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Why Does Sandra Fluke Drive Conservatives Bananas?

9:24 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Let me tell you a story….

Sandra Fluke

Sandra Fluke (Photo: Cirt / Nmogburn / Wikimedia Commons)

There once was a time when women knew their place. Back in those halcyon days, young women accepted that sex was a dirty thing they should go out of their way to avoid, lest the taint of it made them unmarriageable. Girls married young and dreamed of staying at home with children, far away from the dirty worlds of men and power. Of course, slipping up did happen, and girls got pregnant outisde of wedlock but since there was no birth control or abortion, those girls had to get married straightaway, so either way, women ended up where they belonged, in the home, while men went out and did all that working.

Then the birth control pill was invented and abortion was legalized. All of a sudden, women started screwing who they liked without any consequences. They didn’t get married young anymore, instead choosing to do things like have careers and demand power. This meant the end of cherished gender roles, which in turn meant gay marriage, men losing their rightful place as leaders of nuclear families, single motherhood, and anarchy in the streets. Clearly, women’s abortion rights need to be taken away and access to contraception curtailed, and then perhaps we can return to the bliss of “Leave It To Beaver.”

This is a story is one we all know, and it is the singular fable that drives the anti-choice movement. It is a story that is actually not true, of course. In the reality, many mothers worked outside of the home, premarital sex was surprisingly common, men abandoned women they got pregnant routinely, and abortion was common even as it was illegal. And yet this fantasy lives on, a fantasy of returning America—at least middle-class America—to a strong patriarchy where women’s talents and ambitions are all aimed at supporting men and where sex is irrevocably tied to procreation. It’s the fantasy that motivates the anti-choice movement. It’s the fantasy that leads to abortion restrictions, the building of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, the shooting of abortion doctors, usually by men who will never be Ward Cleaver and have grown bitter.

But admitting this out loud is difficult for conservatives, because stripping women’s human rights to create a patriarchal fantasy world flies directly into the face of their claims to be about “liberty.” Instead, a thicket of lies has grown up to rationalize their preferred policy options: Claims about concern for fetal life, concerns that mysteriously never extend to actual children. Claims about concerns for women’s mental health, even though science has refuted any connection between abortion and poor mental health outcomes; instead the notion that abortion hurts it is rooted in the belief that women’s purpose is birthing, and that deviations from it mean women are somehow broken. Claims that abstinence-only programs are about health, when they are clearly about promoting a paranoid view of sex as inherently dirty and sinful. Claims now that denying women insurance coverage of contraception is a matter of “religious liberty,” even though docking a woman’s benefits because she disagrees on matters of dogma with her employer is a pretty straightforward assault on that woman’s religious liberty.

But as we learned at the DNC this week, the Democrats have come up with a secret weapon that causes the entire wall of lies to come crashing down, revealing the sniveling, misogynist prude that is actually behind all these assaults on women’s reproductive rights.

That weapon’s name is Sandra Fluke.

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Putting the Sex Back in Birth Control: Why the Dominant Narrative on Contraception Undermines Young People

11:03 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Andrew Jenkins for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

A flower arrangement made from condoms.

Photo: Bill McElligott / Flickr

While I applaud Elizabeth Banks for her new ad supporting Planned Parenthood, birth control, and President Barack Obama — and wholeheartedly empathize with her personal story — I’m reminded of a sobering fact: the progressive community is deathly afraid of talking about sex and young people.

That’s right. I said it.

Between Banks new web promo aimed at female voters, Sandra Fluke’s testimony before Congress last February, and the reactive messaging around Rush Limbaugh’s vile comments, one thing has remained clear: our movement is far more comfortable elevating stories about birth control when they don’t involve sex. Pure unadulterated sex. Sex without the fear of an unintended pregnancy. You know… the primary reason young Americans use birth control.

And for arguments sake, maybe there’s a good reason for this. Maybe — just maaaayyyybe — we’re trying to appeal to conservatives. Perhaps we’re making our funders happy. Or maybe we’re just trying to sell a message that is palatable; easy to consume.

Nope. Bullshit. Not buying it.

As sweet and good intentioned as these justifications sound, what we’re ultimately doing is playing the game that our opponents want us to play and operating under a set of rules that threaten the long-term success of our movement. By running away from a serious discussion about sex in the birth control debate, we’re appealing to a deep-rooted paranoia and fear in this country. Fear of young people having sex. Fear of young people exercising agency over their own bodies. Instead of using this political moment to challenge that stigma and re-frame the debate with a sex-positive message, I’m afraid we’ve taken the easy way out. We’ve chosen to prioritize a sensationalized and fear-based discourse that completely undermines our ability to alleviate the root causes of sexual and reproductive oppression.

We’ve chosen a strategy that undermines young people.

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Where’s Your Shame, Woman?! Fundamentalist Pastor Takes to YouTube to Fault Women for All Social Ills

12:51 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Vyckie Garrison for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Ever wonder what goes on inside the small minds of fundamentalist Christian men? Want to know how they justify their blatant anti-woman policies and practices? Are they for real? Do they even know how hateful and intolerably ignorant they sound?


Thanks to Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a fundamentalist black pastor and up-and-coming Republican leader, there’s now a YouTube video which perfectly sums up the Religious Right’s core beliefs about women.

“One thing I know for sure, without a doubt, women cannot handle power,” says Peterson, in a 12-minute tirade posted to the “bondinfo” YouTube channel recently as a part of the Reverend’s “Exploring Your Destiny” video series.

“It is not in them to handle power in the right way,” he continues, “they don’t know what to do with it.” Really? That’s some blatant misogyny right there, folks.  Ah – but Rev. Peterson is just getting started …

“It’s not real power anyway … it’s all ego-building. Real, true power come [sic] from God, and God is the one that gave man the power and authority over the wife, and to spiritually guide the world in the right way to go.”

According to the website listed at the end of the video, “BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, is a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to ‘Rebuilding the Family By Rebuilding the Man.’ BOND was Founded by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson who is also its President.”

Rev. Peterson has been busy lately making himself a reputation for strident religiously-motivated bigotry. In January, the Tea Party leader and author of “Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America,” caused a stir by suggesting that unemployed African Americans need to be sent “back to the plantation so they would understand the ethic of working.”

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Who, Me? Limbaugh Regrets Not Slurring American Women With a Better Euphemism for Slut

8:38 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

After spending three days on his radio show calling Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who testified in front of Congress about the importance of health insurance coverage, names like “slut” and “prostitute,” Rush Limbaugh did something unusual: he apologized.

Just kidding!

It’s being reported as an apology, but if you actually read it, it’s not.

In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

In other words, Limbaugh is saying that there’s nothing wrong with his belief that women who use contraception—that is, 99 percent of American women—are immoral, filthy sluts. He just wishes that he had chosen better euphemisms, perhaps “hussy” and “lady of the night” while arguing that the only proper course for women who don’t want to get pregnant is to abstain from sex completely. (Limbaugh very pointedly doesn’t suggest this to men. On the contrary, he demands that women provide sex tapes if they dare use contraception, so he can masturbate to them. While celibacy is required for women in Limbaugh’s world, he has no problem with male sexuality. Or Viagra coverage, for that matter.)

By the way, we’re already aware that he wasn’t just making a personal attack on Fluke. Since 99 percent of American women use contraception—and since contraception is already covered by insurance and subsidized by the government—Limbaugh was using Fluke as a stand-in to argue that every woman who has ever had sex for any other reason than procreation is a bad person. In other words, pretty much all women. Which is a way of saying that Limbaugh wasn’t attacking Fluke, but just using her for a punching bag to express his hatred of all women.

The non-apology involved him doubling down on this argument: Read the rest of this entry →