28 Days Later (Rush Still Can’t Keep It Up)


Ok, Rush.

So part of the paradigm you’re operating in–on which your rhetoric relies–is that women should be ashamed of being on birth control.

Because using contraception, in your mind, means, ipso facto, that we are sluts. That we have what is, in your opinion, “too much” sex.

Your rhetoric relies on the power of shame, that central tenant of control wielded by the dominant [male] discourse.

I cannot alter the fact that this sense of humiliation over our own sexuality is deeply ingrained in many women. That it was once dug into me.

But what I can do is deny you and Santorum and Darrell Issa and any other dickless wonder with a bully pulpit the opportunity to shame me.

See the image above, Rush? This is my birth control pack for the month. Just one active pill left, one bullet in the ol’ hormonal chamber until my next cycle starts. Look closely: you can almost see the loose morality oozing from the bubble pack, can’t you?

I’ve been on birth control since I was 21. And yup, it’s kept me from getting pregnant for over a decade now. And it’s also regulated my cycle in a way that my body could not by itself. But mostly, it’s kept me from getting pregnant. When I have sex. With a man. Quell horror!

Rush, frankly, I don’t give a fuck what you think of, well, anything, but you must know–you have to learn–that your on-air idiocy has consequences for those whom you attack and, mercifully, for you, too.

Any woman’s decision to take birth control–to take control over our own bodies, over our own reproductive systems–is none of your damn business.

Neither is the apparently flaccid state of your dick any of mine, but so long as you keep coming after me and mine, I’ll keep posting this and reminding anyone who reads this that your radio show is the audio equivalent of Brett Favre’s cell phone photos of his junk: desperate, misguided, and a goddamn guarantee that you ain’t getting laid anytime this century.

Good, Bad–I’m The Guy With The Gun (it’s true: Rush Limbaugh has no dick)

Pretty sure you'll need a condom for that, babe.

Every time I think that today’s GOP has reached the apex of suck, they come back with a whole new brand of crazy.

Today, Rush Limbaugh made an aggressive push to regain the Raging Asshat title from Rick Santorum, who’s had a death grip on the thing for the last week. Limbaugh, for some reason, felt that he had informed opinion on the [frankly ridiculous] bitchfest that Congress is engaged in over birth control; specifically, over insurance companies and employers covering the cost of birth control, costs which can be prohibitive for some women.

You may recall that the House held a hearing on this issue in which they refused to hear from any, you know, women on the issue. This visual fail was made possible by Republicans’ piss-poor attempts to recast birth control–a matter of women’s health–as one of religious freedom [?!], one in which teh evil evil government was attempting to enforce its questionable morality on the long-suffering penises of America.

That is: some [men] in Congress don’t want to have to pay for birth control, because that goes against God’s plan of sex only being for procreative purposes, for women to be tied to the home and children, and for men to rule the motherfucking world. Or, as Rick Santorum put it in October of 2010 [dude was ahead of his time, right?]:

Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.

As Dean Winchester would say: “Okay, you lost me there, sparky.”

The Democrats on the committee had a field day with the all-male panel image and ran with it for a couple of news cycles. Last week, they staged their own hearing–a purely performative one, since they are in the minority in the House, and thus on the relevant committee–on birth control in which they heard from Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student. In her testimony, Fluke:

told the story of a fellow law school student who required access to the pill in order to deal with a medical condition. Not being able to afford it, because it wasn’t provided on the health care plan, the student wound up losing an ovary.

Got that? So a fellow student [not Fluke herself] LOST AN OVARY, which, hey, she might have wanted to use, thanks, because the school’s health care plan didn’t cover the cost of birth control. Pretty clear connection, for me, between women’s health and health care covering birth control.

Rush Limbaugh, bless him, doesn’t agree. He weighed in on the issue today [ETA: On Wednesday, actually]:

What does it say about the college co-ed Susan [sic] Fluke who goes before a Congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? That makes her a slut, right?

Yes, he really said this.

But oh, wait. There’s more:

Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception she wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the the pimps. The johns. We would be the johns. No! We’re not the johns–well, uuuhhhhh, pimp’s not the right word.  Ok, so she’s not a slut, she’s round-heeled [???]. I take it back.

[I love the metadiscussion he has with himself over the difference between a pimp and a john. Heh! And this is my transcription, for what it’s worth, so any errors are mine.]

So it’s evident, right, that he has no fucking clue what he’s talking about: he clearly did not bother to read or listen to Fluke’s actual testimony, since he a) gets her name wrong; and b) misunderstands the content of her testimony. Could be dismissed out of hand right there.

But it’s Rush, and I imagine this sort of gleeful ignorance is pretty de riguer for him.

I find this conceptual leap completely confounding, if one uses Earth logic, but totally understandable in fake Conservative logic:

  1. Woman wants to use birth control.
  2. Birth control is related to sex.
  3. Woman wants to have sex.
  4. Ergo, woman is a whore.

And this is, in large part, why the GOP is so hot and heavy to recast birth control–women’s health in general, I’d argue–as a question not of morality but of “religious freedom.” Such a rhetorical move–however lumbering and poorly executed–allows them to have their cake and eat it too: they can still have yahoos like Rush and Fox News make the old familiar, always-already argument that women are whores [what’s up, Eve?], while politically positioning themselves as champions of liberty, rather than would-be installers of chastity belts around the scary, scary ladyparts.

But, hey, what about men?

If the government shouldn’t subsidize female sexuality, shouldn’t encourage women to have lots of dirty sex, then it shouldn’t subsidize men either, right? Surely the GOP is pushing for insurance companies not to have to cover Viagra?

Riiiiight.

Rush, you have some experience with this one, don’t you, darling?

As Rick Perry might say: oops.

Here’s what I’d say: Rush, you do not have control over any woman’s reproductive system or her sex life. You are not a moral paragon, nor does any uterus tremble in fear at your opinion. At your dick, maybe, but your opinion? No.

So you keep spewing Santorum about women’s sex lives and I’ll keep reminding folks that you can’t keep it up. A small protest, perhaps. But, given its subject, that seems only fitting.

This Week In Male Hetero Fail (Thus Always To Tyrants Edition)

This is my boomstick! Not my transvaginal probe. Swear to god.

A friend and I were in a local restaurant/bar last night, eating, talking, trying to get some shit for school done. It was pretty quiet, being a Sunday night, I guess, save for one boisterous exception: a group of aggressively moronic dudes playing darts right behind our fucking table.

Now I have no problem with the individual elements here: dudes, darts, and beer. Fine. But this group took the elemental combination to new heights by tossing homophobia into the mix, which. Awesome. They’d divided themselves into two teams for their game, and their team names? The “gays” and the “lesbos.” Yes, in fact, they were so proud of these monikers that they not only repeated them [loudly] at every possible turn but also inscribed them on the wee chalkboard on which one of their ilk was keeping score.

So I don’t know for certain that these men were exclusively hetero; indeed, you could make a pitch for such aggressive posturing as being a cover for some sort of latent anxiety related to their own sexual identity, much less that of others.

Still. I strongly suspect.

So their dickishness [and my inability to formulate any sort of real-time response, vocal or otherwise], got me thinking about all of the male hetero fail that’s swirling around my home state of Virginia these days.

It’s not fair to consign all of heterosexual maledom into a universal. So take that as my caveat. [Indeed, a friend recently rapped my virtual knuckles for referring to him as “hetero” in a way that he took as a bit of an insult, which, ok, it may have been, but only unconsciously so. Hence me performing my bias so openly here.]

However, a handful of white, heterosexual men–many of whom ostensibly represent the fine people of Virginia–have been doing their damnedest over the past few weeks to make that truism harder and harder to uphold. So to speak.

Most of this idiocy centers around our state government’s attempts to pass a law that would have required any woman seeking the LEGAL medical procedure of abortion to have a transvaginal ultrasound. Oh, yeah. You’ve surely heard about this by now, thanks to the efforts of Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and The Rachel Maddow Show. Thus always to tyrants, indeed.

Currently, Republicans control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion in our fair state. And although the person who drafted the state-mandated penetration bill is a woman, many of the bill’s loudest and most prominent supporters were the white men who dominate Virginia’s House of Delegates and our Senate.  Our right-wing social experimentalist governor, Bob McDonnell, had been touted as a potential running mate for the GOP’s eventual nominee [*cough*Mitt Romney*cough*].

However, once the transvaginal nonsense broke into the mainstream–both in Virginia and in the national press–McDonnell backed down from his heretofore vociferous support for the bill [and its equally insidious cousin, a so-called “personhood” bill that would redefine human life as beginning at conception. Good times!].

Now that the state-mandated penetration bill has been killed and the “personhood” bill has been sent back to committee [effectively tabling it for the rest of this year], you may be asking: of what new male hetero fail do you speak?

I speak, dear reader, of Delegate David Albo, who ostensibly “represents” district 42 in Fairfax, VA. Let me allow the gentleman from Fairfax to speak for himself–and it’s worth quoting in full, via Gawker:

I got Rita [Albo’s wife] some red wine, sat next to her, used my patented cool move. I invented this, it’s a United States patent. I went, “Ohhh, I’m so tired!” I then turn on the TV to find the Redskin channel. I know you think that’s weird, but my wife loves the Redskins more than she loves me. Got my theme music going, my red wine, looking at the Washington Redskins and I start flipping through the channels. And through the channels you have to get through the news stuff. And all the sudden on my big screen TV comes this big thing and a picture of a bill that has “Albo” on it. I went, “Wow! Holy smokes, it’s my name as big as a wall!” And the very next scene was a gentleman from Alexandria’s face as big as my wall going “trans-v-this” and “trans-v-that” and “they hate women!” and “we’re gonna—in that bill—she’s crazy!” And I’m like this with my wife. And the show’s over, and she looks at me, and she goes, “I gotta go to bed.” So if the gentleman’s plan was to make sure there was one less Republican in this world, he did it.

[If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the video of this display of rhetorical impotency here.]

As the commenters on Gawker’s story point out, Albo can’t even SAY THE WORD VAGINA, yet he professes a desire to legislate how and when the state should have access to it.

What’s almost as bad, I think, is his apparent assumption that if he wishes to have sex [shudder–why am I thinking of tentacle porn?!], then his wife should [by right] be in the mood. And I also love his assumption [a peek into his figured world, perhaps?] that it’s the talk of the transvaginal probing legislation that gets his wife “out of the mood,” as if she was already in said mood, given all of his careful preparation for seduction. Hey, at least he recognizes that talk of state-mandated penetration is, you know, less than alluring–as might be, dare I suggest, her knowledge that he supports such legislation of women’s bodies. Might not really make her want to, you know, give you access to her vagina, dude, knowing that you spend all day thinking up way to virtually worm your way into those of women all across the state. Just a thought.

And, to top it off, the Daily Caller website threw a video tantrum today over Rachel Maddow’s coverage of Governor Transvaginal Probe and his buddies. Seems the good people of the Caller don’t like Rachel using the word “vagina” on the TV machine. Loudly. Repeatedly. And in the context of GOP policies. [Also, note the totally squeamish way in which the blogger from the Washington Post presents this video. Can’t even bring himself to comment on it beyond a coy: “That’s as much detail as I’m willing to provide on this affair.” And the use of the word “affair”? No mistake there.]

So let’s add “vagina” and “transvaginal probing” to the list of words with which the dominant discourse is very, very uncomfortable–to the list of words I vow to now repeat early, often, loudly, and occasionally even in context–in a way that’s totally different, I think, from the heebie-jeebies that words like “anal” and “sodomy” give to said discourse.

Freedom’s just another word for liberal dogmatic thought

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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Earlier this week, President Obama called once again for all American children to have the opportunity to attend college. This isn’t a new idea for him; it’s one he’s touted in some form since his 2008 campaign, but one to which he’s returned repeatedly since last month’s State of the Union address.

For Obama–for a hell of a lot of other people–education offers freedom.

Unfortunately, in the world where Rick Santorum spins, a world where other people’s sex lives pose a clear and present danger to his own, freedom = slavery to “liberal” ideology, to thoughts that are critical of this country, her leaders, her practices. In a speech in Michigan on Friday, Santorum told an enthusiastic [geriatric] audience that:

President Obama once said that he wants everyone in America to go to college. What a snob. There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor. That’s why [Obama] wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.

Yes, that’s right: America needs some of its children not to go to college so that those children can “work hard every day”–which, apparently, people with college degrees–people like Santorum!–do not do. Yup. We just sit around not fixing shit and watching the world go to hell as we stare at our degrees and drink pinot and sing the Marseilles. Man, Rick: you nailed it.

But let’s be clear: for the Vest, giving all Americans–read: black, white, latino, asian, rich, poor, southern, northern, first-generation, seventh generation, christian, muslim, atheist, jew, woman, man, gay, hetero, transgender, bi–the same chance to access higher education is akin to packing these young minds into the rhetorical Amistad and shipping them off to Marxistville. Learning = indoctrination in what Santorum sees as multicultural bullshit, gender equality, and the notion that no idea should be swallowed hook, line, and sinker without critical reflection and inquiry.

You fear ideas, man? You fear exposure to ideas? What does that say about the strength of your own convictions? Oh, that’s right: we’re not talking about what you believe–for you, it’s a given that those ideas are “correct,” grounded in your god’s law or whatever. For you, any idea that doesn’t match your Opus Dei-inscribed view of life, the universe, and everything is “liberal” and therefore dangerous and wrong.

Right.

Also, Rick, my love, you have a very strange understanding of how “teaching” works. I can assure you, as one of those “liberal” professors for whom you express so much contempt, that exposing my students to ideas, to perspectives that are unlike their own, does not automatically cause them to adopt those ideas. Far from it. Students are not obedient little sponges, darlin’–they come in just as resistant, just as married to the ideas they consider their own as any adult. If anything, I think, they are a weird paradox at 18, 19 years old: on the one hand, they’re open and pliant and more receptive to experience than ever before. But on the other, they recognize that openness, this newfound desire to be more than they are and they resist that, push back against their own wills with everything they’ve got; not all the time, not in every instance, but often enough so that their own identity–the one they’ve spend their adolescence and late teen years constructing carefully, so carefully–is not corrupted.

They’re smart, Rick; they’re so much fucking smarter than you give them credit for. And yeah, sometimes they change their minds but they’re the ones that do the changing, not me or any of my colleagues [not all of whom are the liberal bastions of idiomatic thought you seem to imagine].

And that’s what you’re really afraid of, isn’t it, Rick? Of your kids changing their own minds. Having thoughts that you didn’t plant in there with the spade of the Bible. It’s called growing up, man: it’s called becoming a human being. It has less to do with what job the kids end up getting, whether they’re on Wall Street or own a business on Main Street or care for kids with cancer or create their own comic series. It has much more to do with the way that the kids see the world, the epistemology that they fashion for themselves to help them make sense of their own existence and I know I’ve lost you now, baby, because I used the word “epistemology” and if you’re not careful, I’ll point right back to Foucault and that would REALLY piss you off, wouldn’t it, me citing the ideas of a gay French dude, right?

So, Rick, let me bring it back to a place that maybe you can understand, one where you won’t be smelling poppers and dreaming of Donna Summer as you read my text. I used to work for an amazing woman, a university president [stay with me, Vest: take a deep breath] who didn’t just believe that, as our university’s slogan said, “Education Offers Freedom,” she embodied this ideal. Both of her parents and her grandparents: all college graduates. Her parents: both teachers who moved from Chicago back to the South in the 1950s, going back to their family’s roots–to the roots of slavery–to teach those who hadn’t gotten out, not yet. She and her husband: both teachers early in their careers. She: president of a for-profit university [hey, you like that idea, right?] with an on-campus presence that encouraged students, faculty, and staff alike to come to her with concerns, questions, comments. She embodied the potential of education in her DNA, in her everyday actions, and in the genuine love and concern she felt for all of the students, even those she met only in passing, or only on graduation day when she handed them their diploma.

Rick, this woman’s life illustrates the truth of the axiom that education can offer freedom: from poverty, from circumstance, from history, and yes, from ignorance, from fear, from derision. But the key word here is CAN; education isn’t a magic bullet, it’s not the universal means of escape from the dominant ideology. It’s a tool, man, a tool to which all those who want it should have access. This is what the President means when he says that everyone should be able to go to college: everyone should have the chance to see if education is the key to their lock, an answer–never the only answer–to some of their questions.

Your fear precedes you, sir. Your desire to consign others to ignorance all in the name of “freedom” is repugnant and will only hasten your obsolesce as a political and cultural force.

Put down the puritanical bullshit and pick up a slash fic.

Why does slash fiction matter? Why does my work matter? Why do I think it’s important for the conversations we have in slash fiction about homosexuality, heternormativity, sexuality, and gender identity to get pushed into the mainstream?

Here’s why it matters, damn it:

A major reason that Jerry Sandusky was able to rampage at Penn State for so long, to sexually abuse and rape so many young boys, is that the male-dominated jock culture in the football program didn’t want to talk about male-on-male rape. Or use any term they associated with “homosexuality.” Or use the word “anal” in conversation.

As this CNN article argues, the words that Mike McQueary used to describe what he witnessed in the football showers–Sandusky brutally rape a young boy–mattered. The words that got watered down, somehow, from “severe sexual acts” [whatever the fuck that means] to “horseplay.”

A modern-day poster boy for the price of homosexual panic. But he didn't have to pay it.

Even the title under the photo of McQueary included in the article plays this same little game: “Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary says he saw Jerry Sandusky molest a boy in the showers in 2002.” Fuck, no. He saw Sandusky RAPING a boy. Not molesting, RAPING.

As Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, argues in the article,”Witnesses are embarrassed to describe in graphic terms what they saw and then it becomes a game of Telephone after that, as one witness changes the story a little before talking to the next witness.”

So, to be clear: because grown, presumably heterosexual men were “embarrassed” to use words like “sodomy” and “rape” in the context of male-on-male sexual abuse–Sandusky lost his key to the locker room, but retained access to the facilities and to god knows how many children through The Second Mile foundation. For years, this happened, because these supposed leaders of men–exemplifiers of the American heteronormative masculine ideal–were afraid to talk frankly about these matters because–? They were afraid of being read as gay? Because only gay men can talk about anal rape without blushing? Please.

This quote from Dr. Chuck Williams of Drexell from the CNN article is pitch-perfect: “Discussing sex is not an issue for men…We probably talk about that more than anything else….However, homosexuality is definitely a nonstarter in male-dominated culture, which colored how the men involved responded to the incident.”

What in the hell?

So the dominant discourse will encourage grown men to call each other a “pussy,” “cock,” or a “dick” in polite conversation, but can’t tolerate any discussion of matters considered “homosexual” in nature, even if it means helping a child get justice?

Complete and utter bullshit. Because it’s true. Because the heteronormative speech and behavior codes in this country discourage put good ol’ American [white, middle class] masculinity in direct conflict with anything the dominant discourse deems “homosexual” in nature. And here, to be clear, the discourse is defining “homosexual” as male-to-male; female-to-female sex is awesome and so not considered “gay.” Hey, it feeds heterosexual male fantasy, so it must be ok.

Ok. So here’s one reason why the complicated and highly sexual conversations that we have in slash fiction–as writers, readers, producers, and consumers–matter, why they need to be pushed into the mainstream, become part of the popular, if not the dominant, discourse. I refuse to believe that I live in a country where children are exposed to pedophiles–the ones that are rooted into the heart of every community, every church, every institution–simply because men cannot bring themselves to say “anus” or “sodomy” for fear of being read as gay. So we have to start saying this stuff, talking about it honestly, making it part of our CONSTANT discussions of sex in this country. Look, fucking is fucking, ok? And slash fic communities are constructed around engaging in these conversations, in navigating discussions of homosexuality (M/M and F/F) through fictional characters. We’re here to help.

So slash fiction matters. Talking about Sam fucking Dean or Kirk and Spock giving each other blow jobs won’t save the world. But–but, goddamn it, it can help.

[ETA: I should have named this post “Sam fucks Dean and saves the world.” Ah well.]