The Unfortunate State of Things

Jen Sorensen undertook the obvious point in the wake of the Supreme Court’s quixotic disaster otherwise known as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. And, yes, she wins the race on style.

Still, though, a question arises. To the one, we are Americans, and everyone knows just how undignified it would be if people actually acted like those depicted in the cartoon. To the other, we are Americans, and everyone knows just how undignified it is to behave that way unless one is a patriot using a gun to menace locals in the name of the Second Amendment, or shouting at, threatening, and assaulting women.

Savage JusticeThe truth is that no matter how much Justice Scalia might need to be tomatosmacked upside the head, it would be inappropriate to actually start chucking table vegetables.

Meanwhile, the question arises, looms, persists: Then what does it take?

The explanation for this is simple enough under a general psychoanalysis of history: We judge women’s humanity as a reflection of manhood.

There is a discussion percolating in liberal circles, one we hear from time to time but now presses both urgently and demonstrably: What is a “women’s issue”? I mean, aside from a menstrual euphemism?

The argument goes that, say, women’s reproductive health policy is a “healthcare” issue, not a “women’s” issue.

And, frankly, it’s hard to argue against that point. Same thing with sexual harassment and violence.

But where sexual harassment and violence are easy to classify as women’s issues because of the statistical reality—something Americans have never been particularly good at dealing with—women’s reproductive health as a policy issue is only separate from health care because it is judged in a comparative context to a men’s needs. It’s true, I don’t need hormonal birth control to prevent pregnancy. But it’s also true that very few women will ever need a little pill to deal with erectile dysfunction so that they can try to make a baby. And compared to the penis pills, which Hobby Lobby apparently covers, birth control is, medically speaking, far more important.

The point is that people’s health care needs are different; we might as well suggest that insurance shouldn’t cover hysterectomies since a man will never need one. And here we come to the human rights conundrum at the heart of it.

Simone de Beauvoir argued that there are two kinds of people, human beings and women, and when women try to act like human beings they are accused of trying to be like men.

Where the twenty-first century suggests she is wrong is that, at least in the United States, there are people, and then there are women. Our national history perpetually disdains the personhood of women under the law.

The comparison should be health care, and not, but … but … but I don’t need that medical service, so she shouldn’t either!

But it’s not. What the Supreme Court has done, on top of everything else, is declared that reality does not apply in these United States. That is to say, consider what happens when one decides to adopt an antiscientific stance in order to assert a right of conscience. After all, the objection to IUDs and hormonal birth control is based on a misnomer; while many refer to “life at conception”, what they really mean is “life at fertilization”.

This becomes especially important in the zygotal personhood debate. Ask advocates of Fertilization-Assigned Personhood [FAP] how they intend to reconcile the Equal Protection Clause of Amendment XIV when one “person” must assert equally protected rights within and, therefore, governance over another person. The lack of any coherent answer should, at the very least, be suggestive.

If history is any predictor, this is a fine time for FAP, as the functional resolution would seem to be that women simply are not people.


Sorensen, Jen. “Buffer Zone Buffoonery”. Daily Kos. 1 July 2014.

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