To get a sense of what kind of law Sandra Fluke would impose on all of us, it helps to consider her time as a leader of Cornell’s Students Acting for Gender Equality (SAGE). Fluke was involved with SAGE throughout her time at Cornell, serving as its treasurer and president.
Paul Ibrahim, a former president of the Cornell Coalition for Life (CCL) which tangled with SAGE over the issue of abortion, provided an assessment of just how radical the organization was that Fluke led. “One of the best decisions of my life was signing up for the SAGE discussion list,” he wrote. “Nothing has provided me with more entertainment…Some of these women spend four years doing nothing but complaining about the glass ceiling and lack of empowerment, but unfortunately, the organization continues to exist.” The group repeatedly counter-protested CCL events and called the pro-life students names, such as “racist” or “Nazis.”
In April 2003, Fluke and SAGE hosted Vivian Stromberg, a left-wing feminist and executive director of MADRE, a women’s group. While Stromberg likes to style herself as a feminist, in practice, she is a left-wing radical who uses the issue of women’s rights as a means of critiquing American foreign policy and men. Pro-Sandinista and a pro-Palestinian, Stromberg has rarely encountered a third-world tyranny she didn’t like. She callously criticized Harry Wu, an American citizen imprisoned by the Chinese Communist regime, for daring to draw attention to the Beijing regime. “The issue of an individual should not detract from an international effort to try to improve the lot of hundreds of millions of women,” she said, dismissive concerns over Wu and other political dissidents as a distraction campaign by the political right. She similarly attacked Cuban exile’s “pathological” “obsession” with the embargo.
Stromberg was a guest of SAGE and feminist professor, Andrea Parrot, for whom Fluke worked as a teaching assistant in Parrot’s course, Human Sexuality, and who invited Stromberg to lecture her Global Violence Against Women course. The Human Sexuality course, according to Cornell’s catalogue, “provides students with an understanding of the interactions and interrelationships of human behavior that influences sexual development and behavior.” It “focuses on the evolution of sexual norms, cross-cultural customs, legislation within changing sociopolitical systems, and delivery of services related to sexual issues, needs, and/or problems.” It even “addresses future trends in sexuality.”
Those trends include “human cloning”, which Parrot predicted in 2001 to Human Ecology will soon become normal for any number of reasons, like “gay couples who want to have children but are not able to adopt, or people who could adopt but don’t want to have all those complicated ties to a birthmother.” She even envisions a world where “we could stop having babies the normal way and start having them all in vitro, evaluating the genes of every single one of those embryos, then eliminating the ones that have any kind of defect at all.”
So committed is Parrot to the supposed right to the abortion that she morally equivocates over abortion when it comes to sex selection, treating it as a given that you might terminate a pregnancy in which there was a chance of a genetic disorder. “Nobody asks you why you’re having an abortion, or if they ask you, no matter what your answer is, they don’t say, ‘Well, too bad, that’s not a good enough reason; you can’t have an abortion.’ You can have an abortion for any reason you want to up until 12 weeks. One could argue that it’s one thing to abort a baby because it’s going to suffer a horrible death [from a genetic disorder] or have a horrible life, and it’s another thing to abort a baby just because it’s inconvenient, and it’s yet another thing to abort a baby because you don’t like what it’s going to look like, or it’s not going to be the right kind of athlete, or it won’t be the right gender.” Parrot acknowledged the “slipper slope” but equivocated on “where do you draw the line to say these are acceptable reasons to abort and these are not,” she said. “No matter where you stand, there are arguments on either side [of when to abort or not abort a child].”
Parrot, an icon among feminists, was one of the pioneers of the “date rape” movement and the originator of the much-debunked claim that one in four co-eds are the victims of an attempted or completed rape. She appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show in 2002 and further claimed, again without evidence, that one in three women in the general population will be victim of a rape or sexual assault. She has even argued that “psychological coercion” is rape, and she is chair of Cornell Advocates for Rape Education. Parrot’s definition of rape is also exceptionally broad. “Any sexual intercourse without mutual desire is a form of rape.” Women should be “on guard with every man,” she has warned.
Parrot also shares Fluke’s obsession with birth control. She sees the issues of war, AIDS, and poverty as the three biggest issues facing women today. “All of these monstrous issues are definitely affected by overpopulation.”
Fluke, who later became something of a professional feminist, had to have known of Parrot’s views and likely embraced them. She studied with Parrot, worked for Parrot, brought speakers to campus with Parrot, and majored in Parrot’s department–Policy Analysis & Management and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. They are even friends on Facebook. (Fluke’s profile, for those wondering, lists her as a fan of the band “Angry Feminists.”)
Ignoring–or worse, mocking–Sandra Fluke may not pay the political dividends that Republicans hope. The GOP ought to focus on exposing her and the Democrats’ cynical play at capturing the votes of America’s single women, which they know to be a rising demographic. For all the talk of government-funded contraception mandates what Democrats really seek is control through fear. Wasn’t the women’s movement supposed to be about empowerment?