Why Farrah Fawcett Is A Feminist Issue

June 26, 2009
Farrah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett

Farah Fawcett is dead.  The 1970’s blond bimbo Charlie’s Angels teevee star who transformed herself at mid career into a talented actress has died of a disease so horrible I’m almost glad I had never heard of it:  Anal cancer that spread to other vital organs.  This type of cancer has a high correlation with the human pappilloma virus, HPV.  To the Phyllis Schlafly’s of the world Farah Fawcett’s life and death must look scandalous.

That is why Ms. Fawcett’s death is a feminist issue.

For the right wing there are just two possibilities for women: Conventional man-on-top marriage or disease, disgrace and death.  Take your pick.

A couple of years ago there was talk of immunizing girls against the risks of HPV caused cervical cancer with Guardasil, a Merck product.  “Defenders” of the “family” such as Phyllis Schlafly contend that HPV can only be contracted from an unchaste, and presumably unmarried, partner.  Therefore, as expected, the religious right concealed its true anti sex education agenda with claims that Guardasil was bad for women’s health.  It put forward its usual antidote for all issues sexual.  Here’s what Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum had to add to the conversation on HPV:

A 100% effective means of protection against … diseases is freely available, and it is abstinence (emphasis mine).

This abstinence only proscription dealing with disease has also produced painful results in Africa, where religious zealots Rick Warren and Pat Robinson deliver the Gospel, dramatically increasing the HIV/AIDS rate among women, obliged to have sexual relations with their infected men.

The religious right fought convenient contraception and the post-coital drug RU 486 on health grounds as well. But their real aim is obvious.  Read the language describing the action of the drug:

That initial action causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child. A second drug, known as misoprostol, is taken two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the baby, (emphasis mine).

Much of the “abortion” debate is cloaked in concern for health issues such as this alarm over FDA inspections in  China:

We do know that Shanghai is the sole supplier to the United States of the abortion pill, Mifepristone, known as RU-486. The FDA had previously concealed the source of RU-486…

Or this:

Free trade is not only bringing us contaminated drugs and foods, but soon could bring us the products of embryonic stem cell transfers (aka cloning).

Does Phyllis oppose free trade and globalization or just stem cell research?  Hard to figure.

The religious right’s argument in favor of abstinence also permeates their position against sex discrimination and animates much prejudice against public school  curricula, the teaching of evolutionary and biological science, as well as other “socialistic” subjects.

For the far right-

Marriage=sex=children=happiness=private enterprise=the controlling formula in the “choice” debate.  Here is Phyllis making the case for marriage+capitalism at all costs.  That’s why female conservatives fought and beat the ERA:

Another theory could be the increase in easy divorce and illegitimacy (now 40 percent of American births are to single moms), which means that millions of women are raising kids without a husband and therefore expect Big Brother government to substitute as provider. The 2008 election returns showed that 70 percent of unmarried women voted for Barack Obama, perhaps hoping to be beneficiaries of his “spread the wealth” policies…..

In the pre-1970 era, when surveys showed women with higher levels of happiness, most men held jobs that enabled their wives to be fulltime homemakers. The private enterprise system constantly produces goods that make household work and kiddie care easier (such as dryers, dishwashers and paper diapers).

Here’s a FOX channel video of Phyllis speaking about the defeat of the ERA:

STOP ERA rally

Wow.

I don’t know whose universe she’s living in (yes, I do) but there is no boundary here between sex and capitalism, with comfortable, stay-at-home women the consumers, and you know who running the world.

There is plenty of talk about women putting aside differences over abortion to form a neutral voting block that can simply advocate for women’s rights.  That sounds good.  But among other non-starter stumbling blocks on the road to non-partisan kumbaya (such as just about everything) is the barricade that must never be surrendered, choice.

Choice isn’t just Rove v. Wade.  Reproductive choice for women is the sine qua non of other choices: to be married or not; to have sex or not; to go to work or not; to have a career or not; to accept bad treatment within a relationship or not.  The prevalence of unmarried women in the workplace has removed much of the stigma associated with divorce, Lesbianism  and the terrible shame once known as “spinsterhood”.

What the religious right opposes is not just “choice”, it’s choices. That’s clear.

I wonder what Phyllis Schlafly would have to say about Farrah Fawcett.

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PEPFAR-Rick Warren’s HIV/AIDS Africa Program

March 9, 2009

Rick Warren is a jerk.  I don’t care what Obama says about his good pastor friend, or how many excuses Melissa Etheridge makes on the man’s behalf.  Finding a reason to respect him can be a problem and it’s not because he’s narrow and bigoted against women and the LGBT communities. It’ s becasue those qualities in a person with that much power can be and have been lethal.

Much has been said about Warren’s HIV/AIDS work in Africa.  Obama praised the pastor to the rafters for his drug treatment efforts and outreach to the vast number of AIDS related orphans

But the faith-based solution naturally brought with it skewed policies that limited prevention options and led to what Jacobson calls the “profoundly ineffective” spending of AIDS money: with $20 billion spent on treatment over the past five years, but six new infections for every person treated. “No one doesn’t want people to have access to treatment,” she says. “But my argument is about the tradeoff. You can’t treat your way out of this epidemic.”

The new faith-based arm of the AIDS movement Warren had energized asked for, and got, a number of obstacles to prevention services: a prohibition on needle exchange programs for drug users; a ban family planning services in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission clinics; and the anti-prostitution loyalty oath, which required all groups receiving PEPFAR funding, including those that work with sex workers, to condemn prostitution.

Warren’s assurances to the backers of World Net Daily, a conglomerate of wealthy, religious reactionaries intent on converting secular/governmental institutions into  those with a religious agenda

his number one priority in his AIDS work was the salvation of non-Christians.  Warren has made clear that his collaboration with non-evangelical AIDS activists wouldn’t lead him to compromise on his biblical convictions.

Efforts were made by progressives to change Warrens faith based focus to a science based criteria

The response of Warren and his fellow conservative PEPFAR supporters was cynical and swift. Staging a press conference on the day of the National Prayer Breakfast, four days before Lantos’s death, Warren joined a menagerie of stalwart anti-choice leaders, including Reps. Chris Smith, Marilyn Musgrave and Joe Pitts, and activists Wendy Wright, Chuck Colson and Day Gardner. The group declared that the Lantos revision would “pour billions into the hands of abortion providers with little or no regard for the pro-life, pro-family cultures of recipient countries,” strip abstinence programs of their funding and, by lifting the prostitution pledge, enable the sex trafficking of women. Lantos’s reauthorization bill lost every point on reproductive health, and PEPFAR was reauthorized in its flawed state.

It would be interesting to find out how this exceptionally flawed bill passed again with a majority of Democrats in the congress in 2008.

The HIV/AIDS programs instituted by Warren’s proteges included these:

offering faith-healing to disease-stricken congregants. Other PEPFAR grantees, as Jacobson’s colleagues in the global AIDS movement have witnessed, use their funds to promote fundamentalist interpretations of marital roles, advising women that if their husbands beat them, they should try harder to please them.

And this is the kicker:

Warren further entangles religion and treatment in his very own “Purpose-Driven Nation,” Rwanda. He offered to extend an undisclosed amount of aid to the country if it adopted his bestselling book as an action plan for the nation, using churches as centers for capacity building and American evangelical leaders as medical and development advisors to the Rwandan parliament.

Read the entire article here.

Obama has renewed PEPFAR with some of the same restrictions which existed in the Bush program, but Dr. Dybul, who headed the funds dispersals, and controversial in his own right resigned his post after Hillary Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State.

Dr. Dybul’s departure was both celebrated and condemned.

Jodi Jacobson, a former head of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, which wants financing for all aspects of women’s reproductive health, including abortion, wrote a blog post titled “Dybul Out: Thank You Hillary!!!” It argued that he had worked too closely with the far right, and she accused him of lobbying to please the Roman Catholic Church by letting its relief groups refrain from distributing condoms.

Michael Gerson, a former Bush speechwriter and Washington Post columnist, shot back that “blogging extremists” like Ms. Jacobson had lied about Dr. Dybul’s record.

At the heart of the debate was the difficult bipartisan compromise behind Mr. Bush’s AIDS plan. It is the darling of two groups that normally oppose each other: foreign policy liberals who want to help Africa and evangelical Christians who support mission hospitals there.

Dr. Dybul was straddling some personal fences too: he was one of the Bush administration’s few openly gay officials, a doctor who had treated AIDS patients in San Francisco and Africa, and he had donated to Democratic causes.