawed, pained or burdened with weaknesses than are his female characters.

I think many of Mr. Whedon’s critics think that because he is a professed feminist who supports Equality Now and has been honored by them, and because he enjoys writing strong female characters, that somehow every female character he writes should fit some sort of feminist ideal. I think that’s a ridiculous expectation and would most likely result in colossally boring television.

Now Dollhouse comes along, and just a few episodes in some feminists are crying foul, or at least criticizing the show from a feminist standpoint. Again, I always think that discussion of feminist issues is good, and Dollhouse certainly has some people talking, but I really think it’s too soon to judge the show and I think some of the judgments being made are unfair and over the top.

I recently followed a link from Whedonesque to a pod cast criticizing Dollhouse/Joss Whedon where one of the critics admits that she hasn’t even watched the show. That was the point where I turned the pod cast off.

I also happened across a blog post where the writer stated that all five episodes thus far have included sexual violence. (I apologize for not providing the link, but I didn’t save it and can’t recall how I found it.) There has been violence in all of the eps thus far, and since our heroine is a woman and the bad guys thus far have been… well… guys, naturally some of that violence has been between male and female characters, but I wouldn’t define it all as sexual in nature or even as having sexual components or overtones. Some of it, yes, but not all and certainly not episode 5, True Believer.

Dollhouse is a slow starter and I’m sure that a lot of viewers are far too impatient to stick it out until it really takes off. Some others are disappointed because Dollhouse doesn’t have the comedy element that Mr. Whedon’s previous shows have had.

I think that Dollhouse is a complex show with a lot of potential and I plan to keep watching and see where it goes, for as long as Fox keeps it on the air. And to be honest, I’m not sure how I could judge the show from a feminist standpoint, even if I wanted to. The starring actress has played a minimum of two different characters per episode and not all of those women can be strong, though many of them have been. They certainly cannot have the same depth that I appreciate in Mr. Whedon’s other female characters, and Echo (the recurring personality) specifically does not have depth, being a rather childlike, suggestible and easily controlled base personality.

Right now, what I know is that the show keeps me more interested with each new episode and that I want to see what happens next. I think it will be worth revisiting this discussion after a few more episodes, when we have a better idea of what the heck is going on, but for now I think it’s best to sit back, watch the show unfold and eat some popcorn.

Access to Birth Control

February 9, 2009

One issue that continues to come up in state legislatures and assemblies across the US is access to birth control. Do Pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions or do women have the right to have their proscriptions filled without delay or interference?

Is it really appropriate for a person to refuse to do their job on religious grounds, while retaining that job?

Here in Montana there are several bills currently in committee that relate to this issue. On the side of those who support the supposed right to refuse is HB 351. It provides protections to pharmacists and medical practitioners who refuse services on religious grounds. It elevates this supposed right to refuse prescriptions or services to that of a basic civil right. It allows practitioners to refuse to advise, prescribe, provide, or perform certain drugs or health care services, or assist in those activities. It goes on to specify that the health care services that may be refused include artificial birth control, abortifacients and abortion, amongst others. For the moment, I’ll focus on birth control.

HB 351 offers these practitioners protection against, among other things, hiring discrimination, demotion, transfer, termination, and denial of licensing or certification. So if a pharmacist starts to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control, this would protect them from being fired. In most jobs that I know of, refusing to do your job is perfectly reasonable grounds for termination.

The bill also states that there can’t be hiring discrimination or refusal to license or certify these providers. How can someone be certified or licensed to do a job that they won’t do? How can employers be required to consider applicants who admit up front that they will be refusing to do part of their job? That wouldn’t fly in any other hiring situation I can think of.

On the side of those who support access to birth control are two very similar bills, HB 257 and HB 307. HB 257 would enable a woman to have her prescription filled directly by her doctor or other medical practitioner who has prescriptive rights when no pharmacy is available within her community. It also goes on to allow certain prescriptions to be filled by a nonpharmacist auxiliary and require the board of pharmacy to determine procedures necessary for the licensing and registration of these auxiliaries. HB 307 is very similar except that it does not allow for these auxiliaries and it specifies the distance to the nearest available pharmacy as 25 miles from the patients residence.

I can see where some might object to the auxiliaries listed in 257, but I don’t personally see a big issue there. The stipulation that the board of pharmacy will determine the licensing and registration procedures seems reasonable. However, I see a significant issue with the distance requirement in 307. Twenty five miles may seem like a short distance to most of us, but consider that these situations have the greatest impact on the poorest amongst us, such as those most likely to lack a reliable vehicle to travel these distances with. Imagine a woman who is struggling to make it on minimum wage, without a car, trying to find a way to travel to a pharmacy that is 24.7 miles away. That seems like an undue burden to me.

HB 284, the Montana Pharmacy Patient Protection Act addresses the issue more directly. The language of this bill states that pharmacies have a duty to fill prescriptions for any drugs or devices that they carry, without undue delay. Undue delay is defined as “an extension of the normal delivery cycle sufficient to jeopardize or alter the patient treatment plan.” It goes on to state that if the pharmacy has run out of the drug or device that it shall offer to obtain the drug or device according to normal procedure. Additionally, if the drug or device is not normally carried by the pharmacy the pharmacy should locate a reasonably accessible pharmacy that does carry the drug or device and transfer the prescription.

HB 284 adds further protections in that pharmacists are not allowed to begin refusing to provide services without 90 days notice to their employer. They also may not destroy unfilled prescriptions (yes, this has happened).

None of these bills is perfect. I would rather see one that combines the patient protections of 284 with the provisions of 257 and 307, allowing for medical practitioners to provide these prescriptions should the need arise.

I don’t believe that pharmacists have a right to impose their religious beliefs on the public they serve. The right they do have is a right to change careers, should they find that their conscience will no longer allow them to perform their required job duties.

On the other hand, I believe that patients do have a right to have their prescriptions filled, without delay, interference or judgment, unless there is some sort of medical danger that can be shown to exist, as in the case of medications that will interact in dangerous ways. I also believe that women have a right to control their fertility and that this right is fundamental to achieving gender equality.

In the end, this sort of refusal to provide drugs and procedures is gender discrimination, plain and simple. It isn’t about religious objections to birth control as much as it is about controlling women. I believe the law must protect us against this sort of discrimination, rather than allowing or enabling it.

Introductory Post

February 9, 2009

Well, here is it, my new blog. Now what?

Who am I? I’m a nerd and a feminist with a strong interest in politics, especially state politics.

I love science fiction. I read and watch quite a bit of it and will probably post a fair number of scifi related posts here.

Over the past couple of years I’ve become more and more interested in feminist issues. I read feminist blogs and find that I have experience with or strong opinions on more and more of the posts that I read.

I’ve also become more politically engaged than ever. My focus these days is on state politics. I live in Montana and our state legislature is currently in session. I find myself reading bills, listening to sessions online and contacting my representatives a lot. Many of the issues I feel strongly about are issues that other states are also dealing with, so I don’t think this blog will end up being too Montana specific.

This blog is an experiment for me. I feel as though I have things to say and I’m trying to figure out how to say them. It’s not that I’ve never posted my opinions on the web before. I’ve had a personal journal, read by a few friends, but this isn’t going to be the same sort of thing.

I’ve decided to remain anonymous for the moment, but not because I want to attack Sarah Palin, though it’s possible she’ll come up. Truthfully, it’s partly because I have read some of the comments at other feminist blogs and partly because I think I may want to post some things that I don’t necessarily want associated with me in real life. That may change.

I’ve got ideas for a few posts rattling around in my brain, so I’ll try to start putting them up this evening.

Until then, thank you for visiting.