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The Pill and Shoulder Pads
Just the other night, on the Bill O’Reilly show, the suggestion was made that employer and/or government insurance policies should cover shoulder pads and helmets for men interested in playing football. Why was this absurd suggestion made? Because Bill O’Reilly equated the prevention of potential sports-related injuries with the benefits of using contraception.
It was a not-so-subtle suggestion that women can simply choose not to engage in the sport of sex and therefore eliminate the need for any protections from a possible sport-related ‘injury’.
He then went on to say the argument from “The Left” is that if you pay for Viagra, you should pay for The Pill. “But Viagra,” he continued, “is used for a medical condition .” His emphasis, not mine.
Let’s consider this ‘medical condition’. A man suffers erectile dysfunction and so he can’t make love/have sex/get it on/get laid/whatever. Therefore, the medication used to correct this issue should be covered by all insurance – private, government and employer provided.
So now, men are once again able to perform thanks to a little blue pill, but with whom are they expected to perform? Certainly not women, right? After all, women who engage in sexual activities and who require contraceptives because of it are labeled as a ‘slut’, a ‘skank’ and more.
Typical double misogynistic standard.
Before O’Reilly’s comments, were the now-infamous remarks of Rush Limbaugh, who called Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute for arguing in favor of the contraceptive mandate and then proposed a Rush-Limbaugh-esque solution:
"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. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch." -Rush Limbaugh
As of this writing, Limbaugh’s show has lost dozens of advertisers and several radio stations and many of his more outrageous comments have been scrubbed from his website. Thankfully, ThinkProgress.org had the forethought to save every instance of his disgusting remarks. You can find all seventy of them in this compilation -
LIMBAUGH's 70 Sexist Smears
Though not nearly as vulgar, Bill O’Reilly had his own take on Sandra Fluke's testimony:
“I played college football. The government should have bought my equipment. My helmet, shoulder pads, cleats, because if I don’t have those things on the field, I might get hurt. And that might cost society a lot, especially if I don’t have the money to pay for my hospital stay. So surely the taxpayers should have ponied up for my football activities.” -Bill O’Reilly
During his monologue, Mr. O’Reilly specifically distinguished between “female” activities and “male” activities. Lest you be confused between male and female activities, according to Bill O’Reilly, sex is a female activity while football and working out a gym are male activities.
Also in Bill O’Reilly’s argument, was this ignorant statement –
“The progressive movement, totally ignoring reality, is defining this exclusively as a woman’s health issue, but there are health implications for everything we do including eating a burger. It is Ms. Fluke’s responsibility for what she does. Not me and not you.” –Bill O’Reilly
Which was followed soon after by these statements –
“Men need to be physically in shape, so why don’t we pick up gym memberships? That’s a health issue, right?”
“You want me to give you my hard earned money so you can have sex.”
“Sandra Fluke clearly wants the government to pay for her activities.”
“I don’t want to pay for Sandra Fluke’s recreation.”
“The Obama administration is trying to force Americans like me and you to pick up the tab for what people do in their private time.”
“If the Obama Administration is going to be fair, then they’re going to have to find a way to pay for some male activities.”
And so we’ve come full circle, with ‘sex’ apparently being an activity women do on their own. Ironically, if that were the case, “birth control” would not be an issue.
Unfortunately, there is a widespread and disturbing ignorance within these men and their cheerleaders. First, Sandra Fluke did not testify that contraceptives should be supplied through her school so that she could do as Limbaugh suggested and have “as much sex as she wanted”. And second, contraceptives are used for a multitude of women’s health issues – they are not solely used to prevent pregnancies.
Sandra Fluke’s testimony was about how much contraceptives cost a law student during her time in school and how that cost was unaffordable by most – especially the one student around which her testimony revolved. Ms. Fluke referred to a student with a history of ovarian cysts who took contraceptives to control the growth of those cysts. Georgetown does not offer insurance that includes contraceptives so this student was forced to go without. Because of that, one cyst grew so large, the student’s ovary had to be removed. The surgery to remove the ovary was covered by insurance but the medication to prevent the need for it was not.
THAT was Sandra Fluke’s testimony.
Of course, contraceptives are used to prevent pregnancies. However, it has been shown that the benefits of contraceptives beyond pregnancy prevention are many – and outweigh possible side-effects. Contraceptives have been prescribed for women with severe, scar-creating acne. They are prescribed for women with a history of ovarian cysts, as mentioned above. Women with endometriosis are given the pill as a way to ease the indescribable monthly pain they would otherwise endure. And if that is not enough, here is a short list of other medical issues that are mitigated by the use of contraceptives:
Control heavy menstrual bleeding and thus prevent anemia
Provide proper estrogen levels when the hormone is not produced naturally
Ease symptoms of PMS
Greatly reduce the risk of certain cancers like endometrial and ovarian
One last thought for those who are still unclear on the matter of contraceptives and sex – the pill must be taken regularly whether you have sex seven times per day or once per year. Rush Limbaugh, in his rush to insult, showed his ignorance even on that very basic fact.
Though not nearly as vulgar, Mr. O’Reilly showed his ignorance as well.
“The progressive colossus is demanding payment for Ms. Fluke so that she can go through law school with a healthy social life. …Ms. Fluke and millions of other American women have lots of things they’d like to do, on our tab.” –Bill O’Reilly
Yes, Mr. O’Reilly. American woman do have lots of things we’d like to do. We’d like to live healthy happy lives with all the tools possible to prevent debilitating illnesses or early death. The pill is one way to do that. And if we happen to enjoy a healthy social life because of it as well, my take is that it’s as much a benefit to American men as it is to women. Humans are, after all, sexual beings.