In Texas, a Chlamydia Outbreak and Fight Over Abortion Care Insurance Coverage

Related Links

House GOP votes for bill to overturn Washington, D.C. anti-discrimination law

Texas bans insurance from covering abortion

Texas Republicans vs. rape exemptions

Crane High School’s chlamydia problem

Yup, abstinence-only education

Keith Ablow’s continuously monstrous opinions


On this episode of Reality Cast, Heather Boonstra from Guttmacher will explain how public schools could do more to help students get contraception. Texas bans insurance coverage of abortion, and a West Texas school has an alarmingly high chlamydia rate.

How much do modern conservatives absolutely hate birth control? So much so that House Republicans are willing to overturn a law in Washington, D.C. that bans discrimination against women for fear that more women will get birth control.

  • D.C. *

The vote was largely symbolic and not expected to go anywhere. On one hand, that’s a good thing. On the other hand, it appears that House Republicans are so eager to show voters how much they hate women that they will take time out of their day to schedule a vote just to show you they wish your boss could fire you for having sex.


In case there was any doubt that attacks on reproductive rights are, in no small part, about increasing income inequality by making contraception and abortion a privilege for the rich instead of a right for all, Texas Republicans have set out to remove all doubt. The state senate passed a bill that bans all insurance companies, private and public, from covering abortion.

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And no insurance companies bother offering that, anyway. And who would buy it? It’s obvious anti-choicers just want you to think of it as slut insurance. So much for that much-ballyhooed nonsense about conservatives supporting free enterprise. Not if it allows women to think their vaginas belong to them, no sir. And man, do legislators in Texas think about anything but how much they hate the idea of women having sex without their explicit permission? You get the impression that the first thing these folks think about when they wake up and the last thing on their minds when they go to bed is how women are out there, right now, having sex, and nothing they do seems to stop it. Well, low-income women and young women, anyway. A lot of the legislators involved in this are themselves women, but they are older and better-off, so should they need abortions, they can just go out of state and pay cash. Maybe even make a little vacation out of it: Go to New York and see the Statue of Liberty while reflecting on how glad they are that they are making liberty a privilege of the well-off.

As expected, Democrats tried to amend this bill by at least tacking on some rape and incest exemptions, and as these things go, some anti-choice legislator had to insinuate that rape victims are mostly filthy liars and so they cannot be trusted and need an outside authority—preferably male—to sign off on their claims.

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That was Texas State Sen. Donna Campbell. The whole debate, which I won’t subject you to, was grotesque. Sen. Kirk Watson kept pointing out that many victims don’t report out of fear of retaliation or, you know, because the assailant is a family member. Campbell disingenuously pulls faces and claims she’s just trying to help by forcing them to go to law enforcement. Which is nonsense, because even a modified amendment allowing for those who do go to law enforcement to get abortions was rejected. It’s gross seeing people fake compassion when they really figure it’s better to force someone to bear a rapist’s child, for instance, than to run the risk that someone, somewhere has consensual sex without being punished for it.

Senator Watson was certainly trying hard here, but I find this line of argument depressing.

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I know that they’re amending a bill that’s already lost and so they have to play on the opposing team’s turf, but it’s really depressing that this is where it’s come from: In order to even be considered even remotely eligible for some modicum of compassion, you have to be a virgin who was waiting for marriage—something almost no women do in this country. I don’t like conceding that ground. Women don’t lose their humanity because they choose to have sex. On the contrary, our desire to have sex is one of the many things, like the desire for naps, having ambition, and loving cats, that makes us human. But at least it goes to show that the territory this is being debated on has nothing to do with “life.” It’s all about the ridiculous expectations put on us by social conservatives—expectations they themselves do not follow—to squelch this part of ourselves lest we lose all claim to basic human rights.




So this is a story that’s hitting close to home for me, because I went to high school about an hour or two from this school, which is close by West Texas standards, and we competed with them in debate and sports and such things. So it’s kind of amazing to see this become not just a national, but international story.

  • Crane 1 *

Well, other news outlets did some digging and found that there were 20 reported cases of chlamydia at this high school. For context, Crane High School only has about 300 students, which means that literally 1 in 15 students at the high school has contracted this disease. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more, since these are just the reported cases. This should be a lesson in how it’s important to teach kids to use condoms and a reminder that we all are vulnerable to these kinds of diseases. But instead, as you can imagine, people are drawing exactly the opposite conclusion: treating this like it’s anomaly and that there must be something wrong with Crane, instead of an entirely predictable happenstance.

  • Crane 2 *

What nasty stuff is that? Sex? People having sex with multiple partners? Diseases spreading around a community? Hate to break it to you, sir, but if you want to raise your kids away from all that, you will have to move to a desert island far away from society and when they eventually grow up and start having urges, explain that while you clearly think sex was good enough for yourself, which is how you got them, you’re not going to allow them the same privilege. Good luck with that!

I wish I could say this guy is the exception, but this attitude is really predictable in the face of this. No, Crane is not dirty or especially slutty. They just got especially unlucky, and even then, it’s not that especially unlucky. The entire West Texas area is a veritable ground zero for STIs, because these exact attitudes discourage people from communicating with partners, getting tested regularly, and using condoms, which are the best ways to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Repression, in other words, is the problem, not the solution. I’m not the only one who sees this clearly.

  • Crane 3 *

Unfortunately, that video goes on to blame hip-hop and advertising for kids having sex, even though the whole of human history suggests that people were having sex all the time in every generation long before anyone scratched a record or took a photograph. Kids have sex because, and I can’t believe this needs saying, sex is a biological imperative that is dialed into us on a genetic level. Not to mention that these classes don’t just tell kids to wait, they tell them to wait until marriage, which, on average, would mean a full eight years after you graduate high school. Let’s just let go of the fantasy that post-pubescent people having interest in sexual intercourse is some new-fangled idea and start dealing with reality, which is that a certain percentage of people are going to do it before they graduate high school and pretty much all of us will do it before we get married. And that’s okay! As long as it’s with age-appropriate partners, it’s consensual, and you really do feel ready and not pressured, sex is a good thing. A lot of us had sex in high school or shortly thereafter and feel just fine about it. If we continue to lie to kids and tell them that’s not true, they will continue to see through our lies and decide we are not to be trusted. That’s just a straight-up bad idea.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, “Whose Uterus Is It Again?” edition. Keith Ablow of Fox News has a very strong opinion: Your uterus belongs to the last man who put some semen in it.

  • Ablow *

Not that any of this is a surprise. Ablow has always been a strong proponent of the idea that women should be forced by law to do what men want them to do. Never mind that forced pregnancy is one of the favorite tactics of domestic abusers. In fact, that’s almost tautological, because trying to force someone to get pregnant or have a baby against her will is clearly a sexual violation intended to hurt and control and therefore is inherently abusive. He just would make this form of domestic violence legal. And that’s what it is, make no mistake: Forcing your partner, against her will, to go through nine months of pregnancy, with all the bodily changes and risk to her life and pain that entails, cannot be considered anything else.

Hysteria Against Gay Marriage, Egregious Anti-Choice Legislation

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Cecily Strong joke

Matt Staver at the March for Marriage

Ah jeez, the “Adam and Steve” line

Threats of “God’s wrath”

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Yeah, no abortion isn’t like buying a house

Florida waiting period

Texas abstinence-only

Yeah, no


On this episode of Reality Cast, Jeff Teague from Planned Parenthood will be on to explain what’s going on in Tennessee. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about same-sex marriage and I’ll have a round-up of some of the more egregious anti-choice laws being passed this session.

Cecily Strong was the comedian for this year’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner and she got in a few jabs about reproductive rights. This was the best one.

  • Strong *

This made me go look up all the women who have been comedians for this event. It hasn’t been many: Wanda Sykes, Elayne Boosler, and Paula Poundstone. That’s basically it. Conclusion: More women should be asked to perform at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.


Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether or not same-sex marriage should be treated like a constitutional right across all 50 states. The Court has dealt with the question of same-sex marriage before, but they only considered it within the context of California and punted on the larger question of whether or not it should be the law of the land in every state. But now, the delays are over and we’re finally going to have a decision, one way or another. Most court watchers are confident that the Court will uphold the right to marry someone of your own sex, if only because the arguments against gay marriage laughable and weak. It’s not just that, either. Gay marriage is growing in popularity so fast that, at current rates, it will be a non-issue in the same way interracial marriage is a non-issue within a generation. But of course, people who have staked their entire careers as right-wing demagogues on this issue aren’t going to just roll over. Fundamentalists held a so-called “March for Marriage” at the National Mall the weekend before arguments, and the general tone of the speeches was full-blown hysteria. Matt Staver gave a stomach-turningly disingenuous speech, comparing the fight to deprive gay people of rights with older fights to give Black people their rights, even though that makes no kind of sense at all. Then he called on people to disobey the Court’s decision if they rule in favor of gay rights.

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In all seriousness, how exactly would this resistance look? How does one not obey this particular law? Not get “gay married”? Uh, well, you don’t have to. Is this some kind of veiled threat to harass and terrorize gay couples in the way abortion providers are harassed and terrorized? I have no idea. It’s probably just a bunch of empty rhetoric, but still, weird.

The March for Marriage also featured some hoary old lines bigots still think are funny.

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That was Father Johannes Jacobse. I must point out that, by that logic, anyone not named Adam or Eve shouldn’t be allowed to marry, either, if marriage is strictly an Adam-and-Eve thing.

On top of the march, there was also a press conference held by a bunch of anti-gay nuts. The tone continued to be one of sustained hysteria, as epitomized by Bill Jonhson of the American Decency Association. I swear, you cannot make this stuff up.

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You know they’re getting desperate when they’re left promising supernatural consequences if you don’t do what they want. This particular tactic is especially sleazy because it’s based completely on back rationalizations. By which I mean that bad things are going to happen in the future, but these sleazy mofos are going to claim that the bad things happened because God is punishing us, even though bad things happened in the past prior to the “God punishing us” days. Hurricanes fall on the homobigots and the pro-gay alike, but somehow gays will get blamed for the weather.

But while these D.C. events featured a bunch of bottom feeders, there are still people considered mainstream politicians who were spouting the same hysterical nonsense. Marco Rubio, for instance, bust this out in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.

  • gay 4 *

He then went off on state’s rights, because the only amendments to the Constitution conservatives seem to know about are the Second and the Tenth, both of which they misread. But there is another amendment, called the 14th, which says explicitly that no state can, quote, “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” That’s state, by the way, which means that this “states’ rights” nonsense is explicitly outlawed in the Constitution. Equal protection is straightforward enough, too. Straight people are allowed to marry so, by law, gay people should be allowed to marry, too. There’s a little legal wiggle room there, but the notion that it’s absurd to see strong equality protections in the Constitution is a flat out lie.




State legislatures are in session and that means, these days at least, a depressing and endless amount of anti-choice legislation pouring out of state houses. So here’s a roundup of some of the latest iterations you need to be keeping an eye on. North Carolina is a state that is swiftly heading to swing state status, so anti-choicers there are trying to shove through a bunch of ridiculous anti-choice legislation while they still have the votes to get it done. Which includes one of the longest waiting periods72 hoursin the country. You will not be surprised to hear that the rhetoric defending this treats women like they are idiots. Such as this justification from state representative Jacqueline Schaeffer.

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Uh, no. Real estate waiting periods are not the same, in no small part because they’re often imposed by contract and not law. But more to the point, there’s legitimate reasons that it takes time to finalize a house deal. You can’t tell everything you need to know about a house by looking at it, which is why inspectors have to come in. But whether or not an abortion is a good idea doesn’t require a bunch of external information. It only depends on one thing: whether a woman wants to have a baby right now or not. Since the relevant information is information the woman already possesses, making her wait and endure a bunch of irrelevant lectures is just a harassment technique. Also, those so-called medical waiting procedures? They aren’t there for the purpose of guilt-tripping and putting women in time-out so they can feel bad about their supposedly slutty ways. Most of the time, it’s just about scheduling, not thinking it over. Like when I had surgery, yes, I waited a week between diagnosis and surgery, but only because my doctor only does this surgery a few times a month. If I could have done it sooner, I would have. But the main thing is those waiting periods are not standardized and not imposed by the state, but based on a doctor’s judgment. The very thing antis want to remove from the equation.

Florida imposed a waiting period, too, of 24 hours. It’s the usual cruel, misogynist nonsense.

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Forcing women to document their rape is a rather unsubtle way of calling them liars. It’s also there to create the appearance of compassion for rape survivors while functionally imposing the waiting period on them. After all, cobbling together documentation of a rape will probably take more time and be a bigger hassle than just enduring the waiting period. Even if rape victims do have the ability to get the paperwork in order, they’ll probably just opt for the waiting period instead, since it’s less of a hassle.

Meanwhile, Texas is considering a whole new slate of abortion restrictions, because they are single-minded and obsessed. But because anti-choicers aren’t just anti-abortion, they are also, sigh, attacking resources to make contraception available and to prevent STI transmission.

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95 percent of Americans have sex before marriage, but because one guy was a virgin until he was 29, we all have to suffer. Anti-choice logic at its finest.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, more anti-gay hysteria edition. I mean, you had to know I have like a million of these clips, right? Todd Starnes on the American Family Radio all but accuses gay people of trying to put conservatives in concentration camps.

  • Starnes *

They weren’t sitting there minding their own business. They were selling cakes and when a gay couple came in, they basically said we don’t serve your kind around here. No one is trying to ban Christians from owning businesses or run them out of their homes. We are saying that if you run a business, you benefit from community support in all sorts of ways, from the roads that we collectively provide to get customers to you to the clean water we provide to make your cakes to the trade agreements that help you buy flour and sugar to make cakes. In exchange for all these services we the people provide your business, you in turn have a responsibility to not discriminate. If you do not wish to follow the law, you are free to not own a business. This is not that hard to understand.

Attacks on Reproductive Rights in Colorado, Tennessee

Related Links

Rand Paul snits at reporters

Rand Paul’s wife defends him

Debate over TN abortion bill


Colorado Pro-Choice Advocates: Giving Legal Rights to Fetuses Doesn’t Protect Pregnant Woman


Apologies to listeners: This week’s episode is transcript-free due to a technical glitch.

Anti-Clinton Sexism, and Second-Trimester Abortion Bans

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Jemima Kirke of Girls tells her abortion story

Kansas bans the D and E procedure

Oklahoma bans the D and E procedure

Wayne LaPierre reacts to Clinton candidacy

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Dallas female CEO says women can’t be president because they’re not suited for leadership


On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll speak with a reporter who attended a huge annual crisis pregnancy center conference. Two states ban a very common abortion procedure, and the sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton started as soon as she announced her candidacy.

Jemima Kirke’s character on Girls didn’t get an abortion because she had one of those well-timed TV miscarriages instead, but the actress did have an abortion in real life and sat down to record a video about it for the Center for Reproductive Rights’ Draw the Line campaign.

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It’s a very typical abortion story, but I think that’s what gives stories like this power. It shows that the woman in question is not some weird, sex-crazed monster, but just like the rest of us: Most of us date people we don’t end up married to. Most of us have sex even if we’re not interested in having a baby. Abortion is a mundane, everyday part of the female experience and it’s good to talk about it as such.


So there’s yet another assault on abortion rights that could dramatically impact a lot of women’s ability to get health care, but it’s barely getting any mainstream media coverage. I have a piece up at Rewire [here:] talking about some of the reasons why, but this is really just going to be a more newsy piece to try to make up, as much as I can, for the deafening silence around this enormous issue. Anti-choicers are quietly taking away the ability to get a safe abortion in the second trimester.

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There’s a lot of hand-wringing and boo-hooing amongst anti-choicers about how supposedly barbaric it is to “dismember” a fetus. But it’s worth pointing out that, in many cases, they forced this situation. It used to be legal to perform something called a dilation and extraction, or D and X for short, which allowed the abortion doctor to pull the fetus out in one piece. Now, that’s not doable for a lot of abortions, but for some abortions, particularly later ones that were primarily done for medically necessary reasons, it was both safer and helped families who were grieving a wanted pregnancy that had to be terminated for medical reasons have an intact body to grieve. But anti-choicers banned that abortion, basically claiming that it’s somehow more gruesome to remove a fetus in one piece rather than bit by bit. Now they’re singing a different tune, claiming that it’s actually the D and E that offends them.

Anti-choice activists: not an honest group of people. It’s a recurring theme on this show.

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These exceptions are there to make it sound like they are pro-life, but rest assured, the exception is meaningless. It’s not just because there’s no exception for either health or rape or incest. Nor is it because there’s no exception for mental health, an exception that always tees off anti-choicers because they don’t like acknowledging that women have brains. Mostly it’s because an exception this narrow becomes nearly impossible to prove and, because it’s pretty rare, most doctors who feel confident with the terminate-or-die diagnosis may not have experience doing D and E abortions and so will have to resort to more invasive or painful procedures.

But the hatefulness of this bill doesn’t stop it from spreading.

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The lurid language is meant to be provocative and moralistic, of course, but it’s also meant to make it sound like they’re just singling out a specific procedure and like it’s nothing more than that. That’s simply false, however. Because the D and E is basically how they do second-trimester abortions, this is functionally a ban on abortions after 14 weeks. And a whole lot of those are done because of fetal abnormality or because of rape, and both those reasons for abortion are now not considered good enough in Kansas or Oklahoma.




Perhaps you have heard that a pro-choice feminist lady with strong name recognition has formally announced she is running for president. That’s right, Hillary Clinton has made her announcement in a video that feels deliberately low-key, about ordinary Americans doing ordinary things with Clinton wedged in at the end. I’m not surprised Clinton is trying to be as low-key as possible, because the fact that she’s a woman makes the already predictable conservative freak-out even uglier than it would be for someone with a similar resume but an M instead of an F on the driver’s license. And sure enough, NRA head Wayne LaPierre went all in with the misogynist reaction.

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I mean, how do you even parody that? The actual argument, not even the implied argument, is that the White House belongs to white men and any other person who occupies it is an interloper whose presence can only be tolerated just long enough to make a point before returning the office to its rightful white male owner.

Bill O’Reilly engaged in the same logic where things like the presidency are assumed to belong to white men by rights and any attempts to allow more people in are taken as attacks on the rights of the white man to be the only legitimate candidates for things like high office.

  • Hillary 2 *

It was only a couple days and already you had major conservative leaders working this idea that being a woman gives you all these inherent and unfair advantages over poor, beleaguered white men. Ridiculous on its surface, sure, but if you think about the implications, it gets even uglier. Because no woman has ever won the presidency. No woman has even been a major party nominee for the presidency. If you believe that women automatically have a leg up, then the only way to explain this discrepancy is to assume that women are inferior to men and that no woman throughout all of history has been even remotely as qualified as even the worst male president. Oh, I know the excuse is to say this is a new development and that this supposedly advantage women have over men just started happening. To which I say, I will believe women have an advantage over men when women start getting jobs and promotions and winning elections over men who are clearly better at the job than they are. You know, how sexism has always worked against women since forever? And Hillary Clinton ain’t your test case, as she has better name recognition and a resume that is much more impressive than every male candidate who has thrown in so far in this election. And even if the Republicans can muster up someone who has that going for him, you’d still have to prove the loss was due to gender and not policy disagreements with the public. Sounds like a lot, I know, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

When not claiming that men are victimized because they let the broads run for office now, Clinton critics were engaging in just plain old gender-baiting. Such as Republican strategist Ana Navarro on CNN.

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As always, it’s wise to consider that “advice” coming from your opposition may just be concern trolling. I doubt Navarro is upset about male candidates drowning her in testosterone by always talking about their wives or their golfing. Instead, I would argue that this so-called advice is an attempt to make her womanhood an obstacle instead of an asset by implying that there’s something silly and weak about being female or even feminine. It is true, I think, that Clinton is embracing her gender more this time around than last. That’s because American women are increasingly rejecting the idea that our gender does make us weak or insipid. Instead, the idea of strong but feminine womanhood has really taken hold in our culture, whether you agree with it or not. The idea of the steel magnolia has always persisted in American culture, of course, but it’s really on the rise lately with the ascendency of stars like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift and TV shows like the Good Wife and Scandal. Clinton’s gender is an asset in a way it wasn’t 8 years ago, and so it’s no surprise to see that Republicans are trying to hit hard on that front, trying to turn a strength into a weakness.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the really far out sexist anti-Hillary edition. While the conservative press is trying a sexist narrative against Clinton that carefully avoids saying directly that women are inherently unqualified to be president, some of the every day conservatives out there aren’t so subtle. Go Ape Marketing CEO Cheryl Rios got herself on TV in Dallas recently by blabbing about how a woman can’t be president.

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The cognitive dissonance of anti-feminist women is always hilarious. It used to be the women who have full-time jobs as writers and pundits in order to tell other women they belong in the home. And now you have a CEO explaining how women aren’t fit for leadership.

Ludicrous Anti-Abortion Bills, and the Search for Better Condoms

Related Links

Why don’t we have a better condom?

Rep. Pat McElraft would like you to buy her nonsense

More on the North Carolina bill

Rachel Maddow on the North Carolina bill


On this episode of Reality Cast, Slate’s L.V. Anderson will be on to explain the search for a better condom. North Carolina is passing some self-contradictory abortion regulation, and anti-choicers force us to have a discussion about whether “abortion reversal” is a real thing. It’s not.

Mad Men is back on AMC and on its final run to the series finale in a mere seven episodes. The show returned with an episode titled “Severance,” and it showed that the show is just as good as it ever was at showing the 1960s era sexism that inspired second-wave feminism.

  • Mad Men *

I saw some people decry this scene as over the top, but I disagree. I still see dude bros making the same kind of jokes premised on the idea that it’s hilarious that women have bodies even now in the twenty-first century.


So the North Carolina legislature is attacking abortion access again, with a major omnibus bill that is clearly intended to make abortion much harder to get, and to shame and punish women during their abortion process. And, as is typical with abortion laws these days, the excuse is that they are doing this to protect women, doing that anti-choice thing where they paint women as dumb bunnies who are being exploited by evil abortionists and who need just need a little government-mandated guidance, perhaps a bit of force, to see that they really want their babies. Or, in lieu of that, be so hassled that the clock runs out and they don’t have a chance to abort. But yeah, the legislators love talking a big game about doing this to protect women. Huffington Post interviewed state representative Pat McElraft about this bill, and her excuse was all feigned concern about the poor women, who are basically just tall children who can get pregnant and need oh so much protection.

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Remember, as a general rule, these kinds of numbers antis cite tend to be pulled out of the air, so don’t trust them. The obvious reason for this waiting period is to make it a major hassle to get an abortion and also the hope is they can run out the clock, but whatever, the official excuse is they’re trying to help women. The bill would also require that abortions be performed only by an obstetrician or gynecologist. This is dumb, of course, because vacuum aspiration abortion is a simple outpatient procedure that any doctor can do if they want. More to the point, many abortions are just handing someone a pill, but to hear anti-choicers talk, handing someone a pill and asking them to swallow it is a fraught task that only the most elite and highly trained doctors can do. McElraft again.

  • North Carolina 2 *

So concern. So wow. But here’s a funny thing about this supposed deep concern about women’s health and safety. If you really wanted abortion to be a safe medical procedure, you would want people who are offering it to get the best medical training available, right? Well, guess what? This same bill, the one that is supposedly about making abortion so safe and secure, guess what else it does?

  • North Carolina 3 *

That’s right. They are going to ban the University of North Carolina medical school from providing abortion training. You know, the very training that makes abortion safe for women? You know what you don’t do if you’re worried about something being safe? You don’t ban people from learning to do it safely. This is like saying that you want driving to be safer, so you’re going to ban people from taking driving classes. And this isn’t just any medical school, either. As Rachel Maddow explained, they’re targeting one of the best OB-GYN schools in the country.

  • North Carolina 4 *

She goes on to explain some of the implications.

  • North Carolina 5 *

When asked about how doctors would learn how to do this, McElraft said, “There are opportunities for doctors to learn this,” suggesting they can figure it out by watching women miscarry or learning on the fly. Yes, the very same woman who was so recently worried that abortion is dangerous and complicated, which it is not, that she wants to restrict it to OB-GYNs, now thinks it’s so easy you don’t even need someone else to show you how to do it, but can MacGyver it on your own. I swear, I don’t know how people like her can keep going to church and telling themselves they’re good, moral people when they lie so shamelessly like this.




Arizona’s legislature, clearly worried that they’re falling behind in the race to be the most ridiculous on the issue of reproductive rights, passed a bill into law that would require, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, doctors to tell women getting medical abortions that they can get the procedure reversed. I’ve written about this for Rewire [here], but now the rest of the media is catching up a little and so I can play some clips of those reactions, which are almost comical in the attempts to be fair-minded to the increasingly ludicrous medical fantasies of the Christian right. CBC in Canada described the basic idea.

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To be clear, these are also the same people who think that if you get an abortion, you’re doomed to suffer from breast cancer, suicide, drug addiction and whatever other random supernatural punishment they’re wishing on you this week. And they also think contraception causes abortion and embryos call out for mommy with their unformed mouths. Not really what you’d call the most scientifically sound group of folks here. NPR interviewed Dr. Stephen Chasen about this, and he’s a bit exasperated, as you would be, by all this.

  • reversal 2 *

So what they’re calling abortion reversal is actually just… not completing your abortion. But there’s a lot of shots and anti-choice theater, because if there’s one thing anti-choicers are good at, it’s creating self-aggrandizing drama. Never have so many just needed to get a life. But I digress. Dr. Chasen isn’t too worried that this is dangerous per se, or at least no more so than taking one pill and then just not taking the other, which probably works equally as well. But he is worried, for good reason, that messing with women’s minds like this is just a bad idea.

  • reversal 3 *

In other words, they’re forcing doctors to give you contradictory information. When you go to a clinic, they tell you that you really need to be sure because there’s no going back once this has started. But now they’re required by law, to turn around and say the opposite, that it can be reversed. This is a clear violation of medical ethics and, as Dr. Chasen says, it could create confusion in a woman who is unsure. But some women are, in fact, unsure. The irony here is that by supposedly trying to save these pregnancies, antis may actually cause some to be lost, as women who are on the fence take the pill, figuring they can decide later. Luckily, that won’t happen much, if at all, since most women are sure they want to abort when they come to the clinic. But those who are uncertain will be harder to talk out of their abortions now. Not that anti-choicers care, though. This isn’t and never was about “saving” babies, but about punishing women who have sex. So while this new requirement won’t save any embryos and may even kill a few more than otherwise would have died, it doesn’t matter to them. The main thing is confusing and upsetting women, to punish them for being in this situation in the first place.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, funny how God always wants what some sexist douchebag wants edition. Recently, there was an incident at a Florida church where a 9-year-old fired a gun in the bathroom. When news cameras showed up at the church, they discovered a sign extolling the virtues of male leadership. Here’s how the pastor responded.

  • Lytell *

He claims he’s not saying men are better than women, but obviously, that’s exactly what he’s saying here.

The Purvi Patel Case, and Conservative Rhetoric on Rape

Related Links


Gov. Mike Pence weasels

Bart Hester weasels

Glenn Beck worries that gay people will put Christians in concentration camps

First the cake, then the forced bestiality


NRA host claims victims, not perpetrators, bear the responsibility to stop rape

Gavin McInnes

Andrea Tantaros says something gross

Blaming crime against pregnant women on abortion


On this episode of Reality Cast, Lynn Paltrow will be one to explain the Purvi Patel case in Indiana. Indiana is also the focus of a backlash against conservatives oppressing in the guise of “religious freedom,” and conservative rhetoric on rape is getting uglier.

Transgender activist Michael Hughes is doing a selfie project, under the hashtag #WeJustNeedToPee, where he photographs himself in women’s rooms, something he would be forced to do if a bill that would require people to use bathrooms corresponding with their birth gender assignment was to pass into law. In the photos, he stands with women in the bathroom, showing how absurd it is to think this is the correct bathroom for him, a hefty and bearded dude. He explained his process on MSNBC.

  • Hughes *

The fact that he has to go to such lengths to make his presences in the women’s room safe shows, I think, what trans folks are up against and why these bills are so dangerous.


Most people like saying “I told you so,” but these days, I positively hate it. I’ve long said that if Hobby Lobby was successful in their bid to use “religious freedom” as a cover story to deny their employees contraception coverage, then it was just going to be game on for the religious right. And I’ve been proven right by the situation in Indiana, where Gov. Mike Pence signed a law that, no matter how much he denies it, was clearly intended to give business owners broad rights to discriminate against gay people. That’s the bad news. The good news is, as I’m sure listeners are aware, the reaction has been swift and widespread, with celebrities and other politicians calling for boycotts of the state and politicians weaseling around trying to defend this law and making themselves look like complete asses doing it. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Mike Pence himself:

  • gay 1 *

This goes on for roughly forever, with George Stephanopoulos begging Pence to give him a straight yes or no answer and Pence refusing and trying to recite talking points to dodge the issue. And here’s this weasel, state Sen. Bart Hester (R-AR), trying to avoid admitting anything regarding a similar Arkansas bill to ABC’s Jake Tapper.

  • gay 2 *

And so one and so forth. It’s Schrodinger’s discrimination: They claim the law simultaneously does and does not allow someone to deny service based on sexual orientation. Obviously, no one is fooled by this two-step, least of all the conservative base. On the contrary, in conservative media the message is loud and clear: Unless they get a legal right to cite “religion” as the excuse in order to discriminate against people, then the end of the world is near. Glenn Beck went off on how either you allow people to refuse to let gay people sit at their lunch counter, or you might as well put them in concentration camps.

  • gay 3 *

It is worth pointing out that this law he’s defending, much like the Jim Crow laws against black people that it is modeled upon, is actually about promoting segregation. The point is to allow people to say “we don’t serve your kind around here.” Despite all his let’s-all-hug-it-out rhetoric, he is actually promoting straight up segregation and defending the rights of bigots to treat gay people in this hateful, othering way he claims to oppose. In addition, as is usual with conservatives making Nazi analogies, they have it completely backwards. Nazis weren’t a bunch of gay people putting conservative Christians in camps. On the contrary, the Nazis put gay people in the camps. This is hardly unknown or obscure information.

Pat Robertson’s reaction was even more hysterical.

  • gay 4 *

That he equates oral sex with bestiality tells you all you need to know about where he’s coming from. I barely feel I need to refute this, but let’s have at it: He’s projecting. The reality is it’s the Christian right that is trying to force you to conform to their sexual mores, ones that are so strict that even they don’t follow them. For years, they tried to force gay people to either be straight or give up on sex entirely through government force. The bans against sodomy were overturned a mere 12 years ago and it looks like the Supreme Court is about to overturn bans on gay marriage. So now they’re shifting tactics, looking to private business. I don’t know how successful the tactic will be, but the clear intent is to make it so miserable to be gay because people keep refusing your business that you leave the community. As more gay people relocate to rural and suburban areas, this could be a real problem and it is about more than simply getting another florist for your wedding.

But Robertson sounds calm next to Matthew Hagee, who whipped out the end-of-the-human-race card.

  • gay 5 *

That’s right. If gay marriage is legalized, no one will ever be allowed to have heterosexual intercourse again. That is by far the most logical thing I’ve ever heard in my life. In all seriousness, I often think the primary reason gay rights have advanced as quickly as they have in recent years is the opposition is simply incapable of coming up with an argument that isn’t just hilariously bad. They all sound like people who have never left the house and learned everything they know about human interaction from 50s-era picture books. But mommy, how could you get a baby in your tummy without being married? It’s a mystery, it surely is.




As the debate over campus rape rages on, I’ve noticed that conservatives seem to be getting a little bolder and more mean-spirited towards rape victims. Rape has always been an odd issue to discuss publicly, because the conservative opponents of anti-rape activism are never going to come out and say they are pro-rape. There’s always a lot of face-pulling over how they agree that rape is a very serious crime. But, of course, once the formalities are over, their purpose is in arguing against treating it as a serious crime, by trying to define many rapes as not-rapes, blaming the victims and treating them like they’re hysterical, trying to turn the debate into a discussion about their own hobby horse, which is their opposition to women’s sexual freedom, or treating accused rapists like they’re the real victims here. That’s always been the case, but mostly conservatives have tried to couch these arguments so they don’t sound too indifferent to rape or too quick to blame the victim. But recently, the hostile rhetoric aimed at rape victims and their advocates is really getting uglier.

This was particularly obvious when the podcast host for the NRA’s news feed, Cam Edwards, went on one of the ugliest victim-blaming rants I’ve ever heard, all in service of trying to bully people into buying more guns. He’s denouncing the campus paper for objecting to the NRA’s marketing push to get guns legalized on campus, which wouldn’t prevent any crime but might help sell more guns.

  • rape 1 *

And this is exactly why feminists have been speaking out about this. While this guy is claiming that he’s all about trying to help women, when say that the rape is the fault of the victim’s because she failed in her duty to protect herself, that’s basically legalizing rape. I realize that he doesn’t think of it that way, but that’s the logical result of saying the burden of preventing a crime, i.e. the responsibility for the crime, belongs to the victim, not the perpetrator. And thus, if you are raped and you don’t have a gun or can’t reach your gun or your rapist uses your gun against you, then you will be told it was your fault and you must have secretly wanted it because you didn’t do enough to stop it.

We need to blame rapists for rape.

That prevents rape in two ways. First of all, if a wannabe rapist knows that the victim will be blamed and he will get away with it, he’s more likely to rape. Because, duh, he knows that she’ll be blamed. Two, if a rape does happen, if we blame the victim, then the rapist will be free. Most of them rape again, which research has repeatedly shown. The only way to stop rape is to create consequences for rapists. And while the NRA wants those consequences to be profitable for the gun manufacturers that support them, shooting rapists is really a substandard alternative to holding them accountable. I’ll add one more thing: If you believe that a rape is the victim’s fault when she doesn’t shoot her rapist, odds are you will continue to believe it was her fault if she does shoot the rapist. Which means that on top of being attacked, victims will often face malicious charges of murder. Bad idea.

But victim-blaming to sell guns is just one flavor of misogyny I’ve seen recently. Gavin McInnes of Fox News was also victim-blaming to push his anger at young women for having fun and being sexually liberated. He was angry at women for enjoying spring break.

  • rape 2 *

McInnes started Vice magazine. When he was young, he was Mr. Partying and Craziness. He was a nasty bigot then, but it’s funny to me that now that he’s middle aged and those hot young women treat him like he’s invisible, so now he’s decided they need to cover up and stay at home and never have any fun or it’s their fault if they get raped. Dude, we all get older. You don’t have to bust out the rape card on the young’uns because you’re bitter about aging.

Now we’ve heard the victim-blaming, so it’s time for talking about how, when it comes to rape, accused rapists are the real victims here. Courtesy of Andrea Tantaros of Fox News.

  • rape 3 *

It’s telling that Tantaros thinks that coming down hard on rape is a war on young men. Only if you think either rape is not a big deal or that most young men do it, or some combination of both. In reality, and I will also speak slowly, rape is a hate crime against women. Most men are not misogynist bigots who will rape if they get a chance. And anyone who equates the war on rape with a war on men is implying that men are inherently rapists. So who’s the man-hater, again?


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, God kills babies to punish you for killing embryos edition. Recently, a pregnant woman in Colorado was brutally attacked by a woman who cut out her baby with the intention of passing it off as her own. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a state representative in Colorado, responded by making it about abortion.

  • Klingenschmitt *

Classy. The baby died, and if you think this is about “life,” then his ramblings are nonsensical. But I don’t see it that way. I think anti-choice is rooted in misogyny. And because of this, it makes sense that he would think that women are being punished for their defiance and feminism by having God inflict violent abuse on them.

Glitter Bombs, and Phil Robertson’s Vile Speech

Related Links

The biggest stretch of all time?

Glitter bombing Jeff Fortenberry

Vandalism on the Mississippi abortion clinic

Phil Robertson’s fantasies

Phil Robertson says that liberals and women who have abortions are worse than Hitler

Phil Robertson’s advice to gay men

Mike Huckabee: As wrong as a man can be while still standing


On this episode of Reality Cast, a representative of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum will talk about sex-selective abortion bans. Anti-choicers feel victimized by glitter bombs and Phil Robertson shares his gross rape fantasies with America.

If you ever wonder if some anti-choicers spend every waking moment obsessing over how much they hate the fact that women have reproductive choices, this story out of New Hampshire confirms it. A fourth-grade class went to the legislature and introduced a bill that would make the Red Tail Hawk the state raptor. Cute, right? But not to Rep. Warren Groen.

  • Groen *

So yeah, we’re at the point where a bunch of 9-year-olds can’t even talk about the state bird without some hateful, obsessive anti-feminist trying to make it about how evil it is that women have rights.


Tragedy struck recently in anti-choice circles as anti-choice legislators and activists find themselves very inconvenienced. The first victim of this horror show of mild inconvenience is Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), who was victimized by having, wait for it, some glitter get all over his office.

  • glitter 1 *

It was horrible, you all. Glitter on the floor, on the desk, in their clothes. Cleaning it up probably took minutes, perhaps an hour, depending on how good the vacuum was. And they weren’t the only victims. Life News was also glitter bombed, which meant minutes of inconvenience and hours spent fund-raising over what huge victims they are because, y’all, cleaning glitter up is hard. No matter how hard you clean, I swear to god for months afterwards, small bits of glitter keep turning up, sticking to your clothes. Can you imagine the hell?

I mean, it’s not easy like being forced to carry a baby for nine months against your will is. Mandatory childbirth is nothing compared to that. Next thing you know, pro-choicers are going to require anti-choicers to wait 24 hours before they can clean glitter up in their offices. Or require some kind of invasive pelvic exam before you’re allowed to clean up the glitter. Or worse, what if pro-choicers won’t let you clean up the glitter until you have to listen to a condescending script about how great the sparkle is and how glitter-free offices lead to breast cancer and suicide. You should be forced to explain how you’re really, really sure you don’t want glitter in your office before you snuck out the sparkle.

Okay, I can’t in good conscience endorse this tactic, as funny as it is to watch a bunch of people who would literally force childbirth on you whine about how hard it is to clean up glitter. If nothing else, don’t do it because they fundraise on it, reaching out to their equally humorless supporters with a victim complex. But man, not only is the whining about this really tasteless in light of what they want to force on women, but it’s also tasteless when you consider that anti-choicers actually threaten and terrorize abortion providers all the time. So while anti-choicers are cleaning up glitter, this is what abortion providers are putting up with.

  • glitter 2 *

On its surface, it’s similar, though it’s worth noting that the hassle this vandalism creates is exponentially worse than having to clean up glitter: The damage is going to be very expensive to fix. Nor can this be written off as a harmless prank, as this was a clear intention to do real harm, not just to give someone a hard time for an hour. But that’s without looking at the context. In context, this is much more than vandalism. This is an attack on the security system of an abortion clinic. Abortion clinics don’t have security systems because they’re worried about theft or glitter bombs. They have them because they fear violence. Anti-choice terrorists have murdered doctors and bombed clinics, with real bombs, not glitter bombs. They often try to destroy some aspect of the business so that they can’t provide care to women, which is clearly what the vandal was doing here. They cause real death and destruction. This act is threatening, for real threatening, not we’re going to pretend we were threatened to fundraise threatening.

And it’s not just because of the activities of criminal terrorists.

  • glitter 3 *

In other words, the official, public face of the anti-choice movement has the same goals as the terrorist arm: To bully, badger, annoy, scare, or do whatever they can to shut clinics down. In contrast, while pro-choicers don’t love anti-choicers, we do not and have not taken measures to try to stop them from speaking their mind. We don’t try to censor them. We don’t try to pass a bunch of B.S. regulations to put them out of business. We don’t make public statements about how we’re going to end them. We don’t try to force anyone to get an abortion the way they try to force you not to get an abortion. We argue. We try to persuade. At most, some pro-choicers have argued that crisis pregnancy centers should be required to disclose what they are, but we don’t vandalize them or try to shut them down. With the anti-choice movement, from top to bottom, they are trying to force, through terrorism and legal action. And while you really shouldn’t be glitter bombing people, it’s safe to say that even that is not an attempt to force or bully anyone, but just a prank, however ill-conceived. That is a difference that matters and don’t let any whining about glitter bombs distract from this basic point. Only one side looks to force, whether through terrorist action or through the law.




Phil Robertson from that supposedly family values reality show Duck Dynasty made a bunch of headlines last year when he did an interview with GQ where he said nasty things about gay people and Black people, though for some reason, the stuff he said about gay people got more headlines. He got a bunch of positive conservative media attention and even some “free speech” awards from groups that confused having someone criticize you with government censorship. Well, their big hero is back in the headlines again, and once again it’s because he is putting his sadistic sexual fantasies and weird bigotries out there and calling it religion. He gave a speech at the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast that people apparently thought was hilarious, because his fans confuse saying things loudly with humor. After going on a rant about how you don’t need health care, something I guarantee he has, because you’re going to die one day anyway, he then moves on to this:

  • Robertson 1 *

The vividness of his fantasy of punishing people with rape and murder for not believing in his God is what really just blew people away, I think. But this sort of thinking is actually standard operating procedure with the Christian right. Wishing for all these lurid punishments to happen to women and gay people for having sex is a huge thing on the Christian right. This is more severe in tone but isn’t really that different, for instance, than the crisis pregnancy centers telling you that you’re going to get breast cancer and commit suicide if you have an abortion. Or abstinence-only programs that tell kids they’ll never be loved if they have premarital sex or that they’ll die horribly of cancer. It’s really best understood as a sadistic fantasy, even when it’s disguised as a warning.

Indeed, while his fantasy that atheists are punished by murder and rape, which he seems to imagine mostly as a property crime against your father or husband, Robertson’s speech was downright wide-ranging in its hate against women and gay men, as well.

  • Robertson 2 *

It’s interesting playing these two clips together. I often point out how degrading it is to actual human beings who have suffered at the actual hands of actual murderers to say that they had no more value than an embryo. But you really begin to see how devalued actual human life is to radical “pro-lifers” here. So devalued that he can’t help but fantasize about the torture and murder of people just because they don’t believe in his God. So devalued that Robertson, like so many anti-choicers, routinely equates the death of actual human beings with names and hopes and dreams and feelings with the death of an embryo, which has none of that. It’s not that people like Roberston are actually confused about this, either, which is why miscarriage is never compared to losing a born child in an accident. It’s because fundamentalists like this want to elevate differing with them on their religious dogma to a capital crime. Whenever anyone asks me why I won’t call anti-choicers “pro-life,” this is why. How can they be, when they treat life like it has less value than forcing other people to conform to your religious dogma?

And make no mistake, this is all about conformity, making everyone live and act exactly the same, no matter how it makes them feel.

  • Robertson 3 *

Everyone needs to be married, as soon as possible, in heterosexual marriages. Why? Not for their own good, for sure. After all, he wants not only for gay men to forsake any hope of happiness, but to marry themselves off to straight women, making sure their wives never get a chance at a loving marriage. It’s super obvious that the reason is just because difference, any difference, upsets him. He’s confused a childish desire to make everyone act and look exactly the same with morality. If it was just him, it would be no big deal, but he’s speaking to a crowd and tends to get treated like a national hero by the religious right.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, how many ways can one man be wrong edition. And that man is Mike Huckabee, claiming that the contraception mandate is the sort of thing that the American revolution was fought over. After claiming that there should be no limit on religious belief, Huckabee said this:

  • Huckabee *

So first of all, the argument is that there should be no limit on religious belief, which means apparently that you should be allowed to deny other people health care based on your religion. Of course, having your boss tell you what kind of birth control you can use is severely limiting of your own personal religious freedom, so it’s clear that Huckabee only supports the religious rights of conservative Christians. This is a system where, if my belief conflicts with a conservative Christian’s, then his belief wins, even if it’s my personal health care that we’re discussing. I don’t get religious freedom, not if someone else is dictating what health care I can get based on his religion. Then he suggests that the American revolution was a revolt of religious people against a secular society. This is completely backwards. It was an anti-colonial revolution of people who wanted self-government and they specifically wrote a constitution that forbade the kind of imposition of religious dogma on the unwilling that Huckabee is promoting here. The man can’t open his mouth without lying, can he?

Controversy Over IUD Funding in Colorado, Trafficking Legislation, and ‘Campus Carry’ Bills

Related Links

Jon Stewart is angry

MSNBC on the human trafficking bill debacle

NPR on the trafficking debacle

Who’s the “jerk”?

Guns on campus

Katie Pavlich’s gun fantasies

Sandy Rios is more worried about gay marriage than sex trafficking


On this episode of Reality Cast, Tara Culp-Ressler will tell us more about the Colorado IUD controversy. The Senate has gridlock over a sex trafficking bill that Republicans snuck an anti-choice poison pill into and gun fondlers try to hijack the campus rape debate.

I’m going to get into this story more on the first segment, but I thought you all would appreciate Jon Stewart’s denunciation of Mitch McConnell for Republicans trying to cram abortion restrictions into every bill they can get their hands on.

  • Daily Show *

Yep, pretty much. But I’ll get into more detail during the next segment.


If you want evidence of how much the Republican Party is in thrall to the Christian right, look no further than this debacle over a bill that was supposed to be bipartisan and all kumbaya and whatnot, but because conservatives have this obsession with forcing rape victims to give birth to their rapist’s babies, the entire thing is falling apart. What’s going on is there’s this bill that would create a restitution fund for victims of sex trafficking, funded entirely by fines levied against sex traffickers. Sounds like an easy win, right? But Republicans slipped a provision in that would bar the victims who got money from using that money for abortion. Democrats are now revolting, as they should, because that provision is revolting. MSNBC brought on Politico’s Burgess Everett to discuss what the hell is happening.

  • trafficking 1 *

Some background on this: In recent years, the Christian right has really taken on sex trafficking a major issue. Human trafficking generally, but really their interest is mostly focused on sex trafficking. It’s difficult to criticize people taking on this issues, since the wrongness of slavery is just black and white. But putting my cynic hat on, I have to point out that sex trafficking is a rather perfect issue to give conservatives cover to push an anti-sex agenda. They can use the issue to promote the idea that sex is inherently demeaning to women, that women are inherently asexual creatures, and that sexual liberation has created nothing but problems, all while shielding themselves from criticism because, you know, forcing women and children into sex slavery is wrong.

Now there’s a way to be against sex slavery that isn’t anti-sex, of course. It’s by centering the issue around the concept of consent. But the Christian right doesn’t like the consent framework, because, of course, they support the use of force when it comes to child-bearinghow a woman feels about having children should have no bearing on whether she is forced to have children, they believe. Thus the opposition to abortion and hostility to contraception.

It’s tempting for more sex-positive opponents of sex trafficking to overlook this critical difference between how they frame the struggle and how anti-choice conservatives frame the struggle. But as this entire fight shows, that was a mistake. NPR has more reporting on the specifics of the fight.

  • trafficking 2 *

Anti-choicers are, unsurprisingly, gloating and doing the neener neener you didn’t read the bill dance. But you will not be surprised to learn that it’s not so simple. If you’re reading this bill, there’s not any direct language banning victims of sex trafficking, who are, by definition, rape victims, from getting abortions. Instead, it seems like it was deliberately obscured with legalese.

  • trafficking 3 *

Under the circumstances, it’s hard to deny that there was an attempt to sneak this in. But what is really sleazy about this was it was a backdoor way to try to expand restrictions on how women pay for abortion. As noted, no taxpayer money is going into this fund. This is clearly part of a larger move on the part of anti-choicers to create so much red tape and so many obstacles to getting an abortion that it’s basically illegal in all but name. And, as is typical with antis, they are doing so by attacking the most vulnerable amongst us, this time women forced into sex slavery.

But I would say that, in this case, it’s more than that. This whole issue goes back to the larger Christian right framework around women and sexuality. The basic anti-choice belief is that sexuality is degrading to women, even if it’s consensual. And that the only way to purify the dirtiness of sex is through the purifying power of motherhood. The purity language, the obsession with waiting until marriage to have sex, and the hostility to contraception and abortion is all part of that. In that view, sex trafficking degrades women because of the sex part. Under that mentality, forcing women to give birth becomes some kind of good thing, because motherhood is what women are supposed to be doing, instead of all that degrading sex stuff. This is what happens when you approach issues of sexual violence while downplaying the importance of consent. It’s a disaster, in other words.

Of course, Dana Perino of Fox News isn’t happy about this.

  • trafficking 4 *

Nah. You know who is a jerk? Someone who wants to force a woman to bear a rapist’s baby. Jerk is actually too nice a word for those people.




Just when you thought that conservative exploitation couldn’t get any uglier, I bring to you this new, uh, movement created by the gun lobby to hijack the campus rape issue and use it to sell more guns. By trying to convince people that the way to stop rape on campus is to fill the campus with guns, a move that won’t make campuses safer and will probably make them more dangerous. Not that it matters, because gun manufacturers know that gun sales are going down with younger generations, and trying to normalize guns on campus is a great marketing opportunity.

  • guns 1 *

Here’s the thing: I grew up around guns. I’m very familiar with them. And most gun owners do not carry their guns, armed and at the ready, in every social situation in fear that their friends or relatives are going to attack them. That’s the behavior of a severely paranoid person who does not need to be carrying gun. And let’s talk about campus rape. It’s not just that most rapes happen between people who know each other, which this woman is tacitly allowing. It’s that they often happen in sexual situations. You’re with a guy you intend to make out with, even have sex with, and he springs a rape on you. What kind of person has a gun at the ready when having consensual sex? And if so, how do you keep the rapist from getting to it first? But no, the fantasy that you’re just going to be some badass with a gun who is kicking ass and taking names has so much power that people refuse to see how guns work in the real world.

  • guns 2 *

The Jameis Winston case is a really good example of why this entire idea is so painfully dumb. Winston was accused of raping a woman who was too drunk to resist. How was she supposed to safely operate a firearm again? Regardless of his guilt or innocence, what’s critical to remember here is that rapists already are wary of victims fighting back, so they take measures to prevent that. They get victims drunk. They gain their trust. They create purposefully confusing or ambivalent situations so that victims second guess themselves. How a gun is supposed to change that, I don’t know. What I do know is that the same rules allowing would-be victims to have guns will also allow rapists to have guns. Indeed, a lot more rapists will be interested in getting guns, because while a gun offers crappy protection and can even be taken from you and used against you, if you’re a rapist, a gun is a great idea. You don’t even need to directly threaten your victim if you have a gun. Just have it visible in the room and subduing her will be much easier. Or reminding her you have a gun is also a good way to make sure she stays quiet about her rape after the fact. Really, these bills are just about doing rapists a solid, regardless of the intention.

But conservatives are always willing to offer free marketing to gun manufacturers, and so you have Katie Pavlich making a speech at Iowa State University where she pimped this stupid idea, by invoking the beloved but mostly fantastical image of the stone cold badass putting down the bad guy like a boss.

  • guns 3 *

Hey, we all watch movies and we all love to imagine ourselves as Ripley from Alien or Sarah Connor from the Terminator movies, just ice-cold mofos who can drop a bad guy with haste before he attacks us. In reality, of course, the number of people who phone in a rape before it happens dwindles in the very low numbers, probably a fraction of a percent. Again, most rapists work to get you to lower your defenses before they rape you, and they sure aren’t going to let you have access to your phone anymore than they will let you have access to your gun. But here’s the other way that action movies have poisoned basic common sense. In action movies, the would-be victim grabs a gun and blows away the bad guy who is coming at her and then the screen fades to black, and next scene, everything is over and the sun is shining and the day is saved. Even if yours is that one in a thousand rape where you do have that chance, guess what? Now you have a dead body on your hands and now you’re the person who has to explain stuff. Already if you accuse a fellow college student of rape, you’re accused of being a scheming bitch who is making up false accusations to ruin a man’s life. Why should we think it will get any better if you take his life? Now you’ll just be accused of crying rape to justify murder. Between the danger of jail time and the danger of your rapist using your own gun against you, the last thing you need if an acquaintance tries to rape you is a gun in the room.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, priorities people edition. Right wing radio host and American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios is skeptical of the Christian right’s new enthusiasm for fighting sex trafficking. But not for the same reasons I am.

  • Rios *

She claims the problem of sex trafficking is “overblown” before this, and I’m not here to debate that. But it is telling that she thinks the measure of the “morality” of an issue is how much it offends liberal sensibilities. Liberals hate rape and love gay marriage, so gay marriage must somehow be worse than rape or a bigger deal than rape. Also, note the continuing inability to understand the concept of consent. Gay marriage is, you know, consensual. Sex trafficking is not. But Rios seems more concerned about her own feelings of ickiness than your bodily autonomy.

The Battle Over Contraception for Colorado Teens, and the University of Oregon’s Chilling Legal Maneuver

Reality Cast

Annual Girl Scout attacks

Colorado teen birth rate

Anti-choicers incensed over teen pregnancy reduction program

Oregon rape case crosses scary new line

Facile Nazi comparisons


On this episode of Reality Cast, we’ll look at what this latest Supreme Court maneuver on contraception means. Colorado anti-choicers are in a snit because the teen pregnancy rate has fallen so much and the University of Oregon crosses a scary line in fighting against an alleged rape victim who is suing them.

It’s Girl Scout cookie season! Which means that it’s also time for the Christian right to raise its annual alarm about the supposed evils of the Girl Scouts. Such as Kevin Swanson of “Generations Radio.”

  • girl scouts *

Yes, the claim is that if you let your girl join the Girl Scouts, she will turn into a lesbian. As usual with right-wingers, their fears make more sense if you don’t take them too literally. I would argue that the real fear is that the Girl Scouts teaches girls things like the value of education and independence, and that’s the real threat. “Lesbian” is just the hyperbole they use to convey what is fundamentally a fear of female independence, regardless of sexual orientation.


Last summer, there was a small amount of coverage of this story, which is a shame, because in my mind, it should be called the Colorado miracle.

  • Colorado 1 *

So Colorado has instituted a program that makes it free, or nearly free, for teenagers to get contraception, and the IUD has been really popular. Which makes sense. If you’re a teenager, being told that there’s a contraception that you don’t have to fuss with that lasts for years and that no one needs to know about, well, of course you’ll be interested in that. But even so, it’s remarkable how effective this program has been.

  • Colorado 2 *

You heard right. The teen birth rate in the state has dropped a whopping 40 percent. That number is so high it really tells you how much the IUD can really make a difference for teens. Teenagers often have busy, chaotic lives and keeping up with a contraception regimen can be hard. Making it so they don’t have to clearly works. On top of the 40 percent drop in teen births, there’s been a 34 percent drop in the teen abortion rate. We all supposedly agree that unintended teen birth and abortion are unfortunate, so this program is something that should continue, right? A lot of lawmakers in Colorado say yes, NPR reports.

  • Colorado 3 *

Of course, you’ll notice that he didn’t say if you were, say, someone who actually cares about teen girls or cares about the well-being of children. But, whatever, if saving money is what it takes to get conservatives to care, I’m all for it. And yes, in theory, if you are against abortion, then you should be wanting free IUDs for everyone who wants one. But for some reason, anti-choicers in the state are actually in a full-blown revolt over this program and they want it to go away, like, yesterday.

  • Colorado 4 *

Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it. Look, it’s clear what’s going on here is that they want to redefine contraception as “abortion” so that they can ban public funding of contraception. The labored rationales about the supposed deaths of fertilized eggs are laughably easy to punch through. If you do think it’s “abortion” every time a fertilized egg doesn’t implant, then having unprotected sex is much more of an abortion than having an IUD is. That’s because the IUD works primarily by preventing sperm from meeting eggs, which means there are few, if any, fertilized eggs to not implant in the first place. But if you have unprotected sex, which is what these folks want you to be doing, then you fertilize exponentially more eggs. Half of them die on their own. Back-of-the-envelope calculations: In a group of 100 women with an IUD, maybe one or two will have a fertilized egg die in a year. But in a group of women having unprotected sex, approximately 80 will have a fertilized egg die. If you want to stop abortion, you support the IUD. If your concern is fertilized eggs implanting, you still support the IUD.

However, if what gets you mad is teen girls having sex without facing punishment, then you would oppose this program. Which is the real motivation for the opposition here. The only reason anti-choicers are up in arms over this IUD program is that it works, and they don’t want it to work. They just know that going on the record as for teen pregnancy makes you look like a monster, so they concoct this obvious B.S. about the IUD being “abortion.” But don’t be fooled.




Just when you think that you’ve heard every possible story of colleges and universities failing to deal appropriately with the problem of campus rape, here comes another horror story that will completely throw you for a loop. This time the story comes out of the University of Oregon. Right off the bat, this story is upsetting.

  • Oregon 1 *

I don’t know all the details here, but there’s plenty of reason to be wary. The alleged rape happened in March, but the students weren’t kicked off the team until May. Sports fans listening to this will recognize the month of March as the one where teams like the University of Oregon Ducks, which the alleged rapists played for, vie to win the NCAA championship in college basketball, known as March Madness. The lawsuit claims that one of the alleged rapists was already known to be a rapist, but was recruited to play basketball anyway. That’s why the basketball coach is one of the people that the plaintiff is suing. So this sucks from tip to toe, is what I’m saying. The only thing that has gone right is that the players were eventually kicked out, but again, you have to imagine what it was like for the alleged victim to try to struggle through the rest of the spring semester with this hanging over her head. Sadly, this is not that remarkable a story. But what happened next is why it’s grabbing national headlines.

  • Oregon 2 *

Yes, you heard that right. The school subpoenaed her medical records in an effort to undermine her. Turns out this is completely legal.

  • Oregon 3 *

The federal government is alarmed but, because this is legal, their hands are tied. The U.S. Department of Education has released a letter asking schools to not do this and reminding them that if these kinds of actions are being done to retaliate against rape victims, they may face legal consequences. But there lies the rub. A school that does this could very well be sending a signal to students that if they try to seek justice after a rape they will be treated like this, but since it’s justified as legal fact-finding, they can claim it wasn’t retaliation. And it may not be in this case. After all, they did kick the players out and this was only done in a bid to create a defense strategy during this lawsuit. Still, the effects of this are chilling.

  • Oregon 4 *

Most of the attention to the Title IX sexual assault and harassment situation has been paid to the issue of the consequences for accused rapists, which is no surprise because we still live in a society that prioritizes the needs and feelings of men over women. But in reality, Title IX’s purpose isn’t primarily to punish rapists, but to keep campus safe for women and ensure their equal access to education. Which sometimes means disciplining rapists, but it also means taking measures like making sure victims are cared for and feel safe. Which means, in theory, providing resources like counseling to help students process their trauma so they don’t fall behind in their studies. But this move dramatically undermines that. It’s not really counseling if you’re too afraid to open up to your counselor for fear that whatever you will be say will be used in court to argue that you weren’t a good enough or worthy enough victim.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, more Nazi projections edition. Here’s “Faith and Freedom” radio host Matt Barber praising more attempts at abortion restrictions by, yep, calling pro-choicers Nazis again.

  • Barber *

This is actually a black-and-white issue: The Nazis increased restrictions on abortion. As for who is dehumanizing Jews here, I would have to say it’s the people who think that it’s OK to compare living, breathing Jewish people who suffered and died in camps with brainless embryos that can’t feel, breathe, or think. Comparing Jewish people to actual non-people like embryos is literal dehumanization.

CPAC 2015, and New Research Reveals Religious Women’s Attitudes Toward Contraception

Related Links

Gay “conversion therapy”

Phil Robertson at CPAC

STI rates generally falling

Sean Hannity’s joke

Laura Ingraham is really against Jeb Bush

Chris Christie brags about cutting family planning funds

Carly Fiorina at CPAC

Uh, no


On this episode of Reality Cast, a researcher will explain the relationship of religious belief and political support for the contraception mandate. Also, CPAC happened again and women’s rights were yet again a punching bag.

Vice did a three part investigation into the continuing practice of so-called gay conversion therapy, which is so harmful it’s being banned for minors in some parts of the country.

  • conversion *

Check out the whole documentary in show links!


Is it just me, or is CPAC, short for the Conservative Political Action Conference, something that they have like every couple of weeks these days? Going through the archives at Rewire, I realize that no, it just feels that way. Well, kids, it’s another year and another round of conservatives lining up to compete over who can say weird, inappropriate things on a variety of topics ranging from the president’s birth place to whether or not we should be alarmed by the continuing existence of the birth control pill. I could not even begin to cover it all, but luckily, this podcast is limited to the topics of sex and gender. And even then, we got ourselves a doozy this year.

As Emily Crockett at Rewire noted, Phil Robertson of that show Duck Dynasty made an entire speech that was rambling idiocy. He got a free speech award, even though no one has ever threatened his right to free speech, suggesting that the best that conservatives can say about Robertson’s views is that they are not technically illegal. Well, good for him, I guess. But they are certainly very, very silly. He is all bent out of shape because over 100 million Americans have contracted a sexually transmitted disease.

  • CPAC 1 *

He claims that simply by getting married and staying faithful, you can prevent STIs, which would be news to all those states in the mid-century that passed laws requiring blood tests to get married because they were so overwhelmed with men giving syphilis to their virgin brides. Indeed, his overall notion that somehow the “hippies” and the “beatniks” invented STIs or made them common is almost laughably naïve. STI transmission rates did spike during the 60s and 70s, but many of them are actually down, even though, if anything, people are more likely to have premarital sex. That’s because that sexual openness he denounces prevents disease. It causes people to be open about talking about condoms. It causes them to go to the doctor when they show symptoms instead of putting it off for fear of being seen as dirty. Indeed, the one STI that has an increased rate, chlamydia, only has that increased rate because of improves screening not because people are getting it more.

Fun fact: You know how they put eye drops in every baby’s eyes within minutes of it being born, a practice that has gone on for decades? That’s because chlamydia and gonorrhea are so common and have been for decades that it’s easier for doctors to assume you have it and take preventive measures. They did it for your grandmother when she gave birth, believe me. The prevalence of STIs is not a new thing because people have always had sex with multiple partners.

I wonder what Roberston would say about Sean Hannity’s joke, by the way.

  • CPAC 2 *

A lot of people found his joke garbled and confusing, but I got his point. He was suggesting that because the crowd there was young and good-looking, there was going to be a lot of hooking up. I speak fluent Dad joke, y’all. I got a whole bunch of golf jokes, if you’re ever curious. Really, the garbled mess that is the conservative movement is captured in those two clips right there. Lots of intoning about how sex is the great evil downfall of our society followed up by a few jokes about how much screwing conservatives are up to and how unfair it is for liberals to suggest that they’re a bunch of prigs. He also blamed Bill Clinton for the supposed pregnancies, which doesn’t make sense if you remember what sex act the right always acts like Clinton invented. Hint, not the kind that makes babies, though, at this point, I would not be surprised to hear a conservative argue you can get pregnant from a blow job.

Most Republicans are desperate to close the voting gender gap that leaves their party with far fewer women’s votes than men. Laura Ingraham, however, decided to double down and make a bunch of sexist jokes that suggest she thinks having a huge gender gap is a good thing.

  • CPAC 3 *

The joke was really supposed to be more of a swipe at Bush and his spending habits than at women, but it’s telling that Ingraham can’t make even a basic joke about rich politicians without being wildly sexist. After the interview, I’ll have even more from CPAC, this time just the stuff about reproductive rights. Hint: The speakers and most attendees are against them.




As I’ve said before, when I first started this podcast, not that long ago, attacks on contraception were considered really marginal even within anti-choice circles. Sure, most anti-choice organizations were opposed to birth control, but their opposition was kept very quiet. Most conservatives were careful to be seen as not opposing contraception use for grown women, treating it like a settled issue. But at this year’s CPAC, you really see how this has changed. In conservative circles, contraception use amongst low income women has become as dimly viewed, dare I say, as abortion, and efforts to make what used to be considered routine medical care seem instead like it should be a luxury good only for well-off women have become normal. Indeed, would-be presidential candidates were crawling all over themselves to show off how much contraception access they had taken away from low-income women.

  • conservative 1 *

There’s no reason to dance around this: That $7.5 million he cut from funding was for birth control. Oh sure, it also covered STI testing and Pap smears and all these other things that get mentioned in this debate. But the reason that these cuts get hoots is because of birth control and the increasing conservative openness to the idea that low income women should not have access to birth control. The funds in question didn’t cover abortion. Do they ever? The word “pro-life” means anti-contraception and the anti-choice crowd is increasingly open about this and the crowd’s reaction to his cuts to contraception show how true that is.

Looking over the speeches at CPAC, it became clear that there were only two routes when it came to the issue of contraception: Either tout your efforts to make it harder for women to get contraception or accuse people who care about the issue of being sex-obsessed sluts. Or that’s how I interpret it when I hear comments like this from Carly Fiorina.

  • conservative 2 *

You see this accusation a lot: If you bring up reproductive rights, you’re accused of trying to turn women into “single issue” voters. But why? If I ask a question about your policy on building road infrastructure, no politician would accuse me of trying to say that Americans have no interests outside of driving. If I ask about unemployment, you don’t accuse me of saying that all Americans are out of work. This is just a way of implying that women who care about this issue care too much about it, which is to say that it’s implying we’re all a bunch of sluts. It’s a derailing tactic that relies on sexual shaming.

Of course, one of the interesting things about CPAC was how conservative politicians that were pretending to barely know what abortion is during the election suddenly became rabidly anti-choice now that they’re firmly ensconced back in office. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ran misleading ads during the campaign implying that he’s pro-choice by highlighting that he supported a bill that didn’t technically ban abortion.

  • conservative 3 *

What he failed to mention in the ad is the bill was aimed at shutting down clinics, so while a woman technically had an abstract right to choose, she would not have access to a doctor to work with. But he’s given up even pretending to support that abstract right to choose now that he’s been safely re-elected. Right after CPAC, where he was highlighting his efforts to cut birth control funding in the state, Walker wrote an open letter signaling his eagerness to sign a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. So much for leaving the final decision to a woman and her doctor, I guess.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, using prison as if it were some kind of microcosm of society edition. I don’t even know how to introduce this nutty statement about homosexuality from Ben Carson.

  • Carson *

People do not go into prison straight and come out gay. Yes, there are some same-sex encounters and even relationships that happen in prison that might not happen out of it. All that proves is that people can perform sexual behaviors outside of their preference under duress, something we already knew from all the thousands of gay people who have heterosexual relations while trying to stay in the closet. Carson seems to be operating under the touch-one-penis-and-you’re-gay mentality. Which, I must point out, takes the entire question out of the realm of choice if things actually operated that way.