Why is the greatest nation on earth still debating sexual politics? U.S. political discourse is becoming dominated by bitter debates over personal morality and “family values” at the expense of real, substantive issues.
The recent controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh’s comments regarding the testimony of Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke at a House Oversight hearing is another classic example of American prudishness and religious ideology attempting to disrupt the democratic process.
It’s also a troubling indicator of how much backlash still exists in this country over the sexual revolution of the late sixties.
Ms. Fluke’s testimony unleashed a firestorm of hate and condemnation from shock-jock Rush Limbaugh and others — an illuminating example of the deep, lingering misogyny so prevalent among the country’s neo-conservatives.
Despite Limbaugh’s pathetic attempt to apologize for his “choice of words,” his latest hate screed is, unfortunately, yet another case of “he’s just saying what we’re all thinking” for many Americans.
There was nothing shocking or even mildly controversial about any of Fluke’s testimony, but originally she wasn’t even permitted to speak before the committee.
Three Democrats walked out of the hearing to protest Republican chairman Darrell Issa’s initial refusal to allow any women to testify in favor of the Obama administration’s contraception rule.
The panel was made up exclusively of men representing conservative religious organizations: Lutheran and Baptist clergymen were joined by an Orthodox rabbi and a Roman Catholic bishop.
This is 2012. Birth control is used by the vast majority of American women, whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, college students, doctors, professors, Catholics, Jews or atheists.
Yet Limbaugh spent three days defaming Fluke just because she believes that birth control should be considered basic health care.
“What does that make her?” Rush asked his audience. “It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
If Rush Limbaugh and his listeners consider Sandra Fluke a slut for simply advocating birth control, they obviously have a pretty low opinion of women in general. No surprise there. It wasn’t just Limbaugh on the attack, however, and, sadly, it wasn’t just men.
—Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin called Fluke a “femme-agoge tool.”
—Jawa Report posted a story about Fluke with a picture of a tattoo that reads “Semen Demon.”
—Popular hate-blogger Pam Geller was even worse than Limbaugh. She wrote that Fluke is “banging it five times a day” and that “calling this whore a slut was a softball.”
—Don Irvine from Accuracy in Media called her a “skank.”
—Blogger Ace of Spades called Fluke a “shiftless rent-a-cooch from East Whoreville.”
Does anyone really think that attacking women is a viable political strategy? And since when have so many women joined the misogynist cause? Is there such a thing as a “self-loathing female”?
Case in point: the odious Liz Trotta, one of Fox News’ most outspoken pundits. Last month, she attacked the Department of Defense for proposed spending increases on support programs for victims of sexual assault — the majority of whom are women.
Later in the broadcast, Trotta reacted angrily to a Pentagon report showing a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults in the military since 2006.
“Well, what did they expect?” she asked. “These people are in close contact.”
Public statements like this — while always quickly retracted — reveal a lot about the mentality of the ideologues currently waging the war against women. Trotta later tried to blame “feminists” for blowing her comments out of proportion.
It’s depressing that women are the target of hate and suspicion simply because they possess wombs. Suppressing the rights of women is morally wrong — whether it’s the Taliban or Christian fundamentalists. America could be entering a new dark age where women’s reproductive rights are once again a political battlefield.
The impassioned, tearful arguments used to be over a woman’s legal right to have an abortion. Now they’re going after contraception? How can birth control still be an issue in this day and age?
I find it ironic that politicians who are so viscerally opposed to “big government” have absolutely no problem with the government’s intrusion into the most intimate, personal business of its citizens when it comes to women’s reproductive choices.
But while many Americans hold deeply conservative views regarding so-called “family values,” it’s clear that sex has never played a bigger role in our society. It’s everywhere — on TV, in movies, magazines, music videos, etc. — but we are still a sexually repressed nation.
This dichotomy has created an unhealthy and negative impression in this country that sex is somehow “dirty” or unwholesome. In America, the naked human body is considered inappropriate, yet treating women as sex objects is perfectly acceptable.
In Europe and much of the rest of the world, television shows — even commercials — feature full-frontal nudity and no one bats an eye. Americans are always shocked to learn that the civilized world doesn’t really consider sex that big of a deal. It’s simply a natural part of a healthy, normal life.
In America, a national uproar was caused by the accidental exposure of Janet Jackson’s nipple for .07 of a second at the Super Bowl. Due to the potential psychological damage to America’s youth caused by that tragic event, huge fines were levied against the network by the FCC, and all “live” broadcasts on U.S. television must now be delayed 5 seconds.
In 2007, a theater in Florida was forced to change the display on their marquee for the production of “The Vagina Monologues.” The reason?
A woman complained that she was “offended” because she had to explain the play’s title to her niece, who had asked her, “What’s a vagina?” as they drove by. The theater owners changed the play’s title to “The Hoohaa Monologues” in order to avoid any further controversy.
Keep in mind, this complaint came from a woman who was too offended to discuss a very important body part she presumably shares with her own niece. Clearly, the sexual revolution still has a long way to go in this country.
Utah recently passed a law that bans any sex education which mentions homosexuality, birth control techniques or any discussion of sex outside marriage. Instead, schools will be required to give “abstinence only” sex education or refrain from mentioning the subject at all.
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry cut Planned Parenthood out of the state’s women’s health program. The state senate in Virginia just passed a law requiring women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion. Originally, the law also mandated a vaginal probe aimed at detecting a heartbeat in the fetus.
To counter the ultrasound bill, a female lawmaker introduced an amendment that would have required men to undergo a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before getting prescriptions for Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs. The bill was narrowly defeated by a margin of 21-19. Apparently, there just aren’t enough women in the Virginia Legislature to make the point.