Plan B Victory, Rape in the Military


Hillary Clinton defends reproductive rights

O’Reilly is being dishonest again

Kirsten Gillibrand drops some truth bombs

Andrea Tantaros kind of implies being audited is worse than being raped

NPR on Plan B decision

Laura Ingraham continues to push the claim that you can punish rapists by attacking their victims

On this episode of Reality Cast, a representative from the Center for Reproductive Rights will be on to explain the new Plan B rules. I have another segment covering the victory, and the military is being investigated for its rape problem.

I was off for a week moving and now I’m back, broadcasting from another part of Brooklyn. Let’s celebrate by hearing Hillary Clinton defend the right to control your reproductive future.

  • Clinton *

She goes on to point out that family planning services actually reduces the abortion rate, basically calling out the hypocrisy of every anti-choicer who claims to be for fetal life but then blocks access to contraception.

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Victory!

  • plan b 1, playing under the segment *

It took a mere ten years and two presidential administrations, but we did it! The Obama administration has decided to go with what science, feminism, and plain common sense tells you and stop fighting to keep age restrictions on Plan B emergency contraception.

  • plan b 2 *

Before agreeing to give up the fight completely, the Obama administration has already given in a little bit more. The FDA had approved a plan to take Plan B out from behind the pharmacy shelves and put it on drugstore shelves, like condoms. Only they still required those 15 and up to show ID to buy it, which was unacceptable for a couple of reasons. One, teenagers 15 to 18 often don’t have ID, because the only picture ID you usually have at that age is a driver’s license or permit, and record numbers of teenagers don’t have those yet. Two, a lot of people don’t have up to date IDs on them anyway. I know I’ve gone for months in the past with an expired driver’s license because I forgot to get it updated or I lost it. It happens! But you can’t be expected to get that fixed in time to buy emergency contraception. So this is a big step forward. But for pro-choicers, there is still work to do.

  • plan b 3 *

So there are many kinds of emergency contraception, but only this one kind will be available over the counter. That’s a big problem in terms of consumer choice, but beyond just that, it’s also a problem for availability.

  • plan b 4 *

But by getting one product on the shelf, it will likely be easier to get more, so there’s reason for optimism even if the fight is ongoing. The right wing reaction was predictably over-the-top hysteria. Laura Ingraham got out of control.

  • plan b 5 *

This argument is always made as if the alternative, unwanted pregnancy, is so obviously better that it hardly needs to be defended. But pregnancy creates a much larger hormone spike in the pregnant person, including the young girls Ingraham mentions, and it not only is bigger but lasts weeks if you get an abortion or nine months if you don’t. So if your concern is hormone spikes, then pregnancy is not the better option. Also, the claim that the best reaction to rape is forced pregnancy remains the same naked misogynist nonsense it ever was, a barely watered down version of the prison sentences and even executions that rape victims in more fundamentalist countries face as “punishment” for lack of chastity. Punishing victims is not a way to get at their victimizers. On the contrary, it gives the victimizer a chance to further hurt and control the victim.

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insert interview

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So the Senate decided to have hearings on the issue of rape in the military, which is epidemic in no small part because of massive failures in military leadership to deal with the problem effectively. Because of this, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has started to push for legislation, which has been effective in other countries, removing rape prosecution from the chain of command and having a more straightforward criminal justice approach. Her reasoning is clear enough, which is that a lot of commanders tend to treat rape like it’s just another form of sexual harassment, which is to say more like an H.R. issue and less like a criminal matter. She is very, very clear about this.

  • military 1 *

Straightforward, commonsensical. Which is why the conservative reaction ranged from incoherent to bizarre to shockingly misogynist. They hate being accused of waging a war on women, but they are no more going to stop doing so than they’re going to stop over the top pandering displays of patriotism. It’s just who conservatives are. Even though in this particular case, male-on-male rape seems to be as serious a problem as male-on-female rape, which means that calling this a women’s issue is even more asinine and offensive than usual. Not that this prevented Sen. Saxby Chambliss from saying that rape is just what happens when you expose young men to actual women.

  • military 2 *

Needless to say, there’s no evidence that rape is a result of hormone levels or extreme sexual desire at all. As ever, rape is a crime of violence that is usually motivated much more by the rapist’s desire to dominate the victim than any sexual urge. In fact, the military specifically has a problem with men raping men, and most of those rapists who rape men are straight-identified men. It’s not an expression of sexual desire at all, but an attempt to put someone in his or her place.

Right wing media got even weirder about this, if you can imagine. They know they that should be against these hearings because icky feminists are pushing for them, but it’s not like they can just come right out and say they don’t think rape is a problem. So instead you get weird behavior like Andrea Tantaros’s of Fox News.

  • military 3 *

She was claiming that MSNBC is way off base giving air time to the military sexual assault hearings while there’s supposedly some scandal brewing with the IRS. On its surface, that’s nonsense, because it assumes that a handful of Tea Party groups having their non-profit status denied is a far more serious concern than the over 25,000 sexual assaults reported in the military last year. Even if you accept that the IRS scandal is a real scandal, which is certainly not a universal thing to believe, it defies common sense to say it’s more important than dealing with rape in the military.

Meanwhile, Michael Savage had Allen West on his show, and they were completely off their rockers.

  • military 4 *

Of course, as Gillibrand’s quote at the top of this segment made very clear, the feminists pushing this are explicitly and aggressively demanding a distinction between fraternizing, sexual harassment, and actual assault. These two are just telling lies to get their audience whipped into a needless, paranoid frenzy about this by telling them that Sen. Gillibrand is doing the opposite of what she’s doing.  That’s the level of discourse going on right now: lies, distractions, and paranoid fantasies. Anything, apparently, but actually deal directly with the issue. And why? Is it just because conservatives have a knee-jerk hostility to anything feminists set out to do? Or is it because they don’t really want to treat rape in the military like a crime? It’s honestly hard to tell sometimes.

Unfortunately, Gillibrand’s proposed bill was killed off with a whimper, but hopefully we can keep the heat on the military.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, getting it all backwards edition. Here’s Bill O’Reilly suggesting that the existence of a black market abortion provider who exploited women who couldn’t get legal abortions means that we should, you guessed it, make it that much harder to get legal abortions.

  • o’reilly *

One question for anti-choicers who claim Kermit Gosnell was providing legal abortions: Then why is he going to jail for it? You can’t be tried and convicted for something that is legal. Gosnell wasn’t in the business of performing medically necessary late term abortions. He was in the business of lying to women about how far along they were and performing illegal abortions. Banning legal, necessary abortions won’t stop another Gosnell, but it will make sure that someone who operates illegally like he did will get more customers.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte