Last week, conservative radio guy and cigar aficionado Rush Limbaugh comment-pundit-pontificated on a subject close to many ladies’ (and nonladies’) hearts: the high price of contraception.
Specifically he talked about Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University who ostensibly uses contraceptives in the hopes of managing her reproductive health such that she can complete her law degree and live her life according to her own desires, whether they include having kids now or in the future or not.
Fluke had been given the opportunity to speak before Congress by fellow lipstick-smeared harlot Nancy Pelosi, and was there to testify on the issue of whether the legally-required health insurance at religious institutions (like Georgetown) should cover birth control. Fluke explained that she and her contraceptive-using friends spend as much as $1,000 a year buying their own, and seriously, that’s so not cool.
The unofficial hearing at which Fluke spoke was a do-over following an earlier hearing during which, by some magical coincidence, no women in favor of insurance-paid contraceptives could be found to speak up. Limbaugh saw Fluke's testimony (or had a flunky watch it and tell him the story, possibly with pictures) and had opinions, which is, after all, what they pay him to do.
Limbaugh subsequently decided this was exactly the same thing as a health insurance company paying a young woman to have sex. Which makes her -- wait for it! -- a PROSTITUTE!
What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.
On Thursday, Limbaugh realized he was underutilizing a valuable source of negative press, and decided to re-hash the whole thing and “explain” his logic. Let’s break it down together, shall we?
According to Planned Parenthood -- and they should know -- birth control pills cost between $15 to $50 a month. So, at most, that would be $600 a year. What is Sandra Fluke buying?
Limbaugh had another flunky -- or maybe the same one? -- do some real internets research and go to PP’s website to get the above information. (Whether said flunky was then boiled in acid and jettisoned into space to scrub Limbaugh’s staff of contamination is not mentioned: let’s assume this also happened.) Unfortunately, this bit of information does not take into account that Planned Parenthood is hardly a reproductive Wal-Mart; they simply don’t exist within easy distance of many women.
To make it literal: Planned Parenthood has about 800 locations in the US. Walmart has over 4300. So, not even close. Millions of women -- yes, even women in college -- have no access to a Planned Parenthood, and it’s also worth noting that Planned Parenthood is one of a miniscule number of places where birth control can be had at a discounted rate of $15 to $50 a month.
How do they manage to discount it anyway? Because they receive federal funding. Which Limbaugh -- and his similarly-minded ilk -- want to eliminate. HA! HA! THE JOKE’S ON US!
Limbaugh further defends his position by taking the noble stand of expecting dudes to take responsibility for their penises, and to consider the wishes of their lady-friend when deciding whether to attempt sperm-injection without a barrier. You can sometimes get condoms for free, everybody! Depending on where you live and stuff, but still.
Do they not have condoms? Why don't these women go ask the men to buy them contraception?... Where are the guys that these women at Georgetown Law are having sex with? Where's their responsibility?... Are we supposed to believe that it's impossible to find free condoms in Washington?
What fools we are, spending our hard-earned cash on birth control when the magical condom fairies benevolently distribute free prophylactics far and wide across this great nation! I, for one, have never met a dude who didn’t LOVE condoms. Guys go wild for that wrapped-up-in-latex feeling on their member, and never complain that “it doesn’t feel as good” because reduced sensitivity feels AWESOME, like even awesomer than getting a really good massage in a hot tub while eating $120/pound Venezuelan chocolate and watching a naked Ryan Gosling as he reads love poetry he wrote JUST ABOUT YOU.
Indeed, why does ANYONE ever have condom-free sex? Idiots, probably, who have yet to feel the searing euphoria of an allergic reaction to spermicide.
Okay, so in theory I am with Limbaugh on this: I agree dudes should take more responsibility in sexual relationships and whine less about condom use. That would be ideal. On a personal note, I can count the number of times I've had condom-free sex in my whole life on one freaking hand.
But for many women living in the real world, trusting guys to be the sole arbiters of birth control is damn foolhardy. Have you met a college-aged guy lately? It’s a miracle if he can remember to do laundry more than once a semester. Odds are overwhelmingly against him owning any kind of toilet-cleaning implement. And yet women should implicitly trust such a dude with their vagina?
It ought to go without saying, but women are absolutely entitled to as much control over their own reproductive outcomes as the men they have sex with; telling a woman her sole responsbility is to instruct her partner to take care of business on his own removes her indepdendent agency in the matter. And self-determination is important for everyone.
Why go before a congressional committee and demand that all of us -- because they want to have sex any time, as many times and as often as they want, with as many partners as they want -- should pay for it?
Ah, that’s the real issue here. Limbaugh is not suggesting that dudes be responsible, not really -- he’s suggesting that women be denied the right to decide when and with whom and how often they have sex. Men, and their precious precious condoms, should get to make that call, because women who enjoy sexual agency are “prostitutes” and prostitutes are baaaaad. (NB: prostitutes are not bad, nor are any sex workers bad, nor are women who like sex bad.) So glad we cleared that up, I feel a lot worse now.
One of Limbaugh’s oft-repeated refrains on this whole affair have been that “these women” (I guess, to not taint the sanctity of decent non-sex-having women) are having “so much sex” that they are “going broke.” He then suggests "less sex" as a workable solution to the high cost of contraception.
Ms. Fluke, have you ever heard of not having sex? Have you ever heard of not having sex so often?
Rush Limbaugh clearly does not understand how birth control pills work, and seems to be laboring under the misconception that the number of pills one takes is directly proportional to the number of sex-havings -- possibly he thinks one sex = one pill? Or possibly one penetrative session = one pill, so sex involving multiple penetrative interactions brought to their natural conclusion on the dude’s end might require multiple pills, despite collectively referring to the encounter as having had sex “once”?
I don’t know, you guys, I’m not as smart as Rush Limbaugh. The rules are murky to me. But I will save Limbaugh having to waste another flunky researching this stuff, and explain: Birth control pills work the same way no matter how much sex a person is having. You take one pill each day, whether you have no sex or a bazillion sex. The end.
Limbaugh is also ignoring the critical fact that birth control pills are often used as a treatment for other issues totally unrelated to sex-having and baby-averting, but UGH, women’s health is SO BORING, and calling bitches hookers is FAR more fun, so he can hardly be blamed for this oversight.
We've done all kinds of research on this.
ALL KINDS. Even the kind with the depressed zebra and the vacuum cleaner! Wow, that was a mess. Thank god for flunkies.
The amendment in question -- the one that would have made it okay for employers and health plans with “religious” or “moral” objections to opt out of supplying coverage for contraception -- has since been defeated in the Senate. Yaaaay. So the specifics of this particular conversation are now moot.
However, the fact remains that your access to contraception is under siege. This is one battle in a larger war over women’s rights not only to control their reproductive capacity, but their right to self-determination in general.
Limbaugh is one voice among many on this, and as tempting as it might be to dismiss him (or deny him media coverage), he represents a vocal segment of the population working to restrict your rights. As unpleasant as it is to bestow our careful attentions upon him, I will continue to point out this bullshit because Limbaugh (and those who agree with him) is not above using busted-ass logic and “research” to back up his ideas, and to reinforce the misguided convictions of like-minded individuals.
At least, he will probably continue to do so until he runs out of flunkies. But I’m not willing to wait that long. Are you?
More of Lesley's ranting on subjects both political and mundane can be found on Twitter, and she is sometimes funny over there too, but usually by accident.