Irradiated by LabRat
So I was more or less hoping that my local universe would move on from the subject after experiencing a deep realization of shame, but it never works like that, and thus one of the hottest topics on the right and even among the primary candidates is contraception! And specifically, Rush Limbaugh’s little incident regarding a feminist activist who testified about contraception!
Now, Sandra Fluke is in fact a feminist activist, and there is plenty to pick at in her testimony, like whether her friend with PCOS was denied oral hormone treatment because of some sort of religious objection to having anything that can be used as contraception available through insurance plans, or because insurance companies are often jerks about providing treatment they view as expensive. There’s also the issue that for those of us who pay for our contraception out of pocket and have a pretty good bead on how much the kind of contraception she’s talking about actually costs per year, her estimate was way high. There’s also a larger debate in there about Obamacare again and the issues of mandating that citizens buy particular services and then mandating what those services must offer.
Is that the conversation being had on the right?
Fucking of course not.
The conversation we’re having appears to have the following major points:
a) How much sex Sandra Fluke has is a critically important public issue we need to bravely discuss. If she’s a slut that’s something we need to TALK ABOUT RIGHT NOW because she has to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for having sex. In this case responsibility for sex involves not using contraception, but being publicly shamed for having any.
b) Rush Limbaugh and anybody else should be able to be as big assholes as they like without experiencing any kind of social or market consequences, because otherwise it’s CENSORSHIP.
c) Men on the left have said equally nasty things about female conservatives, therefore men on the right should be allowed to too because otherwise NO FAIR.
d) Nothing Rush says is of consequence because he’s an entertainer, simultaneously with
e) YOU GUYS WE HAVE TO DEFEND RUSH RIGHT NOW OTHERWISE THE LIBERALS WIN.
Ken over at Popehat has already covered several of these points ably, so I’ll mostly leave them alone. (Especially the part about what a massive whiny tool it makes you look like to complain that an activist was that easily able to provoke you into making a major fool of yourself in the eyes of anyone not already mainlining your Kool-aid, or to complain that you aren’t allowed to be just as much of an ass as you’d like without being disapproved of.)
What I wish to talk about instead is the part that’s really making my head explode, which is that apparently Rush Limbaugh and hundreds of conservative men considered relevant enough to be given a megaphone for their soapbox have no clue whatsoever how birth control or sex or health insurance work.
I’m about to get a little personal here. It might even be titillating. Call me an exhibitionist if you will, but the primary subject at hand here is oral contraception, or if you will, oral hormone therapy. These are them, my True Slut Adventures.
I was first prescribed “birth control pills” when I was fifteen because my menstrual cycle was both very irregular and very painful, to the point where I was literally incapacitated for days or even more than a week once my period decided to show up, for however long it felt like staying. The local reason for this is that I was just unlucky; the meta-reason for this is that being a first-world girl, I’d had better and richer nutrition than women’s bodies usually had evolving, and did not pair off by the age of 17 as I would have if I’d been born a hunter-gatherer. The way a woman’s cycles are normally tamed into regularity “in the wild”, as it were, is pregnancy, and neither my parents nor I saw that as a particularly attractive option. My parents didn’t have a problem with the idea of CONTRACEPTION BEING GIVEN TO A TEENAGE GIRL either, since they figured they were hormone pills and not mind control. They were right, too, as I remained a virgin until I was well past 18*.
Then I got to college and somewhere in the second year of it my TRUE SLUT ADVENTURES began and I had sex. With a guy I was faithful to that lived in another state. I think I went through maybe two boxes of condoms’ worth of actual sex per year as a result. Then I really turned into a HYPERSLUT, amount of sexwise, when I graduated and moved in with him and eventually married him. He posts on this blog sometimes, you can say hi to him.
Cost of “contraception” over years of abstinence while being treated for a mild but problematic reproductive health issue, being involved with someone long-distance, and marriage: exactly the same per year. Incidentally also almost exactly the same as friends I had who had many more partners, minus the cost of condoms for non-tested-and-trusted partners, which is pretty trivial.
This is why people thought it was a problem when a Congressional panel on birth control was held without a single woman on the panel: because apparently there are a lot of guys out there who have no idea, on a basic and not even ideological level, how birth control pills work or that they or some basic variant on them are also useful and necessary treatment for a wide variety of women’s health problems (like PCOS, and endometriosis), and that if you use them they become a fixed cost that has nothing whatsoever to do with how much sex you have or with how many different partners. Goodness knows Bill O’Reilly apparently doesn’t either. Rush probably damn well SHOULD know how birth control works given he’s been married four times and has no children, but apparently it didn’t take. This isn’t just a oral hormone contraceptives vs. everything else argument either- most forms of birth control other than condoms are a fixed, regular cost independent of the frequency of sex, and the ones that aren’t (like spermidical jelly) aren’t healthy to use often. Even condoms with spermicidal lube, which is most of them, aren’t necessarily. And not even Sandra Fluke was arguing that condoms need to be covered by health insurance.
What’s blowing me away about the way the whole debate is playing out on those sections of the right that I regularly interact with is this bizarre, permeating worldview that birth control is something only some strange sub-cult of leftist Sex Women uses, and not, you know, the majority of American adults. What’s even more bizarre is the fact that apparently the Sex Women somehow aren’t involving men as they rack up their birth control bill; the strangest assertion I’ve seen yet is the idea that “women are getting paid to have sex but I don’t see anyone paying men to!”. (Paraphrased.) HOW IS BABBY FORMED, DO YOU KNOW? LESBIAN SEX AND MASTURBATION DO NOT REQUIRE CONTRACEPTION.
Oh yeah, “paying people to have sex”, that was a good one, which formed the basis of the “prostitute” allegation. Leaving aside that it wouldn’t be taxpayers paying, but rather insurance companies using the money paid in by people who have insurance with that carrier, it makes for all sorts of interesting other arguments. By that logic, anyone who shares Rush Limbaugh’s insurance carrier has paid him to destroy his hearing and his liver by abusing prescription drugs, and also for the enhanced size of his ass via whatever health care he’s receiving related to his weight, as well as paying him to have sex if that Viagra he was caught with in the Dominican Republic (a famous sex-tourism destination) was indeed his.
And you know what? I’m not Rush’s insurance plan, but I wouldn’t bloody well care if I was, because THAT IS HOW HEALTH INSURANCE WORKS. You pay in to a common pool and ideally it protects you from major catastrophe and smooths some of the edges off your more mundane health issues. You have a choice not to buy it if you really can’t stomach the idea of even distantly enabling your neighbor’s more self-inflicted health issues even to have your own treated, which is in fact a valid argument against mandates that everyone has to, but most of us don’t really mind because it’s not really our business anyway.
Even if you accept the idea that anything health insurance covers is something someone is “paying you to do”, what exactly is your alternative, Sparky? Would you rather pay me to have kids? That’s what lack of contraception tends to lead to, and both the OBGYN costs and the kid’s medical costs tend to be covered by health insurance. (That’s not even going into the various actually taxpayer funded government services for children whose parents cannot fully support them.) This isn’t a Sex Woman set of costs, it’s the cost every single fertile heterosexual couple out there faces- most of whom are married.
What’s that? Abstinence after marriage is the only responsible solution to the horrific burden way less than 3k a year would be for insurance to pay for hormonal contraception, in order to treat medical conditions and prevent having more children than couples want or can afford?
I don’t think it will catch on.
*Their idea of sex education wasn’t “shame her and scare her silly”, so much as “teach her everything that could happen and will happen, that her body belongs to her and not to anybody telling her what to do with it one way or another, and that all told, sex is a lot better with someone you love and trust and sometimes regrettable in various ways predictable and un”. Thanks, mom and dad, it was all good advice. I’m sure if I’d had a higher baseline drive and a lower threshold for intimacy of all kinds I would have had some of that teen sex you hear about, but the idea was “safely and without devastating consequences”, not “keep her legs locked until legal adulthood”.