Janet “JudgyBitch” Bloomfield, lovely human being that she is, has resumed her harassment of feminist writer Jessica Valenti. Several months back, you may recall, the integrity-deficient Bloomfield tried to smear Valenti by Tweeting a series of made-up quotes she attributed to the writer.
The fact that the quotes were patently ridiculous, and utterly unlike anything Valenti has ever written, didn’t stop Bloomfield’s army of knucklehead followers from swallowing her lies whole – or, once informed that the quotes were fake, of declaring that they sounded like something someone like her would say.
On Monday, Bloomfield tweeted one of the more obviously fake Valenti quotes that’s been floating around online, and her followers once again responded with predictable outrage against Valenti. Their response included this lovely tweet below from a proud #GamerGater and rabid feminist-hater by the name of Sean Hudspeth:
Then something really weird happened. Apparently tired of having to defend posting her flagrantly libellous fake Valenti quotes, Bloomfield decided to post some quotes from Valenti that were … real.
Well, mostly real, in any case; one of the “quotes” Bloomfield used was actually a headline to an article of Valenti’s in the The Guardian. Presumably Bloomfield, who fancies herself a writer of some sort, is aware that editors, not authors, generally write the headlines. Or maybe not.
Aside from this little slipup, there’s just one teensy little problem with Bloomfield’s new approach to demonizing Valenti: when you quote things Valenti has actually written, even grossly out of context, they don’t sound much like the ravings of a manhater. They sound, you know, pretty … reasonable. And when you look at these quotes in context, in the articles they came from, they sound more reasonable still.
Here’s one of Bloomfield’s new memes, designed to portray Valenti as some sort of misandrist Ms. Scrooge:
Aside from the fact that the first line is the headline I was talking about – Valenti almost certainly didn’t write it – and that the second line is, you know, a jokey reference to the stresses of Christmas in her family, up to and including “cooking a multi-course meal for a small army of Italian-American relatives,” what on earth is wrong with suggesting that men share in the Christmas chores?
Indeed, if you actually take the couple of minutes it takes to read the article these “quotes” are from you will discover that Valenti is actually quite a big fan of Christmas, and that her allegedly terrible misandrist message to men is the following:
[A]s the women in your lives work their fingers to the bone to bring you holiday cheer, get up and lend a hand.
Seriously, asking dudes to wrap some presents isn’t the same as sending them to a feminazi reeducation camp.
Another of Bloomfield’s new memes highlights — and takes out of context — a deliberately provocative question from a book by Valenti, asking parents to reflect a little on the ambivalence and in some cases regret that many parents feel about having had children.
Unlike Men’s Rights Activists who want to be able to legally abandon their children though “paper abortions,” Valenti is not urging mothers (or fathers) to desert kids, just to think about the complex and conflicting emotions that parentood brings up – and to talk about them openly, in the hope that this will help other new parents, and those considering parenthood, to better understand the magnitude of what they’re taking on.
But it’s the third quote from Valenti that Bloomfield has chosen to highlight that is the most troubling. Not the quote itself – it’s utterly reasonable – but Bloomfield’s attempt to use it to smear Valenti.
Here’s Bloomfield’s meme-ified version of the quote:
While this is a severely truncated version of what Valenti wrote, with a good deal edited out in the middle, it’s a more-or-less reasonable simplification of Valenti’s basic argument: that her ability to get an abortion when she was in her twenties and far from ready for children helped her to pull together the life and career and marriage she has today – and, though she doesn’t put it this baldly, to provide a better life for the daughter she has now.
For what it’s worth, I agree completely: It is a good thing that women who aren’t ready to have children can end their pregnancies legally and safely. It’s good for them. It’s good for their partners. And it’s good for any future children that they might choose to have.
And if they choose to never have children, that’s perfectly fine as well. As Valenti argues, and as I agree, they don’t need to offer an explanation for their abortion or abortions to anyone.
I should add that abortion rights for women make my life better too. I don’t want children of my own, and birth control sometimes fails. And while I’ve never had a partner who’s gotten an abortion while I was dating them, I’m grateful that abortion is there as a backup.
I don’t owe anyone an explanation for this any more than Valenti does. But of course men aren’t generally asked to provide explanations for their partners’ abortions, while women who have abortions face all sorts of opprobrium for their choice, from nosy and judgemental relatives and from the Janet Bloomfields of the world.
Of course, all but the most backwards of abortion opponents will generally make an exception when the life of the mother is at stake.
And that’s what makes Bloomfield’s attack on Valenti even skeezier. Because, as Valenti explained in the very column that Bloomfield is quoting from, she not only had an abortion in her twenties when she wasn’t ready for kids, she had a second abortion in her thirties when her life literally was at stake.
As Valenti explained in a moving essay in 2011, her then-baby daughter and she were “a deadly combination before she was even born.” 28 weeks into the pregnancy, Valenti’s doctor discovered that she was suffering from a potentially deadly condition called pre-eclampsia and was confined to the hospital; she then developed an even more life-threatening complication that led to an emergency c-section and the premature birth of a dangerously underweight baby who needed months of intensive care and who, Valenti wrote, “looked like a baby that would die.”
Happily, both baby and mother survived the ordeal.
A few years later, when Valenti discovered that she was pregnant again, she realized that another abortion was really her only choice. As desperately as she wanted a second child, the risks were too great. You can read the story of her second, reluctant abortion here; it’s hard not to tear up reading it.
Attacking a woman for getting an abortion when she knows she’s not ready for a child is bad enough; attacking a woman for getting an abortion because her pregnancy may well kill her is, frankly, inhuman.