sept2013cartoonWhat does Wendy Davis stand for? Wearing a bright pink pair of sneakers, the state senator from Texas recently stood for several hours during a widely reported filibuster attempt. In addition to the colour of her shoes, her fashionable outfits have also been a focus of the sympathetic feature articles about her which have abounded since she took the spotlight in the Lone Star State.

The media has reported that she stood; it even reported what she wore while doing so. Yet, what Davis actually stands for – what law’s passage she attempted to prevent and what policies she implicitly advocates – has not been emphasized in the media’s fawning coverage. She has been described as a champion of “women’s rights,” of “reproductive rights,” and even of “abortion rights.” But what, exactly, does she champion?

Wendy Davis attempted to prevent the passage of a bill which protects children who are more than 20 weeks old; even some abortionists have qualms about murdering unborn children at this stage of development. Yet Davis, evidently, believes that the citizens of Texas are best served when its unborn citizens are unprotected by the law. Davis, in other words, is not just a pro-abortion proponent: she is a radical at the far end of the spectrum, one who supports prenatal infanticide at any point before a child’s birth.

Davis’s unpalatable positions have put her media apologists in an awkward double-bind: as much as they want to praise Davis, and promote the barbaric policies she advocates, they cannot speak clearly about her aims. To do so would be self-defeating: a fair description of the late-term abortion procedures she would keep legal would not win her any friends. And so the media prefers to describe Davis’s instead of the abortionists’ curettages that she fights so ardently to keep in use.

The function of the “fetish” has been widely discussed by psychiatrists and social theorists alike: those in the clutches of this neurotic disorder choose convenient, accessible substitutes for what cannot be normally approached or otherwise attained. The media’s fixation on Wendy Davis’s footwear is a sad example of just such a process: her shoes are the safe proxy for policies that are too grotesque to mention.

The psychoses of Davis’s supporters, however, should not occlude the outrageous practices she would keep legal, nor the laudable laws she insists on opposing. Sadly, the media have made their sympathies – and their symptoms – all too clear: instead of discussing abortion or the unborn, the media has decided to change the subject, raising the all-important question: “But did you see her shoes?”