Mike Huckabee’s Slut-Shaming, and the ‘War’ for CPC Disclosure Laws


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Banning marriage rather than sharing it with gay people

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to Andrea Miller from New York NARAL about the crisis pregnancy center lawsuit. Mike Huckabee denounces contraception at the RNC, and a segment on some of the good news in the public discourse over reproductive rights.

The Obama administration launched a task force to address the problem of on-campus rape. The press conference announcing the task force was really great because Obama refused to indulge people who want to focus the discussion on blaming victims. Instead, he talked about the victims as full human beings deserving of dignity.

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Joe Biden, who was instrumental in drafting the original version of the Violence Against Women Act, was on hand to lend his support. It’s really great seeing this issue being treated with the seriousness and empathy that it is required to fix the problem.

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From the second that the Obama administration, following the advice of the world’s experts in health care, decided to mandate that insurance companies cover contraception alongside dozens of other services as copay-free preventive care, conservatives have had two attacks. One is the official, safe one that makes it easier to deny they’re waging war on women, which is to claim that the mandate is somehow an assault on religious freedom. The other attack is much less safe, but is what the base really wants to hear, which is that contraception coverage is wrong because dirty sluts are using it to have sex with men that aren’t you and aren’t you angry and bitter about that? The latter doesn’t do well in the courts, but it really kills with conservatives. So it’s not really a big surprise that Mike Huckabee, who lives primarily off backslaps by fellow misogynists, trotted the “big sluts” line in front of the Republican National Committee.

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The defense of Huckabee has been that Huckabee wasn’t saying that women are big old sluts, but that Democrats believe they are big old sluts. This defense shows how empty it is for Huckabee to claim he respects women, because anyone who says that thinks women are incredibly stupid. Huckabee is clearly saying that contraception use is evidence that women are out of control. There’s no wiggle room there. He likes to imagine that women, when presented with the opportunity to use contraception, should take umbrage and say, “Well, I never! How dare you assume I would have sex like some common slattern! I only do it once every few years strictly for the purposes of procreation.” The comments don’t make a lick of sense unless you think there’s something shameful about using contraception, and trying to pretend otherwise actually is an insult to women’s intelligence. Which is also clear from Huckabee scolding women and telling us we should be insulted at the idea that we might have use for medications that allow us to have non-procreative sex. He’s implying that women are stupid sluts that are too stupid to know that we are sluts. He clearly thinks so little of women that he doubled down later on Fox News.

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Of course, he made it clear that all that all that respect he claims to have for women is contingent on what their private choices in the bedroom are. He set up a dichotomy, where women could be respected or women could have sex for pleasure, but they had to choose. He even, if you’ll remember, told women they had to choose and that the only way to get his respect was to take umbrage at the idea that we have sex. The problem with his protestations, then, is that it’s clear that he doesn’t respect women. You don’t respect women or think they’re equal if your respect requires them to give up a very big, important part of their lives that is not your business anyway. Less than 1 percent of women in this country do what Huckabee says they need to in order to deserve respect, which is to “control” their libidos so the only sex they’re having is procreative sex. You don’t actually respect women if you only respect less than 1 percent of them.

Huckabee whined that his opponents supposedly refuse to have an intellectual conversation and then said this:

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Personally, I don’t think that he’s capable of an intellectual conversation since he clearly seems to think that if you want women to have contraception, then you somehow don’t want them to have these other things. That is idiotic. Yes, there are plenty of men out there who, upon finding out that a woman has had non-procreative sex, can’t think of her as anything but a sex object and treat her like a toilet. After hearing Huckabee talk, it’s pretty obvious that he thinks that way. But he’s projecting his own deep disrespect for women onto his political opponents. In the real world, support for contraception access correlates with more, not less, support for women in a variety of ways. For instance, the politicians who support contraception access are far more likely to vote for equal pay laws. But really, the way you show that you respect women and don’t reduce them to sex objects is to treat them with respect regardless of when and how they have sex. Bracketing off women’s health care and saying not only that it shouldn’t be covered but that women who use contraception are sluts is pretty much the height of disrespect.

By the way, it’s worth remembering that as much as Huckabee claims this is about the government, the contraception mandate is not about the government. It’s about private insurance companies covering women’s prescriptions. What Huckabee calls “Uncle Sugar,” then, is women using insurance they paid for to cover their own medical expenses. It’s the equivalent of calling it a “handout” if I get a sandwich in exchange for paying cash for it. It’s not only demeaning and ungracious, but it’s just factually inaccurate. But it’s a lie that was too juicy for Bill O’Reilly to avoid telling.

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Nope. That’s just a straight up lie. Fluke’s testimony was about how unfair it is that women at her school pay thousands of dollars a year in health insurance costs but can’t even get a simple birth control prescription covered because the Catholic Church thinks sex is strictly for procreation. It’s hilarious how conservatives are claiming that those of us who heard Huckabee perfectly well are misinterpreting him, but then they turn around and just lie through their teeth about what Sandra Fluke testified about. It shows how much the government thing is just a fig leaf, and what’s really going on here is trying to make hay out of the fact that women use contraception, full stop. There are government programs to provide contraception to low income women under Title X and Medicaid, but Huckabee and O’Reilly are focusing here on private health insurance coverage, showing this has nothing to do with government and everything to do with trying to reduce access to contraception.

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insert interview

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With all the stupidity and mean-spiritedness aimed at women out there, it’s easy to start to despair, so I thought I’d do a segment highlighting some of the strong, pro-woman voices that I’ve been hearing in the media recently. The expectation that feminists practically apologize for existing is fading away, and there’s just a lot more aggressive pro-choice and pro-woman rhetoric to get behind these days. Ilyse Hogue, the newish president of NARAL, was a delight in a TV debate with the permanently dishonest Lila Rose. Lila Rose was demonizing contraception, lying through her teeth and claiming that the pill is dangerous and insinuating that women who take it are bubbleheads who weren’t aware that abstaining from sex was an option. Hogue responded.

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I know this is mostly a good news segment, but I kind of think it’s good news that people like Lila Rose have decided to go on TV and basically say that women don’t actually like sex and therefore have no need for things like contraception.

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Rose is assuming, of course, that women have no sexual desire, and that because you’re taking the pill you have to have sex with anyone who wants. Neither is true, and since most women use contraception, they’re not going to be fooled by this. We know that we have sex because we want to and we also know that laws against rape are not suspended because you’re on the pill.

Moving on, Hannah Groch-Begley from Media Matters got to go on to MSNBC and explain how anti-choice lies hurt women’s access to health care.

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There’s no audio clip of this, but it’s worth pointing out that the pro-choice press has really taken charge of outing and exposing dangerous, rogue abortion providers. The New Yorker this week has a big expose of Steven Brigham, who is in constant legal trouble for operating substandard abortion clinics. Reporters here at RH Reality Check, particularly Sharona Coutts, have been on top of this story for months. This is great because being out in front of the story helps audiences understand that the reason that bad doctors flourish is that anti-choicers drive the good doctors out of business.

Pro-choicers were also doing well on the tragic story of Marlise Muñoz, a pregnant woman in Texas who was declared brain dead but whose body was being kept alive by a ventilator against her own and her family’s wishes because the hospital wanted to bring the fetus, which was unsurprisingly “deformed,” to term. I covered the story on this show and it really took off as a good example of how anti-choice policies quite literally reduce women to incubators. Thankfully, the mounting pressure helped bolster the family and they successfully sued to have Muñoz taken off life support. Andrea Grimes of RH Reality Check spoke with On Point about the case.

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There have been a lot of setbacks for the reproductive rights movement in the past couple of decades, but I do think the tide might be turning. The right is becoming more extreme with the attacks on contraception and stunts like trying to co-opt a dead woman’s body, and feminists are getting more assertive. The combination is helping, which is one reason you’re seeing conservatives panic. Hopefully, these are trends that will continue.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the kill marriage rather than share it with gay people edition. No, seriously, that’s what one state legislator in Oklahoma has decided has to happen, in light of the courts saying that they have to provide same-sex marriage licenses under equal opportunity rules.

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As silly as this is, it makes sense. You see conservatives denouncing the idea of having health insurance altogether rather than mandating minimum coverage standards that include contraception, so why not just kill marriage altogether rather than share it, while they’re at it?

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte