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Are Sperm People? The Logic Behind Satirical Sex Legislation The Logic Behind Satirical Sex Legislation

When it's couched in terms of dystopian comedy, "it becomes crystal clear that what’s being done is ridiculous."


The day after Virginia passed legislation forcing women to have invasive ultrasounds before abortions, Wilmington, Delaware city councilwoman Loretta Walsh was feeling particularly feisty about a woman's right to choose. She made a quip during a council meeting that if we were giving more rights to fetuses than we were to the women carrying them, then sperm should have "personhood rights," too.

At 3 a.m., she was still awake.


"I just started drafting legislation," she says. "My original draft was much more... shall we say... obscene. It covered a wide array of procedures that men had to get done. It restricted access to Viagra—before it would be prescribed you’d have to have a stress test and an anal probe." She ended up drafting a bill that would make sperm "equal in the eyes of the government and be subject to the same laws and regulations as any other dependent minor and be protected against abuse, neglect or abandonment by the parent or guardian."

Walsh's legislation was just one of a spate of satirical bills and amendments proposed by Democratic legislators to protest the attack on women's access of abortion and birth control. The bills, along with the shrewd comedic skills of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Amy Poehler, have made clear that exposing the sheer absurdity of these laws is the best way to combat them.

"Many women are watching The View and Jon Stewart as some of their only sources of news," Walsh says. When it's couched in terms of dystopian comedy, "it becomes crystal clear that what’s being done is ridiculous."

In late January, Virginia State Senator Janet Howell proposed mandating rectal exams and cardiac stress tests for men seeking erectile dysfunction medication. (Her amendment failed by just two votes.) In response to a Georgia House bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Rep. Yasmin Neal suggested a bill outlawing most vasectomies because they leave "thousands of children… deprived of birth." A bill introduced by Ohio State Senator Nina Turner would compel men to undergo psychological screenings before getting prescriptions for impotence medication, arguing, "We must advocate for the traditional family." Such political statements have now taken place in seven states.

Oklahoma State Senator Constance Johnson, who wrote an amendment to a zygote-personhood bill asserting that ejaculating anywhere outside a woman's vagina constitutes "an action against an unborn child," says nothing lays bare the double standard better than this kind of protest. "Here’s a predominantly male group making decisions, and they don’t want to acknowledge their role in the dilemma," she says. "All of a sudden, [it becomes obvious when] we limit the choices of everybody."

Johnson and two other legislators who posed protest legislation say their tongue-in-cheek proposals have energized women everywhere—even conservatives. Johnson says she gets emails from all over the world, and "clear strangers" come up to her in Oklahoma every day.

The legislation has certainly been successful by many measures, inspiring rallies and petitions and making national news. But isn't it kind of depressing to waste legislative energy on bills that were never intended to pass?

"Maybe," says Missouri Rep. Stacey Newman, whose bill restricting access to vasectomies except for men risking death or serious bodily harm attracted eight other female cosponsors. "But we're not the ones wasting time." Newman says satire legislation might be the only way to neutralize very serious bills whose authors are intent on passing them. "Most of these bills are filed by men. No one thinks they are funny, no one thinks that's absurd."

In other words, the ease with which men pose extreme restrictions on women's health is what makes a mockery of our supposedly free and equal country, not cheeky legislation filed in response. If lawmakers want to control women's health, and they want to live in a just and fair society, they should be prepared for women to bring those two desires to their logical conclusions.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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