The Jane Crow Dragnet

2024 is an interesting time to be a woman on Earth. Our gender is under attack. Nations are putting pressure on women to clean up the mess they’ve made of our world, while men go about business as usual. They need our biology. Mostly, they want us to have babies to feed their economies and build their armies. So, their big idea for how to save themselves is to use government to control women. This is gender oppression. Remember Jim Crow and think Jane Crow. The scarcity mindset has come for your uterus. Your daughter’s uterus. And your granddaughter’s uterus. Once gender oppression is put into public policy and the law, it is very hard to extinguish. In the US, we need to stop it now. Say no to Jane Crow.

Jim Crow was a post-Civil War system of rules and restrictions for Black people meant to keep them separate from White people and exclude them from economic opportunity. Jane Crow is the post-Civil Rights system Christian Nationalists are putting into place to stop women from avoiding pregnancy, and force them to carry every pregnancy to term, which will exclude their families from economic opportunity and endanger their lives. It’s already happening in Texas, Missouri, Idaho, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Indiana. And there is a push to make Jane Crow the law of the land. 

Systems of power collapse when there aren’t enough children to fuel them. In the prescient Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, a Hulu series originally published in1986, after global environmental collapse, to address the problem of population decline, authoritarian Christians take over the US government and shutdown access to women’s bank accounts to stop them from fleeing the country so the government can force them to breed. Business forms had check boxes for M and F. All they had to do was command the banks to close all the accounts marked F. Today artificial intelligence can be deployed against women through many avenues; financial services accounts and travel can easily be shut down. The technology to monitor women’s lives is already in place.  

I got a paper letter dated June 1st from the Tillamook cheese company that begins by saying Costco records indicate I bought “a 32 oz. twin-pack package of Tillamook Colby Jack and Tillamook Monterey Jack cheese slices (item number 651195) between May 9 and May 31, 2024.” The letter was a product safety warning. Good on them. But think about the technology that enabled that specificity. My identity, location, and personal shopping habits are public knowledge. Imagine that same process of automated information gathering applied to birth control pills, mifepristone, pharmacy prescriptions, tampons, condoms, vaginal lubricant, spermicide, and medical services. We accept surveillance as customer service and security, but it can be turned against us. Telephone use, email, internet browsing, purchases, insurance policies, driver licenses and motor vehicles, Social Security numbers, passports, tax forms, healthcare records and security cameras can be aggregated in data warehouses and searched by artificial intelligence to create a dossier for every uterus in the country. That’s the Jane Crow dragnet. You’re already in it.

Everybody knows right now planet Earth is a shitshow. We’re experiencing widespread collapse of the systems put in place in the last century by the men who rule the world. Industrial agriculture kills the soil. Industrial food kills our microbiome. Petroleum giants kill the sky. Globalization kills the oceans. Big pharma kills universal healthcare. Big banks kill affordable housing. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children. Insurance companies are running out of money to pay insurance claims. And the weather is stuck in a negative feedback loop producing atmospheric rivers, heat domes, and Tornado Alley. 

What’s the solution? For Christian Nationalists it’s persecute LGBTQ people and nonwhites, and force women to have more babies. Authoritarianism. Angry old White people get religion whenever the Bible has political efficacy. They rationalized Jim Crow for a century. Now they’re rationalizing Jane Crow. Just last week Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination representing 50,000 churches and 14 million people, voted to condemn the use of invitro fertilization, a technology that has produced eight million babies. They say they’re protecting human life, but these are the same people who routinely oppose child nutrition programs, universal pre-K, free school lunches, maternity leave, housing subsidies, and Medicare for all. They are hypocrites who plan to take away our freedoms in the name of their religion. Outlawing IVF is the first step toward personhood for embryos and a legal framework that criminalizes ending a pregnancy as murder. 

Gender oppression has always been there; it exists all over the world. Women in Afghanistan and Iran live with gender apartheid. In Korea, to organize against institutionalized misogyny, Korean women have started the 4B Movement. In the Korean language, the four Bs are words that in English we might call the “Four Nos” — no sex with men, no child-rearing, no dating men, and no marriage with men. It’s radical, but they’ve been pushed over the edge and no longer see the benefit of including men in their lives. To me it looks like gender apartheid coming full circle. I’m not advocating for 4B. Men are not the enemy. Women need men as allies. My life partner is a man. But I do appreciate the frustration of Korean women and I support their activism because we need to have the conversation about patriarchy. The dominance of one gender over the other swings the world out of balance. Sometimes it takes radicals to move people from extremes to the center where equilibrium can flourish.

In the US, on the second anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, June 24, 2024, the Women’s March organization is holding a General Women’s Strike. Some are calling it a Women’s Walkout. The demonstrations of support are No Spending, No Work, No School, Wear Red. It is chaordic, designed for individual action and may or may not include a rally or march. Check your zip code. 

The target of the Jane Crow dragnet isn’t just women’s bodies. Mothers, husbands, doctors, anyone who may help a woman get healthcare will be considered an accomplice to a crime. Some states are calling for the death penalty for women who have abortions. Some states are calling IVF murder. Some want to make birth control illegal and stop family planning. Imagine the chaos in the court system, the legal expenses, women incarcerated, families without mothers. Think about the economic impact of pulling women out of the work force and taking away household income. Standards of living will fall. Girls will grow up without the hope of self-determination. Husbands and fathers will be under pressure to earn more, work more, and spend less. Healthcare will crumble as the care of women is prosecuted. The numbers of OBGYN services, doctors, nurses, maternity care, doulas and midwives will diminish as they are dragged into legal battles. Insurance companies will withdraw coverage. Every miscarriage will be considered a crime until proven otherwise. Pregnant women will be public property, their bodies under scrutiny, their actions suspect, their complications ignored. Women will die. Are we going to let that happen? 

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9 thoughts on “The Jane Crow Dragnet

  1. Provocative piece BB, surely the only hope for womankind is if the DEMs swap out Joe for Hillary at the coming convention…Kamala would gladly step aside, noting that it was, after all “Hillary’s turn”. Then, friend Soros can reignite his funding of one global government run by women (or men who’ve completed their testosterone eradication treatments).
    BTW, you shouldn’t worry too much about vaginas in Costco databases… long before any meaningful conservative Christian outcomes the DOJ, NSA, HSA, and FBI will have detained all the “believers” and put them into Uyghur style vocational education and training centers.
    I love your big brain,

    1. Wow. That’s paleo. Personally, I’m non binary, a registered Independent, I swing both ways. Not going to wade through the gibberish. It’s way off topic.

  2. Horrifcally true, Bil. All of it. Not hyperbolic. Of course T and the Reds twist it back around saying projectioning. I was glad to have mild respite from this storm with all my Celtics anxiety and elation. Now back to all this. Love you. r

  3. I love your writing. I love your humor. But why, why , why are you now ruining your wonderful column with political commentary? It was a place I could go to commiserate on aging and life and men. But now, it’s just another depressing political rant. If your readers haven’t chosen their candidate by now, they must be living in a bubble. More humor please! More life experiences please! Anything but politics!!

    1. Oh, Patti, everything is political. Life is political. All the choices we make are political. I appreciate your praise of my writing. But there are people out there who read those same posts that you love, about aging and life and men, and they find them to be offensive because they pick apart gender norms, they gnaw at the foibles of men, and they invalidate tropes about getting old. Sometimes the truth disappoints. If it feels like just another depressing political rant to you, I send my regrets for your displeasure. Thanks for reading.

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