Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
May 18, 2009

Pregnant Moment At Notre Dame

Notre Dame alternate.jpg

Enthusiastic Obama supporters + supporters of dialogue + deft handling of the obnoxious heckler = great day for the Doctor.

On the protest side, there were plenty of gruesome posters (links withheld); Alan Keyes getting arrested; and more tape reminiscent of the bad old days. But what earns an honorable mention, besides the white roses and those well broadcast pro-life mortarboards with the cross-separated infant feet (intended to signify an aborted fetus, I’ve repeatedly read) was the scene — front-and-center at the so-called “alternative commencement ceremony” — of the honest-to-God, tummy-tending, out-to-here pregnant student.

200905180902.jpg

By the way, if anyone can explain the design on the mortarboard, I’m interested.

(image 1: Scott Olson/Getty Images. caption: Notre Dame University students hold an alternative commencement cermony held to protest President Barack Obama’s visit to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on the campus of Notre Dame University May 17, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. Students chose to skip the commencement after the school decided to invite President Obama, who supports abortion rights, to deliver the commencement address and award him an honorary degree. image 2: Charles Rex Arbogast/A.P.)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/rlmrdl Earl Mardle

    There are so many possibilities that occur to me, absolutely none of them publishable.
    There is something inherently obscene and sacreligious about the design.

  • JDC

    I think they’re supposed to be baby foot prints at “the foot of the cross”. What I’m wondering is if the inverted-cross as seen from Obama’s POV is an antichrist reference or just an accident. Also, note that some graduates in the pic have removed their mortarboards. Is this to dissociate themselves from their protesting neighbors? To show respect to the president? Normal ND practice? Just hot? (At my own graduation lo these many years ago, it was a ferociaously sunny day and, being one of the very pale people, I burned except for a V-shaped area on my face. Hilarious.)

  • yg

    i’m not somebody who sees patriarchal oppression under ever rock, every hour of the day, but this graphic of a cross violating a fetus/child smacks of the suggestion.

  • http://connersaa.com/usd/jx.htm black dog barking

    When the date comes due for our pregnant protester will she only accept treatments described in the Bible? Or will she allow medical science to intervene on behalf of both her and the fetus? Hopefully she will allow science to provide such help as it can.
    Science and Faith solve different kinds of problems. Faith is a personal commitment, Science is a commitment to the external and reproducible. The protesting four can personally choose to use Faith to provide alternative answers to questions that Science is capable of addressing if they wish but it is arrogant to then assume that everyone else should live their lives by their *beliefs*. Science imposes no such meddling. Gravity attracts whether I believe it or not.

  • timolo

    similar to the rights favoring of everything with an American flag, down to shrub signing flags.
    Do as I say, not as I do.
    http://www.findingrhythm.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/06/bush_signs_flag.jpg

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    Exploiting the unborn for Jesus. How typical.

  • Liberal AND Proud

    I thought it was the symbol for the new Transformers movie.

  • jim

    the cross and feet symbol are obviously instructions for a crucifixion: “feet go here”

  • Thirdeye Pushpin

    Who is really pissing on the cross here?

  • yg

    it means only light-skinned christian babies are sacred.

  • thebewilderness

    It is gruesome, but not as bad as I thought it would be.
    It was reported that they intended to wear baby feet.
    Srsly, baby feet dangling from their mortarboard, sorta like the baby shoes hanging from the rear view mirror thingamy.
    Amputated baby feet. This is indeed a “fail” it is not nearly as grim a failure as advertised.

  • http://motherrr.blogspot.com mcmama

    The symbol is completely ineffective. Instead of offering an immediate and visceral reaction, it leaves viewers scratching their heads in a big, collective, Huh?
    The mother exploiting her pregnant tummy (or the pillow under her robe – how are we to know?) is more than a little offensive.

  • Margarita

    My immediate association of the feet straddling the cross was the pissing-Calvin genre of window stickers. Then when I read that it was intended to signify an aborted fetus, I envisioned a dismembered baby. But on third thought, I imagine it represents a fetus supine in its grave, which is marked by a cross headstone. Maybe? I don’t know.

  • http://www.doves2day.blogspot.com g

    The symbol is weird. It looks like the cross has split the baby.
    Hey, the pregnant graduate chose to carry her pregnancy to term! Good for her! But would she deny another woman the right to make her own choice?

  • Oregonian

    Ever been 9 months pregnant? Sitting like that is kind of reflexive at that point; it’s a handy shelf and you can amuse yourself by feeling the baby kick. And I doubt she knew she was being photographed. How is this exploitation? Should she have worn a chador to conceal her politically provocative state?
    As for the mortarboard design, I suspect it’s just a bad graphic. Most graphics designed by untrained people are bad.
    I’m pro-choice, but this kind of reaching for attack points is ridiculous.

  • http://motherrr.blogspot.com mcmama

    Um, yeah, several times. And the picture is obviously staged. Look at the heads lowered, the eyes closed in prayer, the linked hands, the ’see how big my tummy has gotten’ pose which the maternal ‘we’ have all used at some point. Normally it’s playful – look at me! I’m huge! – but in this diorama set up for the cameras, it’s tawdry. As to whether or not she’s pregnant, it doesn’t matter. I’m not commenting on her pregnancy, but on the theatrical nature of the scene and the offensive implication that this sanctimonious woman has made the ‘correct’ choice – for all women.
    There is nothing in my comment to indicate that I think anyone should wear a chador to hide a pregnancy. Perhaps you are reaching a bit yourself.

  • http://caraf.blogs.com caraf

    The “baby feet” are a pretty common pro-life/anti-choice symbol; I had a college professor (Catholic college) in the 80s who regularly wore a silver lapel pin featuring the baby feet. My guess is that they mixed it with the cross because they couldn’t be certain that people would get it if it was just the feet. Add symbols and stir!

  • Oregonian

    I don’t get this at all. They’re praying, which people actually do at commencements for religious colleges. Her eyes are shut, so she can’t be aware of the camera. I don’t see how this could possibly be a “diorama set up for the cameras.” Nor do I see why a pregnant woman is, merely by being pregnant, “sanctimonious” or making an “offensive implication.” That was why I asked about the chador; the woman’s only obvious offense is being visibly pregnant.
    As I understand it, she has the right to make that choice as much as any other.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/OldMayfly Old Mayfly

    I was a women’s clinic escort (1989-1998). The feet are a “pro-life” symbol called “precious feet.” Many demonstrators wore gold or silver finished “precious feet” pins. The fetal feet and hands are formed fairly early. I’ve never seen the symbol used with the cross before.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/OldMayfly Old Mayfly

    Sorry, caraf, I didn’t see your post before I responded.

  • http://motherrr.blogspot.com mcmama

    Please note, the rest of the audience is not praying, so this is not a prayerful moment during the commencement. It is staged – a part of the protest, meant to be noticed, and (they hope) photographed. I did not say the pregnant woman was sanctimonious for being pregnant, but for allowing her (apparent) condition to be used politically. And her offense is not being visibly pregnant; it is using her (apparent) pregnancy to suggest that other women should not be allowed to make the opposite choice.
    As to your final statement – she has the right to make that choice for herself. Not for anyone else. Is this really so difficult to understand?

  • http://www.missconceptions.net xtine

    ok – I’m going to give this a try: “By the power of GOD, all babies shall be born, feet-first, through this very mortarboard.” Sorry, there are just too many symbols here to make any kind of sense of combining the two. It has to be read literally. Why didn’t they repeat the baby feet in a cross pattern, integrating the two more succinctly? Then again, the masses often read certain texts quite literally.

  • Oregonian

    But they are praying. Standing with bowed heads and closed eyes. She’s not standing, probably because her feet are killing her. People don’t kneel to pray if there’s no room to do it.
    I have no trouble understanding that she has no right to make that choice for other people. She does have the right to express her views, though.
    I’ve said my piece.

  • wagonjak

    Hey! I’m calling FOUL here! Have you ever seen a pregnant woman with a “square” bulge in her tummy?
    Looks suspiciously like a pillow to me, but then I’m a natural born cynic…
    Wonder if she’ll carry it to full upholstery?

  • http://thenewsguysletters.blogspot.com/ Russ Nichols

    The four in front with the “pregnant?” woman are obviously making a statement. You’ll notice NONE of the people in the rest of the crowd are wearing the mortarboard with the weird logo. Seems to me it is a self-conscious sanctimonious statement. I don’t know. These people are, after all, of piece with the Father Berrigans of the world who hammered on nuclear warheads and spread blood all around weapons. Only there is a difference. Pro life people tend to be pro life up to the moment of birth. Then they are Republicans who vote for war and budget cuts for health care and other social programs to help people who are already born. And for the death penalty.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e5523476cc8834 DennisQ

    Those people are more Republican than they are Right-to-Life, and they’d be more believable if they admitted that. Pretending to defend the helpless unborn is actually just schtick. Nobody’s fooled.
    Republicans don’t give a damn about victims; that’s what makes them Republicans. They are the don’t give a damn about other people’s troubles party. When they stop being that, perhaps their demonstrations about the rights of the unborn will have credibility. As things stand, however, it appears that they oppose abortion because they oppose women’s equality. They can’t duck that aspect of their allegedly “right to life” viewpoint. When was the last time Republicans demonstrated against war or oppression or poverty? It doesn’t happen.
    Like many other people, I am unmoved by this posturing. This group of Notre Dame protesters should call themselves the Privileged White College Graduates Who Think Obama Should Be Punished For Not Being a Catholic group.

  • UnclePunish

    Guess there wasn’t room for a vagina. The cross was too big.

  • yg

    ha!
    here’s a message for the fascists:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/matz/352212989/

  • croatoan

    “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them.”
    I see five protestors: the four in robes and mortarboards, and the guy behind the pregnant woman who looks like Tom Hanks in The Ladykillers.
    http://www.towntopics.com/apr0704/cinema.jpg

  • Joe Blow

    It stands for abortion.
    You take a pregnant woman and a crucifix and you . . .you.. err use it to abort the fetus.
    I guess.

  • Irene

    Ok so I see I am out numbered here, but I am going to say this anyway. I am a Catholic and a Democrat. I do not believe that abortion should be illegal, in fact I do not believe abortion should be legislated at all. But because of my religious beliefs I believe that a fetus is a human being and as such that abortion is wrong under all conditions. I am anti-abortion, I don’t like the terms pro-life or pro-choice. And as for women being allowed to have a choice, they did have one, they selected to have sex, and thus ran the risk of getting pregnant. Now I know some pregnancies are the result of awful situations, but that isn’t what I am talking about. Most pregnancies are a result of having sex, and thus the consequences if you will of a persons actions. If you don’t want the baby give it up for adoption plenty of people will want it.
    And I am graduating from a Catholic institution this coming weekend, with my Masters and we are wearing the same thing on our mortarboards.
    Just a note, I may anti-abortion, but I am not anti the people who have them. I think the people who blow up abortion clinics and do things of that nature are wrong as well. I believe all human life should be respected.

  • Marie

    Just say no to bad graphics!

  • vanillarose

    only the four protesters have bowed their heads. except perhaps the bald man in blue robe behind them, but he may be part of the protest or maybe just trying to protect his head from sun. in fact, i would suggest that the bowed heads are actually to facilitate the showing of the graphic on the tops, rather than serious prayer. this is political theater, nothing more. which brings into question the pregnancy of the woman. although i’ve noted that extremists seldom hesitate to use babies and children in their protests, no matter how violent they man become. remember the schaivo protests?

Refresh Archives

Random Notes