VAWA Post-Mortem, New Anti-Contraception Bill, and Feminist Porn


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On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be doing a post-mortem on the battle over the Violence Against Women Act, which was finally won by the forces of good. Also, is there such thing as feminist porn and what new shenanigans are anti-contraception forces up to these days?

A baby who was born HIV positive in Mississippi has now been reported as cured of the disease through aggressive anti-viral treatments.

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Turns out that the immediate and aggressive strategy on the baby basically made it so that HIV can’t replicate in her body anymore. Scientists hope they can learn from this how to better prevent HIV in babies that are born with high maternal exposure.

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After a long battle that last 500 days, the House of Representatives finally had a vote on the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act. It passed, as it has every time it’s come up for a vote. So why did it take 500 days? Well, it’s a crazy story. Let’s start with Rachel Maddow explaining exactly how non-controversial this legislation has been in the nearly 20 years it’s been in existence.

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So, what happened? Well, House Republicans were playing a really strange political game. They passed a version of the bill that they knew would never actually become law, but refused to pass any others. Their objections to this previously non-controversial law were all over the map. Some Republicans said that it was unconstitutional. Some, like Majority Leader Eric Cantor, objected to provisions giving Native American tribal authorities more authority to prosecute rapists and wife beaters. And some claimed that they didn’t really see the point in offering protections to immigrants and LGBT people. Like Rep. Marsha Blackburn.

 

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First of all, Native American women, immigrant women, and lesbian and transgender women are women, and Blackburn’s insinuation that they don’t count is deeply offensive. Second of all, VAWA was never just about women. It was always about domestic violence and rape, and the name is referencing the fact that women disproportionately suffer from these crimes. Third of all is that no matter how you spin this, it’s just a naked claim that some people deserve less protection than others from domestic violence and rape. There’s no way to make that sound anything less than vile.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz made an impassioned speech during the debate about why we need the expanded provisions in VAWA.

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Again, this shouldn’t be that controversial. Even when conservatives attack LGBT people and immigrants, they aren’t usually willing to go so far as to say that the protections against violence that are offered to other people shouldn’t go to them. And that this is the angle they were taking says to me that something else, something weirder was going on. Indeed, even though VAWA passed through a majority Republican House, most Republicans still voted against it. The only reason it passed was that all the Democrats and enough Republicans voted for it to get it through. Rachel Maddow wondered why on earth Republicans were so afraid to vote for a bill that should have passed in a walk.

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The answer to her question is yes, yes they are afraid of being primaried. That’s because a bunch of Christian right pressure groups that have always been against VAWA decided to raise the stakes this year, promising to downgrade politicians on their “family values” scorecards if they voted for VAWA. This isn’t about immigrants or LGBT victims, either. Christian right organizations have long opposed VAWA because they claim that it breaks up families. They want women who are being battered to be sent home to try to work on their marriages instead of put up in shelters. Some put blame on the victim, saying that it’s her fault for not embracing Biblical womanhood, i.e. submitting graciously to their husbands. While not all Republicans in the House are afraid of these Christian right groups, apparently one hundred and thirty-eight are.

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insert interview

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Yes, they are trying to take away your birth control. Not that I have to really convince anyone anymore. Unlike in years past, when anti-contraception activism was disguised as concern about young people or fetal life or whatever, anti-choicers have spent the past couple of years being a lot more up front about how much they hate contraception and want to restrict access in any way they can. Now anti-choicers in Congress have come up with a new scheme to try to separate women from birth control, a bill misnamed the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which wants to remove your right of conscience and give it to your employer. Rep. Diane Black introduced the bill.

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Such an unbelievably dishonest use of that quote! After all, this bill—which would give your employer a right to deny you the insurance benefits you paid for if you want to use them on contraception—is about taking a woman’s right of conscience away and giving it to her boss. That’s pretty much the opposite of what Jefferson was talking about here. He was defending the individual’s right to conscience. That includes the individual’s right to decide for herself if she wants to use the insurance that she earned and belongs to her to control when and if she gets pregnant. Nothing is more personal than that, and trying to give that power to employers is taking away women’s right to conscience.

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Except, of course, that Rep. Black is trying to take that right away. This bill is about giving employers the right to tell their employees that the employers get to choose and not the employees what their faith allows. If your conscience says that contraception is fine—good, even—too bad. Your boss’s religious beliefs trump yours, if this bill passes. But let’s be clear; this isn’t a general belief that your employer’s religion should dictate what health care you get, and that dictates religious freedom. These people aren’t saying that if you work for a Jehovah’s Witness, you shouldn’t get blood transfusions covered. They know full well it’s a violation of your religious freedom if your Christian Scientist employer refuses to let you use your health insurance on doctors and expects you to use your benefits only on prayer. This is about contraception and not wanting women to have it, full stop. SBA List, an anti-choice group that pisses on the grave of Susan B. Anthony by pretending the feminist activist would oppose women’s rights, has played a major hand in pushing for this bill. And their leader, Marjorie Dannenfelser, does not hide that she opposes contraception because she believes that sex should only be used for procreation and not for pleasure. Here she is explaining that in 2011.

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There you have it. She admitted that she wants to take away affordable contraception because she believes if you lose access, you’ll quit having sex.  So her organization wants to give your employer the right to pressure you to not have sex by taking away affordable birth control. Giving your employer a vote in your private sex life is an attack on freedom of conscience, not a defense of it.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, rapping your hate edition. Gawker posted this video of a teenage girl, uh, rapping about the supposed evils of homosexuality and dared people to see how much they could watch without flipping it off.

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I lasted 47 seconds. I somewhat suspect this video is actually made by a pro-gay person trying to make the oppositon look bad.    

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • http://twitter.com/#!/dameocrat Dameocrat

    Is there supposed to be video links somewhere because I don’t see them.