Blue Bras and Personhood Laws
Have you seen the video of Egypt’s “Blue Bra Girl”?
Brutalized on the street by Egyptian soldiers on December 17th, her abaya pulled over her head and her torso and blue bra exposed, this mysterious woman was savagely kicked and beaten unconscious. Intense shame prevents her from coming forward, so we may never know who she is. Some men wondered why she dared to dress so immodestly under her abaya—I guess had she known she would be attacked that day and exposed for all the world to see, she would opted to wear a more sensible beige bra. Maybe even some Spanx. It’s gotten to the point where women can’t even express themselves under their clothes.
Yet the Blue Bra Girl inspired thousands of Egyptian women of all ages and backgrounds to pour out into the streets to express their outrage. “Where are the soldiers? The girls of Egypt are here,” they chanted through the streets of Cairo three days after the attack. Thousands of men came out too, to stand on the sidelines and protect the women as they marched. David Kirkpatrick wrote in his piece for The New York Times, “Mass March by Cairo Women in Protest Over Abuse by Soldiers”:
Historians called the event the biggest women’s demonstration in modern Egyptian history, the most significant since a 1919 march against British colonialism inaugurated women’s activism here, and a rarity in the Arab world. It also added a new and unexpected wave of protesters opposing the ruling military council’s efforts to retain power and its tactics for suppressing public discontent.
Upheaval is everywhere. We are in a period of great discontent, a precursor of great and lasting change. The system is broken, and there is no going back. As a result, extremism is on the rise, here in America and around the world.
Things are looking grim for Israeli women and girls, too. Just days after the Blue Bra Girl attack, gangs of ultra-orthodox Jewish extremists spit on and threatened Naama Margolese, an 8-year old orthodox Jewish girl, for her supposedly immodest dress. In Jerusalem, images of women were recently banned from billboards. There is even talk of segregating women onto separate sidewalks and to the back of city buses, a 21st century version of Jim Crow laws in a country that’s home to thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families.
In the United States, we have a bizarre dichotomy of extremes dictating what we women can and cannot do with our bodies, including how we should look. Our culture hypersexualizes girls and women. Reality starlets get famous by making pornos. We’re taught to glorify plastic surgery and wish we had enough cash to go under the knife for a breast augmentation (think fast: how many women do you know who either: a) have fake boobs or b) want them?).
American women are supposed to look ready for sex, but God help you if you actually do have sex and get knocked up by accident. The Personhood movement is the latest craze sweeping Red State America. Personhood laws, if enacted, would depersonalize women and their reproductive organs. The movement wants to ban abortion, even in cases of incest, rape, or when the mother’s life is in danger. All forms of birth control would also be illegal. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m not sure where they stand on foreplay, but jerking off would most likely be a misdemeanor.
In a Personhood “Pro-Life” America, Rick Santorum, King of Ass Juice and Republican presidential candidate (Google “Santorum” and see what comes up, just not when you’re eating) would let his wife die and her doctors be thrown in jail, because she once had an abortion to save her life.
Here’s what the Personhoods have to say about our sacred sperm and zygotes on their website:
In 1973 [the year Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion], the science of fetology was not able to prove, as it can now, that a living, fully human, and unique individual exists at the moment of fertilization and continues to grow through various stages of development in a continuum until death.
If the Court considers the humanity of the preborn child, it could end this age-based discrimination and restore the legal protections of personhood to the preborn.
Throughout history, certain people groups have felt the brunt of a system which denied their humanity, stripped their personhood, and subjected them to horrors beyond measure. While the legal framework that made such horrors possible has now been removed, it remains firmly in place for preborn Americans.
There remains one, and only one, group of human beings in the United States today for which being human is not enough. The inconvenience of their existence has resulted in this shameful injustice.
What is a person? A person is a human being at every age.
What happens after all these babies are born is anybody’s guess. The Republican party nowadays doesn’t want our government to provide American citizens access to adequate, affordable healthcare (because the 46 million+ Americans without health insurance have no one to blame but themselves). They also don’t seem to care whether any of the postborn get a decent public education or other basic services, because then the government would be all up in our business. In fact it’s looking more and more like Republicans don’t give a shit about you at all, unless you’re a “preborn.” Or a hedge fund manager.
The Personhood movement was born (sorry) in Mississippi, a state where life is so sacred that 57 prisoners now sit on death row, awaiting lethal injection. If the PersonHoods have their way, new laws would let the government meddle in our wombs and bedrooms, our most private and sacred domains. Go figure.
Great column. Thank you for your insightful comments on such a horrific situation. Yours is a voice that needs to be heard.