RANGER AGAINST WAR: Medievalism, 2012-Style <

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Medievalism, 2012-Style

--Man, Woman and Sin (1927, silent)

Now wicked things can happen...

you see 'em goin' down in war.

But when you play in a quiet way

that bites it even more

--Say It Isn't So
, Hall & Oates

In this dark march toward

whatever it is we are approaching...

don't -
don't hang back with the brutes!

--A Streetcar Named Desire,

Tennessee Williams


Below are thoughts prefatory to "Sin, Sin, Sin", RAW's tour de force handicapping of the Republican contenders on their SIN quotient -- coming this weekend.

Who's the biggest sinner of all? The lord loves a sinner, so perchance he who sins more, is more worthy of great things. After drawing names from a hat, what could be a better indicator of winning potential? Does the sinner take all?

. . . Stay tuned!

Medievalism. Nope, we're not gonna talk about Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or the lot of them. We are talking right here in River City.

It doesn't seem real, this focus on women's bodies amongst the Republican presidential contenders. Our economy is in shambles; we are in a war; the country's basic needs are profound -- and yet somehow, women's bodies have become the battlefield.

We did become fully human (almost) in 1920, with the contentious ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. For over 90 years, women have been granted full manumission in the U.S., in terms of being allowed to exercise our rights of citizenship (even Mississippi ratified the amendment, albeit in 1973.) And yet, our rights over our very bodies remain in the hands of men.

For less than 40 years, women have legally been allowed to determine whether they shall carry a pregnancy to term, without risking our lives in shoddy back alley operations or self-inducements. This right has been contentious since it was granted, but now in 2012, Rick Santorum -- Republican frontrunner -- suggests that contraception is harmful to society and pre-natal testing should be curtailed as it promotes abortions.

Santorum approves of some pre-natal tests like sonograms, but not amniocentesis, on the basis that it encourages abortion. “Amniocentesis does, in fact, result more often than not in this country in abortions,” Santorum said. “That is a fact” (Rick Santorum: Prenatal testing encourages abortions).

That is a disingenuous statement. The test itself may result in a 1-5% chance of miscarriage, but the test does not result in more abortions. What it does result in is an informed woman who may then make choices based on the results of accurate scientific testing. We did go through the Scientific Revolution so that we might avail ourselves of technology which might reduce human suffering.

Amniocentesis is ordered when a basic sonogram reveals abnormalities. Because there is a risk of false positives with a sonogram, amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) are then necessary to give an almost 100% verification of chromosomal abnormalities like Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21), or Trisomy 28, which Santorum's child has.

Santorum's wording is painfully ignorant when he says things like, “The president has a very bad record on the issue of abortion and children who are disabled who are in the womb. I think this simply is a continuation of that idea.” How do these children crawl retroactively back into a womb? Children result from a live birth. Words and their meanings matter.

In Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America, she argues that the events of 9-11-01 allowed for a cultural atavism, in which male folklore returns, imperiling feminism. Rick Santorum is resonating with the people because he embodies, if not the machismo, then certainly the subjugation of women in the guise of protectionism.

We have a Homeland Security guarding our borders, why not a president who oversees the gateway to the uterus? This is not benign concern -- this is a brazen attempt to co-opt women's decision-making. It is malevolent paternalism.

How is this even a topic of presidential concern in 2012?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


However, one pet quibble....
...."And yet, our rights over our very bodies remain in the hands of men."

It's not just men that are subjugating women. It's women too.

There are a heck of a lot of women out there who believe that their job is to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. These women are actively imposing that belief on other women.

I recently had a conversation with a very religious aunt (think classic church lady) who is excited that my daughter is engaged and, moreover, that she may soon start popping out babbies. When I explained that, as far as I knew, my daughter is career focussed and not even considering children for another ten years if at all (I couldn't resist this last little passive agressive taunt), my aunt made some comments that, at bottom, translated to something like my daughter being unfortunate to have been misguided due to being raised by misguided satan worshippers.

There are many like her, at least where i live.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 2:02:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

to Cthulhu,

Yes, you are correct. The typical response I received once hitting this area, from women, when asked if I had kids was, "Oh, don't worry dear ... you will!"

That was to be the apex of my existence. The insipidity and insensitivity and b/w thinking is unbelievable but true!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 10:48:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cthulhu? Moi? I must warn you that I am susceptible to flattery.

"...an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature.... A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque scaly body with rudimentary wings",[2] and "a mountain walked or stumbled",[3] the imprisoned Cthulhu is apparently the source of constant anxiety for mankind at a subconscious level, and also the subject of worship by a number of evil cults...."

Yep, sounds like me buying rounds for everyone down at the pub a couple Saturday nights ago.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 1:36:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

I think that a lot of this has to do with the unpalatable economic and legal sauce that the GOP has to serve with their political meal.

It's hard to see the current crop of warm-blooded brussels sprouts that constitutes the GOP "candidates" as anything but the dangly bits of the rough beast of oligarchy. There's an old lawyer saying; then you have the evidence, pound on the evidence; when you have the law, pound on the law; when you have neither law nor evidence pound on the table.

This obsession with your lady parts, my dear, I think owes a lot to the lack of substance to the "conservative agenda" circa 2012 - what wasn't discredited by Dubya by 2005 was pretty much torched by the Masters of Wall Street back in 2008.

So this is their equivalent of pounding on the table; making private sexual and reproductive matters part of the public debate.

The other thing is, I think, that there are a fair number of people over on the Right side of the aisle that really ARE upset by you uppitty wimmens not wanting to pop out sprogs and wear clothes that cover you. The men yearn for the time when they were Lords of their little manor; and many of the women are frightened by the implication that they need be responsible for their own fates and want to be "protected" from that if it means becoming the equivalent of maid, cook, and sex-aid...

So these yutzes promise the wanna-be Victorians a return to the days when men were Men and sheep were glad of it (and women were like sheep, only with less bodily hair, or something). And the Victorians hope that by electing the yutzes that their lives will become less scary and uncertain and more like what they think their grandparents used to be - because Grandma and Grandpa never told them about getting fucked over by the Railroad, or the year all the cattle died and they starved and survived by eating dandelions, or the time the baby died of whooping cough or...

Sadly, the U.S. political process has devolved to this level, and, like reality TV, I'm not sure there's a way to put the damn thing back in the box. We're gonna be talking about your lady parts until the last of these gomers goes to his or her dirt nap. Sorry...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 2:29:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Here's another analysis of the whys of this nonsense, in this case from Ed over at "Gin and Tacos": "First, the GOP's four year long effort to tank the economy hasn't worked well enough to fit their preferred election year narrative that the country is on the brink of complete collapse (see Mitch Daniels' apocalyptic State of the Union response) and only doubling down on Republican economic policies can save it. While the economic situation is not a cause for great celebration, by any metric it is improving (albeit painfully slowly). Most importantly, perceptions of the economy are improving. With the "OMG we're ruined! Ruined!" narrative unworkable and the GOP's savior in 2010, the Teabaggers, nowhere to be found, the party is going to turn 2012 into an endless parade of 1980s-style Culture Wars bullshit. They've spent the past two weeks crusading against birth control. Some nitwit labeled the Girl Scouts a radical group on Monday. We'll get a healthy dose of anti-gay marriage stuff before long, and the GOP House will undoubtedly hatch some dead-on-arrival legislation related to abortion over the summer. Who knows what other Falwell-esque gems they might dust off. School prayer? Creationism? Heliocentrism? Only time will tell. But the Planned Parenthood/contraception fiasco is but a preview. We have nine solid months of these pointless, dead-end spectacles ahead of us. None of it will accomplish anything except to be excruciating to sit through."

All I can really add is..."Yep."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 3:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


You know I'm just teasing you, per your aunt. I know you to be a perfectly civil individual :)


You have encapsulated the "why" perfectly. I do love the descriptor, warm-blooded brussels sprouts, but I am thinking more at "cold."

I also love Ed's prognostication re. "heliocentrism"; thanks for sharing. I was actually thinking the same thing as I wrote this: A battle between flat-landers and round-earthers. Galileo was a bad man for eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, y'know?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 4:07:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh no, Lisa, no offense taken.

You have never encountered me after ten shots of Jack and unknown #s of beers.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 6:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


After a draught of the devil's water ...

then spake cthulhu?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 8:42:00 PM GMT-5  

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