Heterosexual male chauvinism thrives in oil-rich places like nowhere else.
Whether the evidence is brought to light by the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision to allow Texas to eliminate safe places where a woman can have an abortion; Afghanistan’s recent move toward returning to its traditional death by stoning for women committed of adultery; or the practice in Iraq of gluing shut gay men’s anuses, then rapidly forcing liquids down their throats until they literally explode, it is the oppressiveness of straight males in petroleum-rich lands that we can thank for much needless suffering by women and LGBT people around the globe today.
Take Texas (please): in one of their wonted 5-4 rulings, the Supreme Court’s conservative, male justices, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts were joined by the sometimes-moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy in letting stand a lower court’s ruling that lifted a stay on one of the most onerous impositions of fundamentalist views in abortion-rights history.
Now, as the constitutionality of Texas’ draconian anti-choice law is considered, the part of it that shuttered a third of the state’s clinics, thereby leaving 22,000 mostly poor or minority women without access to safe and legal abortion, will go forward.
Perhaps it is most telling that neither Justice Kennedy nor Chief Justice Roberts chose to join with the court’s rightist triumvirate in expressing their reasons for voting to chip away further at the erstwhile inalienable rights of American women.
Were Kennedy and Roberts too ashamed to sign on to Scalia’s written opinion, which states that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals correctly “concluded that the State was likely to prevail on the merits of the constitutional question…?” They should be.
As the New York Times editorial board noted, “the justices should have blocked the law as the appeal proceeds. The court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey forbids state regulations that have ‘the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus’ — a principle this provision clearly violates.”
But is it fair to compare the ultraconservative wings of the U.S. Supreme Court and conservatives in Texas with oppressors of women and sexual minorities in Afghanistan and Iraq? Perhaps it is not with the justices. Texas, however, is another matter.
After all, Texas is home to the hubris of a presumably mostly heterosexual, definitely mostly male, state legislature that has passed literally dozens upon dozens of bills in just the past two years, which would have sent women’s rights back to the stone age. Fortunately, only a handful of those have made it into law.
According to the Center for the American Woman and Politics’ National Council of State Legislatures, just twenty-one percent of legislators in Texas are women.
Texas is also a lovely place where news of anal and vaginal probing of women by state troopers has become routine. You probably picture this happening indoors at a detention facility—wrong!
In Texas, the latex gloves go on next to your car when you’re a woman who has been pulled over—on the highway—while the trooper’s paws delve deep into your Wranglers looking for “evidence” of whatever contraband you might keep in your vagina or other orifice. Look out women visitors to Texas; Uncle Rick’s troops’ve got a hankerin’ for your innards.
Of course, heterosexual-male oppression of women and LGBT people is de rigueur in most Middle Eastern countries, where murder, torture and servitude is forced upon just about anyone and everyone who is not heterosexual and male.
The aforementioned practice of sealing shut the anuses of men and boys who have been accused of being gay or bi, then filling them full of diuretic liquids until their guts explode, was reported in the Huffington Post by Jennifer Utz in 2010.
Equally revolting is the fact that now, after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan in which more than 2,150 American soldiers have given their lives as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Afghani government is poised to return a Taliban-era law calling for the stoning deaths of women convicted of adultery.
Rest assured, as the government of Hamid Karzai seeks to make overtures of reconciliation with the Taliban, there is no danger of stoning to death by adulterous males. Straight Afghani men, whose freedom has been fought for by American soldiers, many of who were women, and some of whom were gay, have no stoning mobs to fear.
In addition to the tyranny of the straight-male power structures of Texas, Afghanistan and Iraq, these three places have many other qualities in common: They’re all about the same size geographically; they’re all located roughly on the same lines of longitude; they all contain vast areas of desert and want for water; and they all have populations near thirty million.
Oh yeah, and they all have lots of oil.
Admittedly, drawing the conclusion that geography or geology (i.e., vast subterranean petroleum deposits) are the causes of bigotry in Texas, Afghanistan and Iraq would be absurd. So it must be religion, right? The problem with that conclusion is that plenty of other places are abidingly religious, and yet still not as oppressive to women and gays.
In fact, Iowa trumps Texas in the number of people who say they regularly attend church. Iowa is number eight in the nation in a recent Gallup poll, whereas Texas doesn’t even make the Top Ten of churchgoing populations. Yet Iowa allows same-sex couples to marry.
Furthermore, a district court judge in Iowa just ruled in favor of a stay on a state regulation that would have closed several clinics where certain types of abortions occur. Because of the Iowa judge’s ruling, women in that largely religious state have been spared the undue hardship and possibly life-threatening circumstances that an estimated 22,000 Texas women will suffer because a male Texan judge thinks he knows better than individual women about their own health care needs.
So if it’s not religion that makes conservative, straight males oppressive against women and LGBTs in Texas and the Middle East, maybe it is all that oil after all.