The (Tall) Tales Anti-Choicers Tell

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The (Tall) Tales Anti-Choicers Tell

Amanda Marcotte

In the minds of anti-choicers, women can’t be treated like full human beings with multiple layers, like men. They’re either open for business or shut off to everyone.

There are two major stories anti-choicers/abstinence-only folks tell. There’s the one they tell when the audience is one perceived to be both powerful and somewhat reasonable and non-misogynist.  In this story, they oppose reproductive rights and education, not because they are anti-sex and anti-woman, oh no!  They claim it’s because they support health!  They don’t think women are smart enough to handle reproductive rights, and so they want to take them away for their own good!  They don’t promote these things because they think sexual women are evil and should be punished.  They’re skeptical women really like sex anyway, and argue women only see sex as a means to the motherhood and marriage ends.  And if women themselves disagree, well, a little force is for their own good. Feminist even!

Then there’s the story they tell when they don’t think it matters.  When the audience is just people volunteering at the clinic, and what’s said can be denied, suddenly the opposition to reproductive rights stems from a belief that disobedient women are “jezebels”.  Or when they think they’re talking only amongst themselves, the story changes dramatically.  If the audience is considered mainstream, opposition to contraception is touted as disease prevention.  When the audience is conservative, physical disease is explicitly discounted as a concern, and chastity is explicitly linked to submission and obedience.  When it’s assumed liberals aren’t listening, misogynist terms like “floozie”, “harlot”, and “gatekeeper” come right out.

Steven Crowder wants you to know two things about his personal life in his piece on the Fox News website: he’s ecstatic that he and his girlfriend don’t have sex, and he would totally hit that if she let him.  He wouldn’t want you to get the wrong ideas about his feverishly guarded manhood, of course, so he explains that stopping sex from happening (which he considers incredibly important) is 100 percent a woman’s duty.  But that’s far from the only way Crowder makes it clear that abstinence is about positioning women as servants to men.  Indeed, even when he’s hat-tipping the disingenuous health concerns of the anti-sex crowd, Crowder makes it clear that patriarchy is the goal, not better health.

Sure, Michelle Obama can run around the country and condemn little fatties for inhaling Little Debbies, but if you try and apply that same helpful, healthful concept to sex, it’s seen as pushy and/or prudish.

Roe has collapsed and Texas is in chaos.

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Listen, one doesn’t need to be religious (nor a rocket scientist) to see the value of abstinence. Let’s disregard the immediately eliminated risk of increasingly popular STDs and STIs.

Actually, what it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out is that he’s actually inverted the risk levels of premarital sex (especially with protection) and a poor diet. Of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., three are directly related to diet and one is strongly influenced by it.  The death rate from AIDS from 2007 fell way below these numbers—a fact the homophobic anti-sex crowd is willing to admit when demanding that funding for AIDS research and prevention is cut.  While it’s no walk in the park, catching more common STIs like herpes, chlamydia, or gonorrhea sucks way less than developing clogged arteries or diabetes.  Plus, there’s no condom you can wear to filter out the saturated fat and high sugar content of junk food, but condoms are quite effective against most STIs, including HIV.

Conclusion: the only reason to consider sexual abstinence more pressing of a concern than eating healthy is because of cultural reasons, usually relating to hostility over women’s gaining more power—and gasp! closing in on equality—with men.  After hat-tipping feigned concern over health, Crowder gets right to this issue.

Strong trust is the result. Constantly we hear cries of women aimed at their supposedly overly jealous boyfriends, “What’s the matter? Don’t you trust me?”

No, he doesn’t. You slept with him on the first date and there is no reason for him to think that you wouldn’t do the same when a better offer comes along.

And there you have it.  The obsession with female virginity has always been rooted in male sexual anxieties.  Crowder can’t accept that monogamy can be a private agreement between two adults who own their sexual desires but choose only to express those with each other.  Women can’t be treated like full human beings with multiple layers, like men!  They’re either open for business or shut off to everyone.

Does make you wonder if Crowder is going to lose it when they get married.  If she’ll marry one guy, she’ll marry ‘em all, right?  Or does that wedding ring confer enough sense of ownership that Crowder will calm down?

Notice that Crowder has no reassurances for how to gauge male fidelity.  The choice to have sex in this is construed strictly as the woman’s.  Later, he calls women “gatekeepers”.  We’re to assume men in the system he praises cannot say no to sex any more than the “harlots” and “floozies” he has so much contempt for.  If a woman offers, he apparently has no choice, since he has no “gatekeeper” role, and all sexual nay-saying is 100 percent the responsibility of women.

So where’s women’s reassurance that men won’t cheat?  If men can’t trust women that sleep with them on the first date and all men are expected to sleep with women on the first date who are up for it, doesn’t that make all men “harlots” and “floozies” who will sleep with anyone who asks?  Are we supposed to assume that men, unlike women, are adults that can handle the responsibility of having a nuanced approach to sexuality?  Or are women supposed to assume men are just going to cheat and that we should shut up and be thankful that we at least got a house out of keeping our legs shut? 

I think the answer to the last question is invariably a “yes”.  The anti-sex crowd knows they have to officially support abstinence for both genders, at least to get their policies past certain legal requirements.  But in reality, this is and has always been about upholding the double standard, and treating female sexuality like it’s a commodity to be controlled by men.