Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Park, Honeybee/Corbin, Kentucky

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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Revisiting "Iron Jawed Angels" ...


Before I begin, I want to make my own position clear.

There are very few things in life that are black or white, always or never,  either/or - and abortion is definitely NOT one of those things.

There are extenuating circumstances - circumstances that states like mine have ignored entirely, passing their laws immediately after the overturn of Roe Vs. Wade -  controlling the decision as if they -  the omnipotent and omniscient government -  can make better decisions regarding private and personal family issues than women themselves can, and not just some women - ALL women.

Ironic that the Republican Party - supposedly the party of small government - would be cheering on federal control and "banning" of  personal, private family choices, isn't it?. 

Though I chose to have my child, I used to be full-on Pro-Choice, but after witnessing two women have their publicly funded fifth and sixth abortions as a form of birth control and laugh about it, actually celebrate it - it made me sick to my stomach and gave me pause on my tax money going always going towards all publicly-funded abortions.

I want to be clear that this is NOT the norm - every other woman I know who has ever had an abortion - which is in the dozens - toiled over the decision and were extremely sad afterwards, and some were haunted - and anyone that tells you otherwise is exaggerating for political purposes or has never known personally any woman who ever made this decision, likely a man, who has no understanding of women at all (and no true interest in understanding women).

And yet those two were enough to give me pause as far as public funding.

Also, learning that hundreds of Native American women were given forced abortions and full hysterectomies, without their permission/consent in the 1970s, abusing Roe Vs. Wade for racist/genocidal purposes -  this also gave me pause as far as  my tax money/public funding always going towards abortion as well.

Thus, I am still Pro-Choice - BUT - out of concern of the potential for abuse of these services - either by government agencies along racial/genocidal lines (i.e., Native Americans in the 1970s) OR their clients - I would like my tax money/public funding for abortions to be limited to such extenuating circumstances - i.e., rape and incest - especially of a minor - risk of death or adverse health event of mother or child, severe deformities/disabilities of the child resulting in chronic suffering, mentally challenged or mentally ill women who lack a clear understanding of their condition, drug addiction, domestic violence, abject poverty, or any other extenuating circumstances that arise.

For other reasons, I believe commercial insurance and privately-funded organizations - including clinics themselves - can step in for any other reasons and that this is a personal, private, and spiritual family choice. 

But unfortunately, we no longer have either of those options, for any of those extenuating circumstances in the State of Kentucky at all - with the exception of potential death of mother or child. 

For those truly motivated by feeling you must protect the life of the unborn, I respect your valid opinion - HOWEVER -  we must ALL do a better job of learning to better recognize the many others drawn to /hiding behind pro-life arguments who aren't motivated by the life of the unborn at all -  they're motivated by either the fear of/need to control the behavior and choices of women or pure misogyny, residual cultural rot in our society - much like racists are drawn to/hide behind otherwise valid arguments of the Republican party.

Given the voraciousness and venom, we witnessed, in the right-wing press and their fear of a "night of rage" and falsely reporting "chaos in the streets" when women peacefully protested the Roe Vs. Wade overturn, I was immediately reminded of the history of the suffragette,  Alice Paul, who was ultimately responsible for the passage of the 19th amendment - the right for women to vote.

Though suffragette predecessors, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, get most of the credit - who are not without their merit and still should receive some accolade for being the first American suffragettes - it was really what happened to Alice Paul that resulted in the passage of the amendment.

Alice broke with the mainstream suffragettes, in that she felt their efforts were pandering, and that they spent most their time talking, but doing little, accomplishing little.

Thus, she and Lucy Burns, and a few other women, decided to picket outside of the White House every day for nearly a year, with banners and signs. 

They held their heads high, with such resolve, determination, and dignity, press and politicians began to call them "The Iron-Jawed Angels."  

It was meant as an insult, but the suffragettes embraced it - much like many have embraced "nasty women" today :)

Most of the post-Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton suffragettes distanced themselves from them, considering them radical.

Though peacefully protesting, Woodrow Wilson and cabinet tried to find various ways to get them arrested or sent to mental institutions for crimes such as trespassing or treason, to no avail - they were  on public property and they were not protesting against the government - they were asking to be included in making government decisions.  

Additionally, the quotes on the signs were quotes from Woodrow Wilson himself about liberty.

One November 9th, 1909, the women were picketing, and the women had a barrel fire to keep warm.  Alice began reading quotes from Wilson about the looming war and liberty, throwing them into the fire, to symbolize the words were meaningless for women.

A crowd of mostly men began to form, though women were present too, just as angry as the men.

A few men began grabbing and beating the women, tearing their signs, and became a full-on riot, while the police allowed it.  Amid the chaos, the police arrested just the women, including Alice, for "obstruction of traffic."

Recreation of that event from the movie "Iron-Jawed Angels" ...

While in prison - for "obstructing traffic" - Alice organized a hunger strike, and was thus carted off to a mental ward, strapped down, and force-fed with a feeding tube shoved down her throat ... 

Never mind that Gandhi was employing the same hunger-strike tactic, at this time, for independence from the UK  - but nobody sent Gandhi to a mental institution, strapped him down, and forced a tube down a throat to force-feed him :/

In the end, after notes were passed from prisoners or asylum inmates to husbands of their treatment, the press caught wind of what was happening to Alice Paul.

Also, the psychiatrist whom Wilson's cabinet personally assigned, under the guises/orders of the district commissioner, supposed to assess her as insane, found her to be quite the opposite, and refused to do so, after she delivered essentially this speech ... 

After which the psychiatrist utters the best line in this film ...

"In women, courage is often mistaken for insanity."

Let that sink in a minute - the POTUS, Woodrow Wilson, and his cabinet, tried to gaslight and pronounce insane suffragettes to to discredit and silence them. 

Thus, there was a massive public outcry - including the prior women suffragettes who distanced themselves from her for being "too radical" - and out of pressure from every angle, now - Woodrow Wilson thus set in motion the drafting of 19th amendment, which was passed in 1919  ... giving women the right to vote.

I still see shades of remnants of that antiquated mentality today, don't you?

As a woman, you're not allowed to be mad or protest.  If you speak up too loudly, or at all,  you're an out-of-control monster that needs to be imprisoned or sent to an insane asylum.  

And above all, whatever happens reproductively, it is always your responsibility and your fault.

And unfortunately, women enable this mentality themselves out of competition or wanting to be viewed as more "sane" and "proper" as opposed to other women - to include themselves now using the misogynistic tactic of gaslighting with each other - or out of fear of rocking the boat too much themselves. 

Flash forward to a century later.

5 men and 1 woman decided that not just some women - but ALL women - could not be trusted with their own family decisions and that state government needed to step in and make those decisions FOR them.

And when they peacefully protested about it, right-wing press falsely called it a "night of rage" and "Chaos in the streets."

Have we evolved as a society at all, in a century?

RBG and Alice Paul are rolling in their graves - liberty indeed :(

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