The He-Man Woman Haters Club

[My latest for The Huffington Post.]

During a month when the abortion and contraception debate peaked — again — you would’ve thought the Sunday political shows would feature a larger than usual roster of female panelists, strategists and experts.

Not a chance.

There were a total of four female guests during the entire month of February. This bears repeating. Out of 56 guests on the Sunday shows, only four were women. Four.

This statistic probably reminds you of Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s contraception hearing two weeks ago in which his panel of witnesses was composed entirely of men who were summoned to discuss health care for, you know, women. In fact, on the following Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, the all-male Issa hearing was discussed at length by David Gregory, Paul Ryan and Chris Van Hollen, who we can assume are each biologically male. Smart booking choices.

Sadly, the men’s locker room on Sunday morning is a virtual bridal shower when compared to the increasingly aggressive He-Man Woman Hater’s Club known as the Republican Party.

We begin with the voice of the party, Rush Limbaugh. The “Spanky” of the club.

Yes, I get it. We shouldn’t pay attention to Limbaugh because he’s a clown. He’s nothing more than an over-drugged over-paid disc jockey who’s performing a loud-mouthed Morton Downey, Jr. routine for the much coveted paleoconservative “market segment,” as David Frum called it. All of this is true, but we can’t ignore the fact that he controls the radio with more than 15 million weekly listeners. So whenever he says something awful on our public air, it has a significant impact. For example:

“Why is contraception so important that it must be paid for by somebody else?” he demanded to know. He asked why contraceptives are “a must-have” in comparison to toothpaste, hotel rooms or a car. “Why are so many people afraid of birth?”

I wonder if it was the use of toothpaste to prevent pregnancies or if it was his alleged inability to achieve an erection that prevented him from having children during any of his three marriages. Speaking of which, I wonder if his health insurance plan paid for the Viagra he was allegedly trying to smuggle into the Dominican Republic several years ago. While we’re here, I wonder why he needed ED drugs in the Dominican Republic in the first place without any female partners with him on the trip. And if he was indeed planning to have anonymous sex (just guessing) in the Dominican Republic, I wonder whether he considered contraception to be “so important” during that potentially dangerous activity.

OK, I’m grossing myself out now. Moving on.

Over the last two days, Limbaugh reminded us in no uncertain terms of his legendary hatred of women. Since his show began in the late 1980s, he’s profited from attacking women and women’s issues practically every day. The term “Feminazis” only skims the surface of Limbaugh’s misogyny. Lately, he’s highlighted his professional class and morality by teasing and mocking the Obama girls. And here’s what he said this week about NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, who dared to express her support for the president’s contraception law:

“She was talking, Danica Patrick was talking about Obama’s contraception ruling. She was not speaking in general though it applies generally… She said, “I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for America.” … What do you expect from a woman driver?”

That’s not all. Last week, Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke spoke to an informal gathering of congressional Democrats about the Jesuit college’s refusal to cover birth control as part of its health insurance plan. Fluke told lawmakers that contraception can cost a law student up to $3,000 and a classmate recently lost an ovary because she couldn’t afford the contraception drug that would’ve prevented the recurrence of ovarian cysts. (How many “potential lives” were lost when that ovary, and its lifetime supply of unfertilized eggs, was removed?)

Here’s what Limbaugh had to say about Fluke’s testimony.

“What does it say about the college coed Susan [sic] Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”

The most popular radio talker in the world just called an ordinary citizen a slut and a prostitute in front of 15 million people. 15 million Americans tune in specifically to hear him say horrendous things like that. Many of those listeners fancy themselves to be “dittoheads,” meaning they blindly “ditto” everything that comes out of his increasingly slurred yapper.

And that’s not even the worst part of this reinvigorated conservative war against women.

In state legislatures from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, Republicans are pushing laws that force the usage of transvaginal ultrasound probes to be inserted into the bodies of women who are in need of an abortion. It’s a form of state-mandated rape and it’s being mandated by the so-called “small government party.”

And while Virginia and Alabama Republicans backed away from the transvaginal transducer, North Carolina already has a law on the books, and Pennsylvania is getting ready to pass its version of the transvaginal law. All of these states, irrespective of whether they keep or jettison the transducer, will continue to sanction the use of ultrasounds on women as means of intimidating them against having the procedure. Remember during the health care reform debate when Republicans blew a gasket over Medicare paying for end-of-life counseling? They said it was somehow shoving government into a private matter between doctors and patients even though it simply made this voluntary discussion affordable. But now they’re doing exactly that — shoving government into a private medical decision in the most literal sense imaginable.

Your modern Republican Party has decided that a one percent increase in taxes for multi-millionaires is an impeachment-worthy high crime, but the state-mandated insertion of an electronic device into the vaginas of women who are ostensibly struggling with the most difficult moments of their adult lives is a perfectly acceptable exercising of government power. (By the way, these are the people to whom Ron Paul — the self-proclaimed guardian of liberty — would hand the reins of, well, everything.)

Well before these new laws were introduced, including the personhood laws dictating that life begins at conception and therefore outlawing many forms of birth control, hundreds of women across the country were convicted and sent to prison because they had miscarriages. More than 300 women in South Carolina. 40 women in Alabama. Illinois prosecuted a woman for manslaughter after she gave birth to a stillborn baby. As of June, 38 states had passed “fetal homicide” laws. The consequences? Pregnant women who are suffering from drug addiction or mental illnesses are afraid to seek prenatal medical attention for fear of being arrested. It’s increasingly evident that being pregnant and in distress is almost as bad as being an illegal immigrant in America.

If Republicans were really interested in making it easier for women to carry pregnancies to term, they would pass laws to make the process safer and more affordable. Instead, they’re criminalizing it. We can only assume they’re not truly interested in fetuses or zygotes or babies who, by every other piece of Republican legislation, are on their own once they’re born. They’re simply interested in dominating and oppressing women because they believe women are genetically incapable of making difficult and otherwise very private life choices. Listen to Limbaugh’s rants — unburdened by the demands of politically correct language — and the truth emerges. Women are sluts and prostitutes. They hate their own biology. They’re dingbats who can’t drive. The words of the de facto leader of the Republican Party, preaching to millions of dittohead acolytes.

Again, why else are they passing these barbaric anti-woman laws and not laws that make pregnancy — laws that make womanhood — easier? We can only draw the conclusion that the Republican Party hates women.

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  • http://twitter.com/QuadCityPat Patrick

    Great piece Bob! I’ve been monitoring IL laws for Imani’s TeamUterati project. The current transvaginal ultrasound law is on the floor of the house introduced by the Agricultural committee! Women as livestock= great optics. Yesterday an amendment was added to make the woman pay for the ultrasound. Its completely outrageous and this is in a state controlled by Democrats! I wrote about it at length and Imani cross posted ABLC. If you want more detail.

    Keep up the good fight.

  • groobiecat

    Excellent post. I’ve re-posted this on the Occupy web site. I honestly don’t think today’s youth thinks there’s a difference between dems and republicans (and although I’d love to see *more* of a difference), on issues like this, there’s no remote comparison. It needs to be pointed out–especially now that the choices are more stark than ever–that the time for conflating the two parties is long over. Here’s the link to the post: http://occupywallst.org/forum/when-it-comes-to-the-war-on-women-its-dems-over-re/

  • deazl666

    Women of America, watch out, They’re coming after YOU now…

  • Guest

    I have a very good friend whom I have known for many years. We are very different in many ways but we have always managed to ignore these differences for the sake of a friendship that we both value. She is bright and intelligent and open minded in so many ways. HOWEVER…. she is a very ardent listener of Limbaugh’s which I have never understood. I have personally seen her listening to him and laughing at the things that he says and even saying how smart he is. I would look at her in bewilderment not quite sure if we were both actually listening to the same thing.

    You see…. she is a typical mid-westerner, having grown up in Missouri, most likely always having this kind of mentality constantly around her. I know that she is really listening by rote and not quite truly understanding what is really being said. There is no possible way that I could be friends with someone who really thought this way. She has now lived in the NY area for half of her life. What I have come to understand is that she is merely a product of her environment. This makes me sit back and wonder how many of these “15 million listeners” simply tune into this gasbag for the same reasons… out of habit.

    I never used to make a big deal out of her listening to him only asking that she change the station. Recently though, I have taken to challenging her on how she could put any value to the vile things that he says. I have tried to open her eye to the vile detestable things that spew forth from his mouth and surprisingly enough I sometimes see a glimmer of understanding in her eyes. I don’t think that she will ever stop listening to him, but I do believe that she now sees some of what I have always seen.

    Great job Bob….excellent piece.

  • stacib23

    O/T – Have you guys seen the news – Andrew Breibart is dead.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      I thought this was a joke. OMFG.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    The more I read the adversarial comments over on HuffPo, the more I get the sense that the commenters and those like-minded not only don’t understand, but try really, really hard to not understand, not only what “religious freedom” is, but what insurance is.

    One of the more prevalent ideas there, echoing Rush, is that this woman is “demanding that someone else pay for her birth control.” [This is a recurring motif on the Right™; everyone but them is constantly “demanding that someone else pay for” one thing or another; “someone else” implicitly meaning Republican voters/fans/enablers.] One would normally need not point out the obvious difference between “demanding” that “someone else pay for” something, and that that something be covered under an insurance policy that one is herself paying for (or that is part of her compensation for her job).

    One would also normally need not point out that “religious freedom” does not include a requirement that one’s government, at any level, make and enforce laws that require every other individual citizen to conform his/her behavior to one’s own personal religious beliefs, nor laws that prohibit those behaviors that one’s personal religious beliefs prohibit, nor that such governments refrain from making and enforcing laws that indirectly (by virtue of not prohibiting them) permit or enable such behaviors, nor that one be exempt from any such laws.

    • Brutlyhonest

      You’re trying to pull the curtain away, Graf. You know, what the “librul” media should be doing.

      Controlling the narrative is essential to their brand. Hence, they created the myth of the liberal media and then the cure for it! Having no real moral fiber, they easily lie to manipulate a populace that is all too willing to be fleeced.

      Specifically related to Bob’s topic, look at the way the contraception and state-sanctioned rape topics have been covered: Anyone who provides abortion services is an abortion doctor; Anti-abortion forces are pro-life (even though they don’t respect life outside the womb); the medical fact that zygotes can’t live outside the womb is never mentioned; every story I saw about the ultrasounds failed to use the medical term trans-vaginal even once they started mentioning an invasive procedure was involved; they also never mentioned that this invasive procedure was necessary because an external ultrasound would not show the zygote; talking about the size (or lack thereof) of the developing fetus, every report I can recall ever seeing on “news” fails to mention that the vast majority of abortions don’t involve anything that resembles a baby – yet they always show example ultrasounds of fully-formed ultrasounds.

      Enough wall of text! Bottom line is that until the lies and liars are effectively confronted we’re fooked.

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      That’s the problem with talking to those kinds of thinkers. They don’t start out from the same place you do. And if they do have a real understanding of these concepts (ie, are learned enough) then they use faulty logic. I just had an online chat with old acquaintance who is very smart over the question of “do lower taxes mean that people will donate more to charity because they have more income?”. I went out, looked at the rates of charitable contributions over the last 25 years (which is a very steady approx 1.7%) and then looked at effective tax rates over the same period, plus looked at economic recessions and booms during that time periosteum (which we know has been a roller coaster). I concluded that the answer is no…lower taxes do not mean people will donate more. He argued like crazy trying everything he could to disparage the data until finally he gave up and simply declared the data wrong because it couldn’t separate out donations made from a Christian motive (as if that made some kind of difference, which To my mind made the data more solid because it spanned all kinds of donors who do so out of all kinds of motivations). It wasn’t until I had wasted hours of my time that I realized he started with the answer yes, lower taxes meant people would donate more and he spent the rest of the time simply trying to force the data and reality to fit his premise. He is smart and educated. But I could not for the life of me get him to acknowledge how illogical he was being. I’ve come to the conclusion that it simply isn’t worth it any more.

      • GrafZeppelin127

        I think you’re talking about something else; confirmation bias. Backwards reasoning; you know that [X] is true, so whatever facts you see must necessarily prove that [X] is true and anything that suggests otherwise can’t be trusted. There was a terrific diary on this topic on Kos yesterday.

        I think there’s some of that going on in the comments I’m referring to here, but I think what I’m getting at is more along the lines of self-serving mischaracterization, a deliberate inability/refusal to recognize and understand the difference between thing [A] and characterization [B]. If anything, confirmation bias comes next; i.e., you “know” that [A] and [B] are the same, or that [A] is [B], and are therefore only capable of understanding [A] as [B] so any other explanation of what [A] actually is, or that illustrates the differences between [A] and [B], or how [A] is not [B], is automatically rejected.

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          Yeah, I was struggling to label what was going on there…confirmation bias was the term I was looking for. And I see your point.

  • muselet

    … women who are ostensibly struggling with the most difficult moments of their adult lives …

    I don’t think you wanted to use “ostensibly” there, Bob. Otherwise, well said as usual.

    –alopecia