Women across America who are seeking abortions are accidentally booking appointments at crisis pregnancy centers—pro-life, government-funded religious centers that don’t provide abortions, but instead try to talk women out of terminating their pregnancies.
VICE News investigated the misleading practices used by crisis pregnancy centers to draw in women with unplanned pregnancies, and the misinformation that is spread to discourage them from pursuing abortions.
The Atheist Movement Needs to Disown Richard Dawkins
Atheist author, biologist, pioneer of the term “meme,” and noted sexist curmudgeon Richard Dawkins let fly a firestorm of tweets about rape this past Friday. Those, along with his statements from the past couple of years about this and other issues, make for pretty strong evidence that Dawkins is no longer the figuredhead the atheist movement needs or deserves.
A woman was alleging that a man raped her when she was too drunk to give consent, and Dawkins’ immediate response was the mainstay of all conservatives: what if she’s lying? Plenty of Dawkins’ Twitter followers agreed with him. It’s her word against his, they cried. Rape accusations are serious business, they cried.
Yes, rape accusations are serious business. Actually, accusing anyone of a crime, especially a violent crime, is serious business. That’s why we have court systems in place that determine, to the best of their abilities, whether a given accusation is most likely true or false. We have this for virtually every crime. So why are Dawkins and his ilk so preoccupied about false accusations of rape in a world full of false accusations?
Crowdfunding is all the rage for folks who are hungry for potato salad, or in need of some dough for their stupid orchestra, but sometimes people reach out to the masses out of desperation. Meet Bailey. Bailey needs an abortion. So she went to GoFundMe.com (tagline: “Crowdfunding for Everyone!”) to ask for $2,500 for the operation. Like anything remotely related to fetuses, it’s drawn some considerable attention in less than a week and was even removed from the site for a while.
Her GoFundMe page, originally titled the ”Stop Bailey From Breeding Fund,” informs visitors that “Bailey is currently unemployed, completely broke, in debt, and in no position to hold down a job due to severe symptoms of a rough, unplanned and unexpected pregnancy.” Having just moved to Chicago from Phoenix, Arizona, Bailey says she’s 23, likes to read and go to shows, and really, really doesn’t want to be a mom.
In the past, GoFundMe has been used for some pretty noble projects, such as collecting donations for one of the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and helping raise money to operate on the brain tumor of a morbidly obese 12-year-old. Somewhat more controversially, GoFundMe was used recently to support Officer Darren Wilson, who famously shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown, resulting in the Ferguson, Missouri demonstrations. I guess you could say the operators of GoFundMe aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
I called Bailey to ask about her plans to kickstart the termination her fetus.
VICE: Hi Bailey, how are you doing? I’m doing pretty well. How are you?
Can I ask who is the father? Can I say no to that?
Yeah, sure. OK, cool.
Sorry for stalking you, but Facebook tells me you’re dating someone named Lücifer Ryzing, right? Oh, no, that’s totally fine. I understand. There’s some other people who have figured out stuff, that don’t have any sort of good intentions, and they’re doing more intense things. [laughs] But yeah, Lücifer Ryzing is someone I’ve known for a long time, that I’m sweet with. He started the GoFundMe page. He’s the one that’s really managing that.
How far along are you with the pregnancy? I just got the ultrasound on Tuesday, the second of September and the ultrasound said 19 weeks and five days, but ultrasounds can be anywhere from seven to ten days off. It could be about 19 weeks, or I could be 20 weeks along exactly.
Everyone’s Losing Their Shit About a Nail Polish That Detects Date Rape Drugs
A lot people on the internet are dumb. This we can take for granted. But dig a little deeper, and behind your standard pickup artist or generic troll you’ll find another, more considered, breed of moron. These people are not hastily brainstorming which tabloid journalist’s tired career to revive via an onslaught of illegible sexist drivel; instead they see themselves as campaigners for social justice. These internet vigilantes are intent on scrubbing the world clean of anything remotely offensive to absolutely anyone anywhere. They make cartoons like this. They are the human equivalent of a red correcting pen.
I’m pointing this out because of nail varnish, weirdly. More specifically, a nail varnish that some North Carolina college students are developing that will enable people to dip their fingers into drinks and find out if they’ve been suddenly transformed into a Rohypnol on the rocks. This is a pretty “whatever” idea as long as you’re cool with using your finger to mix your drink—which to be honest most of us are because it’s often halfway down our throats trying to bring up the eight shots of tequila we knew weren’t a good idea for a weeknight. Unfortunately, the invention has been hit with a barrage of fury from across the internet, and I’m not completely sure why.
This is not an unbelievably earth-shattering concept. Nobody has suggested installing microchips into immigrants that explode when their visas expire, or mandatory mood rings for people with bipolar disorder. Sure, there are a bunch of issues at play, particularly whether this product could potentially encourage the dangerous idea that a woman who isn’t wearing it is putting herself at risk. But a hyper-awareness of that kind of horribly sexist, victim-blaming mentality should not stop research into products that simply make you feel safer in a situation where you may otherwise have felt vulnerable or concerned.
Basically I think this idea is a) fine and b) nowhere near as problematic as the UK government’s rape awareness posters that featured a (unforgivable phrase alert) “scantily-clad” woman with mascara dripping down her face.
But are things really that bad? In her new book, Girl Trouble, social historian and professor Carol Dyhouse argues that, although life’s always been pretty shitty for girls, it’s actually getting better. According to Dyhouse, without looking back at stereotypes and the way things were for women a century ago, it is impossible to understand the scope of the progress achieved by women’s liberation movements.
I caught up with Carol to talk about all the things that have made us the drinking, swearing, loose, career-driven women that we are.
VICE: Hi Carol, how did you get started with Girl Trouble? Carol: I’ve had a very long career teaching and researching women’s history and I wanted to bring it all together. History hasn’t been kind to girls. They’ve been underestimated and misrepresented. It’s hard to find out what was happening to them and how they felt about it. There’s always been masses of people all too ready to speak for girls, but it’s harder to get young women speaking for themselves, especially as you go back in time to the late Victorian period or the early half of the 20th century.
So the problem is that the people who were recording history are mostly male? Definitely. A good example is the British Medical Journal—you’d think this was quite a reputable source and yet what they say is quite shocking. They’re so quick to stereotype. In an article published in 1946, just after the war, one psychologist wrote; “They [good-time girls] spend a great deal of time on making up their faces and adorning themselves, although they do not trouble to wash and are sluttish about their undergarments. Their favorite reading matter consists of the weekly journals with the love lives of film stars and they live in a fantasy world of erotic glamor. Frequently, they’re a good deal more intelligent and sophisticated than their parents whom they outwit and despise.” It’s so negative and sexist. What were they so scared about? What I argue in that chapter is that there’s this category of female that was constructed out of male anxiety.
“There’s been much ado lately about pubic hair, from Cameron Diaz’s Body Book to Lady Gaga’s ‘au-naturel’ Candy magazine cover. Janeane Garofalo recently weighed in on the subject, and she is decidedly pro.” —Huffington Post
“If you are a woman brimming with pubic hair pride and you’ve been looking for someone to tell about it, Sunday is your lucky day.” —SFGate
“Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my pubic hair.” —The Bustle
A Google search for “pubic hair trends” reveals 187,000 results. Summer brings with it a veritable tsunami of bush-based thinkpieces, as columnists and feminists and ladybloggers and male writers hash out their thoughts on whatever “trend” exists for women’s body hair at the moment.
The Bustle piece quoted above—“Will The Full Bush Trend Continue Into Summer? Why Waxing Is Getting Even More Complicated”—is a perfect example of its kind. Its quick summary of pubes over the years, from the full bush to the Brazilian to the full-bush Brazilian, is followed by, well, this: “With ‘normcore’ pubes supposedly all the rage, will the beaches really be chockfull of women and their pubic hair this summer?” Can it be? Will we be applying #buzzword to #bodypart, and in #public? It concludes—as most pieces about pubic hair do—with a reminder that it really is a woman’s own choice, ultimately up to her.
Very personal, you know. Love your pubes, sisters. End thinkpiece.
But do we have to love our pubes? Is an apparently obligatory pride in our underbrush as unhelpful as the previously obligatory shame? Although certainly more positive, the end result is that we continue to endlessly dissect what’s happening in all of our ladygardens, instead of, say, our heads. Or even our beds.
Offline Activism Is the Tricky Part for #YesAllWomen
As with every mass shooting in the last decade, Elliot Rodger sparked a clash of ideologies. This being a misogyny-fueled massacre, instead of the usual gun debate, it provoked a nationwide Twitter war between anti-patriarchy feminists and a bunch of apologist white guys, with most tweets focusing on the fact that while not all men denigrate women, all women are denigrated by men, and culminating in the latest clicktivist hashtag #YesAllWomen. It’s a strong hashtag, and it has staying power, but does it have the potential to inspire people offline?
When a branch of the American Revolutionary Communist Party concerned with banning pornography for the benefit of women, called StopPatriarchy.com, organized a series of #YesAllWomen rallies in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Francisco, it meant another attempt at turning global social media awareness into community activism, in the hopes that the effort is broadcast somewhere, anywhere. Best case - recursively on social media; worst case - word of mouth. This cyclical advocacy happens fair often with little effect, #BringackOurGirls and #Kony2012 come to mind. Ralph Nader was right, “the Internet doesn’t do a very good job of motivating action.”
Coming on Camera: Beautiful Agony’s Orgasmic Non-Nude Porn
Hundreds of people around the world have seen Kamee* come. They’ve watched her lie down on her stomach and stare straight into the camera as she rubs her clit, her red lips forming the shape of a rapturous O. They’ve heard her quietly pant and moan as she climaxes, with her big brown eyes clenched tight. Every so often her eyes flicker up to the camera and smirk, and for a brief moment it’s easy to forget who’s actually watching whom.
“It’s not like I just want people to watch me come or anything like that,” Kamee told me. “I did it because I wanted to support a project that is a safe space for people who wouldn’t video-tape themselves doing something like this.”
That project is Beautiful Agony—also called “Facettes de La Petite Mort.” It’s an Australia-based erotic website that posts daily videos of people masturbating until they orgasm. The twist is that the videos are only filmed from the shoulders up, so all you see is a succession of O-faces. The videos are basically webcam versions of Andy Warhol’s experimental “Blow Job” short film. Anyone from a DDD-cup porn star to your 95-year-old granddad can submit a video of themselves getting their rocks off. The videos range from one-man shows to group circle jerks, but you never see what’s going on down below. The name “Beautiful Agony” speaks to the almost painful tension you feel right before you come, followed by a zen-like state. The beauty lies in watching people of all walks of life momentarily lose control in the best way.