Monday, January 26, 2009

The Other Baird

So titled because I don't want the University of Chicago's own Douglas Baird to feel awkward.

Cara at Feministe has a good post up with her thoughts on Bill Baird. Baird was an early and vociferous advocate of a woman's right to choose -- taking on causes and risking his career and, frankly, his life to secure victories in cases nobody else would touch. He actually saw his focus as providing reproductive health to all women, at a time when much of the feminist movement was still basically an exclusivist enclave of White middle-class heterosexuals.

At the same time, he's extraordinarily bitter at the feminist movement in all its incarnations for his perception that they "rejected" him. He does not have any expressed interest in actually talking to women's groups or working with them to pursue an integrated political agenda. He's self-promoting, and acts, as Cara puts it, a bit like a "one-man show". He's extremely hostile to religion (he wants to picket churches).

But then, he goes off and attacks men who arrogantly assume they know what women are feeling when their rights to their own body are (often violently) stripped away from them. He lambastes those who take it upon themselves to say who gay and lesbian persons can and can't love, have, and hold.

In short, he's complicated. And I think Cara's post, talking about a guy I had never heard of until she brought it up, is a really interesting sketch.

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