Friday, October 14, 2005

Groups Threaten to Boycott American Girl

I'm posting this just in case everyone didn't see it. The implications of this's quite scary...conservatives call a group who seeks the empowerment of young girls "a pro-abortion, pro-lesbian advocacy group." Of course it is. Because all of the male right-wing pigs can't BEAR to see a woman have some rights. Equality has clearly always been out of the question, but why not throw in some civil-rights bans as well? Why don't we just all have dolls that brainwash little girls into thinking they must stay home, take care of the family, cook, clean, and lead mindless lives? Oh, wait...I think too many people (read: men) might jump at that and think it's a great idea. Besides...someone already came up with Barbie. First, it's birth control. Now it's empowerment. What's next? Full-body covering like in the Middle East? Excuse me while I throw up. And one more thing: doesn't anyone else find it ironic that they're boycotting a company named American Girl?

Do with it what you will, I'm too tired--and disgusted--to pick at it with a fine-toothed comb. Just thought you might like to know the latest in reactionary idiocy.

Groups Threaten to Boycott American Girl

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

NEW YORK - American Girl, manufacturer of a highly popular line of dolls and children's books, has become the target of conservative activists threatening a boycott unless the toy maker cuts off contributions to a youth organization that supports abortion rights and acceptance of lesbians.

The protest is directed at an ongoing American Girl campaign in which proceeds from sales of a special "I Can" wristband help support educational and empowerment programs of Girls Inc., a national nonprofit organization which describes its mission as "inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold."

American Girl, whose often patriotic products have long had a loyal following among conservatives, issued a statement Friday defending its support of Girls Inc. and assailing the protest campaign.

"We are profoundly disappointed that certain groups have chosen to misconstrue American Girl's purely altruistic efforts and turn them into a broader political statement on issues that we, as a corporation, have no position," the statement said.

The Mississippi-based American Family Association, in a campaign launched Wednesday, is urging its members to demand that American Girl halt support for Girls Inc., which it called "a pro-abortion, pro-lesbian advocacy group."

"Let American Girl know they are making a terrible mistake," AFA chairman Don Wildmon said in a statement. The AFA says it has more than 2.2 million members.

The Pro-Life Action League, a Chicago-based anti-abortion group, also is asking supporters to contact American Girl to express dismay. The league's executive director, Ann Scheidler, said her organization might call for a boycott of American Girl's products and organize picketing at its stores in Chicago and New York if the company doesn't sever ties with Girls Inc.

"Parents need to know that this effort to promote self-esteem among girls is not as innocent as it seems," Scheidler said. "While Girls Inc. has some good programs, they also support abortion, oppose abstinence-only education for girls, and condone lesbianism."

American Girl, a subsidiary of Mattel Inc., said the "I Can" initiative supports three specific Girls Inc. programs — building girls' skills in science and math, developing leadership skills, and encouraging athletic skills and team spirit.

"All of these aims are appropriate to our 7- to 12-year-old American Girl fans," the company said. "The American Girl brand exemplifies the values of wholesomeness and responsibility that we would expect any organization to commend."

Girls Inc., which traces its roots back to a center founded in Waterbury, Conn., in 1864, serves about 800,000 girls a year, many of them black or Hispanic and most from low-income families.

The "advocacy" page on its Web site lists some of the positions that roused conservative ire — for example a clear endorsement of the 1973 Roe v. Wade court decision establishing a woman's right to abortion.

Girls Inc. also supports a girl's right to have access to contraception and pledges support for girls dealing with issues of sexual orientation.

Joyce Roche, the president of Girls Inc., said the New York-based organization had never before been targeted by a protest campaign.

"We were taken aback," she said in a telephone interview Friday. "Our programs are well-respected. We're all about helping girls see possibilities and dream big dreams."

She said Girls Inc. takes positions on public policy issues if it believes women's rights and opportunities are at stake. "Our philosophy is that women should have the right to make decisions about themselves," Roche said.

One of the protest coordinators, American Family Association special projects director Randy Sharp, said the campaign was noteworthy because American Girl's products have long been favored by conservatives. Its dolls (full-sized models sell for more than $80) include a series from different eras of American history — such as Felicity, from the Revolutionary War, or Addy, who escapes from slavery during the Civil War.

"American Girl has won the trust of millions of conservative families," Sharp said. "It's very popular among the home school movement because of the values the company followed."

"Now we find they're teaming up with Girls Inc., which supports the very things we oppose. It's very troubling."

Sharp said the AFA was not yet ready to call for a boycott, but he predicted that many conservative families — including his own — would be reluctant to keep buying American Girl products. "I think no question this will have a financial impact on American Girl," he said.


wj said...

I love every word of your blog!

Daniel Gallagher said...

Ironically, CJ and I just finished posting FASCISM PART 5: RAMPANT SEXISM on our other blog, RIGHTS NOW. It was written by Kelli Fitzgerald (another team members) as a part of a longer post which we are now posting in shorter segments. We're sure Kelli won't mind if we reprint her article here. We are, after all, a big happy family here.

The opening quote by William Shrier is more than fitting for the occasion.


By Kelli M. Fitzgerald

Women whom Niezche never had, he consigned to a distinctly inferior status, as did the Nazis, who decreed that their place was in the kitchen and their chief roll in life to beget children for German warriors. Nietzche pit the idea this way: "Man shall be trained for war and women for the procreation of the warrior. All else is folly." He went further in Thus Spake Zarathustra. He exclaims: "Thou goest to woman? Do not forget thy whip!"--which prompted Bertrand Russell to quip, “Nine women out of ten would have got the whip away from him and he knew it, so he kept away from women!”

From The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
Page 100
By William L. Shirer
1959, 1960 Simon and Schuster

Welcome to the supposedly progressive state of Wisconsin, where the Radical Christian Right and borderline fascists are again trying to keep women barefoot and pregnant.

It’s inconceivable--pun intended. Forty years after the Supreme Court legalized bith control in Griswold v Connecticut a woman’s right to safe, legal contraception has again come under attack. And, as before, the attack is coming from reactionary religious fanatics who believe that their right to practice their religion includes a right to control the beliefs, practices, and physical bodies of others,

I don’t know what things are like in your state, but here, in Wisconsin, a woman’s right to safe, legal contraception is being threatened by two Republican-led (natch!) measures in the State of Wisconsin.

One measure introduced by State Senator Daniel LeMahieu, would prohibit the University of Wisconsin Health Clinics from prescribing and dispensing the morning after pill. This measure (if passed, or not vetoed by our governor), would prohibit University of Wisconsin Health Clinics from prescribing and dispensing the morning after pill. The controversy began on April 19 of this year, when the UW Madison Health Clinic ran a controversial ad which encouraged young women to arm themselves with a prescription for birth control, i.e. the morning after pill prior to spring break. This of course, led to the all too predictable accusation that the university system was promoting promiscuity. And, as you might have guessed, most of the criticism has been leveled against young women, never young men, demonstrating how sexist and borderline fascist this argument has become.

The far right routinely harps about personal responsibility. You might even say that the right wingers have obsessed over it but don’t always practice it themselves. Here we had a situation in which the UW was encouraging personal responsibility by reminding young women to arm themselves with contraception during spring break and the far right is flipping out because women might actually do something that would give them control over their own bodies. Of course you have to remember that the far right’s idea of personal responsibility is the imposition of reactionary, often misogynistic “values” from the top down. These are young women, legal adults, not elementary school children who need a state Senator to tell them what they can with their bodies and/or personal lives. Religious arguments about promiscuity not withstanding, we must assume that some of these young women are either already having sex or contemplating the idea. The LeMahieu solution couldn’t be more chauvinistic. It tells young women that they are too stupid, too immoral, or too immature to make decisions for themselves and that the state has to step in to make decisions for them.

That seems rather hypocritical when you consider the fact that this Draconian measure comes from the Republican Party, the same party which supposedly believes in smaller government and getting that smaller government of our backs. In fact it seems as if Mister LeMahieu wants to get the government off our backs and in our bedrooms. Or to put it another way: LeMahieu’s values represent a throw back to the double standard of the Victorian era. Women are supposed to be pure and virginal on their wedding nights while boys are allowed to sow their wild oats. And that makes me wonder. With whom, pray tell, are the boys supposed to have sex with if the young women are supposed to be virgins on their wedding nights? We’re back to the bad old days of the Madonna-Whore Scenario. Good girls,” Madonnas don’t. Bad girls, whores, do. Boys aren’t judged no matter what they do. In other words, women not only have to be more responsible because conservative politicians, in their woman-hating “wisdom” have decided that men can do no wrong and women need to be controlled. Why if you didn’t know better you’d be tempted to think that they were trying to impose a literal interpretation of the Bible because they believe all women should be punished because Eve allegedly committed the original, original sin. (It might be suggested, however, that Eve was actually the superior being in the Book of Genesis. Eve was tempted by a Lucifer, supernatural being, a fallen angel with supernatural powers. Adam, on the other hand, was tempted by a mere human being. In other words, Adam was a lot more stupid and than Eve ever could have been, allowing himself to be tempted and corrupted by a “mere” woman. Kind of makes you wonder why men think they’re so incredibly superior when they seem to be the more gullible of the two sexes.)

But I seem to have digressed. For some reason right wing Republicans, both the woman hating males, and the self-hating females seem to have a problem with strong, independent women. And it certainly shows in their attitude (problem) towards contraception.

Senator LeMahieu, I’ll cut a deal with you. The day you grow a birth canal, uterus, ovaries, and the necessary plumbing for carrying and delivering a nine pound bundle of joy is the day I’ll listen to you. Until that day comes though, you’ll just have to forgive my stifled laughter.

Unfortunately the assault on a woman’s right to safe and legal contraception doesn’t end with Senator LeMahieu. At the same time that the good Senator and his Bible-thumping misanthropes are trying to ban birth control through the University of Wisconsin, their “pro life” allies are attempting to undermine patients’ rights through a Pharmacists Freedom of Conscience Act. In a measure which could best be described as the “No Patient Gets Medication Act,” pharmacists would have the right to withhold medications from patients. In other words, if the pharmacist’s religious or moral values were offended he would not have to dispense the medication that the patient’s doctor had prescribed. The problems with this are obvious. In the first place, it not only interferes with the relationship between doctor and patient, it also allows the pharmacist, who is not a doctor, to trump the doctor’s judgment. And, in the second place, it allows the pharmacist to practice an aspect of medicine without a license. More chillingly, many of these bills are written so loosely that they could include just about any area of health care and any medication or procedure; and yet, the ultimate target seems to be, not so much safe legal abortion, but safe, legal contraception. This seems just a little odd when you think back to the 1980s when the Pro Life movement was swearing up and down that they were not interested in banning birth control. That means one of two things have happened. They changed their minds (which means you can’t believe a word they say), or they lied in the first place (which means you can’t believe a word they say).

Of course, I can hear the self-proclaimed moralists even as I write this. “Pharmacists have rights too! You’re trying to deny them the right to practice their Christian faith.” Well, I’m sorry, but that is so beyond the scope of common sense that I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. If you’re a recovering alcoholic you probably aren’t going to seek a job as a part time bartender. If you’re a Mormon you probably won’t get a job as a topless dancer. If you’re allergic to roses and chrysanthemums you probably won’t be working at your local florist. If you hate dogs you won’t be answering that “help wanted ad” by your friendly, neighborhood Grooming Salon. If you’re a pacifist you probably aren’t going to sign up for military service. If you think boxing should be banned as a sport you probably won’t be refereeing too many prizefights. And if you have a problem when it comes to dispensing birth control to female patients then you really should be looking for another line of work—unless our only reason for becoming a pharmacist in the first place is so that you can make it more difficult for women to obtain safe, legal contraception, in which case you deserve no pity nor protection since your so called values are more twisted than that old corkscrew in the back of your silverware drawer.

The only reason this became an issue in Wisconsin is because a pharmacist not only refused to fill a prescription, but also refused to transfer the prescription to another pharmacist, effectively denying the patient’s access to medication. That may sound trivial to some, but in a rural state like Wisconsin, especially in rural areas, where small towns often have only one drug store, a measure such as this could be a real hardship. It could require the patient to drive 20, 25, or even more miles to the next village. Have you ever tried to drive 20or 30 miles during a wintry day ion Northern Wisconsin? Trust me. It is not a pleasant, nor a safe experience.

But that’s the idea, isn’t it? Those Orwellian named Freedom of Conscience Acts are just another means by which Radical Right Religionists can deny women safe, legal contraception; another means by which right wing Catholics, and reactionary Protestant Evangelicals can impose their theocratic, indeed fascist values on the rest of society.

It seems to me that right wing politicians, both male and female, either fear or envy strong, independent women. If given half a chance I’m sure that the religious right would be using whips and chains to keep us in the kitchen. Luckily for us we figured out how to take away those whips long ago.


Daniel Gallagher said...

To clairify the situation here, this blog now has two Daniels. There's Daniel Button, who recentl;y joined the fold, and yourts truly (Daniel Gallagher).

Rhino-itall said...

That's kind of the point button, they are boycotting the lesbians. or whatever girlsinc is doing that they don't agree with. The point of the post is that the dastardly right wingers don't want to fund them the way as a member of the right wing let me say without question we don't hate lesbians. I can't speak for the religious guys, but pesonally i like lesbians. and i can speak for the other right wingers at my blog and i can tell you that they like lesbians too.

Karen said...

Thanks for admitting that you aren't a gentlemen. We kind of knew that. I'd tell you to get your mind out of the gutter if it hadn't alreay fallen into the sewer.

Rhino-itall said...

Hey Karen, lighten up. Although i am having fun just giving you guys an education, i thought it would be even more fun if i injected a little humor here and there. Isn't it supposed to be the conservatives who are all uptight and stuffy? Oh my god,you're not a conservative are you?(oops did i say god? sorry if i offended anyone who doesn't believe in god and is offended by having to read that)