Kansas Fails Again, Pam Stenzel Scares Kids, And Ending Rape Culture


The history of the ban on dildos in Texas

Speaking out against abstinence-only

Pam Stenzel misinformation

Kansas passes new anti-abortion legislation

Threatening pill users with death

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to legal expert Jody Raphael about rape culture and why it’s so hard to prosecute rapes. A high school senior stands up to an abstinence-only liar, and Kansas encourages its violent militants in their quest to end legal abortion.

Sex educator Julie Sunday posted a lecture she gave for Nerd Night in Austin about the state’s long-standing war on legal sex toys.

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The law was overturned by the court, who found it was a violation of the decision Lawrence v. Texas that found the state cannot monitor safe, consensual sexual activity that adults have in private.

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Abstinence-only programs have faded somewhat from public consciousness as federal support has dwindled and public opinion has turned against them. Still, that shouldn’t let any of us be fooled into thinking they’ve disappeared. As long as there are Christian right wing fanatics getting jobs in education and thinking it’s appropriate to use school resources to shove their religious beliefs on the students, abstinence-only is going to crop up. Now there’s a conflict in West Virginia, because high school student Katelyn Campbell filed an injunction against her principal to prevent him from retaliating against her for telling the press about the terrible abstinence-only speaker Pam Stenzel being hired to shove Christian propaganda at the students. Katelyn went on HuffPost Live to talk about her struggles.

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The reason she got the injunction is she claims he threatened to call Wellesley College, where Katelyn has a scholarship, and try to get them to revoke her admittance. The university responded to the charges on Twitter by saying they think Katelyn is great and can’t wait to have her as a student. The school is a famous women’s university that promotes feminist values, making it laughable in the extreme that anyone would think they’d be opposed to a student speaking up for comprehensive sex education.

It’s shameful that any school anywhere would hire Pam Stenzel, even for free, to do her schtick of yelling at students and shaming them for being sexual human beings. In a recording one of the students at the high school took, you get to hear Stenzel say terrible, terrible false things. I listened to the recording, which is nearly an hour long, to hear these terrible things. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. It’s basically being yelled at for an hour by someone who clearly just hates everyone because she thinks they’re a bunch of filthy lust monsters. For instance, she threatens the girls, telling them if they have sex, they’ll become infertile.

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SEICUS has a report about the lies Pam Stenzel tells, and needless to say her claim that infertility has skyrocketed is just wrong. They report evidence that shows that infertility rates haven’t changed, and point out that the increased attention to it is the result of more women having children in their 30s and 40s. But as far as Stenzel is concerned, the entire world is a seething mass of disease and decay, and it’s all because they have the icky, gross sex.

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Listening to this talk, you get the impression that the only way that someone can ever catch a disease is to have sex, and of course that everyone who has sex is crippled with disease. It’s extremely silly. For one thing, 95 percent of Americans have premarital sex, so her insinuation that having sex without a wedding band means being  a disease-ridden pariah forever simply doesn’t pass the common sense test. Second of all, there are other ways disease are transmitted. You go to college and abstain from sex, okay, but you’re still around other people and so you’ll probably catch the flu or a cold plenty enough. If STIs are so bad that one should basically put their entire sexual and romantic life on hold to avoid them, then why don’t other diseases require the same level of overreaction? If the only solution to STIs is abstaining from sex, by the same logic, the only solution to the flu is abstaining from seeing other people at all.

She tries to get around this by claiming that we’re all going to die from untreatable diseases if we have premarital sex, or that if you have sex it will make you unmarriageable because of your supposed status as a leper.

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She seems to be referring to HPV, which is a common STI that does cause genital warts and can lead, in a small number of cases, to cervical cancer. She loves the phrase “radical hysterectomy”, but for women who are getting regular Pap smears, cervical cancer can be easily prevented by a very short procedure that is nothing like a hysterectomy, much less a quote-unquote “radical” one. She lies, of course, by painting HPV as a lifelong curse, when it causes no problems in most people and goes away on its own most of the time. More to the point, she completely neglects to tell her audience that they can avoid HPV altogether by getting vaccinated. Anyone who actually cares about preventing STIs would tell a roomful of kids to get this simple vaccination. I’m getting the feeling that she wants kids to get HPV as punishment for inevitably defying her orders to simply not have sex.

If you detected a note of sarcasm in her discussion of the concept of love, you aren’t mistaken. Throughout this entire speech, Stenzel talks about love with a tone of contempt, and seems to find it implausible that sexually active people even know what love is.

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Yep, she basically comes right and says that if a man wants to have sex with you, he doesn’t love you. She tries to frame it as a “boundaries” thing to make it sound better, but if you really think about it, this is about sex and not respect. She seems to think the only way men respect women is to not want sex and that women never want sex, and only have it to please men. The possibility that men and women choose it together to have fun, or god forbid, express their love, isn’t even entertained here.

Good on Katelyn Campbell for standing up to her school for bringing Pam Stenzel in. No teenager deserves to be treated to such a misanthropic, hateful liar who wants you to believe that you’re a dirty person for having sex.

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insert interview

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What’s the matter with Kansas? Despite the fact that heavy anti-abortion activity in that state led to a man’s murder in 2009, state legislators there are determined to stoke the situation even more by passing even more restrictive laws on abortion. More restrictive, but also more ambiguous, to better create a situation where zealots can find avenues to harass abortion providers.

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Kansas isn’t the first state to have some weird language about “life” beginning at fertilization, but in their environment, it’s especially concerning. Before an anti-choice zealot assassinated Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, a district attorney named Phill Kline went on a legal digging operation on Dr. Tiller, trying to find some law he supposedly broke at the behest of the anti-choice movement in the area. After months of digging and putting the doctor on trial, nothing came of it, because he didn’t do anything. In fact, Phill Kline was eventually brought up for disbarment because of his wildly unethical behavior and abuse of power in that situation. However, the targeting of Dr. Tiller for this kind of legal harassment was probably a contributing factor to his eventual murder, as his killer, Scott Roeder, was deeply upset that the B.S. harassment campaign did not result in shutting down Dr. Tiller’s clinic. Kansas legislators took one look at this terrible situation and decided that the best bet was to create this life-begins-at-fertilization law, which seems to only serve the purpose of justifying more harassment of already beleaguered providers.

Well, that and apparently funnel money towards people who use it to proselytize instead of offer actual services.

 

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The woman they interview works at a crisis pregnancy center, which is to say that she spends her days trying to lure women with unwanted pregnancies into her center so she can try to bully them out of abortions. These centers often make promises they can’t keep regarding support for women who have their babies. That’s why your eyebrows should be sky high at the claim that resources redirected from actual family planning clinics to crisis pregnancy centers could be used to help people. In other states, they’ve done that, and the result is that very little help is actually offered. Women need real services, such as medical care and contraception, not being given a lecture on abstinence and a teddy bear to give their baby once it’s born. Redirecting more money to places that don’t use it for real services is a terrible idea.

Unfortunately, that might be the least of the concerns here, because right now, the anti-choice militants in the state are getting uglier and more overt with the insinuated threats of violence. David Leach of the Army of God posted audio of him talking with Dr. Tiller’s murderer, Scott Roeder, online, just in case abortion providers didn’t get the message.

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These are the people who feel like the legislation has their back when they pass laws saying life begins at fertilization. This is very concerning indeed. But despite the fact that it’s basically a big, wet kiss to anti-choice militants who are making threats of terrorism, Gov. Brownback of Kansas signed the bill into law. And he gave the raspberry to our First Amendment protections of freedom of religion while doing so, writing “JESUS + Mary” on the top of his notes so the AP photographer could see them.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, as much Pam Stenzel as you can take edition. NARAL sent out an email protesting the West Virginia situation I reported on in this podcast, and reminded me that Pam Stenzel likes to threaten people with death and infertility if they use female-controlled contraception.

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This is a complete lie. There is no reason whatsoever to think that someone using the pill is more likely to get an STI than someone having sex without using any protection whatsoever. Stenzel’s long history of anti-choice activism suggests something else entirely: She thinks non-procreative sex is wrong, and will use any tactic, including lies and threats, to make sure as many women who are having sex are getting pregnant as possible, no matter if they’re ready to be mothers or not.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte