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Reproductive Rights News

When we speak up and share our stories, we break down the stigma around abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 1 hour 9 min ago
When we speak up and share our stories, we break down the stigma around abortion.

American Women Are Finally Talking About Their Abortions
A new online community and a growing chorus of female politicians are de-stigmatizing the controversial choice.

Economic issues and reproductive freedom are intimately linked. If you give a wo...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 2 hours 9 min ago
Economic issues and reproductive freedom are intimately linked. If you give a woman control over her body, she can make pursue the future she’s planned for.
Cc: NARAL Pro-Choice Texas

Gregory: Abortion policies will keep Texas poor
Fertility policy (regulating sex education and access to contraception and abortion) affects every aspect of life and business. [...] Tuesday's 13th-hour Supreme Court intervention to temporarily halt enforcement of the bill, HB2, the 2013 Texas law limiting access to abortion had closed 80 percent…

Hulu airs political ads all the time, but refused to air an ad that educates vot...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 3 hours 9 min ago
Hulu airs political ads all the time, but refused to air an ad that educates voters about an anti-choice ballot measure in Colorado. Tell Hulu to stop their anti-choice censorship!

Tell Hulu: Stop Anti-Choice Censorship
Hulu has rejected (twice!) an ad that educates voters about an anti-abortion ballot measure in Colorado because they say it's "political" and "controversial." But Hulu airs political ads all the time. It’s outrageous that they’re singling out abortion. The ad they’re censoring shows a rape survivor…

Our president Ilyse Hogue joined Mark Udall today in Denver to help get out the...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 3 hours 39 min ago
Our president Ilyse Hogue joined Mark Udall today in Denver to help get out the vote!

In the wise words of Dolores Huerta, “If we can’t decide on our own bodies, we c...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 4 hours 9 min ago
In the wise words of Dolores Huerta, “If we can’t decide on our own bodies, we can’t decide on anything.”
Cc: NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado

"Amendment 67 Is Saying... 'Be Barefoot and Pregnant'"
Opponents of Colorado's "personhood" amendment rallied today at Auraria campus in downtown Denver, as voters across Colorado are receiving their ballots for the Nov. 4 election....

WOW. This quote is unbelievable.

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 5 hours 9 min ago
WOW. This quote is unbelievable.

Maine Republican Has Not Apologized for Comparing Abortion to Rape
“If a woman has the right to abortion, why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?”

Hulu Rejects Anti-Personhood Ad, Labels it ‘Controversial’

RH Reality Check - 5 hours 36 min ago

An advertisement opposing Colorado’s proposed “personhood” amendment has been rejected by Hulu, a leading online streaming-video service, according to documents released by the Vote No on 67 Campaign.

The ad features a rape victim, who states that the proposed “personhood” amendment—which would add “unborn human beings” to Colorado’s criminal code—could prevent survivors like her from being offered emergency contraception.

“According to our advertising bylaws, we are not able to accept ‘ads that advocate a controversial political or other public position,’ which unfortunately No 67 falls under due to the subject matter of abortion,” a Hulu representative wrote to the Vote No 67 campaign.

Hulu did not return calls and emails asking why abortion is considered too “controversial” for advertisements, especially when Hulu has run ads promoting political candidates like Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner, as well as ads attacking the Affordable Care Act and fracking, according to Vote No 67.

The facts in the rejected ad are accurate. The “personhood” amendment on Colorado’s November 4 ballot would add “unborn human beings” to Colorado’s criminal code, which could result in bans on birth control methods.

“I was on my daily run when I was attacked, and beaten and raped,” says “Amanda” in the rejected ad. “What I’ve been through is one of the many reasons I oppose Amendment 67. When I was at the hospital, I was offered emergency contraception. Amendment 67 could ban abortion and emergency contraception, even in cases of rape or incest. Of course, we all want to protect pregnant women, but Amendment 67 isn’t the way.”

In an email asking Hulu to reconsider, the Vote No 67 campaign wrote that Hulu has a “responsibility to foster free speech, including information about upcoming issues in an election.”

“We know Hulu is an important media outlet for Colorado voters and younger women who will be most affected by Amendment 67,” wrote Vote No 67 spokespeople Fofi Mendez and Cathy Alderman of Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado. “Many of these voters will be concerned to learn that Hulu has decided not to run commercials about the issues that affect them directly.”

The Vote No 67 campaign’s “Amanda” ad is running on other sites, and the campaign has ads on Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, and Google Adwords, Alderman told RH Reality Check. She added that Hulu’s objection was not with the Amanda ad, but with the issue of abortion.

No other media outlet has rejected a Vote No 67 ad, and two of its ads are airing on television stations in Colorado, Alderman said. The ads are posted in the “videos” section of the campaign website.

Another Vote No 67 advertisement features a doctor, Ruben Alvero, working in his office.

A Voice for Brady, which supports Amendment 67, is distributing one 60-second TV ad, along with a radio spot, which are also airing statewide, according to a campaign email.

The radio spot is narrated by A Voice for Brady spokeswoman Heather Surovik and describes a 2012 tragedy that resulted in the loss of her fetus, which she’d named Brady. Under Colorado law, fetuses technically have no legal rights, though state law allows for prosecutors to bring charges against, for example, a drunk driver for recklessly terminating a pregnancy.

Amendment 67 would convey rights on fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses, which would effectively ban both abortion at any stage of pregnancy and many forms of birth control.

“Personhood” amendments were defeated in Colorado in 2008 and 2010. A “personhood” measure failed to qualify for the ballot in 2012.

Image: Vote No 67/Youtube

The post Hulu Rejects Anti-Personhood Ad, Labels it ‘Controversial’ appeared first on RH Reality Check.

Adoption Is Not a Universal Alternative to Abortion, No Matter What Anti-Choicers Say

RH Reality Check - 5 hours 51 min ago

All too often, those who seek to deprive women of their reproductive rights cite adoption as a supposed alternative to abortion. In a 2012 column for the New York Times, for instance, well-known anti-choice columnist Ross Douthat bemoaned the fact that fewer babies are available for infertile couples to adopt thanks to Roe v. Wade; in 2013, Texas state Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) proposed subjecting women to three hours of adoption education before allowing them to obtain abortions. The underlying message of this rhetoric, as well as other frequently espoused claims of anti-choicers, is clear: Adoption is a more ethical option for dealing with unwanted pregnancies than abortion.

My experience as the co-director of an adoption agency, however, has shown me that the decision to place a child for adoption is nowhere near the easy choice that anti-choicers often make it out to be. In fact, posing adoption as the universal solution to unwanted pregnancies does a disservice to everyone involved.

For 27 years, my professional life consisted of talking to women who were considering placing children for adoption; evaluating prospective adoptive parents; helping to facilitate relationships between all parties; and following up after placement. In fact, I was involved in some capacity with approximately 80 voluntary adoptions annually. As such, I feel compelled to offer a viewpoint sometimes overlooked by leaders in the reproductive rights debate—that of someone intimately familiar with the depth of the emotional issues facing those placing a child for adoption.

I went into my adoption work as a strong advocate of a woman’s right to choose, and I retire this year as an even stronger one. In fact, I wish abortion had been more readily available to many of the clients I worked with.

Of course, adoption is a valid option for many women, and some of our clients were no exception. Some pregnant individuals who sought our services had elected not to get abortions for religious or other personal reasons. However, most of the women who came to my adoption agency were too late for an abortion, didn’t know where to get one, or didn’t have the money to cover the cost. They just knew that they couldn’t parent a child—and, without the ability to access an abortion, adoption was their last resort. It’s also worth noting that this was the reality in California, a state where abortion has not been under legislative attack.

Needless to say, this is different from the narratives frequently trotted out by the anti-choice movement of women placing their children for adoption and feeling, as one website put it, “good and positive about [their] choice.” No matter what the reason was for placing a child for adoption, all of the women I personally encountered did so with a heavy heart. They expressed enormous sadness and guilt, having exhausted every other path. Many had no one they could turn to for help; the social services available to them were so paltry that raising a child seemed impossible.

It was very difficult to watch these women go through the adoption process: undergoing nine months of pregnancy, withstanding inquiries from family or acquaintances about their plans for a baby, allowing near-strangers or people they had only come to know in the last few months to love and nurture their child, and then trusting those people to follow through on post-placement contact agreements. Some women were, and are, able to get solace from providing a good home for their child and giving joy to new parents. Even so, though, the process also nearly always involved anxiety and long-term sadness.

And my clients were not alone. Experts have found that many biological parents who place their children for adoption go through an immense grieving process, one that may last for decades. In one study cited by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, three-quarters of birth mothers still experienced feelings of loss 12 to 20 years after placing their newborns.

The growing popularity of open adoption, through which birth parents can have contact with their child and adoptive family, is not a panacea for those feelings, though it is certainly an improvement over the secretive closed system common in past decades. I often felt, in fact, that the relationship between adoptive parents, adopted children, and birth parents is as complicated as it gets. It requires everyone to have the best intentions, sophisticated psychological understanding, and an enormous amount of compassion and respect for everyone involved. Although birth mothers frequently assume that an open plan will guarantee a long-term positive connection among all parties, and those in the adoption world are trying to do a better job of helping to make those relationships more satisfying and enduring, they will always be somewhat unpredictable and emotionally fraught—as all human interactions are. Even so, far too often, agencies and attorneys seem to tout “openness” as a catch-all way to resolve any of adoption’s negative emotional consequences.

Furthermore, the rates of adoption versus abortion are vastly disproportionate, suggesting that women themselves are not overly interested in the former as an option. Recent statistics show that approximately 14,000 newborns are adopted annually in the United States through voluntary placements, a number that has remained flat for about 20 years. Meanwhile, in 2011, 1.06 million abortions were performed—the lowest number in decades. And while abortion is not always a regret-free procedure, studies show that the vast majority of those who obtain one feel that it is the right decision—even those who experience negative feelings after the fact. Even with the societal and legal stigma surrounding abortion combined with adoption’s relative accessibility, adoption still accounts for a rare choice among pregnant women. I don’t see this changing, nor do I think it should.

For that matter, although my agency placed newborn children directly with parents, it is important to remember the role foster care plays in reproductive choice. If we continue to make abortions harder to obtain without funding social services for new parents, more children will inevitably wind up in these systems, which cannot provide the kind of services needed to either reunite them with their biological parents or find permanent homes for them. Currently, there are close to 400,000 children in state custody; only half have permanent plans for placement. Meanwhile, employees in protective services are underpaid and overworked, treading water to try to ensure that all of the children in their care are happy and healthy. Anyone who believes that adoption or foster care is a natural solution to growing restrictions on reproductive rights is kidding themselves.

Politicians, pundits, and anti-choice advocates should not put forth adoption as superior to abortion by overlaying it with talk about selflessness, wonderful adoptive parents, openness, and future contact as a way to ameliorate loss. It does need to stay in the conversation as a choice—but presented truthfully, without demonizing abortion or idealizing adoption. Women deserve the truth and access to all options.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Adoption Is Not a Universal Alternative to Abortion, No Matter What Anti-Choicers Say appeared first on RH Reality Check.

Joni Ernst is WRONG for Iowa. Here’s why.

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 6 hours 9 min ago
Joni Ernst is WRONG for Iowa. Here’s why.

Basu: This isn't the Iowa woman we should elect
Having watched her closely since the primary, I can't agree she's

Anti-choice extremists in Tennessee want to take away reproductive freedom. Want...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 7 hours 9 min ago
Anti-choice extremists in Tennessee want to take away reproductive freedom. Want to make sure they don’t get away with it? Vote NO on Amendment 1!

Tennessee Ballot Initiative Could Open Floodgates for Anti-Choice Measures
If passed, Amendment 1 would amend the state constitution to include language that says “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” The amendment would also allow state lawmakers to “enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortio…

Braley to Ernst in Iowa Senate Battle: ‘Your Words Have Consequences’ for Women’s Health

RH Reality Check - 7 hours 34 min ago

Democrat Bruce Braley on Thursday attacked Republican Joni Ernst for saying one thing and supporting another when it comes to abortion and contraception during the final Iowa Senate debate.

“Your words have consequences,” Braley told Ernst, saying that her policies contradict her stated support for access to contraception.

The race between Braley and Ernst is neck and neck, according to recent polls, and could determine which party controls the Senate after November’s midterm elections. Reproductive rights have become a flashpoint in the campaign.

The debate moderator asked both candidates several questions about their positions on abortion, contraception, and a “personhood” amendment to the Iowa constitution that Ernst has come under fire for sponsoring.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has said that “personhood” measures like Ernst’s could result in a ban on all abortion and many common forms of birth control, as well as interfere with in vitro fertilization.

Braley’s campaign has run ads pointing this out and saying that the amendment could ban abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The ads highlight a quote from Ernst earlier this year about how she thinks abortion providers “should be punished if there were a personhood amendment.”

“I do support a woman’s right to accessible, reliable, and safe contraception,” Ernst said during the debate in response to a question about whether she wants to ban any specific form of contraception.

She also said for the first time that she would support an exception for saving a woman’s life if abortion were banned.

When asked if in vitro fertilization (IVF) should be banned, Ernst avoided directly answering the question, but told a story about a friend of hers who has two daughters via IVF.

“I am glad that she is blessed to be a mother,” Ernst said.

Braley said that Ernst can’t say she supports access to contraception if she’s also going to support policies that undermine that access, like the “personhood” amendment or her support for the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

“You can’t say that you protect a woman’s right to contraception and then vote against it on the senate floor,” Braley said. “You can’t say that you want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which provides free contraceptive services to women, and increase their costs by $600. And you can’t say you support that right and then say it’s OK for employers to interfere with it.”

Ernst, on the subject of repealing the ACA, was secretly recorded last year telling supporters, “Once we start with those benefits in January, how are we going to get people off of those?”

Ernst attacked Braley on his supposed support for “partial birth abortions.” Braley said he opposes all “late-term” abortions that are not necessary to save the life or health of the mother.

He avoided specifying a cutoff date for what “late-term” is, claiming that “it’s a term that has a specific legal meaning because of existing law.” Medical authorities disagree over this definition, however.

Ernst also claimed that Braley’s ads about her “personhood” bill were “rated false” by the Washington Post’s fact-checker. The Post’s Glenn Kessler didn’t actually find Braley’s ad false, but said it used the word “would” when it really should have used “could.”

Kessler also noted that Ernst “strains some credulity” when she claims that her amendment was “simply a statement that I support life.” In fact, the law is designed to pave the way for anti-choice legislation and could even work as an abortion ban on its own, although the effect of such a ban would be uncertain as long as the Supreme Court upholds a woman’s right to choose.

“Personhood” amendments have long been an anti-choice strategy to attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade and criminalize abortion.

Ernst is slightly ahead of Braley in the polls 15 days from Election Day.

Image: C-SPAN

The post Braley to Ernst in Iowa Senate Battle: ‘Your Words Have Consequences’ for Women’s Health appeared first on RH Reality Check.

They say it isn’t their intention for kids to see the images - but it’s only fou...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 8 hours 9 min ago
They say it isn’t their intention for kids to see the images - but it’s only four blocks from an elementary school.

Anti-Abortion Group Posts Gruesome Fetus Photos Near Elementary School
And of course they think it could be a great learning experience.

Where’s the ’16, Parenting, and OK’ Reality Show?

RH Reality Check - 8 hours 12 min ago

This piece is published in collaboration with Echoing Ida, a Forward Together project.

While they might never admit it, I firmly believe the negative ways in which the media—television, film, print journalism—portrays teenage pregnancy and parenting influenced how the adults in my life treated me after I told them I was pregnant.

When I became pregnant at 15, the adults in my life believed my life was over. In addition to explicitly stating this to me, they began to treat me differently and even stopped helping me look into colleges because they believed I would not finish high school.

These stereotypes about teen parents also affected my self-image and already low self-esteem. Thankfully, over time I was able to overcome my self-doubt and my family members got over their issues and started supporting me. But not every teen has the same experience. The way the media represents teenage pregnancy and parenting has real-life consequences and effects on teen families, including depression and poverty because of lack of support from society. By moving away from these stereotypes, and featuring more positive story lines and outcomes, people in the media can make it easier on teens to create thriving families.

From films to public service campaigns, the representation of teenage parents is often inaccurate, sexist, classist, and racially biased. In order to change this, we must first examine the ways in which people in the media are doing a bad job and then look at how they can do better.

The media often focuses on female teens and their “inability to say no and keep their ‘legs closed.'” Public service campaigns like the one from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy have featured the words “cheap,” “dirty,” and “used” across photos of young women to emphasis the narrative that pregnant and parenting teens are associated with these characteristics. Along the same lines, the New York City Human Resource Administration’s pregnancy prevention ads featured a young Black child asking her mother, “[C]hances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?” “Are you ready to raise a child by yourself?” the ad asks, putting all of the blame and responsibility on the mom. These narratives absolve teen boys of any responsibility for the sexual activity that resulted in pregnancy.

“Inferring that a young mother is promiscuous, that a young father just won’t be there for his child, and that they will forever ‘live off the system’ is harmful,” explained Marylouse Kuti, a former teen mother and young parents’ advocate who is part of #NoTeenShame, a national advocacy campaign—of which I am a part—that helps to counter the negative narratives of teenage pregnancy and parenting in society.

When teen pregnancy and parenting is presented as a “female problem,” the financial obligations and responsibilities are placed solely on the woman. If the pregnant and/or parenting teen is a Black or Latina female, these stereotypical narratives are compounded with racialized biases: long-term poverty, single motherhood, and low education achievement. While white pregnant teens are often awarded celebrity status (i.e., they seem to more often become the “stars” of MTV’s teen parenting shows), pregnant Black and Latina teens frequently see themselves and representations of their families in hurtful public service announcements.

Furthermore, as youth advocate Natasha Vianna told RH Reality Check, “One of the biggest problems with the way teen parents are portrayed in the media has to do with where the media chooses to start the story. Teen pregnancy and parenthood has almost always been framed as the beginning of the end of a young person’s life, so we don’t get to hear much about what their lives were like before pregnancy—especially if their lives were much harder than [they are] now.”

In choosing to begin the narrative at the time of pregnancy, and ending it at the time of the child’s birth, shows like 16 and Pregnant do not show viewers what the life of a teen who is pregnant actually is. We see the shame and stigma the teen experiences, the birth of the child, and in some cases adoption, before the show ends, as if that’s all there is to teen pregnancy and parenting. The lives of the parents beyond the pregnancy are ignored unless they are sensationalized for programs like MTV’s Teen Mom series. But even these shows are unrealistic, for several reasons, including the mostly all white cast of cisgender, heterosexual, and predominately middle-class young women. All of these women are also getting paid thousands of dollars to be profiled and have their lives edited for public consumption. From season to season the living conditions of the mothers improve because of the MTV salary the women are receiving. The shows also seem to highlight the most stereotypical, hurtful teenage family stereotypes: the problematic “baby daddy” drama, the “party girl,” and the irresponsible and disrespectful teenage mom.

Then there’s the fact that the media often overrepresents adoption, especially when it comes to teenage mothers. “The adoption story line is often used as a way to fix the ‘problem,’” sociologist Gretchen Sisson, whose work focuses on teenage pregnancy, parenting, and adoption, told RH Reality Check. “Teen parenthood and abortion are both very stigmatized. So adoption is kind of the way out and a way for the character to redeem themselves. Before abortion was legal, adoption was a way for white women to ‘undue’ the sins of sexuality outside of marriage. Adoption is used as a solution for teen pregnancy and abortion, when really it is neither of these things.”

In her research (which is not yet available online), Sisson found that less than 1 percent of women in the United States place children up for adoption. However, films and shows like Glee, Juno, 16 and Pregnant, and Saved all had story lines that resulted in a pregnant teen giving their child up for adoption.

Marriage is also often viewed and used as a way to “make things right.” In Riding in Cars With Boys, the protagonist, Beverly, states that she does not want to marry the father of her child, but after an emotional scene with her parents, who feel she ruined both her and the father of the child’s life, she reluctantly agrees to the marriage. Characters on MTV’s shows Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2 have also experienced pressure from family members to marry the father of their child, as if that’s their only option.

I can attest to this dynamic playing out in real life: When I became pregnant at 15, many people expected me to marry the father of my child since he “got me pregnant” and “marriage would make it right.”

If one does not give their child up for adoption or marry the father of their child (if the father did not leave them already, as the narrative goes in the media) the identity oft given to parenting teens is one of a desolate existence for both mother and child. Whether it is losing all of ones friends, being disowned by their family, being kicked out of school, or being sent away by family, teenage mothers simply do not have positive narratives of themselves in the media, and the negative effects of this are very real.

Teenage mothers have the highest rate of postpartum depression than mothers 20 and older, they are often forced out of school by illegal policies or because of bullying from staff and students alike, and they or more likely to experience social injustices because of age, race, and social economic background, which present unique barriers to social welfare assistance.

Media has a responsibility to accurately and holistically represent teenage families, especially teenage families of color. There simply is not enough positive representation free of gas-lighting when it comes to teenage families. All teenage fathers are not absent from their family’s lives; teenage parents are more likely than non-parenting teens to obtain their GED; and not all teenage mothers are kicked out by their parents or have as their end goal in life to attend college and get married.

To be sure, teen parents face several hardships since many teenage parents are already living in poverty before they become pregnant and face barriers to finishing their education, finding and obtaining work, and finding stable housing if they are in a situation that does not allow them to stay in their initial place of residence. However, teenage parents also often say their children served as a catalyst for them to do better in life, finish their education, stop mismanaging money, and get serious about discovering who they are as a person and what type of contributing member of society they want to be. Not only are teenage parents capable of love, compassion, and good parenting—the parents of the pregnant and parenting teen are capable of the same through supporting, loving, and encouraging their child to remain determined to reach the goals they had before becoming pregnant and after having their child.

There is no doubt in my mind that I am a better person today because I had my daughter at age 15. When my family began to unlearn the false narratives about what my teenage pregnancy would supposedly do to the family and myself, they began to show love and support.

Why aren’t there examples of that in the media? Where’s the 16, Parenting, and OK show to help teens see the decision doesn’t have to lead to destitution?

While the media has taken on the role of “teaching” about teenage pregnancy, mostly through shame and stigma, media makers need to acknowledge they are influencing how gatekeepers—including school administrators, health-care providers, and other adults in a young person’s life—perceive and treat young pregnant people. That was my experience, and I know through my work that I’m not alone.

We have to start asking ourselves, as former teen mother and #NoTeenShame member Christina Martinez recently mentioned to me, “What if we were to surround young parents with messages of hope, support, and encouragement? How might that alter the confidence in which they approach their role as parent?”

If my family and high school guidance counselor had responded to my decision to carry my pregnancy to term and parent my child in a more positive way from the get-go, with tips on planning for my future and for my daughter’s future, I may have experienced a more healthy and positive pregnancy. And so I ask, how are others preparing teens to live the life they want for themselves and their families? We can and must do so much better.

Image: Repeal Hyde Art Project

The post Where’s the ’16, Parenting, and OK’ Reality Show? appeared first on RH Reality Check.

Today's your chance to see pro-choice Sen. Mark Udall and NARAL President Ilyse...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 9 hours 12 min ago
Today's your chance to see pro-choice Sen. Mark Udall and NARAL President Ilyse Hogue. Rally this afternoon!

Join Sen. Mark Udall and our own Ilyse Hogue for a rally at University of Northe...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 9 hours 15 min ago
Join Sen. Mark Udall and our own Ilyse Hogue for a rally at University of Northern Colorado this afternoon!

Early voting starts in Texas TODAY! Time to head to the polls and vote for Wendy...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 10 hours 9 min ago
Early voting starts in Texas TODAY! Time to head to the polls and vote for Wendy Davis.
cc: NARAL Pro-Choice Texas

Early voting starts in Alaska TODAY! Time to head to the polls and vote for Sen....

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 10 hours 9 min ago
Early voting starts in Alaska TODAY! Time to head to the polls and vote for Sen. Mark Begich.

Early voting starts in Wisconsin TODAY! Time to head to the polls and vote for M...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 10 hours 9 min ago
Early voting starts in Wisconsin TODAY! Time to head to the polls and vote for Mary Burke.
Cc: NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin

Early voting starts in North Dakota TODAY! Time to head to the polls and vote NO...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - 10 hours 9 min ago
Early voting starts in North Dakota TODAY! Time to head to the polls and vote NO on Measure 1.

What #GamerGate and the Anti-Choice Movement Have in Common

RH Reality Check - 10 hours 41 min ago

A few months in, it appears that all hope is lost that #GamerGate was a temporary flare of misogyny. It’s now clear that it is a full-blown reactionary movement aimed at preserving male dominance—and ejecting any women who ask hard questions—in the world of video games.

As such, it’s time to start taking a broader look at what’s going on and to situate #GamerGate in the history of reactionary movements, particularly anti-feminist ones. Specifically, #GamerGate has a lot in common with the country’s largest and most long-lasting anti-feminist movement: the now four-decade-old war on women’s reproductive rights.

That #GamerGate is a classic, if quickly forming, reactionary campaign has been documented in a number of articles on the subject, most prominently by Jennifer Allaway at Jezebel and Kyle Wagner at Deadspin. Allaway used sociological research to show how #GamerGate works like a typical hate group. Similarly, Wagner explained that #GamerGate is driven by angry young white men who are threatened by demands that gaming be inclusive of women, people of color, and LGBTQ people, and who are lashing out in an attempt to keep the white male dominance they enjoy. In this, they are like every other reactionary movement:

The particulars may be different, and the stakes may be infinitely lower, but the dynamic is an old one, the same one that gave rise to the Know Nothing Party and the anti-busing movement and the Moral Majority.

Or the anti-choice movement. In fact, the parallels between the two are striking—which isn’t really a surprise, given that both are based in a particularly misogynist strain of reactionary politics. Like the anti-choice push, #GamerGate appears to be in it for the long haul, having only gained steam in the past two months. Despite the fact that #GamerGate often appears to “just” be about video games, it’s quickly shaping up to be a potent way for conservatives to reach out to previously apolitical young men and turn them into devoted, hardened misogynists.

And just as anti-choicers played a role in fueling movement conservatism over the past four decades, #GamerGate could very well help to create the next generation of opponents to women’s basic right to equality. Here are five ways in particular that #GamerGate bears chilling similarities to the anti-choice movement:

Origins. The genius of the anti-abortion movement was that it wed general conservative discontent with feminism to the lightning-rod issue of female sexuality and sexual independence. Women’s choice to have sex without “consequences” became the flashpoint of anger for people who were generally upset at seeing women increase their power and influence in the world.

Similarly, #GamerGate started by organizing a mostly male crowd that resents women’s unwillingness to quietly acquiesce to second-class status in the gaming world, and aimed this simmering anger directly at a game developer named Zoe Quinn, whose ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, accused Quinn of cheating on him after she dumped him. The fury over female sexual independence has since been a major factor in the ongoing rage that is #GamerGate.

Facetious claims to the moral high ground. Both anti-choicers and #GamerGate supporters, however, realized that being really mad that women might have the same sexual liberties as men basically marked their movements as misogynist. And so it became important, early on, to deny publicly that this was about sex (while continuing to sexually disparage their targets) and paint themselves as moral crusaders. Anti-choicers decided to claim that they’re actually about preserving “life.” #GamerGaters, meanwhile, claim their goal is “ethics in gaming journalism.”

Both claims are laughably easy to pick apart. Unfortunately, though, both groups have been able to successfully bamboozle plenty of well-meaning people into thinking they are sincere—which is, of course, the reason for claiming the moral high ground that they don’t actually believe in.

Overwrought rhetoric. Because their central claims about themselves are dishonest, both anti-choicers and #GamerGaters tend to use the “hard sell” in pushing their claims to the moral high ground. That often leads to over-the-top self-aggrandizement and lurid, preposterous rhetoric about their “struggle.” Anti-choicers, for instance, like to make fallacious comparisons between themselves and the Civil Rights movement. They also accuse abortion doctors of “murder” and compare legal abortion to the Holocaust.

As far as #GamerGaters go, well, here’s a typical example of some of their rhetoric:

Because an army of sociopathic feminist programmers and campaigners, abetted by achingly politically correct American tech bloggers, are terrorizing the entire community—lying, bullying and manipulating their way around the internet for profit and attention.

How are these sociopaths supposedly terrorizing gamers? By making videos no one is forced to watch that point out that sometimes video games, like all other media, can be pretty sexist.

Harassment of individuals as a central organizing strategy. Anti-choicers have, for decades now, made harassment their central recruitment and visibility strategy, camping out at clinics to dish out abuse to staff and patients. For abortion providers, living under such a constant barrage, at home and at work, is just part of life. In some cases, abortion providers have been attacked or murdered.

#GamerGaters are showing an enthusiasm for similar tactics. Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, and Brianna Wu are all women who have been subject to so much abuse and harassment that they’ve been driven from their homes. Though no one has been physically assaulted, to the best of our knowledge, Sarkeesian had to cancel a speaking engagement because of a terrorist threat.

The reason anti-choicers keep up the harassment—in the grand tradition of reactionary bad faith, they call it “sidewalk counseling”—is that it works. If the price of doing your job as a game developer or critic is being endlessly afraid, constantly browbeaten, and told day in and day out for hours on end that you are worthless and deserve to die, well, a lot of people aren’t going to pay it. That is clearly the hope of #GamerGate: to make gaming a space that’s safe for misogynists by making it incredibly unsafe for feminists.

Posturing as the protectors of the very people they hate. Of course, all this harassment reminds the public that you are a bunch of misogynists, and being known as a hateful bigot tends to erode your reputation in the public eye. So both anti-choicers and #GamerGate try to confuse the issue by accusing feminists of being the “real” woman-haters and posturing as the protectors of women. Anti-choicers claim that all women secretly want to have tons of babies all the time, and therefore need to have abortion taken away for their own good. Similarly, #GamerGaters created another hashtag called #NotYourShield to push the claim that feminists are exploiting women for their nefarious plots, and that only the anti-feminists in gaming are looking out for women’s interests.

A lot of people continue to be confused about what #GamerGate is, and whether it’s a well-intentioned movement spoiled by haters or actually a reactionary hate movement. It is definitely the latter, and hopefully the parallels with the similarly disingenuous anti-choice movement will make that fact a little easier to understand. Fighting back against a diffuse, insincere faction of people isn’t easy—as anyone who opposes anti-choicers can confirm—but the first step is knowing exactly whom you’re dealing with.

Image: Shutterstock

The post What #GamerGate and the Anti-Choice Movement Have in Common appeared first on RH Reality Check.


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