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Wednesday: What’s wrong with EJ Dionneism?

I realize that I am about 36 hours late to this party.  But did you ever have a topic that has been swishing around in the brain for a couple of weeks but didn’t quite know how to write it?  It’s not that the topic doesn’t have a theme song or plenty of examples.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  This topic has so much material to work with it’s hard to know where to start.  Sort of like cleaning a very cluttered and dirty house, but I’ll get to that at the end.

So, EJ Dionne, one of the few ostensibly “liberal” bloggers wrote a silly, misguided, male-centric column the other day in the Washington Post about the campaign year decision that the Obama administration made to enforce the “free contraception for all!” rule for women with insurance regardless of who was providing the insurance, including the Catholic church.  The red beanie guys have been on Obama’s case for months now trying to get him to back off on this.  But Obama, smelling an opportunity to get back in the good graces of women, has decided to make this a campaign issue.  You can bet that this will be cited in the campaign literature delivered to the houses of women between the ages of 17-52 who have been data mined with pin-point accuracy as caring about these kind of things.

For Dionne, the Catholic schoolboy, this was an unwise decision for the president to have made.  If Obama wants to increase his chances of winning this year, he should have appealed more to the religious right.  Never mind that women requiring birth control outnumber Catholic bishops and cardinals, it is much more important to the Dionnes out there that we not upset the beanie boys.  In actuality, Obama tried to work out a deal with the bishops so that they didn’t have to provide the contraception but they would have to inform their female enrollees how they could get it.  They wouldn’t budge.  So, the administration told the church there would be no exceptions.  I don’t know why this is a praiseworthy act.  It should be so routine that none of us should even be aware of it.  Birth control is good.  Free birth control even better.  No one would have batted an eyelash about this in the 70’s.  But that was before the religious had to be appeased.

Here’s the part of Dionne’s column that bugged me the most:

Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here.

Yeah, you know, as an American liberal, I don’t see it this way at all.  I don’t think religious pluralism imposes ANY obligations on government.  The only rights that religion imposes on government is the right to exist without having anyone shoving stuff down the gullets of the individual members of that religion.  For example, the church must offer contraceptive coverage.  The individual members of that church don’t have to use it.  No one can force you to  prevent pregnancy in this country.  But EJ has it backwards.  EJ thinks that it’s OK for the religious to force certain people, specifically women, to obey its proscriptions whether they are Catholic or not or even whether they believe in God at all.  When did the Constitution allow for the 4th century thinking of a collection of men in a different country to direct the lives of women here in the US against their own consciences?

It is unacceptable for any religion to direct the consciences and behavior of American women against their will.  It is especially egregious when the fallout of this coercion affects their ability to choose the number and timing of their family.  It violates their first amendment rights of freedom of religion.  It probably violates their civil rights as well.  It’s just wrong, EJ.  The Catholic church has a right to exist in this country and conduct worship services that are open to the public and that’s it.  I don’t remember any other parts of the constitution where it was allowed to impose any other obligations on government.

But let’s take EJ’s theory to its logical conclusion.  Let’s say that religion is allowed to impose obligations on government.  We’re not talking Taliban or Wahabbi territory here where there is only one flavor of religion.  This is America after all and we still have a religiously plural society.  Let’s think of another example where there is religious pluralism where the fundamentalists have been pandered to in the manner that EJ suggests.  How about Israel?  Recently, the ultra orthodox fundamentalist Jews have been having a field day in Israel screaming and spitting at little girls, having fits over women singing in public and denying female scientists the right to receive professional awards at ceremonies or speaking about their expertise.  These last two examples were the decisions of the governmental minister of health.  All of the ugly details about what Israeli women are experiencing even though most of them are not ultra orthodox, can be found in this NYTimes article, Israel Faces Crisis over Role of Ultra Orthodox in Society.  And here’s the money quote that shows just how wrong EJ is:

They have generally stayed out of the normal Israeli politics of war and peace, often staying neutral on the Palestinian question and focusing their deal-making on the material and spiritual needs of their constituents. Politically they have edged rightward in recent years.

In other words, while rejecting the state, the ultra-Orthodox have survived by making deals with it. And while dismissing the group, successive governments — whether run by the left or the right — have survived by trading subsidies for its votes. Now each has to live with the other, and the resulting friction is hard to contain.

In other words, if you start making deals with the religious right for votes, they’re going to want something in return.  And this *something* tends to bite women in the ass. Give them an inch and they’ll start humiliating female scientists at professional conferences. The reason why the religious right have been able to get away with it for some time now is because of men like EJ and Chris Matthews types who never have to live with the results of those deals.

But nevermind.  Women already know this.  And they know it will get worse the more politicians pander.  Now it’s birth control, pretty soon, it will be allowing employers to discriminate against women without cover.  They do it now anyway and I could swear it got worse after the 2008 election because after all, the president and his party got away with vicious misogyny and discrimination without being held accountable.  What women in the private sector is going to be able to successfully challenge the old boys club now?  Party on, boys!  That’s why the layoffs initially hit men hardest but spared women in public sector, education and health care jobs, but when it comes to hiring back in the corporations, it’s helpful to have a penis and a male supervisor or director who lunches only with other males and doesn’t see the women in his groups as real people needing real jobs.  That’s why it is not uncommon for the majority the women in a department to lose their jobs in a layoff but not the men.  Yes, this really happens.  I have witnessed it myself.   That’s why men get internal job interviews and not women.  I thought I was crazy until the company doctor told me that she heard the same complaint from many, many women in my company.  They are passed over, shoved out, laid off and never heard from again.  It’s partially because no one challenged the shit that happened in 2008 or laid down the law in subsequent years or formed an exploratory committee to find out why it’s happening.  No one gives a shit.  It’s just women.

And why doesn’t anyone give a shit?  Have you seen how many male column writers we have in major American newspapers compared to females?  Have you ever read the evening round up on The Plum Line when male blogger after male blogger is cited with a bare sprinkling of female opinion thrown in as a garnish?  We hear mens’ opinions 24/7 ad nauseum.  And their stupid, clueless opinions usually give a pass to the religious right and their stubborn insistance that we all obey the writings of another bunch of male columnists  from the end of the fricking Bronze Age who swear, without any proof at all, that they were taking dictation from God himself.

Enough, already.  There are many of us who no longer believe in the god of the bible.  There is a growing movement of non-believers, atheists, panentheists, freethinkers, skeptics and agnostics who do not agree that the religious impose ANY obligations on government outside of the right to exist.  At the very least, the religious should have to prove to everyone that what they believe is real and rational beyond a shadow of a doubt before they impose any obligation on anyone.

So, until the red beanie guys can show conclusively, incontrovertibly and with all of the tools of the scientific method at their disposal that there is an actual God  and that this God actually cares and does not want women to put substances in her body to prevent the conception of children, they should keep their unfounded, harmful, discriminatory impositions to themselves.  At the very least, God should be required to make an appearance in a form other than a talking herbaceous wildfire hazard before we are forced to pay any more attention to the religious right or any politician who panders to them.

Including Obama.

34 Responses

  1. C’mon, what’s wrong with a bunch of male, geriatric, pedophiles, in dresses, controlling your life?

  2. I agree that the RCC shouldn’t be making decisions for women. Enough already with these men.
    But I have to say I don’t want skeptics and other assorted atheist types making the rules either. In this country everyone has a voice and no one has to prove anything to gain the rights that are spelled out for all of us.

    • Yes, the atheists as a “rational community” have not exactly demonstrated equality among their ranks. They can be pretty irrational when women speak out.

      I don’t think the religious right is the only problem for women achieving equality or representation in this country. There is something sick in the hearts and minds of our leaders that allow our rights to be traded away without thought.

      The powerful are directing our attention and blame toward the religious leaders to provide cover for their behavior. The religious believe they have power and puff themselves up to accept the blame and attention.

      Meanwhile, obama will act like he is doing women a big favor by not giving away more of our rights.

    • Did I say the atheists should be making the rules? No, I did not. I think American citizens shoud be making rules without regard to sex, ethnicity, national origin, gender identification,age or religious affiliation.
      However, it is time for believers to acknowledge and accept that there are non-believers in their midst, that these people have highly developed ethics and a moral compass and that they shouldn’t be given the cold shoulder or sneering sense of derision thAt they are so often subjected to. They aren’t lower forms of life or undeveloped consciences. They are simply people who do not believe in God and they deserve tO be treated with respect and accorded the same rights of representation as every other citizen. If you had a kid who we an atheist, you’d be incensed at the “well, they can live here but I don’t want them expressing themselves or having any influence” attitude. They’re not the ones with the problem in that scenario.

  3. The Beanie Boyz get their adherents out to vote, same as the Fundies. A Senator, Representative, or President isn’t going to do what they think is right or Constitutional but whatever gets them the most votes.

    As for religion having its tentacles ensnared in government, here in Pennsylvania I can’t go to a dealer to buy a car on Sunday nor can I go to the post office to buy stamps. Why is that other than observing some Bronze Age Deity’s sabbath?

    Funny that you wrote his post on religion and suppression of women because last night at work I was thinking about how society would have turned out if women were the physical equal of men and couldn’t be bullied or abused. For one thing Judaism, Catholicism and Islam wouldn’t exist.

    • They would exist, but they would be much closer to the actual will and wisdom of God than they are in our real world.

      “Remember, there’s a big difference between kneeling down and bending over.”–Frank Zappa, from his song “Heavenly Bank Account” :mrgreen:

  4. Until a man is denied his ED drug by a fundy pharmacist this type of discrimination only runs one way, and as we all know since 2008 many women have been assisting in their own marginalization. The plight of women here will not be far off from the woman in Afghanistan who was strangled to death by her husband, with the help of his mother no less, because she gave him another daughter instead of a vaunted son. Little does the jerk know that he, not her, decides the sex of the child in utero. But, you know who needs science when you have a Bible handy.
    So, ladies at Ms. Magazine, this [Obama] is what a feminist looks like?

    • … and as we all know since 2008 many women have been assisting in their own marginalization

      That photograph of Obama’s speech writer, John Favereau, and an unidentified Obama campaign staffer groping the Hillary cardboard cutout while a female staffer in the background does nothing is a perfect example. Same as all the Kosholettes that didn’t object to the misogyny.

      • I’m pretty certain the “unidentified” guy with the beer bottle is Foreign policy speechwriter/ Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications ( 🙄 ) Ben Rhodes.

        However fancy their titles, Frat Boys will be Frat Boys will be Frat Boys …

      • It disgusts me that these guys were not fired right off the bat.

    • why are you blaming the bible for some guy in Afghanistan strangling his wife over the birth of a girl baby? …… Ok, I know, that is not what you meant to say.
      It is terrible, but women are often the agents of their own misery. It is women who perform female genital mutilation on young girls in Africa and the mid east. Horrible, isn’t it?

      BTW, the majority of people who read the bible also believe in science. This idea that people make this choice between one or the other is just kind of silly. I’ve got the bible and I’ve got science and no one gets to tell me any different.

    • Yeah, we saw that picture when it first came out. They did it deliberately you know. It was sort of a Conan thing:

      See, it wasn’t enough to merely win. Nooooo, the Obama administration had to humiliate Hillary as thoroughly as possible and then crush the last ounce of humanity out of her voters. Sort of like pissing on dead corpses or rape.

      *THAT’S* who Obama hired to work in the White House. And he followed it up with completely ignoring the advice of his senior female advisors including Christina Romer, Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren.

      Hardy-har-har, it was just a paper cutout, why are you so mad? Fuck you, bitches, we won! Now, STAY down.

      I will NEVER vote for him and any woman who does for fear of a Republican president should have her head examined. Obama and the Democrats will never respect you or listen to a thing you say until you tell them to go Cheney themselves.

  5. good post RD.

  6. I read that column a couple of days back, not long after seeing a news report about how the local Beanie Boy (which is now how I shall refer to all members of the Catholic clergy) was angry with Obama. I wrote a rant in reply to said Beanie Boy but you’re far more eloquent here.

  7. As long as the religious entity is not operating with my tax dollars, they can do what they want. Once my tax dollars are entangled in their business, then they need to adhere to standard practices. It doesn’t seem illegal if they offer insurance that has limited coverage, as long as they allow the employee the option to decline their insurance and purchase their own. If I am employed by the Catholic church in some capacity, I don’t expect them to have insurance that will pay for my abortion.

    By the same token, I don’t expect to go into my local CVS and be denied a product that the pharmacist deems unsuitable. I also don’t want to hear the Muslim taxi driver in Minneapolis complain that giving rides to people leaving the airport who have purchased duty free liquor is against his religious principles.

    Of course, what will happen now is that the religious entities will cease offering any insurance, all the folks there will be SOOL and will end up on the Obamacare rolls…which, of course, is exactly what Obama wants.

    I firmly believe in women’s rights to choose…but I don’t necessarily expect my employer to agree, especially if that employer considers it a mortal sin.

    • I think the point you’re missing is that your employer shouldn’t have to agree. It’s none of your, or my, employer’s business. But discriminatory business practices, including discriminatory health care access, is everyone’s business.

    • I agree with gmx117. I don’t think there should be any exceptions in providing women with preventative health care. It’s not her employer’s business. If he wants to provide insurance to his employees to make his company a more attractive place to work, that’s up to him but he doesn’t get to pick and choose whether or not he will cover women’s health or mental health costs.

      Of course, this would all be a moot point as it should be if we had single payer health care that was based on scientific decisions rather than male-centric fantasies.

    • what Obamacare rolls? There is no public option.

  8. Excellent rant, RD. Spot on.

  9. GREAT post. I have bookmarked it for future outrage needs!

  10. “ad nauseum.”

    “Ad nauseAm”. 1st declension, not 2nd.

    Having said that (as Jean-Louise pointed out), most of this kerfuffle could have been avoided with single-payer. The notion of linking (private) health insurance to employment is barbaric.

    I fully expect the Administration to back down on this the day after the election. In fact, if they can conceal it deep enough in the Federal Register (or find a way to blame Boehner for it), they might just back down *before* the election.

    • Oh, we’re going to see a lot of this news between now and November…via targeted junk mail and appeals to vote for the Face of Feminism. Afterall, GASP, the Supremes hold our future in their hands and just think horrible they will become if a Republican gets into office.

      I didn’t fall for this the first time.

    • Never took Latin. And that’s not the worst of my errors. There are aeveral here that are simply inexcuseable I don’t always ave time to edit so I do it when I can, probably later. You can relax.
      The grammatical mistake that makes me crazy is “I should have went”. Horrible. Violators should be shot.

  11. “At the very least, God should be required to make an appearance in a form other than a talking herbaceous wildfire hazard before we are forced to pay any more attention to the religious right or any politician who panders to them.”

    Love it!

  12. What ISN’T wrong with EJ Dionneism? 😈

  13. by now you may have heard about the flap with susan g. komen withdrawing support for breast exams from planned parenthood in order to appease fundies. it just doesn’t let up, does it?

    • I wonder what Susan G. komen would say about the collateral damage of no breast exams at Planned Parenthood? Oh, that’s right. She’s dead. From breast cancer.
      Well, no more race for the cure and expensive breast cancer stamps for me.
      Someone needs to get rid of the sharp objects at the foundation before they hurt themselves.

      • I hear that Planned Parenthood has taken in $600,000 in the two days since Komen made their announcement.

  14. I agree that the sexism Obama got away with in 2008 has set women back and I would say i’ts set us back 50 years at least. And I still don’t see that the Democrats or Corporate Media have acknowledged the problem. I was called last weekend by an Obama supporter asking for money. I told him I won’t be voting for Obama because of the sexism directed at women candidates by the Democrat party and the guy stopped in his speech and said “you mean the racism when Hillary said XYZ” and I said no I am not talking about imaginary racism I am talking about real misogyny in the Democrat party and until I see them own it and apologize I will not vote for their President. The guy was speechless. Like he’s never even considered such a thing.

    • Well, I’m sure they’ve heard it even if they haven’t been listening because I gave them an earful everything they’ve called for the past three years. You are most definitely not alone.
      I’m shocked they’re still dredging up thaf imaginary racism crap. They should know better by now.

  15. Off topic: I found this while wandering around on the Web.


    “The Frisky Perchlorates” would be a great name for a rock band. :mrgreen:

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