Victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and feminist-bashing are abhorrent coming from men, but they are exponentially worse coming from women. This column from The Daily Collegian, the college newspaper for the University of Massachusetts, was actually briefly taken offline because it was so offensive. (I’ll throw out a trigger warning right now.) The author is a young woman who believes that sometimes women deserve rape, contraception doesn’t affect abortion rates, and “feminist liberation” has turned everyone into nymphomaniacs. Shall we chronologically take a look at some of the claims?
1a. Planned Parenthood isn’t a charity
Author Yevgeniya Lomakina jumps right in, making blatantly wrong claims about Planned Parenthood and its services:
It is a business. It is not, however, a charitable organization, as it is portrayed by its many supporters. Their services are not free, although they may be cheaper than regular hospitals.
Actually, it is a charitable organization. A section 501(c)(3) organization that files tax forms in accordance with its tax-exempt, charitable status. I can see how this information would be difficult to find, considering it’s on the Planned Parenthood website, alongside the actual tax forms they file.
Also, did you know that “charitable organization” doesn’t mean that you just give stuff away for free? You see, it’s charitable because it offers low-cost services to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. It’s actually really helpful, because low-income women can get cancer screenings, prenatal care, pap tests, and contraception at reduced prices. I’m pretty sure the condoms are free, though.
1b. Planned Parenthood posts misleading/false information on its website
After proving that Planned Parenthood is in fact a business because it doesn’t do everything for free, the author next points out a glaring error in the numbers on the Planned Parenthood website:
According to the American Life League, Planned Parenthood performed 289,750 abortions in 2006. The number rose to 324,008 in 2008. However, the organization’s website misleads in reporting that abortions constitute only 3 percent of its services. In reality, it performs about 23 percent of all abortions performed each year in the U.S.
Now the numbers here are right (see the 2006-2007 annual report and this 2008 fact sheet), but they aren’t misleading or contradicting each other. The difference is that the 23 percent is Planned Parenthood’s abortion services compared with other abortion providers’ — the 3 percent is Planned Parenthood’s abortion services compared with other services within itself.
2. Sex is now shameless
The author writes:
Sex has become a service, like any other, but without fiscal exchange or shame. It is no longer associated with love, marriage or a committed relationship.
Really? Because I’m pretty sure that sentence is 100 percent slut-shaming, as is the entire column.
3. If you wear a short skirt, you deserve to get raped
By far, this assertion makes my blood boil more than anything:
If a young woman wears a promiscuous outfit to a party, then proceeds to drink and flirt excessively, she should not blame men for her downfall. She made a decision to dress a certain way, to consume alcohol and should be prepared to deal with the consequences. Far from being a victim of rape, she is a victim of her own choices.
Pardon my French, but that is fucking ridiculous. There is NO scenario in which a woman deserves to be raped. There is no time when a man has the right to force a woman to have sex with him against her will. There is no skirt length, alcohol level, or flirtation level — nothing. And it’s this kind of bullshit that blames women for wearing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing or drinking the wrong amount instead of pointing the finger at the rapist.
But our author is not the cold-hearted person she seems, as she does think rape is bad:
This is not to say that rape is inexistent. Sexual crimes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Rape exists, just not if you’re sexually active or flirtatious or wearing clothes that show too much skin. It’s only a crime when it happens to someone who has made good, moral choices, and then the rapist is a criminal. This makes me want to slam my head into my desk about 348 times.
4. Having sex with men is giving them the “upper hand”
The author writes:
With the easy accessibility of noncommittal sex, men have gained or recaptured the upper hand in relationships. Women, instead of acclaiming “sexual liberation” have received, at the least, a bad reputation.
Read my recent post about this idea of men having an “upper hand” because women will have casual sex with them. Also, let’s note the additional slut-shaming. You know, the “bad reputation” only comes because people associate women having casual sex as bad, and men having casual sex as good — they have the “upper hand” when they get it.
And why is women trading commitment for sex any better than women trading sex for sex? Why are people so attached to the notion that men won’t commit unless you withhold sex from them? Why is this entire article blaming women for wanting to have sex and giving men a pass for wanting to having sex?
5. Abortion and the morning-after pill are the same thing
An often-used political ploy is juxtaposing two things in hopes that the reader or listener begins to associate them with each other, without the speaker ever directly linking them:
Abortion is also viewed in a different way. For many, it is no longer a last resort for victims of rape or in other emergencies. It is simply regarded as “Plan B.” In a Planned Parenthood YouTube advertisement for the “morning after” pill, a woman states the scenarios in which the product may be useful.
Note the transition from abortion as a “Plan B” to the morning-after pill, commonly called “Plan B.” This is likely an attempt to lump together morning-after pills with abortion, but the morning-after pill is not the abortion pill. They are completely separate, and the morning-after pill doesn’t terminate pregnancies. The morning-after pill is over-the-counter; the abortion pill is not.
6. Birth control doesn’t prevent abortions
The author says it plain and simple:
More contraception does not translate to fewer abortions.
If you look in the aforementioned Planned Parenthood data (1b), there could be a correlation between less contraception and more abortions — in 2008, more abortions were performed but less contraception was given out at Planned Parenthood. Also, I can guarantee that less contraception will not translate to fewer abortions.
And actually, the abortion rate generally has been going down in recent years:
And considering contraceptive use has increased over this time frame, I’d say more contraception does translate to fewer abortions.
I’m glad the newspaper apologized for the article, and I’m also glad they put it back online. Even though their apology covered that it was reprehensible to suggest women are responsible for being raped and that other claims were inaccurate, I couldn’t help but expand on that further. Because despite the editors’ apology, it still somehow managed to get published, so we can’t gloss over the content that was originally deemed passable, and we have to look at it a little more critically.