Irin Carmon: Body Politics

Irin Carmon is a feminist blogger at Salon.com and an author. At Penn, she talked about the various difficulties women face to take control of their bodies, the politics that surround women rights, and hope she has for the future.

First, she claimed that the current abortion process for women is too difficult. Despite the fact that 18% of pregnancies become abortions, there is not enough support for women to carry through with the process. For example, majority of healthcare providers and counselors intend to change the woman’s mind, instead of supporting her through the process. Women usually have to wait 24 hours, causing her to lose time at work and stay overnight outside of town. While these things may seem insignificant, it can certainly impact poor women who have unstable jobs. Minors must inform parents or attain a judge’s approval before obtaining an abortion. Overall, Irin Carmon maintains that the abortion process is meant to make women feel guilty and embarrassed.

Second, Iris Carmon talked about why and how women’s rights became relevant in politics. First, she said that “Republicans got too honest”. The gaffes that Republican politicians made this past election season (“legitimate rape”, 47% comment) really show what they feel about women. It shows that women are limited to reproduction, that women lie about rapes, and that women should have no control over their bodies. Second, “Democrats stopped apologizing for being a women’s party”. Iris Carmon especially approved of President Obama’s stand on reproductive rights. For example, he endorses Planned Parenthood. He recognized that contraceptives is a health and economic issue, because pregnancy affects professional work.

I thought her third point was most provocative. Irin Carmon thought that this election was one of the most significant ones due to the rise in activism and networking amongst young women. For example, women protested against the Susan G. Komen foundation when it defunded Planned Parenthood. When it was noticed that a woman had not been a presidential debate moderator for twenty years, a woman was elected to become one for the second Obama vs. Romney debate. Overall, Carmon said that there is now a national and international network of feminism that is becoming more powerful. This point was most provocative and interesting because I have felt this rise in activism amongst young women on Penn campus. During this election season, I was stopped by more female than male students to register to vote. I remember two girls going around my dorm handing out reminder flyers to vote for Obama. Clearly, politics is no longer a “man’s game”, as Beauvoir once pointed out. I think it is great that women are becoming more active and powerful enough to change the status quo.

Although I enjoyed Iris Carmon’s talks, I could not help but wonder what political gaffes that the Democratic Party has made, and what that reveals about the party. What is the oppositional view of the liberal stance that Irin Carmon took in her talk? Can a conservative party ever support women’s rights?

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