You’re Beautiful When You’re Angry

Pink pill

Have you ever been in an argument with someone and realized they were just baiting you?  You know, saying stuff to get under your skin?  I’ve had this experience on many occasions, particularly when I was younger.  I can be quick-tempered, and I’ve known some people who will argue just to watch the fireworks.  I’ve even known some who purposely push buttons to rile us passionate types up.   Maybe they like the feeling of being in control of an argument, or maybe they just think we’re beautiful when we’re angry.

There’s an awful lot of this kind of baiting going on right now in the national conversation about birth control.  Old white men are venting about the ways in which birth control has hurt them.  One of them, Foster Freiss (a financial backer of Rick Santorum’s), has recently waxed nostalgic about the days when, in his memory, women put aspirin between their knees to prevent conception.

There are some people taking the bait.  Angry tweets are flying, and I have to admit, I’ve had a couple of quick-witted, quick-tempered retorts on the tip of my tongue.  Ah, but all my days of arguing—both passionately and logically—have taught me a thing or two about people who bait other people:

  1. They often bait others only for the sake of baiting them.  Half the time, they don’t even take their own arguments that seriously.
  2. As soon as you call them on their game, they drop the game.  This means that you can’t engage with any of the particulars of their argument.  You just let them know the gig is up.
  3. They are often scared, and they push other peoples’ buttons as a way to ward off their own fears and hide their vulnerabilities.

So I look at these gatherings of old white men who have apparently never worn a circle in the back of their wallets with a condom they were just sweating bullets in the hopes of using some glorious day, and I think this:  they don’t deserve the dignity of a response.

Apparently, there are some women who agree with me.  Two women who were in the room when Rep. Darrell Issa, the man who convened a Congressional panel to discuss the ways in which birth control has upset him, walked out of the room when he wouldn’t let a female law student speak.  The media has been sure to let us know that these women were Democrats, as if that was extremely important.  I don’t think this particular argument is partisan, my friends—I think it is specious.  Meaning the people trying to get us to take the bait are just plain silly.

And the best thing to do, in that case, is to leave the bait right where they flung it, and walk away.

6 thoughts on “You’re Beautiful When You’re Angry

  1. Stephanie says:

    Wait. Asprin? WTF?

    I’m totally quick-tempered about this, too, and I’ve loved your posts lately about these birth control issues. Here’s my stance: I just don’t get why people think it’s their business. It’s CONTRACEPTION! Abortion is a different matter entirely, and while I believe each woman should be able to make whatever decision she deems best for her (What if she’s raped and becomes pregnant that way? What if she can’t afford to support her unborn child?), I do understand both sides of the argument. It makes sense.

    But contraception isn’t about taking a life—it’s about preventing life from happening. While I understand that some religions encourage procreation, I don’t get why people are now trying to put restrictions on women’s use of birth control. Why can’t it be free? Why does the Catholic church think it has the right to deny it? I just don’t get it. Using contraception doesn’t hurt anyone, and if anything, it’s the smarter choice—the bigger responsibility, even more so than abstinence (few people are willing to do that, so might as well have a safe and smart alternative).

    Sure, it might go against the Church’s “moral beliefs,” but doesn’t sodomy?

    It seems that Congress wants to take all of women’s rights away, and here’s a scary thought: that’s been in a reality in other, less developed countries. Women have struggled to gain rights and then have had them stripped away as soon as someone new was put in power. It’s hard to consider America progressive when we’re facing the same threat—first abortion, now access to contraception. They apparently want us to have babies and go back to staying at home and being housewives (nothing wrong with that if that’s what the woman WANTS) while not having the financial means to raise those children because the economy is in turmoil. I don’t understand it—and women have an absolute right to be angry.


    • Elizabeth Hall Magill says:

      Stephanie, I’m currently reading a book called Sex, Mom, and God that details what can happen when you put misogyny, religion, and capitalism—e.g., money and power—in the same room. Consider this: we have never had a widespread debate, religious or otherwise, about the condom. Condoms are available cheaply from bathroom dispensers, like tampons. And they fit right in a man’s back pocket.

      While of course I support any choice a woman wants to make about her body—including the choice not to use contraception—AND I support freedom of religion, much of this debate is about sex, money, and power. Which means, in many ways, we’re still where we were when I was a baby–debating a woman’s power to choose what she can or cannot do with the way her equipment functions. But in many other ways, we have made so much progress. For one thing, we are all here, writing about these issues. Jon Stewart is mocking them. Women in positions of power are calling the game as they see it. These things, and the history of triumph that is the narrative of the movement for gender equality, give me hope that in the end, this will all settle down. But it may take a while.


  2. Melissa Yeager says:

    Honestly I’m terrified not to engage, Liz. I’ve spent most of the last few days in a flat out rage, and not a little panic. The pre-abortion ultrasound bill (VA House 462, I think) has me in the biggest rage, because it does not require a woman’s consent to a trans-vaginal ultrasound, and therefore is state sanctioned rape. It looks very much like this measure, and the ‘personhood’ bill, will pass the General Assembly, and the Governor has said that he will sign them. If we don’t engage to protect our rights, what then? Do you think that these laws are unenforceable? Or that they will fail in court?


    • Elizabeth Hall Magill says:

      I am worried and angry as well, Melissa. There are petitions you can find and sign–just look up the bills and “petition” and a couple will pop up. As to the question of enforcement, I have wondered about that–for example, how is the “personhood” bill going to play out in conjunction with the law requiring employers and health insurers to cover contraception? There are definitely some misogynistic movements afoot. But many, many people—men and women alike, in our government and outside it—are calling a spade a spade. All we can do is take any action available to us and keep track of what’s going on. And take our deep yoga breaths.


  3. BroadBlogs says:

    I wouldn’t take the bait on Santorum’s “aspirin” solution except that he’s running for President. And because many are not just baiting. They really are working toward repealing women’s right to contraception.

    Well, I take that back. I would take the bait because I sooo enjoy a good argument.


    • Elizabeth Hall Magill says:

      You’re absolutely right, Georgia–many are dead serious, and we need to take action when that is the case. Virginia has a couple of bills up right now that need to be taken very seriously–one that would define a blastula as a person and another that requires a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion. These bills are working toward repealing all kinds of rights,and need to be stopped.


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