‘The Sex Myth,’ and Carly Fiorina Doubles Down

On this episode of Reality Cast, host Amanda Marcotte talks to Rachel Hills, author of The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality, about the misconception that everyone is sexing everyone else up all the time. Marcotte also discusses Carly Fiorina's false claims about Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation program at the GOP debate.

Related Links

Viola Davis at the Emmys

Glenn Kessler explains Carly Fiorina’s claims

Carly Fiorina makes false claims about the Center for Medical Progress’ videos

Rachel Maddow calls out Carly Fiorina

Consent 101

“Beta male” isn’t a thing


On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be talking to Rachel Hills about the myth that everyone is sexing everyone else up all the time. Carly Fiorina digs into her nonsense about abortion, and Planned Parenthood puts out a series of excellent videos about consent.

Congrats to Viola Davis for being the first Black woman to win an Emmy for being the lead in a drama series. She gave a great speech.

  • Viola Davis *

As blockbuster movies seem to be as white and male as ever, TV is a place where you’re starting, in fits and starts, to see real diversity. But there is a long, long way to go.


Last week, I covered the Republican debate and how Carly Fiorina told a really vivid but untrue story about what is in the videos made by the misnamed Center for Medical Progress. To refresh your memory, here’s what she said.

  • Fiorina 1 *

As soon as she said it, a number of journalists, most notably Sarah Kliff at Vox, immediately pointed out that no such scene exists in all 12 hours of video released by the Center for Medical Progress. In one of their highly edited, super deceptive videos, they edit in footage that they didn’t actually film, but there is no indication that it was from an abortion. On the contrary, the most likely explanation is that it’s from a miscarriage or premature birth. But, as sleazy as CMP is, even they knew they couldn’t pull this one off and they clearly label the footage as given to them from somewhere else. But rest assured, no one is standing over any fetus saying that they are keeping it alive to harvest its brain, because that doesn’t even make sense. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post managed to get the truth out on air at The O’Reilly Factor.

  • Fiorina 2 *

O’Reilly tries to recover the segment and squeeze some kind of justification for Fiorina’s dishonesty.

  • Fiorina 3 *

No, it’s not fair. If you set aside the squabbling over this bit of dishonesty and look at the rest of what’s going on, you will see that the rest of it, if anything, is an even bigger pack of lies and B.S. The central claim here, that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal body parts, has repeatedly been shown to be a lie. The claim that the attacks on Planned Parenthood are about stopping this non-existent market are also a lie. The efforts, like all those before them, are about cutting off Planned Parenthood’s funding for non-abortion services like contraception and cancer screenings. And then there’s the insinuations that abortion generally involves a fetus like the one in the footage that CMP edited in. Also a lie. While abortions after 20 weeks do happen, they are about 1.5 percent of abortions and are disproportionately done for medically necessary reasons. On every level this is a lie. There is nothing fair about it.

But instead of just admitting she got it wrong, Fiorina is digging in.

  • Fiorina 4 *

So that should wipe out all doubt that Fiorina is deliberately lying here. She has been told, repeatedly, that what she claims to have seen simply isn’t there. She falsely accuses the people who fact-checked her of not watching it. But it’s clear now that the people she falsely accuses are the only ones who can verify for a fact that we’ve watched it because, unlike Fiorina, we can correctly describe what’s on there. Indeed, I rewatched the damn thing as I wrote this. If you don’t believe me, here’s the audio clip from the part of the video in question. I cannot collect this audio without watching the video, as I have to run the video to do audio capture.

  • Fiorina 5 *

No doubt, they coupled this testimony with an image of what is likely a stillborn, so as to mislead the viewer into thinking it illustrates what she’s talking about, which there is no reason to believe. In fact, there’s not a lot of reason to believe anything this woman, Holly O’Donnell, says. She was fired from the private company she worked for. She never worked for Planned Parenthood and she has no proof of her accusations. All we really know about her is she is willing to work with deeply dishonest people like those who run the Center for Medical Progress.

There are two options here. Either Fiorina lied deliberately during the debate or she mistakenly thought she saw what she describes. The evidence for the latter is that the video is, no doubt intentionally, very misleading. But here’s the thing: If Fiorina didn’t mean to lie in the debate and simply was tricked by CMP’s malicious editing, then why is she mad at the people who corrected her? Why not be mad at CMP for tricking you and making you look like a liar? Why keep insisting that they’re the good guys here? If they really did screw her over that badly, she should be angry. Instead, she’s covering for them, claiming their videos are some kind of fact-based take on the world, which is also a lie. At this point, all plausible deniability has been pulled away. If she was misled, she should apologize and blame CMP. Instead, she’s digging in. Rachel Maddow had some thoughts about this.

  • Fiorina 6 *

Let’s hope so, because it seems Fiorina’s strategy is to cling to a lie so hard that people give up fact-checking her instead.




While Planned Parenthood continues to get hammered by conservatives who have given up even trying to pretend they’re telling the truth, the organization continues to do some important work in the realm of sex education. The group just released four videos on the topic of sexual consent: What it is, what it’s not, and why the best approach to being rejected is to be cool about it instead of throwing a massive fit that makes you look like an insecure bully. Though they are perhaps more upbeat about their phrasing. I just really love these videos, because they are straightforward and easy to understand and avoid, as best they can, being too cheesy despite being educational videos.

  • consent 1 *

To be clear, I think most people understand this generally long before they start having sex. Most of us know the difference between enthusiasm and reluctance, and we learn that lesson before high school. A big part of growing up is learning not to be a pest. But it’s really common for rape apologists to play the what-if game and to argue that consent is ambiguous and that we can’t expect men to just know if a woman’s not into it and blah blah. But, as these videos show, it’s actually quite easy to know if someone is feeling reluctant or issuing a soft no. They mix the genders and sexual orientations to show that consent looks the same, no matter what configuration you’re talking about.

  • consent 2 *

What I like about these videos is they portray the issue in a positive light. When they show what non-consent looks like, they also model how the person being rejected should act. I think that’s helpful because it shows kids that being chill and rolling with the punches is not the end of the world. In fact, if your concern is saving face, literally the only way to do it effectively is to be accepting of the boundaries people set. I realize that anti-feminists love to argue that it’s manly and sexy to refuse to hear no for an answer, but c’mon. Like that scenario you just heard. Would it really have been hot for him to say, “But pleeeeeaasse”. Or worse, “But I bought you dinner!” No, you sound like a bully or a baby. The way to be cool is to be, you know, cool.

They also show that hearing no now can actually lead to hotter sex later.

  • consent 3 *

Again, we are reminded that whining and cajoling is not hot. But don’t worry, they do show what is hot: Enthusiastic consent.

  • consent 4 *

They also demonstrate that enthusiastic consent can be non-verbal, but for obvious reasons, I can’t show that in an audio-only podcast. But that’s all the more reason to watch the videos. I really liked these videos and highly recommend using them for sex education. They can help dispel the myth that consent is confusing before, say, a classroom discussion about it.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, anti-male sexism edition. Most gendered slurs you hear in politics are definitely aimed at women, but sometimes men get hit with them too. Like this one Jonah Goldberg lobbed at Jeb Bush.

  • beta male *

Ugh, “beta male” is one of those little bits of Reddit jargon amongst those fringe “men’s rights” and “pick-up artist” weirdos. They like to imagine that being a man is all about some elaborate hierarchy game, based on who can be the biggest loudmouthed bully. Basing your idea of leadership on some half-baked evo psych theory about the male pecking order is not good for men, but it also means, inherently, that women aren’t allowed at the table at all.