“By reducing the story to one sign, the newspaper has also helped to jeopardize the health of every woman in this state. Oklahoma women, along with their physicians, should decide their health needs, not ideologically driven legislators.”-Kurt Hochenauer
The pedestrian fixation on what The Oklahoman has called a “vulgar” sign at the recent anti-personhood rally is just another way conservatives are marginalizing and attacking women here in Oklahoma.
Do any women who work at the newspaper use birth control? (I’ll go out on a limb here and bet that some do or have in the past.) That’s a legitimate question given how the newspaper covered the rally, at least judging from the NewsOK.com content.
The rally at the state capitol Tuesday, which attracted about 1,000 participants, was held to protest Senate Bill 1433, which has passed the senate. The anti-abortion bill grants rights to a fertilized egg in a woman’s womb. The bill, if passed, could outlaw forms of birth control, especially Plan B, and complicate the in vitro fertilization process for women trying to get pregnant. It could also lead, and this is not hyperbole, to an eventual ban on contraception here. Does anyone think conservatives will stop their assault on women’s bodies if this bill passes?
State Sens. Constance Johnson, an Oklahoma City Democrat, and Judy Eason McIntyre, a Tulsa Democrat, spoke at the rally. For a brief moment, after she spoke, McIntrye held up a sign brought by the protesters. The sign proclaimed, “If I wanted the government in my womb I’d fuck a senator.” It lasted no more than a few seconds. I know. I was there right in front of her when she help up the sign.
The rally lasted three hours and featured many speakers, including endocrinologist Dr. Eli Reshef, who spoke about the problems the proposed law would create for women trying to get pregnant using in vitro fertilization methods.
So how did The Oklahoman cover the story? This was one headline on a NewsOK.com story: “Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, of Tulsa, protests anti-abortion bill with F-word.” The story under the headline, which carried Megan Rolland’s byline, didn’t even note Reshef’s comments or other speakers. It didn’t even include comments from participants, some of whom were college students worried about birth control access.
For good measure, The Oklahoman followed up with an editorial calling the sign “vulgar” and arguing McIntyre’s action-again it lasted no more than a few seconds-a part of numerous “juvenile antics” among legislative Democrats.
Let’s set the record straight here: (1) McIntyre didn’t bring the sign. She simply saw it and waved it for a few seconds. (2) The crowd roared in approval when she waved the sign so it was unlikely the sign offended the vast majority of rally participants. (3) If the editors of The Oklahoman found the sign so “vulgar,” as they described it, then why did they run a photograph of it on their site?
Are the reporters and editors at The Oklahoman so detached from the real world that they don’t see the use of the f-word throughout our culture, especially on television or in films? Are they really that narrow-minded and pedestrian and offended? Or are they simply supporting the personhood bill?
So it’s the other way around. The way The Oklahoman covered the rally is vulgar. This is not just word play. The newspaper’s reductionist coverage and the bill are direct attacks on any woman who has ever practiced birth control in Oklahoma or has used the in vitro fertilization process to get pregnant or has had an abortion.
By reducing the story to one sign, the newspaper has also helped to jeopardize the health of every woman in this state. Oklahoma women, along with their physicians, should decide their health needs, not ideologically driven legislators.