North Dakota’s Anti-Woman Dystopian Horror Show

Yo, North Dakota. You’ve got a problem. Abig one.

You’re a state full of bohunk, testosterone-fueled oil workers desperate for some female companionship. And your state legislature is treating women like slaves. Like objects. So, how’s that working for you, North Dakota? Let’s discuss.

First of all, two bills banning abortion await the Governor of North Dakota’s signature today [UPDATE:they were signed into law by the governor today]. One bans abortion for all fetal abnormalities…

… such as anencephaly in which parts of the brain and skull don’t form, or Tay-Sachs disease, a degenerative condition that paralyzes babies and typically prevents them from reaching their third birthday …

Oh, “torture the mother” legislation! Awesome.

Can you imagine being in this situation? Of learning you’re pregnant, maybe you’re really excited about it, maybe you and your husband are picking out the crib, and then you get the devastating news that there’s something horribly, terribly wrong? That the fetus has a neural tube defect that guarantees it will die within hours of its birth — if it comes to term in the first place? And the state is forcing you to live with this horror for nine months and go through childbirth and all? Because this is the government’s business? Not your family’s private business?

I would not want to be a woman in North Dakota facing that situation. What a heart-breaker.
By the way, this isn’t some hypothetical. The Centers for Disease Control estimates anencephalyaffects one out of every 4,859 births a year in the U.S.

The other bill facing the governor’s desk bans abortion after six weeks, which is well before many women even know they’re pregnant in the first place. So I guess that means all women who don’t want to be mothers need to make an abortion appointment at Planned Parenthood every single time they have sex because, you never know!

Alternately, women in North Dakota could just not have sex. How’d that work for you guys? Apparently not too well: North Dakota is in the midst of an oil boom, which has brought thousands of job-hungry men to do manly things like toting that barge and lifting that bale, and the guys areverrrry lonely:

At work, at housing camps and in bars and restaurants, men have been left to mingle with their own. High heels and skirts are as rare around here as veggie burgers. Some men liken the environment to the military or prison.

“It’s bad, dude,” said Jon Kenworthy, 22, who moved to Williston from Indiana in early December. “I was talking to my buddy here. I told him I was going to import from Indiana because there’s nothing here.”

This would be cute if it weren’t so dangerous. Women literally cannot leave the house without being harassed, hounded, and threatened. I’d say if anyone wants to know what it’s like for women under the Taliban, take a little trip to North Dakota:

Many said they felt unsafe. Several said they could not even shop at the local Walmart without men following them through the store. Girls’ night out usually becomes an exercise in fending off obnoxious, overzealous suitors who often flaunt their newfound wealth.

“So many people look at you like you’re a piece of meat,” said Megan Dye, 28, a nearly lifelong Williston resident. “It’s disgusting. It’s gross.”

Prosecutors and the police note an increase in crimes against women, including domestic and sexual assaults.


Some men have forced themselves on women. Jessica Brightbill, a single 24-year-old who moved here from Grand Rapids, Mich., a year and a half ago, said she was walking to work at 3:30 in the afternoon when a car with two men suddenly pulled up behind her. One hopped out and grabbed her by her arms and began dragging her. She let her body go limp so she would be harder to drag. Eventually, a man in a truck pulled up and began yelling at the men and she got away, she said. The episode left her rattled.

Going out alone is now out of the question, and the friend she moved here with no longer has much time to spend with her because she has since found a boyfriend and had a baby. Ms. Brightbill said she has difficulty finding other young single women with the freedom to hang out. And, she said, finding good men does not come easy.

“It’s just people trying to have sex,” she said.

Is anyone surprised? I’m not. This is utterly, completely predictable, actually. You have a state where the residents treat women like meat, like objects, and — shocker! — you have state legislation that does likewise. If you don’t think these two things aren’t connected then you aren’t paying attention to how the world works.

Look, it is completely, utterly predictable that thelegislative dehumanization of women in North Dakota matches theactual dehumanization women there experience on a daily basis. One would think that when women are highly prized and rare, men would go out of their way to make them feel welcome. But that’s not how it works. That’s never been how it works. Back in the cave-man days it was a bonk on the head and drag her by the hair into the bushes. Sorta like Steubenville without the roofie.

Some things never change, amiright ladies?

I’d tell women to stay out of North Dakota but of course that isn’t an option for everyone. And I’m really scared for women there. This is not a good situation. This stuff only changes when women demand it.

Make some damn noise, ladies. You’re going to have to. Because a trip to Walmart shouldn’t be seen as an invitation for harassment. Demand that you be treated with respect: legislatively and every other way, too. That’s the only way anything changes.

18 thoughts on “North Dakota’s Anti-Woman Dystopian Horror Show

  1. Wow. Being a woman in ND now seems like something between Alaska (in the 70s), and many Arabian fundy petrostates (ever).
    Is it something in the oil?

  2. I don’t think it’s so much the oil as it is the =money=, with the seeming power it bestows; I see it all the time around here – you can always tell when someone’s hit a well…

  3. And North Dakota regularly gets cited by wingers as their model…which speaks volumes.

  4. …Sheeeit, Beale. These goobers wouldn’t know love if it hit ’em in the face with a chunk of sucker-rod. They think strictly with =one= mass of grey matter, and ain’t the one between their ears…

  5. You know, I grew up in North Dakota. Left it 25 years ago, but I grew up there, and it is still home in a way, and it was NOTHING like this. Of course, I wasn’t in the western oil fields part, but this is just not the state that I remember.
    It makes me incredibly sad. Just so sad to think that this is what has become of a state that I remember as being brutal in the winter, but full of the warmest and most wonderful people.
    SB has it right though – you dehumanize women, and this is what you can expect to happen. This anti abortion stuff is just leaving me speechless.
    Good read, SB. Thanks.

  6. Great Read!!!
    We bring in the riff raff for oil jobs, and the true North Dakotans disappear along with ND nice. I will be encouraging my 3 boys to hit the road right out of this place when they graduate. I will be joining them!!! North Dakota can become one big weener factory!!

  7. I’m married to one of those bohunks, trend careful. He’s a tech nerd.. closest he gets to oil is changing what’s in the car.

  8. As another ex-NDian, who left in 1996, I too am aghast and embarrassed. And any notion I ever had about going back to be closer to family has completely gone out the window.
    The most heartbreaking part, for me, is to find out (and I shouldda guessed, he is a Republican) is that my high school journalism teacher — who taught me about freedom of the press and freedom of religion — and who is now the state rep. from my hometown, voted for these measures. I sent him an email today to share my disappointment in him. I am scared to death for my friends and family who might have to make a tough decision. What happens in an uterus is not a politicians — it is between that woman/her doctor and her personal conviction. No one else.
    Great blog, BTW, Allison.

  9. What is this crap? What a load of bull! I am a woman that CURRENTLY lives in ND and grew up here. The men I know are gentlemen and I don’t know a single woman that is treated like she is in the TALIBAN or constantly harassed! Way to stereotype an entire state! I love ND and would rather live here than any left-winged broke-ass state where everyone depends on the government.

  10. The specific mention of Tay-Sachs seems specifically antisemitic to me, given that the disorder is prevalent in Ashkenazi Jews, not to mention that anti-abortion/fetal personhood legislation is about as anti-Judaism as it’s possible to get. (Religious Jews believe a person gets their soul when they take their first breath, not before.) That’s just insult to injury.

  11. This is complete garbage. What does the oil field have to do with women’s rights? If you don’t know what a ‘Straw Man’ argument means, look it up. Pandering to an audience of whom you know will have bias is a clear indicator of your lacking of real journalism. If you want to argue women’s rights, gay rights, equality, abortion, or anything then do it and stick to your arguments. Proping up your argument by distorting the opposing point of view shows what kind of an idiot you are.

  12. Hey, “Give Me a Break” == welcome to Halliburtonization. Like Wal-Martization, only with an oilier stink. Don’t give me any crap: I was in the Permian Basin when the “influx” of “oil job seekers” hit the first damn time, back in the ’70s. Y’all don’t know it yet, but you’re about to be well and truly effed.

  13. There’s probably not much one can do about the water, but if the Digital Millennium Copyright Act could be heard by the Supremes on expedited appeal, maybe this state law could, too. Hell, the DMCA didn’t even involve a woman’s health.
    Oh. Wait.

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