Wars On Moms, Supreme Court Nominees, and Tanning Beds

Sharon Lerner talks about the war on moms. Also, that’s probably it for the Elena Kagan hearings, and we learned nothing. Health care reform starts actually happening, in tiny, tiny steps.

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Links in this episode:

Abortion Trauma Syndrome

Electricity: is it magic?

Does Tom Coburn think that “freedom” means no women have power?

Sci-fi fantasies in the Senate

Tony Perkins thinks excluding gays keeps sex out of the military

NPR reports on healthcare.gov


Tanning tax

Tanning: the anti-health care Waterloo

Free birth control

The World Cup and socialized medicine

Glenn Beck bashes Margaret Sanger

Glenn Beck’s enthusiasm for actual Nazis 

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking with Sharon Lerner about the war on moms.  Also, more on the grand-standing at the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings, and health care reform starts swinging into action.

Thanks to Anne Davis for posting this interview with Dr. Nada Stotland, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, on the issue of so-called abortion trauma syndrome.

  • abortion trauma *

Anti-choicers really are the leading edge in right wing assaults on science, but it doesn’t stop there.  Just the other day, I saw a page from a Christian home schooling science textbook, and I swear and have included the link, it basically taught that electricity is magic.


It seems the Elena Kagan hearings have wrapped up.  The whole thing was perfunctory by the standards of a Supreme Court justice confirmation hearing.  The pretense that these hearings will influence anyone’s vote was basically abandoned.  But that doesn’t mean that things didn’t get extremely goofy.  And the theme, as it often is with court-related issues, is penises penises penises. 

Oh sure, no one, not even Jeff Sessions, came right out and accused Elena Kagan of coming to take away his man bits.  No, the preference is to work out emasculation fears through proxy issues, by freaking out about abortion, guns, or gays in the military.  But Tom Coburn got very close to becoming literal. 

  • kagan 1 *

The presumption that we were “more free” 30 years ago makes not even a lick of sense, unless your definition of freedom is one where you’re a white dude and you want to be free to treat everyone else like they’re subhuman.  If you think respecting women and minorities is a huge burden, you might feel less free.  It was something that Amy Klobuchar picked right up on. 

  • kagan 2 *

Yeah, but that’s the point!  Coburn remembers a time when he was free of having to deal with women thinking they have the right to hold jobs besides teaching grammar school and typing stuff.  And free from having to sit there staring at a Vagina-American who thinks she can sit on the Supreme Court just because she’s as smart and capable as a man with her same qualifications.

Of course, you’re not having a Supreme Court confirmation hearing unless you deal with sperm magic, aka abortion.  There are a lot of men who are Senators that are very, very concerned that women are still under the mistaken impression that we make babies by being pregnant.  Obviously, men make babies by ejaculating, and it’s just a matter of time before science frees men and their progeny from the evil grasp of women who think that just because god mistakenly gave them brains that they get to decide what to do with their uteruses.

  • kagan 3 *

What’s funny to me about the fantasy that science will find a way to push viability outside of the womb back to the embryo age is that it’s actually used in service of forcing women to carry fetuses in their womb. Which just goes to show that this has little to do with reality, and more to do with this hyper-patriarchal fantasy of removing women’s role in reproduction and making all about dudes and sperm magic.  The scientific reality is that the hoped-for ability to really push back viability past about 24 weeks has never actually panned out, and women are in fact the most important players in making a baby.  Not that Lindsay Graham will ever admit that. Women remain, in his eyes, overly complicated incubators.

Phallic power was a big issue with Tony Perkins, who was asked to testify for the Senate Judiciary Committee despite being a full-blown anti-gay bigot.  His remarks were remarkable only for how blatant they were about romanticizing phallic power and insinuating that the military only works if everyone in it sticks to the penis/vagina mix in bed.

  • kagan 4 *

I continue to be impressed by the way that social conservatives use the term “sexual” and “homosexual” interchangeably.  It’s like a lot of them can’t imagine that heterosexuality is anything but a sullen duty, and the only sex that could really be tempting and erotic is gay sex.  When the rest of us hear talk like this, our first inclination is to think we’re dealing with a closet case.  Straights way outnumber gays, you know.  Not only isn’t homosexuality all sexuality, it’s not even most sexuality.  But you wouldn’t know that to hear the homobigots go nuts. 


insert interview


The passing of health care reform is finished, but as you can imagine, that doesn’t mean that battles are over.  But before we touch that, let’s get to the good news, which is that there’s signs that health care reform is actually beginning to kick in.  NPR reported on the new website that is one of the first initiatives of the new health care reform bill.

  • health care 1 *

Health care dot gov.  We all knew a website was coming, and that eventually you will be able to actually tap into the health care exchange through it.  And even further down the road, so will employers.  This is just a first step, but an important one.  Initially, it might not seem so, since all it really gives you is information, but if you’ve ever had to climb through the minefield of buying your own insurance, this site promises to be a huge relief.  It’s also the first ever of its sort. The insurance industry, for obvious reasons, isn’t inclined to make it easier for individual consumers to make the most cost effective decisions for themselves. 

Right now, the website seems to be meeting very little political resistance.  “Well, duh, Amanda,” you might be thinking.  “Who could come out against something that’s such an obviously good idea?”  And usually I’d agree with you, but when it comes to health care reform, I’d never bet in favor of common sense when picking what battles opponents will choose. 

For instance, consider the case of the tax on tanning beds, which kicked in last week.  In a sane world, there would be no objection to a 10% tax on tanning beds, both from a revenue perspective and a health perspective.  NPR also covered the health issues that come up from tanning beds, interviewing Allan Halpern.

  • health care 2 *

At least with smoking, there’s some benefit.  You look cool and it’s fun. Tanning is basically the most worthless dangerous vice ever pushed on the public, and frankly, I think it should be banned, if for aesthetic reasons alone.  But for some reason, opponents of health care reform like John McCain and John Boehner have decided to burn up the internet and the airwaves making a big deal out of this.  Fox News really was whipping out the violin for the tanning industry.

  • health care 3 *

48,000 people die a year of skin cancer in the U.S.  This tax will raise $2.7 billion.  Sorry, but this is the stupidest fight ever that health care opponents could pick. The good news is that this is the bone they decided to chew, though.  Because there was other news that I worry is going to start becoming a political football.  It’s becoming increasingly clear that the health care exchange is going to require insurers to treat contraception the same way they do all prevention, which is to say that you have to offer it to your clients free of cost.  No co-pays for birth control pills!  Considering that the pill is still America’s favorite contraception, this could be a huge deal. But we all know that the anti-choice movement will fight any attempt to reduce the unintended pregnancy rate, so I don’t expect this will simply happen without meeting resistance.  But right now, most of what I’m seeing is perfunctory objections, so maybe I’m wrong.  Let’s hope conservatives keep themselves busy freaking out about tanning bed taxes.  Or maybe they’ll take a page from John Hodgeman and start freaking out about World Cup soccer and socialized medicine.

  • health care 4 *


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, sperm defiers are history’s greatest monsters edition.  Or that seems to be Glenn Beck’s point of view.

  • beck *

Beck no doubt would hide behind some of Sanger’s pandering to eugenicists to cover up for the fact that basically he’s just trying to bash the person who invented the concept of birth control precisely to liberate women.  But he’s an avid advocate of the writings of actual Nazis who would have found Sanger’s interest in eugenics to be mild, and they’d really, really, really hate Sanger for her economically progressive politics and the work she did with civil rights activists in improving health care access.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • crowepps

     he’s just trying to bash the person who invented the concept of birth control precisely to liberate women. 

    Sanger didn’t “invent” birth control — it was around long before her time and the ‘devices’ that she distributed were imported from Europe, where they were available without all the hysteria about ‘obscenity’.

    Soluble pessaries came into the market in the 1800s – these were quinine or cocoa butter tablets that were inserted into the vagina before intercourse. The first brand, Wife’s Friend, was created by W.J. Rendell.


    Sanger did, however, finally did break through the prudish hypocrisy about married couples having sex and get people generally to agree that dying in child birth wasn’t a REQUIREMENT of being a married woman and that it wasn’t immoral for married couples to want to limit their families.  All things which the ProLife Industry is trying its hardest to reinstitute.