Women Leaders And Stumbling Politicians

Gloria Feldt talks to us about female politicians. McCain dances around the issue of contraception, CNN spreads undue fears about vaccinations, and a reader submits another anti-choice song.

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Links in this episode:

Do condoms prevent HIV?
Survey says yes
McCain stumbles
McCain 2000 stumble
HPV vaccine paranoia
Anti-choice songage


This week on Reality Cast, we’ll have an interview with
Gloria Feldt about electing more female leaders.  Also, a review of John McCain’s campaign
strategies, a smackdown of CNN for running with a scare story, and another
anti-choice song clip.


I promise that this will be the only mention, ever, of the
bloggers on Jezebel making fools of themselves on Liz Winstead’s show "Thinking
and Drinking".  I was sympathetic to them
on my blog, because they were trying to joke about stuff, and I know of the
pain of a joke falling flat.  But they
pushed a bit of misinformation that needs serious correction. 


  • insert
    pulling out


It is neither true that pulling out is a decent method of
not getting pregnant nor that it’s objectively the most fun method.  Someone is getting pregnant pulling out
somewhere in the world as you listen to this, it works so badly.  And they’re staining the sheets while they’re
doing it, for a sum total loss.  Dramatically
flinging the used condom in the trashcan, perhaps to music, is a way to satisfy
the need for entertainment and it’s safer to boot.




It increasingly seems like John McCain’s strategy for
dealing with the landmine of reproductive issues is to punt the questions.  Campaign watchers started to deduce this when
McCain pleaded ignorance on the subject of condom usage to prevent HIV.  Some video bloggers covered the issue at The
Fore Thought.


  • insert
    mccain hiv


But what seemed to be a mere stumble is beginning to look
like a bona fide strategy of avoiding the question.  Just listen to this clip from MSNBC.


  • insert
    mccain contraception coverage


Why is this issue so hard? 
No, really. More than half of voters are women, and 98% of them have
used contraception at some point in their lives.  Really, when 98% of more than half of the
voting population actively enjoys a certain right, and the other half of the
electorate is supportive of that enjoyment, then what’s the issue?  You’d think contraception would be as popular
as spring days and ice cream.


Well, because he doesn’t think he can win without the
religious right, who are clearly a hardline minority vote but still wildly
influential.  With McCain leaning hard to
the right on the religious right’s favorite issues, it’s hard to imagine why
he’s still on notice with them.  He’s
crossed his Ts and dotted his Is on abortion, gay marriage, and as we see here,
he’s willing to play that he’s amendable to restrictions on contraception.  And yet they still have a grudge.  It goes back to the primary of 2000.


  • insert
    mccain debate


Yeah, that’s haunted him since.  Since he lost in 2000, I’m guessing he thinks
that was a major misstep and he’s not making that mistake again, though he’s
already won the primary, and the hard right vote is diluted in the general
election.  He really backtracked a couple
of years ago on Meet The Press.


  • insert
    mccain meet the press


Of course, Falwell was an agent of intolerance, and that’s
why the hard right wingers followed him. 
If he wasn’t an agent of intolerance, he’d have died a nobody in Virginia.  His entire life was dedicated to being an
agent of intolerance.


But I see why McCain realizes that the accurate phrase might
set off believers who prefer their agency of intolerance to get a more cuddly
name.  But some believers are going to
hold his accurate comments of 2000 against him until forever, so he’s been
running hard to the right on their issues to try to win them back.


I suggest campaign reporters make a sport out of asking
McCain about various forms of contraception and availability, to see if you can
get him to set a record for the length and silence of his pauses before he
refuses to answer the question.



  • insert



The crankery about the HPV vaccine makes me doubly insane,
because it plays on two of my biggest hot buttons, which are mindless sex
phobias and anti-vaccination crankery.  I
will never understand why vaccinations, of all things, have become this focal
point for people who are willing to say or do anything to attack them. It’s not
just the HPV vaccination, but all childhood vaccinations that have set off
waves of ridiculous claims about how they cause autism, which they most
definitely do not. Why do cranks have it out for vaccinations?  There just seems to be something about preventative
medicine that brings out the worst crankery. 
It’s like the fluoridation thing in the last century.  People just want to believe that someone is
out to get them when someone is actually trying to help them.


Of course, you can’t suddenly develop autism at 14 years
old, so that bit of misinformation won’t get attached to the HPV vaccination.
But don’t think that this will mean that people won’t try to spread
paranoia.  We are talking about the
deadly combination of preventative medicine and sexual health care, which is
going to drag out the paranoias.


CNN should be ashamed of themselves for adding fuel to the
fire by having a report that made it seem like the HPV vaccination is
especially dangerous.


  • insert
    hpv paranoia 1


If you’ve got an eye, or should I say ear, for these things,
then you already can see where the report is misleading.  Yes, I’m sure this woman thinks that the
sequence of events means that it’s a causal relationship, but that’s not necessarily
so.  But more importantly, you can guess
that if this is in fact crankery, then the vaccine will be accused of causing a
whole host of diseases, with the symptoms unique to each sufferer.


Why is this a problem? 
Because most diseases tend to have a cluster of symptoms in common, not
just any old thing under the sun.  The
fact that the second case isn’t spelled out inclines me to think it’s an
entirely separate disease, which means that people are likely blaming
coincidences on the shot.


But then CNN really steps over the line.


  • insert
    hpv paranoia 2


Oh yeah?  Sick with
what?  Gosh, want to bet the shot is
getting blamed for everything from having an itchy arm to getting the flu to
stubbing your toe?  That adverse
reactions are reported doesn’t mean they’re real.  The accompanying article says that of these
nearly 8,000 complaints, 15 were deaths, and already the CDC has affirmed that
10 of the deaths have no relationship to the shot, and I’m sure that all or
most of the other 5 will be cleared.


The CNN reporter does admit that the immediate explanation
is coincidence, but by putting those words in the mouths of the company that
makes the drug, and not noting that Merck is being backed by independent
government agencies, she’s leaving a question mark where none belongs. 


And when the reporter is asked what parents can do, she has
this answer.


  • insert
    hpv 3


Amanda smash!  Sorry,
had to drop the semi-recent pop culture reference in there.  But seriously, this is so irresponsible.  So, so irresponsible.  By saying, "Oh you don’t have to worry until
your kid has sex," you’re encouraging people to put their kids at risk.  You get the shot before you have sex, which
is why the 11-year-olds.  That’s how
vaccines work.  Before the exposure.  Not, "Oh, I rubbed my face in polio then I
got the shot." Before exposure. 


By putting it that way, you’re encouraging people to see the
shot as a judgment on their parenting skills, when they need to see it as
routine preventative care.  The last
thing we need is parents thinking that getting this shot for their daughters is
as good as admitting that they failed some kind of stop your kids from humping


Not to get ranty, but it just makes me so mad.  This country is paranoid about sex, to the
degree that we’d rather see girls die unnecessarily of cervical cancer than
chill out about the reality of sex.


Thanks to Feministe for the link and the analysis. 



And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts.  I asked for people to send me anti-choice
songs, and one reader named Johanna did. 
Thanks Johanna for this clip of "Mommy Can You Hear Me" by Caroline


  • insert
    mommy can you hear me


That one is a part of the singing fetus genre, where the
fetus itself sings and berates its mother. 
That is the first song I’ve heard where the singing fetus is a
woman.  However, the singer is peddling
mediocre adult contemporary crap, so I find myself unmoved by the argument that
the world absolutely needs her talents.