A Recipe for Disaster

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Nov. 11 2009 2:22 PM

A Recipe for Disaster

Relax and enjoy it, ladies. Here comes the Progressive Democratic Party with another plan for you to take care of its needs.

I don’t actually care all that much about the women who will have to pay for their own abortions after Representative Stupak and the others added their amendment. There are only a few hundred thousand insured women needing abortions, compared with the millions of really poor women trying to buy their constitutional rights after the (Democratic) Congress took abortion out of Medicaid in 1976 with the Hyde Amendment. Hey, women rich or lucky enough to have private insurance, welcome to the crowd of the people who can’t protect their interests ("women"). Your fate was sealed when the Democrats sold out poor women 30 years ago. And women let them do it.

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We game theorists call people who let them do it "chickens." Remember "Chicken?" Two people get in cars and drive head on at each other. The first one to swerve is the chicken. He or she survives that time, sure, but after that? They’re stew. Nobody swerves when playing Chicken with someone they know is a chicken. So in every successive race, the chicken has to keep on swerving. Every time he swerves, he sinks a little lower.

The guys learned how to play Chicken watching old James Dean movies, if not driving their hot rods at one another in high school. Here’s how the legendary misogynist Philip Roth played Chicken with his wife, actress Claire Bloom: Early in their relationship, Roth insisted that Bloom's daughter Anna Steiger move out of her London home. "It wasn't about hatred for my daughter," Bloom reminisced years later in the November 1996 Vanity Fair .

He knew I would make any compromise to support our relationship . If I was willing to jettison my daughter in this manner, what could I ever deny him? I know I was diminishing my own character with each successive act of capitulation. These confrontations left me debilitated and unsure, and were to shape many of my future decisions.

In 1980, four years after the heavily Democratic Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, women rewarded the Democrats by voting more heavily Democratic than men did for the first time. If I was willing to jettison my daughter in this manner, what could I ever deny him? No one has been willing to stay the course against the anti-choice forces since. The federal government, under Democrats and Republicans alike, went on to cut off abortion funding from international aid (the Helms Amendment), costing millions of women around the world their health and often their lives. Slowly, they are driving at the remains of reproductive rights-parental consent, late-term abortion, now insurance for the bourgeoisie. Too often, the anti-choice vehicle is carrying Democratic men and the women who love them. This latest development is only the most visible example. That’s what it’s like when everyone knows you are chicken.

Maybe the women and their pro-choice allies in Congress will reach the gag level at last and withhold their votes from the Dems’ precious health care reform. Even Claire Bloom eventually moved out. Leaving Roth to live out his waning days alone.

Linda Hirshman is the author of the (entirely appropriately named)  Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution, coming June 5. www.gayvictorybook.com.

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