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Comment of the week: "Palin and Bachmann are true feminists"

Our YouTube comment threads are often a great meeting place of the ignorant and illiterate, but every once in a while we get something so off-base, we have to share it. This one is in response to our clip "Are you a feminist?"

Steinem's idea of feminism meant a woman had to be pro-abortion, anti-family and anti-man -- anti-anything moral! I always believed that feminism was about what a woman wanted to do. That meant a woman had the right to make a choice. Palin and Bachmann are true feminists. They are pro-life, pro-family and they made it in a man’s world without invoking the victim status! Steinem is more about politics than about feminist! As far as eco-feminism? Learn about United Nations Agenda 21.

I invite you to respond to the comment because Trixie Films' You Tube channel needs all the feminist voices it can get. I am bone-tired of pointing out that a woman's right 'to make a choice' exists in total opposition to being 'pro-life' and much of the other socially conservative agendas that Palin and Bachmann both love to push. I also love the fact that our commenter insists that Gloria Steinem is about politics, as opposed to Bachmann and Palin, who are, you know, politicians.

If you want to learn actual real things about Steinem, you can check out a new documentary about her that is airing on HBO. Even if you don't have cable, the site has lots of info. Also worth your time is a nice essay about Gloria Steinem by Shelby Knox*, who considers Steinem a friend and mentor, and highlights lots of things about her that the film missed. The trailer is below:

*Shelby is also in our film-in-progress, which makes us very happy.

Colbert's Teen Talk: Voter Abstinence

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Teen Talk - Voter Abstinence
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor U.S. Speedskating

It's okay to like somebody, but you don't have to vote for him."

I'm probably the last person in North American to see this. But, just in case you also missed it last year, watch it. It's hilarious. Link to the video is here.

Bristol: Your Audience Can't Hear You

Our abstinence correspondent Formerly Fundamentalist has more on Bristol Palin: Graduated Bristol Palin and poster baby of pro-life, son Tripp, take the cover of People magazine this week. The accompanying article doesn't reveal anything new about a middle class teen's life post-giving-birth.

The overall message (as is consistent with the GOP platform – minus Megan McCain – she loves loves loves sex if you hadn't heard): Don't have sex, kids. It will ruin you're effin' life.
But anyone who's been to youth group has heard this message. It was one I took to heart and vagina. And despite a few successful blow jobs, I eventually walked down the aisle a technical virgin. All data would indicate that I was then, and am now MORE SO, the exception to the rule. Luckily, the guilt of the Lord kept me cleanish in the ways of sex. However, thinking about my teen mindset steeped in id, I didn't hear much else.My point is the inherent flaw of teenagers is their inability to fully understand the consequences of their actions. This is why you equip them with knowledge of how to proceed safely in lieu of scaring them into "abstinence" (which includes, possibly, unsafe anal).

Yes, Bristol, you have the screaming baby of nightmares to showcase your bad decisions. What do most teens have? A throbbing libido demanding attention and the ego which informs them "it won't happen to me." Trixie's note: How tired are we of stuff like this?

"If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex," says Bristol, sitting at her parents' lakeside patio table. "Trust me. Nobody."

If girls – and guys – realized the consequences of sex, they'd realize they should use protection.End of story. Aargh!

Bristol Palin: Proud Mother, Future Possibly-Employed Real Estate Agent

Our abstinence correspondent Formerly Fundamentalist checks in with Bristol Palin: Congratulations, Bristol! You graduated from high school! Your future's so bright, you've got to wear shades! Tiny baby shades for Tripp, too! Blow Pops all around! Uh, wait, your plan is... what is it again?

"...she says she hopes to go to an area college for a two-year business degree and then a job, possibly in real estate."
Did Alaska avoid the housing crisis? Your mom is the best governor ever!

Jessica Valenti on "The Purity Myth"

Salon recently did an interview with Jessica Valenti on her wonderful new book* The Purity Myth. Being virginity obsessives, we've covered a lot of this material here on this blog, but the Salon interview is a really nice precis of the most interesting/maddening issues. Salon introduces the story with one of our favorite themes:

Purity balls and "barely legal" porn both feed the same idea – That a woman's worth is between her legs.

In another post, I'll write a bit about our day on the Barely Legal set, and porn's own take on the concept of virginity. The video we shot of Gram Ponante's tutorial on virgin porn is here.

Here are some excerpts of Jessica's responses to Salon, and some links to additional coverage on this blog:

On Bristol Palin:

Well, I don't think they had a choice, really. The interesting thing is that the abstinence-only movement shames teen moms and often tries to get them kicked out of school. In this case, they had to publicly embrace her to show what good Christians they are -- but I don't think that's the treatment that any other teenage pregnant girl would get.

Bristol embodies all of these contradictions behind the purity myth. First, she said that abstinence wasn't realistic. Now she's promoting abstinence and trying to prevent teen pregnancy -- but also saying that her baby is the best thing that's ever happened to her.

On Natalie Dylan and virginity auctions:

I don't know why we're so surprised by it. This is going to sound terrible, but that's essentially the same thing the abstinence movement is saying: “Hold off until you can auction off your virginity to the person with the biggest ring.” It's really the same thing, only done in a more explicit and economically honest way.

I think it's really interesting whom we decide to call whores. [Natalie Dylan] is a whore because she's being really upfront and honest about it. But you would never think to call a woman who is getting married [for financial security] a whore.

On why Abstinence and Girls Gone Wild are two sides of the same coin:

It's strange. I think that both "Girls Gone Wild" videos and abstinence-only education classes tell women that what's most valuable about them is their sexuality. Porn has all of this “barely legal” and “virgin porn” stuff, where the most fetishized woman is the virgin. It's the same thing with abstinence-only and the purity pushers: The most revered person in their world is the female virgin.

*Thanks so much for the book, Jessica, but we're still waiting for your release form!

Bristol Palin: What if she was allowed to tell the truth?

You can see her discomfort. Saying lines from her script, not really understanding what she's advocating. I've felt sorry for Bristol Palin since she first got thrown into the spotlight sitting next to her cleaned-up babydaddy Levi at the RNC.

Now she's on Good Morning America talking about being the new Abstinence Ambassador for the Candie's Foundation, announcing her plans to promote abstinence as the "only 100% foolproof way you can prevent pregnancy."

[Here's the link if you can't see the video above]

And here she is on the Today Show:

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

[Here's the link if you can't see the video above]

When asked how this message squared with her own non-abstinent past – despite the hard-core abstinence education, she replied:

"I'm not quite sure, I just want to go out there and promote abstinence and say, this is the safest choice. This is the choice that's going to prevent teen pregnancy and prevent a lot of heartache.

This is a long way from her previous comments that abstinence is "not realistic at all." That was back when we hoped that Bristol Palin would be the Ambassador for Abstinence-Just-Ends-Up-Getting-You-Pregnant, but no such luck.

[Here's that link if you can't see the video above]

It was her first and last honest moment on camera, before the handlers gave her the approved script. Her intense discomfort and confusion in both is difficult to watch. How can she honestly promote something that she knows from personal experience doesn't work?

Shelby Knox, live-blogging from the Candie's Foundation event, reported that she looked

scared of saying something to hurt her mom, can't tell what she really thinks, she was not genuine at all... teens I asked thought it was sexist and left out gays youth and sex. Also thought Bristol hypocritical for preaching abstinence.

How much more good could Bristol do if she was just allowed to tell the truth?

Last Pre-Election Gasp of the Anti-Choicers

In an apparent last-ditch effort to get out the McCain/Palin vote, a group of anti-choice women sent this pamphlet out. Reports Feministing:

Apparently, the Susan B. Anthony List (basically the antithesis of the fabulous Emily's List) have been sending out over a half-million these mailers to anti-choice supporters in Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Colorado.

I love how they say "vote for a team that values life" when Palin recently expressed her support (and her belief of John McCain's support) for the Republican Party Platform's anti-choice principles, which seek a constitutional amendment banning all abortion with no exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.

That really stupid fucking thing McCain said at the debate about 'women's health'

Everyone's been blogging and buzzing about what an ass McCain was when talk got around to reproductive rights and women's health.

Basically he said asking for a provision for women's health in any anti-abortion legislation is an extreme position us 'Pro-Abortion' people love to take. No one is Pro-Abortion, Senator. We're Pro-Choice.

It's reminds me of a great Sarah Silverman bit where she says she and her boyfriend are considering an abortion – but she hasn't been able to get pregnant yet.

Anyway, at some point I just started screaming at the TV: "You're not Pro-Life, you're fucking Anti-Choice." The clip is above and here are a few links to start you off:

Jessica Valenti, who'll be saying more for her "Friday Feminist Fuck You," at Feministing
A moving personal story at Daily Kos
Cecile Richards at the Huffington Post
Sarah Hepola at Salon's Broadsheet

The Sexy Puritan

Photo from Maxim's Hottest Politicians List (she's #2)

Author Tom Perrotta (most recently of "The Abstinence Teacher") has an interesting take on what to make of the VPILF phenomenon surrounding Sarah Palin. He sees her as the perfect example of the all-to-common 'be sexy but don't have sex' message given to young women: The Sexy Puritan.

Sexy Puritans engage in the culture war on two levels—not simply by advocating conservative positions on hot-button social issues but by embodying nonthreatening mainstream standards of female beauty and behavior at the same time. The net result is a paradox, a bit of cognitive dissonance very useful to the cultural right: You get a little thrill along with your traditional values, a wink along with the wagging finger. Somehow, you don't feel quite as much like a prig as you expected to...

...There's a sophisticated strategy of co-optation at work here—not so different from the one employed by Christian rock bands that look and sound almost exactly like their secular counterparts—an attempt to separate "sexiness," which is both cool and permissible, from actual sex, which is not. This is a challenging line to walk in practice, as Britney can attest...Apparently nobody likes the Church Lady anymore, not even the churchgoers. If you don't believe me, you should take a look at the Web site Christian Nymphos [Note: The site doesn't seem to be functioning right now], whose authors cheerfully proclaim, "We are women with excessive sexual desire for our husbands!" and offer candid how-to advice on anal sex, fisting, and "masturbating for your husband..."

...In the weeks remaining before Nov. 4, the Obama campaign faces the challenging job of restoring clarity to the election, making people look at Palin and see not just a plucky, surprisingly hot, pro-life mom who made her way from the PTA to the governor's office, but a "Young Earth" creationist who opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest and thinks a natural-gas pipeline is an expression of God's will. In the meantime, though, she remains a perfect emblem for a stealth culture war: a sexy librarian who would be more than happy to ban a few books.

Debunking the Palin Rape Kit Story

The story that Sarah Palin was making victims of sexual assault pay for their own rape kits has become shorthand for 'See, I told you she's a totally horrible candidate for women." I've heard it quoted back to me over and over again in the last couple of weeks. As much as I agree that she is a totally horrible candidate for women – and other living things, the rape kit story is not what it seems.

Rachel Larimore of Slate's XX Factor has posted an item and a follow-up debunking this story, so please take note:

Thanks to very thorough debunkings by bloggers Charlie Martin of Explorations and Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee, we can put this bit of nastiness to rest.

First off, the Wasilla police chief, Charlie Fannon, is on record as having tried to bill victims' insurance companies, not the victims themselves, for the rape kits. In other towns in Alaska, hospitals were trying to bill victims, prompting an Alaska state law forbidding the practice. If this practice still seems creepy or exclusive to macho, rough-and-tumble Alaska, well, it happens to be the practice in other states, too, like North Carolina (until recently) and ... Illinois.

And she says in her follow-up:

I think we can all agree that victims should not have to pay for their rape kits. And billing insurance companies is a far from ideal solution. Reimbursing a victim with state money after she's already had to pay out of pocket is even worse. But it's a problem that's hardly been exclusive to Wasilla or Alaska. Fortunately, states have been quick to pass laws against such practices once word gets out.

But the fact remains that this is a nasty and untrue rumor about Sarah Palin that's been circulating for weeks. If you're an Obama supporter who gets frustrated that people still believe he's Muslim or won't put his hand on his heart for the Pledge of Allegiance, you should understand the frustration that Palin supporters feel when this slime is taken at face value.

McCain's sex-ed attack on Obama

At the risk of my head exploding, I offer the latest attack ad against Barack Obama's sex education policies. Basically, Obama supports age-appropriate comprehensive sex-education, which at kindergarten level means teaching kids about inappropriate touching. The program is a good start towards protecting kids from pedophiles, but this ad makes it seem like they're all going to learn how to use condoms during nap time.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton responds:

"It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls - a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn't define what honor was. Now we know why."

Here is the script:

Education Week says Obama "hasn't made a significant mark on education".
That he's "elusive" on accountability.
A "staunch defender of the existing public school monopoly".
Obama's one accomplishment?
Legislation to teach "comprehensive sex education" to kindergartners.
Learning about sex before learning to read?
Barack Obama.
Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.

McCain on Teens and Contraception:"You've stumped me"

This whole big sorry mess of a story about Sarah Palin's pregnant 17-year-old daughter has done one good thing: It's finally pushed sex education and reproductive rights into the conversation.

Let's take a few seconds to enjoy the irony of yet another abstinence-only-pushing conservative Christian finding out her teenage daughter got knocked up by that nice young man she met in church (OK that was just Jamie Lynn in the last bit).

And then let's move on to hoping this issue finally gets some traction in the campaign. From today's Huffington Post, an AP story by Sharon Theimer says:

Until Monday, when the subject surfaced in a deeply personal manner, teen pregnancy and sex education were not issues in the national political campaign.

Palin herself said she opposes funding sexual-education programs in Alaska.

"The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support," she wrote in a 2006 questionnaire distributed among gubernatorial candidates.

McCain's position on contraceptives and teen pregnancy issues has been difficult to judge on the campaign trail, as he appears uncomfortable discussing such topics. Reporters asked the presumptive GOP presidential nominee in November 2007 whether he supported grants for sex education in the United States, whether such programs should include directions for using contraceptives and whether he supports President Bush's policy of promoting abstinence.

"Ahhh, I think I support the president's policy," McCain said.

When reporters pressed McCain whether the government should provide contraceptives or counseling on contraceptives, he replied, "You've stumped me." McCain said later that he was sure he opposed government spending on contraceptives.