A Double-Dose of What-the-Fuck?!?!?!

Since it’s a rainy Monday, you all should do some reading. Here are two articles, each with an off-the-charts level of What-the-Fuckness. Aren’t y’all lucky? (I got these articles from feministing.com, which is the BESTEST blog ever–even better than this one!)

What the Fuck #1: Doctors in Canada are refusing to give women Pap smears if they are not married. So . . . women who choose to have sex outside of marriage deserve cancer? Huh?Now, people do have a right to practice their own religions privately. If someone chooses to think that sex outside of wedlock is immoral, that is their prerogative (even though I disagree). However, their right to practice religion DOES NOT trump the right to health care. And I do not think it is a coincidence that most, if not all, of these religion vs. health care battles have to do with women’s health care. After all, it doesn’t seem that unmarried men are being refused treatment for STIs. Nope–women are the ones who have to put up with doctors’ “morality.”In my opinion, any “morality” that puts someone’s life and health at risk is no morality at all.There goes my plan to move to Canada if McCain gets elected. *shudder*

What the Fuck #2: This just makes me livid. I am so pissed right now, that words right order in the can’t put I.This op-ed piece published in the L.A. times attempts to prove that the rape crisis is “overblown” on college campuses. MacDonald’s primary argument is that women are as much of a participant in alcohol-fueled rapes as men, and that these assaults thus take place in the “gray area” of rape. First of all, there is no “gray area” of rape. Consent is consent, and lack of consent is lack of consent. If a woman is too drunk to consent, then that is rape. Second of all, to argue that a woman is complicit in rape will merely exacerbate the rape crisis. After all, what woman would want to report a rape if she will be accused by people like MacDonald of being at fault? MacDonald, so focused on statistical methodology, might want to examine how her viewpoints affect the likelihood of someone reporting an assault.The key is not to vilify survivors of rape, but to continue to provide and build safe social networks (including the rape crisis hotlines that MacDonald abhors in her piece) so that they are encouraged to report the crime and to heal. Pieces like MacDonald’s only makes this less likely.Thank you, Heather MacDonald. Thank you for actively working to make the rape crisis worse, and then to insult survivors by insisting that it was their fault. Good on you, MacDonald. Way to go.

12 Responses

  1. I want to take a second to clarify the man-hating feminist myth. I, as a feminist, don’t just hate a lot of men, I hate a lot of women too, specifically ones like this Heather MacDonald–also Leslee Unruh, Meme Roth, Christina Hoff Sommers, Ann Coulter, etc. etc.

    I guess I only speak for myself though. Maybe the rest of the feminists out there only hate men. I, however, can say that I am an equal opportunity hater.

    /half sarcasm.

  2. I don’t hate men. Just people who place their vision of morality above the lives and well-being of others.

    1. Does anyone understand the history behind laws like that one in Canada, and I think in the US too, that allows pharmacists and docs to “opt out” of filling prescriptions or performing procedures that don’t jive with their morals? Tell me if this is a bad analogy, but I don’t think a firefighter could refuse to operate the fire hose because she was morally opposed to ranch-style houses. So why do pharms and docs get to play god with my health?

    2. Have little to say that hasn’t been said. How can you dislike rape crisis hotlines? Jeebus. Not to mention that the statistics should not be the sticking point here. Rape. Should. Not. Happen. At. All.

    Though you have to laugh a little (between banging your head on the keyboard and crying into your peppermint tea) about the part where she says “if this many rapes were happening, it would be a crisis!” NO SHIT! It is a crisis!

  3. Some quick problems with the Canada thing:
    1) “Doctors in Canada are refusing to give women pap smears if they are not married.”

    Doesn’t that imply that there are no doctors in Canada who would give an unmarried woman a pap smear?

    2) “After all, it doesn’t seem that unmarried men are being refused treatment for STIs. ”

    Are they being refused by those same doctors that refuse pap smear procedures on unmarried women? Also, who says men aren’t being refused?

    3) The Canadian physician is required to give a referral of a physician that can do the procedure to the patient. A physician who doesn’t do that is breaking the law.

    4) Also, if a patient’s life is in immediate danger, then yeah, by law, even a Canadian doctor must do what is necessary. But is a pap smear really an emergency? It’s far from immediately life threatening.

    Canada is weird, but that minority is only being inhumane if they deny a pap smear request that is a life threatening emergency (if one is even possible) or if they don’t give a referral.

    Also, about your second what the fuck, i don’t think MacDonald is at all implying that it is in some way the woman’s fault. Her article is about how the numbers, as she sees them, are out of proportion. And also, she doesn’t say the “gray” area of rape, its the “gray” area of a rape case. As in what can be proven and what can not. She’s saying that in a case where substance abuse leads to a possible rape, how can one be sure on all the facts? To imply that she in some way is saying “Rape is not a problem and girls shouldn’t go out and drink or they will get raped,’ well, that’s just not correct. MacDonald’s article is in no way meant to vilify the survivors of rape.

  4. Hello The Devil (interesting screenname you’ve got there!)

    1) That line you quoted is not meant to imply that ALL doctors are refusing to test women, but rather that there are doctors who live in Canada who are permitted to deny women these tests, and that an alarming number of doctors are exercising that “right.”

    However, the main point is that NO doctor should be allowed to refuse legal treatment to any patient, despite the doctor’s personal beliefs. This basically makes physicians able to hold their patients’ health as hostage in order to demand certain behaviors from them. I am not saying that doctors should not practice their religion in private–however, the notion that a doctor can be allowed to turn a patient away because they had sex out of wedlock is absurd.

    2) It is true that there is no data I could find about whether or not men have been refused treatment for STIs. However, the fact that no men have complained, and the fact that no data exists on the subject, would indicate that this is not as much of a problem for men. (It is possible I am wrong here, but I doubt it. If a man were denied treatment for an STI, I am sure something would pop up in the news about it.)

    3) It is true that doctors are required to give referrals. However, not all doctors are following the law, and they are not being penalized for their disobedience.

    Furthermore, I do not think that providing a referral is sufficient patient care. In certain geographic areas, there might not be a wide range of doctors within driving distance. To force patients to be even further inconvenienced in order to go through an examination that is already a rather unpleasant experience is to make it less likely that they will get the testing they need. (After all, if you have spent a half-hour driving to a doctor’s office, and another half-hour doing paperwork in the waiting room, would you really want to invest another hour, or two, or three, going to ANOTHER doctor? I am sure a lot of people would simply give up, go home, and skip the test. I find that unacceptable.)

    4) It is true that pap smears are not usually emergency situations. However, cervical cancer is most likely to occur in women who either do not get pap smears, or who do not get them “as often as they should,” according to the American Cancer Society. Any institutionalized policy that discourages women from seeking tests for fear that they will be refused the test on the basis of “morality” will make it more likely that women will skip the test and risk cancer as a result. (I would not want to be judged as immoral by a health care professional–would you? I would rather stay home, to be honest.) Cervical cancer is rare in the U.S. and Canada ONLY because women get tested once a year. If that changes, I can guarantee you that the rates of cervical cancer will increase. And that to me is a BIG health crisis.

    Now, as for your comments about the MacDonald piece, I think it is pretty clear that she is trying to say that women are partly at fault for sexual assaults in which alcohol plays a role. For example, she says, “In all these drunken couplings, there may be some deplorable instances of forced and truly non-consensual sex. But most campus “rape” cases exist in the gray area of seeming cooperation and tacit consent, which is why they are almost never prosecuted criminally.” Here, she is drawing a distinction between “truly non-consensual sex” and the “gray area” of “most campus ‘rape’ cases.” She is not only talking about the legal system here–she is talking about rape in general. (Otherwise, why would she use scare quotes around the word ‘rape’?) She does quote a law professor about the legal issue right afterward, but that is simply to back up her point: she thinks that rape cases that might not satisfy a court’s burden of proof are not real rapes. Also, MacDonald quotes a college student who believes that women who are taken advantage of while drunk are at fault, and uses this as evidence that women who are raped while drunk simply have “postcoital second thoughts.”

    However, alcohol is a date-rape drug. And if a woman is too drunk to give consent, that is rape.

    As for your statement that MacDonald is not vilifying rape survivors, the fact is that her article explicitly states that there are some “real” rape survivors, and then there are the promiscuous drunkards who are complicit in their own sexual assault. This is incredibly insulting, and also very callous of the trauma which rape survivors go through.

    She admits that rape is a problem–but only a certain kind of rape. The kind of rape where a stranger holds a gun to your head, for example.
    However, on college campuses, the majority of rapes are acquaintance rapes. To state that women could be responsible for them, and that they are not “rapes” at all, is vilifying. They become seen as the “girls who cried wolf,” and are thus less likely to report an acquaintance rape, allowing the crisis to worsen.

  5. How cool is it to see this blog listed with Feministing?
    Love it.

  6. She’s not drawing a conclusion about whether something constitutes rape or not and she’s not saying that women could be responsible for the heinous act. She is merely talking from an observer’s strictly factual point of view. She is simply saying that rape is a serious term and a serious crime, and because it is, the word should not be tossed around, especially if it is hard to tell (from a third party viewer) whether someone was actually raped or whether it was consensual. Because it is being tossed around, the actual numbers get exaggerated. I mean, I too believe that a rape is never, ever the woman’s fault and there is no excuse. But if you’re on the outside of the situation, you have to remain open minded about what really happened. My natural instinct is also to defend the woman immediately, but that is irresponsible and unjust. Her gray area arises because of the effects of alcohol on the situation. Alcohol very much complicates judgment on the situation and to say the only role it plays is as a date rape drug is just not correct. You’re right, if a woman is too drunk to give consent, it is definitely rape. But how can the observer say when being drunk becomes being too drunk? How can you any clear judgment about a situation that is based solely from cloudy judgment? If a woman “cries wolf” and says she was raped, the case will be taken seriously and I’m sure she will be provided with the attention she needs. But you can’t jump to conclusions and just take her word for it. In a case where alcohol plays no role, it is much easier to draw a conclusion than in one where alcohol did play a role. The author is merely trying to demonstrate that point and its effect on statistics.

    Also, she uses quotes around the word rape to imply that she is casting some doubt on whether or not it actually, truly is. The truth is, just because someone says it is rape does not mean that it was.

    On some level maybe, you could even see that the author is trying keep the term “rape” from being cheapened by people who don’t understand its gravity and effects.

    I hope what I said makes sense, I’m going to write about the doctor thing too, but I have to run to class.

  7. About the Canadian physicians being picky about their patients, I know this may be a little off topic, but do you think this has anything to do with the universal health care they have in Canada? Are physicians up there not feeling as competitive and motivated as they would in a system where physicians need to provide customer service AND health service?

  8. Ali, it’s awesome. I just about cried (exaggerating–I don’t cry. Ever.) and then thought…what the hell are people thinking!? hehe But hey, we’ll take any amount of fame thrown our way. I just love blogging communities! *nerdly swoons*

  9. [...] 27, 2008 · No Comments A great response to the LA times article that we blogged about a couple days ago was written in the LA times today.  The piece, written by SAFER board member, Nora [...]

  10. okay, so I just read over what I wrote and i’m realizing, in my rush to write, I was wrong about when i said “she’s not saying that women could be responsible for the heinous act.” sorry, i should have proofread. Honestly, I don’t know what I meant to say, but it wasn’t that. I mean, she obviously is.

    in fact, what i wrote isnt even totally what i believe. i dont know what i was thinking. you should probably delete that if you can. i’m gunna try again when i can actually sound like I know what im talking about. well, maybe i wont know what im talking about anyway, but ill sound more convincing next time. i feel like im littering the comment board. my bad.

  11. On #2:
    I am appalled that this piece of right-wing propaganda made it into the LA Times in the first place. The response,written by SAFER’s Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, does an excellent job at exposing how the tired rape denialism argument has been repackaged over and over again by the same set of “culture war”-fueling right-wing institutions and, specifically, MacDonald’s connections to these institutions.

    Not only is this denialism argument old and discredited, it is part of a larger effort by right-wing organizations such as the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the Independent Women’s Forum to delegitimize and combat feminist successes on campuses nationwide, particularly the rise of women’s/gender studies departments, rape crisis centers, and other anti-violence programming. This is a longstanding strategy bankrolled by the top right-wing foundations (Scaife, Olin and Bradley, among others) and implemented, in large part, through a great deal of media savvy and a suspect ability to place even the most discredited propaganda in the pages of respected news publications.

    Even the most minor of fact-checking endeavors would reveal MacDonald’s op-ed as not only dated, unoriginal and a complete rehash of numerous past efforts bankrolled by the same institutions, but also one that has been torn apart time and time again in a wide variety of forums. The Times owes its readers an explanation of how it is that think tanks such as the Manhattan Institute, with their old, discredited propaganda, have such access to their op-ed pages.

    Check out the united bloggers’ responsesto this disgusting distortion.

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