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Southern Chivalry Is Not Dead


If Virginia does mandate vaginal ultrasounds be performed on women who want abortions, it will join the ranks of seven other states that currently impose the procedure. Surprise, surprise, five of them are southern — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas — and the other two are southern wannabes — Arizona and Kansas.

But then of course the South does have a history of gouging the vaginas of women who break the rules. Freedom Rider Joan Mullholland (above) remembers her arrival at Parchman prison in the Mississippi delta one evening in the summer of 1961:

It was night, I think, when we got to Parchman — getting processed and a change of clothes and vaginal searches. The matrons would dip theirĀ  — as I recollect, it was gloved hands, but somebody else may remember it differently — they would dip ’em into these buckets of whatever between gouging us up. It smelled like Lysol or Pine-Sol, one of those highly disinfectant things. It was all frightening. I think it was meant to impress the seriousness of our isolation and that they could do anything they wanted to.