Perhaps the oddest thing that can be said about the recent debate over birth control (and the expectation that it be covered by medical insurance) is that it’s being discussed in 2012. No, not 1692, nor even 1962. We’re re-debating birth control…and somehow, as a society, getting the entire discussion completely wrong. And here are the reasons why this topic is 2012′s greatest political fail.
~ Birth control isn’t merely a “sexual aid”: This might be the greatest intellectual failure by Congress (especially the more Conservative contingent). Congress actually held hearings to debate this issue; and then didn’t invite a single woman to serve as a member of the panel. That’s like a group of Mormons debating the merits of Caffeine. You can’t possibly have a rounded discussion on birth control without one of the two primary sexes represented. It not only looked foolish, it came across as sexist and misogynistic (as if Conservatives somehow felt male political leaders had enough insight to make decisions for the other half of the population without consideration for their opinions). Then, to compound matters, challenges rang out about “using condoms” as an alternative; which, yet again, ignored birth control as a medical need and instead relegated it to realm of a sexual “party favor”.
So, for all of you guys who are married and/or living with an enlightened woman, here are a few fun facts about birth control: not all women can take orthotricyclen. In fact, a pretty decent portion of womanhood is actually allergic to it and need to take more expensive pills like Yaz. Also, birth control pills are commonly prescribed for women who experience severe cramping and bleeding during their menstrual cycles. And then there’s the sticky (no pun intended) issue of cysts – these, if let unresolved, can lead to cancer. And “the pill” is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for dealing with them. Here’s a tip free tip, Conservatives: if you want to win the women’s vote (who are more than half the population, after all), don’t try and brazenly associate the birth control pill exclusively with the physical act of intercourse. It looks ignorant and primitive.
~ Radio talk show hosts shouldn’t go off-script: And yes, Rush Limbaugh, I’m talking about you. You attempted to be funny when bringing this topic up. Your show is about ratings…I get that. And any topic dealing with sex (even in a limited way) will help create listeners. It makes perfect sense – people dig sex! And listening to political meanderings on it can be entertaining. But you went off script – fancying yourself as a Conservative alternative to John Stewart or Stephen Colbert. And you failed. It came off as crass and offensive. Then, after embarrassing yourself, you spent the next day making things worse. You started by calling a Georgetown Law grad student a “slut” and a “prostitute” and finished the next day by saying that she should post videos of herself having sex online if any portion of your taxes go to her medical costs. Smooth. Nothing tacky about that at all. Basically, you played right into the stereotype many women have of Conservative males – that they’re socially oppressive and uneducated louts who want women to cook, screw and be silent. Because of your grievous stupidity, your advertisers abandoned you in droves. At this rate, you’ll have to run ads for erectile dysfunction to stay on the air…oh, oops, you’re already doing that. Also, Senators shouldn’t go off script, either. Please…no more jokes about clenching aspirin between your knees.
~ There’s a real debate here…but it’s not about sex: Dear Republicans, you had the White House on the ropes. You backed ‘em into a corner over the separation of church and state. After all, how can a government, in good faith, cleanly enforce a policy of insurable birth prevention when dealing with a religious institution opposed to it (most notably, the Catholic church who disavows birth control altogether, in any form)? But you let the debate go from there….that was, at least, a debate worth having. Whether it’s the right of gay couples to marry, or birth control as an insurable practice, the government’s recourse with churches is hindered by our Constitution. But, rather than focusing on that most salient point, you let the whole topic devolve into a punchline. And you may well have given President Obama the female vote this Fall as a result.
But beyond all that, let’s keep in mind it’s 2012. As a modern society, why are we even bothering with a discussion on birth control? It seems like this debate ended with Margaret Sanger (and Planned Parenthood) sometime in the 50′s. How it got recycled this year is a true mystery.