Tips for toads: contraception = health care

Blowin' smoke, as usual. Why should we pay for his poor choices?

Violet Socks at Reclusive Leftist has a terrific primer to help everyone understand that contraception is basic to health care, and that the Obama administration is not forcing taxpayers to underwrite birth control.  The Obama administration rule is that insurance companies must provide birth control–you know, the insurance companies we pay money to so that they will cover our health care needs?

She elaborates on the especially stupid argument offered by some that contraception coverage means that women will be paid to have sex:

Insurance normally covers all kinds of medical expenses connected with sex and other voluntary activities. Bill O’Reilly complains that “men’s activities” aren’t covered, but they are. If men want Viagra so they can have sex, insurance covers it. If they get gonorrhea or syphilis or crabs from having sex, insurance covers it. If they get AIDS from having sex, insurance covers it. If they want to go skiing and need a cardiac stress test first, insurance covers it. If they need Diamox so they can go skiing in Aspen, insurance covers it. If they break their legs skiing, insurance covers it. If they need Simvastatin to lower their cholesterol because they won’t stop eating fatty food and red meat, insurance covers it. If they suffer a heart attack from all that fatty food and red meat, insurance covers it. If they need a nicotine patch to quit smoking, insurance covers it. If they get lung cancer because they won’t stop smoking, insurance covers it. And on and on and on.

Does this mean that men are being paid to have sex, to ski in Aspen, to eat sausage, to smoke or not smoke? No.

And let’s not forget:  women seeking contraception are in the habit of having sex with men, of whom we could with as much justice demand sex tapes and accuse of wanting to be “paid to have sex!”  Duh!  What kind of non-celibate heterosexual man thinks that contraception shouldn’t be covered by insurance, when viagra, VD, sports injuries, lifestyle-inflicted injuries, and nicotine patches are? 

When you think about it, contraception is undoubtedly the lowest-cost service to cover and the one that benefits the most people, men and women alike.  But I realize that this is an argument made out of common sense, fiscal responsibility, and American notions of equality and justice, which are no match for misogyny.  What are these nasty little men afraid of, I wonder?

16 thoughts on “Tips for toads: contraception = health care

  1. Women , and having to treat them as human beings, not walking uteri.

    Thanks for noting the involvement of men. It’s really astonishing to listen to these guys talking about women having sex, for which they need birth control, as if there are no men involved.

    I suppose we could ask for the sex tapes of men whose Viagra “we” pay for, but who would want them?


  2. I suppose we could ask for the sex tapes of men whose Viagra “we” pay for, but who would want them?

    No kidding!

    Hardly anything that Limbaugh says really shocks me, but I have to say that my jaw dropped when he got into that “you need to give us something. . . sex tapes” part of his tirade. Who thinks like that?

    Oh, yeah: men who engage in sex tourism.


  3. Did anybody listen to the recording of Big Fat Idiot going on about sssssssssssluts who have SO MUCH SEX they can’t afford their birth control and breathing faster and faster and wonder if he was jerking off to the vision of Santorum going to spy on Fluke mid coitus?

    Seriously, it was creepy.

    I’d say someone needs to have sex with these nasty old guys so they don’t feel like they have to constantly get in the rest of us’s business, but they are all so creepy that really, I wouldn’t wish that on any brave souls.


  4. Thanks for the link, cowgirl. My typist keeps clicking over to our front page, just to confirm that that super shero is still shooting lasers out of her vajayjay. So far so bueno. Quite impressive when you think about it.

    But where do you get off with all this feminazi “common sense” about the cost-benefit advantages of birth control? Don’t you worry your pretty little head about anything having to do with numbers, dearie. Everybody knows GIRLS CAN’T DO MATH, especially not on CERTAIN DAYS OF THE MONTH!

    Get your lasers, ready, wimmin. We’ve got some serious smiting to do.


  5. So now we argue with Rush and reason with him and his listeners. We take the outlandish statement “paid to have sex” and start from there.

    Rush is collapsing like Glen Beck did. Rush, we have a class action suit; we sue you in the name of all American women and we want $10 billion. See you in court.


  6. I suppose by extension you could say that a tot getting a diptheria shot is being federally-processed down the line toward a life of being a sex worker.

    The “paid to have sex” and “sex tapes” overtures almost make his opening line about “slut” sound like garden variety radio background noise. But I’ll note that I’ve been reading Nancy Isenberg’s recent biography of Aaron Burr. And this guy, who stayed up all night in 1793 reading _Vindication of the Rights of Woman_, reportedly hung a portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft over his fireplace, and later tracked down her daughters in William Godwin’s household, in 1804 in a fit of pique over her infrequent correspondence, called his adored daughter Theodosia an “idle slut.” (p. 237) I guess it was the pressure of all that impending treason trial stuff. Notwithstanding which, the author concludes by calling Burr “the only founder to embrace feminism.” (413) Of sex tourism, Burr later went on a years-long trip to Europe during which he kept a 1000 page detailed and candid journal of his nonstop amours (he was a widower then), which he apparently imagined in the genre of a fictive report to Theo…


  7. Am I the only person wondering at the fact that this conversation is happening in the TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY? The misogyny doesn’t stun me. but the way that it’s centered on birth control certainly does. FWIW, I just introduced my undergrads to feminist theory this past week, and clearly I indoctrinated them in satanic and horrifying beliefs (yay me!).


  8. @Crazy well, I think it’s an argument only the utterly unpractical could have.

    I’m in an argument elsewhere on whether it would work to just say to Rush et all, yes, I am having a lot of sex with a lot of different guys, deal with it.

    Them: to say that would have an effect.

    Me: they are so insane that this tactic would just open you up to having more mud slung.

    Them: Just keep showing them you don’t take it as mud.

    Do you think that would work in reality?


  9. Dr. Crazy: I hope your students come to see that feminism is not a philosophy useful strictly in the past.

    On that note, I don’t share your surprise that contraception has been dragged into our modern kulturkampfen. (I share your disgust, of course, but not your surprise!) I think the reasons for this are twofold:

    1. Modern conservativism’s real problem with the 1960s was focused on their disgust for the Warren court (all those “impeach Earl Warren” bumperstickers?) and Brown v. Board of education. It was the movement that was bravely against the Civil Rights movement–just read what the National Review was publishing in the 1950s and 1960s. But Martin Luther King is now a modern secular saint, and the liberal vision for civil society won out, so now even conservatives have to pretend to have been in favor of MLK & his movement. Even they can’t own their own true past when it comes to civil rights. The one part of the 1960s that it’s still OK to be against is feminism, gay liberation, and in general stuff about liberty, sexuality, and the body when it comes to women and gays (principally gay marriage, contraception, and abortion.) To be fair, the school prayer decision was also very energizing for the conservative movement, but we don’t see conservatives continuing to pound on that they way they’re pounding on women’s & gay sexuality issues.

    2. The choice of focusing conservative ressentiment on women’s bodies and gay bodies has a long and rich history in the modern west. For example, the one thing that united both European Protestants and Catholics in the Reformation era and the age of religious wars was the fact that if women were less slutty and men were in more control of their own households, everything would be better. (This is when we see greater prosecution of prostitutes as well as the expulsion of women’s religious orders from Protestant cities and nations.) We see the same focus on women’s behavior, in particular women’s sexual behavior, around the eras of the American and French Revolutions, too. Gay panic also has a rich history in the past century in counterrevolutionary periods in recent U.S. history: against the lavender menace in the 1920s, after WWII when McCarthyism focused on gays as well as communists, etc.

    So, the pushback against merely 46 years of settled law isn’t so surprising when we take the long view. Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be outraged. My guess is that every generation will have to fight their battles for contraception and other issues pertaining to liberty and women’s sexuality. It’s interesting to note the timing of all of this: The Griswold decision is nearly 47 years old–it’s menopausal. Fertile women are going to have to pick up the standard and make the arguments all over again. But then, that’s been one of the major subthemes of this blog over the past four years: the Groundhog Day nature of women’s history!



  10. What I am boggled by is thatte Limbaugh is either so fucken ignorant–or thinks his listeners are so fucken ignorant–that he could assert thatte the amount of sex thatte a woman engages in influences how much itte costs her to purchase birth control pilles.


  11. @Indyanna: I think “slut” had a more generally negative, less specifically sexual, meaning in the late 18th/early 19th century, but I don’t have an OED handy to confirm. I can’t cite you chapter and verse on this either, but I seem to remember there being a theory that words referring to women become more negative, and more sexualized, over time. Still, leaving aside the question of the sexual content of the insult, I wouldn’t be surprised if Burr were suffering from the usual male puzzlement over what women at home *do* all day (all the while ignoring the miraculous appearance of clean clothes, food, and other such things in his own household).


  12. CC–good point about the history of the word “slut.” In the early modern period it meant slovenly or slatternly in housekeeping/personal grooming. (And Aaron Burr’s clean clothes were undoubtedly provided by servant or slave women, not by his wife or daughter, but I agree with your larger point, which connects back to the historical meaning of the word “slut!”)


  13. @ Contingent Cassandra: Thanks for that clarification. It had occurred to me, too, that word meanings might have shifted over centuries and, without an OED on hand, I scouted around a little electronically without gaining much insight. But some probing on the Burr side makes the case morph intriguingly in an empirical sense.
    Burr’s letter to his adult, married daughter Theodosia, replied to a letter apparently sent *jointly* by Theo
    and her friend, Natalie de Lage Sumter, and in it Burr described them as “*two* idle sluts.”

    Natalie de Lage does not even appear in Isenberg’s biography. (The letter was written in 1804, when Burr was Vice President and the women were twenty-something, married, and living in South Carolina). Theodosia’s biographer, Richard N. Cote, describes Natalie as a ten year old aristocrat emigre from Revolutionary France who arrived in New York in 1793 and was given refuge, with her governess, in (one of) Burr’s houses. Natalie and Theodosia grew up to remain best friends for life, although Burr seems to have often chidingly held Natalie up as an unattainable example for Theo to live up to. Cote describes Burr as having taken a “somewhat lascivious interest” in Natalie, into her adult life.

    Cote also treats Burr a lot more harshly than Isenberg does for his apparent compulsive sharing with Theo of the graphic details of his European sexual escapades.
    Isenberg, if I understand her account correctly, seems to see this as a refreshing example of a post-puritan (Burr’s grandfather was the legendary theologian Jonathan Edwards), pre-Victorian feminist guy willing to relate to his adult daughter the same way he might have to a son named Theodore. Cote sees a lot more weirdness if not pathology in it, in what sometimes almost seems to be an anachronistic Freudian manner.

    None of this greatly clarifies the meaning of the word “slut” in Burr’s usage, but it jumped out at me in the coincidental context of Limbaugh’s vile savaging of Fluke. The political cultures of the Early Republic and the (Late Afternoon Empire?) seem interestingly convergent, give or take the availability of Twitter accounts.


  14. H’ann, I agree with your twofold reasons, and I’d like to add a third, which connects to a (mild) critique of something in the Reclusive Leftist article. The author mentions that contraception is the only medication for normal human activity subject to such uproar/policing. I would suggest, rather, that the furor over contraception is happening in part because of the success that the right has seen over the restrictions on abortion (which I see in the same category as contraception, even though they are very different things) AND infertility treatment. Think about how many US insurance companies don’t cover infertility treatments (which are covered in some form in all countries with universal health care). While there are many arguments that one could make about why these treatments and medications should *not* be covered, the prime one is that infertility is not an illness and therefore shouldn’t be covered. Ahh, so the same argument that’s being made here about contraception. Sometimes I think the right tries something out in one arena, and then another, and keep building as they slowly chip away at fundamental rights and shift the discourse in their favor. You don’t have to be a fundie to accept the argument I cited about IF; one hears it everywhere. But behind it, at its inception, I think we’d find fundamentalist/Catholic objections to IVF and embryo creation. (In the same way that I see this legislation cropping up all over the place in favor of ultrasounds before abortions as connected to the many ways women’s autonomy in pregnancy and especially childbirth is completely eroded to the point where the patient’s right to informed consent and refusal almost don’t exist at all, always couched for the benefit of the child.)

    Of course, as Historiann points out, it all goes back to a very old trope of controlling women’s sexuality as a way of preserving (patriarchal) order. And the specific way it’s being done in 21st century America is through the religious right’s uncanny ability to co-opt every discourse related to women’s health and reproduction, usually through the lens of “freedom of religion” which obviously is a concept they understand not at all. But of course they *do* understand it, and they are deliberately making an effort – largely successful from what I can tell – to change the definition of what that means.


  15. But, saying things that aren’t illnesses shouldn’t be covered leads to not covering anything like health maintenance or wellness, but only [emergencies] – or do I miss something?


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