Up until this week, those of us with a shred of optimism and/or naivete could have pretended that the difference between liberals’ and conservatives’ perspectives on birth control were due to something as benign as “differing beliefs.”
However, now that Rush Limbaugh has run his mouth on the subject, I think we can all agree that much of the conservative opposition to birth control is due not to differing beliefs that are equally legitimate and should be respected, but to simple, stupid ignorance.
The following is probably common knowledge now, but I’ll rehash it anyway:
- Sandra Fluke, a 31-year-old Georgetown University law student, was proposed by the Democrats as a witness in the upcoming Congressional hearings on birth control. Her history of feminist activism and her previous employment with a nonprofit that advocated for victims of domestic violence made her an appropriate witness for their side.
- Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, turned her down because, he claimed, her name had been submitted too late.
- The resulting panel of witnesses for the Congressional hearings turned out to consist of absolutely no women whatsoever, which is really funny in that not-actually-funny-way because hormonal birth control of the sort whose mandated insurance coverage was being debated is only used by women/people with female reproductive systems.
- A week later, she testified for House Democrats, mentioning that birth control would cost her $3,000 over three years. Lest anyone misinterpret her argument as being solely about those slutty women’s desire to have tons and tons of sex, she also mentioned her friend with polycystic ovary syndrome who developed a cyst because she was denied coverage for birth control pills (which would’ve helped because they would’ve reinstated a regular menstrual cycle).
A few days later, Rush Limbaugh decided to insert his expert opinion into the discourse surrounding mandated insurance coverage of birth control. His expert opinion?
What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.
The next day, he clarified his views:
So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.
And the next day (allow me to shamelessly quote Wikipedia):
The following day Limbaugh said that Fluke had boyfriends “lined up around the block.” He went on to say that if his daughter had testified that “she’s having so much sex she can’t pay for it and wants a new welfare program to pay for it,” he’d be “embarrassed” and “disconnect the phone,” “go into hiding,” and “hope the media didn’t find me.”
I’m not going to waste anyone’s time by explaining how misogynistic Limbaugh’s comments were, especially since plenty of excellent writers have done so already. However, it continually shocks me how he gets away with saying things that are not only offensive and inflammatory, but simply inaccurate.
First of all, a primer for anyone who’s still confused: except for barrier-based forms of birth control (i.e. condoms and diaphragms), the amount of birth control that one needs does not depend on how much sex one is having. Hormonal birth control works by preventing ovulation, and in order for it to work, it has to be taken regularly and continually. For instance, you take the Pill every day, or you apply a new patch every week, or you get a new NuvaRing each month, or you get a new Depo-Provera shot every three months. You stick to this schedule whether you’re having sex once a week or once a day or ten times a day. You stick to it if you’re having sex only with your husband, and you stick to it if you’re having sex with several fuck buddies, and you stick to it if you’re a prostitute and have sex with dozens of different people every day.
Same goes for IUDs, which last for years.
Therefore, when Limbaugh says that those who support mandated insurance coverage of birth control are “having so much sex [they] can’t pay for it,” he’s not merely being an asshole. He’s also simply wrong.
And for the record, he didn’t even get her name right. It’s Sandra, not Susan. One word of advice for you, Limbaugh: if you’re going to call someone a slut and a prostitute, at least use their correct name. But I guess we should give him credit for knowing which letter it starts with.
I don’t care what your views are on mandated insurance coverage of birth control. I don’t care what your views are on how much or what kind of sex women should be allowed to have (as much as they want and whichever kind they want, in my opinion). Because whatever your views are on these things, you have to agree that these questions should not be getting answered by people who have absolutely no understanding of how these things actually work.
For instance, Limbaugh completely ignored the part of Fluke’s testimony in which she described the problem faced by her friend with polycystic ovary syndrome. This friend’s predicament has nothing to do with sex. Absolutely nothing. For all we know, she’s a virgin.
After all, polycystic ovary syndrome isn’t caused by anything that involves sex. The current medical opinion is that it’s probably caused by genetics.
Unlike some feminists, I don’t think that men should be excluded from debates about women’s health. But men (and women) who show little or no understanding about women’s health should absolutely be excluded from these debates.
You wouldn’t let a doctor who believes that babies come from storks deliver your baby. You wouldn’t let a mechanic who doesn’t know how an engine works work on your car. And you shouldn’t let politicians and commentators who think that you need more birth control if you have more sex decide whether or not birth control will be covered by your insurance.
And, for the record, I also don’t think that Congressional hearings on birth control should look like this:
There is nothing so offensive to me as stupidity mixed with malevolence.
That could totally be my blog’s tagline…
Feel free to use it 🙂 Just list me as the original speaker. If I leave nothing else to this world, I hope to leave some good soundbites lol
I might put it up on my about page with a link to your blog. 🙂
🙂 I thank you for the press. By all means, feel free to do so.
Another element is that what a woman does with her body is private. Why does the govt/money come into it then? Because this is medicine – medicine for a woman’s health.
Even if this turd-brain was correct, which he is not – even you clarifying that it doesn’t matter how much a woman has sex, birth control is not related to frequency of intercourse, etc overlooks the fact that it doesn’t matter how much sex is had – if a woman wants to have a lot of sex that doesn’t make her a slut. We don’t call men sluts who want to have a lot of sex and use precautions. We just call them guys.
My point is a woman’s sex life is none of Limbaugh’s business and the double-standard sexism prevalent in our country is shameful. Men can do what they want – and women are allowed to have no desires. And when a sex act occurs between two people the man is high fived and the woman is usually scorned. If a pregnancy results, increasingly she has less and less options with which to terminate or prevent a pregnancy because mostly male groups are taking that power away from her after a man inseminated her. But if she does carry through with the pregnancy, and the man isn’t interested to large degrees (although this is changing) a woman is faced with an emotional and financial responsibility for the child that the father does not have. So basically, sex is fun for men and men are congratulated for having it. End of story. Women are shamed, humiliated, controlled, restricted, judged, punished, and publicly insulted. Rush Limbaugh is a hateful, hypocritical, windbag.
Thanks for blogging this, Living in Australia is don’t have access to all the media happenings that are going on with your elections at the moment, and the media frenzy surrounding it, that being said I am deeply disturbed by these comments, and the way that opinions about sex, (especially women’s sex lives) are portrayed by the media and then taken into the societal hive mind…The hearings and women’s lack of involvement, somehow remind me of the witch trials… like you I want people who understand the issue, both sexes represented and health to be the focus.
Rush’s comments are shameful and highlight a lack of tolerance and ignorance; It saddens me to know that this man has such a platform to speak from; Moveover I am disgusted that after hearing these hateful words (and may others like them that he has uttered over the years) that people still watch, agree and listen to him… People wonder how millions on Jewish, Cambodian, Rwandan and other people groups were murdered during the last century, well it started with an idea, the idea that other people are to blame for what you don’t like in your life and society, a lack of tolerance, understanding, and a desire to be powerful and “right”… Have we really learnt nothing?
What I am grateful for are people like yourself who question, expose, and do not lie down and allow these comments to go unchallenged. Thank you again for writing this.
Thanks for reading, Lin!
I often hear from people from other countries that they’re completely puzzled/disgusted by what goes on in American politics sometimes. (I particularly hear this from Europeans; I don’t know enough about Australian politics to know if it’s similar or not.) I wish more Americans would quit insulting/belittling other Western countries’ political systems and instead question why people from those countries are so bewildered by ours.
But…. babies do come from storks…. http://www.iconphotogroup.co.uk/USERIMAGES/GC_19%20STORK%20&%20CHICK.jpg
I do not trust myself to write anything other than the man is an idiot.
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