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women for dummies

it's not exactly a well-kept secret that people have been talking about women lately. first you had outrage about the komen foundation's ill-disguised political move to de-fund planned parenthood. then you had rick santorum's questionable remarks about women playing a more prominent role in active military service. and most recently you have the debate over whether or not religiously-affiliated organisations should be required, through their insurance companies, to provide coverage for hormonal drugs commonly used for contracaption. that, of course, has become all mixed up with the initiative of several state governments to force women to undergo ultrasounds, invasive [transvaginal] or otherwise, with the sausage-fest that was the congressional hearing on religious groups and contraception and, most recently, with "slut-gate", where radio troll rush limbaugh saw an opportunity to raise his profile by calling out a young woman who sought to testify before congress on the potential consequences of not allowing women access to hormonal medications and referring to her as a "slut and a "prostitute" and by saying that women who wanted insurance companies to pay for birth control pills should be forced to upload sex tapes as their premium payment.

there's nothing i can really add to this debate- no, wait. there's plenty i would love to add to this debate, but that's not why i wanted to do a blog post. i wanted to do a blog post because, as we were watching the limbaugh news originally, dom furrowed up his brow, turned to me and said "i don't think he knows how birth control pills work."

aside from being a really good example of what makes dom different from other men and why i love him, that comment gets to the heart of the larger problem with limbaugh's statements and those of men like him: these guys have no bloody idea how women's bodies function.

yes. and when boys and girls love each other they smack their bellybuttons together and make fart noises, which become babies
limbaugh's assertion that women who want birth control pills are whores is not insulting merely because of its implication that women wanting the same level of sexual liberation as men are whorish- it is, but that's something that limbaugh and his ilk have claimed [and continue to claim, although often in less flamboyant language] for many years. and his statements are not stupid only because he apparently missed the fact that susan fluke's congressional testimony was about women who need to take hormonal birth control for reasons other than contraception. what is truly galling about limbaugh's hysterical femi-nazi fear-mongering is the level of ignorance it betrays about women's reproductive organs. i'm not asking the man to be my gynecologist- i would never ask that- but if he's going to tell me what i am and am not allowed to do with my lady parts, i think he should at least know what it is he's telling me how to use. or not use.

guess again, asshole.
you see, limbaugh's assumption is clearly that birth control pills function like condoms [or like viagra -ed.], where one unit is used every time one has sex. that's generally how men experience birth control themselves- that it's something they use when the moment requires it [meaning they haven't been able to convince their female partner that the moment doesn't require it] and that they otherwise dismiss. and that makes sense, because the male role in the baby-making process involves providing the initial gob of seeds, whereas the woman's role is more like that of the garden. if you don't want stuff to start growing, you just block the seeds from getting on the fertile ground, say, by putting them in a plastic bag.

but if you're the garden, it's not quite so simple, because if some idiot gets his seed all over the place where things shouldn't be growing, you have to make sure that nothing in the area will allow that seed to take root.

i should make it clear at this point that most of my knowledge about lady bits comes from a friend's older sister proudly showing me a booklet she got in her home ec class called "once a month, the egg travels". i think i was seven. everything else has just been slight embellishment on that.

go uterus or go home
you could keep a garden from catching a stray seed by covering it in some plastic sheeting [about as attractive in practice as it sounds], but the most effective way is to change the chemical balance of the soil so that it no longer has the conditions in which those seeds can start to grow. that's actually how birth control pills work. they change the terrain so that conception can't take place, even when someone happens to drop a load of seed.

thing is, you can't just make that change when you know the seed is coming [this metaphor becomes more disturbing with each type-stroke]. it's a longer term thing. so you have to prep the soil regardless of whether or not any seed comes near it.

since i fear i might have lost the limbaughs of the world with my attempts at politesse: you have to take the pills every damn day whether you're having sex a hundred times or not at all because otherwise they don't work.

in fact, when i first started to take birth control pills, i was specifically warned not to have unprotected sex for a month because my body needed that time to acclimatise to the medication before it would really start working. [that might have changed, i haven't checked recently.] this isn't an instant fix type thing.

oh, and as it turns out, the chemical changes that make it so that seeds can't grow also have some desirable effects that are completely unexpected and that may make them a valuable medication on their own [to women who are willing to accept short-term infertility as a side effect]. many women i know who have suffered from painful, irregular periods, from cysts or conditions like endometriosis [me included!] have been astonished at how taking birth control pills made them feel better, made them function better and made their lives better quite apart from any concerns about getting pregnant.  men are never going to appreciate how wonderful that is, but trust me, it's having a 14-inch penis and your choice of the playmates of the year awesome.

yippiekayay, motherf-

now the fact is that it's likely that rush limbaugh will never be elected to anything, so you could say that it doesn't really matter whether or not he knows fallopian tubes are not part of his bathroom plumbing. but limbaugh and the people for whom he speaks- although we don't want to admit it, they are out there- put their voting power behind candidates who they believe will represent their beliefs and those people end up being like virginia governor bob "vaginal probe" mcdonnell, who was quietly beoing touted as a possibly vice presidential candidate for mitt romney [whose candidacy he endorsed]- men whose total understanding of women's health is that they don't trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die. and those people, like california congressman darryl issa [another romney supporter], end up having hearings about religion and birth control with a "no girls allowed" policy. limbaugh may not be accountable to anyone other than his fleeing advertisers [rats... ship... make your own jokes/ assumptions...], but he is more than capable of jerking the strings [or worse] of those who are in elected office.


if you want to know how bad things have gotten for women, consider the fact that the republican party's ever-more-likely-seeming presidential nominee mitt romney was finally forced to give a sort of mealy-mouthed comment that he wouldn't have used the same words as limbaugh. but that was only after he fled initial requests for a statement like the sort of frightened girl rick santorum fears will end up serving on america's front lines.

it was ironically santo, old-fashioned type that he evidently is, who stepped forward and decried limbaugh's comments as "absurd". thank you.

por los chicas

so although polls continue to indicate that romney enjoys greater support with women than his more conservative opponent, romney is the one who thinks that the biggest problem with trying to prevent a woman from having her voice heard on a health issue by calling her names is the choice of epithet. the guy who thinks that america started to go wrong with the whole separation of church and state thing is actually the champion of women's rights in this race.

as frequently unbearable as this whole dialogue is, as a woman, i'm kind of hopeful that it continues. the fact is that this sort of attitude and the ill-informed ignorance behind it has been a pervasive factor in women's health policy for as long as there has been women's health policy and it's high time that it's proponents were pushed into the light and forced to articulate and defend their views. laugh all you want [it's probably the only way you'll be able to make it through, especially if you don't have access to lots of vodka], but keep the spotlight shining on these bastards with the force of a thousand suns. the public has been in the dark about them far too long.

[i'd like to issue my deepest apologies for using the artwork of others for my own perverse purposes, but i would again like to thank dom for creating the beautiful "santo" artwork. you can see more here.]

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