Future of Feminism: Flipping the Gender Script

Political and cultural debates over contraception and abortion loom large in the news these days, with a notable new twist. Instead of feminists being the butt of ridicule, the tables have turned. Comedians, pundits and even legislators are satirizing the extremism and sexism of anti-woman bills by flipping the gender script. Here are some recent legislative counter-proposals by women lawmakers:

–In late January, Virginia state senator Janet Howell tacked on an amendment to the proposed transvaginal ultrasound bill requiring that men seeking erectile dysfunction medication submit to a required rectal exam and cardiac stress test at their own expense (mirroring the ultrasound bill’s mandating of an unnecessary medical procedure women seeking an abortion would have to  pay for out of pocket). The amendment failed, but only by a narrow margin of 21-19.

–In early February, Oklahoma state senator Constance Johnson, added a “spilled semen” amendment onto the state’s proposed “personhood” bill. Obviously a sardonic protest rather than a true piece of legislation, it would deem “any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina … an action against an unborn child.”

–A week ago, Georgia state representative Yasmin Neal, backed by a group of other women legislators, authored a bill proposing that vasectomies should be made illegal, also in response to legislation restricting women’s access to abortions.

It is patently unfair,” Neal writes, “that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women’s ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States.

What’s particularly smart about these legislative interventions is how they call into question the government’s ability to infringe upon the rights of an entire class of individuals based on the idea that they’re not fit to make decisions for themselves. Remarkably, faced with these inversions of their own restrictive policies, many in the anti-contraception crowd still don’t see the irony. Let’s hope, though, that most Americans do.

Part Two in a Women’s History Month series celebrating organizations and ideas that represent the future of feminism.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Shirley Rude says:

    This is great!

  2. Cadenza says:

    I’m very grateful to Constance Johnson and Yasmin Neal for sponsoring parity legislation in their respective states. In my opinion, the current proposals for forced vaginal ultrasounds and other restrictive, biased, demeaning or other health care denying schemes are just that, a ruse. Schemes that may be provide guerrilla theater, but are ultimately aimed at freeing health care providers and insurance companies from providing all manner of services while hiding behind the velvet curtain of theologic morality. Any woman who is self paying for health insurance ( as I am) knows that as we hit certain age milestones, our annual health insurance costs increase rapidly. Mine have increased 30% over the last four years and I make infrequent visits to any doctor save for an annual pap, pelvic and mammogram.

    Health care firms, hospital corporations and pharmaceuticals represent over 50% of what is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. As long as health care in The US is bound to stockholders, women will remain at risk for adequate care. Someone who is living off the proceeds of their health care stock dividends may be pleased to see an uptick in the stock’s value. But many of us forego treatment to keep our premiums down and remain insured and we are not pleased.

  3. To think we endured illegal abortions in my day, breathed signs of relief when our periods came (as UC Berkeley students, we wanted to graduate, not become mothers), fought for legalized abortions only to have people fighting to make even contraception illegal today. Believe me, our boyfriends had to fork over the money for those illegal abortions; they were as relieved as we were when they became legal in 1972. Rush Limbaugh’s insults will give everyone the perspective they needed to respect women’s rights once again. 🙂

  4. christina says:

    Good, it’s about time that men get a taste of their own medicine, and viagra should not be covered by health insurance either. Men don’t like it when they are told what they can or can not do with their bodies, but they can tell women, hypocrites.

  5. This is wonderful. It shows how ridiculous the situation has become. Let’s get back to truly needed legislation rather than gender war.

  6. Our Press Release may be outta place here, but it didn’t fit any better other places, so please just listen up. Thank YOU! sandy oestreich, founder-pres., National Equal Rights Amendment Alliance Inc, with 300,000 members you don’t hear about bec. media is bought by the Republican Control Freak Legislators.

    Paralyzing The War on Women – ERA on the Frontlines!
    I wanted everyone to see the press release that went to all media outlets and 300.000 people!

    Unite Against the War on Women Press Release


    St. Petersburg FL–On March 8–International Women’s Day, The 300,000-member National ERA celebrates the first anniversary of the filing by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of HJRes47.

    This bill is intended to speed passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) that barely missed passing by three states’ ratification votes. The ERA is declared “still viable and contemporaneous” by several constitutional lawyer sources. The seven states now routinely filing ERA bills are said to welcome HJRes 47 as it proposes removal of any time limit from the original ERA Proposing Clause so that when three states ratify ERA, it would pass directly into the United States Constitution.

    Sandy Oestreich, who leads ratification legislation in Florida for the past twelve years says, “ERA passage would up-end the current ‘War Against Women’.”

    While it supports both bills, the National Equal Rights Amendment Alliance claims that HJRes 47 is an attractive, quicker alternative to the Maloney-Menendez “start-all-over” Congressional bills. Oestreich says her organization is single-issue, nonpartisan, non-sexist, and non-profit. “Though the Equal Rights Amendment itself does not regulate same-sex or abortion, we are making a strong stand against the legislative ‘War Against Women’ now raging across the nation. It is clearly an example of hate speech and sex discrimination. Nothing but an ERA will make that a violation of the U.S. Constitution:

    ‘Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.’/gender.”

    Sandy Oestreich is Founder-President of National Equal Rights Amendment Alliance; former elected official; Professor Emerita, Adelphi Univ., NY; Co-author, internationally distributed pharmacology reference text; Profiled in Feminists Who Changed America; Recipient, League of Women Voters Susan B. Anthony award, “Failure is Impossible”.


  7. Random man says:

    It’s unfortunate that the bill that recently passed in VA hasn’t been exposed properly. That bill, people, was introduced and championed by Kathy Byron. Yes, a woman. Congrats at perpetuating sexism. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

  8. For those who are intensely involved in anti-contraception, no logic flipping of the script will do anything. The hope is for those who are more complacent but being educated by this logic. When you are dealing with emotions, logic doesn’t speak to that. Even focusing on emotions will do nothing, until they are willing to question what they are feeling and why, and a person who thoroughly believes they are right rarely does question. The only other option is some kind of social enforcement, burden or oppression, but often this even drives the person deeper into their own emotional driven irrational antics. Having the scripts from a few that actually were changed and had change of heart on the issue and explaining how that actually happened does much more because there is a sense of relating. While I think this is humorous, and I think may have some impact, I think long term may be ineffective, because there IS a history of gender flipping, just not at this level, at this place and at this time. The consequences of ‘toying’ with the issue, opens the door for this playing with legislation that may prove extremely harmful. I hope the outcome is better than my views indicate.

  9. The male pill!

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