I’m Just Saying

Contributed by Courtney Martin.
As you might imagine, when I interviewed Gloria Feldt, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and current independent writer/speaker, I heard some pretty amazing stories in her still slightly detectable Texan accent. Gloria was behind planning the largest march in history on the Washington Mall in April 2004.
But what stuck with me most profoundly is what she told me about the moment her own life became, well, her own. In her young twenties, struggling with three kids, she had almost given up ever pursuing her own goals…and then she discovered contraception. The pill was approved for contraceptive use by the FDA in 1960 and the whole frickin’ world changed.
I recently read artist Ann Fessler’s amazing book, The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade and it got me thinking all over again about how amazingly blessed I feel that, at 27, I have access to contraception—and as a result—access to my fullest life. I want to have children some day, but in the meantime, I’ve got a lot of shit I want to change in the world, a lot of stories I want to tell, and a lot of props to dish out. Thank you Margaret Sanger and Gloria Feldt and Estelle Griswold and William Baird and countless nameless others.

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60 Comments

  1. String_Bean_Jen
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Sweet. I was at a Planned Parenthood meeting in which Ms. Feldt was also at a few years ago. I didn’t speak to her personally, but the meeting was small enough that I swear I could feel her strength and energy radiating from her when she spoke. It was inspiring.
    Will your interview with her be available online or elsewhere, Courtney?

  2. Posted February 28, 2007 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the heads up on that book. I lost my uterus to cancer two years ago, and will have to adopt when I decide to have children.
    The prospect of all that red tape is devastating at times, but I think about the fact that there used to be a time when women had no choice and had to give their baby’s up for adoption. That was surely more devastating than any paperwork or home studies I may have to go through in the future.

  3. DDay
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    That book was outstanding; I couldn’t put it down.
    Unfortunately I borrowed it from the library so I can’t reread it like I want to now.

  4. EG
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Word. Thank you, feminism. Every so often I run into someone who asks me “If you could live in any time or place ever in the history of the world, when would it be?”
    I always answer that I would live here and now. Feminism, birth control, abortion, antibiotics, vaccinations, having basic human rights–no amount of seeing the original productions of Shakespeare could possibly be as good.

  5. SDstuck
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    The history of reproductive rights and how recent most of them came to be should be a required class for every person to graduate high school.
    I’m old enough to remember what it was like before. I don’t ever want to go back.

  6. Denise
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    PLEASE, please, please do NOT EVER have any children. I’ve been reading here for quite awhile and only recently bothered to write. I am what people should think of as a feminist. I think men and women should be treated equally and as if their value is equal. All of this other “hate men” and “smash the patriarchy” and socialist daydreams you people promote on here is just ridiculous. Men and women are equal — but different and this “there’s not difference between men and women” is the reason “feminism” fails to grasp any real following. You love to mislead and claim you don’t hate men but while you don’t flat out say it you imply it constantly. Like when you talk about training “men” not to rape. Huh? I guess that means all men are rapists unless they are trained… sigh, your slip shows constantly. So please don’t have any children, your hateful effect on them would be terrible. While I’m sure you’d abort any male in your womb we don’t need any more insecure man-haters in the world whose main problem is they just feel unattractive and are really, really mad at and jealous(and have been since middle school) of the “cute” girls. No real man would have a hater like you which is why you have wound up with that effeminate string of boy/men you’ve had relationships with so far. Your glad just to have any man and their happy they are finally getting laid upon demand. You really have to learn that spreading your legs fast to any man who pays attention to you does NOT mean your daddy finally loves you and it is NOT a feminist act. There have always been women of weak character and low self-esteem, end your cycle of it by doing all of us a favor and not reproducing.

  7. Scarlet
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Mmmh, Denise, do us all a favour and get out of the gene pool (and off your high horse).

  8. Denise
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Scarlet:
    I understand. Because “feminism” is only for socialist man-hating America-hating bitter women who toe the line, right? Well, sorry but most women do not hate men and they are not socialists who believe everything should be collectivized into the hands of the government and most women love their country. There is nothing “modern” about this “wave” of feminism. There have always been bitter women disappointed in their lot in life who refuse to look inward for the answer. Can you imagine living like these women on here? They live every second of their life scouring everything and every act for the “evil” effects and acts of “patriarchy”. Someone — I think it was Jessica and I am too lazy to look it up — told what she clearly thought was an impressive story about Samhita taking out a cigarette and not having a light. A nearby man attempted to give her a light but it didn’t work because it was windy or raining or some such other reason. And Samhita — rather than saying “thank you” – got mad and slapped the man’s hand away and said something like “fuck this patriarchal bullshit”. WHAT?! Wow, how juvenile and embarrassing! And what would she have said if the person offering the light had been a woman? Why did the man deserve that? Because all men are evil? Because all men are rapists? Jessica please do NOT have children, you spread enough hatred already without indoctrinating your own offspring.

  9. JustAnotherJane
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi Denise, I would love to comply with your request to not reproduce. Please tell me how this would be possible without contraception, abortion, and recognizing women’s autonomy over their own bodies. Ya know, just a couple of “ridiculous” things us “man haters” care about.

  10. Scarlet
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    I have no recollection of that story (but I’m too lazy to look it up as well), but I’d say you’re the one who seems bitter and hateful at the moment.
    Maybe using actual rational arguments instead of foaming-at-the-mouth rants would help.

  11. Scarlet
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi Denise, I would love to comply with your request to not reproduce. Please tell me how this would be possible without contraception, abortion, and recognizing women’s autonomy over their own bodies. Ya know, just a couple of “ridiculous” things us “man haters” care about.
    Hahah Yeah, I second that.

  12. anorak
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Oh Denise Denise (Blondie anybody?)
    JAJ makes a good point.
    Denise, do you vote?
    Drive a car?
    Go to college?
    Expect to be paid the same as your male peers?
    Use birth control?
    Not wear a corset?
    It’s only polite to say thank you when someone gives you something.
    I’m sure feminism is still waiting for your Thank You.

  13. EG
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t Denise troll another thread earlier on, levelling similar ad feminam attacks on the Feministing writers and their boyfriends?
    I can already hear Donna in my head telling me not to feed her.

  14. Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Noooo! Don’t feed the trolls!
    (I know it’s soooo tempting though, and truly great points by all you awesome man-hating, anti-America bitter ladies ;) )

  15. anorak
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    You’re so right EG, and I do try to avoid responding to trolls, but every now and then I can’t seem to help myself! I won’t do it again, promise ;-)
    Let’s hear it for feminist mothers and fathers raising feminist sons and daughters!
    Hip hip hooray!!!

  16. Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    hahaha, EG, I guess I beat Donna to it ;)

  17. EG
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I’m the number one guilty party when it comes to troll-feeding. You know how it is when they look at you pitifully with those big, brown eyes…that’s why I have to call upon Donna for strength!
    I’ll absolutely give it up for all the feminist parents out there–especially my own mother! Heh, if anything, I’m less of a radical leftist than she is.

  18. Denise
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks “JustAnotherJane”:
    What a wonderful question. And here’s the answer (but you aren’t going to like it!). Live your life as a responsible adult! That’s the answer. Don’t just keep spreading your legs every time you meet a man. See, it turns out that intercourse can result in babies. Isn’t that epiphanous? Even on birth control (which there is nothing wrong with) women get pregnant all the time. And — despite all the hatred and lies on here — when you are pregnant that is a baby, a human life growing inside you. Is a quick shag in the parking lot to show some new guy what a “feminist” you are really worth the murder of innocent baby later? It was men — and not men with the slightest interest in women or their rights — who convinced women that being sexually easily available to them was somehow a declaration of independence — a feminist act — for women. Its the same with abortion; men convinced women that abortion was a great solution for the easy sex they demanded women to provide. So Jane, keep your legs together and get to know a man emotionally and intellectually and spiritually. There are many ways to satisfy and express yourself and your partner sexually that doesn’t result in pregnancy. But, who am I kidding? The theory and thought on here is so juvenile and self-centered the idea of impulse control and the denial of self-indulgence is just unthinkable to the true believers here. Let’s just go back to hating and blaming men for everything. And keep murdering those babies, there’s nothing like getting knocked up and killing another innocent child to make a feminist statement! (But if some guilty as hell murderous, rapist pig is up for execution be sure to demand his life be spared!)

  19. Denise
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    TROLL
    The definition of TROLL:
    “Troll” is what you call someone when you have lost an internet argument to them. “Troll” is a “loser marker” (you can tell who is admitting they have lost an internet argument because all they can do is call the other a “troll”).
    A “troll” is what you call someone online when they have completely outmatched you in the engaged discourse and they possess superior facts and presentations skills. A smart person will avoid using the loser’s term “troll” because it is just an indication that the user has lost the argument.

  20. Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Hm.
    Gee, Denise, you mean it’s not fair when people identify you with terms you don’t think fit?
    Not that you’d ever, EVER be hypocritical like that.

  21. Scarlet
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    But wait… I thought we were just hairy-legged lesbians that no man wanted to shag anyway because, like, we’re too ugly and stuff???
    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go have sex with a perfect stranger just so I can get knocked up and murder an innocent baybeeee. I need something for breakfast.

  22. anorak
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Help me Law Fairy, help me EG, I’m slipping! I don’t know if i can stop…
    Law Fairy, quick with your anti-troll fairy dust!
    In the Blondie song, Debbie Harry is singing about a dude named Denis.
    Coincidence? I’m not so sure.
    I am now stepping away from the computer.
    In fact, I might just go lie in the street with my legs spread, and see who comes along.
    Any joiners?

  23. EG
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Is that a proposition, anorak? I knew we were all hairy-legged dykes!
    Hmm. Let me think of a good Blondie alternative for you…I like “Rip her to Shreds” but that could sound like encouragement for troll-feeding. What about…”The Tide is High”?

  24. JustAnotherJane
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    ::holds tongue, holds tongue, holds tongue::

  25. anorak
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I can’t remember if I’m a hairy-legged dyke who hates men, or a crazed hetero-nympho slut who eats cock for breakfast with a side of marmelade.
    Sometimes it’s hard to embody ALL the stereotypes at once.
    Maybe we need a roster.
    I bags Wednesdays for Uptight Virgin Librarian.

  26. Scarlet
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Where have all the quality trolls gone? None of them is even slightly entertaining anymore. *sighs*

  27. Scarlet
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I can’t remember if I’m a hairy-legged dyke who hates men, or a crazed hetero-nympho slut who eats cock for breakfast with a side of marmelade.
    Sometimes it’s hard to embody ALL the stereotypes at once.

    Word, anorak. Being a feminist IS hard work.

  28. EG
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m gonna opt for hairy-legged dyke. These days, crazed hetero-nympho slut might get me chained to a radiator.

  29. anorak
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    EG, nice one!
    As we say in NZ, goodonya!

  30. Mina
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    “Thanks ‘JustAnotherJane’:
    What a wonderful question. And here’s the answer (but you aren’t going to like it!). Live your life as a responsible adult! That’s the answer.”
    …in other words, have autonomy over your own body. Abstinence is one of the ways to avoid having children. It’s not available to many girls and women in the world who are raised by antifeminists, married off around menarche, raped by their husbands, and then giving birth over and over again no matter how few children (if any) they ever wanted.
    “So Jane, keep your legs together and get to know a man emotionally and intellectually and spiritually.”
    Ah, but Jane owes her ability to do *that* to feminism! Plenty of people throughout history and even today have thought that allowing one’s daughter to know a man emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually before the wedding night might as well be letting her have sex with him before the wedding night.

  31. Posted February 28, 2007 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Denise, a few pieces of advice.
    1. When you write your comments in one humongous paragraph, you’re begging people to skip them.
    2. Stare at a few tables of teen pregnancy in various developed countries before succumbing to the myth of “keep your legs closed.” If you don’t know what to look for in such a table, a) tell me and I’ll give you pointers, and b) stop trying to play above your league.
    3. Go to Pharyngula and patiently tell the regulars that they only call creationists trolls because they secretly know evolution didn’t happen.

  32. sojourner
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    “I’m gonna opt for hairy-legged dyke.â€? I am actually quite enjoying being hairy-legged right now; it keeps me warm during winter.
    Where are you Jessica? Please please ban this Denise person. He is out of control.

  33. Mina
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    “2. Stare at a few tables of teen pregnancy in various developed countries before succumbing to the myth of ‘keep your legs closed.’”
    Better yet, stare at a few tables of *marital* teen pregnancy before succumbing to that myth…

  34. ccall
    Posted February 28, 2007 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Denise, seriously – you went into a lot of angry detail about a cigarette-lighting anecdote between 2 people you don’t even know that was posted perhaps weeks ago. Not healthy.
    Also, could somebody explain the assertions/accusations that feminists are all socialists? Am I missing something?

  35. Genny
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Well, I myself (an attractive, 20 year old college student on birth control in a monogamous relationship with a man who adores my intellect and wit, not that I would have any reason to mention all that ;) am very glad for birth control to be widely available. My great-grandmother almost died trying to give herself a home abortion at one point because my great-grandfather complained about how many children they had. After she went to the hospital he told her that he’d rather have babies than not have her. She ended up having 9 children from 10 pregnancies.
    Being on birth control and having friends that have had abortions makes me glad I live in a time when these things are available, and greatful to the women who fought for them before me.

  36. tostartarevolution
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    Speaking of “Tbe Girls Who Went Away” I just wanted to say thank you Jessica. I first heard of the book on Feministing, promptly ran out to buy it and recently finished it. Being young I have no experience of the Pre-roe Era but this book opened my eyes to exactly what Roe V Wade did for women.
    It gave us one more right in determining the fate of own bodies and lives.
    and Denise
    you wouldn’t be allowed on a computer without your husband’s supervision if it weren’t for Feminism. So BACK OFF.
    Who thinks Denise is ACTUALLY a man?

  37. donna darko
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Hello. Has everyone noticed troll traffic has decreased significantly when we started ignoring them? It’s true that they really go away when you ignore them. Right now, there are only two trolls left. Ivy and Denise (who is most definitely a man. Ivy is a man too. Studies show trolls are overwhelmingly male.) Even when Ivy calls out your name. Don’t feed the trolls and all you have to say to warn others is Don’t feed the trolls. It works magnificently.

  38. SassyGirl
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Hmmmm…I wonder if my husband knows that I harbor hatred for him and our sons.

  39. tiphane
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Fessler’s book is fantastic, well written and heart wrenching. It made me so mad and so grateful to my foremother and forefathers who fought so hard so I could control my own body and my own fate. And to my peers who keep fighting every day. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.
    And thank you feminism for allowing me to be my own person, to have sex without fear of pregnany, to get an eductaion, to vote, to drive, to work in a formerly male-dominated field (aren’t they all), to own property, to express my opinion, even if I have to listen to trolls to do so.

  40. Denise
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Donna Darko:
    Busy day and I don’t have time to respond to you all right now, but I especially love you cowards who can only call names (“troll”) and call for me to be banned (nice move, Hitler).
    Donna, if you are of the fake feminist ilk on here, the man-hating “all men are evil and everything should be given to me because I am a woman and the patriarch is discriminating against me” type then I can see exactly what your husband is and what your poor sons will be. Your husband is very weak, feminine with no sense of masculinity and your sons will grow up hating themselves for being men.
    The reason the brand of feminism being offered for sale on this site (no wonder you complain about no one agreeing with you, because hardly anyone does!) has virtually zero takers is because its b.s.
    Despite what you say men and women should be equal in opportunity. Women are just as capable and strong as men. We don’t need things given to us just because we are female. We don’t need special protection because we are women. Just give us a chance, a fair chance and we’ll be fine.
    Your constant railing for special treatment from the “evil men” is silly and old and boring.
    And no matter what any of you say: there ARE differences between men and women and there always will be.
    And poor Donna’s husband and boys: don’t they deserve someone who respects them? This site is about hatred and making excuses for personal weaknesses and failures.
    Read Jessica’s writing. Her need for attention and validation from her daddy and men is so obvious that she is a walking cliche’. Jessica, get therapy from a REAL feminist therapist and she’ll explain that excuse making for your failures is not healthy: You are responsible for yourself, stop blaming men and dad.

  41. manda
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Denise, why are you so obsessed with Jessica’s relationship with her father? You have mentioned it several times on different posts and it’s more than a little creepy and (from everything I have read of the site for almost two years) completely unfounded.
    Are you sure you’re not the one with daddy issues? You certainly have problems with projecting your own insecurities onto others. It was annyoing at first, but now it’s just kinda sad.
    And to answer your question, tostartarevolution: who doesn’t! I’m voting for a “Save the Males” supporter.

  42. roymacIII
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    (nice move, Hitler)
    Annnnd, game over!
    Once again, thank you Godwin.

  43. Denise
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Manda:
    Then you aren’t a regular reader. Her problems and issues with her dad and men are what this site and all of her writings are about. Perhaps you don’t see it because you suffer from the same malady.
    Look, it is not normal to be like you people. You drip with self-hatred and distrust of and hatred of men. You seek acheivement absent work: things should just be granted to you based only on your sex.
    Men are always the enemy and we are all supposed to beleive that there is no difference between men and women. Also, ALL men are rapists (though recently one of the articles offered a ray of hope; perhaps men can be trained not to be rapists. Isn’t that good news?) and no matter the situation if it involves a man and a woman: then the man is wrong and inherently evil and the woman is angelic and always, always right.

  44. Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    roymac, you beat me to it :)
    Yay! We win!

  45. elektrodot
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    i dont know, the only hatred im feeling around here is coming from denise…

  46. EG
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Come on. Attacks on the site-editors’ looks, presumed sex lives, and boyfriends, and now a Godwin? Why isn’t this troll banned already? Please, Jessica? I’ll buy you a drink…

  47. Denise
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Godwin was invoked when the poster requested I be banned, which is a very Hitlerite action. Banning people for not toeing the party line is a common event on this site.
    Let’s see: ban those we disagree with, hate a large portion of our society, murder babies… this site is very, very Hitler-like.
    And ELECKTRODOT: Isn’t it revealing that my pointing out that men can not be generalized as “evil” and all men referred to as “rapists” is thought of by you as spreading “hate”? You think it is “hateful” of me not to think of men this way… you people are a mess…

  48. EG
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    No, Denise. Banning people who engage in ad hominem attacks from a website dedicated to actual discussion of ideas is not a Hitlerite action. Murdering millions of people because of their racial/ethnic/religious identity is a Hitlerite action. Try to keep up.
    Damn! My troll-ignoring shields went down…

  49. Vervain
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Godwin was invoked when the poster requested I be banned, which is a very Hitlerite action.
    Yeah, Hitler was always banning people from his blog.

  50. prairielily
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    You know, the trolls always say the same thing. I think I can summarize.
    1) You feminists think men and women are exactly the same, but they are not! Corollary: Feminism shouldn’t promote the needs because women are just as good as men. They just need to shut up and not demand equal treatment.
    2) All feminists are ugly, man-hating dykes, who can only attract effeminate men in touch with their feelings. FEELINGS?! Men don’t have feelings, except anger. It’s completely appalling for your husband to ASK you to make dinner when he’s coming home late, because his stomach feels like it’s going to eat itself by the time he gets home. He should arrive, slap you across the face, and scream, “BITCH, WHERE’S MY SANDWICH?!!!”
    3) Feminists would make terrible mothers, because they don’t understand how a REAL relationship is supposed to work (see #2 for instructions.) Their sons then grow up thinking their working mothers hate them, and their daughters end up feminists, too. Unless they reject their mother’s evil, evil values.
    4) Pretty feminists, like Jessica, are secretly out for male approval, despite denying it.
    5) It is ABSOLUTELY wrong to suggest that since rapists don’t generally wear signs declaring themselves to be rapists, any man could in fact BE A RAPIST. It is also wrong for us to try and provide support to rape victims, who are generally almost universally vilified and disbelieved. This means that feminists think that all women are perfectly angelic, and that all men are evil, all the time, except the “pussified” men that like to sleep with us and give us the approval we secretly crave.
    6) If women don’t want to get pregnant, they should just not have sex. Women who can’t afford to take care of the children they might have should also not have sex, and women who don’t have a husband to work for them while they stay at home also shouldn’t have sex. That means that the only people who ARE allowed to have sex are married, upperclass couples who tend to be white. No one else is allowed to give in to their biological impulses. After all, if ANYONE could have sex, we might as well live in Communist Russia.
    7) Women should always be sweet and accommodating, and never make a joke at the expense of men, or the patriarchy.
    Did I miss anything? If we put it all up on the front page, maybe the trolls will all vanish because they’ll realise how old and tired their act is.

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