Contraception Economics, Contraception Shaming, and Contraception Lying


Contraception access is an economic issue. Fox News almost tells the truth about emergency contraception and then goes back to lying and Bill O’Reilly seriously has a problem with outspoken women.

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What is slut-shaming?

Fox News lying about EC in public schools

Bill O’Reilly’s Sandra Fluke obsession

Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment lawsuit

Sandra Fluke responds to Bill O’Reilly’s dirty old man act 

Limbaugh blames feminism for shrinking penises

On this week’s Reality Cast, a guest will be on to explain why contraception access is an economic issue. Fox News almost tells the truth about emergency contraception and then goes back to lying and Bill O’Reilly seriously has a problem with outspoken women.

Feminist writer Jarrah Hodge has put together a nifty series of videos explaining feminism and clearing up misconceptions called Feminism FAQs, and I highly recommend using them to shoot down people spouting misinformation or asking what feels like a dumb question. Like, for instance, her take on slut-shaming.

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The whole series is great, and she’s very measured and reasonable.

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For a brief, shining moment I actually thought that Fox News was reporting on an issue of reproductive health and rights without lying. And let me tell you, I was stunned. I can’t think of the last time I heard anything about ladyparts on Fox News that wasn’t a lie. If they were trying to describe what happens on your period, they’d probably be obligated to say you bleed out of your ears, just to make sure they never actually provide straightforward, factual information about sexual health on their network. But somehow, when Shepard Smith was reporting a new story on New York City schools offering contraception to students for free, he managed to get all the facts straight.

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This was a shockingly accurate report of the program. Thirteen schools are involved. Parents are generally supportive and only a few have opted out. By not opting out, parents give blanket permission to give their kids contraception at the student’s discretion. Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy and doesn’t affect already existing pregnancies, which is to say it isn’t an abortion. I was super excited and wondering, why on earth did Fox suddenly start deciding to tell the truth on this issue? Is it because it only affects New York City?

Then I kept watching, and it turns out that while Smith opted not to lie during this segment, the producers made absolutely sure to bring Andrew Napolitano on. Napolitano is always eager and excited to lie about any and everything involving sexual health issues, and the lies were fast and furious.

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Lie #1. As Smith pointed out at the top of the segment, parents were given the opportunity to opt out. Only 1 to 2 percent did. Napolitano may not approve of these parents making this choice, but it’s a lie to say they didn’t have one. But there’s also the bigger lie here, which is the notion that parents have some sort of absolute authority to control the behavior of their children, even their teenage children. They really don’t. Kids this age decide for themselves if they’re going to have sex or not, and parents have limited options when it comes to dealing with that, and really it’s not their decision to make since it’s not their bodies. Withholding contraception doesn’t suddenly put them in control of the sexual decisions. All it does is put the child’s health at risk.

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Lie #2. As Smith said, emergency contraception is not an abortion, and saying so doesn’t make it true. It not only doesn’t affect existing pregnancies, but well-documented research that was widely reported in the New York Times also showed that it has no effect on fertilized eggs. Anti-choicers have been told this over and over again. That they continue to tell this lie demonstrates that they know they’re lying and they don’t care. But it’s a real shame to hear this lie right after Smith told the boring old truth.

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Lie #3, and a creepy one at that, since Napolitano seems to think that “sexual privacy” means sharing your sex life with your parents. Ick. I don’t know about you, but in my family, we define “private” as meaning my parents don’t need to know the details about my sex life and they don’t need to know the details about mine. I suspect my definition is much more the majority definition, which is why most parents signed off on this. Either way, Napolitano, who used to be a judge for crying out loud, is just lying and I suspect he knows it. His definition of “privacy” is actually the opposite. To have a right to privacy means having the right to decide who to share private information with. He’s claiming that it’s the opposite, that a right to privacy means you have to be forced to share it with your parents. That’s straight up saying white is black and up is down. Teenagers do have a right to privacy, and it’s not some weird upside down topsy turvy right where it means they actually don’t have any right whatsoever to privacy. It means the same thing that it does for everyone, which is that they get to control their private information, and that includes sexual private information.

Napolitano carried on like this for awhile, mostly telling and retelling the lie that emergency contraception is abortion, which it is not. Now a bunch of right wingers are going to be running around claiming that New York City schools are handing out free abortions. Seriously, I wish! But really, it’s not practical because they’d need to have more extensive medical facilities than they have or probably ever will have. But now half the country is going to believe it, simply because Fox News apparently feels that they can never go more than 60 seconds without telling giant whopping lies.

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insert interview

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As has been reported on this show repeatedly, conservatives in general and Bill O’Reilly in particular have this completely out of control reaction to the very existence of Sandra Fluke. It wouldn’t be cool for them to relentlessly slut shame anyone, even if she sleeps with a new dude every night and is trying to set a world record or something. But the fact of the matter is that’s not who Fluke is, but the way they carry on about her, you would think that is who she is. Truth is, we know almost nothing about Fluke. She’s a law student and is engaged to be married. She’s never spoken publicly about her sex life. And yet, here conservatives are acting like she just invented this kinky new concept of having sex without procreation. It’s all very weird.

Media Matters put together and excellent highlight of all the various ways Bill O’Reilly drags the conversation back to his favorite topic, his utter fascination with Sandra Fluke. For instance, he was interviewing Jon Stewart on Sept. 18 about the Democratic National Convention, and despite the fact that Stewart didn’t mention anything about Fluke, O’Reilly dragged the conversation there.

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Yeah, I bet O’Reilly spends a lot of time imagining Fluke putting her hand in his pocket in order to grab at….uh….his wallet. I’m sure that’s exactly what is driving his outsized obsession. It’s not like we have any previous evidence that O’Reilly has a tendency to get focused on youngish professional women and go out of his way to sexually objectify them. No past incidents that lead us to believe that he’s easily threatened by young women with power and that he tries to put them in their place by being inappropriate and gross. Nothing like….what’s that?

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Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

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Huh, maybe he does have a problem with women, especially if women have power and confidence and are sure of their opinions. Sure does sound like he couldn’t frigging believe that a woman he was sexually harassing would do something as crazy and outrageous as actually stand up to him. I wonder if we can detect some of this hostility to outspoken, self-assured women in his reactions to Fluke.

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But it’s not enough for O’Reilly to burn with anger at a young woman whose main crime seems to be that she’s young and smart but won’t ever, ever have sex with Bill O’Reilly. When young women are smart  and pretty but don’t want to have sex with Bill O’Reilly, as we’ve learned from the past, he has to punish them by being really gross and inappropriate. Such as when his coworker wouldn’t have sex with him, and he responded by phoning her repeatedly and saying things like, well, I’ll just play a clip of various actors reading the transcripts.

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So, in O’Reilly’s various rants against Fluke, has he decided to be gross and inappropriate and objectifying in order to punish her for being smart, independent, and forever off-limits to use that birth control with him? The answer, of course, is yes. Ed Schultz played it for Fluke on his show.

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She’s right to blow it off and get on message. Because that’s what this show is for, in part. I can take the time to point out that Bill O’Reilly is a dirty old man who has serious anger issues towards women that he’s pointing at Sandra Fluke for no other reason than she’s an available target. And that kind of mentality is what’s really fueling the fight to take away contraception coverage. It has nothing to do with “religious freedom” or whatever nonsense they’ve come up with lately. It’s just pure resentment politics, and lashing out at contraception because they believe that it’s being used by young women who are having all this fun they don’t think they get to have. And maybe that’s so, though I do imagine dudes like O’Reilly might have better luck if their automatic reaction to women was to be nice instead of act like threatened bullies.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, I don’t even know what to say about this edition. Limbaugh really outdoes himself on this one.

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Presumably we did this with witchcraft. Because we hate men or something. Because Limbaugh assumes that women find all men as repulsive as they find him, I imagine. Well, since he denies global warming, I guess it’s no real leap to believe in witchcraft. 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte