The Bedsider Campaign and a Sexist Defense of Herman Cain


Sarah Brown, the CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy about their new Bedsider campaign. Also, health care reform is going in front of the Supreme Court and Herman Cain’s defenders are turning to old-fashioned sexism to defend him.

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Affordable Health Care Act going to SCOTUS

Limbaugh thinks ladies are icky

Limbaugh really hates women in groups

Matalin making no sense at all

Hannity is hysterical

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to Sarah Brown, the CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy about their new Bedsider campaign. Also, health care reform is going in front of the Supreme Court and Herman Cain’s defenders are turning to old-fashioned sexism to defend him.

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Plus, if you don’t donate, then something terrible will happen to this puppy.

  • puppy *

Don’t call my bluff. I’m a well-known cat person.

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In the midst of all sorts of important feminist news, from the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State to the Herman Cain sexual harassment allegations, one story may have slipped under the radar, even though it has the potential to impact women’s health care and sexual and reproductive rights in dramatic ways.

  • health care 1 *

Obviously, this is a big story in many ways. But for we here at RH Reality Check, where our main focus of coverage is on rights and access to reproductive health care, this is up there with restrictions on contraception and abortion rights in terms of importance. After all, the whole point of having a right to reproductive health care is getting access to health care. Which requires being able not just to access is legally, but to afford it. The United Nations agreed, issuing a recent report not only denouncing the criminalization of abortion and/or contraception, but emphasizing that states have an obligation to make reproductive health care something women can actually use. In this country, for many women, contraception services are simply priced out of what they can afford. The Affordable Health Care Act could profoundly change that in two ways, first by making contraception free under the umbrella of preventive health care and second by rapidly expanding the numbers of Americans who have health insurance. Right now, our unintended pregnancy rate is shockingly high in large part because a lot of women simply don’t use contraception as much as they should; by making it affordable, that could change.

But that means getting past the Supreme Court.

  • health care 2 *

The majority of constitutional scholars that aren’t rabid wingnuts, even the more conservative ones I’ve seen, think that it is that in fact constitutional. The way I’ve heard it explained is that the government has fairly wide powers to regulate the economy and issue taxes. Since your options are pay a tax penalty or get health insurance, this falls well within precedent. Conservatives are trying to create some active/passive distinction between this and say, a law that gives you a tax break if you have a mortgage or a law requiring you to enroll your children in school, but so far, they haven’t gotten far with that argument.

NYU’s Richard Piludes explained why it’s constitutional.

  • health care 3 *

This would have been less of a sticking point, ironically, if progressives had gotten their way and there was a public option that people could buy in lieu of private insurance. Some people have asked why the government has to force people to buy insurance at all. The reason is that if we don’t, we have the problem of free riders. Many healthy people would avoid buying insurance until they get sick. Without healthy people off-setting the costs, the price of insurance will go way up, especially since there’s going to be all these restrictions to keep insurance companies from rejecting you for pre-existing conditions. And that’s just the problems if the Supreme Court tosses that one part of the act. They could, in theory, throw the whole thing out and force Congress to rewrite a new bill. Since it took decades to pass the first bill, that would in essence be the end of health care reform.

So this is a story that I’ll be watching carefully and covering, since it has dramatic impact on women’s reproductive health care.

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insert interview

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You know, when there’s suspicion that a politician you support is a serial sexual harasser, it seems to me that this isn’t the best time to turn up the volume on your sexism. I know, that seems like crazy extreme feminist rantings, but seriously. If people are giving you and yours the stink eye and suspecting you of misogyny, when you start to say misogynist things, you just confirm their opinions. It’s similar to the way that you don’t deflect accusations that you’re stupid by saying increasingly daft things. It’s just plain counterproductive.

Herman Cain’s defenders haven’t figured that out. They want to claim he didn’t sexually harass anyone and that he and they both just love women and would never do anything to harm them. And they’re proving this by being, well, unbelievably sexist and saying exactly the sorts of things that make people wonder not if you hate women, but how much you hate women. Rush Limbaugh, unsurprisingly, led the pack.

  • cain 1 *

Women menstruate and so they… what? Shouldn’t be listened to? Shouldn’t have rights? Shouldn’t support each other? Shouldn’t be able to discuss their experiences in public? Shouldn’t be able to speak out against someone they believe shouldn’t be the President because of his past behavior? Limbaugh isn’t even trying to make an argument here, just trying to make you think women are icky because they have periods. Which doesn’t do a whole lot for the argument that sexism isn’t a motivating factor behind the defenses of Cain.

Limbaugh just generally objects to the idea of women being in groups, especially groups where there’s support for each other. 

  • cain 2 *

If he keeps at it, he’s going to accuse women in groups of three or more of being witches. Since he basically admitted it, it’s clear that the idea of women working together scares him because it gives them power. Since Limbaugh is trying to deflect claims of sexual harassment, this is especially stupid of him. After all, sexual harassers also dislike it when women are in groups of not just other women, but anyone who believes women are full human beings with full human rights. They go out of their way to isolate their victims so they can harass them without witnesses. If I were trying to deflect claims of sexual harassment, I wouldn’t be so openly hostile to behavior that women can employ to protect themselves when creepy dudes are around looking to harass somebody.

Of course, one of the most fun parts of this is hearing from a bunch of hyper-wealthy right wing pundits with no discernible skills outside of outrage-mongering how we underpaid feminists are some kind of industry. Mary Matalin was working that angle hard.

  • cain 3 *

You hear this accusation a lot, and it carries the baffling assumption that being offended means you get paychecks. That is true for a lot of right wing pundits, whose entire job is saying false things to easily hoodwinked people in order to get them angry at liberals, so I think this is pure projection. But if I could get rich by being offended, I would have jumped on that train a long time ago. Feminists don’t have to go looking to be offended. On the contrary, there’s so much sexist stuff going on all the time that burnout is a real problem and it eats a lot of good people up. Meanwhile, Mary Matalin gets paid the big bucks to say stuff that she knows damn well just isn’t true, such as claiming that women file sexual harassment lawsuits because someone didn’t buy their wine for them. 

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, more sexualized hysteria over Occupy Wall St. edition. It’s interesting what Sean Hannity thinks is equally bad.

  • hannity *

Notice how he equates a woman being nude with rape, arson, and even defecating in public. Doesn’t think much of women’s bodies, now does he? Anyway, all this is basically lies and misinformation. I’ve been down to Occupy Wall St. a few times, and guess what? It’s not the animalistic riot he pretends it is. As for sexual violence, women are probably safer there, statistically speaking, than they are in the privacy of their or other people’s homes, where most sexual violence occurs. These supposed arsons are just a lie, and pinning the survival behaviors of homeless people who come to Occupy Wall St. for the free food on the occupation is just messed up. Is he going to claim churches are encouraging defecating in the street because they feed the homeless, as well?

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte