Bachmann argues that having rights is anti-freedom.

What Women Really Think
Sept. 6 2011 10:58 AM

Bachmann's Great Gaslight Adventure

Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images

One of the hardest things about listening to anti-choice politicians blather on is the gaslighting effect of it all.  Wikipedia has a great definition of "gaslighting": "a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim."  It was named after the 1938 play Gas Light, which features a husband dimming the gas lights in a home and denying to his wife that's what he's doing, in order to induce insanity and passivity in her.  It came straight to mind when I watched this video of Michele Bachmann at a Republican primary forum, where she trotted out the usual far-right nonsense that gets her so much attention.  

Bachmann hammers at how much she despises the right to an abortion, saying that she'll work to restrict abortion and even pass a constitutional amendment forcing pregnant women to give birth against their will, an amendment that anti-choice activists also hope will restrict access to female-controlled contraception such as birth control pills and IUDs, which they erroneously argue work by killing fertilized eggs.  (Pills work by preventing ovulation, and the current theory is IUDs cause the immune system to kill sperm.) She goes on to say that she, if president, would have some kind of showdown with the Supreme Court if they upheld a woman's right to choose, which sounds quite a bit like she's supporting a coup to strip the Supreme Court of its constitutional powers.  The contradiction between that and the constant bleating about the Founding Fathers certainly falls into the realm of gaslighting rhetoric, but the rationalization for doing so is, if anything, an even more terrible abuse of basic reality.  


"If the Supreme Court, by a plurality of the justices, may impose their own personal morality on the rest of the nation, then we are quite literally being ruled by those individuals," she argued. The problem with that statement is that by legalizing abortion, the court did exactly the opposite.  By legalizing abortion, they said that the government shouldn't impose a personal morality on women.  Bachmann is the one here who wants to impose her religious dogma about abortion on people who strongly disagree.  She's the one who wants to strip people of the basic religious liberty to determine their sexual and reproductive morality.  In no known universe did Roe v. Wade force women whose religious beliefs prevent abortion into having abortions.  But it did allow those whose personal religious beliefs allow for it to go ahead and have one.  The only way her argument makes sense is if you believe that fundamentalist Christians actually own the women of America, and therefore allowing women their own choices is violating fundie property rights.  I hope I don't have to spell out why "fundies don't get to force others to have babies!" is not actually a violation of the rights of fundamentalist Christians.

Right now, I'd give it even odds that Bachmann cracks and says, "Freedom is slavery" or "Ignorance is strength" before she loses the primary and moves on to her job as a talking head for Fox News. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

An Iranian Woman Was Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist. Can Activists Save Her?

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.


How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 2:08 PM We Need to Talk: Terrible Name, Good Show
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 1 2014 1:53 PM Slate Superfest East How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 3:01 PM Netizen Report: Hong Kong Protests Trigger Surveillance and Social Media Censorship
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 2:36 PM Climate Science Is Settled Enough The Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.