The Mainstreaming of Gay


Gabe Arana talks gay marriage and ex-gay therapy. The war on women cover-up is not going well, and “Girls” balances humor with accurate sexual health information.

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Vaginas: Why bother controlling your own?

Bachmann: A lean, mean lying machine

Marco Rubio pretending to be dumb

Greg Gutfeld compares women who want benefits in exchange for taxes to junkies

Dana Loesch apparently thinks health care reform delivers to your house

On this episode of Reality Cast, Gabe Arana will be on to talk about ex-gay therapy and the politics of gay marriage. The cover-up of the war on women  isn’t going very well, and “Girls”, the new show on HBO, takes a refreshingly honest look at sexual  health matters.

Kate Beckinsale, Andrea Savage, and Judy Greer decided to play conservative women for a fake advocacy ad on Funny or Die.

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Watch the whole thing, just to hear Judy Greer talk about how she’d love to have a guy like her dad in her vagina.

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As I’ve been covering intensely on this podcast, conservative politicians and pundits are desperately seeking a way to conduct a war on women without having to see Republican candidates pay a price at the polls for it. This is a fool’s errand, of course. Women’s rights, especially reproductive rights, are far more popular than the mainstream media would have you believe, and attacking not just abortion but contraception hurts you. The midterm elections and the power shift that they created wasn’t evidence that the voters are out to get women, and Republicans know it. The smart move, politically speaking, would be to simply not wage war on women. But instead of that sensible strategy, it appears instead that instead of sacrificing the war on women, right wing media and spokesman are going to just try to deny it’s going on. Which means basically they’re going on TV and lying. A lot.

Michele Bachmann was, unsurprisingly, the source of a major league whopper on this front.

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Wow, so many lies in just a few sentences. First is the claim that there’s no war on women. That’s just objectively not true. There have been over 1,000 bills offered in the past year and change trying to restrict abortion. States are trying to eliminate contraception funding. Congress tried twice to kill all funding for contraception. And then there was the attempt to keep contraception from being classified as preventive medicine that gets full coverage from insurance companies, an attempt that led to the all-male panel on contraception that got so much news coverage. Second of all, she’s wrong that this narrative is coming from Obama. The campaign has, for reasons I don’t understand, rejected the “war on women” narrative. This narrative came from feminist activists, and it’s a way for them to accurately describe the wide-reaching assaults on women’s rights.

But mostly she’s just misrepresenting the polling data. First of all, simply dismissing the double digit lead Obama has over Romney with female voters is silly. Wishing doesn’t make it true, though I can see that Bachmann gets confused on the point a lot in life. Women didn’t actually vote for the Republicans in 2010. It was 49 to 49, right down the middle. But that was a midterm, which has lower turnout and tends to lean more towards older and married voters. Presidential elections have higher turnout, which means that it would be nearly impossible for Romney to get the female vote. The most he can hope for is closing the gap, and that would require killing this “war on women” narrative.

Marco Rubio was also trying to kill the narrative without doing anything as drastic as fighting against the policies that hurt women. His strategy? Play dumb.

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I know Rubio is pretending the people whose “religious liberty” is under assault are a bunch of misogynist theocrats who want to force their dogma on women, but I do agree there is a religious liberties debate AND  a contraception debate. And conservatives are wrong on both of them. They want to deprive women of the religious liberty to decide for themselves how they feel about contraception use, and instead hand their birth control decisions over to their employers. This is a direct assault on religious liberty. My boss can believe that God hates women until he’s blue in the face, but when he tries to take away my insurance benefits I earned in order to force me to agree with his views, that’s where the assault on religious liberty is happening. The assault on religious liberty is also an assault on contraception access. Duh.

Then there was just this incoherence from Greg Gutfeld on Fox News:

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Nothing about this makes sense. First of all is the notion that the only thing that prevents a woman from getting an abortion is government force, as if there’s no such thing as a wanted pregnancy. Then there’s blatant lies. The slideshow is about women getting  return on the taxes they pay. Apparently, Gutfeld thinks we should just open our wallets so that rich people get all the benefits, and expect that we get no health care and education for all the money we give the government. But mostly it’s this tired, sexist argument that conservatives trot out that paints women as essentially dependent creatures. He actually argues here that a husband makes all these things irrelevant. Is he suggesting we marry girls as young as 3 off because if they have a husband, they don’t have any need for that public education? Because that sounds exactly like what he’s saying. Nothing in this slideshow has anything to do with the supposed miracle of having a husband. Julia gets education. She gets paid for her work. She gets health care and retirement money from accounts she paid into. Her health insurance she gets through work as  part of her compensation actually covers her health care. Most of these items benefit men as well as women. But it seems here that Gutfeld is trying to argue that if we get women married off, they have no need for fair pay, education, or having their insurance benefits protected. In the real world, of course, all women—including married women—need these things.

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insert interview

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The show “Girls” on HBO has been getting a lot of attention, both good and bad, for its portrayal of the lives of a handful of white Brooklynites in their early 20s. Some of the negative attention the show has been getting has been due to the graphic, brutally honest, and really funny sex scenes and discussions on the show. Lots and lots of people who are “concerned” that the comedy show is an exact replica of life for twenty-something women, and therefore of course, there’s always the inevitable claim that it’s all the fault of feminism. Personally, I’m skeptical of the idea that women were having better sex without contraception and with men who didn’t know the word “clitoris”, of course. Yes, the sex on the show has so far been shown to be no fun or weird, but I think that’s mainly because good sex isn’t funny, and bad sex is.

Anyway, I want to praise the show for one important thing: Writer and director Lena Dunham has really made a tremendous effort to look at human sexuality as a whole. A lot of the time, sex on TV is just about titillation and emotion. Which is great, but it leaves out the entire discourse about responsibility and health. By the third episode, the show had hilariously dealt with both abortion and HPV. In the abortion episode, we got to see something you never really get to see on TV, which is how young pro-choice women actually talk about abortion.

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I think one thing that is making the show so threatening is Dunham doesn’t hold back on portraying characters who can be as mean and short-sighted as people can be in real life. This episode had a marvelous scene that showed how frustrating it can be to talk to someone about abortion who hasn’t thought about it at all, beyond just absorbing this vague notion that it’s somehow bad.

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Unfortunately, they didn’t actually have the character get an abortion; she gets her period or maybe a miscarriage instead. I don’t want to be too hard on the show for this, because the reason that it has to be resolved that way is the character is too irresponsible to show up on time for her abortion. Still, it would have been nice to have the show not pull the last minute don’t have to do it stunt.

But all is forgiven with the way they handle HPV. Most writers and producers don’t do even basic research about this stuff before writing episodes around it, but “Girls” not only managed to address the fact that HPV can be transmitted even with a condom, but they addressed how one even knows you have it. The main character Hannah, who always uses condoms, discovers she has HPV and has to get a cervical scraping to avoid cervical cancer. Fun! But somehow the show manages to be scientifically accurate and sympathetic while still being hilarious.

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I don’t know that there’s no test for men, but this is basically right. They don’t test men for HPV when they issue the standard battery of STD tests. Those tests tend to look only for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and Hepatitis B & C. They often skip herpes because the test results aren’t necessarily meaningful, and they don’t test for HPV, which is so common gynecology operates under the assumption that sexually active women have been exposed. Basically, they just do Pap smears, which look both for HPV loads and abnormal cells. But men don’t get Pap smears, and therefore aren’t usually tested for HPV.

“Girls” is on HBO, and it promises to continue to be both blunt and scientifically accurate about sexual matters. I’m eager to see what other topics they tackle.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Dana Loesch can’t let it go edition. Loesch is really committed to this weird notion that the reason feminists want insurance benefits to cover contraception is that we’re lazy, stupid sluts. She was at it again.

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Hey Dana, guess what? Just because your insurance company can’t discriminate against you as a woman in their coverage any longer doesn’t mean that you just lay on your back and drugs fall into your mouth. Just like now, you have to go to the doctor. You have to fill out the prescription. You have to go to the pharmacy. The only difference is you won’t be penalized with excessive costs for no other reason than you’re female. We all know your real anger here is that women get fair treatment. So just say that, and stop with the weird strawman arguments.  


Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte