Nancy Keenan talks to us about the new Coalition to Protect Women's Health Care. Contraception controversy gets to the Republican primary, and anti-choice ignorance about sex gets even weirder.
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Nancy Keenan talks to us about the new Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care. Contraception controversy gets to the Republican primary, and anti-choice ignorance about sex gets even weirder.
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On this episode of Reality Cast, Nancy Keenan will be on to describe a new effort from a broad coalition of liberal and feminist groups to protect women’s health care. The Arizona Republican debate devolves into white guys debating how slutty women on the pill are, and some coverage of how the sex talk on the right just gets weirder by the minute.
Conservatives continue to fight on the contraception front, which means that comedians are having the time of their lives. Really, conservatives, you don’t want this. You are officially the national laughingstock. The latest comic missive is from Funny or Die.
- experts *
Watch the whole thing, if only to hear the line about why God gave women “tummy pockets”.
As expected, the continuing furor over women’s right to equal access to contraception regardless of whether or not they work for a misogynist godbag got elevated to the Republican primary, in the pre-primary debate in Arizona. Contraception was supposedly non-controversial in mainstream conservatism up until 2011, when all of a sudden it became such a terrible thing that Republicans threatened to shut down the federal government in order not subsidize it. Even a few months ago, Mitt Romney, who didn’t seem to get the memo, was claiming that he supported access to contraception. But as those watching the debate saw, expressing even bland support for contraception, something 99% of American women use, has become politically toxic for Republicans trying to win over a conservative base.
- debate 1 *
The booing mainly seems to be a reflection of how imperious the right has gotten. They feel entitled to dismantle and block women’s access to contraception without ever being asked about it, much less held accountable. But it fits in with other things we know about conservatives, especially how they feel entitled to say and do blatantly racist and sexist things, but then get the vapors if you point out that they’re blatantly sexist and racist.
The basic theme of the next ten minutes was that almost no candidate was willing to go on record in support of the 99% of American women that use contraception. Gingrich kicked off the “let’s not actually answer the question” strategy.
- debate 2 *
The reason no one asked that is for the same reason that no one asked why Barack Obama sneezes and gold comes out: Because it didn’t happen, and if you believe that, it says way more about your basic grip on reality than it says about Obama. Obama opposed a bill that would require doctors to play-act trying to revive dead fetuses that have been extracted from pregnant women. That there’s a widespread belief that Obama’s unwillingness to torture already traumatized women is the same thing as infanticide is just…..well, it’s alarming how the entire crowd at this debate appears to live in a fantasy world. Unfortunately, John King didn’t correct the record.
Mitt Romney sensed the room’s desire to hear lies presented in the most hysterical fashion possible, and happily obliged.
- debate 3 *
Fact check: The church was never required to provide contraception. Catholic institutions like hospitals and universities aren’t, either. The women are getting the contraception through a third party that is stepping up to insure their rights. So Mitt Romney is arguing that not allowing employers to impose what is functionally a fine on women for being female is the greatest attack on religious liberty in the history of this country. That would mean it’s greater than the attacks that forced his own family to flee the country because of religious persecution. Greater than when Catholics were banned from going to public schools. Greater than when non-Christians were forced to recite Christian prayers in school. Greater than creationists trying to shove their religious dogma on kids in a science classroom. Allowing women to get contraception for free from a third party and not letting their employer prevent them from doing so is greater than all that. Oooookay. Actually, since conservatives are functionally demanding the right to pay women less because they have sex by stripping benefits, the only people whose liberty is being threatened are women.
Rick Santorum didn’t dodge the issue. No, he went straight for the “sex is the greatest evil known to mankind” argument.
- debate 4 *
This confused a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the strange conspiracy theories of the right. After all, Santorum said he’s against contraception because of something that contraception prevents, which is unintended pregnancy. This is because the confused people were thinking with real world logic. As I covered last week, the theory on the right basically goes like this: People didn’t really have sex before contraception, unless they were grimly getting it over with to make a baby. Then the pill was invented and all of a sudden people got the crazy idea that sex was fun. So they go and have sex, which they totally never did before the pill, and some times they get pregnant. This also requires believing contraception doesn’t work, despite the mounds of evidence that it does. The whole theory hinges on the belief that sex wasn’t desirable prior to contraception. The prevailing evidence, however, says that it was. For instance, while Santorum is claiming here that teenage pregnancy is at a high, in fact, it’s at historically low levels. The main reason is contraception. In fact, in the 50s, aka in the era before people thought sex was fun, the teenage pregnancy rate was twice what it is now.
Ron Paul used to be an ob-gyn, and so he wasn’t willing to pretend that the pill created sex. But his opinion wasn’t much nicer. After he argued that there should be no such thing as public schools, he said:
- debate 5 *
So while he was the only candidate willing to even sound mildly supportive of contraception, he did argue that 99% of American women are immoral because they want to have sex without wanting to get pregnant every time. Remember folks, this is 2012.
The right wing freakout over the ladies and the havings of the sexes continues, and this expression of the conservative id gets more disturbing by the second. At first, the rhetoric coming out of the right caused decent people to wonder if they know that they sound like they don’t understand the first thing about sex. Then it caused to wonder if they, in fact, do know the first thing about sex. Now it’s phase three: removing all doubt and replacing it with certainty that anti-choicers really don’t have the first clue what sex is like for every day Americans. Take, for instance, Virginia delegate David Albo, who supports pre-abortion mandated shaming and humiliation rituals such as mandatory ultrasounds to make sure that sexually active women know that legislators like him think they’re dirty sluts. Albo doesn’t like women to have sex, but he himself does like it, and so he told a story in front of the whole legislature about how he tried to have sex with his wife. It was like hearing a 7th grader try to describe what the imagine married sex to be like, with him getting out the wine and putting his arm around her shoulders like it was a first date. And then this:
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So, Albo thinks that women who have sex and don’t want to have a baby are so dirty they should be forced to endure unwanted vaginal probing as punishment. And Albo, despite thinking sex is dirty, wants to have it with his wife, presumably by touching her vagina. But despite all this obsessive interest in using vaginas both to punish women and as pleasure devices for himself, he can’t actually say the word “vagina”. Ugh. By the way, the point of this story was that his opponents should let him shame women for being sexual without criticism because if they criticize him, his wife might find out that he doesn’t think well of women who have sex, and she won’t have sex with him. Personally, I think that it would be just great if every man who thinks women are dirty for having sex never saw another woman naked again.
By the way, if you’ve been listening to the show, you know that I find the way anti-choice men talk about contraception really strange, like they think that it’s only something porn actresses and the women on “Sex and the City” use, and certainly not their good, wholesome wives. It seems a little implausible they know so little about the way this works, but what Albo said next is just more evidence for the theory that they really don’t know.
- sex 2 *
An apology because he, as a man, is entitled to sex. Unlike those women whose vaginas should be forcibly probed because they had sex without his express permission. But notice his ready assumption that pregnancy is sure to result. That’s so different from how the vast majority of Americans, including probably his own wife, see this. We don’t see sex as a very occasional thing that happens if and only if we’re ready to produce a child. Most people have sex a couple of times a week. Should people who have such unrealistic and strange ideas about sex really be making rules about how the rest of us go about it?
Equally strange was the complete meltdown on the right over the idea that contraception, which 99% of women use but many struggle to afford, is going to now be fully covered by insurance. The way they carried on about it, you would literally think that the HHS mandated that insurance cover polar bear cub clubbing. Except that most of these people think clubbing a baby polar bear is less evil than having sex for pleasure.
- sex 3 *
That was Walter Nickless, a bishop for South Dakota, on Tony Perkins’ show. And yes, his is basically saying that women using contraception is “evil” and “the devil”. Remember, that’s 99% of American women he’s now accusing of basically being the devil. Vaginas radiate Satan rays, you know. But of course, the entire problem with the hysterical breakdown over contraception is it blows the anti-choice cover. Their claim has always been that this isn’t about sex or women, but about believing life begins at conception. But now they’re completely losing it over the thought that women can easily afford preventing that conception, and therefore avoiding abortion. So what to do? Well, David Barton, after a long and tedious monologue claiming that any science that religious nuts don’t like can be considered “false science”, played footsie with a way to shoehorn their opposition to preventing conception with their claims about abortion.
- sex 4 *
You heard right; he believes “life” begins before conception. It had to happen. Once they came out about believing that not only do women not have a right to say no to a pregnancy that’s already started, but also that women don’t have a right to say no to pregnancy at all, this rationale was going to come out. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves; I don’t think the public at large is going to buy the “it’s science because my god says so” argument.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, attack the sexually active lady edition. Georgetown student Sandra Fluke testified in Congress about the importance of contraception coverage for college aged women. Since she admitted using contraception in public, the right wing response has been to act like they’ve never heard of a woman having sex before.
- Limbaugh *
I repeat, 99% of American women have used contraception. Most of us already have our contraception paid for in part by insurance; these regulations just change how much of it. So Rush Limbaugh just called pretty much every woman in America a prostitute.