During a month when the abortion and contraception debate peaked -- again -- you would've thought the Sunday political shows would feature a larger than usual roster of female panelists, strategists and experts.
Not a chance.
There were a total of four female guests during the entire month of February. This bears repeating. Out of 56 guests on the Sunday shows, only four were women. Four.
This statistic probably reminds you of Republican Rep. Darrell Issa's contraception hearing two weeks ago in which his panel of witnesses was composed entirely of men who were summoned to discuss health care for, you know, women. In fact, on the following Sunday's edition of Meet the Press, the all-male Issa hearing was discussed at length by David Gregory, Paul Ryan and Chris Van Hollen, who we can assume are each biologically male. Smart booking choices.
Sadly, the men's locker room on Sunday morning is a virtual bridal shower when compared to the increasingly aggressive He-Man Woman Hater's Club known as the Republican Party.
We begin with the voice of the party, Rush Limbaugh. The "Spanky" of the club.
Yes, I get it. We shouldn't pay attention to Limbaugh because he's a clown. He's nothing more than an over-drugged over-paid disc jockey who's performing a loud-mouthed Morton Downey, Jr. routine for the much coveted paleoconservative "market segment," as David Frum called it. All of this is true, but we can't ignore the fact that he controls the radio with more than 15 million weekly listeners. So whenever he says something awful on our public air, it has a significant impact. For example:
"Why is contraception so important that it must be paid for by somebody else?" he demanded to know. He asked why contraceptives are "a must-have" in comparison to toothpaste, hotel rooms or a car. "Why are so many people afraid of birth?"
I wonder if it was the use of toothpaste to prevent pregnancies or if it was his alleged inability to achieve an erection that prevented him from having children during any of his three marriages. Speaking of which, I wonder if his health insurance plan paid for the Viagra he was allegedly trying to smuggle into the Dominican Republic several years ago. While we're here, I wonder why he needed ED drugs in the Dominican Republic in the first place without any female partners with him on the trip. And if he was indeed planning to have anonymous sex (just guessing) in the Dominican Republic, I wonder whether he considered contraception to be "so important" during that potentially dangerous activity.
OK, I'm grossing myself out now. Moving on.
Over the last two days, Limbaugh reminded us in no uncertain terms of his legendary hatred of women. Since his show began in the late 1980s, he's profited from attacking women and women's issues practically every day. The term "Feminazis" only skims the surface of Limbaugh's misogyny. Lately, he's highlighted his professional class and morality by teasing and mocking the Obama girls. And here's what he said this week about NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, who dared to express her support for the president's contraception law:
"She was talking, Danica Patrick was talking about Obama's contraception ruling. She was not speaking in general though it applies generally... She said, "I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for America." ... What do you expect from a woman driver?"
That's not all. Last week, Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke spoke to an informal gathering of congressional Democrats about the Jesuit college's refusal to cover birth control as part of its health insurance plan. Fluke told lawmakers that contraception can cost a law student up to $3,000 and a classmate recently lost an ovary because she couldn't afford the contraception drug that would've prevented the recurrence of ovarian cysts. (How many "potential lives" were lost when that ovary, and its lifetime supply of unfertilized eggs, was removed?)
Here's what Limbaugh had to say about Fluke's testimony.
"What does it say about the college coed Susan [sic] Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps."
The most popular radio talker in the world just called an ordinary citizen a slut and a prostitute in front of 15 million people. 15 million Americans tune in specifically to hear him say horrendous things like that. Many of those listeners fancy themselves to be "dittoheads," meaning they blindly "ditto" everything that comes out of his increasingly slurred yapper.
And that's not even the worst part of this reinvigorated conservative war against women.
In state legislatures from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, Republicans are pushing laws that force the usage of transvaginal ultrasound probes to be inserted into the bodies of women who are in need of an abortion. It's a form of state-mandated rape and it's being mandated by the so-called "small government party."
And while Virginia and Alabama Republicans backed away from the transvaginal transducer, North Carolina already has a law on the books, and Pennsylvania is getting ready to pass its version of the transvaginal law. All of these states, irrespective of whether they keep or jettison the transducer, will continue to sanction the use of ultrasounds on women as means of intimidating them against having the procedure. Remember during the health care reform debate when Republicans blew a gasket over Medicare paying for end-of-life counseling? They said it was somehow shoving government into a private matter between doctors and patients even though it simply made this voluntary discussion affordable. But now they're doing exactly that -- shoving government into a private medical decision in the most literal sense imaginable.
Your modern Republican Party has decided that a one percent increase in taxes for multi-millionaires is an impeachment-worthy high crime, but the state-mandated insertion of an electronic device into the vaginas of women who are ostensibly struggling with the most difficult moments of their adult lives is a perfectly acceptable exercising of government power. (By the way, these are the people to whom Ron Paul -- the self-proclaimed guardian of liberty -- would hand the reins of, well, everything.)
Well before these new laws were introduced, including the personhood laws dictating that life begins at conception and therefore outlawing many forms of birth control, hundreds of women across the country were convicted and sent to prison because they had miscarriages. More than 300 women in South Carolina. 40 women in Alabama. Illinois prosecuted a woman for manslaughter after she gave birth to a stillborn baby. As of June, 38 states had passed "fetal homicide" laws. The consequences? Pregnant women who are suffering from drug addiction or mental illnesses are afraid to seek prenatal medical attention for fear of being arrested. It's increasingly evident that being pregnant and in distress is almost as bad as being an illegal immigrant in America.
If Republicans were really interested in making it easier for women to carry pregnancies to term, they would pass laws to make the process safer and more affordable. Instead, they're criminalizing it. We can only assume they're not truly interested in fetuses or zygotes or babies who, by every other piece of Republican legislation, are on their own once they're born. They're simply interested in dominating and oppressing women because they believe women are genetically incapable of making difficult and otherwise very private life choices. Listen to Limbaugh's rants -- unburdened by the demands of politically correct language -- and the truth emerges. Women are sluts and prostitutes. They hate their own biology. They're dingbats who can't drive. The words of the de facto leader of the Republican Party, preaching to millions of dittohead acolytes.
Again, why else are they passing these barbaric anti-woman laws and not laws that make pregnancy -- laws that make womanhood -- easier? We can only draw the conclusion that the Republican Party hates women.