Monday, August 27, 2012

Mr. Shrimshock

When I heard Missouri representative Todd Akin's remarks about legitimate rape and a woman's magical ability to shut down pregnancy, my first thought was of my junior high school gym and boy's health teacher, Mr. Shrimshock.

When we were in the eighth grade, we had the lecture.  It was about mid year, we all filed into class,  Mr. Shrimshock pulled down the door blind, handed us a brochure and told us to read it and keep our mouths shut.  As I remember it, the pamphlet was three or four pages long, it had a couple of not very well executed illustrations, and gave a very brief explanation about sperm, eggs and pregnancy.   After we were done reading Mr. S gave us a brief talk.

Women, he told us, would only have sex with us so they could get pregnant, force us into marriage and bind us to a lifetime of labor so that they could stay home, watch soaps, and eat chocolate.  And if that was all that happened to us we would be lucky, since women were all filthy and would give us a disease that would make our penises fall off.  Even at thirteen, I knew that Mr. Shrimshock was a sick man who hated women.

Since Todd Akin delivered his opinion on legitimate rape, I've heard a lot about the Republican war on women.  I think that's wrong.  I think it's a conservative, fundamentalist Christian war on secular values.  The Christian right has become very quick to label disagreement with it's agenda as a war on religion.  If we think a woman has a right to choose, that we all should have access to contraception, if we believe in gay rights or that organized prayer has no place in a public school the Christian conservatives start in on how we are trying to trample on their religious values.  I don't see it that way.  I would never tell a fundamentalist woman that she should have an abortion, or use an IUD.  I would never tell a conservative Christian that he or she should    associate with gays or not pray when ever they feel the need.  But the right wing fundamentalist would gladly take away my right to live a life apart from religion.

I think those of on the left feel very uncomfortable standing up to the religious.  Our belief  in tolerance is so strong that we shrink from fighting back against those on the religious right who have no tolerance for any religious beliefs different from theirs.  I'm an atheist, and even I have trouble with push back.  But if we don't get a back bone and start telling the fundamentalist crowd to keep their belief system out of government, someday we'll wake up to an American Taliban, and that won't be a pleasant world.

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