‘Misconception’ About Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and Abortion in El Salvador

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Read more of Rewire‘s coverage of abortion in El Salvador here

It’s On Us

Rush Limbaugh’s self-pitying

Does the NFL take a hard stance on violence against women? Ha, no.

That is almost surely not true


On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to Allison Yarrow about her exposé of crisis pregnancy centers for Vice. NPR takes an in-depth look at abortion in El Salvador and the new White House anti-rape campaign makes Rush Limbaugh whiny.

Anti-feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has thrown her support behind a loosely organized online campaign to harass feminists out of gaming, mostly because some oversensitive crybabies in the gaming world hate it when someone points out that some games are sexist. Sommers made a video claiming to disprove that games are sexist, but she actually had to admit most games have male heroes and treat women like sex objects. She just said that is somehow not sexism because some men like it, because men liking something is apparently the measure of how sexist it is. Jonathan Mann, a video blogger who writes a song a day, autotuned her dumb video and rebutted it in song. An excerpt:

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I like this. I want to see more video essays rebutted through song, especially when they are as poorly argued as Sommers’ original one was.


NPR has kicked off a series, run by their team at the Goats and Soda blog that chronicles life in the developing world, on the health implications of abortion laws in the developing world. It’ll be going on for about two weeks, but the first two stories involve El Salvador, which has some of the strictest and most strongly enforced anti-abortion laws in the world. So strict, in fact, that it’s not uncommon for women to be jailed there for miscarriage or stillbirth merely on the suspicion that they somehow did something to make it happen.

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In El Salvador, the law requires that doctors and nurses reported suspected abortions. That’s why, instead of getting proper medical care, Quintanilla was handed over to the authorities for a cruel and needless investigation. Quintanilla and her family say they were excited for the baby and that they’d even had a baby shower, but in El Salvador, if you’re young, single, poor, or all of the above, that often means that health officials automatically suspect you of aborting. And because she had so little access to any real help, Quintanilla was basically railroaded.

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Dozens of women, mostly poor and single, have been railroaded in just this way. Which makes sense: Abortion bans are about punishing women for not fitting what conservatives believe is the model of a “good” woman, and so women who are pregnant and single are treated like they must be guilty of something, and so they get accused of illegal abortion even when they didn’t do it. Punishing women for miscarriage, too, fits into this mentality, because the anti-choice view is that if you fail to produce a healthy baby, you’re a failure as a woman and deserve punishment. Intent just gets lost in the shuffle.

Quintanilla did four years of a 30-year sentence before a defense attorney found her case and appealed it, rightly pointing out that the law doesn’t actually allow you to jail someone for abortion when you have no evidence for abortion beyond just not liking a 17-year-old pregnant girl. But these kinds of cases continue, in part because no matter how much they try to ban abortion, people are still trying to get abortions, usually by buying illegal abortion drugs on the black market, which was covered in another episode in this series. They spoke with an herbalist who sells a tea that she says can abort pregnancies up to six weeks, which I will bet a lot of money is a tea made from the herb rue.

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This is no big surprise to anyone who has been following abortion politics in Texas. Since Texas borders Mexico, a lot of women in Texas are picking up on what they’ve been doing in Mexico, where abortion is illegal in most states. And that’s just buying misoprostol to terminate unwanted pregnancies, either from pharmacies or on the black market. It’s terrifying that it’s come to this and women are aborting without a doctor’s supervision and, as we’ve seen, running the risk of going to jail for it. However, the fact that this drug is becoming more known and widespread has been, strangely enough, a big victory for public health in El Salvador.

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Things are so bleak for women in El Salvador that the proliferation of a black-market drug has been a major improvement in women’s health. Just think about that for a moment. Of course, it’s easy for those of us living in the United States to feel superior, but in fact, we have the same problems here and it’s getting worse. A woman in Pennsylvania was just sent to prison for nine to 18 months for buying abortion pills online for her daughter who wanted them. The mother was caught when she took her daughter to ER for stomach cramps. It turned out the girl was fine, but the ER called the CPS anyway. They didn’t go to an abortion clinic because they couldn’t make the 75-mile drive and endure the 24 hour waiting period in a dual-income family with only one car.

[Read more of Rewire‘s coverage of abortion in El Salvador here: http://rhrealitycheck.org/tag/el-salvador/]




One of the big myths that anti-feminists like to hide behind is the claim that feminists are a tiny minority of quote-unquote radicals and that most people, women even, are perfectly happy with the status quo. You know, the one where there’s really high rape and domestic violence rates, women don’t get equal pay, and just the basic act of controlling when you have a child is politically contentious, leading to many women not having basic access to abortion and contraception. But, in fact, feminist ideas are not only more popular than anti-feminists would like you to believe, but they tend to be very persuasive if and when feminists are given a fair shot at making an argument. And so very few things freak out anti-feminists as much as when someone like a popular, say actor or politician, steps out in public and makes a common sense feminist argument. It demonstrates that feminist arguments are, in fact, mainstream and are nothing like the radical man-hating scariness anti-feminists make them out to be.

I mention this, because the White House is rolling out another anti-rape campaign called It’s On Us, which demands that we all contribute to the fight against sexual assault. They got some big celebrities to help.

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So there were celebrities like Kerry Washington, Jon Hamm, Joel McHale, and Questlove in the ad. It’s really important in particular to note the number of men in this ad, because men are in a unique position to prevent sexual assault. Sexist guys who might not listen to women who are discouraging them from, say, trying to take advantage of a woman who is took drunk to stand might listen a lot harder if it’s another man interfering. This campaign also takes advantage of research that shows that one reason sexual assault happens is that rapists take advantage of other people’s unwillingness to interfere or to draw attention to themselves by standing up to creepy behavior, but that people can be encouraged to break that habit and instead find ways to keep the creepy, predatory guys away from women. Like, if you see a man feeding a woman drinks and trying to get her drunk, to stifle that instinct not to interfere and instead go up to her and offer to give her a ride home or get one of her girlfriends to. That sort of thing.

Unsurprisingly, Rush Limbaugh was absolutely livid.

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I have to break in to say that if this was a written article, I’d have a gif of someone laughing hysterically, that lie is so enormous. The reason the NFL is getting so much grief is they don’t take violence against women seriously. Jeremy Stahl at Slate looked over the rosters of various NFL teams and found there are 13 teams who currently have a player on the roster who has been arrested or charged for sexual or domestic violence. Some of those teams, including the 49ers, the Cardinals, the Seahawks, and the Bears, have multiple players who have been arrested.

But Limbaugh knows who the real victims are here.

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Yes, you may have been violently assaulted by someone you trusted and then subjected to victim-blaming and shaming after the fact, rape victims, but did you know that some people argue with conservatives when they say dumb things? I mean, have some perspective.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the only corporation whose profits are apparently evil edition. A student at an Arkansas junior high was sent home for wearing a “Virginity Rocks” t-shirt because the principal thought shirts with sexual content were inappropriate for school. But Todd Starnes, on the Family Research Council radio show. decided it must be because the principal is on the take from Trojan.

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That comment was pure right-wing nut, starting with the claim that a public school has “profits” and that somehow the condom company is providing them through what? Magic? Who knows. You will not be surprised to find that it took five seconds of Googling to discover that Arkansas bans schools from buying and distributing condoms. But nice of Starnes to admit that “abstinence-only” is primarily a campaign to discourage the use of contraception.

Over-the-Counter Access to Birth Control, and the Affirmative Consent Controversy in California

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On this episode of Reality Cast, a lawyer from the National Women’s Law Center will explain some of the frightening new attacks on contraception post-Hobby Lobby. Some anti-choice politicians are calling for over-the-counter birth control pills, but is their plan all it’s cracked up to be? And more controversy over the affirmative consent bill in California.

The Ray Rice story is continuing to unfold, which is kind of amazing since most discussions about domestic violence rarely get more than a centimeter deep in the United States. Rachel Maddow talked some with sports reporter Shira Springer about it.

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The problem is the NFL keeps seeing domestic violence as a PR problem, and not a criminal or social problem. Until that changes, I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing much improvement.


It’s a trend that’s only cropping up this year specifically for Senate races in swing states, but it’s nonetheless a strange one: Republican, anti-choice conservatives who have decided they support over-the-counter birth control pills. NPR did a great segment on this issue and why it’s suddenly become a thing.

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Okay, let’s get one very important issue out of the way first: Over-the-counter birth control is actually a good idea. Not all birth control, of course, because things like the IUD or an implant will always need a health-care worker to actually put it in your body. But the pill is sold over-the-counter in places like Mexico, where it’s actually associated with better usage because it does, indeed, make it easier to get. The ideal situation in the U.S. would be to do what we’re doing now, where most birth control is available through a prescription and offered without a copay for those who need it. But it would also be available without a prescription and just on the shelf. That would be great for women who can’t make it to a doctor right now and need some pills to tide you over. Ever been on vacation and lost your pills? Moved and didn’t have time to make a doctor’s appointment? Just plain forgot to re-up your prescription? This would help.

But that’s not what these guys want to do. They’re just offering this idea is lieu of having insurance coverage of contraception. The argument is that you don’t need insurance coverage of contraception, because you could, in theory, buy your pills over the counter. This ignores many basic and pressing facts about the issue, such as the fact that some kinds of contraception like the IUD will never be available over the counter. It also assumes, incorrectly, that everyone can afford the over-the-counter costs. It’s actually so thoughtless to think you can just exchange one for the other that it reeks of a gross and transparent political move, which is exactly what Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood told NPR it is.

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A few cynical conservative media sources have latched onto Planned Parenthood’s denunciations of this move to argue that Planned Parenthood is somehow against greater access to birth control. I don’t know who they think they’re fooling with that weak attempt at a gotcha, but as NPR notes, Planned Parenthood is all for making it easier to get the pill and has even started telemedicine programs on the West Coast in order to make it easier for women to get the pill without seeing a doctor in person. What Planned Parenthood is against is offering this as some kind of alternative to insurance coverage of contraception, since that would leave low-income women without much access.

What was really shocking was that the Republican spokeswoman they spoke to basically came right out and characterizes this not as a sincere policy move, but simply a political ploy to confuse the issue of health care and contraception access.

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Her focus is strictly on trying to “neutralize and defang” the opposition’s talking points, and she didn’t even really try to pretend to care about women’s actual health-care needs. Here’s the thing that’s most important to remember about this issue: The men who are rolling out this over-the-counter birth control line are all running for Senate. That means that, even if they win, they have no power, none, to make this happen. The people who have the power to approve drugs for over-the-counter sale are all FDA officials that are hired through the executive branch. You know, people who answer to the president and not really the Congress. It doesn’t really matter if these men are sincere when they say they believe it should be over the counter, because they can’t do anything to make that happen.




One common complaint aimed at feminists these days is that we have basically done all we need to do and are coming up with new problems to justify our existence. This complaint should be laughable on its surface, but if you have any doubts, the debate over California’s “affirmative consent” bill should put them all to rest. Reuters did a short video explaining the bill, which has been nicknamed the “Yes Means Yes” bill.

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The only bad thing about this bill is it doesn’t go far enough, because it only covers university disciplinary systems and not criminal proceedings. It requires schools to define “consent” as, well, consent. Sex would be considered an opt-in sort of thing, not an opt-out. You don’t have to have sex unless you want to. And if someone else has sex with you when you don’t want to, that’s their fault, not yours, much in the same way that it’s someone else’s fault if they come into your house uninvited and not your fault for say, not buying a big dog that bites intruders. And just as we understand that you can be invited into someone’s house both verbally or with hand gestures, the affirmative consent standard merely requires that both people are interested in having the sex throughout the sex. No specific wording is required. It’s just there so rapists can’t argue that it’s not sexual assault because she didn’t say no. Or didn’t say it loudly enough or didn’t say it often enough or didn’t say it in the exact words they want to hear. It simply says that it’s on you to make sure you aren’t having sex with people who don’t want sex with you.

Unfortunately, a lot of critics of this bill start with the assumption that men are entitled to sex and that it’s asking too much of them to give up that sense of entitlement long enough to make sure their partners want sex, too. Or, in Rush Limbaugh’s case, he was willing to argue against even the no-means-no standard, saying that just because she has refused consent does not mean you can’t have sex with her if you want. Just make an executive decision that you decide what her words mean, not her!

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Here’s the thing that bugs me about that argument: So what? Even if some women say “no” but mean “yes,” so what? If you’re in a situation and a woman is saying no, why on earth do you think it’s better to run the risk of raping her than to run the risk that you don’t have sex? Is your entitlement to sex such that you think it’s better to take that risk than just wait until you have more clarity? What’s the worst that could happen if you wait or even, god forbid, ask for clarity? That you discover that the no was sincere and you don’t get laid? Well, at least you didn’t rape someone. It’s just so aggravating. Let’s say there are women out there who do play games and say “no” when they mean yes. I believe that happens, though not as much as Limbaugh says. Well, if you find yourself making out with such a woman, men, then the thing to do is not guess that she means “yes” with that “no” and risk raping her, legally and morally. The thing to do is not have sex with her. If she’s playing games, then that will teach her not to play games. Simple as that. Someone who plays games with something as serious as consent is really not someone you should be wanting to have sex with. That’s dumb and, if you misread the situation, criminal. Why not move onto someone who is more sensible?

Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks struck back.

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He really nails what’s going on here. A lot of what’s going on is an attempt to codify what is, to be blunt, already understood amongst people who aren’t sexual predators. Most men easily grasp the idea that, for instance, if you start kissing someone and reaching under her shirt and she pulls away or looks displeased, it’s best to stop. You might ask if something’s wrong or just give up altogether, but the idea of pushing on while someone else is not signaling her shared enjoyment of the moment is screwed up. At best, it’s treating someone like a masturbation object, but it can also turn into assault. This is common sense. But rapists and apologists want to confuse the issue so that they can attack people and say, hey, I didn’t knoooooooowwwwww, after the fact. No wonder they are all riled up at any attempt to take that excuse away from them.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, forcible sterilization edition. Russell Pearce used to be in the Arizona legislature, before his brand of cranky old man racist wingnuttery got to be too much even for Arizona voters. Now he’s a radio host and it appears he hasn’t learned anything.

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It’s bad enough reading this quote, but his tone makes searingly clear how hateful he really is. He was basically pressured into resigning his position as the vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party after this. Hopefully, it will be the last we hear from him.

Reactions to Wendy Davis’ Abortion Stories and Ray Rice’s Violent Video

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Rush Limbaugh reaches a new low


On this episode of Reality Cast, Andrea Grimes will be on to fill us in on what’s happening in Texas. Wendy Davis comes out about her abortion, and a segment on the Ray Rice domestic violence video and its fallout.

So there’s a small bit of good news coming out of Texas.

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The McAllen clinic will be basically the only one in the entire Rio Grande Valley offering abortion. This is good news, but I do worry, as we’ll get to later in the show, that this victory will be short-lived.


Despite the fact that abortion is a very personal topic, for most politicians who talk about it, the personal tends to be avoided. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Abortion should be regarded as the sort of thing you shouldn’t have to talk about in public if you don’t want, which is why Roe v. Wade was all about privacy rights. But it also means that Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ revelation that she had not one, but two abortions for medical reasons is a big deal. Doubly so because one of her abortions would have been banned under the new law in Texas that bans all abortions after 20 weeks, even in the case of fetal abnormality.

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Davis became a major figure in pro-choice circles last year, when she used her position as a state senator to successfully filibuster [what became] HB 2, a massive bill intended to regulate most abortion clinics in the state out of business. It was a big victory at the time, but then the Gov. Rick Perry just called another session of the state legislature and pushed it through, anyway. Since then, the law has been tied up in courts but also have been used successfully to shut down a whole wave of clinics, making access in the state much harder to get.

Davis has been running for governor, putting women’s rights at the center of her campaign. It seems she’s banking on the idea that the issue will get out the vote and turn enough female voters away from her opponent Greg Abbott that she will have a chance to win in what is traditionally a very red state.

Under the circumstances, talking about her own abortions makes a lot of sense. She had already been out about one, an ectopic pregnancy that was terminated. That wasn’t really controversial, in part because most people don’t realize that the anti-choice movement wants to ban aborting even ectopic pregnancies, even though they are never really viable. Indeed, many Catholic hospitals refuse to abort the embryo, instead saying you have to have your entire ovary removed rather than to give you a drug that just kills it and saves you from surgery and from losing some of your reproductive capacity. But this new abortion that Davis is out about is the sort that is controversial even outside of rabid anti-choice circles.

Davis went onto ABC News and explained what happened with this second abortion.

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There’s a debate to be had about the problem of focusing on medically necessary abortions at the expense of talking about abortions that are necessary because the woman simply does not want or cannot be pregnant right now. However, this is someone specific’s actual life and she certainly had no control over what happened to her, so I think I’ll leave that discussion for another time. This is a reality that women who want their pregnancies nonetheless have to abort them. And the anti-choice reaction to her story has given lie to their claims to be motivated by Christian charity.

Rachel Maddow had Davis on and asked her about one response.

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Part of the issue here is that a story like this shows exactly what the stakes are with these 20-week abortion bans. Anti-choicers prefer to tell a story about lazy women who blow off the abortion until they start to show, or selfish women who balk at the first sign of a sick baby. Setting aside the idea that lazy or selfish people are, in the anti-choice mind, the ideal candidates for forced parenting, the larger issue here is that once you actually hear people’s reasons for termination, it becomes a lot harder to judge. So instead, they make accusations of dishonesty, which is really, really rich coming from any anti-choicer, since the entire movement is constructed out of a series of lies.

Next segment, I’ll have on Andrea Grimes to talk some more about the on-the-ground reaction to Davis and her announcement.




We’ve known for months and months that Ray Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, badly hurt his girlfriend Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino back in February. Security video from the hotel hallway showed them fighting as they entered an elevator and then, a few moments later, showed him dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator in a manner that was shockingly callous. However, everything that’s happened since then has served to shore up Rice’s claim, backed up by the NFL and the Ravens, that it wasn’t as bad as it looked. The Ravens got Janay to repeatedly state that she shared the blame and the NFL suggested that this is a dual-blame situation and therefore they shouldn’t have had to punish too badly. Ray also married Janay, and she’s changed her name to Janay Rice. For people who understand the issue of domestic violence, that wedding screamed “red flag,” because it’s really common for abusers to reach for big gestures like proposing marriage in order to get their victims back on their side. But for the Ravens, who put pictures of the wedding on their website, it was touted as just further evidence that since she forgave him, the rest of us should not want him to be held accountable for his actions.

Then the gossip blog TMZ released a video from inside the elevator that showed that the story about how the Rices share the blame is complete hooey.

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There’s legitimate and important debate about whether or not it’s ethical to release this video, knowing that it is contributing to Janay Rice’s pain and embarrassment. With that in mind, I have linked coverage that edits out the worst parts of the video. I will say, however, that it does single-handedly destroy the entire narrative about how there is shared blame in this because it’s clear in the video that he is pushing her and badgering her and her behavior is both reactive to his. And it’s utterly laughable to suggest that the knock-out punch he delivers has any resemblance to self-defense. Because of this, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and the NFL put him on indefinite suspension. However, a lot of people, including myself, are frustrated that the management needed the public to see this awful video before they were willing to let go of their insinuation that it wasn’t that bad. Ryan Van Bibber of SB Nation made some points about how serious this problem is.

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He goes on to say that it shouldn’t take graphic footage of domestic violence being released to embarrass the NFL before they take measures to hold batterers accountable. This should be common sense. This shared-blame narrative was always hooey, because even if you were open to the idea that Janay Rice might have been as aggressive as Ray Rice, it’s ridiculous to suggest that it’s even close to a fair fight between an ordinary sized woman and a big old football player. But, to the surprise of literally no one who understands this issue, it turns out that nope, she was not as aggressive as Ray Rice’s defenders claim.

Sadly, even in the face of such a terrifying glimpse of what domestic violence actually looks like, there were some responses that were deeply inhumane. On Fox News, the focus was on blaming the victims and making crass jokes.

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CNN host Carol Costello brought Jan Langbein, an expert in domestic violence, to explain how wrong-headed all this is.

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I know I’m playing a lot of clips, but I also want to highlight Tamron Hall’s interview with Joe Biden. Hall lost her sister to domestic violence, after her sister’s abuser killed her. Biden has been instrumental in pushing the Violence Against Women Act into law and advocating for strengthening it. These are the people who actually have something of value to say about this issue.

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Maybe now that we’ve faced, yet again, how wrong-headed the victim-blaming approach really is, there will be some change on this issue. Hopefully the NFL, at least, will recognize that trying to minimize instead of correct is not the way to go with this.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Rush Limbaugh’s priorities edition. Rush Limbaugh has had enough of all this talk about the evils of domestic violence, since it’s ruining his precious football watching experience.

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Jesus, it’s “feminized” and “politically correct” now to simply say that men shouldn’t hit women? What next, arguing that your balls fall off if women are permitted to look you in the eye? Just when I thought he can’t get any lower, he does. Unbelievable.

Harassment in Congress, and Sex Education for Early Adolescents

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On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll have some researchers on to explain why sex education needs to start young and be integrated into larger health and safety education. Kirsten Gillibrand tries to highlight the problem of sexual harassment in Congress and confused conservatives amplify attacks on feminism without really know what it is.

Rewire’s own Andrea Grimes has started the taco or beer challenge to raise money for abortion access, and she has a video up at the website updating us on its progress.

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So if you haven’t joined in, as Andrea says, it’s super easy. Eat a taco or drink a beer. As a fellow Texan, I would say you should ideally do both together. Then give to an abortion fund. RHRealityCheck.org has plenty of information to help you decide where to donate!


I realize it’s the end of the summer and that means a somewhat slow news cycle, but even I was surprised to see how much sturm und drang accompanied Kirsten Gillibrand’s utterly non-surprising revelation that many of her colleagues, both congressmen and lobbyists, have said sexist things to her over the years.

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The revelation provoked a telling response out in the punditry. Not a few men working for major publications like the New York Times and Politico hinted that Gillibrand was lying or exaggerating what happened to her, even though any woman could probably tell them that she was, if anything, soft-pedaling the kind of crap men often feel free to dish out to their female colleagues. In fact, hinting that she’s lying morphed into a demand that she start naming names. The Daily Show grabbed a few prominent examples.

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There were two basic flavors of people demanding that Gillibrand name names: Men who were insinuating that she made the harassment up and people who believed the harassment happened but think that Gillibrand, who is a Democrat, must be protecting her fellow Democrats. But while everyone who claimed they wanted her to name names fashioned themselves as good-hearted people who simply wanted to bring an end to all this sexual harassment, the fact that they were mostly conservatives and Republicans suggested that they, in fact, have ulterior motivations. After all, if you name someone publicly, that man, no matter how guilty he may be, will almost surely deny it. And so the same people who are insinuating that she’s lying now will continue to say that, but now they will say it louder and more angrily, because they’ll imagine that they’re defending a man who swears innocence. The likely outcome is her career would be completely derailed while the harassers got off scot-free. Not to be too cynical, but I suspect the people demanding that she names names know that it would ruin her while likely doing no damage to any harassers, and that’s the outcome they’re trying to make happen. But since Gillibrand is not so stupid as to do that, they’re going to try to score points anyway by suggesting she’s a liar or somehow doing something unethical, even though she didn’t, you know, ask for some dudes to be constantly monitoring her body.

But while male conservative pundits of all sorts were congratulating each other on their ability to victim-blame and insinuate that Gillibrand is a liar, female pundits were telling a different story, one where it’s literally the least surprising thing in the world that this happens to someone like Gillibrand. Again, the Daily Show gathered up clips.

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Such is our sexist society, however, that basically women from every corner can say, yeah, that happened to me, too, and yet you still have a bunch of men treating it like it’s absolutely preposterous to suggest that it ever happens. But no really, guys, it happens! I had a colleague once who basically put himself on make-up watch over me, checking in with me multiple times a week to determine if I was wearing what he thought was enough make-up. Not that he could tell, because I could trick him by skipping foundation and mascara but simply putting on red lipstick, but neither his lack of basic knowledge of how make-up works nor my unsubtle suggestions that his attentions were unwelcome would present a barrier to his self-assigned role as the make-up police. If women don’t tell you about this stuff, it’s not because it’s not happening. It’s because you either act bored by it or you immediately start telling them that you know more about what happened to them even though you weren’t there. If you actually shut up and listened more often, hyper-skeptical dudes, you might learn a thing or two about what women have to put up with on a regular basis.




If you’re starting to feel like conservative media has been ramping up the attacks on feminism lately, well, you would definitely be right. It’s actually kind of baffling, because they all claim they hate the whole “war on women” meme, and yet the response to it has been to up the ante on the war on women, getting ever bolder about claiming that women should just suck it up and give up any hope of ever achieving basic equality with men. The show Fox & Friends recently had the hosts of the Internet show Politichicks on to promote their new book What Women Really Want, a strange title because I can assure you that I, as a woman, do not want any of what they’re selling, and somehow I continue to exist, you know, as a woman.

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You know, if it irritates conservatives so much to have feminists forever talking about women’s sexuality and reproductive health, I have a very simple solution: Stop using sex to oppress women. Stop trying to take away the right to abortion. Stop calling women “sluts” if they want birth control. Stop telling women they have to put up with it when men sexually harass them. Stop making excuses for sexual violence. Stop trying to take away sex education that is known to reduce STI [sexually transmitted infection] and teen pregnancy rates. If you stop attacking women’s sexuality, I guarantee you that you will stop hearing so much about it. All we want is to be left alone to be sexual beings, due to being human, without conservatives looking for any angle they can to use our sexuality to oppress us.

Of course, the problem here is that these conservative women are arguing that women are inherently, well, asexual, and feminists are somehow forcing women to be sexual.

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It’s deeply dishonest to conflate “objectification” with “sexualization.” Objectification is reducing someone to an object, for instance having a woman show off her body while insisting that she stay silent and submissive, so men can do what they want to her. “Sexualizing” is a garbage word that means nothing. With all this “God” talk and “femininity” talk, it’s clear what she’s trying to argue is that women inherently are asexual and have no authentic sexual desires of their own, but just, well, put up with sex because they have to in order to get husbands and children. But if it’s true that women are inherently asexual and feminists are making them sexual, then why would conservatives need to ban abortion and restrict access to contraception? Yes, feminists worked to make contraception co-pay free. But just because the contraception is available doesn’t mean you have to take it. If women are inherently asexual, then there would be no reason to oppose co-pay free contraception, since no one would use the service. But, in fact, we know that 99 percent of women use contraception, which suggests that women are, in fact, inherently sexual and the only people trying to make women act in ways that are contrary to their nature are conservatives.

  • conservative 3 *

So let’s follow along here. The argument is that women are not sexual beings and that we’re simply being tricked into thinking we’re sexual by Beyoncé’s magic dance routines. Never mind that women were having sex, using contraception and yes, even masturbating long before Beyoncé was born, much less making records. Seriously, I want these women who are insisting women are born with no interest in sex to explain the sales of the Hitatchi Magic Wand to me. But now they’re arguing that rape itself is the result of women foolishly believing that we like sex. That makes no sense. Like none. I mean, by definition, rape is about forcing someone who does not want to have sex with you into having sex with you. At this point, they’re just so eager to demonize feminists they’ll say any random weird thing. I fully expected them to accuse feminists of worshipping Satan and drinking blood from living goats, anything so long as it sounds bad. Doesn’t have to make sense. But I do think the larger problem is that they are so wrapped up in the idea that sex is dirty, they start to think the reason rape is wrong is because of the sex part, instead of the force part. So, just for clarity’s sake, let me explain: Feminists think sex is great if everyone involved is an adult and wants to be there. Feminists also think that violence is wrong, and forcing sex on an unwilling person is violence. This is not that hard to grasp. For instance, while there are few pleasures in life more wonderful than sharing a good meal with friends, being tied to a chair and force fed is torture. If you can get that, you can understand how one can think sex is wonderful while thinking rape is very, very wrong.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Phyllis Schlafly is trying to get women badly hurt edition. In a recent radio address, Schlafly gave what might be the worst advice I’ve ever heard, which is telling women that they can turn abusive men into kind, loving partners by marrying them.

  • schlafly *

Well, while you’re lying, why not go all the way and claim marriage makes you poop gold nuggets and makes your sweat smell like flowers? This is deeply irresponsible advice because women in abusive relationships often want to believe, very badly, that they can do something to make the man they love stop hitting them and start being nice to them, and so they may actually listen to this terrible advice in the vain hope that it will work. Needless to say, the actual experts in domestic violence strongly disagree, and the prevailing evidence shows that the best way to keep a woman safe from an abusive partner is to separate them, permanently. In fact, there’s substantial evidence to show abusers actually increase their violence after a wedding or a pregnancy or childbirth. Basically anything that makes it harder to escape emboldens them to think they hit you more and hit you harder while being assured that you won’t leave them.

Roxane Gay on ‘Bad Feminism,’ the New Contraception Compromise, and Beyoncé’s ‘Flawless’ Performance

Related Links

Candidate trolls anti-choicers

Obama administration offers new compromise

The administration should have let the chips fall where they may

Fox News tries to claim that even paperwork is too big a burden

Beyoncé at the VMAs

Bill O’Reilly is on about Beyoncé again

Conservatives are mad that feminists don’t live by the rules conservatives made up

Rush Limbaugh’s blatant rape apology


On this episode of Reality Cast, author Roxane Gay will talk to us about being a “bad feminist.” The Obama administration updates it policies on the contraception benefit, and Beyoncé sends heads spinning by publicly embracing feminism at the VMAs.

James Wood is a congressional candidate from Arizona, and the National Pro-Life Alliance asked him to fill out their survey on the topic of abortion. His response is the sort of thing every pro-choice candidate should do from here until the end of time.

  • james woods *

I’m serious. All pro-choice candidates should do this. By calling anti-choice groups’ bluff, you put them in a situation where they kind of have to admit that they’re not so much pro-life as anti-sex.


Late last Friday, the Obama administration announced that they have a new compromise on offer for employers who don’t want to offer health-care plans that meet federal minimum standards for contraception coverage. That’s the traditional time that presidential administrations, Republican or Democratic, use to dump news that they want to minimize the coverage of. Whatever the reason, coverage was light, which I discovered when I was trying to find some news coverage that actually explained what this new compromise even is. Seriously, there was barely anything. But the Wall Street Journal had a reporter explain it and she did a very thorough job.

  • contraception 1 *

The reason it’s so complex is because of the bad faith of anti-choice employers. They claim to object to the contraception coverage because they don’t want their money to go to contraception, which is against their religious beliefs. So the administration said fine, fill out this form that says that and your money won’t go to it as the insurance company will pay for it directly. But since their actual reason for objecting is that they don’t want their employees to have contraception at all, this wasn’t good enough. Of course, they can’t come right out and say, hey we believe we should control our employees’ private lives and we want to stop them from getting contraception coverage elsewhere. So instead they claim that even signing the form violates their religious beliefs. So now, this new compromise means they don’t have to pay and they don’t have to fill out a form.

So, how are anti-choice power players reacting?

  • contraception 2 *

If the concern is “religious freedom,” then that concern has been met. The federal government is paying. The employer doesn’t even have to fill out a form, but instead just writes a letter. Make it as flowery as you want, explaining in as much detail as you want why you think contraception is slutty, the government doesn’t care. But since the actual goal is to keep as many women as possible from accessing contraception, even that won’t do. I promise right now that they won’t stop coming up with novel arguments for why their religious freedom depends on stopping you from getting contraception coverage, either from them or from someone else. And since they have a majority on the Supreme Court that both agrees that employees should be subject to having their employers control their private lives and that women who use contraception are icky sluts, there’s real reason to fear their bad faith arguments will win the day.

Of course, Fox News’ Shannon Bream tried as hard as she could to try to make it seem like the Obama administration is yanking employers around for no reason.

  • contraception 3 *

If your objection is to having your money go to birth control coverage, then yes, this changes everything. Granted, it was never their money in the first place, since it was part of their employee’s compensation package, but in the strictest sense, they were writing checks that went to plans that cover birth control. But since this means they don’t have to do that anymore, if that’s the actual objection, then this changes everything. However, if your real goal is to keep your employees from getting birth control coverage because you believe that, as their boss, you get to impose your religious beliefs on their home life, then this changes nothing. So we can safely assume the actual reason for this objection is not about being complicit in what you think is a sin, but because the employers in question believe they are entitled to stop their employees from getting coverage for birth control from anyone.

But the nonsense didn’t stop there.

  • contraception 4 *

The Supreme Court decision actually suggested this exact compromise, where you fill out a simple form asking for an exemption and women get the coverage elsewhere, as a way to do this. The notion that filling out paperwork is an unbelievable burden for a major corporation is beyond laughable. It’s a single form, or maybe even just a letter. Certainly less of a burden than trying to figure out how to get your birth control covered when your employer is actively seeking ways to stop you at every turn. The ruse that this is about religious freedom is laughably transparent. This is about looking for any legal means possible to keep as many women as possible from using effective contraception, and that’s it.




So Beyoncé did something that was absolutely, as she herself would say, flawless during her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. She was getting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, and she capped the show off by doing a 16-minute performance that was a medley of the songs from her latest album. During the portion for her aptly titled song “Flawless,” Beyoncé chose to highlight the part of the song that features a speech by Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, making it an unmistakable declaration of feminism.

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The words were lit up on the screen, so that everyone online could have an amazing screenshot of Beyoncé standing in front of the word “feminist” from now until forever. She really knows how to make a statement. It’s particularly cool to define the word “feminist.” Anti-feminists have always tried to discredit feminism by saying it’s about man-hating or trying to make women dominant or whatever. They do this because they don’t support women’s equality and, in fact, find it kind of threatening. But they know that coming right out and saying that makes them look like mean-spirited people who object to basic fairness, so instead they lie and argue in bad faith and spread stereotypes that aren’t rooted in reality. They know that if feminists are forever trying to defend ourselves against false accusations of man-hating, it eats up time that could be spent fighting misogyny.

And speaking of bad faith, the folks at Fox News decided that the angle they would take is to produce frowny faces and declare, in maudlin tones, that they think Beyoncé is bad for women and girls.

  • beyonce 2 *

A little of this is just plain ol aging crank get off my lawn nonsense. But it’s also bad faith, a way to push a racist argument while pretending it’s not racist. Anyone who actually knows Beyoncé’s music knows that she’s a direct heir to much of the uplift of ’60s R&B. “Single Ladies” is a direct heir to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” “Crazy in Love” owes a lot to love songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Bill O’Reilly’s focus on girls suggests he’s mostly upset about the sexual content of Beyoncé’s lyrics. Well, songs about sex have always been a part of pop culture and they have always been angering conservatives. Make no mistake that if O’Reilly had been an aging TV personality in the ’60s, he would have been denouncing Diana Ross as a bad influence. The fact of the matter is Beyoncé is a good role model for little girls. She puts out a very consistent message about how it’s good to be ambitious, good to want more, good to be proud of yourself, and good to demand power. And she does that all while showing that you can have a happy family life, too. That’s a good message and I want girls to hear it.

Then, of course, there was the segment of people who hate feminism telling feminists that we aren’t doing feminism right, something they believe they get to sit in judgment of even though they want to end feminism. This is Megyn Kelly and Mollie Hemingway, anti-feminists, telling feminists that we’re not doing feminism right.

  • beyonce 3 *

They weren’t naked, of course, because it was on MTV, not on HBO. But Kelly and Hemingway’s argument rests on a false assumption that feminists are against sex. I don’t know how they got it into their head that “feminism” should be indistinguishable from fundamentalist Christianity, but uh, from the beginning feminism has always been about the idea that a sexist society’s disapproval of female sexuality is oppressive and wrong. The song where Beyoncé is doing a “stripper” dance is a song about having sex, called “Partition.” In context, it’s not some kind of call for all women to be strippers, but a celebration of how it’s fun, when you’re having sex, to be admired by your partner. Seriously, watch the video for the context. Her actual husband is in it.

Sex is a thing that many pop songs are about. That is not inconsistent with feminism, because feminists have always been about sexual liberation. That’s why we think birth control and abortion are important rights for women, because we know that people have sex and we think people should have sex if they want to, and women need things to do that and control their lives and be healthy. Sorry, guys, but you don’t get to make up rules for feminists and then get mad when we don’t do what you want us to do.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Rush Limbaugh just can’t take it anymore edition. Limbaugh is really angry at feminists attacks on rape culture because, and there’s no nice way to put this, he thinks men just can’t help themselves and must violently assault women.

  • Limbaugh *

Boys chase girls, so I guess that means that boys must, if they catch a girl, forcibly penetrate her while she says “no” and “stop.” Got it. I don’t know why they say feminists are man-haters, because Limbaugh seems to be the man-hater with his belief that men’s attraction to women leads inevitably to rape, and therefore the only thing that can be done is for women to try not to be attractive. Never mind that one of his favorite things to do on the show is shame women for not being attractive enough in his eyes. We’re supposed to be attractive and it’s also our fault if a man rapes us because we were so attractive. Here’s a fact: Research shows only about 5 to 6 percent of men are rapists. So his suggestion that men are hardwired to rape women is clearly, demonstrably false.

The Problem With Abortion Polling, and Ireland’s Abortion Law

Related Links

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) forgets the phrase “birth control”

Ireland obeying letter of law but not spirit

Anti-choicer goes to war against public nudity

Public protests of strip club causes public protest of church

Alliance Defending Freedom compares sex to cigarette addiction


On this episode of Reality Cast, Tara Culp-Ressler will explain what’s so messed up about most polling data on abortion, and how to fix it. Ireland’s new abortion law flunks its first major test and a clash over a strip club is a reminder of what really motivates the anti-choice movement.

This was an amusing moment in a recent debate. Republican Rep. Mike Coffman is running for re-election in Colorado and was asked about his stance on reproductive rights. He had a brain fart.

  • Coffman *

I wouldn’t read too much into this. We all blank out at times. But that this story got flagged shows that politicians are being watched very carefully on this issue, and I suspect we’ll see some real scandals before the midterms are over.


After the death of Savita Halappanavar from sepsis in an Irish hospital, Ireland promised that they would do better. Halappanavar presented at the hospital with a miscarrying pregnancy that had gone septic, and asked for an abortion, but even though there was no way the fetus would survive, the hospital refused until the fetal heartbeat ended on its own. By then, it was too late for Halappanavar, who died of infection. In response, the government caved and passed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, which supposedly allows for women who have life-threatening conditions to have access to abortions. So how’s it working out? Not well, it seems, according to RTE News.

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Let’s be clear that this woman was 24 weeks along, almost 25, and the word “woman” is stretching it a little: She has just turned 18 and had been 17 when she first discovered the pregnancy. She is also claiming to be a rape victim. And, by the panel’s own findings, she qualifies for an abortion under Irish law, because her suicidal thoughts are chronic and serious, but they decided instead to exploit a loophole and argue that forcing her to give birth through a much more intrusive surgery counts as terminating the pregnancy and meets the law’s requirements. This is particularly upsetting because while the young woman is in her second trimester, it’s not because she blew off trying to get an abortion earlier in her pregnancy.

  • Ireland 2 *

So what it sounds like was this woman first tried to get an abortion she is legally entitled to in Ireland when she was really early in her pregnancy. It was reported that she doesn’t speak English well and that one reason she couldn’t travel is that she’s an immigrant under travel restrictions. Basically, it seems that she was stalled by bureaucratic nonsense until she was far enough along that they could claim that the fetus was “viable” and force her into a c-section instead of an abortion. The same thing happened to a woman called Beatriz in El Salvador who had a legal right to a medical exemption to abort a pregnancy where the fetus was developing without a brain, and she was stalled and stalled by the government until it was far enough along that they could force her to get her abdomen cut open, instead of a less invasive abortion, and so that’s what they forced her to do. In this case, I repeat, the panel findings show that she was eligible for a termination, and by what we’re apparently supposed to believe is pure coincidence, she finally got a chance to plead her case right when she was far enough along that they could say they met their legal obligations through a c-section instead of an abortion.

The young woman did make a show of rebellion to what definitely feels like persecution.

  • Ireland 3 *

She agreed. Kind of. I mean, they made her an offer that she couldn’t refuse, it sounds like, which is forcing her to stay in the hospital and forcing hydration on her. At least, so far, it doesn’t sound like force-feeding, which is torture. But this woman was being bullied and abused by a system that’s supposed to be helping her. What makes this doubly frustrating is that stuff like this happens for no other reason than to “make an example” out of someone. This young woman is a target because she’s easy to target: Young, an immigrant who doesn’t speak the language well, confused about her rights. But women with more privilege in Ireland, who are older or who can afford to travel, just go to England to get abortions.




Regular listeners of this podcast know that one of the ongoing struggles between the pro-choice and anti-choice movements is the question of arguing in good faith and specifically the problem of how anti-choicers refuse to do it. They like to style themselves as “pro-life” and suggest that it’s just a deep love of human life that motivates them, instead of a deep hostility to female independence and a fear and loathing of female sexuality. But that’s a story that only works if you pointedly ignore everything else that anti-choice activists do when they aren’t screaming about abortion. With that in mind, I’d like to look at a case study that’s arisen in Ohio. The director of Personhood Ohio, a group that wants to define fertilized eggs as persons in order to ban abortion and undermine access to contraception, is a man named Patrick Johnston. But wanting to empower the government to treat every tampon like a crime scene is not the only thing that gets Johnston riled up. He’s also deeply, deeply upset about breasts.

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I love how it’s children and married men, like single men aren’t a factor here. And what’s his definition of children? Is he worried that women who are breast-feeding are somehow molesting children? So many questions. But obviously the big issue here is that he’s openly and aggressively defining women’s bodies as public property. While I think there’s some value in laws that keep both men and women from flashing genitals in public, the idea that women’s bodies need to be kept under wraps because men might feel some kind of sexual temptation is just full-blown hooey nonsense. Her body shouldn’t be regulated because you can’t control yourself. You regulate you. It’s particularly insidious to claim that a woman who is a complete stranger to you is more responsible for caring for your marriage than you are. We all know how that kind of thinking really is a slippery slope. Maybe the next guy says that seeing women’s hair makes him a little less faithful in his heart to his wife, so what do we do then, force women to cover their hair? Same logic, as evidenced by places like Iran, where they really do have that rule.

So what brought on this entire new anti-breast agenda? Ironically, it was a church protesting women who bare their breasts in a place that you actually have to pay to get into and which people under 18 are not allowed.

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Anyone who was listening last week to the podcast will immediately recognize these tactics as ones borrowed from anti-choicers, in no small part because the people protesting the strip club are the same fundamentalist Christians that protest abortion clinics. Which goes to show how much these tactics are not about trying to help people but about trying to control them by shaming them. Anti-choicers say they’re just trying to reach out and help and all that, but if that was true, then how is it that there’s literally no difference in how they approach men going into a strip club and women trying to get abortions? Anyway, the strippers have started to retaliate by going to the church to protest, leading the leader of Personhood Ohio to demand strict laws that would ban all breast-baring in public, which would absolutely create major problems for women who are breast-feeding, amongst other things. But more to the point, the common thread here is female sexuality, which he openly argues is a threat to society and therefore needs to be stifled. This isn’t about “life,” but about sex. And just in case that wasn’t clear, his other argument for criminalizing breast-baring in public is a doozy.

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He sure does find excuses to go to a lot of gay pride parades to carefully count the breasts he sees on display there. For someone who thinks a mere glimpse at a nipple is enough to devastate a man’s marriage, he sure seems eager to get many, many glimpses. You know, to protect other people.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, anti-choicers have theories about what sex is all about edition. The Alliance Defending Freedom has a video out warning parents about the dangers of a sex education course apparently endorsed by Planned Parenthood, because, as usual, they seem to believe that if you don’t talk to kids about sex , they’ll never have any interest in it.

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It’s always so enlightening when antis talk to each other. They swear up and down that they aren’t against sex when speaking to outsiders, but amongst themselves, they freely discuss sex like it’s a dangerous and addictive drug. That metaphor falls apart upon any examination, but persists amongst anti-choicers for the simple reason that they really do think sex is wrong and want to stomp out the vast majority of healthy expressions of sexuality.

‘The Silent Sex,’ Parents Against Sex Ed, and Anti-Choice Tactics

Related Links

Sleazy protester tactics

Rachel Maddow on sleazy protester tactics

Fremont sex education controversy

Men have all sorts of rights, but women apparently have not even the most basic ones


On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be speaking with a researcher on the problem with women not getting heard, even when it really counts. New recordings show how sleazy anti-choice protesters are and even the Bay Area has parents against decent sex education.

BuzzFeed had a hilarious video called “What Men Are Really Saying When Catcalling Women,” where men say what’s actually going on with them, but you know, in the same idiot tones they use when cat-calling women.

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I’d add to that, “I’d never do this to a woman who is accompanied by a man, because I think that women are male property!”


Thanks to Andrea Grimes at Rewire for bringing this story to my attention. Progress Texas and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas got some audio of anti-choice protesters holding trainings on how to use intimidation, under the guise of protest, to try to force women to have babies they don’t want to have. While anti-choicers like to portray themselves to the public as kind-hearted Christians who just want to talk to women and hopefully persuade them with their arguments, what NARAL discovered was that anti-choice protesters, in actuality, prefer to use intimidation, shaming, and force.

Karen Garnett, the director of an anti-choice Catholic group in North Texas, explained how to use stalking as a helpful intimidation tactic in order to try to scare women out of abortion and to scare providers, as well as to perhaps dig up information for legal harassment.

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With this, you really get a good idea of how legislators are working in conjunction with anti-choice harassment and intimidation crews in order to run women off of safe, legal abortion and push them either toward forced childbirth or, in many cases, toward less safe black market abortions. The legislators pass a mandatory waiting period law, requiring a woman to come to the clinic twice. The first time she comes, the antis make a big fuss out of recording her license plate to let her know she is being watched by people who believe that they are the rightful owners of her body and not her. Then she knows that if she returns for the abortion, they are stalking her. That’s got to be incredibly scary. But if there was any doubt at all that the purpose of this exercise is not persuasion but intimidation, Garnett made it clear that scaring women and using fear as a weapon to control them is the point.

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They’re stalking you because they want to “help” you choose life! Yeah, that’s the ticket. By the same logic, your possessive ex-boyfriend is stalking you because he just wants to help you choose to have a relationship with him, even though you know, you already told him no. Using fear and intimidation to control people is not about helping them, full stop. Antis are just so used to making the bad faith argument equating attacks with help and force with kindness that words like “help” don’t mean anything to them. The actual help is on the inside of the clinic. You can tell, because inside the clinic they ask you what you need and do what they can to meet your needs. They don’t try to scare you into doing what they want you to do. There’s a huge difference.

But lest there be any doubt that these people know they aren’t helping and know they are there to hurt, the next speaker, Eileen Romano, explained how to exploit poor women’s poverty to bully them into having children they don’t want.

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“God is good.” That is the conclusion of someone who wants to exploit women’s poverty to hurt them. I’m not a Christian, but I have read the Bible and I don’t remember the part where Jesus said that his followers should target poor people for abuse and exploitation because they’re poor and they don’t have any alternatives. Jesus said you should help poor people. He was very clear on this. But anti-choicers are explaining to each other how great poverty is, because it makes it so much easier to force women to do what you want them to do. Damn.

The cruelty and viciousness that undergirds the anti-choice movement was also evident during protests in New Orleans recently, which I covered in an interview with Teddy Wilson here at Reality Cast. But Rachel Maddow also did a segment on it for her show.

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Here’s the thing I try to remind people of, over and over: If your arguments are good, persuade people with your arguments. Use logic. Use rhetoric. But if you find yourself resorting to force and bullying, it’s because your arguments aren’t any good. You know you can’t persuade people, so you try to use force instead. So you have to ask yourself, how sure are you really of your arguments if you know in your heart you can’t persuade people, so you resort to threats and force instead? I have to say you clearly aren’t sure at all.




There’s a widespread myth that everyone in the Bay Area is super liberal and even downright radical when it comes to sex positivity. And while that’s definitely a big part of the culture out there, for which I tip my hat, the fact of the matter is that people who get completely unbent at the idea that sex is supposed to be fun are found in every corner of this country. And now the Fremont school district is having a battle over these new textbooks that are taught in ninth grade health because the sex education information in there does not hide the fact that sex is supposed to be fun and playful.

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There’s two basic categories of people who throw a fit over sex education. You have your religious conservatives who really do think that sex is naughty and evil and who attack sex education because they want to make it so hard to teach anything useful in school that schools either give up or institute programs telling kids they’re going to hell unless they wait until marriage. But you also have people who may not be anti-sex exactly, but they are confused. They assume that because they don’t feel ready to have kids that are interested in sex, then the kids themselves must not be ready. First of all, it’s important for parents to learn to separate their desire for their kids to be kids a little longer from the factual evidence that kids learn a lot more about this stuff than you’d think, and a lot faster.

But let’s also be clear that it’s absolutely true that most 14-year-olds are not ready to have sex yet, much less engage in sexting or bondage. To which I have to point out that this is true of, well, basically everything else you teach kids in school. We aren’t teaching kids writing skills so that their Facebook posts are more lucid. We aren’t teaching them math skills so they can, damn, I don’t even know what a teenager could use, say, calculus for in everyday life. The point of education is not to teach someone about something after they have already started to do it or use that knowledge. We teach them things so that, as they become adults and start to have more need for these skills, they are already prepared. That’s why it’s important to talk, in depth, with kids about sex before they start to have sex. So that when they start to explore, they have the tools to be safe.

And let’s be clear, this book is incredibly dry.

  • fremont 2 *

I am not even remotely surprised that some parents looked at the book and thought, what’s the big deal? The critics of the book are using alarmist, overblown language, such as calling it “pornography” or arguing that it “introduces” high schoolers to bondage. It does no such thing. It acknowledges that bondage is a thing that exists, which is not news to roughly any teenager who is permitted to leave the house or see the ads for Fifty Shades of Grey. Also, I think “bondage” is one of those words that people just feel primed to react negatively to, but the book simply describes it, accurately, as a game where you get tied up or blindfolded, which are games that nearly all sexually active people try at some point. Same thing with oral sex and masturbation. On the very slight chance that there’s a 14-year-old alive who hasn’t heard of these things, the fact of the matter is that they will hear about these things in high school. It’s far better for a kid to first encounter these concepts by having them drily and professionally explained rather than try to figure it out from jokes and bragging and other forms of peer-speak that might distort the realities or make them feel that these behaviors require being unsafe or disrespectful to partners.

Unfortunately, the school district didn’t or didn’t feel able to take this hard line and tell parents that it’s better for kids to know before they try rather than vice versa. Instead,there was minimizing of the impact of the text, which was only about 20 pages of the whole book.

  • fremont 3 *

That may be so, but it’s neither here nor there. Kids can be counted on to flip to the sex part and read it, being, you know, human. But that’s a good thing. Kids are curious about sex and will, whether you like it or not, seek out information. Better for that info to be accurate and safety-oriented than the fantasies offered in porn or the playground bragging that can distort perceptions. The school didn’t make a more full-throated defense of the books, so no big surprise, they eventually gave in and yanked the book, for review right now. Hopefully they’ll just wait for this temper tantrum to die out and put the books back in classrooms. Kids need this info, whether their parents like it or not, after all.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, watch someone just simply ignore the possibility that women are human beings with rights at all edition. This is David Barton, right wing “historian” who mostly just lies about history, argue that being for abortion rights means being against liberty.

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The fact that they don’t see women as really human couldn’t have been more distilled. A man’s right to own property, to have guns, to make money, all that is inalienable. But a woman’s right to determine something so basic as to whether or not to be pregnant, not a right. Because this is a worldview that doesn’t see women as rights-bearing people.

‘The Next Hobby Lobby,’ and Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Contraception

Related Links

Aw, cybersex

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s interview

Fox News overreacts

Second legal challenge to Texas abortion law

Tucker Carlson being hateful again


On this episode of Reality Cast, Irin Carmon will be on to explain the latest wrinkle in the litigation against insurance coverage for contraception. Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks some truth, and the Texas abortion law goes to court again.

Did you guys see this ’90s-era video instructing people on what cybersex is and how to do it, which went viral?

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At some point, her ridiculous ’90s sweater comes off and she is naked on top, suggesting this was somehow supposed to be arousing as well as instructional.


Katie Couric, who now works for Yahoo! News, scored a sit-down interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in which they discussed judicial collar fashion, family life, and oh yeah, the Hobby Lobby case. Couric asked some very leading questions about whether or not the justices who ruled for Hobby Lobby, all men, are somehow blind to the fact that contraception is not only a routine part of women’s medical care but also something that just basically all women use.

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Really, no joke: Over 99 percent of women who have had sexual intercourse have used it. What I like about Ginsburg is she’s not hamstrung by people who pressure liberals and feminists to refuse to outright say things like people have sex and contraception is a necessary part of modern life. She’s happy to come right out and say just these things.

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What’s funny is I think no one has been more surprised than feminists and liberals at how so many conservative men have taken to acting like they imagine contraception to be some wild sexual fetish that only hippies and perverts engage in. I certainly was under the impression that, since nearly all women use it, nearly all men are familiar with it. But what’s become evident is a lot of conservative men are likely shielded from contraception by the women in their lives, and may not even fully realize that their wives and girlfriends and daughters and other women in their families use it. This is not something most liberals really grasped until this debate made it clear. And so Ginsburg is reacting to what the evidence points to. If you don’t want people to assume you’re ignorant about contraception, perhaps you should learn something about it before opining on it.

But the folks at Fox News refuse to accept that Ginsburg might be reacting to the strong evidence that her colleagues have no idea how important contraception is to women, and instead, well, basically accuse her of attacking men because they’re men.

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Luckily for you listeners, you just got to hear what Ginsburg actually said, so you know as well as I do that she didn’t accuse her colleagues of being unreasonable because they’re men. But here’s the thing that is true: Because they are men, they have the privilege of simply ignoring realities of female lives that they don’t want to understand, which is what Couric and Ginsburg were getting at. If you’re a woman, it’s nearly impossible to deny the importance of contraception to your daily life, and it would be completely impossible, outside of massive hypocrisy, to deny it while holding down an important job like being a judge. Does this mean that all men think this way? No, of course not. Some men have empathy for women and curiosity about women’s lives. But the justices who ruled for Hobby Lobby clearly display a complete disinterest in women’s lives and an incuriosity that often verges on being outright hostile.

Then we had the mansplaining portion of the segment.

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The problem is that while Hobby Lobby only sued over four kinds of contraception, the court sent out a clarification the day after the decision to let everyone know that this decision covers all forms of contraception. As is usual with mansplainers, Eric Bolling’s confidence that he knows better than the woman he is lecturing is inversely proportional to how much he actually knows compared to her. So you have layers upon layers of men opining about stuff they don’t understand and can’t be bothered to learn. Fascinating.




The battle over abortion in Texas is hardly over yet. The mega-bill that Wendy Davis tried to filibuster and Gov. Rick Perry forced through by holding multiple extra legislative sessions has another provision in it that starts taking effect on September 1. Because of this, arguments in district federal court over that part of the law took place last week.

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This is incredibly frustrating, because the first part of the law, which requires doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court even though similar laws in other states have been struck down. Frustrating because while the “official” reason for the law is to protect women’s health, the court basically admitted that it’s really about reducing access to safe, legal abortion and for no other purpose. That is also true of this particular provision of the law. While it might sound nice on paper to have all abortions done in ambulatory surgical centers, if you actually start to look at the facts at all, there’s no reason for it. For one thing, a lot of abortions are medication abortions, where you take a pill and you can do it at home. But even with “surgical abortions,” it’s not really what you’d call surgery, since all they do is dilate your cervix. There’s no cutting necessary. This is about exploiting people’s ignorance of how safe abortion is, and allowing right wingers to basically argue that because they wish abortion was dangerous it should be treated like it’s dangerous.

The real danger here, however, is to women’s health-care access.

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The six remaining clinics will likely start having waiting lists and may, in some cases, have to use their ambulatory surgical centers because these laws are going to cause many women to delay their abortions until later in the pregnancy, where more sophisticated and risky interventions are necessary. And, as has been pointed out many times before, a lot of women, especially in rural areas, will just try to get abortion pills on the black market. What is particularly aggravating is the state attorney, Jimmy Blacklock, just said that if women want abortions, they should just go to New Mexico. Basically, at this point they’re just admitting that the only real purpose these laws serve is to make abortion more expensive and more of a hassle, putting it out of reach for poor women and basically making you suffer to get your abortion for no other reason than they want to punish you. This has nothing to do with “life” or “health,” but is just about hassling women for the hell of it.

Naturally, there was an anti-choicer on hand to be interviewed at the protests in front of the court.

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Again, anti-choice arguments make no sense. Okay, it’s easy to say you regret your abortion when you were allowed the choice to have one and professing regret after the fact costs you nothing and gets you accolades from your fellow church-goers. Bully for you. Doesn’t change the fact that very few women regret their abortions. More to the point, how does requiring abortion to be performed in an ambulatory surgical center address your abortion regret? Is this woman suggesting that if her abortions had been in more expensive facilities, she would have no regrets? Of course not. Because this isn’t about women’s health or safety, but about making abortion harder for women to get, and the abortion regret narrative is there to imply that childbirth should be forced on a woman for her own good. But of course, the abortion regret people are saying that you are the one who should be forced to bear children against your will, you know, because of their regrets. How nice for them that someone else has to pay the price for them to feel better about past decisions.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Tucker Carlson is talking again edition. This time, the Fox News host is talking about women who have children without being married first.

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Sometimes you wonder if some men like him believe they’ll never convince women to like them, so instead they have to bully women into thinking we need them. By the way, ever notice how conservative opposition to single parenthood dries up the second a woman might consider an abortion in order not to have a baby “out of wedlock.” All of a sudden, they start swearing up and down that it’s not big thing having a baby while single. Funny how that works.

Abortion Access Threatened in Tennessee, and Lila Rose’s New Anti-Sex Videos

Related Links

Rachel Maddow on abortion in Kansas

Women’s Health Protection Act

Preterm risk debunked

Abortion and breast cancer

Abortion and mental health

Lila Rose is really hostile to sex

Geraldo Rivera has marriage advice


On this episode of Reality Cast, Jeff Teague of Planned Parenthood will explain what’s going on in Tennessee with Amendment 1. I’ll review some of the recent anti-choice Senate testimony, and Lila Rose is arguing for, uh, “life” by suggesting it’s shameful to be curious about sex.

Rachel Maddow highlighted the way that abortion clinics often end up dealing with the ridiculous state laws regarding abortion.

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It was part of a larger segment about abortion in Kansas you can watch at Rewire, but I wanted to pull that because it really shows how ridiculous it is to have laws forcing clinics to expose patients to information they know for a fact is untrue or misleading.


The Women’s Health Protection Act, which is a bill that would simply require that states regulate abortion the same way that they do all other medical care and not subject it to extra regulations, was the subject of a Senate hearing in the middle of July. I covered this bill itself here on Reality Cast, but I’d like to circle around back to it to discuss the actual Senate hearing and a rather troubling thing that kept happening over and over again from anti-choice politicians testifying against the bill: They basically refused to argue about it on its merits and instead told a bunch of, and there’s no nice way to soft pedal this, lies about abortion and what it does. Rep. Diane Black [R-TN] kicked off her testimony with a statement that shows exactly how morally bankrupt the entire anti-choice argument is on this.

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Okay, so the argument here is that abortion is a terrible evil and really should be considered murder, and also that the “murderer’s” health and safety is so paramount that we need a whole bunch of regulations that don’t apply to medical care that is not murder? How does that even make sense? If you are actually “pro-life,” then waxing on and on about how much you love the so-called murderers and you want their experience of murder to be as safe as possible makes no sense at all. That is because they are lying. These regulations aren’t about health and safety at all. If it is, then anti-choicers are saying the health and safety concerns of people they believe are murderers matters more than the health and safety concerns of people who aren’t committing murder. Which is a transparent lie.

Black went on to tell more lies.

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Some of this is lying by implication, insinuating that the health risks of continuing a pregnancy are less than the health risks of having an abortion, which is patently and demonstrably false. 1 to 5 percent of abortions have minor cervical lacerations? Well, 33 percent of all births end in c-section, which is major surgery compared to a laceration. Less than half a percent of abortions require hospitalization, as a point of comparison to childbirth, nearly all of which is performed in a hospital. As for the higher chance of preterm birth, there was a study that showed that but later studies debunked it. The breast cancer line is cherry-picking. The most reliable studies have found no such link. The psychology stuff was also just pure B.S. The American Psychological Association states that, after reviewing the literature, they conclude there is “no evidence that a single abortion harms a woman’s mental health.”

But all this is in service of the ur-lie underlying this, which is that the proposed regulations have anything to do with any of this. Abortion doesn’t cause higher rates of depression, but even if it did, why would requiring a doctor to have hospital admitting privileges change that? Abortion doesn’t cause breast cancer, but even if it did, why would requiring someone to have an ambulatory surgical center to give a woman a pill at home change things. Abortions do have a small complication rate, but that’s why pro-choicers think it should be regulated like every other medical procedure. You can get a laceration during a colonoscopy, but that doesn’t mean you should be read a script guilt-tripping you about it and made to wait 24 hours before you get one.

Then there was Sen. Marsha Blackburn [R-TN].

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Yes, the law would require that abortion is treated like comparable medical procedures. Blackburn’s argument relies on the demonstrably false assumption that women are weaker and stupider than men and therefore need to be subject to more state interference when it comes to our medical decisions. Men are not forced to wait and think about it an extra 24 hours before they get minor surgery. Men are not assumed to be so stupid that they can’t take a pill without a physician watching them to make sure they swallow it properly. To say that abortion and only abortion requires a doctor to watch you to make sure you swallow a pill right is to assume women are too stupid to remember to swallow. Look, the fact of the matter is that these unnecessary regulations exist for one reason and one reason only: to make safe, legal abortion harder to get in order to punish women for having sex. Everything else that conservatives say on this issue is just hand-waving or outright lying.




Lila Rose is getting some attention in right-wing media again with her deceptively edited videos that are supposedly “stings” against Planned Parenthood. Rose claims to be motivated by her supposed concern for fetal life, but what is interesting about this latest so-called sting is, like with her previous ones, “life” doesn’t come up at all. Instead the entire thing is about how terrible it is that people have non-vanilla sexual interests. Basically, watching these videos teaches you little to nothing about the abortion debate or Planned Parenthood, but one thing you definitely walk away realizing is that Lila Rose could not care less about “life” but is strictly interested in pushing the idea that sexual pleasure is deeply shameful and that people who enjoy sex should be shamed and punished for it.

There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about the latest videos, as Rose is well known for deceptively editing her videos. But honestly, watching them, the only reason to be deeply offended is if you think sex is naughty and you are dumb enough to think that lying to teenagers about sex will kill all their curiosity about it. Basically, Rose’s investigator, posing as a 15-year-old, asked pointed questions about bondage and the Planned Parenthood worker answered honestly. Here’s a clip from the Colorado one.

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While Rose would like you to believe that Fifty Shades of Grey is some kind of underground deviant porn, it was actually a massive bestseller and is being made into a major Hollywood movie. That book is actually well-known for being fairly tame, about as mainstream and ordinary as you could get. It’s literally the least surprising thing in the world that people who are young and first having sex might have questions about it. Being tied up and spanked is a little silly, yes, but sex is kind of a silly activity. For most people, experimenting with bondage is just goofy play time. Dan Savage calls it cops and robbers with your pants off. Getting offended about it makes about as much sense as getting offended that kids have games like cops and robbers or people enjoy watching shows where there is conflict. Sex is, you know, supposed to be fun. God forbid.

Also worth noting is that when the investigator asked about this, the worker immediately went to the topic of safety and consent, immediately offering advice about how to explore this whole thing safely. Because her job is to make sex safe, and bondage is a common sexual practice that has some basic safety advice to go with it.

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So, here we have the so-called investigator asking a sex educator a direct question about a sexual interest. The educator offers her a sincere and honest answer. She says that while she is not interested in this particular activity, many people are, which is true. She recommends going slow and making sure you don’t do stuff you don’t want to do. She doesn’t judge or scold, because she is a sex educator, and not some kind of prude put here to shame you for your sexual desires. She is doing a good job here. This is what sex educators are supposed to do. It’s important to remember this is a confidential appointment. If the people who hold themselves out as trustworthy people who will give you advice without scolding or judgment clutch their pearls and pretend to be shocked, shocked I tell you, that someone might get ideas from a bestselling erotic novel, where exactly are kids supposed to go for help? If sex educators refuse to educate, young people will try this stuff out anyway, but they won’t be as safe about it. You’d think that Rose wants young people to get themselves hurt, mentally or physically, for daring to try a little bondage.

In fact, it was hard not to draw the conclusion that she wants kids to hurt themselves because they’re bumbling around without guidance after watching the video from Indiana.

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Someone tells a worker about her plans to explore S&M and the worker offers caution while making sure that she knows that she’s not a bad person for having these desires, and letting her know how to explore safely. In other words, exactly what a sex educator is supposed to do, because shaming someone doesn’t make them stop feeling desire. It just means that they’ll be afraid to ask you for advice.

As a reminder, Live Action claims to be a “pro-life” organization. And yet this entire thing is about pushing the notion that a health-care worker should respond to sincere sex questions by shaming girls and telling them they’re dirty. How does that prevent abortion, exactly? All I know is that shaming people and telling them they’re dirty is itself a sadistic action. Except Lila Rose isn’t just playing at sadism in bed, but she’s being a full blown sadist who is trying to actually get people hurt.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, a five-times-married man has relationship advice for the ladies edition. I swear, that Fox News show Outnumbered is just trying to get itself featured on the Wisdom of Wingnuts. This time Geraldo Rivera, who is on his fifth wife, has advice for women on marriage.

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Marrying a woman for her youth is like buying a car hoping it will appreciate in value. If your boyfriend is that dumb, ladies, dump him already and find someone who understands that a lifetime commitment necessarily means watching someone get older. P.S.: It’s actually not true that most women are dependent on men. On the contrary, only around 20 percent of mothers stay at home while their husband works.

Todd Akin Is Back, and Anti-Choice Protesters Terrorize New Orleans

Related Links

The Daily Show tackles Hobby Lobby

Todd Akin’s infamous comments

Todd Akin tries to clarify, makes it worse

Todd Akin on the Christian Broadcasting Network

Cecile Richards on Bill Moyers

Teddy Wilson on anti-choice protests in New Orleans

Ted Cruz tries to gaslight people

Charles Payne’s cufflinks


On this episode of Reality Cast, Teddy Wilson [reporting fellow at Rewire] will explain what’s going on with anti-choice protests in New Orleans. Todd Akin is trying to make a comeback, and the fallout from Hobby Lobby continues.

The Daily Show took a break in the summer and came back to find that they had a lot of ground to cover. Their take on the Hobby Lobby case and the success of the argument that corporations can do what they want as long as they invoke religion was phenomenal.

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Todd Akin has wormed his way back into the news again. Akin became a figure of national infamy when he was running for Senate in 2012, after years of being a congressional representative. He lost the race after he told a reporter that there was no real need for rape exceptions in his proposed abortion ban because, well, let’s just give it one more go-round.

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What most people didn’t understand at the time and probably don’t know now is that Akin came into politics by the way of the anti-choice movement, including a history of getting arrested at clinic protests. This wasn’t just some random argument from a guy who doesn’t think about this much. On the contrary, Akin is an anti-choice fanatic down to his bone marrow and trying to control women’s bodies is the most important issue to him. Because of this, he’s a pretty good stand-in for the way that anti-choice activists think about sex and women. This comment was offensive because it was biologically inaccurate, but it was also super misogynist. Not only did he accuse rape victims of lying to cover up for consensual sex, it’s clear he doesn’t think of women as people at all. He says punish the rapist not the “baby,” which is not a baby. But the woman herself doesn’t even factor. I’d say he wants to punish the woman for being a rape victim by forcing her to have a baby, but I don’t know that he even considered the possibility that women have feelings.

I’m retreading this ground because Akin is back, and he’s reminding everyone that anti-choice fanatics are just that, fanatics. In this case, fanatics devoted single-mindedly to this cause of reducing women to objects and stripping us of our basic human rights. Akin made a half-assed apology for his statements when he tried to win the election, but now that he’s lost and he’s promoting a book, he’s retracting that apology. His claim is that we just didn’t understand what he meant by “legitimate rape.”

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The thing you learn when dealing with anti-choice fanatics is that what he’s doing here, which is clearly just making word salad garbled B.S. to deflect criticism, is fairly common. That’s what so frightening about anti-choicers. We’re talking about people who see a multi-celled zygote and have convinced themselves it’s a wee baby waving its hands and cooing at you. In some cases they’re glib liars and in some cases, just fantasists who struggle to tell reality from wishes, but in either case, we’re not talking about reality-based people. Just to be sure, I did a Google search for both “legitimate rape” and “legitimate case of rape” for the years prior to Akin’s statement and found no evidence that either term is used in law enforcement. In both cases, it mostly turned up people saying what Akin was saying in the first place, which is that rape victims are lying about being raped because they are trying to conceal consensual intercourse. There continues to be no evidence that this is more than a misogynist myth and actual law enforcement experts say most rape reports are real.

Things just got weirder from there during this interview with Chuck Todd from MSNBC.

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See what I mean about wishful thinking? He is suggesting that pregnancy from rape is so rare we can assume that most women who say they are pregnant from rape are lying. But then he flips around and buys, wholesale, this notion that there’s just tons of people running around who were “conceived in rape,” enough to help build his staff. This is a pretty big contradiction, but basically it’s a result of just believing whatever is convenient. The “conceived in rape” thing is one of those big things on the anti-choice circuit. There’s a handful of people who make a living claiming that they were conceived in rape and arguing therefore that if you’re raped, you should not be allowed an abortion. Because you get to be a mother to someone who makes a living trying to get rid of women’s human rights. Yeah, it’s not an argument that actually persuades anyone outside of anti-choice circles, but really it’s more there to soothe their guilty consciences when they consider that they literally want to force rape victims to give birth. Plus, as with a lot of testimony in Christian right circles, a healthy dose of skepticism is well-advised. I mean, Akin believes that women emit some kind of contraception when raped, so he’s not exactly the most trustworthy source here.

The narcissism that really drives the anti-choice movement is also on full display when it comes to Todd Akin, who argued that running around accusing rape victims of lying and just generally denying the humanity of women is God’s work when he was a guest on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

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Sounds terrible. I mean, not terrible like being raped and then having politicians accuse you of lying and trying to force you to have a baby. But that’s the sort of thing that can only happen to women, and it’s quite clear that Akin does not care one bit what happens to women.




The fallout from the Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby continues as people grasp the implications for religious freedom, for being able to protect your privacy rights with regards to your employer, and for contraception access generally. There was a lot of hope at first that the supposed limitations put on the decision would in fact be limitations, but since the Supreme Court turned right around and not only gave employers the right to not include contraception in their health-care plans but to openly sabotage women’s attempts to get that coverage elsewhere, it’s clear that the supposed limitations were offered in bad faith. Because of this, we have to worry about all the larger implications of the decision, including some of the concerns about giving corporations more rights than people, even to religious freedom, and the possibility that contraception will soon be subject to the same kind of major attacks on access you get with abortion. Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood [Federation of America], was on Bill Moyers to talk about the wide-ranging attacks on women’s rights, but I was particularly interested in some of the talk about the Hobby Lobby case.

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That’s the evil genius of this entire thing. Hobby Lobby and their supporters were able to hijack widespread misogyny and hostility towards female sexuality to push the larger corporate agenda of trying to take away the rights of workers and give rights to corporations. Even though your health-care plan belongs to you, since you earned it, and not your employer, your employer’s religious beliefs count for more than yours when it comes to how you can use it. The door is now open to more expansive arguments about how the employer’s religious freedom depends on taking it away from employees. We see that with the Supreme Court letting lawsuits go forward that could allow employers to refuse to fill out paperwork if doing so makes it easier for employees to get birth control. They are arguing that their religious freedom is only protected if your religious freedom to decide to go outside of their health-care plan for contraception is restrained. I worry they’re not going to stop here. I’m sure there’s already people looking for more ways that bosses will say their religious freedom can only be protected if they get to prevent employees from using contraception.

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This entire situation is a huge mess, because it’s not like corporations are “tricking” people into giving them rights to control our private behavior and religious beliefs by using sex-phobia. I mean, that’s part of it, but that implies incorrectly that the misogyny of all this is insincere. Believe me, it’s a both/and situation. Conservatives who threw a fit over the no-copay contraception aspect of the Affordable Care Act knew full well that it would do exactly what Richards said, which is even the playing field for women by making it much, much easier to choose your contraception based on how effective it is and how much control it gives you over your life and not on considerations like how much time you have to take off from work to get it or whether you can afford it. Above all other things, they don’t want women, especially low-income women, to have that control. Which is why any effort, including this Hobby Lobby gambit, that deprives any women of that control is considered a victory.

That’s why it was purely bad faith on Ted Cruz’s part to say this:

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It’s the “don’t believe your lying eyes” gambit. Cruz is trying to convince us that the Democrats just made the attacks on contraception up for political purposes. Even though Rush Limbaugh called women who use contraception “sluts.” Even though Hobby Lobby literally sued and won the right to stop women from using their own health-care plans to cover contraception. Even though there’s been a widespread statewide assault on family planning clinics that has created a documented surge in unwanted pregnancies in places like Texas. Did the Democrats pay all these conservatives to attack contraception to make Republicans look bad? Was this all a false flag operation? I doubt Cruz would go that far, so this needs to be understood as hand-waving to try to scare people from acknowledging what is clearly happening here.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, rape jokes are okay as long as they’re vintage edition. Charles Payne was the single male guest on the sexism-rationalization program Outnumbered on Fox News, and he had some vintage cufflinks.

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Yes, I do believe the point of the joke when it was popular in the 1950s was to remind women that they can be raped. But I guess that trying to gain power over women with a rape joke is just light-hearted humor on Fox News.