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Saying Goodbye to Listeners at Rewire

Related Links

Glenn Grothman sees no need for women’s health care

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IUDs on the rise


Some bittersweet news for listeners of Reality Cast. The sad news is that, after doing this show for nearly 400 episodes, I am bringing this podcast to a close. The good news is that you can still follow my work, as I’ve accepted a position at Salon as a full-time politics writer. I will miss the great folks here at Rewire and being able to cover reproductive health issues on a weekly basis with you, the audience. You guys have been great and I will miss this podcast.

So, for this, the final episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be looking at those wretched Planned Parenthood hearings and what a throwback to the 19th century they were. But I’ll also have a segment looking forward. I don’t want to end things on a sad note! I also have an interview with an AV Club writer about feminism and pop culture. So let’s do this thing, you guys.


I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t watch all five hours of Tuesday’s Planned Parenthood so-called hearing, which was mostly a bunch of Republicans lecturing Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards about how affordable gynecological care is at turns evil and unnecessary. And really, that argument wasn’t even in the subtext, but right out front. Listen to Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, for instance.

  • hearing 1 *

Yep, as a guy, he has all his needs met, so he doesn’t see why women would need something different. The implication barely counts as an implication. He’s arguing that women should only be allowed the kinds of health care men need as well. Your heart, your lungs, whatever. But if you need care for your vagina or your uterus, that is wrong and bad and you don’t deserve funding for that. Other legislators didn’t go quite as far as Grothman in arguing that the only legitimate health care is the kind that men need as well, but they still cast aspersions on the idea that women need gynecological care specifically.

  • hearing 2 *

This point came up over and over and over again, that Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms. Cecile Richards pointed out that breast exams and mammograms are not the same thing. A breast exam is when the doctor examines your breasts by hand to make sure there are no lumps. Mammograms are another thing entirely. In fact, most gynecologists, not just Planned Parenthood, refer patients out for mammograms, which are done mostly at hospitals and radiology centers. So the implication here is that Planned Parenthood should abandon its core mission of providing gynecological care to turn itself into a radiology center. And that it should stop serving women in their 20s and 30s who are looking for birth control and other sexual health care services, so it can focus on women 50 and over who need mammograms. I hope the idiocy of this talking point needs no more expounding upon. Mammograms are important, absolutely, but it’s stupid to completely abandon providing reproductive health care to turn into a cancer screening organization. There is no need for Planned Parenthood to abandon its core mission, when there other groups that already do breast cancer screening.

But it’s also no mystery why Republicans think this is a killer argument. On one hand, they can claim to be for women, because they don’t want you to have breast cancer. But on the other hand, they can continue that there’s something sleazy and evil about affordable contraception and STI treatment. The underlying assumption here is that if women just committed themselves to abstinence, they wouldn’t need contraception and STI services. They won’t say it out loud, but the “as a guy” thing and the mammogram thing made it really clear that the goal here is demonizing gynecological services.

There were also a number of congressmen who pretended not to know what a nonprofit is, like Paul Gosar.

  • hearing 3 *

And so on and so forth. He kept calling their increased revenue “profit,” as if Planned Parenthood had shareholders that were making quarterly gains off it. I realize that to conservatives, the idea that people might actually care about others and not do everything for personal material gain is hard to fathom, but that really is what nonprofits do when they bring in more money than they spend: They look to expand services. Gosar implied this was to make money, but again, that’s not possible. They don’t just take the excess money and start writing checks to board members. They use it to get more doctor visits and more birth control prescriptions to women. But that utter inability to imagine that there are people out there who actually feel compassion is driving this entire assault on Planned Parenthood.

That, and anger at women for having sex. When I started this podcast years ago, I would often argue that anti-choicers were coming for you birth control. And I got a lot of grief from people who were still under the false impression that antis just really loved fetuses and wanted them to live. But now we’re having congressional hearings about terminating contraception funding where congressmen repeatedly castigate a birth control group for not doing cancer research, mammograms, or health care that you need “as a guy”in other words, telling Planned Parenthood they should be doing anything but offering contraception and other sexual health care services. Yeah, I don’t get people telling me I’m off my rocker about the war on birth control any more.

With that, I’ll give the final word to Cecile Richards.

  • hearing 4 *




So, things are bad. Most of this show, week in and week out, has been about how the anti-choice movement keeps doggedly fighting, trying to wipe out safe sex and make sure we all pay with our health, our happiness, and sometimes our lives for the supposed sin of being sexually active. Unfortunately, they’ve had a lot of gains. State restrictions on abortion are forcing clinics across the country to close. The number of women seeking illegal or extralegal abortions, mostly by buying abortion pills on the black market, seems to be on the rise. The anti-contraception movement has moved from the fringe to the mainstream, causing Planned Parenthood defunding efforts, attacks on insurance coverage of contraception, and the end of contraception programs, such as the one in Colorado, that successfully lowered the unintended pregnancy rate.

But, in the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen a number of positive developments. For one thing, there’s been an amazing rise in anti-rape activism across the country, particularly on college campuses. And it became a major White House initiative.

  • final 1 *

Along with that, we’ve had a surge in enthusiasm for teaching consent as part of general sex education. This Planned Parenthood video shows how that looks in practice.

  • final 2 *

Teen pregnancy is down, like a lot.

  • final 3 *

Guttmacher analysis shows that contraception use has been the main reason for the decline in teen pregnancy. Improved contraception use is also the main reason for the decline in abortion rates. Antis like to say abortion is down because more women are quote-unquote “choosing life,” or being forced to anyway by lack of abortion access. But since we haven’t had a surge in babies being born, which you’d get if women were bringing to term more, that doesn’t follow. Not only are people using more contraception, they are using better contraception. The IUD went from unheard of to the hot new thing in the time I’ve been doing this show.

  • final 4 *

But one of the biggest changes I’ve seen is also the hardest to measure: Cultural shifts. When I started writing and doing this podcast, feminism was still a tiny part of the overall political and cultural discourse in our society, especially online. Since then, there’s been an explosion of feminist talk online, feminist themes in movies and TV, and discussion about feminism in the mainstream media. Cable news hosts used to be predominantly male. Now even Fox News has a primetime female host. When I started this show, I couldn’t think of a positive portrayal of abortion since the show Maude in 1972. Now Grey’s Anatomy, Friday Night Lights, and Girls have done positive abortion storylines on TV. In movies, you have Obvious Child and Grandma, which are indie films but still it’s progress. Same-sex marriage was legalized. The country has turned against abstinence-only programs, though conservatives keep sneaking them in by just calling them something different. I could keep going, but you get the picture. We have a long, long way to go. But we have come really far as it is.

I have done 398 podcasts that have ended with the Wisdom of Wingnuts, where I give the final word to some anti-choicer so that we can goggle at how out of touch they are. But I want to end this podcast on a positive note. So, here’s Tina Fey at a Center for Reproductive Rights event talking back to those assholes who keep fighting progress.

  • final 5 *

Oh yeah, and feminist comedy became a big thing. Okay, I’m done listing our accomplishments, because this podcast may be over, but you guys out there still have a lot more work to do.

‘The Sex Myth,’ and Carly Fiorina Doubles Down

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Viola Davis at the Emmys

Glenn Kessler explains Carly Fiorina’s claims

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

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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.

Lies and Distortions in the GOP Debate, and ‘The Sisters Are Alright’

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On this episode of Reality Cast, Tamara Winfrey Harris tackles some ugly stereotypes about Black women. Bobby Jindal has weird ideas about how sexual health care works and it’s time for round two of the Republican debates.

Amber Rose, who rose to fame as a model in hip-hop videos, has been speaking out against slut-shaming, which she gets a lot of both because of her profession and because she’s dated famous men. She did a video for Funny or Die where she imagined a world where people had a better attitude about female sexuality, called the Walk of No Shame, where she’s walking home in her club clothes after a night of casual sex.

  • No Shame *

It does a good job of showing why it’s absurd to act any other way about it.


So the Republicans had another debate last Wednesday, this time on CNN instead of Fox. I hate to say this, but the Fox one was better. Both debates drove me up the wall because the moderators simply allowed the candidates to lie their heads off without correcting them. Yes, I realize that people like me can do that work online, but it’s not as effective. They need to whip out a buzzer and hit it every time some candidate says something that is straight up not true. Of course, that means during the discussion of abortion and Planned Parenthood, the buzzer would be going off every few seconds. It’s hard to say who lied the hardest, but the person who lied the most luridly has got to be Carly Fiorina.

  • debate 1 *

Yeah, no, that didn’t happen. Anti-choicers keep sending me videos, even with timestamps, that they claim show this, but it doesn’t. It just doesn’t. As Emily Crockett explains at Rewire, in one of the misleading videos created by the Center for Medical Progress, there are a couple of images that they edited in from other sources. One shows a stillborn baby, which has nothing to do with abortion and which the family in question did not give to them. The other is some anti-choice stock imagery. But neither image has anything to do with the claims made by the woman who claims she saw this stuff. They want you to think they filmed this happening, but in fact it’s just more trickery. It’s not even good trickery, which is why I doubt very much that Fiorina sincerely thinks that she saw what she says she saw.

But while that whopper, with its vividness, got most of the attention, there were some other ones that are jaw-droppers, too. Like Ted Cruz.

  • debate 2 *

Every word of that is a lie. The videos, especially if you watch the unedited versions, actually prove the opposite: Repeatedly on them, Planned Parenthood officials clearly and repeatedly state that they do not and will not and have not sold any fetal tissue. They do talk about donating the tissue, with patient consent, which is 100 percent legal and which Dr. Ben Carson has personally benefited from, as he did research on such donated tissue. The only other option for the tissue, which these people pretending to be outraged refuse to acknowledge, is tossing it in biohazard. His claim that this is for profit is tautological in its untruth. Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit, with the financial disclosures that come with that. They cannot, by definition, profit.

Chris Christie told an even bigger lie, if you can believe it.

  • debate 3 *

So he took the lie that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts and builds on it, arguing, it seems, that it’s systematic and that the purpose of abortion is to get to this fetal tissue.

Let’s think about that for a minute.

Does Christie think women get pregnant on purpose, so that they can go down to the abortion clinic and sell the fetal tissue? In the real world, the tissue is donated and women cannot profit off it. So even if you think women would do that, they can’t. Or maybe he thinks that Planned Parenthood is kidnapping women and forcing abortion on them in order to get at the fetal tissue? Again, nope. We know why women get abortions. In the vast majority of cases, it’s because they got pregnant on accident and can’t or don’t want to have a baby right now. There are some cases where women want to have a baby, but can’t for medical reasons. And then there are some that are rape cases. That’s about it. Not many reasons outside of that. Most fetal tissue is thrown out. In a few cases, often with medically necessary abortions, women donate the tissue for medical research. But that is not why Planned Parenthood or legal abortion exists. If you banned fetal tissue research tomorrow, abortion would still be necessary and in demand.

But of course, these supposedly outraged politicians have yet to actually suggest banning fetal tissue donation if it bugs them so much. Instead, every single politician on stage recommending cutting off contraception and cancer screening funding instead. Because that’s what they are really after, not fetal tissue donation programs.




While radical anti-choicers in Congress keep running around and posturing about how they’re going to shut down the government rather than let the federal government continue to give money to Planned Parenthood to buy condoms, in the State of Louisiana, things are getting really ugly. Using the hoax videos that falsely accuse Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue as a pretense, Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered Medicaid in his state to stop letting their patients go to Planned Parenthood. It’s clear this is just a pretense, and not just because the accusations are false. Jindal has been steadily chipping away at sexual health-care services generally for years now. This is just a continuation of that process, with a clear end goal of completely ending government-subsidized contraception, STI testing and treatment, and basically any sexual health care that isn’t prenatal care.

Jindal’s hostility to the very idea of sexual health care was evident in a recent interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway.

  • Jindal 1 *

Har har. Of course, what Jindal neglects to mention is that he’s been slashing budgets for sexual health care for years and years now, as Kyle Kulinski from Secular Talk Radio pointed out.

  • Jindal 2 *

There are only two Planned Parenthood clinics in all of Louisiana and they handle about 30 percent of the publicly funded contraception services in the entire state. In other words, the reason that Louisiana has so many public health problems is not because Planned Parenthood is bad at their job, but because it’s impossible to do a better job when you’re underfunded, geographically restricted, and under constant attack from the politicians in your state. But I suspect that when Jindal expresses skepticism about Planned Parenthood, it isn’t about their competence at all, which most observers on the ground say is excellent. I suspect he’s hostile to the idea of sexual health care in and of itself. Because there’s this theory, in anti-choice circles, that providing sexual health care is what causes problems like STIs and unintended pregnancy. The American Life League has a video explaining this theory.

  • Jindal 3 *

After asserting that masturbation is a gateway drug that leads to the supposedly hard stuff, he continues.

  • Jindal 4 *

By the way, you don’t hit puberty in high school, like he says. You hit it in middle school. But overall, you get the idea. And let’s be clear, they aren’t just talking about kids, as the video goes on to fear-monger about sex education on college campuses. It’s clear, throughout, that the idea is that the belief is that people have little to no natural desire to have sex until they’re taught to want it. So why do they believe that Planned Parenthood is deviously trying to convert people from their natural, sex-hating state to one where they desire sex?

  • Jindal 5 *

So that, I suspect, is the theory that is driving not just Jindal’s joke about how Planned Parenthood somehow causes STIs and unintended pregnancy, but behind his entire drive to run them out of his state. Indeed, this was made more clear recently in court documents filed by Louisiana to justify cutting Medicaid patients off from Planned Parenthood. The state argued that women could just get medical care elsewhere, and submitted a list of over 2,000 other places they claimed would take them. However, it turned out that only 29 of those places offer family planning services, and of those who do, many have a waiting list of months or are not taking new patients at all. In other words, the message was that women can go to a doctor, but only if they want something besides sexual health care. This isn’t about abortion or even, ultimately, about Planned Parenthood. It’s about telling women that the only sexual health care they need is to shut their legs and read the Bible, and to only have sex to make babies.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, altars of Baal edition. In this one, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) accuses pro-choicers of demonic worship based around child sacrifice. And yes, I think he means literally.

  • Baal *

Sometimes I get the feeling that anti-choicers have confused real life with some kind of fantasy role-playing game, like they are Buffy the Vampire Slayer breaking up demon gangs, except that Buffy didn’t hate women. Rest assured, women don’t get abortions because they are demon-worshippers who derive either magical powers or sexual satisfaction from baby-killing. They are people who don’t want to have a baby right now and so are terminating a pregnancy long before the fetus and, in most cases, the embryo inside develops into a baby. That is demonic baby-killing in the same way that planting half a packet of tomato seeds and throwing the rest away is tearing down the rain forest.

Misleading Portrayals of Abortion in the House Judiciary Committee and Onscreen

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Ultraviolet abortion ad

Louie Gohmert’s unconvincing rant

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Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner will pretend he wants to feed children to cut contraception funding, but don’t be fooled

Tony Perkins spouting misinformation

Trying to turn loss into victory

Shepard Smith speaks truth

Attacking healthy masculinity

Healthy Masculinities Week


On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be covering the awful so-called Planned Parenthood hearing and the Kim Davis saga. Also, Gretchen Sisson on the portrayal of abortion in movies.

Ultraviolet has been running an ad about abortion deemed “controversial” by some squeamish advertisers, including and bafflingly those at Gawker Media. Jezebel, which is owned by Gawker, did, however, post the ad on their main website. Apparently simply stating facts is controversial these days.

  • Ultraviolet *

Good on Jezebel for immediately front-paging the ad, which probably gave it more views anyway. But it’s an utter shame that something as simple as stating basic, measurable facts about abortion is treated as controversial to advertisers.


The Planned Parenthood hoax just keeps dragging on and on as conservatives try to squeeze every last drop of faux outrage as they can over false accusations against the organization for supposedly selling fetal body parts, an accusation which has repeatedly been shown to be fabricated and for which there is absolutely no evidence. Things got even more surreal last week, when congressional Republicans decided to hold a hearing over the accusations, though I hesitate to use the word “hearing.”

The idea of a hearing is that you hear evidence on an issue. This, by and large, did not happen. No one from Planned Parenthood was invited to share the organization’s side of the story. Quite literally, only one invited speaker managed to say things that were reality-based at all. That person was Priscilla J. Smith of Yale Law, who reminded everyone that the videos accusing Planned Parenthood of this are utter and complete nonsense, created by creative editing but not actually providing a single iota of proof. But mostly it was an opportunity for a bunch of self-righteous woman-loathing politicians to speechify about things they don’t understand but they know they don’t like, such as women making their own choices and people who think women have a right to do that.

First up, we have Louie Gohmert of Texas, most recently seen threatening to quit Congress to protest Obama trying to avoid war with Iran. He thought this was a very convincing argument against women’s right to choose abortion.

  • PPFA 1 *

Ugh, men who call women “females.” You know, not one man who makes this argument would hesitate to call a feminist a man-hater just because she has a boyfriend. Which is beside the point, as feminists are not man-haters, because we don’t want to strip men of their rights, but anti-choicers absolutely are woman-haters because they want to literally force us to give birth against our wills. Kind of definitional, really. And the claim that you can’t hate women because you saw some on a TV show is particularly laughable, especially to listeners of this podcast. I quote Outnumbered all the time on this show, so listeners are aware that they exist mostly to put some of the most outrageously misogynist statements floating around out there in women’s mouths to make it seem more okay. So really, if you’re a fan of that show, at least in a non-ironic way, that’s exhibit 2 in the proof of your misogyny. Exhibit 1 being, you know, the desire to force childbirth on women to punish them for having sex.

  • PPFA 2 *

Yep, he went for the baby-eating thing. Which is your weekly reminder that the anti-choice movement is not, on its merits, substantively different than people who believe that heavy metal records lead to Satanic orgies or that if you say “bloody Mary” in the mirror three times, a demon will come out and kill you. I thought they’d learned that the baby-eating accusation would make them look like a bunch of deranged yokels, but I guess not. Indeed, this was far from the only old school anti-choice moment of the hearing. You also had Rep. Trent Franks, who seems to have been watching that 1980s anti-abortion film Silent Scream.

  • PPFA 3 *

Mmmmmm….sounds scientific. Also, love how letting women terminate pregnancies is the worst human rights atrocity, like ever. So, he’s literally saying that it’s worse than the genocide of Native Americans. Worse than hundreds of years of enslaving African-Americans, which led to quite a few actual children dying terribly, by the way. Worse than the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Worse than Jim Crow. He’s literally saying that letting women decide if and when they give birth is worse than all that. And people scoff when I suggest that the anti-choice movement is being driven entirely by anti-choicers having major issues when it comes to sex and gender.

It’s also clear when you hear rhetoric like this that it’s about something else, as well. It’s about conservatives trying to convince themselves they are good people despite opposing basically all social progress. This is a man who is telling himself that even though he fights against racial equality and makes apologies for things like the Confederacy, he’s still a good guy, because he’s decided that abortion is worse than things like slavery.

Then we had this shining example of hypocrisy, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

  • PPFA 4 *

A couple of things here. 1) The money in question is Title X and Medicaid funding. The proposal is not to eliminate either funding stream, but to simply redivert the funds. Cutting Planned Parenthood’s budget will not feed one hungry child. On the contrary, Brookings Institute’s analysis shows that the subsidized contraception that Republicans are trying to take away from women saves money. They found that $235 million spent on contraception nets a whopping $1.32 billion in savings. You can feed a lot of hungry kids with the money you save! 2) Sensenbrenner doesn’t care about hungry kids. He voted to slash billions from the food stamp program he is pretending to care about here. He voted against expanding the children’s health care program. If you’re born, you can starve to death or die from lack of medical treatment, for all he cares. But if you’re an embryo and useful for punishing your mother for having sex? Then he cares. Hell, since this hearing was aimed at cutting off Planned Parenthood’s contraception funding, I won’t even go that far. Sensenbrenner cares more about embryos that haven’t even been made yet than he does actual children. Making sure sperm meets egg and puts you into a situation you don’t want? That’s more important than anything else could possibly be.




The hysteria over contraception funding and abortion access wasn’t the only right wing nonsense going on last week. Hell, it didn’t even get the most headlines. No, that honor goes to the circus swirling around Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky who got it in her head that her religious freedom somehow means she gets to stop gay couples from getting marriage licenses. And yes, I mean stop. There seems to be some confusion, or what I suspect is outright lying, by conservative pundits on this fact. Such as Tony Perkins and Megyn Kelly.

  • Davis 1 *

That is simply untrue. I don’t think she should be allowed to sit on her hands and refuse to do the job she’s paid to do just because a gay couple comes in. However, it’s also irrelevant. The judge offered her that option and she refused. Her deputies wanted to issue the licenses, but she was not letting them. This isn’t even remotely confusing. There’s a lot of squawking about “religious freedom”, but what Davis wants, simply put, is the right to declare that everyone else in her county has to follow her religious beliefs or they don’t get to get married. And she will stop you from trying to get someone else to help you. As soon as she was arrested, the deputies popped right up and offered the licenses, because they grasp this basic fact that religious freedom means allowing others to believe what they want. Indeed, because the deputies were freed up to issue the licenses, Davis was allowed out of jail, which she left with great fanfare, with “Eye of the Tiger” playing and Mike Huckabee, of course, on hand to hustle the rubes as hard as he could.

  • Davis 2 *

Oh yeah, they were trying to make it seem like they had won some big victory when she got out of jail, but yeah, no. Her entire stand was for two things: The ability to stop other people from getting married and the right not to face consequences, such as losing her job, for depriving others of religious liberty. She failed, utterly and completely. She did face consequences, namely jail. She did not stop the marriages. She had to touch Mike Huckabee. They can play whatever loud rock songs they want, but they can’t hide the fact that this effort was an utter failure that should embarrass everyone involved. At least one person at Fox News, Shepard Smith, was unafraid to point this out.

  • Davis 3 *

Exactly. Davis’s lawyers were throwing a Hail Mary, hoping they could create an uprising of county clerks that refuse to sign the licenses and therefore they could create an extralegal method to ban gay marriage even though the courts said no. It was never about “accommodation” and never has been, not when it’s about gay marriage or birth control or whatever else they want to take away from you and claim it’s for their religious freedom. They were hoping to model it, I suspect, on the way that white Southerners joined together to re-segregate the schools after Brown v. Board by creating private schools that banned Black students and collectively enrolling their kids in them. But the blunt fact of the matter is there was no evidence for this political will. More people disapproved of interracial marriage when it was legalized. They had a really hard time finding even one county clerk that cared enough about this to do this for them. This was a loser case from the beginning, and no amount of Rocky III songs at rallies will change the fact that it ended as an even bigger loser than they could have anticipated.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, I want my men to be unhealthy edition. Or I don’t, but apparently the entire conservative media does, because they were exploding in anger at the thought of Vanderbilt University having a “healthy masculinities” week. Outnumbered, of course, had an outraged segment on it, complete with homophobic jokes and then this tantrum from Andrea Tantaros.

  • Tantaros *

Well, I looked at the courses and none of them were about being thumb-sucking betas. They had titles like “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt and How All Men Can Help” and “Maintaining ‘Bro’ Status: Fraternity Men Discuss Masculinity and Mental Health.” So it sounds like men helping each other get past stifling gender roles that teach them that so-called real men stifle their emotions, don’t have meaningful friendships, and are irrationally aggressive. They’re always on and on about how feminists supposedly hate men on Outnumbered, but the Fox News hosts are the only people I hear who are hating on men, shaming men for wanting to have better lives, and trying to deprive men of mental health care.

The Fembots of Ashley Madison, and Pope Francis’ Abortion Proclamation

Related Links

“Taste of their own medicine”

Pope Francis’ latest statements on abortion

Jeb Bush on the Pope’s letter

Clinton on the “war on women”

Jeb Bush says Planned Parenthood isn’t doing “women’s health issues”

Independent analysis shows Planned Parenthood videos make false claims

Ugh, Mike Huckabee


On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be covering the Pope’s new abortion proclamation and the continuing war on women. Also, Annalee Newitz will be on to explain why the Ashley Madison hack isn’t about what you thought it was.

After a study came out showing that the supposed Planned Parenthood expose videos had dozens of misleading edits in them, Ultraviolet put together a video showing how easy it is to use deceptive editing to make it sound like people are saying whatever you want.

  • Ultraviolet *

A perfect rebuttal to conservatives telling your videos don’t lie.


Say what you will about Pope Francis, but the man is good at getting people to believe that he’s way more progressive than he actually is. Take, for instance, the recent news story about him supposedly liberalizing the church’s approach to abortion.

  • Pope 1 *

As CBS notes, there’s really not a big change here, and yet you are getting a gushy reaction from some quarters.

  • Pope 2 *

Yeah, no, he doesn’t get a cookie for that. Posing like you understand while still passing judgment and telling women they need to beg for forgiveness for simply doing what’s right for themselves and their family? Nope. Nope nope nope. More to the point, nothing has really changed. The church still views it as a grave sin, claiming it’s as bad or even worse than murder. There’s in fact something creepy about the Pope acting like he’s doing women some big favor here. Look, attendance at Catholic churches is declining rather rapidly, in no small part because people are sick to the teeth of hearing that the only right way to have sex is to wait for marriage and then only do it for procreation after that. Catholic women get abortions at the same rate as other women. No doubt it’s nearly impossible for many of them to tolerate having to hear, every time they go to church, how they are the worst kind of sinner possible, the kind who can’t even be forgiven, worse than rapists and child molesters. Streamlining the forgiveness process might, on its surface, seem like a quick fix for that. Women get to feel like they’re not going to hell, while the church gets to maintain its claim that it’s the worst possible thing you can do. But I don’t know, it’s just so condescending.

If there’s any doubt about that, listen to Jeb Bush’s response to the comments.

  • Pope 3 *

Oh so carefully trying to strike a balance between agreeing with the Pope that women who get abortions are just silly children who don’t know better and not offending the part of the base that still insists that women are sluts who need punishing. I don’t doubt that Bush is anxious about this. The whole point of the anti-choice movement is to make women pay for having sex with forced childbirth. Getting an abortion and being forgiven for it, even if you have to do this whole humiliating song and dance about contrition, is not going to be seen as good enough in some eyes. But realistically, the Pope’s comments are a godsend to the Christian right. He didn’t actually change anything about the policy, after all. He just advertised that forgiveness is possible in hopes of getting more women to ask for it. But the idea that abortion is wicked and that you have to beg forgiveness is still there. But now it’s being bundled, falsely, as “compassion,” which fits neatly into the modern anti-choice movement’s claim that they’re trying to help women. As propaganda, it’s genius. But it still perpetuates this idea that women who get abortions are doing something wrong and they need to beg absolution from people who will never understand what it’s like to have to decide to terminate an unintended pregnancy.




So the right-wing press is all up in arms over some comments made by Hillary Clinton recently.

  • GOP 1 *

But no matter how much they fussed and whined about Clinton comparing conservatives to terrorist groups, the faux outrage just didn’t capture mainstream media attention. And that is, to be blunt, because there was nothing she said in there that wasn’t true. If anything, she soft-pedaled it a little, talking mostly about how anti-abortion extremism is out of control but not talking about the larger “war on women.” She didn’t, for instance, mention how hostile attitudes about abortion are expanding and manifesting as hostile attitudes towards any health care that women use to make it easier to have a safe, healthy sex life. Take, for instance, Jeb Bush/s comments recently.

  • GOP 2 *

I suspect what he’s talking about is how Florida gave money to crisis pregnancy centers. So let’s be clear about this. On the list of things that Jeb Bush denies are “women’s health issues” are services Planned Parenthood provides. That list includes not just abortion but also well-woman visits, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and contraception. That also includes basic gynecological care, which I know because I got a UTI treated there once in college. That is all, according to Jeb Bush, not women’s health care. But he thinks that crisis pregnancy centers are women’s health care. Sure, you can’t get exams there. Or treatments. Or contraception. Or a cancer screening. Hell, you can’t even get a blood test. What they will do for you is give you a drug store test to tell you if you’re pregnant and a lecture about how you need to either stay pregnant, or if you’re not pregnant, stop using birth control so you can become pregnant. In other words, ladies, you are just a baby bucket. Any needs you might have outside of growing babies do not count as health care. If you, heaven forbid, want to have sex without getting pregnant or getting sick? Too bad, so sad. That’s not legitimate health care. Your health doesn’t matter, ladies. The only thing that matters is baby production and whether you’re doing it.

This represents a radical shift to the right so far that it’s Duggar family territory. But instead of talking about that, we spent the summer talking about some fake videos making false accusations about Planned Parenthood. There’s news on that, by the way.

  • GOP 3 *

I recommend reading the whole report. The amount of deception going on is absolutely shattering. It’s not just that they cut 30 minutes out of a video that was supposed to be full-length. In the short videos, they made really malicious edits. For instance, they had one woman seeming to say that the fetal tissue donation was about increasing revenue streams. But in the full-length video, it’s clear she’s not talking about fetal tissue donation at all, but about improving the number of services her clinic offers. But it’s probably just stuff like STI testing and contraception services, so not what 21st-century conservatives consider real women’s health care anyway. Give a woman a Bible and tell them to shut their legs until they’re ready to start making babies, and then you’ll be considered a real doctor, in their eyes.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Mike Huckabee goes for broke again. Huckabee continues to use his not really real presidential run to push the idea that we should be having civil war and military coups and blood running in the streets in order to stop women from getting legal abortion.

  • Huckabee *

And blah blah and so forth. I do realize that the original Constitution didn’t recognize women as full citizens. But it sure as hell didn’t recognize embryos as that, either. Since then, women’s humanity and citizenship has been recognized, but Huckabee’s plan would end that. As I’ve said before, not only is Huckabee’s plan predicated on the idea that it’s acceptable for a president to declare himself a dictator who ends rule of law, it’s also predicated on the idea that we need to end “personhood” for women. There is no legal right to use another person’s body against their will. In order to declare that right for fertilized eggs, it’s not enough to declare them persons. You also have to declare women un-persons, which is what I suspect the whole point of Huckabee’s little scheme is.

Conservatives Try to Dehumanize Immigrant Women, Trans People

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Bernie Sanders speaks out about women’s rights

FAQ about Ashley Madison hack

Josh Duggar outed

Sam Rader apologizes….sort of

Jeb Bush calls children of immigrants “anchor babies”

Bush backtracks….sort of

Sean Hannity loves the term “anchor baby”

Dana Loesch blames crime on abortion


On this episode of Reality Cast, Katherine Cross will explain why attacks on transgender people’s health-care access are so misguided. Anti-choicers use the term “anchor baby” to attack women for having babies and the Ashley Madison leak has some interesting lessons about the internal politics of the Christian right.

Bernie Sanders included some thoughts on women’s rights at a recent rally in New Hampshire.

  • Sanders *

I am wondering if one side effect of Republicans moving to the right on this issue is that Democrats, in turn, are getting blunter about what they mean when they say they are pro-choice.


Last week, I reported on Republican politicians who are really, really upset at women not having babies. So upset, in fact, that both Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have started to suggest that the president should just ignore the Supreme Court and ban abortion by fiat, turning himself into a dictator, rather than let all these women have the power to decline motherhood if they want. But now the narrative has shifted. Now women are being demonized by various Republican candidates because they have babies.

  • anchor 1 *

Yes, that was Republican candidate Jeb Bush using, to borrow his phrasing, what is called a racial slur. “Anchor babies” is an offensive term to describe the children of undocumented immigrants who are born in the United States and, under the 14th amendment to the Constitution, granted automatic citizenship. But now Donald Trump is running around denying this, instead arguing that the children born to parents who immigrated here without all the legal documentation should not be citizens. He claims that they are quote-unquote “anchor babies”, that their mothers are having them specifically to create a legal rationale to stay here. There’s no truth to it. It’s just a conspiracy theory used to justify a racist belief that white people are somehow more American than people with Latino heritage, which is why I consider the term “anchor baby” to be a racial slur.

But it’s also a misogynist slur, because the whole point of the term is to demonize women in particular for having children. Yes, the same people who just minutes ago were denouncing women for not having babies turn around and denounce women for having babies. The common theme here is that because you are a woman, everything you do is wrong and because you are a woman, your body is public property to be controlled by a bunch of angry conservatives because reasons.

Bush is backtracking hard from the term, now that journalists are calling him out.

  • anchor 2 *

Well, sort of. He still endorses this bizarre conspiracy theory but instead blames Asian immigrants for it. It’s still nonsense. Having a child who is a citizen is not actually very good prevention for deportation, as the children of thousands of families broken up because their parents got deported could tell you. Bush is in a weird position. He wants to be seen as a reasonable candidate who doesn’t truck with this misogynist, racist abuse towards Latinas. But he also wants Fox News viewers to vote for him. And Fox News loves the fact that Donald Trump will fling around terms like “anchor babies.”

  • anchor 3 *

That’s Tucker Carlson loving the term “anchor babies,” even as Geraldo Rivera seemed a little more sour about it. But this whole “just telling it like it is” nonsense is being used frequently to defend this term in right wing media.

  • anchor 4 *
  • anchor 5 *

This is a guy, may I remind you, who loves getting weepy and sentimental about embryos. Embryos, people. But if you’re an actual born person, as long as your parents are immigrants, you barely rate as a person in his eyes. I don’t even really want to call that hypocrisy. He’s definitely consistent in his belief that whatever women are doing with their bodies, it’s probably wrong and the law should punish them for it. Don’t want a baby? Too bad, he wants to force you. Having a baby? Too bad. He wants to strip that baby of citizenship rights. It is worth remembering that Sean Hannity’s grandparents were Irish immigrants, so, by his own reckoning, his parents are “anchor babies.” But of course he doesn’t see it like that because, no matter how conservatives like to frame it, this is about race and nothing else.




Earlier this summer, some hackers threatened the company Ashley Madison, a dating website that markets itself as a site for people who are looking to commit adultery. The hackers, going under the name the Impact Team, have a garbled rationalization for their action, both accusing people who sign up for the site of immorality and accusing the company of not working hard enough to delete the profiles of people who decide they want out. So they somehow simultaneously claim to be for privacy but also want to out a bunch of adulterers. It’s very strange. Either way, the company was unable to meet the hackers’ extremely strange and contradictory demands, and so 30 plus million user profiles were released online.

It’s a shame that this is happening at all, but some of the stuff that’s come out has been interesting. For instance, I learned that Ashley Madison markets largely to conservative people. As Amanda Hess wrote in her Slate piece about this hack, “The site stands to profit off of a host of conservative social trends: Closeted gay men who are afraid to come out, religious invectives against divorce, and couples marrying young before sexually experimenting with other partners.” Liberals cheat, absolutely, but I suspect it’s because they find themselves attracted to someone specific and slide into it. The mentality of “I’m going to cheat and now it’s just a matter of finding a partner” really does feel conservative, and particularly feels like the reasoning of conservative men who have Madonna/whore syndromes and want to have a relatively chaste relationship with a wife at home but still want exciting sexual encounters.

All of which is to say that it’s therefore unsurprising whose names are being found in the data leak.

  • Madison 1 *

Obviously, this story has a lot of prurient value, and I would hesitate to cover it but for the public confessions. But I think what’s more interesting here is that this entire scandal doesn’t just reveal the widespread hypocrisy about sex that is endemic to the Christian right. It actually reveals something darker and more sinister, which is they way that the quote-unquote “family values” set is, above all, about protecting and enshrining male dominance.

Women are expected to be submissive on the Christian right, but they are frequently told that in exchange for that submission, they will be protected and cherished. But this scandal shows that is an empty promise. Take, for instance, the case of Sam Rader, who is a Christian vlogger whose name came up. He and his wife Nia present themselves as this perfect Christian couple, and he even says he’s the kind of man he wants his daughter to marry. But, of course, while he was saying this, he was messaging tons of women on Ashley Madison in hopes of having an affair. You will not be surprised to find out his response.

  • Madison 2 *

The whole selling point of the male headship/female submission thing is to tell women that if they submit to their husbands, their husbands will in turn be loving, responsible men who provide spiritual leadership and just generally take responsibility for their wives and families. But as we see, in reality, when men fail to take even basic responsibility to keep their promises, there’s immense pressure on women to forgive and forget immediately. Failing to take responsibility never threatens the man’s prerogative to be the leader and the authority over his wife’s life. Instead, there’s just automatic forgiveness and a return to a situation where he gets to be the boss no matter how bad he is at his job, just because he’s a man. How nice for him!

One problem is that the same Christian right that extends automatic forgiveness to male philanderers has zero forgiveness for gay people or women just being themselves, even though it doesn’t hurt anyone else. On the right, it’s day in and day out war on gay people or women who have sex in a fully ethical manner that doesn’t involve lying or breaking promises. I don’t like that this Ashley Madison leak invaded the privacy of so many people who, unlike these two, don’t hold themselves out as moral leaders. But these public confessions, I think, offer an opportunity to really consider what kind of moral system they’re pushing in the first place.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, all problems are women having sex edition. Dana Loesch decided that the culprit behind the recent on-air murder of two journalists in Virginia is women and their stupid health care.

  • Loesch *

It’s really rich that someone who is attacking life-saving medical research as a pretext to shut off life-saving sexual health care for women would say anyone else lacks respect for life. But her insinuation that legal abortion causes crime and disregard for life is easy enough to test against statistics.  The murder rate in 1972, the year before abortion was legalized nationwide, was nine murders per 100,000 people. In 2013, it was half that, at 4.5. Looks like legal abortion is teaching people to respect life. Maybe [abortion] shouldn’t be so damn hard to get.

Fighting Rape Culture, and the Rise of Anti-Choice Extremism

Related Links

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Huckabee defends his belief that the president can be a dictator

Santorum endorses dictator powers for the president

Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It  

Planned Parenthood investigations turn up no evidence of wrongdoing

Penny Nance accuses Planned Parenthood of coerced abortion

Debunking Ben Carson

What is with sandwiches?


On this episode of Reality Cast, author Kate Harding will explain why rape culture is a real thing, Republican candidates get even more extremist with anti-choice rhetoric, and conservatives try to argue that Planned Parenthood is somehow “preying on women.”

Media Matters decided to mark the 95th anniversary of women’s suffrage by compiling a video of 70 of the worst displays of sexism on Fox News. A sample.

  • Media Matters *

Link in show notes to the whole video!


If the only access you had to American culture was listening to Republican politicians talk, you’d think that women having sex is some brand-new thing that is causing the collapse of civilization and needs to be stopped right now before all this sex-having kills us all. I despair to think of who this argumentation appeals to, but apparently the candidates think the answer is, “Republican primary voters.” Because things are getting way out of control. Like way out of control.

Take Mike Huckabee, for instance. He was at a town hall where someone asked about his plan to declare that fertilized eggs were people whose rights supersede women’s rights, and how that would work, considering that the Supreme Court disagrees and believes women have more rights to their bodies than embryos could.

  • GOP 1 *
  • GOP 2 *

By “every person”, to be clear, he is not including women. His supposedly constitutional argument rests on simply reversing, by fiat, Supreme Court findings that show that women are people and embryos are not. He’s trying to frame this as simply “having a debate.” But no one is stopping anyone from having a debate over whether or not embryos have more rights than women. That debate goes on all the time. What he is saying, even if he uses evasive language, is that he would use the power of the President to void out the Supreme Court’s power and simply declare, by fiat, that embryos are now people and women are, by virtue of this decision, not people.

I realize some people aren’t aware that declaring embryos to be people means, by necessity, declaring that women are not people. But it does, for a very simple reason: People do not have the right to use another person’s body against their will. I cannot, for instance, force another person to donate a kidney. So for Huckabee’s plan to work, it’s not enough to declare embryos are people. It requires declaring women are non-people, so they lose that basic right to decline to have another person use their body against their will. That brings up a bunch of other legal questions, since most rights come from the personhood he would strip from women, but for right now, it’s important to note that he’s using abortion as cover to declare the president has dictator powers and therefore can simply void out any Supreme Court decision he doesn’t like.

Sadly, he’s not the only one anymore. Rick Santorum has also taken to arguing that the president should simply ignore any Supreme Court decisions he disagrees with.

  • GOP 3 *
  • GOP 4 *

The decisions that he’s thinking of, and I know this because he brought them up in the debate and does so all the time, are Roe v. Wade and now Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Santorum likes to name-drop Dred Scott, which is a pro-slavery decision from the 19th century, in justifying this argument. But that’s not actually the correct historical analogue. This argument that leaders can simply ignore court rulings they don’t like is actually an argument that was developed in the 1960s, in response to the civil rights movement. Specifically, Gov. George Wallace of Alabama declared that he could, by fiat, reject any federal court ruling requiring schools to admit Black students. JFK had to call the National Guard on him to force him to stand down.

Now you might be thinking, “Sure Amanda, these arguments are alarming and have a whiff of fascism to them, but who cares what these two clowns think? I mean, they’re not really running for president, so much as getting media attention they can parlay into speaking gigs and running advertisement-heavy emails lists.” But the problem is that they are creating this competitive environment over who can say the most outrageous, far-right things about reproductive rights. This is the most anti-choice group of candidates we’ve ever seen, and this level of competition is one reason why.




I don’t blame you if you’ve dropped out of following this Planned Parenthood video nonsense. It’s been clear for a while that all the videos that have been released are lies and that any future videos they release are probably just going to be bigger lies. If they had some smoking gun, they would have released it already, instead of completely blowing all credibility first. In addition, the HHS has completed their investigation of Planned Parenthood and found no wrongdoing. Four states have already wrapped investigations, showing no wrongdoing . Future ones will no doubt find the same. It’s like those 1980s-era accusations of Satanic conspiracies at day cares. Just because some nutty folks say it’s happening doesn’t mean it’s true.

But Fox News keeps yammering on about how your local nursery school worships Satan, I mean, that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal parts. And now with an added wrinkle: arguing that Planned Parenthood is forcing women to have abortions in order to get their hands on that fetal tissue. Which Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America said on Fox News.

  • PPFA 1 *

I don’t know why she didn’t just accuse them of eating fetuses and, hell, worshipping Satan. I mean, if you’re going to lie so outrageously, just go for broke. Say they practice witchcraft while you’re at it. Have some fun with it. There is, needless to say, no evidence of this aiding and abetting sex traffickers line, or the claim that they profit off fetal tissue. And you can imagine, then, that they are not actually forcing women to have abortions.

What’s going on here is that anti-choicers can’t admit that women actually choose abortion. Instead, they prefer to believe that women, by nature, only want sex to make babies. And if they’re getting an abortion, it’s because their natural desire to only have babies is being thwarted. The idea that a woman has sex for pleasure and that a pregnancy could be an unwanted result from it is not something they’ll admit. So you get this elaborate claim that Planned Parenthood is somehow forcing women to get abortions. In the real world, of course, not only do women know what they’re doing going in, but research shows that years later, 95 percent of them say it was the right decision. But when has reality ever shaped how right-wingers view the world?

Ben Carson was also pushing this notion that abortion is something that is somehow forced on unwitting women, this time arguing that women of color are somehow being “targeted” for it.

  • PPFA 2 *

This is just the same argument, except with a gross twist that is designed to appeal to racists. He brings up Margaret Sanger in hopes of going down the rabbit hole of debunking various quotes attributed to her that float around out there, but that’s just a bunch of smoke and mirrors to distract from the larger point he’s making, which is to argue that Planned Parenthood is trying to trick Black women into having fewer babies than they supposedly want. It’s the same argument that Penny Nance was making, but with a racial twist that paints women of color as particularly incapable of making decisions for themselves.

If you take a step back, the claim is utterly absurd on a couple of levels. For one, it suggests that providing quality, affordable health care is somehow “targeting” people. Which is nuts, because quality, affordable health care is one of those things people inherently want. But it’s also just straight-up false that there’s any attempt to quote-unquote “target” anyone, as ABC reporter Martha Raddatz explained to Carson.

  • PPFA 3 *

Yeah, “maps.” Sure, you’ve seen “maps.”

Look, it’s not about a legitimate concern that Planned Parenthood builds in Black-majority neighborhoods. This is trying to stop Black-majority neighborhoods from having the same access to Planned Parenthood’s quality health care that people in white-majority neighborhoods get. What makes Planned Parenthood great is that they can specialize. That means that if you need birth control and a well-woman check, you can get it in one visit. It also means shorter wait times than at a community health center. You also get the well-known benefits of seeing people who specialize over people who provide general care. General care doctors and nurses are great, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a reason that we have people who specialize in gynecology. Killing off Planned Parenthood is about depriving women of the benefits of specialization. The fact that Black women’s access is under special attack is because of racism, not an attempt to fight it. The fact that Carson himself is Black shouldn’t matter. He’s trying to appeal to voters who don’t like women’s health care access and especially don’t like Black women getting it. Everything else is just noise.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, what is with Fox News and sandwiches edition? I recently played a clip of the hosts of Outnumbered saying the divorce rate is so high because women aren’t making men enough post-sex sandwiches. Andrea Tantaros circled back to this weird idea that acting like your husband’s servant is just “kindness” and then Rachel Campos-Duffy popped in.

  • Sandwich *

Setting aside the fact that “make me a sandwich” is a common phrase to insult women, that is not what this is about. No one is against partners treating each other with kindness. What is a problem is when a relationship is about him sitting on his butt while you wait on him hand and foot. Research shows that women already do more housework and cooking than men, so telling them to do even more is not about kindness, but the opposite: about making women do all the work so that men don’t have to do any of it.

GOP Candidates’ Views on Women, and Sex Between Straight Men

Related Links

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Erick Erickson’s massive hypocrisy

Erick Erickson is a hack

Erick Erickson opposes equal pay because “science”

Scott Walker is not a doctor, no matter what he says

Nope, still not a doctor

Bush dances around Planned Parenthood issue

Rubio backs off his support for rape exceptions

Rubio thinks he has a great “gotcha”

Bizarre Erick Erickson eugenics


On this episode of Reality Cast, author Jane Ward will explain the phenomenon of straight men having sex with each other. Donald Trump causes a misogyny controversy, and Republican candidates express odd opinions about abortion.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver did one of their famous in-depth reports on the continuing problem of abstinence-only education in this country, which we covered on this show recently in an interview with Erica Hellerstein. Well worth watching the whole video, which is in show links, but what was really fun was they made a short, star-studded video of their own covering what they would like to see covered in a good sex ed class. Including, and this made me really happy, consent.

  • Consent *

Consent is not confusing, and most people arguing otherwise have an agenda that is, to say the least, not good. Glad to see John Oliver’s show gets this. I ask someone before I, say, offer them food. I don’t just grab the soup and start pouring it down their throat. It’s not confusing with food, and nor should it be with sex.


So a straight up bizarre dogfight over misogyny is going on in politics these days, and being conducted almost entirely on the right while amused liberals watch on. It started during the Fox News Republican primary debate, which was a rather unsubtle attempt by Fox to go after Trump hard while throwing softballs to candidates, like Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, that party leaders would prefer to see leading in the polls. Part of that meant having Megyn Kelly bait Donald Trump in a rather overt, though admittedly amusing way.

  • Trump 1 *

That laughter and overwhelming applause is something to keep in mind as you watch this whole debacle unfurl. Because shortly after this happened, all of a sudden all these conservative leaders started striking outraged poses about how terrible it is that Donald Trump says these things about women. But in reality, that conservative crowd thought that as long as the target was Rosie O’Donnell, who is a liberal and a lesbian, then Trump’s tendency to lob misogynist abuse at women is just great. Hilarious, even. But then, after he stewed a bit over how out of line he thought it was for Fox to allow a mere woman to ask questions of him, Trump decided on his next target for misogynist abuse.

  • Trump 2 *

I hesitate to call that a joke, because comments about how women are somehow lesser than men because they menstruate strike me as too tired to qualify as actual humor. I quoted him at length, because he’s claiming, of course, that he wasn’t actually making a sexist comment. But you can tell from the larger context that this was a man who is resorting to sexist condescension in an effort to put a woman in her place, all to punish her for daring to defy him. The “blood” comment was just the icing on that particular cake. Very gross icing.

Well, in a show of some extremely transparent opportunism, a bunch of conservatives are now pretending that they’re all opposed to misogyny because of this. Like Erick Erickson of RedState, who disinvited Trump from his site’s annual conference and told Neil Cavuto that he was glad he did.

  • Trump 3 *

Erickson doesn’t want Trump in the race, because he thinks Trump is tarnishing the Republican brand. Plus, there’s plenty of reasons to believe that Erickson’s supposed anger over the evils of misogyny is 100% a put-on to achieve his real goal, getting rid of Trump. Just look at his Twitter feed, which has gems like, “That’s what the feminazis were enraged over? That’s what being too ugly to get a date does to your brain.” Or, “All these angry feminists in my timeline today. I thought Sam Alito ordered them all home to make sandwiches this morning.” Or, “Good thing I didn’t suggest the feminists . . . you know . . . shave. They’d be at my house trying a post-birth abortion on me.” On Cavuto’s show, he tried to defend these as jokes and try the “feminists have no sense of humor” line. But what these tweets show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that Erickson has no sense of humor, because anyone with an actual sense of humor is laughing at what a hack he is. Also, his sexism is often not even thinly disguised as an unfunny joke. Such as when he went on Fox News and explained why it’s wrong for women to make as much money as men.

  • Trump 4 *

Ha….ha? I guess I must be a humorless feminist to not get how he’s just kidding around with this crap.

Anyway, the whole conservative argument against Trump can be summed up as, “Misogyny isn’t wrong, unless it’s against Megyn Kelly, then it’s bad.” Which is tremendously unconvincing. More persuasive is Hillary Clinton’s reaction to all this.

  • Trump 5 *

I’ll have more on what she meant after the interview.




Hillary Clinton’s accusation that misogyny was hardly limited to Donald Trump during the Republican primary debate got a bunch of scoffing responses on Fox News, but I have to say that she was 100 percent right. Because of those Planned Parenthood hoax videos, Republican candidates were all under a lot of pressure to crawl all over each other to brag about how much they hate abortion and how much they were going to keep as many women from possible from getting quality medical care at Planned Parenthood.

Scott Walker freaked people out the most, because of his blasé answer to Kelly’s question about whether abortion should be allowed to save a woman’s life.

  • debate 1 *

In other words, he would just let you die if it were up to him, and he very much wants it to be up to him. And yes, he did say that he knows better than your doctor if your cancer or eclampsia or whatever other condition you have will kill you.

  • debate 2 *

Thanks for the diagnosis, non-doctor Walker! I will say he is right about one thing: It’s a false choice between the mother and the fetus. You can’t choose between the mother and the fetus, because letting a woman die from pregnancy almost always kills her fetus, too. So in that sense he’s not lying. He’s not asking you to choose, but instead condemning both to death. That’s because, as much as antis would like you to believe otherwise, the fetus is not separate from a woman’s body. She dies, she takes the fetus with her. Yet another reminder this is about hating women, not trying to save fetal life.

Walker, like many of the other candidates, bragged about defunding Planned Parenthood, which of course means cutting off contraception and STI testing, as none of those funds went to abortion in the first place. Jeb Bush also eagerly pandered on this issue, talking up how he hated Planned Parenthood and whatnot. And then he got caught up in a gotcha.

  • debate 3 *

Anti-choice websites aren’t happy with him, which makes sense. They do not want women getting contraception. While he was publicly posing about the evils of reproductive rights, there’s reason to think that he was privately cool with it. Which is what we all expect. Most of these men who are performing outrage at Planned Parenthood have fairly smallish families, suggesting that while they denounce affordable contraception services for you, they quietly enjoy contraception availability at home. It’s all a charade.

Kelly also asked Marco Rubio a question on abortion, asking him why he favored a rape and incest exception to abortion bans.

  • debate 4 *

It’s also called apple pie and mom and dogs named Skippy. It was nice of Fox to give Rubio an opportunity to show he’s not as soft on rape victims as antis feared he might be, but he went out on CNN to show that he really does mean it when he wants to reduce all women, including rape victims, to incubators. And he clearly thought he had this hilarious gotcha, too.

  • debate 5 *

Well, if Scott Walker can declare he knows better than doctors how dangerous pregnancy is, I guess Marco Rubio can declare, by fiat, what science supposedly says. But that cats and donkeys line suggests he might not be the brilliant biologist he thinks he is. After all, sperm and eggs are also human, even before conception. And they exist for the sole purpose of developing into a separate human being. I’m guessing that Rubio isn’t interested, however, in banning people from killing sperm or eggs. But he should, by his own reckoning, ban both menstruation and male masturbation. After all, what you’re shedding won’t turn into a donkey. Or a cat. It can only turn into a person if its development course is allowed to play itself out. So if that’s your argument, start by banning male masturbation. After all, each ejaculation kills millions of sperm, all of which would develop into humanshumans, not cats or donkeys—if allowed to develop instead of dying in your gym sock. Whereas an abortion only kills one. So clearly, on the not cats or donkeys scale, ejaculation is a million times worse than abortion. If this is about human life, and not, you know punishing women for having sex, that is.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, a totally flawless plan edition. Erick Erickson doesn’t just have oh so brilliant ideas on how women should be silent and servile. His tendency to reduce women to breeding machines spills out into his culture war opinions generally.

  • Erickson *

I do apologize for subjecting you to his voice. I know that his combination of smugness and ignorance makes him especially irritating. His self-regard seems be directly proportional to the lack of justification for it. Take this issue, for instance. How does society progress if, as he assumes, people just believe what their parents believe? A hundred years ago, most people opposed gay rights, abortion rights, and even women’s right to vote. Now most people support that. I realize that anti-choice men might be motivated by this fantasy that women are just incubators churning out little mini-mes for the men they sleep with, but that’s not how it works.

Conservatives Struggle Sorting Fact From Fiction in Baseless Planned Parenthood Attacks

Related Links

Vox video explainer

Democrats block attempts to defund Planned Parenthood

Elizabeth Warren speaks out

CNN puts David Daleiden on the spot

Operation Rescue’s violent history

Louisiana cuts Medicaid patients off from Planned Parenthood

Rush Limbaugh riding the Planned Parenthood lie hard

Dana Perino thinks abortion is worse than torture

Ah jeez


On this episode of Reality Cast, Meaghan Winter will be on to dive into her investigative report on crisis pregnancy centers. I wish I was done with this Planned Parenthood hoax, but it keeps being a big story. So I’ll have a good news and a bad news segment on this continuing bunch of right wing idiocy.

Sarah Kliff at Vox had an explainer video on this whole fake scandal that I think is really useful to watch. Here’s a small clip.

  • Vox *

You can check out the video in show notes. I hope that they have a follow-up video on the actual scandal here, which is that a bunch of lying charlatans in service of a radical anti-sex agenda have been able to get so much media and legislative attention.


So let’s start with the good news. As I said last week, I don’t think these false accusations that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue are really taking off in the public at large. There was a lot of chatter about it at first, but it hasn’t really moved the needle. People who are hostile to female sexuality bought the lie hook, line, and sinker. People who are feminist and pro-sex quickly debunked the lie. The mushy middle of people who like having sex but are still afraid of women being liberated are all confused about it. So it’s about the same as it always has been, with most people being generally pro-choice but with some of them feeling weird about it. That hasn’t changed meaningfully in any way, and I doubt it really will in any short term way. Getting the country to be less sexist and hateful about female sexuality is going to take decades of work, day in and day out. You don’t upend thousands of years of patriarchy overnight. That sounds like bad news, but there is good news in that, which is that we have a lot of open feminists in Congress and they were able to stop a Senate bill that was meant to defund Planned Parenthood.

  • PPFA 1 *

Mitch McConnell is running around declaring that the organization is “scandal-plagued,” which is the equivalent of kicking someone in the knee and then declaring that they have to be put down now because their bruises are unattractive. No, the organization is not scandal-plagued. They are the victim of false accusations. The real scandal here is that a major political party is playing along with an overt lie that was constructed for no other purpose but to prevent women from getting contraception and affordable health-care services. We know this, because the money that they intended to cut only goes to contraception and stuff like cancer screenings and STI testing. It does not go to abortion, much less fetal tissue donation.

Some people have been critical of Elizabeth Warren, claiming she hasn’t been in front of this issue enough. But the good news is she came out swinging last week.

  • PPFA 2 *

I hate to say this, but you should really watch the whole video, where Warren lays out the long and shameful recent history of conservative attacks on women’s health care, including attacks on insurance coverage of contraception, attempts to force sex trafficking victims to give birth, assaults on federal family planning programs, and the relentless drumbeat of attacks on legal abortion. This kind of full-throated defense of women’s rights is what we need. I am sick of seeing liberals equivocate on this issue. There is no need to do it. Call out this nonsense for what it is, an attack on the right of every American to decide their own private sex and reproductive life for themselves. Make conservatives explain why they think they should get to tell you how and when to have sex. This is not rocket science.

The fact that the organization behind these fake videos, the Center for Medical Progress, tried to trick the media also seems to be backfiring. In the past, conservatives have successfully guilt-tripped mainstream media into not looking at their lies too closely for fear of being called out for bias. But there is a line, and CMP crossed it, by lying and lying and lying and lying so much, and treating journalists like they are stupid. That and by having a bunch of associations with some of the most unsavory people in the anti-choice movement, which is saying a lot. CNN host Alisyn Camerota actually grilled CMP head David Daleiden about the way he lies shamelessly and frequently. First, he claimed, falsely, that Planned Parenthood doesn’t incur any costs that would require reimbursements and therefore the $30 here and there that they get must be getting is big money profit. Camerota was not having it.

  • PPFA 3 *

He kept lying, of course, because he is chronically dishonest and like his buddy Lila Rose can’t open his mouth without lying. But it’s just laughably obvious that his claims are false. The notion that people are getting rich off a very small number of donations for which they get $30 reimbursements is, yeah. First trimester surgical abortions cost around $400 to $600. Second-trimester abortions run over $1,000 to often up to $3,000. And for a nonprofit like Planned Parenthood, those costs are mostly about recouping expenses. The notion that they’re making bank off an extra $30 here and there is beyond laughable. It’s clearly the product of a conspiracy theory-style mind. It’s embarrassing to even debunk this, it’s so silly. Anyway, she kept grilling him, this time about his associations.

  • PPFA 4 *

Nice seeing such a slick liar get a little flustered there, isn’t it? It is a fair characterization, since the last anti-choice murder, of Dr. George Tiller of Kansas, was committed by an active protester with Operation Rescue. Yes, they tried to distance themselves from him, but it’s also a fact that Scott Roeder, the doctor killer, was deep in the Wichita anti-choice extremist community that Operation Rescue has created there. He got Dr. Tiller’s church address from them, most likely, as Operation Rescue publicized it on their website. In addition, the second in command at Operation Rescue is an anti-choice terrorist. She did time in federal prison for attempting to bomb a clinic. Even beyond that, Operation Rescue has a long history of intimidation and other terrorist style tactics, including stalking abortion clinic employees, following them around town and screaming at them at random in public places. It may not be shooting someone in the head, but stalking is a form of violence and a form that Operation Rescue loves promoting.

So, anti-choicers are failing in Congress and finally getting the skeptical attention they deserve in the media. Unfortunately, this whole misinformation campaign has had some successes, which I’ll detail after the interview.




As I noted, while the entire video hoax thing is not working out as anti-choicers hoped, there have been a few anti-choice victories to come from it. The defunding bill didn’t make it out of the Senate, not that President Obama would have done anything but vetoed that nonsense. But Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, desperate to get some attention in a crowded primary for the Republican presidential nominee, went all out.

  • bad 1 *

Anti-choice logic in a nutshell: Because some guy lied about a fetal tissue donation program in California, women in Louisiana have to be cut off from their birth control pills and Pap tests. Of course, as the clinic vandalism suggests, that was the point all along. The fetal tissue thing was just a feint to gross people out and shut off their rational brains, so that Republicans could hammer through a bunch of cuts to women’s health care. This was never about fetal tissue donation, much less selling. If that was the problem, you ban fetal tissue research. You don’t cut women off from their birth control pills.

That is, so far, the biggest political victory, but it was probably coming anyway, as Jindal has been aching to find a way to cut women’s health care to pander to the anti-choice right for a long time now. But while Senate Republicans utterly failed to defund Planned Parenthood through legislative means, right-wing media is milking this nonsense for all its worth.

  • bad 2 *

How can you be angry about an endangered animal being senselessly killed by an egomaniac when the world is so full of women just having sex like it’s their right? Women. Are. Having. Sex. Everyday! And not having their lives derailed by it. Next you’re going to tell me that polar bears drowning from global warming is a worse problem than people enjoying a warm day or that terrorism is a worse problem than someone waking up in the morning, feeling good about herself. How can you be worried about pain and suffering in the world when there’s so much joy out there to snuff out?

I mean, that’s what they’re really worried about. It can’t be the selling of fetal tissue, because that’s not happening. Dana Perino of Fox News was pushing the same nonsense, but it was, if anything, even more offensive.

  • bad 3 *

Yep, she outright claimed that the life of mindless embryos is worth more than full grown human beings, many who died from the torture she is defending. I cannot stand being lectured by people like that about morals, as it’s unclear to me that they have any at all. It’s literally saying that a human life is worth less than that of a protohuman life. Which is to say, this is about pushing the idea that it’s literally worse for women to have bodily autonomy and a right to a private sex life than to take actual people, actual people who have feelings and thoughts and consciousness and are actual people, and to torture them. Sometimes to death.

I don’t even know what to say sometimes.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, women should be slavishly grateful for any male attention edition. Glamour magazine recently published a really, really sexist article of tips to make your man love you, most of which were variations on the idea that you should be quiet, submissive, and act like an unpaid servant. Seriously, one of them was literally to make him a sandwich after sex, as if he was doing you a favor instead of it being, you know, a mutual thing. Glamour took it down after feminists mocked it on Twitter, and Fox News’ anti-feminist lady brigade was furious.

  • divorce *

Actually, divorce rates have gone down dramatically since the ’80s. It’s just kind of sad seeing this pandering on Fox News. Are there really that many men in their audience who confuse having a girlfriend with having a dog? The issue here isn’t doing nice things. It’s about creating a narrative in your relationship where he’s the boss and she should always feel insecure and achingly grateful that a man will deign to let her kiss his feet. It’s demeaning, and women deserve better than that.

Debunking ‘Abortion Regret,’ and Donald Trump’s Rape Problem

Related Links


Donald Trump has theories about “all the raping”

The Daily Beast reminds us of a rape accusation against Trump

New York on the Bill Cosby accusations

Rewire’s Jodi Jacobson on the “elaborate ruse”

Jeb Bush wants to defund Planned Parenthood

So many Rand Paul lies


On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing a researcher who worked on the study showing abortion regret isn’t really a problem for women. Also, a segment on the rape accusations against Bill Cosby and Donald Trump, and one more, hopefully the last, on this Planned Parenthood hoax.

Macy Gray has a hilarious song about how much she loves her vibrator and it’s even more delightful than you are already thinking.

  • BOB *

I look forward to the dance remix where the DJ drops in a sample of a buzzing sound.


I find myself surprised frequently that Donald Trump is still conducting his fake presidential campaign, which mostly exists to give him an excuse to say ridiculous things about Mexican immigrants and whatever other fool thing pops into his head that he wishes to share with America. Such as this bizarre interview with Don Lemon at CNN.

  • rape 1 *

If I may translate this garbled nonsense for you: Donald Trump has been running around claiming that undocumented immigration is this country’s biggest problem, because he thinks Mexican immigrants in particular are a bunch of rapists. Yes, it’s fear-mongering hysteria of the sort that makes Rush Limbaugh sound like a calm, rational person, but a bunch of the conservative base is eating this up. To justify this claim, he points to statistics that show that a lot of immigrants are rape victims, which is true, and presto blammo! He concludes this must also mean they are rapists. Why is uncertain, though it is worth noting he’s far from the first right-wing nut to suggest that rape victims are somehow the cause of rape. Apparently you can be a bigot or understand cause and effect, but you can’t do both.

Well, some reporters at the Daily Beast apparently heard Trump ask who is doing all the raping and thought this would be a useful time to remind the world that Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, accused him of rape when they were divorcing. That accusation ended up in 1993 expose on Trump, but Trump’s lawyers got a last minute statement in by her claiming she wasn’t speaking literally, though the rape as described reads like a literal rape, as in the literal description of it is forced sex. She responded to the story by releasing an even stronger denial where she blames her willingness to say this on her anger over the divorce. It doesn’t seem anyone is going to outright accuse her of perjury, however. Anyway, what she said drew a lot less attention than what Trump’s lawyer said to deflect this story.

  • rape 2 *

“Not exactly true” is an understatement. 100%, undeniably false is the better wording, the wording I would have chosen. Spousal rape has been illegal in New York since 1984 and the accusation claimed this happened in 1989. So yes, it was illegal, if it happened. Also, it’s a lie to call Trump a private citizen while also claiming he’s running for president. You literally cannot be both at once, or the term “private citizen” has no meaning. Sorry, minor derail but it bugged me.

I don’t think this story will hurt him with his fans, half of whom probably think he was just showing his wife who was boss and the other half who believe that women make up rape accusations for giggles, but I was interested in the rest of the world’s reaction to this story. And pleased to see that by and large it was full agreement that what was described is indisputably rape. I meant, if it happened, that’s what it is, but it wasn’t that long ago that you’d have a bunch of people out in public declaring that it was just a couple’s squabble or somehow trying to claim that it doesn’t count if your wife is being mouthy. So, progress. Also on this.

  • rape 3 *

He has indeed, for years and years now. And by and large, those denials worked, especially since Cosby would send out of a school of flying lawyer monkeys should anyone dare suggest in public that perhaps we should consider listening to these women and considering the possibility that this did happen. But with this New York magazine cover, I think we can safely say that era has passed. And a lot of what has changed is people just can’t pretend, anymore, to think that it’s anything but rape to force yourself on an incapacitated woman. Remember, it was only in 2009 that Whoopi Goldberg claimed that it wasn’t “rape-rape” when Roman Polanski gave Quaaludes to a 13-year-old girl so she was too sedated to fight him off while he forced himself on her. And Goldberg had the support of dozens, possibly hundreds of celebrities. So yeah, I think things are getting better, bit by bit.




As I reported last week, it seems that this attempted undercover sting of Planned Parenthood is really not turning into the momentous political victory that anti-choicers thought it would be. It’s true that the time crunch, minute to minute pressures of the modern news cycle all but ensured the media would cover the story without doing the necessary fact-checking on it. But that same hungry maw ensured that there would dozens, possibly hundreds of reporters who were all searching for their own angle on this and so just as quickly, there was an absolute crush of information debunking the claims: Stories on what fetal tissue is used for, stories about the sleazy people behind this video, stories just analyzing the video and determining that the claims made about it weren’t upheld by anything said on tape. The smart thing to do at this point would be to scrap it all and try to find some other dumb angle to go after Planned Parenthood. But that isn’t happening quite yet, and I think comments made by Rewire’s own Jodi Jacobson on RT TV suggest why that might be.

  • PPFA 1 *

So basically, this is all just a dog and pony show. And the show, I guess, must go on, even though the reviews are coming in and it’s becoming clear that no one who argues in good faith is actually falling for their tricks. Republican candidates for president, especially, are dutifully striking fake poses of outrage, going through the motions and pandering to a base that doesn’t really care if the accusations against Planned Parenthood are true or not, so long as they can wallow in hatred for women, especially low-income women, who need these kinds of health services. Painting those services as luxuries that women don’t deserve is frequent go-to talking point, such as with Jeb Bush here.

  • PPFA 2 *

The hope here is that you think of it as just a big vat of money that Planned Parenthood patients dip into and use on, I don’t know, vibrators and fancy lingerie and expensive dinners while you, the middle class conservative American, are watching your own sex life wither and die. That’s the resentment button being pushed here, and that line works really well on the base. It is, of course, completely silly. Most of that money comes from Medicaid billings and Title X. There isn’t just a big vat of money and what it’s spent on is pretty tightly controlled: It has to be contraception and necessary reproductive health care like Pap smears and STI tests. I don’t know what planet Bush is living on, to talk about getting a Pap smear like it’s some kind of luxury spending that could be easily cut. As for contraception, well, I guess we’re talking about the same political operatives who literally sit around making lists of what kind of cheese that people on food stamps should be allowed to buy. There’s no bottom to what these folks will begrudge people who don’t make as much money as they do, which includes something as simple as being able to connect sexually with your partner without having to worry about unwanted pregnancy. If it wasn’t so damaging to others, I’d almost pity conservatives who worry this much about it. How sad is your life that you have the time and energy to sit around worried that somewhere, somehow, a low income woman is having an orgasm and you can’t punish her for it? Sounds exhausting.

But it’s Rand Paul who is really hustling hard and trying to be the face of the defund-Planned-Parenthood movement.

  • PPFA 3 *

So there are three or four lies in there. There’s no evidence that the vast majority of Americans would rather see fetal tissue thrown away than used in medical research. The claim that community health centers can handle the overload when all of Planned Parenthood’s gynecological patients are cut off from their doctor is also a lie. The claim that federal money goes to abortion is a whopping lie. It’s almost dizzying how many lies he packed into such a short statement. It’s kind of astonishing how blatant Paul is, when other supposedly serious candidates like [Jeb] Bush prefer to coat themselves in plausible deniability by only insinuating false things about Planned Parenthood, rather than lying outright.

But it makes sense that Paul would really go after this issue like this. It allows him to pander to the religious right while subtly assuring his libertarian base that he’s not trying to take away their sex lives. It’s only poor people he’s trying to cut off from STI testing and contraception. His supporters don’t care so much that he lies, just so long as they can keep feeling it’s someone else’s sex life that’s under threat.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the shameless double standard edition. Rush Limbaugh famously lost a lot of advertisers a couple years ago when he declared the law student Sandra Fluke is a “slut” because she takes birth control. He had a much different reaction upon reading a study showing all teens, not just girls but boys, are having less sex than they used to. Limbaugh believes that this is because we’re ruining boys.

  • Rush *

So Limbaugh thinks feminism has somehow wimpified men, by, uh, making them less aggressive. But unless you believe sex is something you have to browbeat out of or force on women, that doesn’t make much sense. If it is, then that does literally mean those who do it are brutes and bullies. Honestly, the only person here saying that you’re either a bully or a wimp is Rush Limbaugh. In the real world, the main reason boys are having somewhat less sex is, like girls, they are waiting a little longer to do it. But most 18- and 19-year-olds are having sexual intercourse these days. It’s just that fewer 15- and 16-year-olds are. My guess is that kids these days are smarter about delaying tactics, like mutual masturbation and oral sex, that they can use to satisfy themselves until they’re ready for a bigger leap, but I also guess most conservatives don’t want to hear that.