Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them. –Margaret Atwood
When you put it in that light (and as a man, I can assure you the first half is true), it’s not hard to imagine why the altogether reasonable Sandra Fluke making the altogether reasonable case for the inclusion of contraception in health care would send Rush Limbaugh into a three-day conniption fit.
Rush, after all, is a walking, stumpy, flacid little dick who needs Viagra to get it up (prescribed in somebody else’s name, because he’s ashamed of his emasculated state). He’s a hypocritical drug addict and a know-nothing blowhard, who is so freaked out by a confident, independent, well-educated woman speaking up in a public forum, he nearly wets himself trying to discredit her, ultimately resorting to puerile name-calling and bizarre, perverted innuendo.
But Limbaugh is the least of our concerns; just a distraction, really.
It was the Catholic Church, with all their medieval misogyny and repressed sexuality on display, that first emerged to challenge the president on his altogether reasonable requirement that private employers provide comprehensive health insurance policies to their employees. It was Obama who entertained this outrageous challenge from the other side of the bright constitutional line, and offered a compromise. It was the Catholic Church again which expressed its dissatisfaction with Obama’s compromise. (To his credit, Obama refused to give more.)
It was GOP congressman Darrel Issa who called on 10 men, five of them clergy representing retrograde religious institutions, to testify as experts about women’s health policy, and refused to let Sandra Fluke testify… on the grounds that she wasn’t qualified to speak about women’s health policy.
No, this isn’t about Rush Limbaugh. This is about systematic attacks on the most basic advancements of women’s rights over the past 50 years. This is about the rump of the old guard, who want women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, under the control of their husbands.
The Catholic Church is at the vanguard of these attacks (small wonder), but it’s the GOP, in the throes of an existential identity crisis, that’s seizing the moment. It’s the endangered white male all over again, positively panicked at the reality of waning influence unfolding before them.
It will backfire on them, of course. The GOP base is a rapidly shrinking demographic, and no amount of pandering to it can reverse inexorable demographic trends.
It already has backfired on Rush. Varying accounts put the number of major advertisers who have pulled support of his show at as many as 36. His show may or may not survive. No big deal either way.
But for Republicans, who still need at least a few women to vote for them, alienating half the voting public is a very bad move. There’s a lot of schadenfreude to be gleaned as GOP presidential contenders fall all over themselves trying to out-caveman one another, but the unfortunate side effect is that we actually have to publicly re-litigate matters that we thought were settled in, say 1972.
Contraception is not radical to most Americans, even if it is to regressive religious organizations some of them affiliate with. Most citizens of the industrialized world have easy access to it, and it is not a source of the slightest controversy. As a matter of public policy, it leads to lower overall health care costs and a higher standard of living for all citizens when women are provided with the means to control their reproductive destiny.
This is not a matter for the Catholic Church — an organization which has repeatedly shielded child rapists; contributed to countless AIDS deaths with its prohibition on condoms; brought us not one, but four Inquisitions; and which still seems to yearn for a repeal of the Age of Enlightenment — to weigh in on. For them to play this as an attack on their religious liberty is cynical to say the least, as they aggressively try to assert their dominion over the constitutional rule of law.
We can only hope that all this bluster is a last gasp of dead-enders, and a clarion call for women to repudiate the toxic brew that passes for political discourse these days. We’ve come too far to revert to naked phallocracy.