Disturbing Oppression of Women in Republican Circles

UPDATE: By the way, MomsRising sent out a petition this morning asking Congress to include the real experts on birth control — women and mothers — to be representative on any future panel. -Elisa

Once again, I find myself shaking my head and feeling powerless at the arrogance displayed by certain Republican and male-centric religious circles towards women. I am so sick of reading posts by even Democratic men saying that President Obama should have sought advice from “real” Catholics — er men — like Joe Biden and Bob Casey regarding the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act rather than “women who happen to be Catholic” like Kathleen Sebelius or a nun who is an advisor.

Basically, the implication is that women should have no say regarding any policies around birth control and that we should leave it up to the men to decide for us. No where else was this more obvious than a House Republican-led hearing yesterday, in which female witnesses were barred from testifying. From Think Progress:

Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked (Republican Rep. Darrell) Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”

And so Cummings, along with the Democratic women on the panel, took their request to the hearing room, demanding that Issa consider the testimony of a female college student. But the California congressman insisted that the hearing should focus on the rules’ alleged infringement on “religious liberty,” not contraception coverage, and denied the request. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule. Holmes Norton said she will not return, calling Issa’s chairmanship an “autocratic regime.”

Wow. What about our rights, including that of religious women, to be heard? Should our opinions — our health and mental well-being — not play into this rule at all? Who are the women sleeping with these men? Yikes!

In related news, Oklahoma Senate passed a “personhood bill”, declaring life at conception and rendering abortion illegal. The interesting note about this story is that the chamber tabled an amendment that would have equally considered sperm sacred.

The Personhood Act, Senate Bill 1433, received international attention in the wake of a proposed amendment from Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Holdenville. The amendment said it was an act against unborn children for men to waste sperm.

“A lot of people thought that I was being facetious with my amendment in committee, and it was humorous and it has gotten international response,” Johnson said to her fellow senators.

“But I was serious as a heart attack. It wasn’t until I used the biological and scientific references to those functions that somebody heard it. Maybe nobody in this chamber gets it but somebody heard that all we’re asking for is for this conversation to include both individuals that are necessary to bring life about.”

Johnson, whose amendment was tabled, said she is sick of legislation that pries into the private lives of women with no mention of the men who are co-actors in the process of conception.

The double standard here is so blatant. War on women, anyone?


45 thoughts on “Disturbing Oppression of Women in Republican Circles

    • Such hypocrites…

      and to think that men who molested children and bishops who covered up for them were not punished in the same way. Or, guys like Rick Santorum making disparaging remarks about food stamps, which are favored by the church to alleviate poverty. It’s definitely a bias against women.

    • well, then

      It looks like the bigots who opposed JFK’s election were right after all.  Apparently there is a fundamental incompatibility between one’s personal religious duty and the duty of a government official to serve the American people.  If Catholics cannot serve in the US government without imperiling their immortal souls, we should not elect or appoint them.  

      Perhaps Santorum would like to weigh in on this?

  1. I would like to point out that:

    (1) According to my reproductive endocrinologist, having been on the Pill for so long saved my reproductive health and is what is allowing me to have a healthy pregnancy and a good chance of not being declared high-risk.

    (2) The progesterone supplement I am using until the placenta is in place, because my body doesn’t produce quite enough progesterone to be certain the baby will stick (but almost, see #1), is an off-label use of a very specific and expensive form of birth control. Even with my insurance coverage it’s about $2/pill ($120/month) and so I’m not sure I could afford it without insurance (if my math is right, full price is about $400/month).

  2. Helpless

    that’s the kicker. I, too, feel helpless in this fight because it’s part of a larger, more awful war. Not sure how to win it – if we ever will. Blerg.

  3. Also, I was almost willing to buy the

    workaround for Catholic institutions, until a friend of mine pointed out that health insurance belongs to the employee, not the employer, and we don’t say that Catholic institutions have the right to dictate how their employees spend their salaries or what they do on their paid vacation days.

    • I mostly want to tell the bishops

      to suck it up and tell themselves that the birth control is paid for through the employee contributions to the insurance, the way I hold my nose and pretend that all my paltry tax money supports education and human services, rather than the military and religious tax exemptions.

    • I almost bought into it, too,

      until it was pointed out that in some areas of the country, for example, the only hospital where a health worker can get a job is a Catholic hospital. So you have a group of people over a barrel.

      As well, it smells to me like the insurance companies, who are now to provide separate coverage for co-pay-free contraceptives, are poised to make some $$$ on the additional coverage.

      • Well, even here on this board I’ve been told

        “but they don’t have to live where they live, they choose to.”

        I might even be willing to support Catholic institutions’ desire not to provide those services if they stopped accepting all federal monies like, say, Medicare.

        • Exactly.

          We are opening a huge hole, here.  Look at the legislation in the Senate right now…any employer can claim a moral reason for not covering anything.  And in truth, if we allow the Catholic Church to pick and choose, it’s only right and fair to allow it to others.  We can’t go down that path.  I see disaster.  It’s impossible to  have any kind of insurance system, private or public, operating under this premise.

  4. I just have a hard time believing

    that we are really having an argument about contraception. This argument is settled. It was settled a long time ago. We are DONE arguing about contraception, for Pete’s sake. This is over and they lost a long time ago, like before I was born.

    They’re like a cow regurgitating some old cud they want to chew on again for a while.

    • Dan Savage

      talked about this on his podcast this week.  His assertion, which I would say has some merit, is that these people have created such a limited range of what is acceptable for themselves that they can’t stand the idea that anyone else puts themselves on a longer leash.  Someone like Rick Santorum is just plain jealous that we get to have sex whenever we feel like it without worrying about pregnancy.  I’m simplifying what he said, but that’s the gist of it.  They don’t care about babies; they care about punishing the people who are doing all the things they can’t, because it’s just not fair to them if we get away with doing.  They don’t want to see abortions go away–they know that’s not going to happen.  They just want to make sure that they are dangerous and illegal so that women who have had sex for pleasure will be punished.

      I agree with him, but think it’s also got a whole lot to do with asserting control over women in general.  

      • I’m old enough to remember

        people, especially men, talking about abortion in terms of “so, we’re just going to let women ‘get away’ with that behavior?”…really, they did.  And in effect, that is what Santorum is saying when he says that birth control allows things in the “sexual realm” that shouldn’t be.  In other words, women can have sex without worrying about becoming pregnant.  So, yeah…it’s exactly what he means.  

        • It’s pretty incredible

          I don’t remember anyone ever being bold enough to come right out and say something like that in the past, but it seems like Santorum and friends aren’t mincing words very much at all at this point.  I wonder what the shift is, that they feel they can get away with it?  

        • I hasten to add

          though, that I do think there are some pro-lifers who are coming from a genuine place.  I just don’t think any of their leaders do.  

          • As I said downthread,

            I think some of the republicans just want to be able to oppress everyone.  I think they are (mistakenly) banking on the idea that there’s still enough sexism left in the country that they’ll be able to take it out on the women first.  And get away with it.

            • Agreed

              I meant to reply to your comment, but got caught up in this.  There’s definitely economic entitlement going on there; everyone but them are lesser human beings.  Your idea that women are sort of a gateway class that will open the doors to even more acceptable forms of oppression is quite intriguing.  

            • I wonder how much

              of this is the fact that the Republican primary is going on and they are desperately trying to move as far right as they can in order to crush their primary opponents.

              This is going to leave them holding the bag big time in the fall when it comes time to face the 99.5% of us who are not 1% white males.

              • I think there is much to that.

                Going ever further to the right has been a winning strategy for the republicans in the past couple of years.  The primaries have made them go crazy.  My own feeling, as a non-republican, is that people objected to Romney because he’s simply not compelling, and he was presented to the rank and file as “inevitable”.  Well, people don’t like being told that there is an inevitable winner and that their votes don’t really count.  So, there was, and continues to be, extreme backlash.  Candidates believe that the voters are saying “we want someone more right wing”.  I don’t think that’s what they’re saying.  They’re saying “we don’t want Mitt thrust upon us”.  Notice, he keeps trying to get more and more right wing and it isn’t helping him at all.

                It’s making our race in the fall very easy, though, isn’t it?  Of course, part of me is very resentful because it is, in effect, pulling all of us rightward.  After all, we’re now arguing about women’s ability to get basic healthcare.  Not exactly an extreme left wing thing, you know?

                • That’s why

                  I appreciate moderate republicans like Meghan McCain so much.  She’s been criticized for being imperfect, but the only thing in the world I want to see from her is what she’s giving us–a republican who hasn’t parted ways with her sanity.  I’d love to see her as a leader of republican youth.  If they would all do that, we could actually be liberal democrats.  

              • these cultural and social “wars”

                cut across income and gender lines. So I don’t think their audience right now regarding birth control and abortion is 1% white males.

                They will definitely be holding the bag though, you are right about that. Appealing to the people who are this extreme is a good way to lose the general.

                • It’s perplexing.

                  You’re right…it’s not 1 percent white males.  It’s women and men who in their own lives don’t live what the right wing is preaching.  Only thing I can come up with is this group always believes that somehow, the rules will apply to others.  Not them.  Just like the folks railing against medicare while being covered by it and telling the government to keep their hands off.  

                  • yeah

                    I don’t pretend to understand it. Honestly, I find it bewildering. It’s entirely possible that it boils down to “everyone sucks except me and the people I am close to” but I find it so hard to believe people can believe and say that with a straight face.

                    I wonder sometimes, sadly, if it doesn’t come down to race. Meaning, the belief really is, white people deserve this stuff, people of color, no. Based partly on who tends to make the illogical argument, at least as represented in the media. Sometimes when there is something really illogical going on, I tend to suspect there is a buried very unpleasant belief or behavior going on.

                    • I think race is a huge element

                      in the whole mix.  I think, somewhere in their lizard brains, they believe there will be a system in place that will allow the “right kind of people” to have access but keep it from those who aren’t…you know, those not-so-white people.  Just like the pre-civil rights days.  I think they see it as going back there.

                    • But

                      this is where I get all confused – why do they want the undesirables to breed? I don’t understand. You’d think they’d want their own to breed and the “other” to be sterilized at all costs and by any means necessary. Gah.

                    • They changed on that

                      When we moved to NC (1977), Jesse Helms was pro choice, as were a lot of racist Republicans.

                      The anti abortion people eventually got to them, but not initially.

                    • I think it’s still about control

                      and being able to have a hand in the control of personal destiny.  Maybe the “others” have gotten too “uppity”…nothing to put them all back in their place than to make sure that they remain mired in poverty.  No quicker way to make that happen than to limit their access to contraception.

                    • Uppity

                      yeah, I sense that. We (white, middle/upper class) women have gotten a wee bit big for our britches, haven’t we? Gah.

                    • well, all them-thar minority people have, too…

                      so, lets curse them all with a dozen children that they can’t afford to feed and house, then we can belittle their fitness to be full citizens of society.

                • Yeah

                  The birth control thing is definitely not a 1% issue. They are the ones who will be flying their teenage daughters to Sweden for abortions if they need them and they’re outlawed here, or bribing doctors to prescribe contraception (and writing checks for it out of pocket if need be).

                  But in order to get this nomination, Romney’s been attacking unions, trashing US auto workers, infuriating a huge fraction of women over contraception, going around saying he likes to fire people, and all the other things he’s been doing to throw every conceivable group under the bus. He’s going to start with a significantly smaller group of devotees than he would have had if he had managed to stay above the fray like he was trying to do in the beginning.

                  • Romney, yeah

                    When I first started reading about Romney, I don’t know, a year ago, I used to think there wasn’t that big of a difference between him and Obama. And maybe there wasn’t. But now, it’s not just his alleged beliefs, which who knows what he really believes, but the way he tosses off these outrageous statements, sounding like a smug jerk. He’s awful.

                    I think no matter who is the nom, Obama is looking at a landslide.

  5. I think there are many layers

    to the republicans’ behavior.

    At the bottom of it all, they do not like the idea of providing insurance coverage for anyone.  For anything.  They like rich people being able to pay for just what they want to pay for for themselves.  They want the rest of us to barter chickens for our care.  

    Since they don’t like women so much, either, they let the brunt of their disdain fall onto us.  I still recall Sen. Kyl and several other objecting to autonomic maternity coverage being part of insurance policies.  After all, as he said, he’d never need maternity care.  So why should “his premiums” have to pay for it?  These men are missing the point of how all insurance, public or private, works.  After all, I wasn’t born with cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, should I object to “my premiums” going to pay for those afflicted with these conditions because I’m never going to have them?

    Another area I have not heard discussed, and I’m not sure how President Obama’s “accommodation” is going to work is in the area of sterilization.  It’s one of the leading and most popular forms of birth control.  Who’s going to cover these services?  Since they are surgical procedures, they are costly and beyond the means of most individuals.

  6. Here is the testimony…

    of the student from a Jesuit school (Georgetown) who was barred from testifying: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/

    Last night I saw my sister who also attends a Jesuit school (University of San Francisco) and she said that everyone is up in arms about the Bishops over there. God, I would love for us to branch off and be our own church. :)

    • This is not about religoius freedom

      it’s about religious tyranny. And controlling sexuality – mainly women’s and teh gays. Good fucking god. It is times like this that my atheism and rejection of religioius texts as sacrosanct and/or holy and/or literal provide comfort…cold as it is.

      • Yes.

        I have to think this is a pretty blatant example of hubris.

        Republicans are often guilty of not knowing when to stop, and anyone with half a brain can see they’ve gone way too far on this issue and it is going to come back to haunt them.

        • yep

          Not knowing when to stop. When W got elected to his second term, I used to say, well, at least he will now go so far that there will be a backlash. We did get Obama out of it (sadly he’s proven not to be enough). But we didn’t get McCain.

      • It’s about control.

        Of any kind.  They really resent the fact that any of us who aren’t filthy rich might find one thing in life that we might enjoy.

      • that is exactly right..

        the Republicans have brought this on and now we have just that…religious tryanny.  they are cynical bunch of manipulators and now this is what they have brought down upon us.

    • Another angle…

      “Poor people”, which, in their opinion, means those subsisting on less than half a million of year, just aren’t deserving of the right to have sex any longer.  They’ve tried to take everything else away from us, now this.

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