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The Permanent Fight For Reproductive Rights.

21 Sep

[This post is the English version of the one that has been written for "Mädchenmannschaft"  here (in german).]

Embryos are US citizens and citizens of the state in which they reside. They are entitled to the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; and no state is allowed to deprive them life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny them the equal protection of the laws.

If US Republicans had their way, this would soon be a constitutional reality in the States: the platform, on which the GOP decided a couple of weeks ago in Tampa, includes a so-called “human life” amendment that aims at defining fertilized eggs as actual “unborn children.” The GOP seeks to extend the civil rights defined in the 14th amendment for actual US citizens to blastocysts – a plan that isn’t news and has failed in Mississippi in 2011. Whereas the “personhood” amendment in the Magnolia State had been unconstitutional anyway (thanks to Roe v. Wade), the GOP is now actively trying to change the game by changing the federal constitution.

Ever since the US Supreme Court has legalised abortion when classifying it a matter or privacy and civil rights in Roe V. Wade in 1973, abortion is – in theory – legitimate up until a fetus’ viability. De facto, due to a multitude of additional regulations, abortions in the US are mostly performed until the 12th week of a pregnancy. The “human rights” amendment that has now been officially introduced, however, is just the highlight of Christian fundamentalists’ long-haul campaign to erode the Supreme Court’s verdict, and this campaign has been quite creative: conservatives (within and outside of official political structures) have sought to limit women’s* access to abortion clinics or even contraceptives like the “morning after pill,” they erected additional barriers by introducing mandatory counselling, unnecessary medical procedures (such as transvaginal ultrasounds) or waiting periods, tried (and, at times, succeeded) to cut funds to organizations such as Planned Parenthood, and threatened or even murdered doctors and medical staff who performed abortions.

Given these blatant intimidation and punishment tactics towards people who seek abortions in the US, people in Europe seem to often overlook the obvious. For example: the mere fact that abortion isn’t even legal in germany.

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Too Much Incense Makes People’s Brains Go Fuzzy.

29 Jun

Joachim Cardinal Meisner, the arcbishop of Cologne, has always been known to be an asshat. Not only did he casually equate abortion to the Shoah in a sermon and revoke an openly gay priest’s license to teach in his diocese, he makes it a point to express the most reactionary filth on a monthly basis. Catholicism – always a  pleasure…

This time, Meisner continues his personal crusade against abortion (and women in general, obviously). Since the repetitive mumbling of canonised fairy tales isn’t cutting it anymore when it comes to defending the church’s disproportional influence on german politics, Meisner has picked a more recent topic, germany’s nuclear phase-out programme, to make a point about “unborn life” [sic].

He asserts that whoever may be occasionally wondering about the country’s social and ecological future should be more concerned with abortion than with, uh… well… little incidents like Fukushima or Chernobyl; abortion happens to be the ultimate “daily, secretive worst case accident” of our times, in his view. Make sense?

In his little quest to equate women to nuclear power and abortions to nuclear accidents (does that mean my uterus can actually split atoms? Awesome!), he goes on to say that nuclear power stations are completely safe – as opposed to women, I presume, who are just so darn hard to control these days and certainly cannot be trusted when it comes to decisions regarding their own lives and bodies.

Completely safe…? Tell that to the prefecture Fukushima in Japan. Or to Harrisburg in the US. Or to Prypjat, near Chernobyl, in the Ukraine. Or to Seascale, near Sellafield, in the UK. Or to Biblis in Hesse in germany (…where the atomic pile Biblis A nearly tried to kill me when I was three years old, living 2 miles away). Although I guess nuclear disasters do look rather “meh…” compared to the biblical apocalypse?

Eager to make an impression (and he does alright), Meisner moves on to spread the lie that 8 million fetuses were aborted in the last decades in germany, thus “more than ten class rooms are wiped out everyday.” Actually, the number of abortions performed in germany last year was 110,440, and it has been basically consistent since 1996 (when the infamous §218 concerning abortion in germany’s penal code was altered after the german reunification, regulating the requirements for impunity for abortions in certain circumstances). Hence, as a rough calculation, there were about 1.6 million abortions within the past 15 years. If I was mean, I would say that Meisner obviously isn’t in touch with reality much (duh!), and his math skills are not up to speed either.

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Adjust Yourself.

23 Jun

So, one of the reasons I had (and have) to dial down a little on blog posts is that there’s loads of other work to do… Not that I’m actually doing it; I went on holiday to Madrid. And yet – even in between tapas, red wine, glorious sights, handsome men and sunny, summery weather, some people have taken their one chance to piss me off on my last day, when I discovered this in the subway:

That’s right. An advertisement for the gastric band. The poster features a naked fat woman, “Marta”, allegedly 28 years old, an architect and – gasp! – single. The poster goes on to say that Marta has difficulties when it comes to social relations, and that she suffers from joint pain and depression (…in that order). In comes the gastric band: it is advertised as “the definite solution,” and one can pay it off by monthly instalments of 177 Euros…

Seriously. Seriously? Where do I begin… First of all, the mere idea of proactively advertising major abdominal surgery (and yes, whereas surgeons try to perform it as minimally invasive as possible – it is still major abdominal surgery) is just mind-boggling to me. You might as well start to advertise appendectomies (because who needs that little stomp and it’s a preemptive strike, right) or tonsillectomies (which are less invasive than a lap band surgery…). Apparently, being fat is such a horrible state of existence that advertisements like these are totally ethically justified. The European Union has established the imprint of warnings on the mortal danger of smoking on every damn cigarette pack around the continent – and yet, lap band advertisements are completely fine. True, it is probably a lot cleverer not to mention the risks, side effects and the utter uselesness of the gastric band in some cases – probably no one would voluntarily do that to hirself, then.

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Get Your Dogma Off My Cookie.

30 May

Recently, friends of mine told me an anecdote that was supposed to make me laugh (I guess), but was more of (yet) an(other) example to me how beauty standards and misogyny still go so well together:

He (lets call him Tim) and she (lets call her Tom) were working together on updating the university’s noticeboard, when one of the professors came out of his office and wanted to share some cookies with them. Tim (to be polite, as he said) thankfully accepted, but Tom is allergic to wheat, so she declined. You’d think the professor might be able to go on with his day after this, having handed out a cookie, but her response apparently startled him. His go-to-response was: “Ah, sure, you’re trying to watch your diet.”

Tom did not laugh (because she actually did not hear what he said), Tim gave a little chuckle… This made the professor so uncomfortable that he finally buggered off after some awkward seconds. Tim then implicitly told Tom that she was kind of rude and that her behaviour made the professor feel awkward.

As I get annoyed rather easily (…so I’ve been told ;) ), I am naturally annoyed by this – and with reason, I think. I’m also fine with adding that, as a person who has been put on her first diet when she was seven years old (with no eventual benefit whatsoever), I am probably more receptive to this kind of stuff.

Not only was “diet” the first thing that popped into the professor’s head when Tom did not want a cookie, although there is a multitude of explanations available (…maybe Tom does not like cookies, or does not like the professor’s damn cookies, or does not want to eat cookies right now, or has just eaten cookies, or is actually allergic or nauseated or just not in the mood), he actually thought it was worth commenting on her decision; even more so, in a fat-phobic and sexist fashion.

First of all, and most importantly (and I don’t think you can get that message out often enough): A person’s body and (life style) choices are none of your fucking business. Not mine, not yours, not a family’s, community’s, economy’s or of national or even global interest. Don’t get me wrong, certain individual looks, behaviours and choices are most certainly presented as a matter of the public and of policy; many people behave really horribly, downright violently, and have no sense of boundaries when it comes to weight and size. Sometimes things get rather funny and truly preposterous, as the “But I care for these fatties”-tantrum throwing TV chef Jamie Oliver has shown. My personal favourite, however, is the “scientific” revelation that fat people are one of the major causes of global warming and would save the planet if only they’d exercised more – you couldn’t make this shit up…

From Michelle Obama’s war on fatty terror concern for fat children to germany’s federally launched “Fit statt Fett” (“fit instead of fat” – and let me just say: the german word “fett” conveys more negativity than “fat” and is a deliberately derogatory term that could have been replaced by more humane alternatives) campaign, weight is framed as both a concrete political/fiscal and societal/symbolic issue: national security and prosperity vs. decadence and decline; discipline and fiscal success vs. laziness and over spending due to supposedly preventable diseases that allegedly put a stranglehold on health care systems.

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