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. TPMDC
    Sandra Fluke Is Relevant, Say Anti-Health Reform Tea Partie
    Health Care Before The Court
    Evan McMorris-Santoro March 26, 2012, 12:45 PM 6891 112

    A lot of Republicans on the national stage would rather not rehash the battle over Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law student who galvanized the left last month when she was attacked by Rush Limbaugh after arguing in favor of contraception coverage.

    Not so here outside the Supreme Court, where the justices heard the first day of arguments over health care reform. Fluke was a central topic among the several dozen tea party protesters who gathered outside the court Monday. As a much larger crowd of organized pro-reform activists from labor and other Dem-friendly groups marched in support of the law, one tea partier yelled, “Real women pay for their own birth control!” — a clear reference to Fluke and the fight over contraception access she embodies.

    Others were more direct. One protester carried a sign that said, “Sandra Fluke I don’t want to pay for your birth control,” which drew criticism from the pro-reform crowd. “Do you agree with what Rush Limbaugh said?” A pro-reform demonstrator yelled into a small group of tea partiers gathered around the sign.

  2. MSNBC’s Alex Wagner On Tennessee Abortion Bill: ‘Nothing Short Of Reproductive McCarthyism’
    Video
    by Meenal Vamburkar | March 20th, 2012
    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/msnbcs-alex-wagner-on-tennessee-abortion-bill-nothing-short-of-reproductive-mccarthyism/

    On her show’s “Postscript” segment, Alex Wagner addressed Tennessee’s abortion bill that would publish names of doctors who perform abortions, and disclose details about women who have undergone the procedure. Wagner decried the legislation as “reproductive McCarthyism,” saying it would “make Big Brother proud.”

    Tennessee’s House of Representatives is considering The Life Defense of 2012, which, as the LA Times reports, would require reports with “identification of the physician who performed the abortion and the physician’s office, clinic, hospital or other facility where the abortion was performed.”

    While it would not directly disclose women’s names, the following details would be made public: the woman’s county, age, race, marital status, plus her number of prior pregnancies, number of prior abortions, the gestational age of the fetus, and her preexisting medical conditions. The LA Times notes that critics say that “could make it easy to guess identities, particularly in sparsely populated rural areas.”

    Wagner said the bill is intended “to threaten the livelihood of doctors who perform abortions and shame and intimidate them who seek them” — and renders “the pretense of anonymity a joke.” She continued:

    “This isn’t just about small towns and nosy neighbors. For women in Tennessee’s urban and rural areas alike, this is meant to threaten and stigmatize. To let women know known they’re being monitored and scrutinized, and choices about their bodies are no longer private. This is nothing short of reproductive McCarthyism. The sort of government intrusion that would make Big Brother proud. Whether the Tennessee legislature chooses to humiliate women in such a fashion is, of course, up to them. Whether anyone in the Republican party has courage to denounce these continued and mounting attacks against women is another.”

  3. The GOP, Privacy and Reproductive Rights, and the Backlash
    March 15, 2012
    Marci A. Hamilton
    http://verdict.justia.com/2012/03/15/the-gop-privacy-and-reproductive-rights-and-the-backlash

    Excerpt:
    The GOP Presidential hopefuls have let the contraception genie out of the bottle, and there is no stuffing her back in now. Rick Santorum has been frank about his opposition to contraception (and, of course, abortion), with Mitt Romney now joining the chorus with his promise to “get rid” of Planned Parenthood. It is an interesting tack to take, in light of two facts: A sizable majority of the country is not opposed to contraception, and the GOP will need independent and moderate voters if it is to defeat President Obama.

    The debate has done all women a favor, though, by spotlighting the anti-contraception views of some in the Party. It is well-known that the Roman Catholic bishops, some evangelical church pastors, and some Orthodox Jewish rabbis (yes, all men) are opposed to contraception. However, it is very helpful for voters to know that a man who seeks the Presidency is also publicly opposed to contraception. This way, voters can take a full measure of each candidate’s vision of the future.

    The United States has not had an overt public policy devoted to keeping couples from obtaining contraception for decades. The liberation of women in the 60s and 70s was due in no small part to the Supreme Court’s decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which identified a right of privacy that encompassed a right to obtain contraception. In Griswold, Connecticut claimed it was interested in preventing adultery, but of course it was also making it impossible for couples to engage in family planning. And, of course, family planning is essential for women who seek to fulfill their full potential, because a woman who is having one baby after another is far less likely to be able to be a successful lawyer, doctor, or executive. It is simply the human condition that no one can literally “do it all.”

    Here is what happens when the vast majority of women and men can’t get contraception: they have kids. So in the land of the Republican primaries, we are all pregnant, recently pregnant, or just about to get pregnant.

    Today’s models for this lifestyle are the Duggars, of reality TV fame, who have even campaigned for Santorum. In the old days, in Ireland, Irish Catholic families would have 20 children or more. Those Irish women always looked so tired; it seemed a hard way to go through life. But first and foremost, such women never became lawyers, doctors, or political leaders. How could they?

    We have a prime example in our culture right now of what happens to young women who have children early and then don’t stop: the Fundamentalist Mormons. Girls get pregnant soon after menstruation starts, and as often as possible thereafter (for the greater eternal glory of the man). Accordingly, high school becomes dispensable, as, of course, do college and graduate school. These girls may not be barefoot and pregnant, but they are certainly uneducated and pregnant. And if they ever seek to escape their predicament, they find that they lack the skills needed to survive.

    The views of these girls’ families are reflected, unfortunately, in the actions of some state legislatures. In the last year, there has been a sudden increase in new state laws that pile on new restrictions against privacy rights. Utah just passed a law that provides that if there is any sex education in the schools, it must be abstinence-only (despite the many studies showing the inefficacy of such an approach). Utah’s law also mandates that neither contraception nor homosexuality may be mentioned. Moreover, Ohio proposed a bill that banned physician assistants from inserting the IUD, a form of contraception that is disfavored by Catholics and evangelical Protestants opposed to abortion.

  4. War On Women: Anti-Contraception Lit Handed Out At Conservative Conference Headlined By Santorum, Paul Ryan
    By Scott Keyes on Mar 26, 2012
    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/03/26/451292/anti-contraception-literature-afp-conference/

    Excerpt:
    MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — Republicans have gone to great lengths to cast the war on contraception and women’s health as a matter of religious liberty, but literature handed out at a key conservative conference this weekend had an unambiguous message for women: don’t use birth control.

    Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a conservative Koch-funded organization, held its Defending The American Dream Summit in Milwaukee on Saturday with a few major headline speakers: Rick Santorum, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). All three insisted that the Obama administration’s rule requiring insurance companies to cover contraception actually had nothing to do with contraception, but rather was an attack on religious liberty.

    The next room from where they spoke, however, featured a bevy of literature warning women about the supposed dangers of birth control and telling them that “Chastity is the best choice for single people.” One handout explained that contraception is unnecessary because “Saving yourself for your future spouse is guaranteed to prevent pregnancy before marriage.” Another answered the question “Is it safe?” with a simple “No.” The literature on emergency contraception warned that it could cause cancer before telling women simply, “Be good to yourself. Don’t use the morning-after pill.”

  5. idealist707 1, March 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Sorry for the forbidden word—–meant. Does not exist except in human minds. Or maybe some fish.
    ===========================
    I am told that mint, ghoti. and meant grow well with broccoli.

  6. idealist707 1, March 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Dredd,
    ?????????
    Can’t imagine husbands using it on wives. So maybe vice versa, but Kerstin was much more subtle than that in her controlling.

    Please explain, even it it kills the joke.
    ===============================
    I can’t … unless you first disclose whether or not you think “innuendo” is an Italian word for Preparation H.

  7. Elaine and Blouise

    Many thanks for your comments. One of you posted the Oklahoma poetry. I meant to thank you earlier. It was terrific.

  8. Bron,

    We were talking about the Republicans’ extreme reproductive bills that have been popping up in state legislatures across the country. I think the GOP got that idea/strategy all on its own. The GOP also takes a lot of “pages” and model legislation from the ALEC handbook.

  9. Elaine:

    ““I think all of this which republicans are doing, is just taking a page from the liberal play book of government coercion/force.”

    And the Moon is made of green cheese!”

    So you dont think liberals use government to further their agenda?

  10. Twat extent do the Uterati think they have permanent residency in said cuntry?

  11. What struck me from the Maddow clip above is the statement by PAMED (Pennsylvania Medical Society) that they have “no opinion” on a medical procedure, abortion.

    Really? Pennsylvania doctors are unaware of the many conditions for which abortion is a medically necessary procedure?

  12. Dredd,
    Read this.
    http://blogdredd.blogspot.se/2011/04/virgin-momcom-2.html

    There’s a mexican fish which lives at times isolated in mountain streams when the water level is low.
    If not males are present the females replicate, but can revert in the returning of males with high water to sexual replication.
    The intervals are perhaps too short to indicate success evolutionwise.

    But sex was meant to increase the heterogenecity of the gene pool, and thus increase the change rate—-much higher than mutation rate.

    ????

  13. “By the way Rand was not a fan of Nietzsche if that is what you were implying.” (Bron)

    Nope, wasn’t implying anything other than what I wrote.

  14. Statement by President of Catholic Democrats on New HHS Regulations
    Posted on January 24th, 2012
    http://www.ourdailythread.org/content/statement-patrick-whelan-md-phd-president-catholic-democrats-new-hhs-regulations-governing-c

    [Below is a statement by Dr. Patrick Whelan, President of Catholic Democrats]

    As a physician and pediatric specialist, I know that news of the HHS regulations today means that more women will have access to the kind of health care that has been denied to millions over the years because of the high cost. Over 50% of girls and women who use contraceptives take them for reasons other than the prevention of pregnancy. Since the beginning of his first presidential campaign in 2007, President Obama has emphasized the importance of preventing unintended pregnancy as the most moral approach to solving the abortion problem. These new regulations, providing for greater access to contraception, will certainly help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies across the country, and correspondingly are likely to further decrease the incidence of abortion.

    It’s well-established that over 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Along with other measures incorporated into the Affordable Care Act, these new regulations are part of a concerted effort to support women and to help them avoid unintended pregnancy. Our study of expanded healthcare access in Massachusetts after 2006, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2010, showed that access to healthcare (and contraception) is associated with a significant further reduction in the rate of abortions.

    President Obama has grappled with the deep moral dimensions of these important questions, and I think his determination to help decrease unintended pregnancies is among the chief reasons that he supported these new HHS regulations. Having interviewed Catholic priests who worked with President Obama as a community organizer, funded by the US Bishops’ Campaign for Human Development, I know the President cares deeply about Catholic sensibilities. This Administration has expanded faith-based initiatives through its White House Office of Faith Based and Community Partnerships, and has provided record funding for Catholic efforts such as Catholic Charities – over $500 million in 2010.

    As a Catholic, I am aware that some Catholics will hear this news with mixed or negative emotions, including many bishops. At the same time, we know Catholic women, and by extension their families, use oral contraception at the same rate as the overall population. For over half a century, since the issuance of Humanae Vitae, Catholics and Catholic theologians have taken issue with the Church’s teaching on birth control.

    Today, many will use this decision to further their own political agenda. The need for the hierarchy, theologians, and the laity to come together and discuss these important issues has never been more pressing. This is particularly true at a time when our nation, and our Church, needs informed public debate on a range of moral issues, especially the economy, growing poverty, and the continuing “scandal of glaring inequalities” (see Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 2009).

    It is our hope that both the Administration and the U.S. Bishops’ Conference can come together over the next 18 months to develop policies-perhaps following the “Hawaii model”- that better address the conscience rights of religious institutions while allowing women access to contraceptives without cost. Ultimately, the HHS regulations put the decision of whether or not to use contraceptives at the discretion of each individual woman and her informed conscience, and this is the ultimate test of religious liberty and the protection of conscience.

    *****

    About Catholic Democrats

    Catholic Democrats is an association of state-based groups representing a Catholic voice within the Democratic Party, and advancing a public understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and its potential to help solve the broad range of problems confronting all Americans. For more information about Catholic Democrats please go to http://www.catholicdemocrats.org

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