And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that is was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof…
Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
From Genesis Chapter 3
The manufactured controversy over Obama’s recent proposal to require employers to provide birth control access to their female employees was laughable to a liberally minded man like myself, but shows just how crazy these cultural issues can get in an election year. It showed that men of power still have no problem parading a cultural/religious issue that they likely don’t think much about, in an attempt to bring into focus the ever-blurring lines between myopic Republican and Democrat isomorphic policies. It was fake, it was manufactured, it has already been mostly forgotten, but of course it was pregnant with life-altering implications for millions of Americans.
How do I know it’s fake?
#1. Around 65% of Americans supported the proposal, even before Obama came up with a compromise that has insurance companies footing the cost. What other supposedly controversial issue or politician garners 65% support?
#2. Obama’s compromise was immediately supported by the Catholic hospital association and Catholic Charities.
#3. All anyone has talked about for the past 3 years is war and jobs.
#4. Those outraged, like everyone else, pick and choose which religious beliefs to hold on tight to. There has been a lot of great commentary around this issue regarding ‘cafeteria Catholics’. Juan Cole listed 10 stances from the Catholic Bishops, who were the earliest vocal detractors of the proposal, that Catholic politicians like Santorum and Gingrich ignore, namely: no preventive war, universal health care, compassion toward immigrants, no death penalty, Israel’s borders, and welfare.
But this debate goes far beyond Catholics or partisan jockeying. This debate is about religiously justified patriarchy in America. Rep. Issa held a panel on this issue after it was already settled with the compromise that has insurance companies foot the bill for birth control, and denied the Democrats’ only request for a witness, because she was not ‘qualified.’ Of course, it’s not his job to vet the other party’s witnesses, but the point is, he thinks his all-male panel of religious leaders, at least one of which is celibate, are qualified to discuss women’s health and family planning.
The argument is that the outrage is based solely on religious freedom. But we have plenty of ground rules for religious people. Namely, you can’t use illegal drugs even if they are central to religious practice. I think if we can bar expressly religious practices from native peoples, we can force private health insurance plans to cover women’s health. Also, we cherish freedom from religion in this country. The women who rely on religious institutions for health care can either follow church doctrine and pass up on contraceptives, or they can use it.
But to paint these right-wing men as highly religious or pious is to give them too much credit for consistency. I still think most of them are motivated by the election year, but even if they are all deeply concerned about this issue, it boils down to the fact that they – like every other person of faith on the planet – pick and choose which issues they want to get upset about. They don’t get this upset about war, about poverty, or about people who wear clothes made from more than one material (expressly proscribed in the Old Testament).
So which is it right-wingers? Are you cynically throwing cultural pasta on the wall during an election year? Or are you cognitively unable to read more than the first few pages of the Bible? Or do you became enraged when you think of independent women?
Rep. Walsh would like to believe this debate has nothing to do with women. Notice he actually apologizes to the all male panel for having to testify on the matter at all. As if they should be allowed to control their women without anyone questioning them.
The following is the testimony Rep. Issa would not allow. Sandra Fluke discusses the real financial and health burdens placed on women who rely on religious universities and hospitals.
Every year I become more and more convinced that we need a female majority in our governments and corporations. I realize there are a lot of Michelle Bachmanns, Madeline Albrights, Hillary Clintons, and Sarah Palins out there, but we have got to find a way to move beyond Old Testament patriarchy – and male solutions for economic and foreign policies – in this country.