In my opinion, there hasn’t been much of a reason to be feminist until recently when I realized that sexism was actually still a huge problem. I can vote, I get paid relatively close to what a man gets paid; I figured that was about as good as it was going to get anyway, so why complain? I didn’t want to come off as some kind of butch, bra burning, militant stereotype (like Rosie over there). It wasn’t until I really started paying closer attention to the rhetoric of this election cycle that I became alarmed and began to feel the need to defend my own sex.
I’ll be starting with economical arguments, moving into biological arguments, and finishing with the religious debate. This is in hopes that easily-offended religious types will get bored before they have a chance to get offended, and stop reading halfway through.
As if I needed to waste any time on why Rush Limbaugh is a mentally retarded windbag, I’m going to anyway. He actually has power and influence.
This is alarming because the stupid stuff he says is predicated on beliefs he has, which are themselves predicated on his own ignorance. He does not understand how the concept of insurance works, let alone the concept of birth control, nor the concept of morality. Three main questions come to mind when I hear him speak on this topic:
1) Does he honestly believe that all birth control is going to be paid for using tax revenue? I think he does. Because he said it was not his responsibility to fund Sandra Fluke’s sexcapades.
The first problem with this is that it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the legislation in question (Or perhaps an intentional misrepresentation of it? You decide. Depending on how much intellectual credit you want to give this man). I don’t know how to say this clearly enough, so I’ll try using bolded, underlined, italicized, capitals: THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOING TO BE PAYING FOR EVERYONE’S BIRTH CONTROL. IT MANDATES THAT BIRTH CONTROL BE COVERED BY INSURANCE COMPANIES, AND COVERS THE COST OF IT FOR THOSE THAT DO NOT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE. IF YOU HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE, THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOTTTTTTTT BE PROVIDING YOUR ANTI-BABY PILLS!!! Was that clear enough??
2) Does he honestly believe that women pop a birth control pill each time they have sex? Again, I think he does, since he implied that Sandra Fluke was using unreasonable amounts of the drug and that the country would go bankrupt if all American women decided en masse to overdo it (well… overdo American men, I suppose).
3) Does he honestly believe that pornography is more morally acceptable than regulating one’s menstrual cycle? That one seems pretty obvious. Men paying for women to be slutty is amoral (on the women’s part, because the man was under the impression that that money was going to Congresspeople’s paychecks) but if she should film it, that would somehow justify her consumption of Rush’s tax dollars.
Who are you to moralize? Mr. Film-it-while-I-watch-and-take-some-OxyContin. And even further on this whole moral ground, what gives you the right to complain about where your tax dollars go? Remember the Iraq War? Each year, for 10 years, a new crop of 18 year old citizens became both eligible voters and tax payers at the same time and they had to continue to help finance a war that they never voted for! Even if they would have supported it, they never voted for it, but had to help pay for it anyway.
What about all the pork barrel projects funded with tax payer dollars that go to glorifying congressmen in their home states/districts? Seriously, I mean, even people like Bob Byrd have had statues of themselves built using tax revenue. How does that benefit anyone? Ignoring the fact that birth control has multiple purposes, unlike some other things that ARE covered by insurance which we’ll get to in a minute.
Here are just SOME of the other uses provided by the evil birth control pill:
• Alleviation of menstrual cramps
• Reduction of amount and duration of menstrual bleeding
• Regulation of periods (in case you want to schedule your life around it)
• Clearing up some types of acne
• Lowering the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers
• Treatment of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome
Furthermore, as if my frustration over this being an issue were not already the easiest thing in the world to justify, VIAGRA, (OF ALL THINGS!!!) is covered by health insurance. It’s possible that Rush’s understanding of how birth control works is based on his understanding of how Viagra works.
I understand that sex is a healthy activity, and men that are physically incapable of getting/sustaining an erection are not capable of partaking in this, the most beloved and cherished of all life-lengthening sports. So, in this respect, I would argue that the two pills serve a similar purpose: allowing people to have sex. BUT!! Opponents may argue that if Viagra is necessary for a man to have sex, then it is different from the birth control pill. Because women can have sex whenever they want to (when we’re on our period, when we’re pregnant, when we’re intoxicated, even! There’s something a man can’t do…), then the difference lies in the fact that women can’t do it without *possibly* getting pregnant. The difference is that we can get pregnant arbitrarily, which is apparently the problem.
We’re actually getting punished for the fact that we can’t simply look down at our uterus and say “Hey! I know I just had unprotected sex and everything, but I am in no financial condition to raise a happy, healthy child right now. Wanna just go ahead and void that one?? KTHANX!!”
Why is this such a problem, you ask?? Because now we’re trying to legislate on the meaning of life. Literally, we’re trying to define life. And I don’t know how arrogant we are, but in all of time, no man, philosopher, king, or god has been able to do that, so what makes us think we can?
This is the beginning of the biological debate. And before we even get into that whole “arbitrary pregnancy” thing, let’s just be very clear: now that we’re talking about medicine, on a MEDICAL LEVEL, if you want to control what happens in a uterus, GROW YOUR OWN. Since I’m the one that’s put in the time cultivating this particular organ, I’m the ONLY one who has jurisdiction over it.
But moving on. The fact is, women are being punished (i.e. having to pay for our own pills when men do not) for the fact that, as a fact of life, women are the only ones capable of giving birth. And since now we’re involving babies, the whole “life” debate comes into play.
Medically speaking, a person is not dead until their heart stops beating. Even a coma patient, a vegetable declared legally brain dead, is STILL LIVING as long as his/her heart still beats. Therefore, in my mind, if life does not end until the heart stops beating, then life does not START until the heart STARTS beating. And I think we can all agree that, even if you’re not a particularly scientifically-minded individual, a fertilized egg does not have a heart, much less a beating one. (Though we’re far from universal agreement that life starts with the heartbeat. That is simply my belief…Remember this parenthetical.)
And if we want to make the argument that life begins at conception then technically, all living cellular matter is life. It’s the argument we use for plants and animals, why not for humans? On its face, it makes sense. But then again, it really doesn’t. By that logic, every sperm cell spilt when a man masturbates is akin to the slaughter of several million people, albeit potential people. If we’re going to give personhood to a zygote, then I demand rights for sperm.
And if you’re thinking, “Wasn’t that in Legally Blonde?” the answer is YES, and that should be a dead giveaway to you how STUPID a concept it is!! That movie was 100% satirical, and if you missed that, you’re a thicker dumbass than Rush. And dumb asses don’t get much thicker than his, so that’s impressive.
Finally, let’s just disregard the fact that birth control is also used to treat cysts and regulate hormones, on top of being used to schedule periods and eliminate the possibility of pregnancy. And let’s just pretend that the only reason we use it is so we can go out and be slutty. Ok, but what if you don’t give me my pills for free, and I really want to be slutty, but I don’t want to get pregnant (like a slut)? Their solution is for me to go to the free clinic and grab a bunch of condoms. Ok so I’m supposed to put my faith in men, and a male contraceptive tool, that fits over a male organ, and just hope it goes well? Ok, thanks for giving me some autonomy over my own body, you misogynistic douche bags. And for the record, a “douche bag” is a feminine product, (NOT unlike most women, apparently) so… DOUBLE INSULT. I basically just called you a bitch.
And another thing they often throw in our faces: if you don’t want to get pregnant, show a little self-restraint! Try abstinence, ya little whore. Ok, tell that to my rapist. And then try to explain to me why I am obligated to carry this reminder of that event for the rest of my life.
And don’t even suggest putting them up for adoption. There is literally only ONE good possible outcome from putting a child up for adoption (that being that they find a good, loving home and parents that care for them as their own), and the rarity with which that occurs keeps it from being a viable option. It’s just wrong. I personally don’t think any child should have to be raised in the foster system.
And speaking of things that are just wrong, let’s talk about Rick Santorum.
Now, first, before I really get into the whole religious thing, let me qualify it by saying, I have the deepest and utmost respect for religion. I think it’s beautiful. To me, it is like laughing or crying. It is an emotional manifestation of the human experience, that force we embrace when words just don’t cut it. A tear or a laugh is the most extreme means of expression, and faith is often the only way of dealing with those things in life that make us scared or sad or angry. It comforts us when we need it, and so for that reason, it is only a good thing… On an individual level. Once you start imposing your beliefs on others, that’s when we start to have a problem.
Going back to that whole “When does life begin?” debate, Rick Santorum is trying to convince people that what they believe is not only categorically wrong, but what he believes is the only truth. Now one could argue that this is the rhetoric employed by all religious people. True, but given that he’s running for president of a secular country, he should not be employing the rhetoric of a pastor. The principle of the separation of church and state is actually written into our Constitution – a document that, as president he technically should be more obliged to uphold than the Bible. Because a president, politically speaking, is not just a man, free to have his own views. He is a representative of millions of people, and must therefore allow some of the space in his brain to be filled with constitutional thoughts, and not just biblical ones.
But no. He’s instead decided to replace constitutional thoughts with biblical ones, and paint them as constitutional. He said, and I quote, “I want to make sure that everybody understands that when politicians say ‘I believe life begins at conception,’ that is conceding ground. And the ground that we concede is by using the term ‘believe.’ Life beginning at conception is not a belief, it is not an article of faith, it is an article of fact. It’s a biological fact that life, in fact, begins at conception and we need to begin to understand that we have to use language that is consistent with what the truth is.”
Let me just… I don’t understand how women can vote for this man. He clearly hates us. What he’s doing here is not only taking away a women’s right to control her own body, but he is discounting the religious beliefs of any woman (or man, for that matter. I suppose doctors come in both genders) who does not happen to agree with him by disguising his own “beliefs” as “facts” and then trying to legislate on them. So now, women have no personal freedom, no medical freedom, and no religious freedom – no real autonomy at all. His Victorian ideals leave the roles of women pretty much where they’ve always been: in a corner speaking only when spoken to, or in the kitchen making sammiches. Thanks, President Santorum!
But let’s be fair; Rick Santorum is not alone. Many Religious Americans believe that life begins at conception. This may be true; there is no way to prove or disprove that, no matter what he says. As I said before, I happen to believe that human life starts when there is a beating heart. But it is a belief. I am not a doctor, nor am I a God. So I have no authority to say for sure one way or the other, so I couch it in terms that make it obvious that this is simply a belief that I have.
But when it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter. What you believe and whether or not you use contraception apparently have no link to one another. Because most religious American women use birth control.
According to a survey conducted by the Guttmacher institute (I strongly encourage you to click on that and inform yourself, btw) 93% of American women who are of the age, and are eligible to use contraceptive methods (meaning they are capable of giving birth, and do not wish to have children) have in fact used them. The study also specifies that this covers everything from the use of birth control to the use of condoms, to even such low-tech methods such as the pull-out method. We’re talking CONTRACEPTION, not the BIRTH CONTROL PILL. But still… is contraception not equally as taboo??
Now, considering that about 75% of the country identifies as Christian, around 5% identify as belonging to some other faith (these numbers were provided by the 2010 US census, but the Wikipedia page is easier to navigate and uses the same data. You’re welcome.) this tells me there’s quite a lot of overlap when it comes to religious American women using contraception:
Ok, so 80+% of the country is religious, and half of those people are women, 93% of whom are using contraception, if eligible… Assuming they all believe that life begins at conception, we’ve got a whole lot of women circumventing God’s will! This then leads me to believe that either religious women are doing a whole lot of rationalizing and they are all destined for hell, or else the only people who are against the whole concept of women manipulating their bodies to avoid pregnancy IS MEN.
Men who have no idea what it is to be a women, to have a uterus, or to get pregnant. Or, to take it a step further, to get raped (and 98% of rapes are man-on-woman), or to be forced to carry around reminders of such an event for the rest of their lives. Therefore, in my opinion, they have no right to legislate on those issues. And if they do, they’re certainly not allowed to deny us our rights.
Look at these “transvaginal ultrasounds,” which, for those of you that don’t know, is when a doctor shoves an 8-10 inch wand up a woman’s vagina so that she can “see her baby” before aborting it. In the state of Virginia, these are mandatory for all people trying to get an abortion. As far as I’m concerned, that’s rape. It’s legal rape. And somehow you people have a problem paying for our birth control? Ok, so basically what you’re saying is… an unborn child has more rights than a pregnant woman. Tell me how that makes sense.
You say it’s because the child can’t speak for itself. Well, it’s also unconscious. Not only does it not know what’s happening, it doesn’t care. And even if we could ask it, it would not have an answer because its brain is not developed. How do the interests (which we don’t even know exist) of an underdeveloped mass of cells and partially-formed flesh that lacks sentience outweigh the rights of a fully-grown human being with thoughts and feelings… and who pays taxes? How does that make any sense religiously or otherwise??
That being said, if conservatives are so concerned with protecting the lives of those who cannot protect themselves, why do they condemn animal rights activists and environmentalists?? Are they not only defending helpless bunnies and monkeys and trees? And if life is so precious, then why do they support war? War is literally the art of killing as many of your opponents as possible. Where is the respect for life? (Oh, yes, we’re defending DEMOCRACY — also something that has no sentience.)
Religious employers can make the argument that they do not feel that they should have to provide birth control for their employees if contraception is against their religion. That’s all well and good, but let’s keep in mind that is it the insurance companies providing the birth control, not the employers. Second, the religious beliefs of an employer have absolutely no jurisdiction over an employee’s body. It comes back to that whole “religion being ok as long as it only effects YOU” thing.
Furthermore, there is a law in Georgia that states that you cannot abort a stillborn child, because after all, farm animals have to give birth to them naturally. So should women. Now, as a biological measure against such things, the body does usually reject miscarriages. But what about the case of twins? The law would mandate the full-term carriage of both (or however many) fetuses, which could potentially kill the living twins AND the mother. WHAT THE FUCK??! Pardon my language, but, WHAT. THE. FUCK?
My last point is this: we in this country have an alarming trend of distrusting intellectuals. For some reason they are perceived as weak, or perhaps distant from the common person somehow. Yet, do we go to cowboys for medical advice? No. We go to doctors. Of the Republican candidates from this and last year, would we go to Rick Santorum for medical advice? No, we’d probably go to Ron Paul who used to be a physician. This is because we need experts doing expert jobs, and giving expert advice. Rick Santorum is NOT a medical doctor. He is NOT even a doctor of any kind of science. He has his juris doctor, to be fair, but he does not have the authority to espouse medical facts, especially when there is nothing to support his claim.
In fact, ask pretty much any doctor who is not bought and paid for by Fox News, and they will say the same thing I’ve been saying this whole time: that they have no idea why this is even being discussed.
So now, I put it to you: anyone who may read this, please, I’m begging for some answers. Tell me, in light of everything I have said, why this is still being discussed. Myself and all the doctors of the world would like to know.
– THE DUEL CITIZEN