Unspeakable Rage

I am almost too upset about this to even write about it. So I’ll let Jaclyn Friedman do most of the talking via the Nation:

On Sunday, as nearly 100 million Americans gather to watch the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, they’ll be treated to something they’re probably not expecting: an ad speaking out against abortion. The spot, produced by the extreme right-wingers at Focus on the Family, features Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, who claims she was advised by doctors to abort fetal Tim but “chose life” instead.

Let us not forget that last week CBS turned down an ad for ManCrunch, a gay dating site for men. While ManCrunch is simply a product, and CBS traditionally takes ads for whichever products are willing to pay for them, the ad was turned down. On the other hand, CBS has a history of turning down “advocacy ads”, which the FoF ad is. WHAT THE FUCK. Why is CBS using this bully pulpit to indoctrinate men further with dreams of a stronger, better patriarchy?

I hate life right now. Go read the whole Nation article by Jaclyn Friedman, but here are two more of her thoughts from the article.

[T]he Focus on the Family ad [is] thirty seconds of squeaky-clean “family values” that make the astonishing claim that women shouldn’t have abortions because they might be gestating a future male sports star. There’s a lot wrong with this argument, not the least of which is the statistical reality that it’s significantly more likely that women who choose to carry their fetuses to term will give birth to rapists or murderers than to Heisman Trophy winners.


The ad becomes even more disturbing when we consider who it’s trying to reach. Assuming that Focus on the Family operates with the same mindset as most Super Bowl advertisers (and there’s really no evidence to suggest otherwise), it’s also safe to assume that men are one of the primary targets of this spot. So now what we’ve got is an ad telling men that it’s wrong for women to abort their potential children, lest those children not get the chance to grow up to be famous quarterbacks who paint Scripture references into their eyeblack.

4 thoughts on “Unspeakable Rage

  1. I’m really glad you posted about this.

    Planned Parenthood had a few responses up on Youtube to this:
    Sean James + Al Joyner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utcxpuHF7jg
    Cecile Richards: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abzJpxTjzZ0&NR=1

    One thing that irks me in the Jaclyn Friedman article is her point about how it’s statistically more likely that women will birth rapists/murderers than high-achieving sports players.

    I find that a REALLY crappy way of making an argument in favor of abortion: it reminds me of how the authors of Freakonomics basically did the same to say the real reason that the crime rate dropped from the 1970s to now is because abortion was legalized and all the would-be criminals were aborted. Given the way that abortion is – in certain ways – racialized/classed, it feels like a fear-mongering argument that our society is doomed if we don’t allow it to rid itself of the less desirable elements – which is what abortion conveniently allows to happen.

    Abortion (and family planning in general) has such an intertwined history with eugenics that I feel like still needs to be confronted. It’s weird: I do a lot of stuff around sex-worker rights and I feel like that remains in this contentious space where people are very unsure as to whether it can really be a choice or not. Whereas nowadays abortion is *definitely* viewed as a choice made by an individual person, and very little attention is paid to any oppressive structural factors that influence how a person makes this “choice.”

    I don’t want my stance to be unclear here: I am 100% for allowing people to make their own decisions (on both abortion and sex work) – I just think work needs to be done on our understanding of how race/class/etc impact a person’s experience of abortion, since oppression can play a role in how much one can really make her/his own decision anyway.

  2. Her article involved several points that I have been thinking about, but could not articulate as clearly as she did. I am deeply disturbed by the various messages being sent by this ad. So one rather privileged woman made the choice to give birth… Um, great for her? Really, that is great that she had that CHOICE and that it worked for her. However, what works for one woman does not work for all. The fact that she had/has money and support helped her decide, but don’t preach at or shame others who do not have those things or for whom having a kid(s) is an viable option now or in general.

    Also, interesting that amongst all the ads using women and their bodies there will now be an ad telling women to not get abortions. Although, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Just another way to let women know that their bodies are for men and men’s usages.

    As the author mentions, I am curious to know if Focus on the Family (which is a great name – focusing on only one type of family, eh?) will use any of the millions they will receive to actually truly help pregnant women. My guess is no.

  3. Bhavana-

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I too thought that particular sentence should have been edited out. For the reason you state and because it sounds hateful towards men.

    There is a common argument against the anti-abortion people: if you cared so much about children, or women, there are much more effective ways to prevent abortion than restricting women’s freedom to choose it. Reducing class and sex inequalities present themselves as immediate needs/answers. The much-heard responses of better sex ed and better access to contraception are still valid.

    However, I believe there are plenty of times where abortion can be freely chosen, not driven by some sort of necessity that could be alleviated in a better world.

    @Shenanigans: Yes, my FAVE argument against abortion is: “I chose birth, therefore YOU should be forced to give birth!” GREAT argument people. Stunning use of logic.

  4. i’m glad that comment was pointed out because that was the one i took issue with, too! i don’t find it to be a productive argument. so women just give birth to rapists and murderers, its not that various social issues influence people and their actions? huh. in that case its all genetics? not a compelling argument at all and takes the focus off where it should be within women’s reproductive rights discussions.

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