Planned Parenthood Tweets “Pink Out the Vote!”

With Election Day in less than a week, Planned Parenthood is reminding their Twitter followers to vote on Tuesday and to tweet them a selfie with their “I Voted” sticker.

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People responded already by tweeting selfies after they had voted early. Tweets that ask for the public to respond also encourage political participation and public discussion. Using the #PinkOutTheVote creates a space for women to have a conversation about women’s issues on Twitter.

We discussed in class how interest groups all have stakes in the election, and work to either promote a specific candidate or donate money to their campaign. Planned Parenthood has been in support of Hillary Clinton throughout the election. We also talked about how they use strategies to encourage people to vote, when they know that they will vote for their candidate.

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I related this to the Polsby reading about PACs, because he wrote about why groups have interest in elections. I also related this to our discussion in class about how the Democratic party asks people how and when they plan to vote in an attempt to make them commit to voting. When people are asked to take selfies with their “I Voted” stickers, they are forced to imagine themselves having voted, which makes them more committed to going to the polls.

 

Sara Leonetti

 

 

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Comedians Criticize Trump’s Abortion Comments on Twitter

This week both Samantha Bee and John Oliver, hosts of Full Frontal and Last Week Tonight respectively, have publicly made fun of Trump for his comments about late term abortion at the final Presidential debate. While Samantha Bee made her criticisms on her show Full Frontal, and  John Oliver made his in a speech that he gave for the Center for Reproductive Rights ( which he started by addressing the audience as “gentlemen and nasty women”), both of their comments were brought to Twitter for the public to weigh in on.

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Both comedians are known for their witty political and social commentary, and like many comedians they also both support the left (neither Bee nor Oliver are originally from the United States and I am unaware of their citizenship status or eligibility to vote). Needless to say they both support the right to choose, and had less than positive things to say about Trump’s comments on abortion. Obviously, twitter users had their own things to say about it on both sides.

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I connected this to the article we read at the beginning of the semester about The Daily Show and its impact on the way the public views the political environment. While the article questions whether these shows are positive for democracy, I think it is necessary for democracy that public figures be questioning and raising conversations about the political sphere because this encourages the public to engage in these conversations as well.

 

Sara Leonetti

Occupy Democrats Fact Check Trump

Occupy Democrats, a political organization and information website formed in 2012, posted an article on Facebook Thursday morning about Trump’s statements on abortion Wednesday night at the final Presidential debate The article was posted in response to Trump’s statement “I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”. The article refutes the claim that this kind of abortion exists using the first hand account of a woman who had a late-term abortion.

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In the article, the woman, Alyson Draper, tells the story of the conditions which required her to undergo the procedure. She refutes the image Trump creates of violent medical procedures done to women who enjoy killing their children by telling a humanizing story of the reality of late-term abortion and the heartbreak women who undergo it have to face. Many Facebook users commented with words of support for this brave woman, and with words of disgust for Trump’s comments. For obvious reasons, most of Occupy Democrats’ Facebook followers are pro-choice, and are therefore more likely to already support a woman’s decision of late-term abortion. However, that does not take way from the importance of sharing stories such as this.

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I related this to the video we watched about the Move On effect. In his presentation, David Karpf spoke about the phenomenon of organizing without organizations. Voters come together to form groups online that are able to reach people all over the world, and encourage political participation. Occupy Democrats is an example of one of these groups. The way Occupy Democrats works is that their website is maintained by people in different places throughout the country, and the work they do is to help keep Democrats everywhere informed and mobilized. The most essential participation is through subscribing to their emails. Because of their online participation, they are able to reach so many people (more than offline organizations could due to costs), raise money for specific causes quickly, and to spread news that is current and relevant. This is also a phenomenon that is exclusive to the Left. Without the ability to assemble publics online, the Right misses out on the impact and benefits of the Move On Effect.

 

Sara Leonetti

NARAL Calls Out Trump on Twitter

For the past few days, NARAL has been tweeting about the video leaked on Friday of Donald Trump  where he bragged about sexually assaulting women and the allegations against Trump that followed later this week. naral

The above tweet was one of many posted this week criticizing Trump for his statements, and pleading women to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton on election day. NARAL even participated in the #RepealThe19th which was trending Wednesday afternoon on Twitter. The hashtag was created by Trump supporters to make a statement against women’s right to vote after a graphic was released demonstrating that Trump would likely win the election if women could not vote. Women’s rights supporters quickly joined the conversation on Twitter as well, using the hashtag ironically.

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Obviously, most followers of NARAL on Twitter are pro-choice, and are therefore probably more likely to agree with them on women’s issues, so there was a large amount of support in response to NARAL’s tweets. However, there was a fair amount of backlash as well.

Tweets such as those below are only a few of the ones posted in response to NARAL’s anger toward Trump and his supporters, most of which attacked NARAL for not tweeting the same statements about Bill Clinton. This was another thing I found to be problematic, because Bill Clinton is not running for President. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is. ndeplgroo

One Twitter user even went as far as to bring up the email scandal once again in a conversation where it could not have been less relevant. This shows that despite the fact that Donald Trump, himself, has admitted to committing sexual assault, his supporters will stand by him and still find an excuse to attack Hillary Clinton.

I connected this to the Political Engagement article, because it demonstrated how inequalities in real life such as sexism are carried over from the material world and reflected in digital spaces. I also related it to Polsby’s article which explained that women issues are often not prioritized by the Republican party, and why that makes women less likely to identify as Republican. This would explain how Trump was elected as the GOP candidate in the first place, and why his supporters can still continue to support him.

 

Sara Leonetti

#AskAboutAbortion Trending During Debates

The #AskAboutAbortion has been trending on Twitter during both the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates so far. This has been done in an attempt to put the issue of reproductive rights on the agenda, and encourage a discussion about the controversy of abortion at the debates. The issue has only briefly been mentioned thus far, and many people have been talking about the statements made, or lack thereof. nat

Even before the debates began women’s rights organizations like National Organization for Women and Ultra Violet Action began questions whether the candidates would be asked about abortion during the debate, as it was overlooked in the previous one.uv While the debate went on, and it seemed that the candidates were not going to be asked about their views on abortion, users on Twitter seemed to be growing impatient. The hashtag began to gain more popularity, and the tweets were becoming more frustrated in tone.

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While abortion was never brought up in a question, the candidates did broach the subject when asked about their religious backgrounds and Governor Pence quoted Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” to lead his statement about pro-life. Senator Kaine responded by recalling a statement made by Donald Trump about his belief that women should be punished for having abortions, which Pence denied. Kaine also said that the government should trust women to make decisions for themselves about their own bodies and futures. This brought up the popularity of the hashtag. hhh
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Later in the week, the hashtag is still active, with many people (mostly women) still contributing to the conversation. @HuffPostWomen  tweeted an article about Pence’s policies on abortion that sparked further conversation, this time from both pro-choice and pro-life supporters. This brought more opinions into the hashtag and diversified the conversation.

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jbprolifeI related this to the Hyper Partisan Facebook and Political Engagement on Facebook articles we read for class this week, in which we discussed how social media has created the opportunity for the public to create their own agenda, and give voice to minorities. Movements such as Black Lives Matter have gained popularity through the use of social media and become a part of the mainstream agenda. A public space where anyone can participate in the conversation facilitates democracy because it evens the playing field and allows for voices to be heard and topics and issues to be discussed when the mainstream media does not bring them forward.

 

Sara Leonetti

Planned Parenthood Tweets about Presidential Debates

Since the first Presidential debate on Monday night, Planned Parenthood has been vocal on Twitter about their support of Hillary Clinton and opposition to Donald Trump. They congratulated Clinton for her professionalism during Monday’s debate, and criticized Trump for his disrespectful nature toward women, calling him a racist, sexist, bully and quoting the mention of his statement that pregnancy is an inconvenience for employers.
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Obviously, Planned Parenthood has stakes in this election, considering Trump’s commitment to defund Planned Parenthood, and previous statements about punishing women who have had abortions. They have endorsed Hillary Clinton for her policies on reproductive health, and her intentions to make birth control and abortions more accessible. Clinton has also spoken out about her support of Planned Parenthood throughout her Presidential campaign.

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Thursday, Planned Parenthood tweeted a political cartoon depicting a future in which Donald Trump is the President and abortion is not an option. The cartoon also makes reference to Nazi Germany, with the letter “T” and wings representing the Imperial Eagle used a symbol of the Third Reich during World War II. Obviously these tweets were met with some controversy, however Twitter users were not quite as belligerent as one might have anticipated.

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Reactions to the conversation on Twitter and Facebook were more tame than many I have seen on similar topics.  The Twitter users made their points, but no one attempted to argue with each other. There was little to no name calling nor profanity. It seemed to be more productive. While their words were loaded with further implications, and not necessarily supported by facts, people were still able to make their points clearly and concisely.

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However, many of the users in favor of Planned Parenthood’s views seemed to be women, while their critics appeared to be men. This makes sense considering that the stakes for women are higher when it comes to accessibility of reproductive health care. One woman even posted a political cartoon which depicted a man protesting abortion and stating that while he does not want the government making decisions about his own health care, he does expect to make decisions about the reproductive health care given to women.

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I related this to Polsby’s article which looked at which demographics tended to vote Democrat and which Republican. Polsby explained that because the Democratic party usually is more concerned with women’s issues, and supports pro-choice organizations like Planned Parenthood, women are more likely to belong to their party. On the other hand, because the Republican party is more concerned with maintaining the power men hold in society, their policies more often attract the support of men. As a woman who understands the stakes for women regarding reproductive health, Hillary Clinton, along with many of the women of the Democratic party, is both supportive of and supported by Planned Parenthood while Donald Trump, Mike Pence and the men of the Republican party oppose Planned Parenthood because it does not work to maintain their power.

Sara Leonetti

 

 

Trump Supports Over the Counter Birth Control

Earlier this week, Planned Parenthood tweeted a Vox article regarding Trump’s endorsement of over the counter birth control pills. While this sounds like something Planned Parenthood would be in favor of, many women’s health organizations are concerned that without a prescription, it will not be covered by health insurance plans, making it more expensive and therefore inaccessible to women with lower income.

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According to Vox, Trump more than likely made this endorsement in an effort to prevent Hillary from making claims that he is misogynistic. While it is possible to require insurance companies to cover birth control pills even if they are not prescribed, Trump has yet to make a statement regarding birth control in that case. Vox took a poll on Twitter asking whether their followers believed birth control should require a prescription. 86% voted “No”.

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There seemed to be a slightly more in depth conversation on Facebook, with people contributing more than just 140 characters. Here people were better able to offer their opinion, as well as an alternative solution. However, there still was not much space to over any further explanation.

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This goes back to what we talked about in class regarding Dahl’s criteria for democracy, and Habermas’ Public Sphere. Dahl’s first criteria was that citizens be able to participate and articulate their viewpoints. While social media does give them the opportunity to voice their opinions, and for others to chime in with their own, it does not facilitate a more complicated conversation. People stated their initial abbreviated thought, but did not elaborate. As for Habermas’ idea of the public sphere, I think Habermas would agrue that this does not facilitate democracy, because while Twitter is a place for “conversation”, not many people would be able to reflect on their own thoughts and ideas and develop a more complex opinion after being told to “keep you pants zipped” or any number of the other judgments made.

At best, Twitter seemed most useful as a means to take polls. However, we cannot tell from the poll whether these people would disagree with their vote under the condition that over the counter birth control be paid for out of pocket by the consumer.