Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Thanks for the Horror Story, History Channel


Okay seriously, major trigger warnings for this article. Apparently, there was a mass campaign of sexual assault and generally treating women as less than human for the benefit of men in the early to mid 20th century. No, I don't mean society in general. This was a government-endorsed campaign called, extremely fittingly, the "American Plan."

America's Forgotten Mass Imprisonment of Women Believed to Be Sexually Immoral

I had no idea about any of this.

From the 1910s through the 1950s, and in some places into the 1960s and 1970s, tens of thousands—perhaps hundreds of thousands—of American women were detained and forcibly examined for STIs. The program was modeled after similar ones in Europe, under which authorities stalked “suspicious” women, arresting, testing and imprisoning them.

This, by the way, was separate from the general policy of imprisoning and sterilizing women of color, which was also horrifying, and in many cases even more so. So much of our history was covered up because it makes the country look bad. Even raging feminists like me don't know about much of the lengths the U.S. government went to oppress women and treat us as things.

If the women tested positive, U.S. officials locked them away in penal institutions with no due process. While many records of the program have since been lost or destroyed, women’s forced internment could range from a few days to many months. Inside these institutions, records show, the women were often injected with mercury and forced to ingest arsenic-based drugs, the most common treatments for syphilis in the early part of the century. If they misbehaved, or if they failed to show “proper” ladylike deference, these women could be beaten, doused with cold water, thrown into solitary confinement—or even sterilized.

Another interesting/horrifying bit in this article is the fact that full service sex work was legal in this country until this campaign got into full swing. The hysteria around STIs, and general misogyny, finally saw it outlawed across the nation by 1921. It's important to note that sex workers were NOT the primary source of STIs. Just convenient scapegoats.

And when they discovered that most of the women who supposedly infected the men weren’t professional prostitutes, they expanded the program even further.

This shit went on and saw widespread support for decades.

During World War II, the American Civil Liberties Union not only failed to oppose the Plan; its founder, Roger Baldwin, sent a memorandum encouraging its local branches to cooperate with officials enforcing it.

And, of course, cops took advantage of these laws to rape women.

Many women were also detained if they refused to have sex with police or health officers, contemporaneous exposés reveal. In the late 1940s, San Francisco police officers sometimes threatened to have women “vagged”—vaginally examined—if they didn’t accede to sexual demands. Women of color and immigrant women, in particular, were targeted—and subjected to a higher degree of abuse once they were locked up.

This shit lasted in some place until the fuck 1970s. Flash forward to 2019, and women are getting suspended from social media for saying "men are trash."

Anyway, men are trash.

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