My Mother Told Me Not To Pick You, You Dirty Dish Rag You

Lori Frostad’s Dirty Dish Rag

Lancaster Baptist Church’s Pastor Paul Chappell laments that women do not aspire to “purity” before marriage and instead walk down the isle “like a filthy dish rag.” So I suspect that by purity Chappell means virginity, and by filthy dish rag he means not virginal. But why the euphemisms? Is sex, like Lord Voldemort, so bad that we cannot speak its name?

Evidently sex is unspeakable, at least when women do it. I can’t find an objective antonym for virginal. There’s unchaste and stained but both of these suggest fault if not ruin. Experienced is as allusive as Chappell’s language. Even the I usually like tells me that an appropriate antonym for virginal is evil.

In his sermon, Chappell boasts of his church’s rule that women wear at least knee-length dresses so that church-attending men can attain “wonderful grace and Jesus.” Like contemporary culture at large (don’t believe my sweeping claim here? ask Rehtaeh Parsons‘s family) Chappell blames women for men’s thoughts. He blames women for temptation and sin.

How are we still doing that? I thought we’d long pardoned Eve. Didn’t the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo? In his now legendary Sistine Chapel ceiling, Adam reaches for the fruit, too. See?

Michelangelo Sistine Chapel Eve Adam

History certainly suggests men reach for the proverbial fruit. Continue reading


Tennessee Goes Medieval With House Bill 0002

Fashionable Beauty (Detail: St. Dorothy) c. 1500 Tennessee’s Amendment One passed less than two weeks ago and already State Representative Rick Womick has introduced a bill to delay women’s access to healthcare.

Just in case you missed it: Tennessee’s state constitutional Amendment One has taken away women’s freedom to make decisions about our own bodies privately and independent of government interference. Now, HB-0002 wants to require women seeking abortions to submit to a preliminary ultrasound, hear descriptions of if not view images, and listen to heartbeats before returning another day for another appointment.

If the recently and narrowly passed Amendment One strips us of privacy, freedom, and access, HB-0002 suggests we’re not fit even to look at our bodies without assistance. Forcing women to yield to ultrasounds before abortions suggests that women on our own cannot properly see ourselves. HB-0002 demands that others describe to us, “in a manner understandable to a layperson,” our own bodies.

So before they can choose, women will lie on an examination table while the state looks on. And in. Here, the male gaze gets clinical.

Continue reading

Recalling The Republic

Titan Atlas Only a third of Americans voted in last week’s election. Worse than apathetic, our poor turnout evidences a breach of contract. Having failed to participate in the republic we were trained for, non-voting Americans should forfeit their high school diplomas and university degrees.

Two thirds of Americans didn’t cast a ballot last week, but most of us have taken advantage of free public education. 85% of U.S. citizens hold a high school diploma. A third of us hold Bachelor’s degrees. Even university experiences are often paid, in part, by the state.

Despite Socrates’s dictum that an unexamined life is not worth living, we don’t educate our population simply for the sake of individual enlightenment. The U.S. offers free public education because an educated populace is requisite to a democracy.

In a country where the word socialist serves as political mudsling, we offer socialized education. Taxpayers fund education for us all – even for those of us who don’t pay, or don’t pay as much, tax. Here, we all own the means to potentially better ourselves and our situations. Continue reading

Standing In The Shower Thinking

Barbara Krugar

Barbara Krugar’s 1989 call to arms

Yesterday Tennesseans approved a state constitutional amendment allowing politicians to regulate and even ban abortion. This morning, I’m struck by a sense of loss.

Of course feminism has suffered a bitter loss. Amendment 1 denies decades of activism and enlightenment. But I also feel a keen personal loss. Yesterday’s voters claimed a part of my body, and a part of my daughters’ too. Here, our bodies have become property of the state, potentially illegal to use as we see fit. How could I not take this personally?

What most shocks me about yesterday’s so-called pro-lifer win is the rhetoric surrounding Amendment 1. Was Tennessee really an “abortion destination?” When a student warned me of this looming vacation trend, I thought she was quoting The Onion. And how, exactly, does banning abortion keep women “safe?”

At best, claims like these pay lip service to sexual myths we’ve already exposed or arguments we’ve already settled. At worst, they’re nonsense. Continue reading