My Lady Parts Will Be Voting This Year

A funny thing happened when I wrote that I was excited that Trevor Thomas might run for the 3rd Congressional District because he was involved in one of the most exciting underdog victories progressives have had in recent years.

A local Democratic activist (he’s known me for years but apparently hasn’t followed what I’ve been up to) left a comment telling me I had to have the humanity to talk to some people in West Michigan before I spoke about the race. He followed that with a comment claiming I’ve just lived in Grand Rapids for 16 days so I “simply do[] not have a well-informed take on West Michigan.” (This, at a time when I’ve got a post up reminding Pete Hoekstra about the Laotian-Americans in his own town.)

Now, for any other Democrats who don’t want to bother reading my posts or consulting the voter rolls or lists of MDP members with West Michigan addresses, let me correct the mistaken impression that I’ve lived here just 16 days: I’ve lived in West Michigan for 18 months. I moved to Holland in August 2010, then moved to Grand Rapids last April because I liked its mix of artsy culture and Midwestern grit. As I walk every day though some of the most Democratic neighborhoods in the city, I’ve learned to love the city.

Sure, I haven’t lived in Grand Rapids long, but I’m the kind of person who has been moving to this city of late. I’m the kind of person who has begun to make the city more Democratic. I’m one of many kinds of people local Dems need to understand if they want to understand how their city is changing and how we can win the 3rd CD in November.

I probably shouldn’t have used the word “bigot” in my original post and I apologize that I did. But let me explain why I was upset by the impression that the local party doesn’t want a pro-choice candidate on the Democratic ticket here in Grand Rapids. I’ve lived in MI a long time now. I’m very familiar with the argument that says there’s a particular kind of Midwestern Democrat that is great on economic issues but may be anti-choice, the argument that says women just have to suck it up and accept that.

But then, in 2009, one of those otherwise great Dems, Bart Stupak, decided to risk blowing up the Health Insurance Reform Bill to make sure he got to dictate to women in every congressional district in this country what kind of medical care they could get. One of those otherwise great Dems made it the law in this country that there should be medical insurance, and then separate medical insurance for the lady parts.

Since that time, women have been told more and more they just have to suck it up, sacrifice autonomy over their own medical care because other issues are more important. Our Democratic President ignored the science on Plan B. Planned Parenthood has become the new ACORN. And Republicans have pursued the latter effort even at the expense of cancer patients.

So I apologize I used the word bigot. But let me make one thing clear: I will not take kindly to the Democratic party telling me paternalistically I just have to suck it up, it knows what’s best for Grand Rapids and me and my lady parts. There are far too many women in this country who are losing medical care for things that go far beyond abortion and contraception for that to be acceptable this year.

My lady parts will be voting this year.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

21 replies
  1. AJBos says:

    I normally lurk and this got me to come out from under my bridge. As someone who has lived in Grand Rapids for 12 years, I have watched the Democratic Party offer up “Pro-Life” candidates in MI-3, State Senate, and State House races for years. I have held my nose and voted for these candidates, but refuse to get involved with the local party because of exactly who they think we as voters truly are. If we have the guts to run someone who is on page with progressive values all the way down the line, including the lady parts of the great women I know and love, I will be walking the neighborhood door to door, day after day.

  2. eCAHNomics says:

    Brief personal history.

    Did not get involved in this issue bc I thought it was decided in 1973.

    As I saw that decision start to be eroded, I thought it was lunatic fringe who had no chance of success.

    Then I saw I was wrong about that.

    Then I saw the whole political culture of the U.S. deteriorate to the point of despair, and placed the abortion/birth control issue squarely in the middle of ways PTB marginalize disadvantaged groups. The largest disadvantaged group is women so we must be treated particularly harshly (though cleverly so we don’t know it).

    Then I saw ACORN go defunct & PP behaving in the same door mat way, i.e., hide out, work quietly, don’t make a stink. Door mats, no surprise, turn out to be what Ds wipe their muddy boots on.

    Damned right it’s time to vote on this issue and let everyone know in the loudest possible way that is what you are doing.

  3. nomolos says:

    Well, I do not have “lady parts” but let me tell you that I consider choice (my spouse runs a community women’s health center) as THE most important issue. Consider, if one cannot accept that personal choice over our own bodies is important, then what the hell is?

    Here in NH we have a Dem. primary where one of the candidats is a woman who sold out on the health care issue when she was in Congress. She lost in the last election. We now have a solid, pro choice, progressive candidate that is running against the previous Rep but the Dem powers that be are all but ignoring her and are openly supporting the woman that sold out previously. What the hell is the Dem party dong selecting candidates prior to the primary!

    Joanne Dowdell is is progressive, pro choice and a very experienced business person. The other candidate seems to think, and the Dem officials agree, that she is “entitled” to be the nominee. It is a primary damnit and the party is supposed to remain neutral.

    Good for you EW.

  4. Arbusto says:

    What gets my nickers in a knot is the ability of the Right to frame issues, the media to buy in and the Democrats to implicitly agree by inaction. The discussion of Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life is a prime example. No girl or woman wants an abortion. What they need is unfettered access to an abortion, without someone peering over the Doctors shoulder, when the need arises. All women should recognize that without such access, the Chinese coat hanger business would rise to world dominance and our daughters forced to the old back alley septic abortionists of the 20th century. I paid for my 18 year old stepdaughters abortion 30 years ago at PP, because her boyfriend was a flake, they were breaking up, she was unemployed, under educated and going nowhere fast. Today as a top notch mother of five, we never look back at that choice. That many woman, such as Karen Handel disagree based on religion or other knee-jerk philosophies of life, should be called out as the hypocrites they are.

    The problem with a quasi two party system is it’s easy lose sight of what their differences are.

  5. emptywheel says:

    @Arbusto: Right, and I hate to say that here, but as loathsome as the incumbent Justin Amash is, he is at least a very useful voice on war and civil liberties (though not choice). So here the far right GOPer has been better than Dems on issues that matter to me.

  6. Bill Michtom says:

    Not only have the Ds been crapping all over women for the decades–Hyde Amendment anyone?–but PP and NARAL have been complicit in the loss of reproductive rights by putting more value in “being at the table” than protecting women.

    When the so-called Affordable Care Act passed, I received email from NARAL or PP urging me to go to the airport to greet my rep and congratulate him for screwing over women with his vote (though, if memory serves, they didn’t frame it quite that way).

    I have been volunteering at NARAL’s Portland office for 20 years and they have a Ms. cover showing Obama ala Superman unbuttoning his shirt revealing a t-shirt saying “This is what a feminist looks like.”

    Neither O nor his Dem cronies are feminist.

    Go lady parts!

  7. rosalind says:

    thanks for this, ew. obama’s craven move re. bart stupak then his irritated comment that abortion care is not health care giving life to the notion that women’s bodies can be divided by our bits & pieces subject to governmental controls was when the last bits of rose fell from my glasses.

    women legislators are finally doing what i had long dreamed of – introducing legislation & amendments governing the men-folk’s bodies to counter the lady-bits legislation springing up across the country. it is a very effective tactic raising the absurdity of a few over-privileged white men claiming dominion over millions of women.

    team separation of church & state.

  8. prostratedragon says:

    Let’s see …men can wear codpieces. What can we wear that’s similarly braggadocious of having lady parts?

    Digby has a post up that will make you think this is one of the great questions of the day. Be sure to get the updates and TBogg link.

  9. ecthompson md says:

    Now, that’s the Marcy that I know and love. You da’ one. If I had a lighter I would flick my bic and hold it up right now. Kick butt and take names. There is no reason in the year 2012 that women should have to take a backseat to anyone. If men can get Viagra and on most plans that’s more than okay, then why….Kick some butt!!!

  10. lefty665 says:

    Unless MI is a lot different from VA, the Dems are !@#$%^&* hopeless from locals right on up. My wife and I resigned from the VA Dems last year after close to a decade in the trenches.

    We worked hard for Dem change from the inside, we were good soldiers playing by the rules. We both served as local officers, she also on the state central committee and congressional district committee (VA 7th – yeah that eric can’t), me campaign staffing, and we dug into our pocketbooks regularly. The state party was uninterested in supporting even traditional Dem principles, and shed them as expedience dictated. Stand for anything but re-election, perish the thought, might offend someone.

    We could no longer stomach defending the indefensible or the shame that came with the acts of people we helped elect. We continue to support orgs that share beliefs and are willing to stand for them, ACLU, you, etc.

    Dunno what the answers are (single malts, lots of peat?), but they are not a party of craven, cowardly, capitulating Dems. They are not the politics of “lesser evil”, conniving to stay a half step left of the rightest wing dingbats from Dick Morris toe sucking triangulation to Rahm, TTTimmy Geithner, Obama, VA’s Warner, et al.

    The response you got from your local Dem sounded a familiar note that stirred me up. I hope Midwest Dems are more educable and have more backbone than our versions. Best of luck.

  11. joanneleon says:

    w00t!

    I don’t think that “bigot” is too inaccurate. What else is it if not bigotry?

    After paternalistically telling you to suck it up, I’m surprised they didn’t say “now gimme some money” or ask you how much you could raise.

  12. emptywheel says:

    @joanneleon: I’m sure they’re going to work on that.

    That’s sort of the point of this post. Next time they come with an ask, I can point to this post and note the Democratic party doesn’t seem to want women’s money.

  13. PeasantParty says:

    I think they are all a bunch of quacking $^$^&&*#* heads!

    If this country is supposed to believe in freedom of religion then why the HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLL do they wish to impart someone else’s religious practices on all of American women?

    I’m not Catholic! I don’t know anyone that has mastered Rhythm. If there had been, then the cretins we have in Washington would’nt be there. Besides, what they have done to the economy assures that a woman cannot stay at home to raise domino children. The INSANITY of this is worth fighting for.

    OMG! This old woman may have to get into the streets with the kids.

  14. P J Evans says:

    Got a call the other evening from the DSCC. It started out sounding like a poll, but the first thing they did after their ‘it’s so important to support the Ds this year’ line was go into ‘can you give us’ $$$. So I hung up on them. I want better Democrats, not just more. And they’re aiming solely for more.

  15. Bob Schacht says:

    You’ve got a tough row to hoe in MI, EW. Republicans are staging a coup d’Etat by piecemeal takeovers of cities with financial problems. What are you gonna do? Allow more Republicans to be elected, and continue your state’s slide towards one-party rule?

    I hate to say it, but sometimes a Blue-Dog Democrat *IS* better than a Republican.

    Bob in AZ

  16. Francine says:

    I love your title “My Lady Parts Will Be Voting This Year” — conveys a message that maybe even a politician can understand.

  17. tejanarusa says:

    Great post. I think, given today’s Axelrod shamefulness, I am about to become a one-issue voter. After forty years – we are now arguing about contraception! It’s ridiculous and horrible.

    Remember Jane’s “rubber stamps” delivery to Congress? Maybe we need to gin up a giant delivery of wire coat hangers t the White House.
    Any better ideas?

  18. Max says:

    @eCAHNomics:
    This is the key. It has never really been about anti abortion or pro-life. This is simply the game that is played by the powers that be in order to keep our eyes diverted from the real issue. It is to keep us looking at each other instead of in the same direction. It’s sole purpose is to keep US divided. Woman against Woman. The only issue, the real issue is Women’s Rights–PERIOD. We had all better vote with our Lady parts while those still “sorta” belong to us. here is my longer view on this. Thanks
    http://www.youtube.com/user/theemotionalnews

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @Francine: My guess is that the “parts” bit they understand, given the body part they often think with. C Street’s brothel comes to mind. The political argument they will discard until a larger number of people make clear they agree with it and vote with their feet.

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