Guerilla Tactics of the Human Rights War

October 24, 2012 Blogs, Former Pioneer Staff Print Print
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Howdy, everyone! Sorry for the delay. Fall break, the flu, and a deluge of tests collaborated to prevent me from getting regular posts up. But I am once again wroth with the Facebooks, so here we go.

Take a look at this.

Now, nobody start screaming yet. The individual who posted this is a devout Catholic with a paramilitary background, and a good man. I want to be clear on that, because I’m addressing the problems associated with posting this shit, not the man himself.

 

Let’s also be clear on one more thing: I don’t agree that women’s reproductive health care is an issue that should be politicized. Decisions made regarding personal health are hard enough without around 600 politicians standing over your shoulder. So, for the record, women’s health is (to me) an individual choice and politicians should butt out.

The corollary here is that: the other side of this argument must be acknowledged as a valid point of view for discourse to occur.

For those that aren’t sure, the other side of this argument is (very generally) that certain options related to women’s reproductive health are morally reprehensible and should be legislated against.

No, I don’t agree. Does that mean that the other side has no right to hold that opinion? Nope. An opinion is an opinion is an opinion.

I can’t call bullshit on someone else for no reason other than; “because bullshit.” While it may not be, to me, a moral or ethical behavioral/belief system, it is to that person and I must respect that they hold that belief to have any discussion whatsoever.

Ok, disclaimers aside: here we go.

There’s obviously a few things wrong with this. Straight up, no lie. Here’s a short list because a long list would have us here all day.

1. The comparison is horrible.

2. There are severe generalizations on both sides, to the point of making what almost looks like a “straw man” argument.

3. The wording obscures the point, so that it seems at first glance as if there is a 1-1 comparison being made and that both sides are being equally decried.

4. Even if all of the above were overlooked, there is still a contention made that fighting for rights/beliefs is not a valid course of action without the presence of violence.

5. Finally, there’s the fact that this follows the “first world problems” meme model. The comparison belittles half of an argument that is polarizing the entire nation, by pointing out that since it could be worse, the other side’s argument is invalid.

Holy troll logic, Batman!

Point the first: comparing non-analogous incidents to make a point is always bad. While in both cases, gender war is being waged, in the case on the left, the woman has been physically attacked and brutalized. In the case on the right, the argument is for equal rights and is being waged as a legal and social battle against selective discrimination in healthcare. This is not an equal comparison.

The analogy (cause y’all know I love me an analogy) is comparing the movement for equal LGBT rights to the fight against laws that make it legal to kill gay people. Same general group of people being attacked, both are serious concerns, but these are two very different types of attack. Comparing physical violence to a denial of rights is not an equal comparison. Both are serious, but it’s two different spheres.

To jump off a deep end, there is a similar argument made to create a false fear: that if abortion remains legal without any of the tweaky little caveats, women will use elective abortion as late in the day birth control. I will not argue this one out, because sanity.

But the principle is the same. Any time an argument, however valid or invalid, is compared to a broad assumption or to a non-analogous but similar argument, you are failing to make a reasoned comparison.

This leads neatly into point two: generalization. On the left, and I’m going to try for once to handle this with kid gloves, is an extreme example used for maximum shock. Women are abused, maimed, and killed for trying to exercise equal rights in situations where severe rights abuse and retaliation for attempts to exercise those rights are tolerated or the norm.

This is a serious issue. Acid throwing is a horrible practice that is widespread in certain parts of the world. But let’s step back for a moment. On the one hand, holy shit women are being horribly abused! On the other hand, if we’re going to use this as an example, could we focus for a moment on the bit about acid throwing?!

This is a woman. Who’s been attacked with acid. For an unknown “infraction” presumably to do with modesty, but potentially because her husband felt like it. Or her neighbor. Or the psycho down the street. So yeah as examples go, this is a pretty strong and attention grabbing one. But as a goddamn human being, my first response isn’t “women are being tortured.”

My first response is “oh my gods, people are being assaulted with acid! Someone get Chuck Norris a nuclear flamethrower and a C130, stat!”

Does it happen to men? No clue. Couldn’t say, didn’t find anything. But at the end of the day, that’s a horror unto itself and should be treated as such, not thrown out as an umbrella argument for abuses of women.

I mean, seriously. If we’re going to have a talk about women’s rights, let’s talk about the abuses of women’s rights and cover the ground that needs to be covered, damn it. This is part of the picture, but to claim it as a whole is both horrific in it’s ethnocentric arrogance and degrading to reduce it to a shock tactic to make other rights concerns seem less pressing.

Women in cultures where this is acceptable can face grinding, horrific lives involving casual brutality, lack of education, and slavery. So should this issue be addressed? Hell yes. Should you slap it on a meme a shock tactic to represent the brutality against women that is rampant worldwide? Hell no.

On the right, we have the claim that this woman, Sandra Fluke, “believes there’s a war on women in America because she can’t get enough condoms to get her through law school.”

Full stop. What?

The left side panel’s generalizations are sneaky, hard to address, and basically the kind of argument sane (not sane, if you missed that bit) people won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Because calling it out can make you look like an ass.

The right side, on the other hand, is rife with juicy bits to call out. First off, the bit about condoms to get through lawyer school implies: Sandra Fluke is only obtaining a law degree through sexual liaisons, Fluke is sexually promiscuous, the only reason a woman would want birth control must be to allow her to be sexually promiscuous, Fluke is an entitlement junkie that wants the government to sponsor a multi-year consequences free sex junket…I could go on. For pages.

So we’ll address these first because there’s really only one response: you misogynistic, chauvinistic, morally reprehensible, ethically challenged boor. I personally know several young ladies that rely on birth control to regulate and temper their menstrual cycles to keep said cycles from a) rendering them immobile for half the month every month due to excruciating agony; or b) keep their cycles from straight up killing them or destroying their bodies.

And let’s not beat around the bush, here, guys: ever been kicked in the nads? Not a love tap. Full on assault to the babymakers. Saying it hurts is like saying oxygen is somewhat conducive to civilization, right?

Now imagine being kicked in your tenders twice a second. For a minimum of one week, up to two weeks, at a stretch. Starting roughly at age 10. While having people tell you that this is now a part of your normal day to day existence, and will occur monthly for the next twenty to thirty years. Oh, and there’s a medication that can lessen the suffering, but God says it’s a sin. Have a nice day!

Boys, if this was happening to men, there’d be automatic birth control dispensers on every street corner. You’d hit the ATM, walk two steps, and hit the AHD, or “Automatic HALLE-FREAKIN-LUJAH Dispensary.”

And that’s when considering it as a quality of life mechanism. As in, bestowing some, not adding to some that already exists. One woman I know locked herself in her room for a minimum of a week out of every month for close to a decade before she got the meds she needed. Because she couldn’t walk for the pain.

Let’s then turn to the consideration that this can kill women. How? Allow me to introduce endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. Read through those. See where it says that treatment involves “hormone regulation”? The most common form of non-invasive, affordable hormone regulation is birth control medication. And yes, there’s shots and such. But guess what? Those shots are dangerous. Oh and, strangely, they have the exact same freaking effects as birth control.

Because that’s what hormones do, you nitwits. They regulate bodily functions. There’s a reason endocrinologists get called in when shit gets real and other doctors are scratching their heads. It’s because they’re damn near voodoo magicians due to the sheer number of bodily systems hormones control, and the myriad of ways hormones interact.

How can this kill women? Welp, looky there at treatment courses one and two: pain meds, which are addictive and only a palliative remedy, and surgery. Yeah. Options a, b, and c here are “use birth control,” “pop pills that may hamper your ability to function and will only mask the massive damage being done to your body,” and “go into surgery and allow invasive damage to be done to your body, which will in no way prevent the problem from reoccurring but may provide temporary relief.”

No, really. Surgery is a temporary solution for these disorders. And there are always chances of death in surgery, due to complications resulting from surgery, or when multiple surgeries become necessary.

Now, there is some element out there that will now commence to say: “Oh, well, for medical use, sure. But let’s not be using it as birth control. And while we’re at it, condoms have no medical purpose and are evil!”

We’re hitting on core belief systems here. The belief that condoms are only necessary because sex happens outside monogamous, committed, long-term, married relationships is absolutely factual.

My response here is that as soon as you find a way to eliminate STD’s and enforce a 100% effective abstinence rate for all individuals that fall outside that very narrow range, I’ll be sure to stop yelling at you for trying to ban condoms. People have sex. Sex causes both the spread of STD’s and the spread of people. Condoms keep the one in check, and in the case of the latter it’s between them and the Deity of their choice. Nope, that’s it, point made, closing argument now, not carrying into it any further.

Going waaaay back to the part where I said there were two major generalizations on the right side of that meme: I should think the second would be obvious by now. The idea is to make it seem ridiculous to think that there’s a war on women because ladies can’t get Uncle Sam to spring for Trojans.

Given the fact that this is a health issue, with pain, suffering, and illness in the balance and given that the most strongly affected individuals in this argument are women, I would have to say that’s a pretty fine case for a freaking war on women!

But, as with the left side, it’s a generalization. We have wage inequality, we have education inequality, we’ve got glass ceilings, we have discriminatory practices in hiring, we have large segments of half of our population as the most widespread targets of some of our most heinous crimes. All these things make up the war on women as a whole, and should be taken into consideration before dismissing an entire cultural battle on the grounds that a woman’s right to reproductive health care conflicts with your religious beliefs.

Onwards to point three! Finally, a short point. Basically, this is what might be called “dead baby” humor. But without humor. So what happens is, at first and even second glance, it appears as though both women in the meme are being called out for mistakenly believing that their situations constitute a war on women.

That one, I will admit, might just be me. But it took me a couple of seconds of blind fury to realize this was a “first world problems” meme, and that the woman on the left was not being decried for taking a jar of acid to the face.

On that note, point four: the contention that direct violence must be present for human rights concern to be valid.

Redux:

If someone robs you, that’s a crime and they get punished. Even if no-one got “hurt” as in physically harmed, there’s still “hurt” involved in being deprived of goods, services, and certain intangibles like security, privacy, and peace of mind.

Leaving the worst of the health concerns aside, a loss of health care creates a loss of: services, health, quality of life, and the right to exercise personal beliefs in the pursuit of individual medical care.

As to that last? At the risk of throwing a red herring here, a person who gives their power of attorney to someone else is giving them a tangible legal power. If it’s a real enough right that you can legally stick it on paper and transfer it to someone else, then yes it’s entirely possible to deprive someone of it. And declaring that one class of individuals does not have the choice to exercise that right in the area of healthcare that is exclusive to them is indeed discriminatory and a denial of rights.

There aren’t any truly victimless crimes, people. If you really can declare it to be a victimless crime, it might be time to go look at that legality again. Because if it ain’t hurting anyone at all, why the hell are we wasting jail space on it?

But to get to the fifth and final point. It was covered a little in point four, but there’s enough of a distinction to justify more extended ranty goodness.

Contending that because things are worse elsewhere, anyone who has a similar problem in a given situation is a whiny whiner who should STFU and GTFO.

This…pisses me off on so many levels. Ever tried to tell someone about a problem you’re having? Sometimes the response is a strong slap, usually verbal, to the ego to remind you that your problem isn’t and you really need to stop whining. That’s fine, we all need reality checks occasionally.

Doing this is the other side of that. This is the verbal slap when the problem is real. This is that time you sit down to tell someone your problems or concerns, and they spend the next hour telling you how much worse their problems are. The point is to belittle your problems so they can justify not addressing them. In other words, they want you to shut up.

How do I know this? Welp, growing up this was a fairly common tactic for my extended family and certain parts of my immediate family. Problems were buried under a deluge of “well, look at how my life is going. How do you think I feel?”

It’s a misdirection tactic, and a vicious one at that. Using it in this context? Wrong on every level, disrespectful to both women pictured, and arrogant as hell. Because in this case, the person using this tactic isn’t even involved. Unless someone can show me proof that a woman built that image, I’m going to assume it was a guy.

And then I’m going to want to kick him in the nads, because there’s no reason in any sane universe that he can claim the “problems could be worse, STFU” argument and have it mean anything. Because a man would be making that claim for a total stranger undergoing travails and horrors he can’t imagine in his darkest nightmares.

To be clear: a woman could make the argument meaningfully. But it would still be a red herring, smoke and mirrors thrown out because smoke and mirrors. No one on earth can use this argument in this way and make a useful argument.

Bottom line, then: the argument for/against women’s reproductive rights is not soluble by one guy sitting in an office chair writing an angry blog. But it certainly won’t be solved by using horrible, sick, twisted memes to express points of view.

So for the love of all that’s holy: argue for your freaking side if you must. But don’t use misleading dead baby humor to try and invalidate the other side of the argument entirely. It’s sickening and only showcases ignorance and cruelty.

You want to be taken on as making an actual argument? Then make one, dammit.

Or else shut up, sit down, and get your sexist ass out of the way so women can get to the healthcare that is their right as human beings.

Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this blog are the opinions of Jeremy Cloud and do not reflect the opinions or views of any other Pioneer employees.

To contact Jeremy Cloud, email communitywriter@occc.edu.

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