Monday, June 18, 2012

Shut Up & "Act Lke A Lady"? Oh, HELL No!

House Chamber, Michigan State Capitol
House Chamber, Michigan State Capitol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I really don't want to play into the stereotype of this bitchy, hairy legged woman always whining about how "men done us wrong."  I adore men.  Most men are decent, honorable, wonderful people. I love looking at men, talking with men, writing about men, and playing with men.

Some men, however, are total assclowns who are deliberately working to suppress the voices and rights of women. (There are female collaborators, as well, who work to suppress every woman's voice but her own, or those women who think "the right way.")  Some men (and women) are simply oblivious - haven't men always done all the talkin'?

Even when it comes to "women's issues," women are only "allowed" or asked to speak a small percentage of the time. 

Why is that? Aren't there plenty of intelligent, articulate, dynamic women capable of speaking on every issue, from economics to war to politics? Women form the majority of the US population - why so small a voice?

Why are the "go-to guys" always guys?

You've heard about what recently happened in Michigan, right? Recently brought to the Michigan House was a highly restrictive abortion bill, with controversial provisions such as a total ban on abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions made for saving the life of the mother.  From Michigan Live:
Right to Life has said the package “represents the largest collection of pro-life legislation ever addressed at one time” by Michigan lawmakers.

Planned Parenthood calls the legislation the “biggest assault on women’s health in our state’s history.”

(HEBH-5711, as passed by the Michigan House on June 13, 2012, can be read in the link. It still has to go before the Michigan Senate and the Governor to become law.)

I am pro-choice, but I think there are many points voiced by the right-to-life movement that have validity, and deserve to be heard.  I also think men's opinion should be taken into consideration as well - but they need to turn down the volume, they ain't the ones driving this bus.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," was written as a summation of Voltaire's philosophy by his biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall. It has always been considered by many, many Americans as one of THE defining qualities of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

So why were two female elected officials banned from speaking on any issue, as punishment for speaking up on this one in a way of which Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas did not approve?

from the Detroit Free Press:
Brown and Byrum were doing their jobs. Jim Stamas was killing democracy. This wasn't a decision to not recognize a verbose or just plain dumb colleague.

The way he did it, was, by all accounts, a first.

 "It's never happened," legislative historian and Inside Politics editor Bill Ballenger said. "There is no precedent. There have been altercations in the House and Senate. But the idea of the controlling party, Republican or Democratic, censuring, in a sense, two of its members for speech, literally clamping down on their free-speech rights? It never happened and shouldn't happen. And, in my view, won't happen again." 

So, men can engage in "altercations" and that doesn't affect the "decorum of the House," but women had better act like ladies? from the Huffington Post:
Ari Adler, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Jase Bolger (R-Marshall), said the lawmakers were banned from speaking because of their behavior, not because of their word choice. "They behaved in a way that disrupted the decorum of the House," Adler said. "For Brown, it was not the words she used, but the way she used them that resulted in her being gaveled down." In Byrum's case, Adler said, "I hate to put it this way, but she essentially had a temper tantrum on the House floor.

Really? A "temper tantrum"? Let us see for ourselves, shall we?

So, brawling by men on the Floor = okay?  Men have never raised their voices on the Floor?  While a woman daring to raise her voice - how unseemly!

I saw Rep. Byrum fighting to be heard. I saw Rep. Brown speaking with passion and emotion, daring to use the word vagina and to proclaim that other people's interest in regulating hers (and by inference, those of other women) is unwelcome and unwanted. No does mean no, to me.  Personally, I apply "no" to everything from access to my vagina, to declining dessert or cocktails at a party. (Oh, who am I kidding? Like I ever decline dessert or a cocktail.) Still, it's the principle of the thing.

I did not "get" that Brown "used her words" in a way that "disrupted the decorum of the House."  But perhaps I simply don't understand what delicate flowers the Michigan male representatives are, so easily shocked and offended.

From The Detroit News:
"What she said was offensive," said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. "It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company."
Really? Really? <facepalm>

Yet he would happily regulate, in mixed company, vaginas, uteri, embryos and fetuses.

This seems like yet another excuse to squelch women and women's voices, and lately, there have been so many of them.  It almost makes me want to stop shaving my legs.

But wait, there's more.

According to the Michigan state constitution, there are two ways of passing new laws - the normal way, in which the majority passes a law, and it comes to pass in a way that allows plenty of time for it to be debated, or even overturned.

Then there's the fast track, aka "immediate effect." The fast track allows laws to be implemented right away, no waiting period, but does require requires more than 2/3 majority to vote yes. In the Michigan House, there are 110 members, so if even 38 people vote no, the new law can only be implemented via the "normal route."  (At least according to my understanding of the law.)

In the Michigan House there are currently 63 Republicans and 47 Democrats. Sometimes Democrats do vote with the Republicans, and vice versa. On other votes, however, the Dems insist they all voted as a bloc - 47 No's, and yet, the bill was recorded as "immediate effect," as if there were 73 in favor.

That's just not possible.

Maybe that's partly what Brown meant when she said No Means No.

Please watch the clip, below, and note how fast Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas can (supposedly) count 73 heads. (At about 1:58.)

Can anyone claim that Stamas took an honest-to-goodness head count there?

It appears they have already predetermined what they are going to do in Michigan, in some back room where they don't have to worry about saying the word vagina or other "offensive" words, because it's a small cluster of good ol' boys.  The whole concept of debate and voting and representatives who speak for their constituents has become a dog-and-pony show, one to be dispensed with whenever the Powers-That-Be feel bored or embarrassed.

Why not deny Byrum or Brown their illusory rights to be heard? Trying to add and discuss an amendment to require the same restrictions on providers of male genital surgery as for abortion, really? Airing the word vagina out in public - who the hell do these uppity women think they are? They should be ashamed!

It looks to me like a coup d'etat has occurred in Michigan, and the rest of America, heck, even most of Michigan, hasn't even noticed till recently.

I wouldn't be surprised if one of the next fast-track bills in Michigan is one to make it illegal to record, photograph, or publish an account of the votes being pretend-counted in its House or Senate.

Now maybe you're thinking, gee, I'm really glad I don't live in Michigan (I know I am). Well, we are the United States; what happens in Michigan or Mississippi does matter.

I for one am not ready to give up on my country. 

Yes, the US has been far from perfect, even from its founding. Native Americans deprived of their land and heritage; Africans enslaved, women treated as property; foreign countries invaded on made-up premises; the list can (and does) go on and on. But our ideals are still good, and for all her faults and flaws, I think there is still hope we can get closer to those shining ideals of how people can have a working government that represents people - not corporations or only the rich. (Or only men).

 ...of the people, by the people, for the people.

 Aren't women people, too? I believe as women we've become complacent. We've had some rights, including abortion rights, for a few decades now. As far as media coverage and political presence - sure, we're underrepresented, but...  Our ladylike attitude seems to be, well, at least we don't have to eat in the kitchen anymore. At least we have a seat in the dining room (even if it's at the kiddie table). We are pitifully grateful if we are not beaten as much, denigrated as much, or as disregarded as much as we used to be. We seem to think, if we continue to grovel and apologize for those angry feminists, over there, that we will eventually get invited to sit at the grown-up table.

As women, we need to speak out, act out, and above all, educate ourselves and VOTE, or we are going to lose all those hard-fought rights.  The kind of men who oppose women's rights are not going to change their minds because we act "nice" or "ladylike."

And if some guy whimpers that women have acted bitchy, or angry, or that we use words we should not "in mixed company," I'm going to smile and say, "VAGINA. VAGINA. VAGINA."

What's your take on what's going on in Michigan?
Did you think either representative was deserving of censorship?
How fast can you count to 73?
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