For starters there is the shockingly disturbing quotes from Rush Limbaugh in which he described a women who testified in support of birth control as a “slut” and a “prostitute.” He made those remarks on Wednesday of last week. Yet he couldn’t leave well-enough alone, for Thursday he suggested that this woman, Sandra Fluke, make sex-tapes of herself since the taxpayers should get to see what they paid for. Then Friday, not to be outdone, he mocked President Obama for calling Ms. Fluke and expressing his concern.
Backtracking in time, we can look next to the failed Blunt Amendment, which came from Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri. This amendment would have allowed all employers, not just churches or religiously affiliated employers, to deny coverage if the employer had a moral objection to a medical option. So, for example, if the owner doesn’t believe in pre-marital sex, he could deny contraception or even pre-natal coverage to all single women.
Next we must look at that contraception controversy, the battle of the Bishops—the all-male Catholic bishops that is. Strangely enough, when discussing issues that are exclusively in regards to women, no women are allowed to voice their opinion. There was the now-infamous all-male panel to discuss contraception to a congressional committee, there was the exclusively male Catholic Bishops deciding what women should and should not do, and of course as previously discussed there was the incident of a woman (Fluke) speaking out only to then be publicly denigrated. The Catholic Church has spearheaded the pushback to the ruling, yet despite that an estimated 98% of Catholic women use birth control—women have been silenced from the debate.
Then last, but certainly not least, are the laws attempting to be passed in Virginia and elsewhere that require a women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. Besides the physical discomfort and awkwardness (but I have seen this procedure done and it didn’t look extremely comfortable) is the principle of the matter; this is forced vaginal penetration of a women without her consent—isn’t that essentially rape? Though some think that terminology is inappropriate, I know of no other way to describe it.
The Underlying Causes:
“Religious Freedom” = The issues of contraception and pro-life laws have been huddled under the umbrella of “religious freedom” and the Right has cried that Obama’s law requiring free contraception coverage to women is a blatant disregard for that freedom. But again, who is crying foul here? It’s the men—the men who think they have a right to speak for women, whether it be the Catholic Bishops, the all-male congressional committee, or even Rush Limbaugh. We are witnessing the crumbling, decaying wreckage of traditional patriarchalism in America. Men are losing their place of ultimate authority in society; no longer do women unconsciously submit to the leadership of men, no longer do women understand themselves to be the “lesser”—so men are fighting back, as hard as the can, to hang on to any remaining vestiges of power left; even if that means promoting sexism.
The “Traditional Family” = I wish this issue was as simple as rooting out a few women-haters, but it goes deeper than that. The constant rallying cry amongst Right-wing conservatives is for the renewal of the “traditional family;” a married male and female and their children. But we need to go further still, for where do they drawn their norms from what a “traditional family” is and how it should behave? They draw these standards from their narrow interpretations of the Bible—women are to submit to men, for husbands are the head of the household and the leader of the family. Therefore, in the understanding of a religious conservative, this debate over contraception in America is going exactly as it should be going—since women are to be in subjection to men, males are completely within their authority making decisions for women.
The Way Forward:
I don’t know, but unlike the Right, I’m going to leave that up to the women of America to decide.