The Herman Cain scandal gets bigger, and the HPV vaccine is proving less controversial for boys. Also, Amy Schalet explains how the best way to keep teens healthy is to accept that they have sex.
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On this episode of Reality Cast, Amy Schalet will be on to discuss why being comfortable with teenage sex makes for healthier teenagers. The Herman Cain story really gets even more ridiculous, and the HPV vaccine for boys grabs some thoughtful, informative coverage.
Going into the Mississippi election, the polls were dead even on the question of the personhood amendment, but nearly 11% of voters were still undecided. Well, most of the undecideds apparently broke for the pro-choice side.
* personhood *
They can say they’re going to keep fighting, but if they can’t win in Mississippi, they can’t win anywhere.
Last week, I expressed disappointment at not being able to cover this Herman Cain story because of the far more pressing issue of the personhood amendment in Mississippi. Well, that story has not gone away! It’s actually been a fascinating insight into how the right wing views the issue of sexual harassment. To recap: There is no doubt that two women settled with the National Restaurant Association after complaining that Herman Cain sexually harassed them at work events. The women had signed non-disclosure agreements as part of their settlements, and so the details of the incidents were vague. Since immediate denial wasn’t an option for Cain’s defenders, they embraced a distinctly unpleasant narrative. They started to claim there was no such thing as sexual harassment, and that women just blow “jokes” out of proportion in order to get some magical payday.
- cain 1 *
He goes on to use the usual sexual abuse apologist’s excuse, saying he does think it occasionally happens, but that mostly it’s just a scam. He says that H.R. departments won’t admit it, but it’s all a feminist conspiracy. His evidence for this is nothing, but you know how conspiracy theories go. In reality, the dangers of coming out against sexual harassment are serious, and the possibility of compensation slim. If that’s your money-making scheme, you’d be better off taking all your money and betting it on a horse that has never run in a race before. Greg Gutfeld was only too happy to echo the claim that sexual harassment is basically nothing.
- cain 2 *
I can’t say that I’ve ever worked in a place where sexual harassment claims were flying all around, or even close to “ubiquitous”. In fact, while every woman I know has been sexually harassed at some point, I don’t know a single one who has filed a suit. And all my friends are in the supposed feminist mafia! If sexual harassment campaigns are as common as people calling in sick when they aren’t at your workplace, maybe the problem is your workplace.
Anyway, these are just a sample of the attempts to claim, without evidence, that the accusations were just overreactions to mild behavior. That narrative was everywhere. And then a woman coming forward got specific with her accusations.
- cain 3 *
Ruh-roh! Groping plus a quid pro quo remark is to sexual harassment what the guy leaping out of the bushes to attack a virgin is to rape. Even the most outrageous right wing shock jock doesn’t have the balls to play this one off like it’s a mere compliment. If it’s true, it’s even arguable he crossed the line from an actionable offense to a criminal one. Which means that they have to go back to the old script, aka discredit the accuser by returning to the old “nutty, slutty gold-digger” slurs. Seriously, Cain’s defenders sounded like they were reading from the manual on How To Smear Women Who Charge Sexual Harassment. Dick Morris trotted out “gold-digger”.
- cain 4 *
Kirsten Powers worked the “slutty” accusation.
- cain 5 *
She can deny that she’s victim-blaming all she wants, but she basically just said that women simply must accept second class status by not participating in ordinary networking opportunities. Because the onus is on women not to be harassed, not on men not to harass. Of course, that means that men and men only get to have the doors opened that open when you do the hand-shaking and drink-sharing of the professional world. So sexual harassment hurts your career even if you’re never in a position where it could happen.
And in a somewhat surprising turn, Cain himself bust out the “nutty” slur.
- cain 6 *
Of course, there are two other women who received settlements, one who is also coming forward, and yet another anonymous accuser. Should be interesting if Cain and his defenders try to slur all of them as nutty, slutty gold-diggers.
Unlike when the CDC recommended the HPV vaccine for all girls ages 11 and 12, the recent recommendation of doing the same for boys hasn’t really created as much of a stir. NPR put together an excellent report on the complexities of vaccinating boys against this virus that is generally transmitted through sexual contact, even sexual contact that falls short of intercourse. Which means they went out and interviewed teenage boys who had been vaccinated, which, if I know teenage boys, probably causes a stew of emotions as they contemplate what a future sex life is going to look like. After all, the main reason to get the vaccine is so they don’t transmit HPV to a partner, especially a female partner, who could then get cervical cancer. NPR didn’t leave it there, but went into explaining the personal benefits that come from boys getting the HPV vaccine themselves.
- hpv 1 *
As you can imagine, I fully support vaccinating boys against HPV, because the prior recommendation to only vaccinate girls was clearly not good enough. There just aren’t enough parents doing it. What I learned from NPR was that there’s more than one reason to give vaccines to kids this age instead of when they’re a little older.
- hpv 2 *
Still, the main reason to do so is obviously because you want them vaccinated before they have sex, and before they’re exposed to the virus. I really don’t see why there’s some huge downside if you give a 12-year-old the shot and they don’t “need” it for 5 or 6 years. It’s a vaccine. You can err on the side of safety. I’d call early vaccination conservative, if that word wasn’t completely tainted.
Of course, when it comes to boys, you’re not seeing nearly the resistance.
- hpv 3 *
Honestly, when they first rolled this shot out, I felt they should have included boys. I realize that would have required some tweaking of testing protocols, but it would have been worth it. Fears about female sexuality have lowered the uptake rate of the vaccine, something that could have been avoided if boys had been included. Putting parents in a situation where they feel okay with boys getting the shots but recoiling from girls getting it would have revealed their own double standards to themselves. Hopefully in a few years, the notion that this is a girls-having-sex shot will fade away, and people will stop freaking out about it.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the American right drifts ever closer to the Taliban edition. This time it’s Rush Limbaugh, with some fashion advice for ladies.
- Limbaugh *
It was pretty hard to pull a quote from this whole rant, since he also waxed nostalgic for the days when men could cat-call and call women names like “broad” without any pushback. He also rejected any effort to control “behavior”, though of course he only means the behavior of abusive men. Controlling women through harassment is just fine by him.