July 8, 2014

Rush Limbaugh saying "Pajama Boy types having sex, sex, sex/That's what it's all about" made me realize something about the political division over Obamacare and birth control.

It really is about sex. It's not about women. You may think women are getting a benefit, and we hear a lot of "War on Women" politics, but the real division is not between men and women. There are men and women on both sides of a line that is determined by sexual behavior and sexual attitudes.

First, here's the Rush monologue that got me thinking in these terms:
... I, and I assume a lot of you folks, too, we're from the old school where you provide for yourself.  We were raised that whatever you want or need, you go out and get a job and earn enough to buy it. If you can't afford it, then you put it off until you can.  But the last thing you do is ask somebody else.... But the thing I have learned is that men are totally supportive.  Today's young men are totally supportive of somebody else buying women their birth control pills. Make sure the women are taking them, 'cause sex is what it's all about.

Pajama Boy types having sex, sex, sex. That's what it's all about. Everybody wants it and whatever it takes to make it safe. And if it takes the taxpayers buying women birth control, the men are for it, too.  It's cheap insurance, and if this is what women want before they'll have sex, then fine.  So this is the change that you and I were slow to arrive to because we were brought up with the idea that sex has consequences and that it's somewhat special, and that if you want something you provide it yourself.  You don't ask somebody else....
See how revealing that is? There's this basic idea that people should earn their own money and pay for their own stuff. You're free to choose to do what you want — which might be to have sex — but you need to cover your own expenses. You can see that this is a moral precept, because it takes no account of the costs to all of us when children are born to women who are economically and emotionally unprepared and who do not have a stable household. To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children.

Rush focuses on the men and women who want to have sex. He doesn't express disapproval of fornication like an old-school religionist, but he does say "sex, sex, sex" in a way that stimulates the old-school religious disapproval in (I presume) many of his listeners. They are a voting bloc to be massaged and tended, and Rush knows how to do that without having to come across as a hypocrite. With his life story — he's on his 4th wife and has no children — he can't be censorious about those who flout traditional sexual morality. But he can inspire the censoriousness of others. It's a neat trick, and I think he's damned proud of his ability to perform that trick. He should be. It's impressive.

But here's what I want to focus on: Whenever a woman is using birth control, it's because she's having sexual intercourse with a man. In the set of persons who need birth control, there is an equal number of women and men. (Approximately. Fewer women may be interacting with a larger number of men or vice versa.) Regardless of whose body the birth control device goes in or on, there is always a man and a woman using that birth control. In fact, if you're having sex, with birth control, and you're not the one whose body is subjected to the drug or device, you're getting an even better benefit than your partner.

So the real division on the birth control issue is not between men and women. It is between 1. men and women who have sex when they don't want children and 2. everyone else. 

Group 2 is diverse. It includes:
A. those who don't engage in the kind sex that could produce a pregnancy — with subsets:
i. the abstainers
ii. the infertile
iii. the gay
B. couples who have sex that is open to procreation — with subsets:
i. those who are trying to have a baby
ii. those with a moral scruple against birth control
It's still a separate question who, within those groups, objects to insurance coverage for birth control. And even among the objectors to the coverage, you ought to distinguish between those who have the Rush Limbaugh attitude that people ought to pay for their own stuff and those who have a religious or moral need to avoid complicity with what they sincerely believe is sinful or wrong. I think the latter is a relatively small set. It's Group 2(B)(ii). These are the people the Hobby Lobby case was about. And I think there are people — in all of the other groups— who care about the predicament of Group 2(B)(ii) and might want to help them. Helping them might seem more important than providing coverage for birth control, even for those of us who think birth control is great and that it's in society's general interest to ensure that everyone in Group 1 gets it.

It's all about sex. Sex, sex, sex. That's what Rush Limbaugh said, and he was right. Now, let's think lucidly about sex. Don't get suckered into the War on Women. This is about men and women and what everyone thinks about the sex that we are having or not having. I expect many of you to insist that it's best not to think about the sex of other people — especially if you don't like Obamacare anyway. But I'm inviting you to think about sex.

Think about your membership in the sets and subsets I've delineated above. I'm in Group 2(A)(ii), but I have been in Group 1, Group 2(A)(i), and Group 2(B)(i).

Think about how you feel about those in the other groups. Personally, I have respect of all of the subsets (though I can imagine individuals within each of them that I would disapprove of). But maybe you feel hostile toward some of them. Why? Is your view of the birth control coverage issue related to the way you feel — be honest! — about the sex other people are having? If you rankle — like Rush — at other people wanting you to pay for their stuff — is it about sex?

It's all about sex. Sex, sex, sex.

203 comments:

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Unknown said...

"paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children."

encouraging recreational sex is not going to lead to better, more educable children BECAUSE non-married people who engage in recreational sex are poor role models. Have to add, sometimes they grow up and become responsible adults who realize there are consequences to actions because they have kids and want to be better role models, but advocating hedonism for the sake of "I want to" is not a good start.

Bruce Hayden said...

This is why we now need to get rid of free money going to women that get pregnant out of wedlock. At least, that's MY "incentive" plan. I bet that would prevent far more of such pregnancies than giving away free B/C.

Yes - the reason for all the welfare is For The Children. So, the obvious solution is to remove the children from the mothers who cannot support them financially, and put them in orphanages, foster care, etc. Taking a mother's children away from her is highly traumatic, and may be the best incentive for her to delay childrearing until she can afford the resulting children.

Of course, I am being a bit facetious here. For one thing, there isn't a good alternative available. Orphanages are mostly gone now, and foster care has its own significant problems. Making things worse, any state imposed solution is going to degenerate over time, as those entrusted with such responsibility inevitably come to put themselves as more important than those they are supposed to protect (as was the case of the VA, etc.)

Still, we do need to figure out an incentive system where young women are not given an incentive to have children out of wedlock, and then raise them in a fatherless environment.

EMD said...

"Women deserve the utmost support in a free society because we all need women . . . to do the hard physical work of bearing children . . ."

Women had this via the family and marriage, but it has been ridiculed and demonized and destroyed over the past 60 years by people of a certain progressive persuasion.

Now, you want it back, but you want it via Sugar Daddy Sam.

A bit rich, eh?

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