GOP’s attempt to control women’s sexuality

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Social Commentary
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posed by Bryce on Where is Your Line:

GOP and the media talked about this [Planned Parenthood] as a fight over abortion, it wasn’t about that at all. After all, the Hyde Amendment prohibits Planned Parenthood from using any federal money it receives to pay for its abortion services. Not to mention that such services makes up for a mere 3% of what it does. What’s the rest of it, you ask? Four million STD tests, one million pap smears, 830,000 breast exams, and providing 83% of all clients with things that prevent unwanted pregnancy in the first place. The rider also stripped funding from UNFPA, which isn’t allowed to use federal funds for abortion either. Rather, its mission is to avert maternal and infant mortality in developing countries.

So this wasn’t about money and it wasn’t about abortion. Why exactly has the GOP targeted Planned Parenthood so heavily? Author Ellen Chesler points outthat part of it is political: get rid of Planned Parenthood and you eliminate an organization that effectively mobilizes women who vote against Republicans. Amanda Marcotte explains that it’s also about Republicans deciding that poor women who have sex don’t deserve government money.

It’s also about controlling women’s sexuality. Any woman can get it on without severe consequences because she’s empowered with contraception and sex education and, good heavens, the choice to terminate and unwanted pregnancy. By denying women the tools to have safe sex when and with whom they choose, the GOP is looking to put up limits. The idea that a woman could have sex for pleasure, do it out of wedlock, and not suffer the wrath of God in the form of an STD or an unwanted pregnancy clearly irks them.

The GOP’s bait and switch on abortion was also evident in HR3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which was from the start redundant, as the Hyde Amendment already takes care of this. But beyond that, Republicans managed toinclude a provision that changed the definition of rape to only that which is “forcible.” This has nothing to do with abortion, but everything to do with attacking women and their sexuality. It put the blame on the woman who “asks for it” or is “too drunk” or “too flirtatious” rather than on the rapist where it belongs. It’s one more way of punishing women who don’t wear iron clad chastity belts. They may claim that this is about saving the lives of fetuses, but when it’s clearly not about abortion and rather about sex and rape, it’s hard to take them at their word.

And even though the facts are clear these fights aren’t really about abortion, the GOP drums up the perception that they are. Anti-abortion fever is also about controlling women who have sex. As Ann Pellegrini puts it: “Abortion conjures raced and classed images of an out of control female sexuality. An unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, which can happen for so many reasons—including failed contraception or a failure to educate young people about contraception at all (hello, abstinence-only sex education)—is instead recast as a woman’s failure in self-discipline and sexual morality.”

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