The Misogyny of the Anti-vaccination Cult
Last month, the anti-vaccination crowd showed their true anti-woman colors when responding to a piece in Wired magazine that detailed their idiocy. The Wired journalist was Amy Wallace, and because she is a woman the backlash against her immediately took the form of violent sexual imagery. Generation Rescue’s J. B. Handley suggested that Wallace had been drugged and raped by Paul Offit, a man who has literally saved millions of lives developing and promoting vaccines.
The post includes a poorly Photoshopped picture of prominent science-based medicine proponents feasting on a dead baby. The guests are journalist Alison Singer, the NIMH’s Tom Insel, journalist Trine Tsouderos, skeptic Steven Novella, and the aforementioned Amy Wallace and Paul Offit.
Think that’s bad? Wait until you get to the comments:
It’s pretty shocking, really, considering that the anti-vaxx crowd likes to pretend to be busy helping mothers and caring for children. When you really look at what they’re doing, though, this sexism is not at all surprising.
I’ve discussed the female-focused idiocy of the anti-vaxxers in past talks, like at SkepchickCon: people like Jenny McCarthy have long trumped their “mommy instinct” as the ultimate victor over, uh, what’s it called? Oh yeah, “medicine.” And “science.” McCarthy decided to ignore the advice of the medical community and instead turn to pseudoscience when her son was diagnosed with autism. Over on autism.about.com, the About expert is Lisa Jo Rudy, a mother with an autistic child who has become very critical of McCarthy and her ilk. In one essay, she explains that mothers are not “magical beings,” referring to the supernatural “mommy instinct” that relies on the mythical women’s intuition that we’re all supposed to possess, independent of reason.
You see, women, and in this particular case mothers, aren’t able to handle science and logic and reason. That’s for menfolk. And so, mothers must rise above science by using their intuition to magically determine what’s right for their children. But as Lisa Jo points out, when you’re a mother and you’re told this lie and you look inside yourself and find not magic but confusion and fear, you suddenly are made to feel like less than a woman. Look how Jenny McCarthy was so sure of herself, so sure of what to do for her child! What’s wrong with you, if you don’t know? Rudy writes:
One of the toughest aspects of parenting a child with autism is the sense of being all alone. But it seems that we, ourselves, are making it worse – by imposing impossible standards and then criticizing those who make choices that are different from our own.
Woman-on-woman misogynistic pseudoscience. When will it end, people?
(EDIT: Orac has posted some more info on this issue here.)