Donald Trump Is Dangerous to Women

His vision of America is one in which women have no rights—and it’s not far from becoming a reality.



Author: Kali Halloway

Emphasis Mine

There is perhaps no one in recent American political history who has outdone expectations as drastically as Donald Trump.

I do not mean this as a compliment. What I mean is that even as we have come to expect Donald Trump to say and be the absolute worst—to burrow beneath what previously seemed to be the garbage-strewn bottom—he continues to unashamedly dive to once unthinkable depths, outdistancing even the scavengers and bottom-feeders who preceded him.

An example of this occurred on Wednesday, when Trump stated that as president he would seek not only to ban abortions, but also to ensure that women who illegally obtained them would have to face “some kind of punishment.” Perhaps because the notion of criminalizing abortion and then exacting some kind of twisted revenge on women goes beyond even the rhetoric of the far-right anti-choice crowd, interviewer Chris Matthews gave Trump a chance to clarify his remarks.

“For the woman?” Matthews asked, being nothing if not specific.

“Yeah. There has to be some form [of punishment],” Trump replied.

This is a man who has built his political—and if we go back even further, his public—brand on sexualizing, degrading, insulting and vocally and enthusiastically hating women. He makes jokes about newswomen being on their periods, about a fellow candidate’s wife being ugly. He has said countless terrible things about many, many prominent women. And in kind, his supporters dedicate time at rallies to violently shoving teenage girls; to allegedly groping and macing them in the face. Even his campaign manager allegedly physically attacked a woman reporter for doing her job.

And yet, Trump still finds a way to be worse, to keep digging beyond this.

A few days ago, one of Trump’s key advisers—a woman named Stephanie Cegielski—resigned. On her way out, she penned an open letter that essentially accused Trump of being a know-nothing, power-hungry blowhard (I’m paraphrasing), whose entire persona may be contrived. Maybe that means that Trump is not the misogynist (racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, nativist, transphobe) he plays on TV—or on the campaign trail. Maybe it’s all just talk to win hardened, bitter hearts and minds, which he only wants because his lust for power can never be quenched.

Yeah, maybe. I honestly don’t know if Trump hates women, and frankly, at this point, I don’t care. None of us, at this point, should give a shit about Trump’s personal psychology. That’s a problem for his shrink, who can never be paid enough.

What’s more important is the fact that Trump either believes or plays to the most misogynist elements of this country, the consequences of which are very real. When asked about issues of importance—from women’s reproductive rights to whether he’s down with the KKK—he says yes and later sort of says no, a way of cynically and calculatedly playing both sides of the fence to be sure he doesn’t alienate those who see themselves in the mirror of his terribleness. (Case in point: His backpedalling on Wednesday’s remarks.) He stokes anger and hatred toward women and then stands back and watches as his crowd—who were pretty hateful to being with—has their worst ideas of women confirmed and even applauded. He revels in their bile and ignorance, offering a safe space to be a woman-hating asshole whose every problem would be solved if only feminism and Black Lives Matter would go away.

With these latest remarks, Trump is advocating for an America where women have no agency around their bodies, dangerous back alley abortions are the norm, and the health of women—especially those who have had the gall to have sex—is inconsequential. A United States where women are mostly seen—maybe, if they are pretty—but only heard when they’re saying what men want to hear. Poor women, women of color, LGBT women—these women in particular would be even more disenfranchised and invisible. Trump is helping guide us toward being a country where violence against women is okay, in both word and deed. It’s disgusting and frightening. And it’s not that far from being a reality.

Donald Trump stopped being funny a long time ago, but the Woman Hater’s Club he’s built will, I’m certain, find all new ways to be horrible. Be outraged, be angry, make fun of Trump’s supporters, but know that won’t stop him. We’re long past that point. Don’t just stand on the sidelines and ridicule him. Trump’s medieval America is too dangerous and backwards to just watch happen.


Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.



GOP Chair: No Evidence Of Misconduct By Planned Parenthood

Author:Michael Stone

Emphasis Mine

The Republican case against Planned Parenthood has collapsed: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, admits there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the family planning agency.

Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT) said Thursday that the GOP’s investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds hasn’t turned up anything of significance.

Speaking during a Judiciary Committee meeting on Thursday, Chaffetz said:

Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend? Yes.

Was there any wrongdoing? I didn’t find any.

Late last month Chaffetz grilled Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a five-hour hearing. During that hearing, Chaffetz was rude and belligerent, and repeatedly interrupted Richards as she tried to answer his questions in front of the House Oversight Committee.

However, in the end Richards had the last word, telling the belligerent congressman to “check your source” after Chaffetz was caught lying about a deceptive chart he was using in a failed attempt to discredit the women’s health organization.

Chaffetz, a candidate for House speaker, has been leading an expensive and misguided investigation into the business practices of Planned Parenthood after deceptive and misleading videos were released that allegedly showed company executives discussing the sale of fetal tissue.

Recently Planned Parenthood has been the victim of a well financed and cynical campaign to smear the organization dedicated to healthy family planning and women’s reproductive health.

The Center for Medical Progress, a front for radical, anti-abortion, forced-birth extremists, has been running a highly orchestrated campaign to discredit Planned Parenthood and ultimately undermine legal and safe abortion.

The group recently released heavily edited, deceptive and dishonest videos about Planned Parenthood designed to generate political support to defund the organization.



If the Anti-Abortion Frenzy Were Actually about Abortion . . . What a Serious Anti-Abortion Movement Would Actually Look Like

Forty years after Roe v. Wade, the Pro-life movement is a radical failure by the very metrics that abortion foes cite to inspire their base. What would a real anti-abortion movement look like?

Author:valerie tarico

Emphasis Mine

Forty years after Roe v. Wade, the Pro-life movement is a radical failure by the very metrics that abortion foes cite to inspire their base. What would a real anti-abortion movement look like?

U.S. women have obtained nearly 53 millionlegal abortions since 1973. That is because self-described abortion foes ignore or oppose the most powerful strategies for making abortion obsolete. The anti-abortion movement is dominated by religious fundamentalists whose determination to control sexwho has it, with whom, for what purpose—takes priority over their desire to reduce abortions. This focus has seriously interfered with eliminating the supply and demand for abortion services.

If the top priority of the Pro-life movement actually were to end abortion, both tactics and results would be radically different. Imagine a fictional person whose chief life goal is to reduce abortion by, say, 90 percent over the next twenty years. This person might devoutly believe that every fertilized egg has a soul and that fetal demise is a tragedy; or he/she might simply think that abortion is an expensive, invasive, emotionally-complex medical procedure that should be made obsolete. Either way, this person believes that moving society beyond abortion is the most valuable cause to which he or she can devote a lifetime.

It might come as a surprise to the audience of today’s anti-abortion theater—but our protagonist’s goal is attainable. Armed with just the information and technologies available today, someone genuinely committed to reducing abortion by 90 percent in 20 years could map out a plan to get there—and even make people’s lives better in the process.

Skeptical? Let me map it out. When someone gets serious about building an effective beyond-abortion campaign the strategic plan will look something like this:

Serious beyond-abortion advocates will ensure that all Americans have the knowledge and means to prevent the kind of pregnancies that lead to abortion.  

Since many parents had poor role models for birds and bees conversations, serious anti-abortion activists will promote programs that help parents to overcome discomfort and create healthy, age-appropriate conversations about genitalia, sexual health, sexual pleasure, intimacy and reproduction.

Conversations between children and trusted adults delay the onset of sexual activity while increasing the percent of sexually-active teens who protect themselves against unwanted pregnancy (and so the need for abortion). Therefore, serious anti-abortion activists will help parents build trust and credibility on sexual matters. Despite the discomfort of aging traditionalists, who might prefer to avoid frank conversations about sex, serious anti-abortion activists will keep their eye on their prize, which is fewer abortions.

Since preventing abortion is a higher priority for them than promoting chastity, serious anti-abortion activists will promote open, honest conversations about sex within religious communities.

Approximately 85% of Christian youth have sex before marriage and the rate of abortion is as high among Christian believers as non-Christians, so beyond-abortion advocates will work diligently to ensure that Christian young people are equipped to manage their fertility and thus initiate pregnancy only when they are prepared to carry forward a new life.

Because beyond-abortion activists are single-mindedly intent on reducing abortion, they will take to heart the social science research showing that shaming—for example through abstinence-only sermons, books and classesdrives down intimate conversations and preparations for safer sex while doing little to delay or reduce more impulsive sexual activity. They will recognize that guilt and shame about normal sexual urges can lead to denial, wishful-thinking, church-avoidance and impulsive high-risk behaviors. They are also committed to helping young people understand and manage sexual desire and pleasure rather than simply trying to suppress those urges, which has been shown not to work. They will challenge old attitudes that treat youth contraception as “premeditated sin” or pregnancy as a punishment and will instead help young Christians to explore the spirit and purpose of ancient chastity laws. They will develop faith-compatible programs like Our Whole Lives, which was created by the Unitarian Church to integrate thoughtful, responsible family planning with other spiritual and moral wisdom.

Serious beyond-abortion advocates will treat the school system as part of the sexual education “village.”

To quote a research summary from Advocates for Youth: “Evaluations of comprehensive sex education programs show that these programs can help youth delay onset of sexual activity, reduce the frequency of sexual activity, reduce number of sexual partners, and increase condom and contraceptive use . . . teens who received comprehensive sex education were 50 percent less likely to experience pregnancy than those who received abstinence-only education.”

Recognizing that some families struggle with addiction, mental illness and other challenges that keep kids from getting excellent health information and care and recognizing that some children suffer unwanted sexual contact at home, serious anti-abortion activists will support school efforts to fill knowledge gaps. They will invest in accountable, effective sexual health curricula demonstrated to delay sexual initiation and reduce risky sexual behavior (as measured by self-report, STIs, pregnancy and abortion). They will also lobby for age-appropriate education that starts long before youth become sexually active. When public dollars are limited, they will fund these materials and programs through charitable giving. Beyond-abortion advocates will insist that family planning be integrated into educational and career planning, not because this helps students attain their goals but because preventing surprise pregnancy prevents abortion.

Serious beyond-abortion activists will recognize that attempts to restore traditional gender roles and the traditional family formation sequence (education-marriage-sex-childbearing) have largely failed. They will also recognize that abortion prevention must adapt to a shifting pattern of pair bonding and family formation. Expanding beyond abstinence-till-marriage, they will deploy whatever tools are necessary to reduce the pregnancies that lead to abortion.

For over 20 years, advocates for child well-being promoted a return to traditional marriage as a means to ensure that parents get ready before getting pregnant. Lead advocate, Isobel Sawhill (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Generation Unbound) concedes that the changes in family structure are likely irreversible and that new methods are needed to support well-timed pregnancy and family flourishing. To reduce abortions, serious anti-abortion activists will adopt a pragmatic approach to intentional childbearing and family well-being, including community services for young families and access to better birth control.

Serious anti-abortion activists will drive a technology revolution in contraception—from every-day and every-time birth control methods to long-acting contraceptives like IUDs and implants that radically reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion.

Long-acting contraceptives are the most dramatically-effective means to date of reducing demand for abortion. A St. Louis program that offered top-tier, long-acting contraceptives to 9,000 women and youth dropped unwanted pregnancy and abortion to less than half the local average. A Colorado program that provided long-acting contraceptives to sexually-active teens reduced teen pregnancy and abortion by 40 and 35 percent respectively. Serious anti-abortion activists will challenge the false perception that these methods work to end rather than prevent pregnancy and instead promote the science-based awareness that these methods are true contraceptives with bonus health benefits. They will work to reform liability practices that undermine development and distribution of better birth control.

Serious anti-abortion activists will ensure that young and poor women in marginalized communities have access to excellent reproductive health services free of charge, since these are the youth and women with the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy.

While unsought pregnancy and abortion are declining for middle and upper middle income families, they are on the increase among those least able to absorb the impact of another child. But making excellent contraception available to teens at no cost can drop the abortion rate by three quarters. As is, Title X family planning services prevent 2.2 million unplanned pregnancies yearly, without which the abortion rate would be two-thirds higher.

Drawing on tested models like A Step Ahead in Memphis, serious anti-abortion activists will create programs that recognize the complexity and financial challenges of life in poor communities. These programs will provide rapid response, single-visit services and they will systematically eliminate financial barriers to better birth control. They will address anxiety (and contraceptive avoidance) that is due to forced sterilizations and other bad history and ensure that women are freely able to choose and switch contraceptive methods, as well as have them removed as desired.

Serious anti-abortion activists will insist that medical practices be updated so that family planning becomes a routine part of adolescent medicine, family practice, prenatal care, and hospital labor and delivery services.

Women and men are most likely to engage in effective pregnancy prevention when primary care providers and other doctors routinely assess family plans and fertility management as a part of all medical care. Serious anti-abortion activists will promote innovative and effective programs that treat pregnancy intentions like one more vital sign for both healthy and chronically-ill patients. They will ensure that continuing education programs teach doctors how (and why) to include family planning conversations in prenatal care and birthing services. They will monitor hospitals and other care systems to ensure that the best fertility management options are available on patient request.

As both unintended pregnancy and abortion decline, serious anti-abortion activists will ensure that any woman who does end up with a surprise pregnancy will never be driven by financial or educational or career concerns to terminate that pregnancy.

Forty percent of women seeking abortions cite financial concerns as a factor in their decision to end a pregnancy. Serious anti-abortion activists will tackle structural barriers to broad family prosperity including policies that create income inequality and cause families to fall out of the middle class. They champion family-friendly workplace norms and public policies including maternity leave, paid family leave, affordable childcare, and mom-friendly education alternatives for youth and women who decide to carry forward a surprise pregnancy.

Serious anti-abortion advocates will work to minimize maternal health problems and fetal anomalies by promoting pre-conception care and prenatal care and by ensuring that fertility management is integrated into care for chronic conditions such as diabetes and HIV.

Only a small percent of abortion is triggered by threats to maternal health and life, or by fetal anomalies, but serious anti-abortion activists will work to prevent these difficult situations. They will raise awareness that preconception care can prevent some fetal anomalies and maternal health risks and they will make sure that medically-compromised women receive integrated care so that high-risk pregnancies occur only when a woman or couple actively wants a baby.

With an eye to the future, serious anti-abortion activists will aggregate $200 million in philanthropic dollars, public research funds and investment capital to develop better birth control for men and take it to market.

A man is involved in every pregnancy and men are involved in many abortion decisions, but today male contraceptives lag behind female contraceptives by almost a century. As of 2015, the best reversible method for women has an annual pregnancy rate of 1 in 2000, while the best for men (the condom) has a 1 in 6 annual pregnancy rate. Serious anti-abortion activists will recognize that giving men better means to manage their fertility will result in fewer surprise pregnancies and fewer abortions.

Forty years after Roe v. Wade, the Pro-life movement is a radical failure by the very metrics that abortion foes cite to inspire their base—or would be if the goal were actually to eliminate abortion. Unintended pregnancy and abortion are in decline, thanks to a number of cultural and economic factors and better birth control. But American care providers still serve over a million women seeking abortions annually and over 900,000 of these women terminate a pregnancy.

Self-described abortion foes in Congress pass copy-cat TRAP laws (targeted restrictions of abortion providers) that drive up the price of abortion care. Other self-proclaimed abortion foes have launched a multi-year “yuck factor” media campaign aimed at triggering moral and physical disgust. Still others harry women and care providers, forcing them to walk gauntlets of posters and prayers at clinic entrances or stalking and doxing them online.

Indeed, self-proclaimed foes have so stigmatized abortion care that most of us have no idea which third of our female friends have terminated ill-conceived pregnancies.

But, if a half century of evidence from around the globe is to be believed, no amount of shaming or harassing women, nurses and doctors—however well-organized and sustained—will produce anything close to a 90 percent reduction in abortion. Nor will another 800 restrictive laws like those passed in the last twenty years, even if they criminalize women and providers. Such approaches may force some women to carry forward unwanted pregnancies, but their effect is limited by the power of human desperation. Extreme restrictions and stigma in Eastern Europe filled orphanages with unwanted babies but also filled backrooms with bleeding women. In pre-Roe America, compassionate clergy became weary of burying dead parishioners and helped to create an underground railroad to safe. Around the globe, 22 million women each year undergo a back-alley abortion rather than carry yet another unwanted pregnancy to term and over 20,000 pay with their lives. More restrictions, more disgust, more stigma—these may feel righteous to some, but at best they produce an impasse that destroys dreams and hopes and even lives and that satisfies no one.

By contrast, we know what it would take to make most abortion simply go away. Ironically, the upstream solution lies in the common ground between those who oppose abortion care and those who support it—the value we all place on empowering young people to flourish, and parents to love and care for their children. The only question is whether an anti-abortion movement will emerge that takes this challenge seriously.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author ofTrusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at


Obama Just Neutralized The Hobby Lobby Decision With New Obamacare Rules !

Source: Occupy Democrats

Emphasis Mine

Last year, the Supreme Court handed down a controversial decision in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case that allowed employers to deny basic healthcare to women based on their personal beliefs. (N.B.: Employers beliefs, not employees). Conservatives all across America, who want to punish women for their “scandalous” sex-lives, celebrated the court’s Hobby Lobby ruling; it didn’t matter to them that many women take birth control to help chronic health problems, like endometriosis- the idea of women taking control of their sex lives and reproductive health was too much to bear. Now, a year after the infamous ruling, President Obama has issued new guidelines for Obamacare’s birth control mandate that protects women in spit of the ruling.

On Friday, the Obama administration released its new guidelines and they ensure that all women, except for those who work for a religious organization, have access to free birth control. Under the administration’s new rule, if a company wants to deny its employees contraceptives, they must write a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stating their objection. The Department of Health will then find a third-party insurer to provide birth control to the employees, free of cost.

The new guidelines come on the heels of a circuit court ruling that struck down further attempts by the religious right-wing to deny women access to the basic healthcare. An ultraconservative judge with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Jerry Smith, told a group of employers that they had to submit letters to HHS when they objected to the contraceptive coverage. The employers complained that they were enabling women to get the coverage if they were forced to submit the paperwork, saying that helping them, in any way, went against their personal beliefs. The judge was not sympathetic and threw them out of court.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell released a statement after the president released his new guidelines and said that the department was committed to ensuring that every woman had access to services:

“Women across the country should have access to preventive services, including contraception.  At the same time, we recognize the deeply held views on these issues, and we are committed to securing women’s access to important preventive services at no additional cost under the Affordable Care Act, while respecting religious beliefs.”

The birth control mandate has saved women $1.4 billion since it went into effect in 2012. Even though Obama’s new rules make basically make the Hobby Lobby ruling a moot point, one lawmaker, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), is irritated that the president had to accommodate religious organizations, at all, and is working on legislation to repeal the Hobby Lobby ruling.

“In the 21st century, women should be able to make their own decisions about their own bodies—and no one should have to ask their boss for permission to get the health care they need. I’m committing to continuing to fight, along with the Administration and all my colleagues, to fix this Supreme Court-issued license to discriminate and protect the rights of women and families across our country.”

President Obama’s new guidelines are a step in the right direction. It is ridiculous that an employer has any say over their employees healthcare decisions. These decisions should be left up to a woman and her doctor; an employer has no place in that equation. Senator Murray’s plans to repeal the asinine Hobby Lobby ruling would be welcome legislation, but the GOP will likely fight it tooth and nail. Why? Because they love to punish women. They claim that they support the ruling, because of religious freedom; but, when their religion stomps on the rights of women to access healthcare, it is no longer freedom at all. It’s a good thing women have President Obama and Democrats in their corners, because the right-wing will stop at nothing to attack us.


Uncoupling: Why the Right Feels Violated by Consent, Queers, Contraceptives, and Child Protection

Source: Valerie Talerico

Emphasis Mine

The conservative Christion obsession with sex and procreation can be traced back to a single Iron Age gender script.

Stories of patriarchal Christian leaders groping, fondling, masturbating on or otherwise harassing or assaulting women—and having clandestine sex with men–seem to be a media staple of late. At the same time, conservative Christian leaders are fixated on lording it over women, queers, and kids. Consider, the following sample from Spring 2015:

  1. The Vatican’s second in command pronounces Ireland’s 62% endorsement of marriage equality via national referendum  a “defeat for humanity.”
  2. Catholic priest and blogger Father Dwight Longenecker proclaims that transgender former Olympian, Caitlin Jenner, is a “man dressed up as a whore” who is “caught up in a huge publicity machine to sell himself and now to sell his sexual confusion.”
  3. The Seattle Archdiocese agrees to pay $1.2 million to a woman abused for five years by a priest who was a known pedophile shuffled between parishes by the Church hierarchy.
  4. Devout U.S. presidential wannabes Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee warn the public that gay marriage proponents are a danger to Christianity, which is likely to be criminalized if the Supreme Court backs equality.
  5. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker calls forced vaginal ultrasound before abortion “a cool thing.”
  6. Former U.S. Speaker of the House, Republican Dennis Hastert (also a celebrated alumnus of my alma mater, the Evangelical Wheaton College), is indicted for stealing $1.7 million from his securities firm to pay hush money to a former male high school 
  7. student he coached in wrestling and sexually molested.
  8. The producers of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting stop counting dollars and start counting how many sisters Josh Duggar molested before becoming an anti-gay, anti-contraception, anti-kids-rights advocate. (Duggar’s celebrity father had previously advocated the death penalty for incest.) Conservative Christian politicians, bloggers, and religious leaders rush to defend Duggar who, as shown in a photo album at has touched nearly every conservative presidential contender with “the same hands that touched his sister.”
  9. Bob Jones University suspends sexual abuse investigation, but then resumes after public outcry. A Protestant sex abuse scandal, focused on universities, orphanages, missionary schools and more heats up globally.
  10. Paraguay’s Catholic-dominated court denies a 10-year-old rape victim the right to terminate her forced pregnancy.
  11. Conservative Republicans kill funding for America’s most effective teen pregnancy prevention program, which provided IUD’s to young mothers in Colorado.
  12. Under the influence of Bible-quoting conservatives, the U.S. continues to stand with Somalia against the rest of the world, by refusing to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Idaho implements a bill, signed in April by Governor Butch Otter, protecting parents from prosecution in cases of religiously motivated child abuse and medical neglect.
  13. A Christian Gender Roles article titled, “8 Steps to Confront Your Wife’s Sexual Refusal,” goes viral as the sequel to, “Christian Husbands: You Don’t Pay for the Milk when You Own the Cow,” a biblical manifesto that stops just short of endorsing marital rape—or maybe doesn’t.Christianity’s Anti-Marketing Team?If you’re feeling disgusted, you’re not alone. From the standpoint of wooing converts or even inspiring the faithful to stay faithful, the sex-obsessed behavior of high profile patriarchal Christians is about as effective as the U.S. Army’s attempt to win hearts and minds with drone strikes. I’m not trying to be poetic here—in the last decade or so, the percent of Americans who self-identify as Christians has dropped from 85 percent to 70 percent, and young people point to the “culture wars” as a key reason that Christianity turns them off. Guess who’s leaving the fastest? Women. Moderate Christians find themselves apologizing for their co-religionists, trying desperately to overcome the perception (fostered largely by biblical literalists and conservative Catholics) that Christians are judgmental, control-freakish, sex-obsessed hypocrites.

    So, why don’t the anti-marketers back off? After all, Evangelicals center their faith around a verse known as the “Great Commission” – Go into the world and make disciples of every creature. And the word “catholic” means universal, literally. The Catholic Church has spent centuries sending a sales force of missionaries into countries and cultures around the world to promote their product. If your prime directive is win converts, it seems obvious that you should lead with universal feel-good platitudes, not some archaic version of Machos rule! Females, fags, and five-year-olds drool!

    Some people say that the best evidence against the Bible’s God is that his public relations team is so inept. But I don’t think the problem is incompetence on the part of God’s spokesmen. I think they are stuck.

    Caught in an Iron Age Trap

    Many moderate Christians see the Bible not as the literally perfect Word of God, but as a record of humanity’s struggle to understand what is real and what is good. They find unique value in the Christian tradition and the model of Jesus but may also acknowledge value in other spiritual traditions while recognizing the human handprints on the biblical texts

    By contrast, biblical literalists declare the Good Book to be the complete and timeless Word of God, essentially dictated to God by the authors. Having made an idol out of the Bible, they have little choice but to promote the Iron Age worldview of the Bible writers. And in this worldview–childish taunts aside–machos do rule. God gave Adam a “helpmeet” named Eve-not-Steve, and to punish her for seeking independent knowledge swore that Adam would rule over her and she would bear his children and it would hurt like hell. As later Bible texts encode in law and illustrate in story, those children are Man’s property—assets that he can use for labor, send to war, sell into slavery, trade for political alliance, or even sacrifice as a burnt offering. In this view, consent is not a thing. Nowhere does the Bible, Old Testament or New, suggest that a woman’s consent is needed or even desired prior to intercourse. And for a man to have sex with another man violates the whole procreative hierarchy.

    In other words, patriarchal Christian men are obsessed with lording it over women, queers, and kids because in the view of the Bible writers (and true Bible believers) that is the right and proper order of things, ordained by Yahweh Himself—who, by the way, gets really mean when people don’t do things his way.

    Josh Duggar from TLC’s reality show 19 Kids and Counting, recently resigned as Executive Director of the anti-gay, anti-female Family Research Council after his history of teen sex offenses came to light. When Duggar’s parents first learned years ago that he was molesting his younger sisters, they sent him to get counseling from a guiding light of patriarchal misogyny, the Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP), founded by Bill Gothard, who has since been accused of molesting or sexually harassing at least 30 women himself. IBLP teaches a strict hierarchy of God—Man—Woman—Child. When I attended one of their traveling seminars as an evangelical teen, this hierarchy was represented visually by the image of God’s hand holding a hammer (the father), striking a chisel (the mother) shaping a diamond (the Christian teen). A key message was that teens needed to hear the words of those in authority over them as the voice of God.

    This model of man as God’s representative here on Earth, is fundamental throughout the Bible. The texts assembled in the Bible were written during a time spanning hundreds of years, and much cultural evolution took place during that time. Even so, women and children remained chattel (property of men) clear through the New Testament, along with slaves and livestock. In the biblical view, all sentient beings including female humans were created by God for man’s pleasure and use, and man was granted dominion over them.

    All of this makes male control of female sexuality exceedingly important—because without male “headship” and (lots of) reproduction, the whole religious-cultural-economic model breaks down.

    Modernity Uncouples Family Formation, Sex, and Parenthood

    The values of modern secular society: individual freedom and bodily autonomy, equality, and the right to wellbeing and “pursuit of happiness” are fundamentally at odds with this model. Consider three incredibly cherished and important dimensions of human life: family formation; sexual pleasure/intimacy; and parenthood. Liberals and moderates today believe that individuals should have the freedom to choose each of these dimensions of life independent of the others.

    We view these freedoms as positive social and moral goods:

    • People should be free to form loving, mutually supportive, legally recognized families with each other regardless of their sexual orientation or desire to have children. Legitimate families or “extended family” households can take of a wide variety of unconventional and fluid forms: an aunt raising her sister’s child; an unmarried elderly couple living together, a queer married couple, a co-housing community that includes single parents and kids.
    • The cherished experiences of sexual pleasure and intimacy should be broadly available to people regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, stage of life, legal partnership status, ethnicity, religion, or financial status—including those whose values or life circumstances mean they don’t want to bring a new child into the world. This includes college students, impoverished refugees, the elderly, queer people, and many others who may not be in a position to form an enduring intimate partnership.
    • Becoming a parent, as one of life’s most sacred commitments, is a matter of personal intention and choice, free from coercion either for or against, chosen by couples or individuals themselves; couples who are empowered by family planning and fertility assistance and supportive care systems to bring babies into the world when they feel ready, or adopt children who need parents. Conservative patriarchs are horrified at the thought of empowered, autonomous people freely choosing each of these dimensions of life. They are intent on forcing all of us back into a Bible-shaped box, one that establishes the proper Iron Age hierarchy of man over woman and child, that allows sex only within socially sanctioned legal structures governing property ownership and inheritance, and that ensures powerful men retain control of the economic and social assets that are rightfully theirs, including their women and their children. (See Captive Virgins, Polygamy, Sex Slaves: What Marriage Would Look Like if We Actually Followed the Bible.)Freely chosen relationships that make sex about mutual desire or love violate this model; legally recognizing children as wholly persons rather than property violates this model; women actively managing their fertility via contraception or abortion violates this model. The mere existence of queer folks violates this model.

      One New Testament writer puts these words in the mouth of Jesus, “What God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6 NRSV). While the passage refers explicitly to divorce, members of the Christian patriarchy movement apply the concept more broadly to the entire arena of family formation, sexuality, and childbearing.

      Freudian psychological concepts like denial, projection, repression, and reaction formation may explain why red states are the biggest consumers of online porn, or why Evangelical leaders keep getting caught with their pants down. But if you’ve ever wondered why patriarchal Christians are so obsessed with controlling sex—who gets it and how, who’s on top and why, whether it leads to childbearing, and who gets to hit the kids it produces—the answer lies in this Iron Age script. Be fruitful and multiply; if you beat your son with a rod he will not die; men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; women will be saved through childbearing; and God made man in his own image—in the image of God created He him. It’s all in the Book.


      Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at


A national scandal, not involving sex, celebrities, or corruption

45,000 die every year due to a lack of health insurance.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all…” spoke Abraham Lincoln at his second inaugural address. While some act as if our health care insurance reform legislation is a disease, a joke, or an onerous burden, a new study puts a deadly face on the consequences of the failure of the U.S. to offer universal health care to its citizens: 45,000 die every year due to a lack of health insurance. This figure has increased about two and a half times since 2002. (In addition the US ranks low internationally in measures such as life expectancy and infant mortality, all at more than twice the average cost.) The authors of the Harvard-based study noted that the U.S. is the only developed nation in the world that doesn’t provide guaranteed health care to its citizens: a subject for serious thought at a time of year when charity and good will receive so many words, if not so much attention.

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