Category Archives: Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

Suddenly abortion’s not about “states’ rights”

Much like classic defenses of slavery and Jim Crow, talking about “state’s rights” in abortion debates is a way right-wingers can duck saying what they actually want. Except Lindsey Graham has now called for a national 15-week ban, which the bill’s disingenuous title describes as late-term abortions.

No surprise, at least not to me. The forced-birth movement has never made any secret that what they want is an end to abortion, not merely to return the issue to state government. But given how much pushback the Dobbs decision has already generated, Republicans are not happy Graham has played this card pre-election. Shakezula agrees it’s a lousy political move although some political pundits are struggling to explain how it’s a win for Republican strategy. As witness it’s inspiring more young women to vote.

So no surprise either that Repubs continue lying about what they want. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for instance, insists the right to abortion (and gay marriage) are perfectly safe. As Alexandri Petri snarks, they’d like you to believe they don’t support Graham’s anti-abortion position (“We just want to ban abortion first in one state, then another, then another, and we want to do that 50 times in total — until all the states have banned abortion! “)

Yesli Vega, a Repub candidate in Virginia, recycles another old lie, that rape won’t get you pregnant: “it wouldn’t surprise me, because it’s not something that’s happening organically. Right? You’re forcing it.” This is both wrong and irrelevant: if Vega opposes abortion rights for rape victims, it wouldn’t matter if it’s only one or two people who lose their rights (I’m sure she doesn’t think aborting only a couple of babies is acceptable). She’s factually wrong about rape and pregnancy, but I imagine the point is the same as with the late, unlamented Todd Akin — if rape doesn’t produce pregnancy, women who say they were raped are just lying sluts so obviously no abortions for them!

Meanwhile the Family Research Council lies that abortion is never life-saving. They then whine at being called out for lying — and yes it’s a lie.

Fellow Virginia Republican Jennifer Kiggans grumbles that Dems “are trying to make that the issue to deflect, right, from all of the issues that voters really care about. They’re trying to distract with these shiny objects like the abortion issue.” How dare women inconvenience Kiggans’ political career by caring about their lives?

As for the idea touted by some right-to-lifers that red states will up their support for mothers and children, well, no.

And finally, Baptist News looks at the convoluted interaction of abortion and original sin. And here’s a profile of one activist who helped make abortion an issue.

I go into forced-birth bullshit in more detail in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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The ongoing war against reproductive rights and women

As you may have heard, Kansas voters reasserted the state constitution protects the right to abortion. In Michigan, pro-choice supporters collected more than a million signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in the fall; Republicans on the relevant approval board rejected it because the spacing between words was inconsistent. It’s now up to a judge whether it gets on the fall ballot. No surprise that people who want to assert their dominance over women don’t think women (or anyone) should have a say in refusing.

Abortion restrictions are unpopular so like Blake Masters, many Republican candidates are simply lying about their opposition to abortion. Rep. Michelle Steel in California, for instance, has backed off a no-exemption stance and insists that a nationwide ban is hypothetical so why discuss it? Of course the only reason it’s hypothetical is that Republicans haven’t been able to pass one — yet.

Governor Greg Abbott claimed Texas’ new forced birth law and it’s lack of a rape exemption wasn’t a problem for rape victims because he would see Texas eliminate rape. The arrest rate for rape has dropped by half since he took office but not to worry, rape victims can just take emergency contraception! I’m curious if he sticks to his claim it’s not an abortifacent — after all, despite winning several million in a personal disability lawsuit, he’s fought to immunize Texas from disability lawsuits. And while he says mass shootings are a mental health problem rather than a gun problem, he’s slashed mental health services to spend more fighting illegal immigration.

A number of forced birthers promised that with abortion banned, we’d see a golden age of right-wing legislation to make life easier for mothers, rape victims, children. etc. They lied.  “Sixty-two percent of pregnancies in Mississippi are unplanned, yet Mississippi does not require insurance to cover contraceptives and prohibits educators from demonstrating proper contraceptive use.” Because the only contraception many right-wingers believe in is women refusing sex (unless they’re married, because then they have no choice). However Mississippi was fine taking welfare money and paying Bret Favre to give speeches.

The difficulty of providing abortion training in abortion-ban states may mean some areas lose ob/gyn services.

Even before Dobbs, women, particularly women of color, were often prosecuted for miscarriage because they’d used drugs, whether or not there was a clear connection with the loss of the fetus.

I’ll close with a quote from evangelical writer Norman Geisler (via Slacktivist) that “Birth is not morally necessitated without consent. No woman should be forced to carry a child if she did not consent to intercourse. A violent intrusion into a woman’s womb does not bring with it a moral birthright for the embryo. The mother has a right to refuse that her body be used as an object of sexual intrusion. The violation of her honor and personhood was enough evil without compounding her plight by forcing an unwanted child on her besides. … the right of the potential life (the embryo) is overshadowed by the right of the actual life of the mother. The rights to life, health, and self-determination — i.e., the rights to personhood — of the fully human mother take precedence over that of the potentially human embryo.”

As always, you can find more on this topic in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. It came out pre-Dobbs, but it’s still timely.

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Dying is easy — indexing is hard!

(For the source of my title, click here).

But it’s done. As of this morning, I finished the index for Alien Visitors. This afternoon I reread McFarland’s instructions for indexing, corrected some errors, and proofed the whole thing.

I’ve also completed the list of errors in the text, though I still have to add notes identifying them. Fortunately I figured out how to do that in PDF. The big challenge will be that as I got the galleys — used to be we’d get edited proofs first — the pagination can’t change. So if there’s anything deleted or added that would affect the following page, I have to make a counterbalancing addition or deletion so the text stays constant. In a couple of spots, this will be a challenge.

It’s doable though. I’ll have it done by the end of the month, then take the first two days of September through Labor Day (maybe Labor Day) off.

I’m impressed to see that like so many writers, a deadline can push me beyond my limits. I’ve put in way more hours than usual this week to get the job finished. Unfortunately some of that time came out of things like exercising, which is not optional. And reading, which is optional, but not really (I can’t do without it for too long). Besides which, this isn’t creative work. Indexing and proofing requires close attention to detail but I never have to stop and ask myself what comes next or whether what I’ve written works. Accuracy is all I need. So I doubt this heralds a sudden boost in my productivity, but you never know …

And then there’s the dogs. The photo above is from a recent trip to doggie rehab — they both need it for different reasons — when Plushie decided he wanted to be drive. He didn’t get his wish, but I’m sure you knew that.

The past two weeks, though, have been less cute. First we took them in for dental checkups. Trixie was in good shape but Plushie, who resists tooth-brushing, had to have two teeth removed, plus the under-the-gums stumps from some previous effort. That meant nothing but soft food for a week, which is a problem since it excluded most of his treats. Fortunately they think pasta is delicious so I made a couple of extra pots of it and fed him that.

This week, repeated jumping off the bed upstairs threw his back out again. He’s on cage rest and heavy painkillers for ten days or possibly a little longer. That makes caring for him more complicated — we have to carry him up the stairs — though it’s easier to concentrate on work when he’s not right in my personal space. Except when he gives the agonized “my foot is caught in a bear trap, I’m suffering!” whine for being caged (no, it’s not because of pain. Trust me). However the pain meds are taking care of that by keeping him zonked.

All in all, a good week, if not exactly a lively one.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover image remain with current holder.

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Abortion under siege (other rights too)

A lot of people, including the right-to-life movement insist there’s zero chance of the Dobbs decision leading to bans on contraception or gay marriage. Of course, the right-to-life movement also claimed they didn’t support prosecuting women who get abortions but when it happens they aren’t out there protesting. So I think they’re lying again. And their goal to establish full personhood for fetuses (see the first link) will be a great hammer that law enforcement will use to hurt mothers, as it does already. So will the threat to doctors if they abort to save the mother and a court decides the risk wasn’t great enough.

Texas is quite willing to take the lead cracking down on gay marriage and gay rights period. It’s only a matter of time before the case hits the current theocrats of the Supreme Court. The results won’t be pretty. Several Supreme Court decisions have included comments that if people dislike the law, elect someone who can change it. This is some impressively brazen bullshit given the Supremes will support any Republican scheme to gerrymander and they may soon eliminate any power state courts have to prevent such schemes. They’re eager, in Josh Hammer’s words, to deliver justice—which Josh Hammer, for one, defines as punishing enemies and rewarding friends.

As Erik Wemple says, there were no shortage of pundits saying SCOTUS would not overturn Roe. Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker was one of them but she insists (at the second link) she was “At the time it was written, it was accurate — it was on the nose.” Meaning that she couldn’t possibly have foreseen Trump electing enough conservative justices to make Roe a dead precedent (if she didn’t foresee that possibility, she’s a poor predictor). And besides, Kavanaugh, whom she predicted would uphold Roe, would totally have done it if the radical pro-choicers hadn’t protested against him! Of course, Parker is the same hack who predicted Trump would totally not be a shock to the established system.

Other pundits are recycling an argument that Western Europe has way more restrictive laws than the U.S. Not true.

Forced-birthers are still hoping to find ways to stop patients leaving the state for abortions. That includes making it harder for 10-year-old rape victims not to bear the child, never mind the mental and physical toll. And yet, as Scott Lemieux says, we’re supposed to respect their high moral fiber. Or buy into the idea that if we’d compromised more on abortion, they’d be more compassionate. Nah. But variations of “now that abortion is gone, we’ll be really concerned about helping mothers” are widespread on the right. See Peggy Noonan try this approach and get mocked for it!

Some judges are still blocking anti-abortion laws. Florida too. Good for them (though a higher court overturned this one, alas). I know these restraining orders will fall eventually, but every day they stand, some woman who needs an abortion is free to get one. Which makes it disastrous that after the Biden administration appointed a record number of judges its first year, Senate Democrats are sitting on their butts about filling vacancies. These positions matter! Here’s another example.

Of course the forced-birthers on SCOTUS are protected from dealing with protesters by a buffer zone — but when buffer zones inconvenience anti-abortion activists, they’re unconstitutional.

Helaine Olen explains why companies paying for employee out-of-state abortion trips is not the fix we need. However, anti-vax bullshit artist/attorney Matt Staver is on the case, declaring that this reduces women to slave labor.

Biden has called for a filibuster exception to pass pro-choice legislation. That’s good, though I doubt it can happen.

Some men are rushing to get vasectomies in the wake of Dobbs.

Let’s hope Jennifer Rubin is right and forced-birthers’ total disregard for women will rebound on them.

While it came out before the Dobbs decision, my Undead Sexist Cliches covers a lot of the misogynist and inaccurate thinking that fuels the forced-birth movement. It’s available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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This seems like a good time for a link post about abortion, does it not?

Yes, it can get worse.

Republicans have lied in the past and pretended women who get abortions won’t ever be prosecuted. Now, though? Conservative Louisiana politicians are already looking at making abortion a homicide and charging the mother. The Missouri legislature was looking at a bill that would criminalize aborting ectopic pregnancies, even though the fetus can’t be saved. The sponsor, Brian Seitz objects the bill wouldn’t affect ectopic abortions because they’re legal — but then what was the point of the ban?

My guess is that he does want to criminalize them — it’s not like this would be unique — but backed off when the opposition got intense. Of course, even laws which don’t flat out ban treating them can intimidate doctors — is it a life-threatening emergency yet, or not?

Ohio Republican Jean Schmidt thinks forcing teenage rape victims to bear their rapist’s baby is a personal growth opportunity. Again, this is a standard-issue right-wing viewpoint. So are lies about ob/gyn science and abortion.

The son of an ob/gyn who performed abortions says the media and medical professionals trying to pacify forced-birthers hasn’t worked out well.

Adoption is not the miracle solution to replacing abortion.

If abortion is illegal we’ll see more doctors reporting patients to the cops, even when not required.

Neither is Republican Senator Susan Collins saying she’s really, really upset that judges she voted to appoint didn’t tell the truth about their abortion views. It’s her MO in most awkward political situations — wring her hands and then do absolutely nothing. Other Republicans are focusing their outrage on whoever leaked the draft.

Alito’s draft opinion says gosh, his reasoning doesn’t apply to any rights or prior decisions but Roe, but the same logic could easily apply to rights of gay marriage, birth control and interracial marriage. LGM thinks gay marriage is the only one immediately at risk but I think the poster underestimates right-wing hostility to sexually active women. Though Republican pundits such as Megan McArdle are very loud that it’ll never happen.

But it can get better. Stopping medical abortions will be a lot tougher than surgical procedures. Voting pro-choice Dems into office or keeping them in office can help protect our rights (the Activate America campaign I’m working on now has that goal).

Some abortion providers in blue states are looking at other ways to help. Connecticut just passed a bill refusing to accept the various “sue a provider even out of state” laws red states are passing. More like this, please.

For more on the misogynist reasoning and lies of the forced-birth movement, read Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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A good week, though not because of writing

This was not a wildly productive week, but I anticipated that. Today, you see, I set aside time to give blood; after I got back, I knew I wouldn’t be feeling creative. It’s the double-dosage donation though, so I won’t be back until  September.

Wednesday, also planned, we went to the North Carolina Zoo. TYG got us memberships as an anniversary gift in 2019 but our anniversary is the summer — way too hot — and the fall got crazy. Then came the pandemic. So it’s been a while. It’s laid out very well, with large enclosures for herds and animal families and lots of walking — it’s been a long time since I walked six miles on one day. Above, a hellbender; below, a puffin.It was a great day. It turns out I can turn down the noise in my mind  and focus when I have something this cool to pay attention to. And it’s always good to see that TYG and I can still spend hours together and enjoy it. The dogs went to a local day-boarding place for the first time in two years; I was quite tickled the staff remember them. But hey, they are awesome.

Somewhere in there, I did get work done. I sent off two short stories and two nonfiction queries on Monday and revamped Undead Sexist Cliches so that the paperback version now has a table of contents (I’d screwed up and omitted it). Amazon is currently reviewing the text for problems so I’ll have to link to the ebook for now.

Tuesday was the day to bat out about 5,000 words on Impossible Takes a Little Longer. It turned out to be the day that got nibbled to death by distractions. A dead animal in the driveway that TYG asked me to remove. A spider in the house (ditto). And driving the car to get the tires checked before our 90 minute drive to the zoo. Plus it turns out that I simply sketched the plot of the next few chapters, figuring it would be much like it was in the last draft. Due to the changes in the first 25,000 words, it’s not going to fly. So not much done.

I had better luck Thursday with Adventure of the Red Leech. Going over it, I found my plot holds together much better than I thought. Rewriting shouldn’t be too hard. I didn’t get as far as I expected this week, though. First, I was still tired from our hike Wednesday. Second, I discovered Oh the Places You’ll Go!, which has been at the magazine I submitted to for around two months, wasn’t being strongly considered — they rejected it the first week but didn’t say so (possibly now that they’re using Moksha they expect everyone to check for themselves). That put me in a very unenthused mood for a couple of hours.

But it’s a good week, regardless. We must make an effort to do more fun stuff like this.

#SFWApro.

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Unsurprisingly but disastrously, the Supreme Court has ended Roe.

It’s  a leaked draft but it appears it’s the real deal. LGM has initial analysis of what it means. For example, that the legal reasoning would also count against the right to birth control, gay marriage or interracial marriage.

I have nothing deep to say about this yet, other than that this has never been primarily about the rights of the fetus. It’s much more about how much the religious right hates women having sex without risk of pregnancy. After all, only men are supposed to enjoy sex before marriage. And because they tell themselves women never need life-saving abortions. The worst of them don’t see women as having any rights, any more than aquariums.

And beyond that, some Republicans simply can’t see the world through anyone else’s eyes. If an abortion ban isn’t a problem for them (they’re male, past childbearing age, they can afford to get one discreetly) it doesn’t concern them.

I think the analysis in Undead Sexist Cliches of abortion rights is still sound, even though it’s now out of date.  The Kindle version is listed separately. It’s also available from multiple other ebook retailers.

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The misogynist lies Republicans tell themselves (and us)

So Oklahoma has joined so many other Republican-controlled states in passing a no-rape exception anti-abortion bill. Then Kentucky came out with one even worse: it requires abortion providers submit a number of forms that don’t exist yet. Until the state provides the forms, providing an abortion even in a life-saving situation would be illegal, so the clinics are shuttered until then.

This means any woman who needs an abortion to save her life will die if she isn’t able to get out of state. But they don’t care. Hell, in Georgia they considered a bill in 2012 that would force women to carry dead babies to term.

And as I’ve mentioned before, if a rape victim has to bear the pregnancy to term, that’s going to cost her. Ob/gyn bills can add up even if she doesn’t insurance. It’s necessary for the health of both the mother and the fetus. You’d think those Republicans, oh so concerned about the fetus’s well-being, would cover the costs; after all, the woman’s being coerced into a pregnancy against her will. But again, nope.

Much like the Shirley Exception, forced-birthers tell us lies to hand-wave away that they’re monsters. They tell themselves the same lies for the same reason. That abortion is never necessary to save the mother’s life, which is a lie. That rape doesn’t get women pregnant, which is another lie.

Then there are the lies about rape victims, most notably that they’re all they’re lying sluts, or that if the rape happened, she was asking for it (to be fair these lies extend way beyond the Republican Party). So why should they give her a free ride through her pregnancy when she’s either lying or brought it on herself? Hell, the slut should be grateful — God’s given her a baby. It would be a slap in God’s face to refuse the precious present (my detailed rejection of this view is at the link).

These let them pretend that they’re good people and not malicious misogynist shits. But it’s a pretense and nothing more.

I go into forced-birth bullshit in more detail in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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What a difference a year makes!

My birthday 2021 was, I wrote, “meh,” starting with having had almost no sleep. I woke up this morning refreshed. Last year we didn’t do anything much because of the pandemic; this year we’re boosted, covid’s dying down (yes, I’m aware a new variant is on the horizon) and we’re going to have fun.

It’s a sign of the changes that last weekend was well, strange. No, not because of an eclipse, that photo’s from the lunar one in December. But TYG and I were actually social, in person, for the first time in ages. A friend of ours was in town so she came over to meet the dogs and then go out to dinner. Sunday I went to my friend and fellow writer Allegra Gullino‘s birthday party (TYG had to work). I ate, chatted with Allegra and a bunch of our fellow writers and had a terrific time.

It’s also been, looking back, a good year. I didn’t get much fiction done but I finished The Aliens Are Here, finished Undead Sexist Cliches (and I hand-sold one to my friend), and finished the golem article I was working on (looking back a year ago, it’s striking how much golem-fiction I was reading). Now I’m looking at a year with lots of time to write fiction.

And of course I have TYG — my personal happy ever after — and the pups, and the cats. I know none of this is forever because nothing is (and lord knows what Republicans will do to this country before I die) but life is better right now than I ever imagined it would be at 64.

Happy birthday to me.

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Undead Sexist Cliches: The Legend of Og and Thog

One of the rationalizations for men and women having fixed, separate roles is that our gender differences evovled in the Paleolithic. Society has changed radically but our genes haven’t had a chance to catch up; like it or not, men and women still respond to impulses and mating drives laid down in the stone age. It may not be fair, but it’s scientific fact, so sorry feminists.

Actually no. This is what evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk describes as a paleofantasy, an explanation of gender differences based not on science but on speculation and guesswork about what our ancestors were like? And the basis of that guesswork, of course, is what we’re like today (or what people think we’re like) because obviously that must be how our ancestors lived. The late science writer Stephen Jay Gould calls this kind of science-based mythology a “just so story.” To give one example of how it works — only it doesn’t work — consider two Paleolithic cavemen, Og and Thog.

Og is monogamous. He takes a mate and stays with her until one of them dies. Thog is a lech who sleeps with a different woman every week. In three years, the odds are that Og will have at most three children; Thog, by contrast, could easily have more than a hundred; as he doesn’t let any one woman tie him down, he’s never held back by the responsibilities of raising the children he sires.

The result is that Thog passes on his promiscuity genes to probably 50 boys or more. As his sons have the same genetic edge, the gene inevitably spreads through all men.

The women, though? No matter how much they sleep around, they rarely spread their genes to more than one kid a year. Promiscuity works against them because what they need isn’t sex but a man who can help raise their children to adulthood. Faithfulness and a willingness to cook and provide sex are their best shot at landing a man, though they have to fight against the male promiscuity gene. The end result is the world we see today: women try to get love and support, men try to get sex. Women want to stay home and care for their bundle of genes, men want to go out and screw. You can’t expect men to be faithful naturally, or to help care for the kids. Sorry ladies, it may be unfair but it’s just how things are.

None of this holds up (I have detailed footnotes in the book for all this stuff; you can find a lot of it here). For starters, Og and Thog and their mates will spread their genes to their daughters as well as their sons; some women will acquire Thog’s promiscuous instincts, some boys will inherit the maternal domestic genes. The only way that doesn’t happen is if the relevant genes are completely sex-linked. As we don’t even know the genes exist, this is a very large assumption.

Does the hypothesis really capture the way men and women are? It’s certainly a popular, accepted stereotype of relationships, one I’ve heard repeated in dating advice books dozens of times (and The Flintstones, of course, presented those stereotypes as truly being Stone Age stuff. But very few men engage in Thog levels of promiscuity; as a group, human males are way, way more involved in child care than most animal species. This makes sense; passing on your genes won’t do any good unless your kids grow up healthy and desirable enough to reproduce themselves too.

One counter-argument is that social codes set limits on men; given freedom and power, men will go through women like Kleenex. Certainly there are dictators and tyrants who’ve done this, ditto religious leaders. But does that prove all men are really like that, or that men who crave absolute power are like that? And if men’s real lusts are repressed by society, couldn’t the same be true of women? Women who sleep around are judged much more harshly than men; maybe it’s not surprising they’re more conservative in such matters.

Another problem is that Thog’s mating strategy isn’t that good. If Og and his wife make naked pretzels once a week, the odds of conceiving a kid are good. There’s a good chance a number of Thog’s lovers won’t conceive, which reduces the benefits of his actions. Besides didn’t our hunter/gatherer ancestors live in small bands by our standards? The chance Thog could find that many women to sleep with, or that the women of the community wouldn’t be aware of his reputation is pretty slim. And as I already pointed out, bearing lots of children isn’t an advantage if they don’t all grow up and have children too. Perhaps Og and his mate, raising a few children and watching over them, will pass on their genes to more people than feckless Thog.

I’m not claiming my alternatives are certain fact. My point is they’re every bit as plausible as the Og and Thog legend and have just as much evidence (basically none) behind them. And, I think, considerably more logic. The Og and Thog thesis assumes there’s no other plausible alternative. That just ain’t the case.

Book cover by Kemp Ward, comics cover by Steve Pugh. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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