BEYOND THE PALE: misogyny has no place in District 9, in lawmaking or rhetoric

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 8.45.32 AMMandatory ultrasound laws take the anti-abortion protestor and put him inside the exam room with the patient. These laws are literally designed to give the anti-abortion protestor legal standing in the context of a woman’s medical setting, and to make her pay for it to boot. Any politician who votes for coerced medical procedures as a pretext for obtaining medical services needs to understand they forever give up their free pass on being progressive on women’s issues.

Contrary to what anti-choicers would have you believe, before this became law, it was already common practice to allow women the ability to view an ultrasound in an abortion setting. Mandatory ultrasound laws perpetuate the truly nasty myth that women’s healthcare providers hide information from women. A study conducted by Obstetrics & Gynecology found that in the study’s setting when given a choice, 42 percent of women chose to view the image. Of those who viewed the image, only 17 out of 15,575 chose not to proceed. And that’s great. We want more choices, not fewer, provided in the context of healthcare.

Of those studied, approximately 99 percent of women were not persuaded to forego the procedure. The whole point of mandatory ultrasounds is to shame women, and that’s misogynistic. It’s the opposite of nurturing of participatory healthcare setting.

Women’s healthcare as a whole is about making informed choices within a participatory doctor/patient relationship. Mandatory ultrasounds — performed without regard for mental health status, no less — are coercive, irresponsible and misogynist because the practice trades on the assumption that women are morons who are unable to make informed healthcare decisions for themselves.

In the case of Florida state Senator Darren Soto, running for Congress for Alan Grayson’s district, sending him to Washington would fly in the face to all who believe that women are full human beings who deserve to be free from state-sponsored shaming in the exam room. This is not an issue of abortion being “safe and rare,” it’s mandated paternalism that no true “progressive” friend of women’s rights should stand for.

With regard to Darren Soto in particular, we’re given the excuse that we have to put up withScreen Shot 2015-07-15 at 6.42.48 PM such votes because he represents a Hispanic community that is believed to be more conservative on this issue than others. But that’s simply not true. See this graph from a recent Pew Hispanic poll on Latino voters’ opinions on a range of subjects. Views on abortion track with the rest of the total U.S. population. There are only minor variations at either end of the scale of opinion on abortion.

This is no persuasive political pretext for a vote for mandatory ultrasounds. Ethnicity is either an ill-informed, or disingenuous excuse to deal a set-back to women’s reproductive health issues.

So what is one to think of a Democratic lawmaker who touts himself as Progressive, but votes to put anti-abortion protestors inside the exam room with women seeking healthcare services? Is he a friend of women? Does he represent Progressive leadership? Should he be sent to Washington to represent Alan Grayson’s district?

With regard to The War On Women, as it plays out political terms, it gets even more disturbing. Here you see an image has been circulating on social media by a high-profile Soto supporter that goes far beyond the pale of acceptable political discourse. In this image his Democratic opponent, and long-time progressive activist, Susannah Randolph’s is literally X’d out. There’s a twisted psychology here that is usually reserved for B-movie serial killers identifying their next victim.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 9.07.09 AM

One would hope that the Senator has already reached out to this leader and asked that the imagery be taken down, and the person has simply refused. As of this morning, it’s still circulating.

Given the threat of violence that women face in social media and in real life — especially for women in political life — this posturing should not just be frowned upon. It should be shunned, and the author should be asked to apologize. Let’s not encourage this behavior at any point in the campaign, let alone on the very first day the candidate’s run.

When the status of women as human beings isn’t a matter ideology — of a firm belief in what is right and wrong — it’s much more likely our issues and our votes will be traded for some other shiny object. It’s more likely that rhetoric heats up to fevered pitch, and it’s more likely for fringe elements to take all of that as license to take it too far.

Trading women’s issues for the support of social conservatives who shelter together with the Chamber of Commerce crowd is a familiar theme. Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 8.41.19 AMWith a 100 percent approval rating from the Chamber of Commerce, you can bet that Darren Soto touts his “small government” bona fides when it comes to business. But his vote on mandatory ultrasounds (as well as mandatory counseling) suggest he doesn’t understand women also have the right to be free from government intrusion.

Either a woman has the right to be the arbiter of what is right for her, or not. For someone who truly believes in a woman’s right to choose, and her right to exist free of coercion or threat of violence, there’s no horse-trading on this issue.

Trying to have it both ways puts you in some utterly ugly company.



Brook Hines is a writer, photographer, activist and former alt-weekly publisher, as well as an award-winning advertising creative with more than 20 years’ experience crafting strategy in “words + pictures” for clients ranging from banking and financial services to radical nuns. She’s the Senior Political Correspondent for Progressive News Network, the Communications Chair for the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, and the 2015-2016 Co-Chair of New Leaders Council, Orlando Chapter. All opinions offered here are her own. You can easily find Brook Hines on Facebook and Flickr. Read all of Brook’s articles here.


  1. dianecbrown · ·

    Taking Brooks word that Soto did, indeed, vote to require women in Florida to undergo an ultrasound and receive mandatory counseling before they could obtain an abortion, I am pleased that Brooke chose to write of this violation of women’s rights. I don’t buy Soto’s rationale for voting to require ultrasounds and mandatory counseling. At some point elected officials should follow their conscience, vice appeasing an assumed portion of constituents.

    However, I don’t agree with Brooks hyperbolic rhetoric that the doctored photo of Randolph, which Brooke describes as “literally X’d out” — well, yes, that is what an “X” across an image does. But her context implies a sadist intent behind the “X”. In fact, she further describes the supporter as having “twisted psychology…[of]…B-movie serial killers identifying their next victim.” Seriously? Maybe because I don’t watch fiction serial killer movies, but an “X” across a face, words, etc., is common place, like traffic signs.

    This happens often – an advocate who actually has a legitimate complaint takes the rhetoric too far and ends up overshadowing her valid message and destroying her credibility. And once again, Brooke fails to acknowledge that she is an official spokesperson of the Florida Democratic Progressive Caucus. Think about that. She goes over the top criticizing a politician as not being progressive without acknowledging this association. Either she is ashamed of her position with the FDPC or she doesn’t want the reader to know of her bias.


    1. From my bio: Brook Hines is a writer, photographer, activist and former alt-weekly publisher…She’s the Communications Chair for the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, the PR/Communications Chair for the Orange County Democratic Party, and the 2015-2016 Co-Chair of New Leaders Council, Orlando which is a leadership development organization for political entrepreneurs.


    2. Louis Rampart · ·

      You’re really off-base here.

      Sorry, but anyone engaging is childish, hateful nonsense like “X’ing out” women’s faces and suggesting they’re not of the “right” race to be running for a particular position in weirdo blood-read horror fonts is well outside of rational adult thought, never mind political discourse. If whoever created that is in any way affiliated with any Democrat or Democratic organization, they should be asked to remove themselves. Any candidate who’s “people” would forward anything like that is beneath our consideration.

      As far as the author’s various affiliations — you’ve got to be kidding? It’s right there in the bio, and even if it wasn’t, every single column on this website (and any other Democratically affiliated blog) obviously comes from someone engaged in one facet or another of the Democratic Party and liberal politics. You ought to apologize for your ridiculous accusation.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Jack Peters · ·

      Yes, I’m thinking about how you couldn’t be bothered to read the writer’s bio before showing your own credibility-destroying bias, Diane.

      How’s the hole in your foot feeling?


      Liked by 1 person

      1. dianecbrown · ·

        Jack, your reading comprehension is up there with the Tea Party crowd. I will do this in short succinct terms that you will hopefully understand: BROOKE DID NOT MENTION HER CONNECTION TO THE FL DEM PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS IN HER ARTICLE. Nor was there a link to her connection. Upon learning of her connection, one of average intelligence could conclude she was using her access to this blog to promote her caucus.


      2. By not mentioning all my affiliations, I’m thereby promoting those affiliations. Got it.


    4. Naoya6161 · ·

      I do believe Diane here has a valid point. This article engages in far too much hyperbole for me to take it seriously…as per usual.
      And you don’t outright insult someone for asking a question about the source.


      1. Ralph W. · ·

        1. You need to stop stalking this author’s posts, “Naoya.” You never have a positive thing to say or a reasonable point to make.

        2. Being in the Progressive Caucus isn’t a conflict of interest for a writer on a Democratic blog, anymore than being a Bay County conservative would be. So It isn’t “a question about the source” to accuse someone of being unqualified to speak because you don’t personally trust progressives, or to suggest someone is hiding something for not for mentioning all of their Democratic affiliations in an article. On. A. Democratic. Blog.


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Naoya6161 · ·

        “Nothing positive”? How amusing… I can say that of several people who post here. Like those two posts I saw just now.


      3. dianecbrown · ·

        Sigh, another commenter with low comprehensive skills. RALPH, contrary to your allegation, I did NOT accuse Brooke of being “unqualified.” in case you have not noticed, it is a long-held, common practice for people who write opinion PIECES (not just comments) in newspapers, on blogs, to identify connection to the subject matter. Newspapers often do this even when the opinion writer doesn’t. The purpose is to allow the reader to determine for themselves if the opinion is free from bias.

        Brooke is not just a blogger. She is one of only two people that I have observed who are entitled to post on this site as much and often as they like. Other opinion writers are “guests.” Brooke is not just a progressive, or just a member of the Progressive Caucus. Again, if able to comprehend what one reads, you would have read in her LATER posted bio that she is an OFFICIAL of the Caucus – the Communications Chair. After reading Brookes articles, I leaned her affiliation with the Caucus in a newspaper article that quoted her as the “spokesperson.”

        I did NOT say it was wrong for a progressive to write an opinion/article about one they consider anti-progressive — AS LONG AS THEY INCLUDE A DISCLAIMER in the article. If you had decent reading skills YOU WOULD HAVE NOTICED I said I was PLEASED that Brooke had written about Soto’s votes on the abortion issue. Definition of “pleased” is happy, glad, approved.

        Lastly, do you envision yourself a psychic? I cannot imagine any other reason your would ASSUME I don’t “trust progressives” in the broadest sense. I AM A PROGRESSIVE. And a Populist. I probably agree with Brooke’s positions on progressive policies. And my Bay County friends would roll over in laughter at the idea someone would accuse me of being a “conservative.” But I believe no matter your political leanings, the most important thing when you speak to the public is that you are above board about any potential bias.


    5. Ralph W. · ·

      No, Diane, it’s not a “long-held, common practice” for someone writing an opinion piece on a Democratic website to disclaim all of their liberal, Democratic affiliations within the piece itself.

      That’s not a thing.

      You seem to be thinking about, and misunderstanding, the idea of conflict of interest, where someone making a representation has some pecuniary motive very likely to color the position they are taking. An oil company executive writing a piece about how safe fracking is would need to disclose their close connection to the subject matter for all to consider.

      A progressive posting progressive views on a progressive website is not somehow hiding the ball. We don’t need to be “warned” about members of the Progressive Caucus lurking about. Being a progressive is not an insidious motive that warrants additional scrutiny, for Pete’s sake.

      They belong here.

      You’re already wrong because the author included her role in the Progressive Caucus in her bio, and you’re doubly wrong for maintaining she should have to disclaim it in every piece she writes as though it was some kind of disqualifying factor.

      Nobody thinks that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Naoya6161 · ·

        Actually, it does matter to me that Brook is a spokesperson for the Florida Progressive Caucus. Spokespeople do tend to reflect the views of the majority of the people they represent. And considering all the hyperbole she tends to use in these articles, not to mention the frequent hit pieces l, tells me that the Florida Progressive Caucus likely shares a lot of these views – which gives me all the more reason to distrust them.
        Also? Diane never said anything about the lack of a disclaimer being a disqualifying factor. She was saying how that means the article has a strong bias and can’t be called objective – something a serious news article has. Not everyone is honestly going to read the bio section – so I can see why Diane would expect a disclaimer.


      2. You’re visiting an online *opinion* publication. It’s not a news site. I think most people are aware of that, but I wanted to let you know personally, in response, just so there’s no confusion.


      3. Naoya6161 · ·

        I’m sorry, were you trying to make a point here? My main point was just that the obvious bias here, among other factors, contributes to why I can’t take this article all that seriously. Doesn’t really matter to me what format it is.


      4. dianecbrown · ·

        Jack, I hate to be personal but you don’t leave much room for commonsense exchange. The pettiness of your continued baseless arguments are dumbfounding. You simply cannot comprehend that I did not say Brooke “should disclose all her liberal, democratic affiliations,” – just the one related to the article.
        Perhaps your reading experience has been limited, but, yes, it is a “thing” to provide a disclaimer either at the beginning, within, or at the end of an article or opinion piece that touches on a matter in which you have a personal interest. Her article attacks Soto for not being a true “Progressive” (sic – with a big “P”). Where is Brooke’s bio? In a link from her name under the headline? The reader should not have to look up the biography for every writer of every article they read. A simple disclosure of any interest related to the subject matter should be in plain sight.
        A problem is you are not able to separate in your mind Brooke’s position as a writer for this blog from your position or any other who “comments” on the articles. Further, conflicts of interest are not limited to “pecuniary” interests as you seem to think. Although I don’t know if Brooke is paid by the Progressive Caucus for her PR work, including “hit” pieces on candidates who the Caucus opposes. Conflicts of interest arise over all types of value issues.
        Where did you get the idea this is a “progressive website”? I have not seen any notice, or disclaimer, or claim on the website that Florida Squeeze is a “progressive” site. I thought it was just a Democratic site, available for any Dem to comment on or submit a guest article. If I missed it, please tell me where the notice is.
        Can we PLEASE put to rest your crazy interpretation that I said Brooke’s affiliation with the Progressive Caucus DISQUALIFIES her from writing articles about progressive issues? Disclosing a writer’s personal connection to their article would not be a disqualifying factor at all. It simply alerts the reader that the writer has a personal interest in the subject matter, e.g., every piece I read by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, on abortion, here title is includes so readers know she has an interest in the subject.
        Naoya has made several very good points (more succinctly than I) that you should think about also.
        BTW, if you don’t stop referring to me as “conservative,” I just may have to sue you for libel. Ha Ha Ha. Just kidding.


      5. Jack Peters · ·

        (Replying to Diane’s comment here in Ralph W.’s thread, apparently directed to me).

        Sheesh. 😉

        Well, no. That’s not how that works, Diane. The author’s bio says she’s in several different groups. There’s no indication she’s speaking in an official capacity, as with your Planned Parenthood example, for any of them.

        So unless you’re trying to say the author was somehow “really” speaking in an official capacity, which I don’t see how you would have the knowledge or authority to speak on, it would be wrong for her to have to have claimed to speak for any of those groups.

        Also, you seem to be confusing how “bias” works.

        This is an opinion blog. It’s all editorial. That’s all they do here. So nobody is getting away with anything by giving their slanted, personal, through-their-own-eyes point of view. That’s what every single piece on an opinion blog does, every single time.

        In every case, every opinion piece you have ever seen on this blog, “touches on a matter in which you [the author] have a personal interest.”

        I guess you’re trying to say that if you know someone is in the Progressive Caucus, you already suspect you don’t agree with them?

        That’s totally fine, of course, but that’s actually *your* bias.


    6. Jack Peters · ·

      So, to be clear, Diane, you believe that an opinion written by someone in the Progressive Caucus, even one with which you purport to agree, requires a special disclaimer of some kind?

      And, it’s even good enough that’s shown clearly in a writer’s bio, because you don’t feel you should have to read those, or it’s not a strong enough warning of possible progressive opinions?

      Because Progressivism, as we know, requires a warning label, much like DDT or a raunchy movie:

      “CAUTION: Author is a Progressive Person. The opinions that follow may serve the Progressive Agenda, which may be distasteful to viewers of Fox News. Pro-choice and anti-misogyny views may follow. Conservative discretion advised.”

      Seriously, though, if we’re going to do that, can we get one of those warning labels for Bay County conservative Democrats who come here and yell at everyone, too?

      I kid. But seriously, stop it.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for responding and acting quickly.

    We’ve already had one congresswoman shot. We don’t need another nut case xing out a woman and pushing a nut case with a gun.

    Are these boys who can’t discuss issues? They are not acting like grown ups.

    They also can’t realize that a past defines a future.

    We are all watching.


  3. Absolutely offensive! And in not talking about Soto. The author of this article exemplifies the abusive divisive behavior that is fragmenting and destroying the Democratic Party.

    I’m one Democrat sick and tired of attack politics based solely on angry a group with this type of hate.

    You can’t win elections vilifying men.

    Shame on you.


    1. dianecbrown · ·

      You know what, Duh, I AGREE with you — I am sick and tired of Democrats trying to destroy other Democrats with outrageous claims, like accusing him of being aligned with people who would portray his opponent as a potential victim of a serial killer. GET A GRIP PEOPLE!!


  4. J. Byrd · ·

    A good piece on a grim subject. This needs saying.

    I will never vote for anyone who ever supported mandatory ultrasounds, “counseling,” waiting periods, or any other anti-abortion measure, or who has any way waffled on women’s reproductive rights, period. There is no transactional “horse trading” that is acceptable on the issue of women’s health and reproductive rights, at all, ever.

    None of us should tolerate any of the creepy, misogynistic Republican obsession with undermining the Constitutional right to privacy and endangering women’s health, nor is it in any form or fashion an excuse to claim there some kind of “Hispanic” sympathy for those disgusting notions; there is not, as the poll in the piece demonstrates.

    That Facebook meme with the red “X” over Ms. Randolph’s face and the crazy bloody looking lettering and weirdly racist sentiment is demented and far beyond the pale indeed, and borders on a criminal threat in my mind. Whoever created that is a disturbed nut, and anyone passing it along needs to take a long look at themselves and think about what kind of person they wish to be, and what kind of discussion is appropriate for sane adults to have regarding elections and politics. I don’t have any indication that Darren Soto seeks or accepts support from racists or sexists, but even the fact that part of the nut brigade thinks he’s their “guy” is disturbing.

    Soto needs to distance himself from anyone who has a problem with women or with women’s right to unfettered, unfiltered, unadulterated access to any and all healthcare they need, including the full panoply of reproductive care. I do not know a single Democratic, man or woman, who would get within 10 miles of a candidate okay with any kind of anti-abortion measure, least of all these Republican ploys to suggest women need “counseling” or “reminders” before seeking an abortion, which is their business alone.

    I have had it with women’s health and lives beyond tossed carelessly under every passing bus to appease a small group of extremists. Republicans pule about their fear of government “getting between people and their doctors” when we merely extend benefits under government programs, then immediately turn around and legislate medically unnecessary procedures implying that both doctors and women need advice from sexists and religious extremists. You know you’re on the wrong side when you’re giving doctors invented “scripts” to replace the training and judgment they have acquired over decades of education and experience.

    ENOUGH. NO anti-woman, anti-abortion measures are acceptable from ANY Democratic candidate, period. Nor is any kind of campaigning, formal or “Facebook,” suggesting personal hatred or animosity for women or people of any ethnicity. Anyone associated with anything of the kind is unworthy of our party or our community, and is marking themselves unworthy of anything but our contempt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ron Baldwin · ·

    DuhDem, for too long the FDP and too many Democrats have been toasting marshmellows around the campfire and singing Kumbaya instead of standing up and weeding out the Republican Lites in our Party, such as Darren Soto. And unmasking the wolves in sheep’s clothing, such as Darren Soto, is sorely needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So basically I just scrolled through at least a dozen comments that were focused on Brook Hines rather than the subject of the article itself. The fact that Soto has voted not only for mandated ultrasounds but ahs also voted against women and CHILDREN by voting for the alimony/custody bill that was nearly passed this time around. People (women and men) worry about too much interference with a woman’s right to privacy in a medical setting. The government should stay out of that. But the government is also getting it VERY wrong with women and children in the context of divorces as well. The legislature had nothing in their recent bills (both in the Senate and the House) in regards to safeguards for victims of child abuse and domestic violence when it comes to alimony, child support and where a child will live if his/her parents divorce. I realize divorce is a nasty business, nobody likes talking about it. But when you have kids suffering, kids who are having Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) from the aftermath of divorce, when you have children being killed by abusive parents (Phoebe Jonchuck), when you have women being assaulted in ever increasing numbers, and when you have huge lobby groups for these same abusers who will go to any lengths to silence those who will speak out about this issue – you cannot sit silently by. I invite every here to read sign up for email alerts, and joining the public stop abuse campaign facebook group to learn what you can do to end the Adverse Childhood Experiences of children, and give a child a happy life. Start by realizing that Soto is NOT progressive – and a wolf in sheep’s clothing will slaughter the herd every time.


    1. dianecbrown · ·

      Jen, thanks for sharing this information. I got a look at the stop abuse homepage before my McAfee security popped up with a warning. Perhaps you could alert the group of a potential problem. I saw the photo of all the kids holding the puppet connected to to show, and thought what a great idea. Gives the kids someone to hold on to when under threat, a “friend” to talk through their situation, and a reminder of what they learned to do from the show. I will try to get back on in a couple of weeks and will share with local teachers I know. Again, thanks.


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