part of me doesn't even want to address this, because it's so repugnant, ignorant, mean-spirited and seriously makes me question whether "freedom of speech" is worth it. but this is an issue that affects me viscerally—mostly because i cannot believe this is going on in this country in 2012.
i found out this morning, via the Today show, about Rush Limbaugh's hateful, sexist, vile remarks regarding Sandra Fluke. Fluke is a third-year law student at Georgetown University and spoke last week at a hearing arranged by Nancy Pelosi. The topic? The fact that Georgetown, a Jesuit university, does not include birth control coverage in its health plans. Fluke testified that, as a result, she and fellow female students pay upwards of $1,000 a year on contraception.
Limbaugh felt the need to take express his disagreement—on his radio show—in this way:
“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. So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."
my stomach turned over when i heard those words this morning, and it's turning over again to read them. not because i give a damn what Limbaugh thinks. but because he's clearly not alone in this thinking. even Fluke said this morning on the Today show that several other conservatives have said similar things.
Michael and i talk often about how ridiculous it is that so many people are so against gay marriage. (it's true that Maryland just became the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage—but that's eight out of fifty. and how long has it taken us to get to eight?) wanting to deny basic rights to any group of people based on something as irrelevant as their sexual orientation takes us back decades. five of them, to be exact. it's disheartening and depressing and so damn backwards.
now with this ridiculous debate about birth control coverage (and the vitriol it's inspiring) we're sliding back even farther. the fact that politicians would attack a woman—all women, really—so viciously for standing up for her right to get medical coverage for a prescription.... i mean, what year is this? what country is this?
the fact that many women need oral contraceptives primarily to regulate their menstrual cycle (something men will never understand and never experience and god help us if they could, because the world would surely stop spinning), and not because they are "sluts," is beside the point.
the point is that there is a serious problem of disrespect in this country. it's an epidemic.
lately i've been books on raising toddlers, as Matthew is rapidly approaching that stage of his life and i'd like to be prepared. all the advice i've read stresses the importance of empathizing with your toddler, no matter how intense the tantrum. after all, he's still pretty new. he's just trying to make sense of the world, he's learning so much so quickly yet he's hampered by an immature brain and a severe lack of words. a parent needs to understand this, and relate to him not on an adult level, but on a toddler level. a parent needs to listen, and show empathy, not just ignore/distract/yell/punish.
research has shown that once a child feels heard, it's much easier to teach that child how to behave properly. it's all a kid wants—to know someone understands.
empathy is what's missing in our country today. everyone wants to spew his opinion, get his way, prove his point. no one wants to listen, or understand another's point of view. the emphasis today is on generating the best sound byte, making the most headlines, raising the most money. who cares about really solving problems or making progress? and when progress is proposed, even signed into law, short-sighted, self-aggrandizing people do their best to knock it down.
this is an excerpt from a Huffington Post story last August about Obama's health care law and its provisions for women:
The requirement [of health insurance plans to fully cover birth control with no copay] is part of a broad expansion of coverage for women's preventive care under President Barack Obama's health care law. Also to be covered without copays are breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual "well-woman" physical, screening for the virus that causes cervical cancer and for diabetes during pregnancy, counseling on domestic violence, and other services.
"These historic guidelines are based on science and existing (medical) literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The new requirements will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, in most cases. Tens of millions of women are expected to gain coverage initially, and that number is likely to grow with time. At first, some plans may be exempt due to a complex provision of the health care law known as the "grandfather" clause. But those even plans could face pressure from their members to include the new benefit.
Sebelius acted after a near-unanimous recommendation last month from a panel of experts convened by the prestigious Institute of Medicine, which advises the government. Panel chairwoman Linda Rosenstock, dean of public health at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that prevention of unintended pregnancies is essential for the psychological, emotional and physical health of women.
the thought that went through my head this morning when i heard what Limbaugh said? if Obama's health care law dictated that all men who want condoms must be provided them free of charge, it wouldn't be on the news. it wouldn't be an issue. no one would dare oppose it. and no one would accuse a man who wanted to avail himself of the free condoms of being promiscuous. especially a woman.
i feel pretty hopeless today, guys. i really do.