Last night, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted anti-choice Texas attorney general Greg Abbott’s request to allow the state’s new, onerous anti-abortion law to go into effect. This means that clinic closures across the state could be imminent.
“This is a dire day for Texas women,” said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “Greg Abbott’s insistence that the circuit court reverse the lower court’s injunction clearly demonstrates that he is a foe to women. He does not believe that Texans deserve the right to make their own personal, private medical decisions.”
The Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas’ new admitting privileges requirement will go into effect immediately. Local abortion providers estimate that the law will close 13-15 health centers. Many women will not be able to get the care they need, whether it be abortion care or a whole array of preventive services such as family planning that reproductive- health centers provide.
Yesterday, Saroya Chemaly posted on Salon We are the Daughters of Witches You Didn’t Burn tracing the long history of men’s fear of female power.
As Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English explain in the 2010 revision to their classic book “Witches, Midwives & Nurses,” between the 14th and the 17th centuries, tens of thousands of people were killed as witches. Estimates range, but the latest scholarship puts the number at roughly 100,000 people, 80-85 percent of them women. By the mid-16th century there were villages where all but one woman had been killed for practicing witchcraft.
What were these women burned (also strangled, hanged and beheaded) to death for? Well, first, charges often amounted to condemnations of being female and sexual, two qualities that even today, religious fundamentalists of all stripes tend to deplore. Elaborate fantasies about women engaging in intercourse with the devil were a regular feature of witch trials. Second, women were persecuted for associating with other women, accused of forming covens or holding parties with Satan. Women who came together to celebrate holidays or to share information, trade herbs, gossip or otherwise, you know, hang out together were considered dangerous. Third, women were punished for being poor and helping the poor. As Ehrenreich and English point out, the church was inclined to instruct the desperately impoverished, who made up the vast bulk of the population, to bypass the ministrations of women healers and look to the afterlife for solace while, at the same time, supporting medicine and medical help for the nobility…
However, one of the real lasting and harmful legacies of this history is that, in 2013, women’s health and reproductive rights remain stubbornly under the influence of conservative, religious men, from Todd “women’s bodies have a way of shutting that down” Akin to Sheikh “driving hurts women’s ovaries” Saleh Al-Loheidan, with zero understanding of science, medicine, biology or, really, modernity.
Read the whole post, it shows how the fear of women and persecution of witches always rose during challenges to authority, such as when the scientific revolution and enlightenment weakened the church, witchburning was pushback.
I get that for men as a group, it must have been pretty scary, since the beginning of time, before sex was even connected to reproduction, to know women are the ones who have the power to give birth. Continuing the species is a pretty important role. I also understand that women have tremendous sexual power over men, and that can be scary, too. It makes sense to me that for men, as a group, recognizing this female power, along with allowing women financial, social and political power can be be terrifying. But, this is the year 2013. It’s time to get over fear of female power. This paranoia is hurting the world, our kids, and the potential of the human race. Everyone has to face their fears and move past them. Texas, it’s your turn. Stop the witch hunt.