The Palin Pregnancy Circus And Better Sex Ed For Kids

The Palin teenage pregnancy circus continues. Also, women get hurt worse by health care premiums, and Robie Harris talks about age-appropriate sex education for children.



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Links in this episode:

To porn or not to porn

Health care premiums and women

Glenn Beck lies about gay marriage

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing children’s author Robie Harris about her work in age-appropriate sex education.  Also, the Bristol Palin story keeps feeding the tabloids, and health insurance woes are hitting women harder.  

Via Bitch Blogs, I found that there’s a new documentary out chronicling the porn debates called "The Price of Pleasure".  The blogger at Bitch says it’s the rare even-handed movie.

  • price of pleasure *

My feeling is that a lot of the debate is semantic.  Depends on what you mean when you say "porn" if someone is for it or against it.
Health insurance is the great paradox of America.  If you’ve got it, you can’t use it, and if you use it, you can’t get it.  For the self-employed, part time, or those who otherwise have to pay for their own insurance without an employer backing them up, health insurance often seems about as smart a use of your money as taking a big pile of it and setting it on fire as an offering to the gods.  Sarah Varney talked about this problem on NPR.  

  • health insurance 1 *

This is pretty standard.  I got dumped from one plan for having a repeat Pap smear, and the second one seems to be willing to keep me on, even though I commit the crime of getting routine cancer screening and avail myself of preventive medicine.  Dealing with the private health insurance infrastructure seems like dealing with the government under a communist dictatorship—you try to minimize contact and fly under the radar as much as possible.  Which is weird, since they’re ostensibly there to serve you.  

But there’s a reason that getting screening and trying to save yourself and the health insurance companies some money is routinely punished.

  • health insurance 2 *

It’s interesting that even a conservative think tank guy couldn’t avoid describing the blatant problem with a private insurance system.  Of course, he’s trying to blame the customer, as if we could change the whole thing by being stupid enough to be pay outrageous premiums for little to no care when we could get a job or get married and get better, cheaper employer-provided insurance.  

The obvious solution to this problem is a single payer system.  If your health insurance is just plain old government-owned single payer, they actually save money by making sure that you stay healthy.  In fact, the English system gives doctors bonuses is they get more people to engage preventive  medicine, like getting in shape or quitting smoking.  

But the main point of this is that they really stick it to women on premiums.

  • health insurance 3 *

These sort of bans are helpful, but they are just a band-aid on what is the larger problem, which is that health insurance companies are punishing people for being mindful of their health.  I’m sure that even if they banned outright gender discrimination, women would still pay more, because they’d just adjust it so that people who see the doctor for screening more often get hit with higher premiums.  

All the proposals I’ve seen for universal health care are avoiding this major problem, which is that even if they have to pay for your health care, private insurers may just use that as an excuse to charge you more than you could ever afford if you’ve ever had the nerve to see a doctor before.  Providing people with a public option is a good first step, again because they’re unlikely to leave it once in, and you can also force the public company to charge reasonable rates.  But ideally, we’d just have single payer and avoid all these problems altogether.

insert interview

If you’re a fan of the circus, and I mean the media circus because the kidnapped animals circus is kind of depressing, then you’ve probably been having a fine time lately with the Bristol Palin/Levi Johnston story, otherwise known as the story that finally merged the celebrity tabloids with politics.  First Bristol decideds to go on Fox News and wrestle some control of her own story away from her mother, and then Levi Johnston decided to hit the Tyra Banks show to plead for his side in the inevitable break-up.  Tyra Banks plus the teenage pregnancy Palin extravaganza?  If you’d written it for this podcast, you couldn’t have done a better job.

  • levi 1 *

One of the most amusing aspects of this whole situation is how there’s been this immense pressure to pretend that these two had a fighting chance.  The engagement, the parading around of these two at the convention, and now acting like there had to be a reason they broke up. Very silly.  Most teenage couples don’t make it, and in a saner world, we’d realize that this is for the best, because most people don’t stay who they were at 17. It’s one reason people tend to be hostile to teenage pregnancy and think it’s less than ideal.

  • levi 2 *

I had to include that to heighten the ridiculousness of the situation, and the hopes of social conservatives that we can just go back to the 50s.  That was, after all, what this was all about.  The Palins paraded around this young couple as if to signal that they represented a return to the era when, yeah, teenage kids had sex, but they paid the consequences and had to get married and grow old resenting their lives, and we’ll call that family values.  But it’s clear that Bristol Palin is more of a 21st century girl than her mother portrayed her to be, and she stalled so there wasn’t a marriage and then kicked this guy out because she didn’t like his sister. You can’t make people stop caring about themselves just by snapping your fingers at them.

What’s interesting is that his family had zero problem with him knocking someone up at 17.  They claim that they talked about when the baby was coming and how he was going to make himself another hockey player, and I suppose for them it’s easy to do this because they probably knew on some level that the baby was going to be the Palin family’s problem.  The point is that sheds light on what happens next.

  • levi 3 *

One thing that Rewire has covered a lot is the problem of male resistance to birth control, and what that means for women.  Or to be blunt, making a guy wear a condom every time is easy if you’re with a guy who considers pregnancy prevention a priority, but if not, it’s an uphill battle.  And women are socialized to be people pleasers, and so it makes it easier to give in and let him go without sometimes.  Not that I know for sure that’s what happened here, but the whole story is an illustration of how it could and does happen for a lot of women, especially young women.

Most of the interview is about Levi’s sister, and frankly she seems to be jealous and wants to parade the baby around like she had it.  And she enjoyed bringing around Levi’s ex-girlfriends.  Again, it’s the sort of thing that makes teenage relationships so short-lived.

  • levi 4 *

Hey, look, some teenage mothers are particularly mature and handle the whole thing well.  But even if they are, they have to put up with stuff like this.  The world of high school becomes weird and competitive like this, and injecting babies into a situation like this, like where an obsessive sister is clashing with a teenage girlfriend, is just a real bad idea.  I’m with Bristol.  It’s probably better to wait.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, just go ahead and lie edition.  Glenn Beck is dropping a whopper about gay marriage.  

  • glenn beck *

It’s lies.  He doesn’t support equal rights, or he’d support marriage.  Civil unions are marriage lite, though I suppose it’s good that he’d conceded this ground.  Second of all, we know the churches don’t have to do anything.  Churches were the main opposition to interracial marriage, and they still have the right to be as racist as they want, despite the legal status of it.  
His real fear isn’t that churches will be forced.  His real fear is that what happened to interracial marriage will happen here, that it’s becoming socially acceptable and churches will start allowing it or see their membership disappear to churches that accept the prevailing norms.