Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Ur-Slut and Pay-For-Your-Own Fornication. How Conservatives Respond to Worries About the Hobby Lobby Decision.


It's fun to find out what one conservative pundit thinks about the Hobby Lobby decision and liberal and feminist reactions to it.   The following retweet  by Erick Erickson  gives you the flavor of much of the argument I spotted on Twitter:  That liberals and feminists are irrational and hysterical:




I'm so glad there's no conservative war on women, because if there was such a thing, the above retweet could provide ammunition for those ghastly hysterical feminazis!  The ones who have  bunny-fu**ed their brains out, who desperately look for their hysterically wandering uteri and who equally desperately look for a governmental Sugar Daddy, especially  if they are single and BeyoncĂ©-voters.  That's because in the  worldview of these guys all single women must be  sucking off the teat of the government sow, when they should be --- err --- supported by husbands.  Because all women are supported by someone!

It took me quite a long time to understand that basic assumption:  Women are assumed not to have paid jobs, even if they do have them.  It keeps the conservative parables cleaner and clearer, but it's tough for a hard-working goddess to decipher them.

Speaking of deciphering stuff, here's Erick Son of Erick (raises a horn of mead to him) in a tweet which made him even more famous than he already was:




This is such fun!  What's consequence-free sex?  No orgasms?  No snoring next to you after sex? No sexually transmitted diseases?

Let's take that tweet apart, because it's informative about the conservative and pro-life beliefs in general:




What Is Consequence-Free Sex? 


Erick means pregnancy when he talks about consequences of sex.  And pregnancy can be the consequence of sex for women.  Before paternity tests men often got away with consequence-free sex, even when the sex had consequences!  This still happens occasionally.

It's important to remember, because the whole Hobby Lobby case is about women and contraception but it does take two bunny rabbits of different sexes to get to the point where contraception is needed, and the guy bunny gets to enjoy prevention of unwanted pregnancies, too!  He's not going to have to marry the gal rabbit if he doesn't want to, and he's not going to have to pay child maintenance for eighteen years.  The consequences are not identical, of course.  Women have the risks of pregnancy and childbirth as additional consequences.  Then there's the possibility that the unwanted pregnancy results in an abortion.  Because Erick is all about consequences, that would be one he wants to bring to the table, right?

Strictly speaking, all Erick wants is that women pay for their own contraception if they are planning to go at it like bunny rabbits.  But pregnancy would be preferable to a pro-lifer, I think, and it would have to be brought to term.  After that conservatives tend to get bored with the babies and the idea of trying to help them and so on.  There's always more pregnancies to oversee and control, and taking care of babies is the mother's duty in any case.

My summary:  Women shouldn't have consequence-free sex, in Erick's world, and certainly shouldn't expect him to pay for it.  I'm not sure if the same can be extended to men-and-sex, but let's assume so.  After all, it takes two (or more) bunny rabbits to have real liberal orgies.

If we dig a little deeper into the thoughts of many pro-life conservatives, what they are really saying is that sex should result in pregnancies (I omit heterosexual as an adjective there, because it's the only kind of sex they accept as necessary).

Something else that crops up in those deeper diggings is a common conservative meme of all women who are on the pill being young single women, sluts, who want to have enormous amounts of sex.  That married people use contraception and probably have more sex than single people is a point which they ignore.  Perhaps because it's a lot more boring than the idea of those lust-filled temptresses getting all that sex with someone else and expecting it to be paid for?

Hence we get the view that contraception is not about family planning in the long-term, that contraception is not something the vast majority of heterosexual women and men use over their fertile lives and also the view that contraceptives are never used for medical conditions.

Nope, it's all about the Ur-Slut, a wild creature conservatives tweets create and love!  She simply will NOT keep her legs closed, and that's immoral and wrong.  What makes it even more wrong is the expectation that others should pay for her orgies.  Rush Limbaugh suggests that women wouldn't need free contraception if they just wouldn't do that one thing.  That would go down very well in a long-term heterosexual partnership or marriage, right?  I don't think Rush thought it through carefully, because he's also suggesting that the men in those relationships should abstain.

Indeed, the absence of the contraceptive role as benefiting men who want to have consequence-free sex is utterly erased in the conservative ideas about all this, and that's because their focus is on the Ur-Slut, the woman they imagine exists in large numbers, the hot and luscious babe who has sex with everyone except the person voicing these thoughts.  How ghastly to expect others to subsidize the orgasms of the Ur-Slut!

Time to pour some cold water on all this orgy talk.  According to an article about sex myths at Vox.com (which I have not vetted) a lot of single people in the sex-sizzling early twenties aren't sizzling:

If you look at single people, just over half of men ages 18 to 24 haven't had sex in the last year. And fewer women  — it's like 57 percent of men versus 51 percent of women — haven't had sex in the year before.
Whether those specific numbers are exactly correct or not, it's probably true that the average single Joes and single Janes have a lot less sex than certain conservatives fear.  It's also true that many conservative commentators oddly assume that the amount of sex someone has is directly linked to the amount of contraception they need.  That's correct for condoms but not for the pill or the coil, and it's the latter two we are talking about in the Hobby Lobby decision.  You take the same number of pills whether you and your bunny friend go at it nonstop or only every other Saturday night.

This is a good place to remind everyone of the double-standards which are more common among conservatives even though they are pretty common all over this globe in general:  Women are expected not to have sex, certainly not outside marriage, whereas men are expected to try to get a leg over as often as they possibly can.  The gatekeeper role of women doesn't really work, at least when the game is viewed like soccer and the gate-keeping as goal-keeping.  But it's almost a universal rule for conservatives to focus only on women when they write about heterosexual sex.  All those fornicating single women!

It's the double-standard which makes it AOK to tell women to close their legs if they don't want to get pregnant but which essentially never tells men to put a knot in you-know-where.  I must admit that I sometimes wonder about the sex lives of the writers of these kinds of tweets.  Do they practice what they preach when it comes to abstinence?  Or is that for the other sex to worry about?



What Are Employer Subsidies of Consequence-Free Sex?



So much for the sex that is free of consequences.  The second part of Erick's tweets, and perhaps the more important part, is about employer subsides for such wanton fu**ing.  He thinks it's very wrong that employers must subsidize immoral behavior of their employees.

What is this all about, for those of us who are not inside Erickson's world of values?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) defines certain contraceptives as part of the list of services which women should receive from their workplace-related health insurance coverage without out-of-pocket costs.  This is because contraceptives are both sometimes medically indicated and because they are necessary for family-planning and the long-term health of both the woman and her future offspring.  Unintended pregnancies and births have all sorts of dangers, and in the best of worlds a family plans the number of children and their pacing so as to maximize the well-being of all.

This is the freebie conservatives so lament.  The MRAs lament it, too, because in their value world it's something only men pay and women get for nothing.  And both probably dislike it because it's explicitly about female contraception and the power of women to prevent pregnancies.  But if we ever get the male contraceptive pill (or something similar to the interuterine devices for men), that, too, should be covered out-of-pocket and for exactly the same reasons.  Besides, as  I wrote above, contraception is used within a heterosexual relationship so those who benefit from it are both male and female partners.

But is this freebie "a subsidy" by the firm? 

Given the way the US health insurance operates, insurance provided as part of the worker's total compensation package is common.  That insurance is similar to other benefits, such as retirement contributions from the employer.  It's part of the overall "earnings" of the workers.  In a very real sense it IS the worker's money, payment in exchange for the work the worker provides.

Imagine what would happen if a firm stopped providing health insurance.  It would then have to offer much higher wages to attract the same number and quality of employees as it did earlier.  That's because those workers would now need to spend extra money on buying health insurance directly.  Their earnings, in the sense what they have for all other needs, are lowered, and only higher money earnings would compensate for that.

So is the provision of health insurance a subsidy by the firm?  It's not.  It's part of the workers' total compensation package.  Now what the total value of a health insurance component in the compensation package might be is harder to determine.  But the point is that employer-provided health insurance is not some kind of a handout from a benevolent feudal boss.  It's compensation the worker has earned.

Whether anybody subsidizes someone else within the group covered by a particular health insurance policy is a different question, but many conservatives also argue that they don't want to subsidize other people's sexual pleasures and they should not have to.   Wouldn't it be fun if we could all just refuse to pay any portion of the insurance premiums that go for the covering of treatments we don't approve of?  You decided to go scuba diving for the first time in your life and got hurt?  Well, I don't approve of covering your scuba diving accident.  Having fun like that!  Not taking lessons before!  Careless and stupid!  Getting hurt like that while spending time in a tropical paradise is not what our health insurance payments should cover.

Just kidding there.  The point is that I might ethically or morally oppose all sorts of things the people covered by the same insurance policy do, yet some of my premiums go towards exactly those expenses.  I might have to pay for Mr. X's Viagra, for instance, even if I believed (for pretend-religious reasons) that the divine power has made him impotent and that we shouldn't meddle with divine desires.

The we-don't-want-to-subsidize-your-sex-in-our-health-insurance-policies argument is also odd because any pregnancy resulting from unprotected sex will cause much greater "subsidies" than the amount the contraceptives cost.  Pregnancy care and delivery can be very expensive in terms of health care costs, and unplanned pregnancies by people who are poor will cause greater government subsidies later on.

Final Thoughts 

The strands of anti-contraception-coverage views are not all the same.  They are wrapped and knotted together like spaghetti boiled without stirring and they are not necessarily logically consistent with each other.

One strand is the anger at having to pay something for someone else.  Imagine having to pay for someone's car theft in your car insurance payments when you are quite sure the person left the car in a dangerous place and might not have locked the doors!  Still, I get what this argument is in emotional terms.

Another strand has to do with women.  Women's sexuality should be controlled and the controller should not be the woman herself, except that she always has the option of not having sex at all.  Close your legs, slut.  That's what I see on Twitter a lot, in response to the Hobby Lobby decision debates, and of course in the context of all abortion debates.

That is very funny, for reasons I mentioned above, and also because of the existence of vast amounts of sexual titillation available on the Internet, almost all of it aimed at men.  It's the juxtaposition of the two that would look hilarious to an alien from outer space.  It reflects the gate-keeper idea to the max.

A different anger about the idea of "free contraception" has to do with the MRA idea that this is something only women get (again getting all the freebies!) while the poor men must pay for it!  But in fact even non-fertile or celibate women must pay for it in their health insurance policies, and as I noted several times earlier, every case of contraceptive protection protects the male partner in the intercourse, too.  Still, we should really push for the male contraceptive pill and have it available without out-of-pocket costs in health insurance.

An important strand in this spaghetti mess is a religious one.  The Catholic church believes that contraception is wrong and the five Catholic guy Justices on the Supreme Court just might have been influenced by that in their decision.  I can imagine a few other religions agreeing that letting women decide on their own fertility is unacceptable, but I'm not at all convinced that we want other people's religions to decide how we live.  That's not what religious rights are supposed to cover.

Then there's the argument that contraception is not about health at all and shouldn't be covered in health insurance for that reason.  This is a valid point in one sense:  We could argue about several items in prevention from that angle.  Should nutrition advice be covered?  Should access to physical exercise be covered?   What about all care of healthy children, such as eye checkups and dental checkups and so on?

And should people be allowed to have treatments which avoid developments linked to "natural" aging, such as perhaps reduced virility?

The case for including contraception in the package of care which comes without out-of-pocket costs is that it's ultimately good for the health and well-being of both the woman, her future children (because pregnancies are planned and thus the parents can try to be in the best state of health before conception) and her whole family.  It's even good for everybody else, given that planned pregnancies and births are less likely to have high health care costs and high later government subsidies for the children.

I get that all this could be debated, but it's not among the major points of debate I've seen.  A cousin of this argument is that contraception is cheap enough to buy without it being covered in health insurance.  

That's not such a great argument, given that the pill, for example, requires regular doctor visits which are expensive (if they are not to be covered when the visit is for the pill) and given that the IUD insertion can cost around a thousand dollars.  In any case, contraception can be expensive for the poorer women and that's the group which needs the free access most urgently.

But if we apply that rule, anything in health care that is "not expensive" should then not be covered at all.

To sum this all up, the argument I've heard the most is that closing your legs is the best contraceptive policy for women.  Or for sluts, I guess.  A comment from some alternative reality where heterosexual women stop using contraceptives the minute they get married or enter a long-term committed relationship.