How do pro-choice activists pull out such an awesome defeat of Amendment 6 in Florida? An examination. Also, more reporting on conservative reaction to major anti-choice electoral losses.
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Andrea Tantaros whines about female voters
On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be breaking down how pro-choicers won on Amendment 6 in Florida with Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Plus, two more segments on how reproductive rights played a role in the election, and why conservatives have it all wrong.
I don’t even know what to say about this clip of Pat Robertson, except it’s the best thing that’s happened to me all week.
- Robertson *
The way that social conservatives can veer between believing women have no interest in sex and wanting to punish those who do show an interest is endlessly fascinating to me. I really wish they’d decide which one it is.
The post-election analysis is coming to fruition and the consensus amongst smart people seems to be that the extreme social conservatism that has become such a thing lately is one of the biggest factors in much of the Republican losses, along with the Obama campaign making a compelling argument for his economic program. There’s the obvious cases, like the losses of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock for misogynist comments about rape. But overall, the story is one of how there’s only one group of people who really vote Republican anymore, and that’s conservative white people who are swimming in resentment and fear at a changing world. Chris Hayes discussed this on his show, when noted how much diversity there is in the Obama coalition.
- election 1 *
Hayes is talking mostly about the racial politics of the election, but I think it’s worth tacking on to that the understanding that most Americans really have concerns that are much broader than worrying about what their neighbors are getting up to in the sack, and trying to find ways to punish it. Indeed, one thing that this diverse coalition doesn’t share is the cultural context of conservative white America, whose imagining of the supposed Good Ol’ Days includes nostalgia for much stricter social controls on female sexuality and a general sense that women knew their place. Which, in turn, makes it not surprising that they have different views on the issue, or at least different priorities when it comes to voting. With that in mind, it seems like a bare minimum that a party that wants to be relevant in the 21st century would at least consider dropping the 19th century attitudes about sex and women’s roles.
With all that said, the reaction of the right wing media the election was surely one of calm introspection, particularly on the issue of how out of step they are with how the electorate feels about reproductive health care, right? Okay, no. I won’t even play with you on that. It was more along the lines of this:
- election 2 *
That was Fox News’ Andrea Tantaros, accusing single female voters of being, to be blunt about it, greedy sluts trying to get laid on the taxpayer’s dime. It’s a strategy that’s sure to win those voters over! Needless to say, a quick fact check: The policy she’s griping about is not “free” birth control, but simply extending insurance coverage that women are paying for themselves to cover contraception without a copay. It’s no more free than any other kind of medical care your insurance covers. As for women who don’t have insurance, it’s not like contraception is some unimportant luxury item. Unintended pregnancy is a serious problem that we can easily reduce for this relatively inexpensive investment in contraception.
Telling single women they’re all a bunch of dumb sluts for voting for Obama was by far the preferred method of right wing media to try to expand their appeal beyond angry white conservatives. Limbaugh was definitely at the front of that pack.
- election 3 *
Ah, whining about how stupid and mercenary female voters are: The time-honored way to get them to vote for you! But while Limbaugh is a reliable source of unintentional comedy revealing how little conservative pundits understand about normal people’s sex lives, Gretchen Carlson may have bust out my favorite quote of all from the post-election coverage.
- election 4 *
I don’t even know that I need to fact check this one, but let’s just be clear: Married people actually have more sex on average than single people. Having someone you clearly like having sex with in your bed all the time is actually pretty conducive to getting it on. While it’s important to make sure that everyone who wants it can get contraception, let’s be clear: Married women definitely do not have a lesser need for access. The reason married women diverge from single women probably has as much to do with age and other demographic markers as anything else, not because getting married suddenly means your reproductive health care needs come to an end.
I promise that the continued and extensive coverage of conservative inability to handle that the nation roundly rejected their backwards attitudes on sex and women’s rights isn’t just a matter of schadenfreude. I do think this is a serious story that really captures the most basic obstacle to improved reproductive health outcomes in this country, an angry right wing minority that simply can’t let go of their obsessive fear and loathing of female sexuality. You know it’s serious when they can’t even let it go for a minute in order to soberly analyze the outcome of an election that had a million reasons for how it turned out, with voters being disgusted over the sex wars being but just one. Mary Matalin’s unfocused and overwhelming anger at Mitt Romney’s loss is a really good example of how the right just doesn’t seem capable of letting the sex thing go, even as they know it’s bad news for them.
- 2012 1 *
I can’t even convey to you how ridiculous her facial expressions were. She looked like she was sitting on a porcupine the entire time. Yelling “free contraception” as if that’s the worst thing you’ve ever heard is simply not going to be a winning strategy when the vast majority of your audience, both liberal and conservative, believes both that contraception is a useful tool and that health insurance you pay for should cover your actual medical care. But as weird as all that was, Fox News guest Michael Graham was even weirder.
- 2012 2 *
This is part of a larger strategy of conservative media trying to insinuate that the President is illegitimate, claiming that winning a clear majority somehow doesn’t mean you have a “mandate”, whatever that means. I don’t want to be guilty of misrepresenting what is comical hyperbole here, but Graham seems like he has no sense of humor whatsoever on this. The reality is that many Republican candidates did say terrible things about rape and they did claim that you either can’t get pregnant from it or that being forced to have a baby from rape is great for women. Obama didn’t make that up.
Indeed, Rachel Maddow did an excellent segment on her program explaining exactly how much conservative forces did this to themselves by insisting on running Republican candidates that are increasingly extremist in their anti-choice views.
- 2012 3 *
The cold, hard facts are this: After decades of screeching about the issue, anti-choicers haven’t really been able to move the needle on the issue of abortion rights. In some super right wing districts, candidates who are extremist can win on this, but overall, Republicans win by dodging the issue and hoping moderate voters don’t consider it a priority. But for that tactic to work, they have to also seem like they don’t consider it a priority. That’s a hard sell when you have candidates making stomach-turning comments about rape and a major issue that comes up over and over in the campaign is your opposition to simple solutions to reduce the abortion rate, such as mandatory contraception coverage and generous federal subsidies for contraception services for low income women. That’s when it becomes harder for ordinary voters to think that this isn’t just about pandering to a minority of religious people who love fetuses, but instead a larger anti-sex agenda that is clearly on the front burner.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Rush is wandering even further off the farm lately edition. Rush Limbaugh’s show is an endless array of nonsense and paranoid fantasies, but this one was special even by his standards.
- bond *
I don’t know what’s weirder: His absolute assurance of this, or his ridiculous identification with the James Bond character that allows him to act victimized by the mere idea of making the character gay. Rush, there is literally no character I think you could have less in common with than agent 007.