2012/02/20

Blatant misogyny from the right

One of the interesting things to come out of the recent false conflicts about contraception, and the recent spate of anti-abortion bills being passed in various states, is the increasingly bold and blatant misogyny coming from the American right.

While misogyny has always been a part of right wing politics there is usually an effort to disguise it at least a bit.  Not so with the most recent nonsense.

We're seeing conservatism drop the mask and finally admit that it is not merely abortion they oppose, but rather contraception.  A serious contender for the Republican nomination for president, Rick Santorum, has come out in opposition to Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruling which granted the right to contraception.

Only a few days ago Santorum's biggest contributor, Foster Friess (pronounced "Freeze"), came out against the proposed requirement that health insurance cover contraceptives by literally telling women to keep their legs shut as it was so much less expensive.  Of special note is that he did not tell men not to have sex, but rather directed his remarks to women.

The most blatant recent example of outright misogyny, however, comes as a result of Virginia's new law requiring a transvaginal ultrasound for any woman seeking an abortion. 

For those unfamiliar with the term, a "transvaginal ultrasound" requires that the gynecologist insert a plastic wand into the woman's vagina.  It is, as you might imagine, a rather invasive procedure and not one that doctors consider necessary for many abortions, especially for pharmaceutical abortions (that is, abortion by taking a pill).

People who were not complete and utter misogynists found the new regulation to be revolting.  CNN's Dana Loesch [1] defended the law:
That’s the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it’s rape and so on and so forth. And in fact, this big battle that I’ve, uh, totally won with Keith Olbermann by the way, like, not only won once but twice and three times… uh, there were individuals saying, [high voice] “Oh what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that, the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?” What!?
Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.
Emphasis mine.

It's hard to find a more blatant, more open, declaration of misogyny than that.  It is a distillation of the virgin/whore complex into a single sentence.

The first impulse of many would be to point out that not all women seeking abortion have, in fact, consented to any transvaginal procedures, rape victims for example.  It is, I think, a bad idea to make that argument as it (however unwillingly or unwittingly) buys into the basic misogynist idea that "good girls" are more deserving of respect and consideration than "bad girls".

In the misogynist view consent is understood to be a single universal occurrence.  A woman can choose to remain celibate, or she can consent to sex.  Consent is not determined on a case by case basis, a woman cannot (for example) choose to have sex with her boyfriend and then choose not to be vaginally penetrated with an ultrasound wand if the condom breaks and all she wants is some RU-486.  In the mind of a misogynist that is an absurd contradiction.  The woman chose to be a slut, and sluts exist to be penetrated at any time by any one for any reason.  If the state of Virginia chooses to punish sluts by penetrating them with ultrasound wands that can't be rape, the sluts consented to sex once didn't they?

We're seeing the misogyny in the conservative War on Sex more clearly lately, and I find that disturbing.

[1] Already infamous for not merely defending, but cheering for, US soldiers who urinated on Taliban corpses, and declared that she'd like an opportunity to piss on some corpses herself.

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