Sarcasm and the Vagina Vigilantes…or Who’s Funny Now?: Yucking It Up in the Battle of the Sexes

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Back in 2007, Christopher Hitchens penned an article for Vanity Fair titled Why Women Aren’t Funny. In it he wrote:

Men are overawed, not to say terrified, by the ability of women to produce babies. (Asked by a lady intellectual to summarize the differences between the sexes, another bishop responded, “Madam, I cannot conceive.”) It gives women an unchallengeable authority. And one of the earliest origins of humor that we know about is its role in the mockery of authority. Irony itself has been called “the glory of slaves.” So you could argue that when men get together to be funny and do not expect women to be there, or in on the joke, they are really playing truant and implicitly conceding who is really the boss…

If I am correct about this, which I am, then the explanation for the superior funniness of men is much the same as for the inferior funniness of women. Men have to pretend, to themselves as well as to women, that they are not the servants and supplicants. Women, cunning minxes that they are, have to affect not to be the potentates.

So—according to Hitchens—women are really “the bosses” because they are the baby makers. Men are the funny ones because they mock the authority of women who have wombs…and, therefore, the power! Who knew?

I get it. I think this explains why so many men in the GOP these days are proposing reproductive legislation.  These male vagina vigilantes—“uterati” is what I call them—must believe that their extreme legislation will give them (the funny guys) authority over women (the humorless baby makers). They’re trying to gain authority over the opposite sex by taking control of contraception…and women’s bodies.

The uterati’s strategy seems to be working because women have been getting their “funny” on lately. They are using social media and sarcasm in order to get their point across that they will not stand by humorlessly while proposed legislation that could have a negative impact on their lives is being discussed and voted upon.  That must mean that women will soon be seen as the supplicants and servants—at least according to the Christopher Hitchens equations:

funny people =  supplicants and servants

unfunny people = authority figures

Unfortunately, the vagina vigilantes just don’t seem to find much humor in what these women are doing.

So…let’s take a look at some some of the sarcastic things that women are doing, shall we? You can let me know if you think they’re funny.

In Mockery: Women’s new weapon, an article that appeared in Salon, Tracy Clark-Flory wrote:

From a proposed sex strike to mock legislation restricting access to Viagra, women are coming up with increasingly creative ways to respond to attacks on reproductive rights. Many of them are relying on something ladies are often said to be without: a sense of humor.

In case you didn’t catch on, the sex strike is tongue-in-cheek. Annette Maxberry-Carrara, founder of Liberal Ladies Who Lunch — the group that proposed the “Access Denied” protest — tells me with a laugh, “We’re not looking at it as a literal strike.” But they are making a serious political statement. The event’s tagline reads, “If our reproductive choices are denied, so are yours.”

Here are some examples of the mock legislation being proposed by women–and some men who respect women (God love them!)——courtesy of ThinkProgress:

EVERY SPERM HAS A RIGHT (OKLAHOMA): To poke fun at a “personhood” bill that gives full rights to a zygote, state Sen. Constance Johnson (D) introduced an amendment that would also declare every sperm to be sacred. “However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child,” her amendment stated.

NOTE: Senator Judy Eason of Tulsa, Oklahoma, attended a protest of the state’s extreme “Personhood” bill at the State Capitol recently. She borrowed a sign from another poster that read: “If I wanted the government in my womb I’d fuck a senator.” (Freak Out Nation)

CHILDREN DENIED BIRTH BECAUSE OF VASECTOMIES (GEORGIA): State Rep. Yasmin Neal (D) introduced legislation that would limit vasectomies. “Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies,” Neal explained. Her measure is in response to a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks on the grounds that a fetus can feel pain — a claim disputed by doctors.

MORE HOOPS TO CLEAR FOR VIAGRA (OHIO): In response to Ohio’s so-called Heartbeat Bill, which would prevent abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, state Sen. Nina Turner (D) will introduce a bill that would make men jump through hoops, like a psychological screening, before they could obtain Viagra and similar drugs for erectile dysfunction. “All across the country, including in Ohio, I thought since men are certainly paying great attention to women’s health that we should definitely return the favor,” Turner said.

Note: A man would also have to get a notarized affidavit that was signed by his sexual partner affirming his impotency.

RECTAL EXAMS FOR A VIAGRA PRESCRIPTIONS (VIRGINIA): To protest Virginia’s bill requiring women to receive an ultrasound before an abortion, state Sen. Janet Howell (D) attached an amendment to the bill that would have required men to receive a rectal exam and pass a cardiac stress test before doctors wrote them a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication. “We need some gender equity here,” Howell said. The Virginia Senate rejected her amendment, but both chambers passed the ultrasound requirement after clarifying that women would not be forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound.

KNOW THE SIDE EFFECTS OF VIAGRA (ILLINOIS): State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D) decided to push back against GOP attacks on women’s health by offering an amendment that would require men to watch a “horrific video” about the side effects of Viagra before they received a prescription for the drug. His bill is in response to a measure requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion. “If we are going to do this, we need to do it in a way that is applied equally,” Cassidy said.

PROTECT ALL SPERM (DELAWARE): Mocking the “personhood” measures, the town council in Wilmington, Delaware approved a satirical resolution “that asks state legislatures and U.S. Congress to enact laws that forbid men from destroying their semen.” The resolution notes that if lawmakers think a female egg has full rights, then they should say the same thing about sperm.

Women have also taken to leaving sarcastic comments on their governors’ Facebook pages. It was reported in The L Magazine that women had begun “wall bombing” and “sarcasm bombing”  the pages of politicians who were attempting to “roll back women’s rights.”

Written to Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia

Dear Doctor Governor-I have an issue with my vagina. I’m having a terrible flow and cramping. This happens every month. I’m not sure if it is related to the lack of an ultrasound or the lack of a pill (I know one is mandated but my poor addled lady brain can’t wrap my head around this issue). I’m guessing that it may be the ultrasound since I heard the men folk on the teevee telling us that contraception and the like is one step from abortion. What do I do Dr. Gov? Should I come to your office for the exam?

Written to Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania

I know this has nothing to do with this, but being a woman and all, I can’t stop thinking about my lady parts. You suggested women close their eyes when getting a transvaginal ultrasound, or Wand of Light, as we lovingly call it in some places. Do you also close your eyes when getting a mandatory anal probe for unrelated legal medical procedures? What else do you close your eyes for? I’m curious, your advice is so fascinating!

Written to Gov. Sam Brownback of Tennessee

I just called your office, and they wouldn’t let me schedule a pap smear. I’m confused, aren’t you taking care of all this now?

And

Governor, maybe you can help me. I have a funny rash on my labia. If I send you a photo, can you tell me what it is? I’m asking you because you seem to be an expert on women’s health, and I know I can’t be trusted to know anything about my own body. I’m just a woman, no better than livestock. It says so in the Bible…

 Written to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas

I promise to vote for you during the next run if you’ll allow me to incorporate my uterus.

Another tactic being proposed by a group called Government Free VJJ is the “Snatchel Project.” Government Free VJJ is encouraging women to knit uteruses and send them to male members of Congress. One of the group’s slogans is “If they have their own, they can leave ours alone!”

I’m a woman. I think this is all quite hilarious. How about you? Who do you think are the potentates now? Which do you think is the funnier sex?

SOURCES & FURTHER READING

Mockery: Women’s new weapon (Salon)

Why Women Aren’t Funny (Vanity Fair)

As Anti-Abortion Bills Gain Steam, Legislators Push Back With Legislation Mocking The Extreme Bills (Think Progress)

Women Knit Uteruses For Lawmakers (Think Progress)

Georgia Republican Compares Women to Cows, Pigs, And Chickens (Think Progress)

‘Dear Doctor Governor … ‘: Women Protest On GOP Govs’ Facebook Walls (TPMDC)

4 Ways To Combat the GOP’s War On Women (The L Magazine)

The 10 Most Ridiculous Things Old White Men Have Proposed About Women And Vaginas (The L Magazine)

10 Reasons The Rest Of The World Thinks The U.S. Is Nuts (Huffington Post)

Nursing Chastity (Bangor Daily News)

Sen. McIntyre holds a sign at protest: ‘If I wanted the govt in my womb I’d fuck a Senator’ (Freak Out Nation)

129 thoughts on “Sarcasm and the Vagina Vigilantes…or Who’s Funny Now?: Yucking It Up in the Battle of the Sexes

  1. Sen. Johnson’s Advice To Women Who Can’t Afford Contraception: Google ‘What If I Can’t Afford Birth Control?’
    By Scott Keyes on Mar 27, 2012
    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/03/27/451563/ron-johnson-google-birth-control/

    MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — A Tea Party senator had a curious piece of advice for the millions of women across the country who can’t afford contraception coverage: go online and Google how to get birth control.

    ThinkProgress spoke with freshman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) about the matter this weekend at the Americans For Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit in Milwaukee. Johnson has been vociferous in his attacks on the new regulation that requires insurance companies to cover birth control.

    Given his opposition, we asked the Wisconsin senator what advice he would have for women in the country who can’t afford the cost of contraception. (A recent survey found one in three American women voters have struggled with to afford birth control.) Johnson’s advice: go online and type in, “what if I can’t afford birth control?” “If you can’t afford it, you can get birth control in this country,” Johnson explained. When we asked for clarification, he said, “You can get it. Go online, type it in. It’s easy to get.”

    KEYES: What do we say to the millions of women who can’t afford access to birth control?

    JOHNSON: My wife actually went online here in Wisconsin and typed in, “what if I can’t afford birth control?” Came up, bam. If you can’t afford it, you can get birth control in this country. That’s a straw-dog argument. There’s no conservative who’s trying to deny women health care or contraceptives. We’re just saying this is an issue of religious freedom. […]

    KEYES: What do you mean, “if you can’t afford it you can get it?”

    JOHNSON: You can get it. Go online, type it in. It’s easy to get.

    ThinkProgress went online and Googled “what if I can’t afford birth control?” The very first link explained that the entire process, from the initial exam to a follow-up to the pills themselves, can cost upwards of $210 the first month. The rest of the first-page results included two sites informing women that if they can’t afford contraceptives, “don’t have sex,” four sites attacking Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, and one site explaining how birth control is a lot more expensive than many believe.

  2. In Virginia Budget, Senate Rejects Funding For Mandated Ultrasounds Before Abortions
    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/03/27/452952/in-virginia-budget-senate-rejects-funding-for-mandated-ultrasounds/

    Excerpt:
    The Virginia Senate passed an amended version of a two-year, $85 billion budget plan Monday on a 35-4 vote, despite rejecting a Democrat-backed amendment that “would have required the state or private insurers to pay for ultrasounds that will be required of women seeking abortions under a bill that Gov. Bob McDonnell recently signed into law.”

    Senate Democrats were seeking $3 million in state funding to cover the cost of the procedures for low-income and uninsured women, as well as women who were already covered under private policies. Ultimately, the proposed amendment died on the Senate floor a 20-19 vote, with Sen. Charles Colgan voting with Republicans and Sen. Jill Vogel absent.

  3. Texas Radio Station Fires Reporter After He Reported On State’s Extreme Ultrasound Law
    By Guest Blogger on Mar 27, 2012
    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/03/27/451811/texas-radio-station-fires-reporter-after-he-reported-on-states-extreme-ultrasound-law/

    Excerpt:
    Scott Braddock, a well-known Texas radio reporter, lost his job last week after airing excerpts from an interview with Carolyn Jones, who was “forced to undergo several medically unnecessary transvaginal sonograms to obtain an abortion” due to Texas’ new sonogram law, and whose personal account of the entire ordeal was chronicled in the Texas Observer.

    According to Braddock’s former employer, KROI News 92 FM, an all-news radio station based in Houston, Braddock was fired because he filled in for a fellow reporter on KPFT 90.1FM for one hour, thus violating a “non-compete agreement,” which Braddock claims to have never signed. “The contract is on my desk, unsigned,” he said. “It’s a real stretch. I have been looking through it and there is nothing I did that would be a violation.”

    As Braddock told ThinkProgress, “The reason for firing me doesn’t add up…I’m a journalist, I don’t take a position on public policy. My job is to put the facts out there…to explore them all and get as many perspectives as possible.” Braddock maintains that although he feels his personal opinions on the sonogram law are irrelevant, he does believe that a serious discussion take place seeing as the law “affects the reproductive rights of every woman in the state.” Braddock said he is “very disappointed” by the radio station’s decision, and referred to his abrupt dismissal as “heartbreaking.”

  4. Swarthmore mom,

    “Elaine, And to think Senator Johnson replaced Russ Feingold in the tea party sweep of Wisconsin.”

    I know. I wonder if the Wisconsin voters who helped elect Johnson are sorry now.

  5. House Advances CIANA, Anti-Abortion Bill, Without Rape Or Incest Exceptions
    By Laura Bassett
    03/27/2012
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/27/ciana-anti-abortion-bill_n_1383373.html?ref=politics

    Excerpt:
    The House Judiciary Committee voted 20-13 on Tuesday to advance a bill that would make it a crime for anyone but a parent to accompany a young woman outside of her home state to have an abortion. The committee rejected several proposed amendments that would have provided exceptions for victims of rape or incest, women facing threats to their health, and grandparents and older siblings trying to accompany their family members to abortion clinics.

    The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), imposes a prison term of up to a year for a doctor who performs an abortion on an out-of-state minor that is not accompanied by a parent. It has 158 cosponsors in the House and a companion bill in the Senate.

    “This legislation is based on common-sense,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement on Monday. “Parents have the right to be involved in their children’s lives.”

    Opponents of the bill argue that it fails to consider the extenuating circumstances in which a teen would turn to another adult — such her grandmother or adult sister — for support, and could force young women to instead turn to unsafe alternatives to terminating her pregnancy.

  6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/richard-hanna-gop-congress_n_1373381.html

    As the only Republican Congressman at a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment on Thursday, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) gave women an unexpected piece of advice: Give your money to Democrats.

    “I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault,” he told the crowd of mostly women. “I’ll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can’t succeed without your help.”

  7. Elaine, you are a master at synthesizing idiocy in a manner which most aptly displays its, well, idiocy. Wonderful post.

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