The Misogynist Elephant in the Convention Room

(AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Edmund D. Fountain)

The floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum undergoing preparation or the 2012 Republican National Convention

Three days from now, in the hurricane-lashed hull of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, at the temporal cross coordinates of Congressman Todd Akin’s confession and the Republican Party’s communion, we’re finally going to see what’s truly mesmerized this white, middle-aged, male political conglomerate for the last two generations, and that’s the sexual freedom of women. The language has always been there, but until this presidential election it’s been lip service; next Monday, however, when the Republican platform is approved by the party’s convention, all the fear and loathing that women’s sexuality engenders will be splayed in the aisles before an electorate newly alerted to the party’s unforgiving position on abortion courtesy of Akin’s imprudence. The Akin vocabulary, and the platform’s, may be one of “abortion” and “rape,” but those words are symptoms of what really afflicts the party, which is the intolerable vision of women having sex on their own terms with impunity. This is what much of the anti-abortion movement detests and always has detested in the name of “life.”

Let’s hasten to be clear that among those who oppose abortion, many and maybe most are sincerely troubled by the morality of it. Let’s hasten to add that even some of us in the squeamish middle who consider ourselves pro-choice attach to that choice the ifs, ands, and buts that go with a deliberation so spiritual as when an entity ceases to be part of a woman’s body and crosses the threshold into its own humanity. Let’s acknowledge that in the second half of a pregnancy some of us hear abortion—as timed by the metaphysical clock of the conscience—tick-tocking ever louder and closer to infanticide, and that except when the mother’s health is profoundly jeopardized we might even go so far as to agree with Republicans that late-term abortions are altogether too late. Let’s concede that on such an ethically combustible issue, a compelling case can be made that public funds shouldn’t subsidize such a private procedure, and that a decision best left to the province of personal choice results in a consequence best left to the province of personal responsibility. Let’s say that, between the one extreme that would outlaw any procedure under any circumstances beginning with conception, and the other extreme that would allow any procedure under any circumstances up to the moment of birth, the rest of us believe the question of abortion is complicated.

Be all that as it is, what’s characterized significant segments of the pro-life movement since it began 40 years ago is a hostility to sex itself, namely sexual behavior that isn’t strictly reproductive. What characterizes much of the pro-life movement is a hostility to sexual fulfillment, namely a women’s sexual fulfillment, which warrants punishment by maternity—a head-spinning concept of righteousness. If the designation of Sandra Fluke as a slut on the airwaves some months back by Rush Limbaugh wasn’t a tip-off, the Akin Manifesto of this past weekend is; thus the premise that not only is rape a phony excuse used by women to terminate unwanted pregnancies and that a “legitimate” rape inevitably triggers a bodily rejection of pregnancy, but its more important corollary: If you were raped and got pregnant, then you were never really raped at all. This invokes the logic of medieval witch trials, whereby the accused is thrown into the middle of a lake and only proves her innocence by drowning.  

None of this is new. What’s new is the alignment of events and words, and the stampede by the Republican Party—including ardent warriors like Limbaugh and Ann Coulter—to chastise Akin in the very same 48-hour period during which Akin’s stand against abortion even in the case of rape is being restated more elegantly in a platform that’s been blithely overlooked at conventions past but will now be on conspicuous parade. This kind of politicization of sex on a national scale hasn’t happened before in this country. It hasn’t happened in this country because down through the centuries, politicizing sex is something that’s taken place only in totalitarian states and theocracies like China and Iran. The Republican platform is not a proclamation of “sanctity” or (if you can stand to wrap your head around the suggestion) a fulfillment of the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Rather it’s the expression of a sexual male hysteria that’s driven the issue of abortion no less than it’s driven every issue having to do with the oppression of women, something that Akin’s indiscretion has done us the favor of revealing beyond reasonable contradiction.

Comments

You write, "...what’s characterized significant segments of the pro-life movement since it began 40 years ago is a hostility to sex itself, namely sexual behavior that isn’t strictly reproductive." Just to be clear, those segments of the anti-choice movement have no problem with men's non-productive sexual behavior.

Misogynist means "woman hater" Republicans and Conservatives are not women haters. Not any more than a Liberal. Anyone that says it or thinks it is stupid. Steve, if you think your comments are going to sway someone on the fence than you don't have much confidence in your ilk. Reporting like this just looks desperate.

You are incorrect. They demonstrate absolutely no respect for women, their intelligence, freedom, privacy or rights as living, breathing human beings - and considering women inferior, which they demonstrate at every juncture, is a form of hatred. Contrary to your assertion regarding the article and its author, your retort "looks desperate."

I would really encourage you to read something besides articles on this website or watch something besides the Rachel Maddow show. There are many cases of Republicans being pro-women, specifically electing women to all sorts of Congressional and gubernatorial seats.

And on the other side, there are many cases of Democrat and liberal leaders espousing hate speech directed and conservative women. Just be aware that when you paint a broad brush across an entire group of people, you're really doing yourself a disservice.

When are you going to call out the liberal hate spewed every day toward Palin and Bachmann. Just because they disagree with your ideology it's okay for them to be told to kill themselves and for people to vocally hope they get gang raped? How is that okay?

Nope.

Akin didn't say anything that high-ranking Republicans haven't been saying since the election of Reagan in 1980 - and this non-existent "Reproductive Defense System" they allege prevents conception in cases of rape has been presented as fact, not only by right-wing politicians, but various extremist organizations - and broadcast far & wide by their devotees. (For specifics & evidence, see video of Rachel Maddow's 8/20 broadcast available on the MSNBC.com site and titled "Extremists go Mainstream in GOP Leadership.) The GOP Platform includes as a goal the passage of a "Human Life Amendment" to the Constitution, which would confer "personhood" on fertilized ova, ban abortions under any and all circumstances and strip females of their "personhood" rights, forcing them to carry pregnancies to term and undergo childbirth against their will. They've thrown Akin under the bus because he spoke the Republican Party line aloud during campaign season, jeopardizing the women's vote they require. They're duplicitous, corrupt, manipulative misogynists who will deceive women to achieve victory and power - and then attempt to enslave them. How any self-respecting woman can support and vote for Republicans is a mystery. I don't know how they look their daughters & granddaughters in the face - or themselves in the mirror.

Rachel Maddow isn't exactly a reliable source for insight into the thinking of the GOP leadership. The Romney campaign has focused almost exclusively on economic issues. But perhaps leftists have become as good as picking up "dog whistles" that signal "misogyny" as they have at picking up "dog whistles" that signal "racism". You know, trying to get spending under control is "racist". Now it is apparently "misogynist" as well.

It's always fun to check in here once in a while to see what's doing in the parallel universe of American Prospect. This article offers ample rewards. The idea that the "talk" will be about jobs but the reality will be about the Republican fear of female sexuality is an idea that is so delusional, I can't help wondering if the author isn't really playing a trick on us - deliberately framing the most idiotic line of argument possible and then seeing how many readers actually take it seriously. But - assuming that this was written with a straight face - it is worth noting that the author acknowledges that the anti-abortion plank has been "blithely ignored" at conventions past but insists that it will somehow "be on conspicuous parade" this time around. Why, precisely? Where is the evidence for this? Is the author seriously arguing that the Republicans will willingly turn from their most vote-gaining issues - jobs, the economy, reducing government spending, repealing Obamacare - in order to embrace this loser? One need not agree with any of the Republican positions on the all-important economic issues, of course. But can anyone argue that the anti-abortion plank offers them more electoral potential? Enough that it will be "on conspicuous parade" at the convention? Is it possible to be more detached from reality?

Okay, let's see if I've got this right. The primary motivation of the Right is misogyny, except that it is racism. Articles such as this shows the increasing intellectual laziness now common on the left, although I have to admit that Ta-Nehisi Coates has gotten quite good at constructing a narrative about how all opposition to Obama is racist.

This article is all based on opinion and has no substance. I know as many, if not more, woman against abortion than men. You stated republicans are, "intolerable vision of women having sex on their own terms with impunity". That is 100% not true. I like woman being open with sex but I would perfer them using birth control instead of murdering an innocent baby. What is wrong with protecting an unborn baby? New science proves a fetus can feel pain. I guess if you think it is okay to murder a baby just because a woman is too stupid, cheap, or ignorant to use very inexpensive birth control than you need to reflex on the type of person you really are. Abortion has become so political that many liberal think murder is okay just because their party supports it. How many of them would support it if they had to watch it happen. Many liberqal are against killing an animal for food but are all for killing a baby and throwing it in the trash. I am a common sense type of person and this makes no sense to me. BTW, I am for abortion in the case of rape and inncest.

Mr. Erickson,

With all due respect... are you out of your mind?

How can you possibly spew such garbage from your mind, without being viewed as one who is attempting to influence those who don't apply critical thinking to what you write?

It's garbage... simply propaganda garbage.

Good luck sleeping at night and looking at yourself in the mirror.

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