Quote of the Day

My working-class neighborhood is filled with women who got married to weak, cheating men with substance abuse problems, mostly because of unplanned pregnancies. And these women are working really hard – they go to school, they try to better themselves – but they feel like the responsibility is theirs alone, because that’s the way it’s always been.

As I’ve mentioned before, I never hear about women having abortions anymore. We seem to have pressured and shamed a lot of them out of it, and as a result, the world of women’s options gets even smaller, at least in the working class world.

And that’s why this quote really pissed me off:

NOW’s obsession over abortion is, in effect, betraying a long tradition of American women’s advocacy on behalf of the wellbeing of families and the poor.

I mean, really. Those selfish women who want abortion coverage have abandoned their traditional role as saintly volunteer doormats. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what Theda Skocpol is saying here, right?

And I can’t figure out why. I mean, I even agree with the idea that we need to pass this shitty healthcare bill and fix it later, but there’s just something about this statement that makes me want to smash something in Theda’s face, and in Matt Yglesias’s face for agreeing with her.

Theda Skocpol is an academic, and although she’s certainly had to deal with sexism, she perhaps hasn’t felt the urgency of paying the rent the way the women in my part of the city do. Matt Yglesias went to the Dalton School, and then to Harvard. Whether he understands it or not, he’s had a privileged life.

Not like the women in my neighborhood. One woman tells me she got pregnant in high school by her then-boyfriend, a meth addict. (Lots of meth and crack in my part of the city.) He ended up going to prison for five years, he’s coming out now and she’s falling apart. Because she’s made a new life for herself and her kid. She has a decent job, a nice apartment and a stable environment to raise her daughter. She looks at me, eyes brimming: “He thinks he’s coming out to live with me and my daughter, and I don’t want him in my life. But if I don’t let him move in with me, and he starts doing drugs again, I feel like it’s my fault!”

No, honey, it’s not. Women have been propping up losers for a long time and it doesn’t work, I tell her. But I wonder if she’s listening.

Because too many women have been trained to be saintly doormats, and here we are, listening to the privileged explain why that’s such a useful tool for the liberal political establishment!

Yes, instead of having a serious discussion about how we have to balance the passage of this healthcare bill with the very real need of women to have access to abortion when their financial or emotional stability is on the line, we get a snippy lecture from the academics.

And then they wonder why we’re losing people to the Tea Party.

14 thoughts on “Quote of the Day

  1. “Feminists”? In quotes? I went back to the original piece to confirm that yes, she put feminist in quotes. Oh, she is so above the fray… And you were way too mellow. Fuck her and her appeal to all us extremists to just be reasonable. Maybe we should be, but not for her and her nose-up attitude.

  2. Susie, your link to our site implies that we support the Tea Party movement. Nothing could be further from the truth. We do not now, nor have we every been supporters of the Tea Party movement. We understand that it is organized and run by Republicans and is actively misleading people to vote against their own economic interests.
    However, we do support liberal movements and feel that the time is right for one to take shape. There will be a tipping point. The HCR bills may be it.

  3. The link isn’t meant to imply that you’re Tea Party supporters. I linked to your post because it summed up how the Democratic party is ignoring the needs of the base.

  4. There’s absolutely no doubt that you’re right on target with this, Susie. NOW has abandoned it’s original mission re: abortion when it comes to poor, working class women. During the late 60’s and early 70’s I can still see Bella Abzug with her big hats marching for women’s rights and equality, and women of all stripes were included. It wasn’t an uppity movement as it has become. We need a new Her-ro to fight for the lower classes in this country. FUCK Bart Stupak!

  5. It’s a set-up for an excuse if HCR fails, and a win for the Catholic Bishops and congressmen of “The Family” if it passes. Women are no longer (if they ever were) a group deserving of representation, but are merely shrill roadblocks to the serious work of healthcare legislation. How selfish of us. Damn “feminists.”

    Did you read the comments from Yglesias’ post? Abortion is now a “small” issue, unimportant, certainly not worth fighting about (unless you’re fighting to defund it), irrelevant. That’s what a democratic majority has brought us.

  6. I didn’t like Prof Skocpol’s scare quotes either and wished I could have taken them out or something when quoting her. It should be possible to disagree with NOW on the merits of the legislation at hand without engaging in that kind of condescension.

    But this genuinely isn’t an issue about whether or not women should be doormats. The question is whether or not women would be better off with the health reform bill, as amended by Ben Nelson. What Skocpol is saying is that women will be better off with the bill in place. Not that women should take a back seat to advance some larger interest. The point is that ending gender discrimination in insurance premiums is going to be a huge boost to women’s financial welfare in general, and that the provision of generous subsidies will be a boon to poor people — a group that’s mostly composed of women.

  7. Yes, Matt, I know all that. As I said, the shitty bill should be passed. But I don’t think most policy wonks and academics truly understand the vast array of logistical hurdles in the way of a working class woman’s survival (let alone success), and they shouldn’t be so damned quick to “explain” to them why this is really a win. What it is, is a long-term improvement that inflicts suffering right this minute, and to write off that suffering as Skocpol did is really fucking insensitive.

  8. Well, Susie, I read you and respect you, but I do not agree this time with you, Yglesias or Skocpol’s “reasoning. I read both posts, as far as I am concerned this is another “take two steps back for women”. FIX, FIX, FIX, if I really believed that, please. When will women understand what has been going on forever?

  9. NOW is absolutely right to take the position it’s taking. It’s supposed to advance women’s rights and a healthcare bill that makes women second-class citizens is no kind of healthcare bill at all. And let’s face it, if NOW doesn’t stand up and object, who in the hell will? Yglesias and other “progressives” have made it pretty clear that it’s always okay to sacrifice women for some greater “good”. From what I can see there’s almost nothing that would cause them to urge a veto over a bill just because of women’s rights. I mean, the Senate bill absolutely sucks. It mandates people buy crap insurance with nothing in it to control costs and it contains the horrible excise tax. It’s further right than what Nixon proposed for gawd’s sake, but guys like Matt have made it pretty clear that no matter how awful it is, progressives should still support it, even those of us whose rights it would further erode.

    You know, I can’t stand the NRA but I do admire their tactics. Nobody fucks with them on their issues and you know why? Because they don’t urge their members to accept some shitty, half-assed compromise. If NOW is becoming more like that, then I’m all for it. I’m sick of having even women’s groups tell me to accept being screwed over because it’s for my own good. To hell it is.

  10. y’know, people are always saying no one is pro-abortion, but they don’t know me! so many women (and men too) would be better off if there were more of them. it’s no tragedy or sin, it’s a simple medical procedure. i contend that abortion advocacy is the single best thing NOW could do to advance the welfare of poor and families. and btw, i had a teacher when i was a freshman in high school who called me “bella” because of my politics. a badge of honor it was…

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