Skepchick Quickies 3.11

And in personal news, all you Bostonianss better prepare yourselves because I’ll be moving down there soon to attend grad school.  I can’t wait to meet and get to know the Boston skeptic crew.


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. I can’t seem to stop my brain from believing it’s Friday. As such, I saw the penis-push up and thought, “huh, she went in a new direction for Cute Animal Friday. I don’t know if I can get behind that.”

  2. And for the record, I completely disagree with the Salon article on Angie Jackson. I think it’s pompous and patronizing. I can’t believe the author had the gall to say, “why didn’t she just get a tubal if she didn’t want more kids.” Yeah, because getting a tubal as a 27 year old woman is SO easy. And she had an IUD, which is as effective as sterilization if expulsion doesn’t occur.

  3. @Amanda: I don’t know anything about tubal ligation, but I’m sure getting a medical procedure while caring for a special needs toddler is no trivial task as well.

  4. Yeah, I find it pretty odious how she hides behind “right to privacy” as though somehow that justifies patronizing moral commentary on a complete stranger’s personal life.

    Yes, Sorrentino has the right to hate Jackson’s choice, but if she’s truly an advocate of reproductive rights, then she should know the ethical foundation of the pro-choice argument is much closer to “women, not the government, should control their bodies” than it is to “don’t talk about abortions.”

    Also, it’s basically impossible to be simultaneously an advocate of reproductive rights and to think you have a right to tell a total stranger she should get her tubes tied.

  5. She fought for our… privacy? Whatever happened to the right to choose? Plus it seems to me that this she-should-keep-it-to-herself attitude would just promote more ignorance and back us off any progress that was made on this front?

  6. Only when I am judged for not keeping silent my decision to carry a baby full-term, Angie Jackson and the rest should be judged for not keeping their decision silent.

    And since when the fuck is “self-serving” the same as “bad”? They’re completely exclusive of each other. It is completely possible to do something that works both in my best interest and the best interest of the people around me… like being paid by a popular online magazine to write articles on women’s reproductive rights… but only when you’re not a huge asshole about it.

    Also, tubal ligation isn’t significantly more effective than IUD anyway.

  7. @Amanda: Seconded. Almost every person I know who’s had a tubal or vasectomy, but especially a tubal, has gotten resistance from the doctor they went to, or even been refused by the first couple. One of my friends had 6 kids, and the doctor still refused to give her a tubal because she was only 29. When my dad went to get his vasectomy after his 4th kid, the doctor asked “but what if one of them dies and you want to replace it?” My father had to explain that children are not goldfish. But that’s besides the point, because the real point is, in Angie’s case, it wasn’t a choice so much as a neccessity. Either she aborted, or she died. Given the option of a dead fetus, or a dead mother and 2 orphans, the choice seems pretty damned obvious to me.

  8. @Nicole: I know they can do it laproscopically now but it’s still surgery and there’s still recovery time.

    @JeffSatterley: Boston University. Almost went there as an undergrad, actually, so it’s funny to be ending up there for grad school in a completely different field then I was looking at for undergrad.

  9. you’re from portland, right? I think I remember you posting about demonstrations in monument square at one point, and I always take note when people mention being from Maine. We ain’t a big group, so I’m sad that we’re losing you to our filthy cousins to the south.

  10. @Amanda: That wasn’t my experience, but I had mine back in 1984. YMMV

    My surgeon didn’t even ask me the “replacement” question.

    BTW, congrats on going to grad school.

  11. Congrats, Amanda! I look forward to re-meeting you and swiftly indoctrinating you with our Boston Skeptics dogma. Err… I mean, seeing you at our events :-P

  12. Actually, the Mirena IUD is more effective than a tubal ligation. No one should be required to have a surgical procedure to satisfy someone else’s arbitrary concept of “responsible” behavior.

    Also, cod pieces aren’t new :p Ah well.

  13. @QuestionAuthority: Good doctors don’t ask that question now either. I think it is important to ask some questions- especially of a young woman- in terms of motivation. You’d be surprised to hear some answers. But to ask about replacing children? That’s a bit crazy. I’ve actually seen more docs push for a tubal than against it (then again, that may have to do with the patient population we work with).

    And Amanda, enjoy BU- I did my undergrad there and a lot of my friends went to med school there. Those four years were the most fun years of my life- I keep trying to find a way back to Boston but it seems no opportunities are opening for me there. Have fun!

  14. @Izzy: That was my reaction when I read this too. Roe v. Wade was a privacy decision? Really? I looked it up, and apparently the right to privacy was part of the argument made for the right to choose. Interesting that with all the time I’ve spent fighting about choice issues I’ve never read the full opinion: http://www.landmarkcases.org/roe/opinion1_majority.html
    That said, the right to choose is also prominently featured in the majority opinion.

  15. Is the “push-up” thing for guys even attractive to females? I could be a weirdo, but this kind of thing would make me feel stupid wearing it.

  16. I’m actually really glad that Angie Jackson did this. I think it is a great thing. I think that the Salon author missed the fact that you have the right to privacy but you aren’t forced to have it.

    The private decision between a woman and her doctor and if she chooses to go to someone else, a friend, god, a pastor, or the twitterverse she has that right.

    Yeah this is one of the less odious responses I’ve seen to the whole ordeal, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to roll my eyes and make some obnoxious statement about keeping her privacy private blahblahblah.

  17. @Expatria: I was going to say I was excited about joining the book group, but then I realized, duh, I’ll be in grad school and therefore never ever have time to read for fun.

    @rubbsdecvik: I don’t think it’s meant to be attractive to females.

  18. We can’t forget that there are giants like Mary Ann Sorrentino on whose shoulders people like Angie Jackson are standing. But now it’s time for the next step: eliminating shame from the picture, and that’s exactly what Jackson was trying to do.

  19. @Amanda: You should totally join our book group! We have plenty of grad students. Plus, this month’s book is short and funny.

    Also, yeah I disagreed with that Salon article and the paternalistic tone. Plus, Angie already said she’d do a tubal if someone would pay the bill (up in the thousands of dollars) for her.

  20. @jtradke:

    That’s fantastic that she fought for our rights. But just because it’s your fight doesn’t give you the right to dictate the way people behave when they exercise the right you gave them.

    It’s as if she’s saying, “Women deserve the right to have clean and safe abortions. But Angie Jackson? No abortion for you! I don’t like your attitude!” As if she thinks it’s enough to just have the availability and the right when there’s so much still to fight for. As if continuing to fight not only to preserve that right, but also for the right to do that without shame or misinformation or obstacles is somehow an affront to the women who fought for us to be able to obtain them at all.

  21. On the Twittered abortion thing:

    First – you need to recognize that that Mary Ann Sorrentino is a second wave feminist. She is in her mid-60’s. She is old enough to have been in her child-bearing years when abortions were illegal. My parents are about that age and a retired doctor and former nurse. They are both pretty conservative (my father is a freakin’ Ditto-Head these days, much to my dismay), but are also rabidly pro-choice.

    Because both can tell you all about the experiences they had in emergency room rotations with young women who killed themselves or rendered themselves infertile for the rest of their lives with illegal abortions, botched personal attempts, or poisonous abortifacients.

    So people of Angie Jackson’s age are going to have a completely different view on abortion rights than third wave feminists. It is a right people of our age completely take for granted, so it doesn’t surprise me that someone who blogs and Twitters so extensively also doesn’t have a problem tweeting her RU-486 experience – she doesn’t have privacy issues. For her, taking RU-486 and blogging about it is no different than any of her other blog posts.

    And despite what she says, it’s not about “demystifying abortion” for other women. This is a woman whose avatar image is a photo of herself in a corset with long, flowing blond hair and a manicure. This is a woman who likes getting attention and being recognized.

    However, as an almost 40-something (that happens in a few months) who grew up in a medical atmosphere, I’m going to agree with Mrs. Sorrentino’s summary sentence:

    At its worst, it is self-serving, exhibitionist and selfish. At best, it has “bad judgment” written all over it.

    I’m very pro-choice, and I thought that this wasn’t elucidating or empowering. All it did was give sound-bite fodder to right-wing, pro-life advocates to show what amoral whack-jobs we pro-choice people are. “Look at them – they get abortions so they can talk all about it on THE TWITTER!”.

    I feel about Angie Jackson the way someone who has quiet but complex and strong feelings about pro-life does about the right-wing crazies – her exceedingly public and graphic support is no better than the protesters who wave around pictures of aborted fetuses and who endorse the shooting of abortion doctors. It’s graphic and unnecessary, and takes away from reasonable argument and I think people like her do more harm than help. But you can’t tell them that because it’s all about THEM and THEIR VERY STRONG FEELINGS THAT ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOURS! GO TEAM CHOICE!!!!!!!!!

    I see a lot of a grab for personal attention here. It’s not that I don’t agree with all her reasons for having the abortion, am grateful something like RU-486 is available for women in her situation, and bully for her for being so open about it. But whether or not she intended it to be, it just smacks of publicity stunt, instead of just publicity.

    If she really wanted to demystify it, she could have kept notes, written a journal, and wrote a thoughtful blog post about it. She would have probably gotten just as much publicity for the graphic nature, but it would have lacked the gimmicky concept of real-time posting. It’s not even about shock value – I don’t think anything anyone does on the Internet really shocks anymore (or if it does, you’re waaaaay too sheltered). It’s about understanding how to craft a powerful message instead of being a footnote to an actually well crafted message.

  22. @Elyse: The tone I got from that article was of, “You shouldn’t tweet this, you should be ashamed of it!” Not a constructive dialogue, there.

    I thought tweeting it was a novel way to open discourse on the subject of abortion and show what the process is like. The article might as well have ended with, “Next time keep your legs together!”

  23. Ooops – just noticed my link to her athiestnexus.com page didn’t go through.

    Should be here:


    I’m not saying it’s bad to be comfortable and assertive with your sexuality. On the contrary – I’ve been known to use it myself on occasion. But note my avatar – I never use a picture of myself. Because I don’t feel like dealing with the BS that comes with it on the Internet.

    But I know plenty of women who post pictures of that like themselves on the Internet. They all really enjoy getting attention. Maybe Ms. Jackson is the rare one who doesn’t, I don’t know. I’m going by personal, anecdotal evidence.

  24. @Chasmosaur: As a woman who has many pictures on the internet of myself in corsets and other provocative and/or extravagant clothing, and as a woman who does love attention, I take exception to your assertion that a woman who does these things cannot/would not/did not also do something in a public forum for a higher purpose. Even if getting attention was part of the drive for it, there is no reason to think that she did not also believe her actions would do something positive for the movement. To state outright that you know she did not have these motivations and was only looking for attention because she appears to like attention for her looks is an absurd and inappropriate leap of logic. At most, it would be appropriate to suspect her motives were not purely altruistic.

  25. @Chasmosaur:

    As I stated in my previous comment, self serving does not mean bad. And being young enough to not know what criminalized abortions were like does not mean that I don’t appreciate safe and legal abortion… and it doesn’t mean that any other women my age don’t appreciate it.

    But the fact that it was awful and dangerous before does not mean that it’s simple and easy to take for granted now. While it’s there legally, which is a huge thing not to be belittled, and we should have great respect the women and men who fought for that right, challenges still exist. Women who have them are still painted as evil women with bad intentions… whores… irresponsible… even murderers. No, it’s no match for dying of an infection or hemmoraging to death, it’s enough to keep many women away from their right to have one.

    Abortion still has a mystique around it. Even though 1/3 of women have them, we still walk around wondering “What kind of woman has an abortion?” And the answer, more often than not, is that it must be someone who is irresponsible, careless and probably slutty… and sometimes rape victims, too (but let’s not forget that rape victims are still kind of slutty and irresponsible, too, so there’s a lot of overlap).

    So it helps her sell books. So what? How does that make her message a poor one? If I planned on writing a book about skeptical parenting and used Skepchick and Twitter to promote it (like I would with anything), and my kid ended up being diagnosed with autism while I was writing that book and it was right after she got her 18 month shots, and I tweeted that and wrote about it on Skepchick, would that make me a bad person? Would that mean my book is useless? Would that mean that people shouldn’t follow me on Twitter or read Skepchick because I was being “self-serving”? Of course not. It’s only bad to be self-serving when people don’t like the topic being served.

    We need more women coming out and saying, “I had an abortion!” It’s pretty easy to see how many women choose not to have them. We see them every day. Every person you see is not aborted. Every pregnant woman at Target is “choosing life”. Every time you drive by a daycare center or a play ground or a school you can see evidence of the unaborted.

    But having an abortion, your choice is invisible. No one knows it. And if that’s what you want, that’s fine, but it would make it a whole lot easier on women who are in a really rough predicament to just be able to say, “This isn’t bad. Good women have abortions. I know this because I see them. They’re here. They’re around me. They’re people I know.”

    To do that, we have to start somewhere. Twitter is as good a somewhere as any.

  26. *click* Ahh.. thanks @Amanda I understand now. I had the same question that @rubbsdecvik did (do females find this attractive).. but the clarification that (like the bra) your usual target audience while wearing the “show-it” boxer is male enlightened me.

    I feel a little naive for not getting there till it was explained.

  27. Why do people care that she talked about something personal on twitter? It’s what we do. It reminded me of the reaction the the pregnancy article here on Skepchick. It’s like women aren’t allowed to talk about anything to do with child rearing that isn’t positive. Anything negative has to be covered up and hidden from the men, in case they find out the truth about us.

    Well I don’t want that anymore! I want to talk about things and not be ashamed. I want to be forewarned about things that will not be pleasant so I can prepare. And I think men would like to know what is going on with women so they can understand and support us.

    I’m glad she did it, I learned a lot. I didn’t even know there was a chemical abortion pill thingy before then. I actually found it rather reassuring, if our contraception ever failed we agreed we would not have another baby, so I was happy to hear that it wasn’t as scary as I had imagined.

    And what was with that tubal ligation comment? Yeah, that’s a practical option for young women *rolls eyes*.

  28. @Elyse: To add to this point: there are LOTS of women who want to come out and talk about having an abortion, but they feel they can’t because of the associated stigma. I’ve mentioned here before that I’ll go to the state general assembly and testify when issues infringing upon choice come up for a vote. Invariably when I’m hanging with the pro-choicers afterward, someone from the crowd (often a state employee) walks up to the group and says in a whisper, “as someone who has used y’all’s services- thank you for all that you do.” It’s ALWAYS a whisper and often an explanation that she fears making it public for a variety of reasons.

    These are women who acutely feel the stigma of having had an abortion- so much so that they are hesitant to be associated with the Planned Parenthood/NARAL crowd until everyone else seems to have left.

    My point is that regardless of her possible self serving intentions, Angie Jackson is still doing what she said she would: demystifying abortion. Because women are afraid to talk about their experiences lest they be demonized, a realistic portrayal of abortion is not easy to find. Now it is- at least one side of it.

  29. The thing is, it would be one thing if she was all, “I’m gonna go fuck some dude then get an abortion, just because I can, liveblog it on twitter, then make millions off the book! ABORSHUNS ROOL!”

    But she’s someone with a legitimate reason to get an abortion, she doesn’t fit the picture that anti-choice folks want to paint, and she wanted to share her experience. She may not have done every detail the way that I would have liked, but I can’t fault her. As long as anti-choice folks are going to spread lies about abortion, we need to accept people who tell the truth, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

  30. @stacie:

    Didn’t say she liked attention because of her looks. Said it seems to me she likes to get attention and uses her looks to help enhance that. If she didn’t want attention, then I find it unusual with the level of Web 2.0 presence she’s got.

    And if you honestly think this story wouldn’t have gotten as much attention if Angie Jackson was an overweight African American woman, then you really aren’t up on the sociology and psychology of the US 24-hour news cycle. Anything dramatic that happens to or is performed by a young white woman is worthy of massive media attention and dissection. Something I think she knows.

    I have no problem with strong women who dress provocatively. I have no problem using looks to draw attention to your cause (PETA has mastered that tactic). That’s simply good advertising – if genetics gave you the phenotype, use it. My brilliant cousin was a Hooters girl during college, and if the tips she earned from there went towards paying for her PhD in special education, then I say Bra-fucking-va.

    However, if you admit you use your looks to get attention to your cause, you cannot realistically jump to the moral outrage position when people point out you do it. Yes, be offended when people diminish you because of your looks, absolutely. And being attractive and having a calling to a social calling are not mutually exclusive. I grew up in DC, the land of advocacy agencies, I know this. I also know a lot of people who work very tirelessly and anonymously for their causes (and hey – bonus, they clean up well, too). And while their impact isn’t as wide as Angie Jackson’s perhaps, it’s more targeted and effective.

  31. @Elyse:

    Good points, but here’s the thing.

    I moved to the Upper Midwest from the East Coast a few years ago. The unswerving opinions of the population here floor me.

    Sarah Palin was the BEST and SMARTEST politician to enter the Presidential race, ever.

    Intelligent Design in schools? Nothing wrong with that, ’cause it’s from the Bible. Anyone who has a problem with that is probably a Moo-slim.

    Doctors? Doctors are greedy bastards who make you sick with all those vaccinations and stuff.

    And as I mentioned around here yesterday, people were totally fucking cool with electing a governor who was going to give rights to pharmacists to deny dispensing drugs that were morally reprehensible to them.

    I thought attitudes like this were hyperbole and exaggeration and urban myth. But they are not. And THESE are the people that political discourse and mass media pander to these days – the politicians because they pander for votes; the mass media because it gets ratings.

    Because if you threaten the world view of these people enough, they get out and vote for other people who mouth the same stuff (even if they and the candidates are massive hypocrites behind closed doors). Because they all have a vote, and they have tight, honest-to-god, real life social networks and a really, really narrow view of life that takes a lot to change. Don’t believe me? Ask any homosexual about Proposition 8.

    What Angie Jackson did was give belligerent people like this ammo. They can say – look, the pro-choice people want you to put your abortion on YouTube. Young girls living inside these communities aren’t going to find that helpful, trust me. I volunteer with one of our local aid agencies, and it makes me sad to see how cowed some of the women are out here by regional societal expectations (teaching and nursing are pretty much acceptable outside of staying on the farm, that’s about it. Noble professions to be sure, but that’s like when my Mom graduated high school in the early 1960’s). I do whatever I can to make them believe they can do whatever they want to do and be happy doing it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t because the herd has a huge pull out here.

    And let me be very clear: I have NO problem with self-promotion. Everyone has to survive in this world, and you don’t do it by sitting back and waiting for good things to happen. My Mom says “everyone needs a gimmick” and “brains don’t pay” (as in, the guy with the half-decent business idea makes a shit-load of money, but someone with a PhD in biology with excellent research ideas struggles to find work).

    But I have a huge problem with people who parade their self-promotion behind a cause, and say that their self-promotion is okay because it’s for the cause. It diminishes the people who tirelessly work on the ground for that cause every day, instead of when they have time to Twitter about it.

    You want to talk about someone who has a cause and believes strongly in it and is trying to make things better? Talk to me about Josh Silver, a man I want to be when I grow up (if, you know, I didn’t have this pesky second X chromosome that prevents me from growing up to be a man). Points if you can tell me who Josh Silver is without clicking on his Wikipedia Bio.

    THAT to me is embracing a cause and doing something about it. People have offered him millions for his invention, and he’s passed. He actively chooses the route of social good that actually changes people’s lives. That, to me, is the shit.

    Angie Jackson did whatever it was she was going to do, but just did the electronic equivalent of talking about it at the neighborhood coffee klatsch. A really big fuckin’ coffee klatsch as it turns out, but that’s about it – she’s your incredibly TMI neighbor who found a bigger stage.

    Posting the process of a medically induced miscarriage may bring attention to the fact that any woman can find herself in a position to need an abortion, but that is overshadowed by the fact all she’s done is become known as the woman who posted her abortion on the internet. And that’s it. It does little to demystify abortion, but more to make it more polarizing. Which is a backwards step to me.

    It’s sad that some women don’t find abortion an option, but I don’t think it’s because they aren’t sure what will happen to them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it daily: no sane woman gets knocked up purely for the purpose of having an abortion. It is a horrible, horrible choice for a woman (or a couple) to make. It’s not even religious – inherently, most people value life, and you’re making a conscious decision to end life that is a part of you. That’s why it’s called the pro-choice movement, not the pro-abortion movement.

    Angie Jackson made several choices. The choice to abort. The choice to document. The choice to publicize her documentation. I totally support her choice to abort, and I’m totally behind the freedoms and rights to the documentation and publication. But don’t tell me that it helps the pro-choice movement overall, because I’m not buying it. It’s not cynicism, per se, but it is the fact that I spend most of my work day looking at Internet content and understanding how it impacts an audience from a sociological and psychological standpoint.

    This? This was designed to cause a kerfuffle. Sure, that publicizes a cause, but much of the time, people remember the kerfuffle, not what it was supposed to be helping.

  32. We can’t wait to have you here in Boston. But if you plan on doing any driving, get a really good map …

  33. I’m as pro-choice as they come, and I had some issues with Ms. Jackson’s decision. My larger problem is that this very situation has become so divisive. The hue and cry about all this leads me to feel as though I HAVE to be on her side because of my pro-choice views, and any criticisms I do have are a direct challenge to a woman’s right to choose.

    That said, I’m not a fan of the Salon article either, especially the tubal ligation comment, but I absolutely agree that pro-choice people should have the right to disagree with what Jackson did without being labelled anti-feminist or whatever. It’s getting very “you’re with us or you’re against us.”

  34. @Amanda: Good luck with grad school.It’s to bad you gotta leave Portland, we need more rational people here, not less. I think we should have a SitP/drinking Skepchickally/going away. Before you bale on us.

  35. I see a real problem with the penis push up.

    When a push up or padded bra comes off, there’s still beautiful breasts there and I’m still happy.

    When a penis pushup comes off, she may not be so happy.

  36. I’m really not comfortable with the whole “don’t give right wingers/anti-choicers ammunition.” argument with regard to tweeting about an abortion, or anything for that matter. It’s like saying if we California queers just shut up and played nice we’d have the right to marry now, thank you very much. Prop 8 happened for a variety of reasons that were not the fault of the GBLT community, and anti-choice laws are certainly not the fault of women who tweet or otherwise publicize their abortions.

  37. @Maddie_the_cat: I really agree with you. It feels very much like if you are quiet about abortions and if no one ever talks about having them then no one will ever take away that right. But that isn’t how it works. It isn’t like before this no one was trying to overturn RvW.

    Also I hate that the talk even relates to how “good” her reasons were. You know what? Should could have no reason at all and that should be fine.

  38. @Chasmosaur: Points if you can tell me who Josh Silver is without clicking on his Wikipedia Bio.

    I think that’s exactly the point I’m trying to make- most people don’t know who Josh Silver is. I’d be willing to bet that a lot more of the general public know who Angie Jackson is than know Josh Silver- and that’s why she’s being successful at what she’s set out to do. She’s gaining attention and demystifying abortion for the regular person.

  39. @rubbsdecvik:

    I enjoyed the pictures of those men, but I probably would have enjoyed them if they were wearing regular boxerbriefs. Make of that what you will.

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