|most recent infant mortality rates, 2014|
|most recent statistics on comparative maternal mortality rates|
Last month the Shriver Report, a non-profit that deals with women in the US and feminism (both advances and reversals)did a survey, in part examining the attitudes of men towards a possible female president. It explains a great deal about why conservative men are waging culture and legislative/policy war on women, not only in regards to reproductive issues but rather a broad spectrum of issues. Worse, those beliefs and the policies and legislation that result from them, are becoming more extreme and more draconian - and deadly.
This part of that survey findings I found to be key in understanding why conservative men, who are opposed to the advances of feminism and are attempting to undo them, perceive a threat to their roles at an emotional level - this is the 'what' and the 'why':
When asked to describe in their own words why it is harder to be a man in their generation compared with their father’s, men are most likely to say this is due to women attaining a stronger position in the workplace, a stronger position financially, and greater gender equality. These men also cite negative assumptions about men, a more competitive job market, greater household responsibilities for men, and greater expectations for men in society today.
There is something deeply and seriously wrong when we could be more scandalized, shocked, or offended by the notion of men experiencing a limited simulation of pregnancy and childbirth than we are aware of or shocked by women and infants dying at an increasing rate, an appalling rate, comparable to other similarly developed first world countries.
I posted this back on May 7, but it does not appear to have been adequately connected to the subsequent posts as part of the theme of why our post-1980 era conservatism, aka the policies and ideology broadly characterized as Reaganism, are massively misogynistic, massively anti-feminist, to such an extreme they constitute a war on women.
Please pay attention to the statistics on infant and maternal mortality in this video from May 5, 2015.
These statistics are shocking, genuinely deeply shocking, deeply disturbing. These statistics require something to push back against these policies, something to undo, or to reverse, this conservative Reaganism thinking at the deepest and most profound level. Because this thinking is an integral part of conservative identity, because it is emotional rather than rational or logical, bringing about that kind of change in a conservative is extremely difficult by reliance on facts and figures, or logic as persuasion.
My co-blogger Penigma has respectfully and constructively criticized me for proposing that conservative men who vote on legislation affecting women and support for families should experience both the simulated labor pains and the discomfort of simulated pregnancy pre-labor with a pregnancy belly appliance. He viewed those suggestions as extremist and as sensationalism. That was never my intent, and I am not so far persuaded that those proposals are either extreme or sensational; rather, given the number of men who try those experiences voluntarily, and given that they are more brief than the actual experience for women, and that men can opt out of them whenever they become too unpleasant for their tolerance threshold, I think the proposal is actually quite benign and positive. Deaths certainly justify at least considering alternatives when other solutions have been so unsuccessful.
My co-blogger Penigma has also chided me, in his usual very gentlemanly and considerate manner, for focusing too much on pregnancy and labor, and not sufficiently on other aspects related to the war on women, such as the attempts to limit or ban outright access to affordable contraception (as just one example).
I would argue instead that the purpose of proposing those two simulations for conservative male legislators is to provide them a very physical and emotionally visceral, physical understanding of a challenging uniquely female experience as a means to open their hearts and minds to a broader and deeper change of belief about women than only pregnancy and giving birth. I would argue that after experiencing even a brief exposure to simulated childbirth, a conservative legislator would be less likely to find it plausible that poor women become pregnant just to get a free 'Obamaphone'. Of course, there is no such thing as a free Obamaphone; rather a Bush era program continued under Obama where reconditioned phones are provided by corporations with limited minutes on them for the purpose of job hunting, with use monitored and availability strictly means tested, including a requirement for actual job hunting. But those facts are immaterial to the conservative narrative -- as most facts appear to be ignored by conservatives in favor of their ideology narrative against women.
Let me provide you an example from the right - specifically the religious right. This is a term that has been widely used on right wing media, including (but not limited to) Fox News, via Boingboing back in 2012, although it continues into 2015. It is not only misogynistic, and anti-sexuality, it is additionally some of the most ugly kind of racism; but this goes a long way towards explaining conservative legislation:
"The Democrats tried to make this election about a single issue: The right to slut. Or more precisely, the right to slut without the responsibility of consequences."
"One thing one has to remember about women, especially slutty ones: They usually don’t make decisions based on reason," he writes, after explaining that sluts want to get abortions so they can be slutty and childless, but that they also want to leech off of welfare to raise welfare babies, which is of course a totally reasoned flow of logic.
"This election cycle shows that the Slut Vote is real, and Republicans lose because they discount the existence of original sin in women," writes B-Skillet. "Abortion is often called the 'third rail of American politics,' but in truth, the third rail is a woman’s right to slut (with cash and prizes)."
The famous “gender gap” isn’t really a gap based on gender. The right overwhelmingly wins older and married women. The “gender gap” should more accurately be called the slut vote.
Women make up about 54% of the electorate. It is very hard to win without winning that segment, or at least losing it only narrowly while winning men big. While the right usually wins married women, the fact is that married women constitute an ever-decreasing share of the female population. Women want to delay marriage as long as possible so they can “have it all,” and usually “have it all” means “have as much hot alpha sex as possible without any consequences.” And thus, less married women and more sluts (not that these two groups are mutually exclusive, per se)
And that’s where the Democrats come in. Contrary to common belief, the primary reason the Democrats own the black vote has nothing to do with civil rights. The Democrats were only partially supportive of civil rights in the 60′s (with southern Democrats advocating “segregation forever”). Lincoln was a Republican, and Republicans in the House and Senate voted for civil rights legislation in the 60s.
Rather, Democrats have won the black vote because the black community is dominated by illegitimacy, and the Democrats are willing to subsidize and support that illegitimacy (as well as provide access to cheap abortions) so as to take away from sluts the consequences of their actions. Consequently, young black people grow up on the dole and not only never realize there might be something wrong with that, but eventually come to believe that’s the way it should be. The Democrats have won the black vote by first “empowering” single black mothers.
This is now beginning to happen in white suburbia, except unlike women in the urban black community, white suburban sluts start from a place of relative wealth and privilege (daddy’s little princess). Thus, food stamps–and increased rewards for having illegitimate kids while on food stamps–don’t (yet) appeal to them.
So instead Obama appealed to rich white sluts by forcing someone else (the Catholic church, in this case) to pay for their birth control, and by scaring them about alleged threats to their ability to take advantage of Planned Parenthood’s services (Planned Parenthood being conveniently located in the minority part of town, of course, so as to provide anonymity to visiting white girls whose white girl friends never go over there–except to visit Planned Parenthood themselves). This created a wedge issue in the suburban community that allowed Obama to play more strongly there than he might have if the election ended up purely about the economy or the national debt.
One thing one has to remember about women, especially slutty ones: They usually don’t make decisions based on reason. So all the Obama administration had to do was scare them that Mitt Romney was going to take away their birth control and their access to abortion. The fear for them is that, without birth control and abortion, they might actually get pregnant and have to give birth. That is scary not simply because of the economic burden of having a child (since, hey, they can get all kinds of cash and prizes if that happens), but because if that happened then everyone would know they’re sluts, and their image as daddy’s pure little snowflake princess goes out the window.
The right loses the female vote primarily because so many of them still operate from a feminist world-view: Women are pure, perfect, kind, and altruistic, and the only reason they “get into trouble” is that some evil, conniving, manipulative man tricked them into sleeping with the entire football team.
Conservatives are broadly anti-abortion, and they have attempted at all levels of government to ban abortion, by claiming it is killing babies. At the same time, they promote policies which actually DO kill babies, not just clusters of cells at the embryonic and fetal level of development which have no established moral, legal or scientific standing as human beings.
This is not exclusively an issue of pregnancy or giving birth however, but part of a larger view of women as the enemy, especially to the degree that women fail to conform to submission to men and conformity to a pre-1950's style of puritanism. This is a worldview of women as a threat, to male dominance and by extension to a rigid social hierarchy which in the view of conservatives equates to order and stability, 'the right(AKA right-wing) way' of doing things.
This is about changing all thinking and beliefs about women, from the minimum wage (which affects women more than men, to pay and pay equality, and as a result affects poverty levels more for women than for men) to health care (including the increased availability of health care through the ACA), to nutritional supplement levels like WIC and SNAP, to the funding of programs like Governor Dayton's pre-K, to the demeaning of single women as a demographic that votes for Democrats more than Republicans being characterized as the 'slut vote', to the belief that women, especially single women, use pregnancy as an ATM card through the social safety network of welfare benefits, to the attitudes about rape which blame the victim not the rapist.
I would ague that it requires a fairly strong, if not drastic solution, when we even see a recurring theme of conservatives figures claiming that women should not have the vote, and when we have a Justice on the Supreme Court who publicly asserts that the U.S. constitution does not prohibit gender discrimination (Scalia, here).
Conservatives do not want to force women back into the bad old days of the 1950s. Conservatives, led by predominantly white males at all levels of governance and politics, want to force women bac to the very bad old days of the 1850s. We need to push back against that -- and push back hard. That I believe requires thinking outside the box of methods we have tried to date, and which have failed. That I believe may require an approach that is not exclusively a logical argument of dry facts which are easily ignored or denied.
As an FYI, since I try to be conscientious about fact checking what I publish, I looked to see if Thom Hartmann had his numbers right -- he did.
From last September, via CBS news and the CDC:
More babies are dying before they turn 1 year old in the United States than in most of Europe and several other developed countries, a new U.S. government report says.It looks as if Thom Hartmann may have UNDER reported the data for maternal mortality rates. From the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals:
A greater proportion of premature births and deaths of full-term babies are driving the higher rate, which puts the United States below 25 other countries, according to the report, released Sept. 24 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"I think we've known for a long time that the U.S. has a higher preterm birth rate, but this higher infant mortality rate for full-term, big babies who should have really good survival prospects is not what we expected," said lead author Marian MacDorman, a senior statistician and researcher in the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
The infant mortality rate refers to the percentage of babies born alive who die before their first birthday.
The report compares infant mortality rates in the United States to those of European countries plus Australia, Israel, Japan, Korea and New Zealand in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available.
In this larger context, of actual death and suffering, I don't think demanding our legislators voluntarily expand the horizons of their experience to include an exercise in empathy building and consciousness raising. I certainly do not think that it is reasonable, in this age of popular novel trilogies like 50 Shades of Gray, and at the other end of the spectrum, actual torture of unwilling victims who have no control over what is done to them, for such a demand to be regarded as advocating the torture of men. I would argue rather that this is one possibility to consider in reversing policies and ideology that are literally killing women and children in this country, and causing a level of suffering that is not adequately known or acknowledged.
Maternal Mortality in the United States: A Human Rights FailureWith 99% of maternal deaths occurring in developing countries, it is too often assumed that maternal mortality is not a problem in wealthier countries. Yet, statistics released in September of 2010 by the United Nations place the United States 50th in the world for maternal mortality — with maternal mortality ratios higher than almost all European countries, as well as several countries in Asia and the Middle East.1, 2
Even more troubling, the United Nations data show that between 1990 and 2008, while the vast majority of countries reduced their maternal mortality ratios for a global decrease of 34%, maternal mortality nearly doubled in the United States.1 For a country that spends more than any other country on health care and more on childbirth-related care than any other area of hospitalization — US$86 billion a year — this is a shockingly poor return on investment.3, 4
Given that at least half of maternal deaths in the United States are preventable,5 this is not just a matter of public health, but a human rights failure.6 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “every human being has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including medical care and necessary social services”.7 This means that the United States health care system must provide health care services that are available, accessible, acceptable and of good quality.8 In addition, the health care system must be free from discrimination, must be accountable and must ensure the active participation of women in decision-making. Yet, instead, too many women in the United States face shortages of providers and facilities and inadequate staffing; financial, bureaucratic, transport and language barriers; care that is not culturally appropriate or respectful; a lack of opportunity for informed decision-making and the lack of a system to ensure that all women receive high-quality, evidence-based care.
We desperately need greater awareness, greater knowledge, and a helluva lot greater empathy from conservatives, particularly the male conservatives who are the primary initiators of the destructive and damaging legislation, albeit with some level of support from both men and women in their base. If it takes a bit of abdominal contraction to expand that empathy, so long as it is within their control and voluntary, then that is not abusive, and it is certainly not advocating torture of anyone., but rather it is advocating for women and infants to live and thrive, and as a result, to benefit the nation, to improve the country for all of us.