by Doctor Science
So you've probably been wondering why I haven't posted about the current battles in the War on Women. Mostly it's because I've been very busy with that "work" thing, and I don't think it's right to make such posts if I don't have time to moderate the comments, because they can get a bit ... heated.
The other reason is that I've been reeling from one day to the next, as the hits just keep coming. You can refresh your memory by glancing through Balloon Juice's War on Women tag, or Charles Pierce's Lady Parts tag, or pretty much the whole thing at Reproductive Health Reality Check. I've been basically too choked with outrage and unbelief to figure out where to begin, and what to say that wasn't just a string of Carlin Words.
Now I've got (a little) time, so I'm going to ask:
Look at the facts:
- Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke testified before Congress about policies that restrict insurance payment for contraception. Her testimony had nothing to say about her personal situation, she was relaying the experiences of a wide variety of women, especially those who need birth control pills for reasons other than contraception, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Rush Limbaugh made up lies about her testimony and started riffing on them.
- He didn't just call her a slut -- though he did it over and over and over again -- he said it was because she couldn't spend that much money on birth control unless she was having sex all the time. This was actually a combination of a lie (Fluke said nothing about her own life) and sheer stupidity, because (as everyone ought to know) birth control pills cost the same amount regardless of how much sex you're having.
- Limbaugh's lies and foul, skeezy language were picked up all over Right Bloglandia. Here's a starter list, but it's all over the place. For instance, I stumbled upon Robert Stacy McCain calling her a lying liberal bitch -- and also, bizarrely, a "Chubster", because no attack on a woman can be complete unless you say she's fat and unattractive, too, even when that is visibly not the case.
When the Republican Presidential candidates were asked about the situation, they said:
Romney: "I'll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used."
Gingrich: "I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the President's apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression, and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week."
Paul: "I had said he used very crude language, and I think he gets over the top at times. But it’s in his best interest. That’s why he did it. I don’t think he’s very apologetic. He’s doing it because some people were taking advertisements off his program. It was the bottom line that he was concerned about."
Santorum: "He's being absurd. But that's, you know, an entertainer can be absurd. And -- and he's taking the absurd, you know, the absurd -- absurd, you know, sort of, you know, point of view here as to how -- how far do you go? And, look, he's in a very different business than I am. I'm concerned about the public policy of this president imposing his values on the people on people of faith who morally object to -- to the government telling them they have to do something which they believe is a grave moral wrong."
In a world that makes sense, at least one of the candidates would have said something in favor of contraception in general, or of respect for women even when you disagree with them, at minimum. Anything to avoid worsening the gender gap -- Obama had a 13-point advantage over McCain among women in 2008, and women vote more than men.
Instead, the candidates basically went along with the narrative, so they shouldn't be surprised that even numbers of Republican, Tea Party women are starting to reconsider their allegiance.
Meanwhile, in New Hanover County, NC:
Commissioners unanimously voted down a state grant that would fund contraceptive supplies and services in the county. Just like the national story, providing contraceptive healthcare to women is anything but one-sided, but commissioners all seemed to have the same mindset.But maybe New Hanover isn't totally surreal:
"I have a fundamental philosophical issue with using tax pay dollars to fund someone's irresponsibility," said Commissioner Rick Catlin, who also serves on the county’s health board.
"If these young women are being responsible and didn't have the sex to begin with, we wouldn't have this problem to begin with, but unfortunately that's the problem that we have,” Commission Chairman Ted Davis said.
All five commissioners voted to turn down a nearly $9,000 state grant to help fund contraceptive supplies and medical services related to family planning.
After thinking it through, one commissioner says he regrets his vote.NO SHIT, SHERLOCK! I congratulate Mrs. Barfield on her ability to get an idea to sprout on apparently infertile ground.
"I'm one of those abstinence guys, so I agree with those comments," Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said during Monday's meeting.
Barfield says he realized his mistake after talking with his wife.
"Her first question was, 'What were you thinking?' and we started walking through and talking about this discussion," Barfield said. "She brought up some very valid points that if someone is seeking contraception, it shows that they are being responsible."
Really, in what kind of a world does it seem reasonable to say "birth control is irresponsible"? In particular, what kind of man thinks that birth control is irresponsible, or negative, or anything other than a big load off his mind? Is this really how a lot of people are thinking, or is it all what Harry Frankfurt defined as Bullshit -- a lie that doesn't even *care* about the truth, just about what works for the moment?
In a way, I'm grateful to Limbaugh and his yelping chorus of slut-shamers. Feminists like me have been saying for years that the real issue isn't abortion, or religious freedom, or even contraception, what the sexual McCarthyites are opposed to is women's sexual agency. Sandra Fluke didn't have to *do* anything to be called a "slut", all she had to do was be a woman in public.
I am closing comments on this post. Moderation rules on the following post will be quite severe for a while, until everyone gets used to not making personal attacks all the time.