Back in 2020, some lawmakers in Tennessee freaked out at a proposal to add menstrual products to items on the annual sales-tax holiday: my god, what if they bought a whole year’s supply at once! Of course that’s possible with any item during the holiday but someone the thought of women getting a tax break on tampons pushed their buttons.
In Idaho more recently, Democrats proposed providing free tampons to girls in school because (I gather) not everyone has a steady supply and having to worry about it makes it harder to focus on schools. According to State Rep. Barbara Ehardt (who’s also pushing a new forced-birth policy) , talk of “period poverty” is too woke for her. Her Republican colleague Heather Scott complained the policy was absurd and asked if the nanny staters planned to provide free deodorant as well.
I can’t help but think of the outrage many conservatives have expressed that under Obamacare, insurance automatically covers ob/gyn stuff. The late Charles Krauthammer freaked out about it, as have Sean Hannity — why should he subsidize birth control when he’s not having sex? — and Paul Ryan, who complained that under the ACA, “the people who are healthy pay for the people who are sick.” Um, that’s how insurance works, dude. Fellow bullshit artist Megan McArdle similarly argued that saying company health insurance policies should cover birth control is as silly as demanding your employer buy you a car (I dissect her non-logic at the link).
Of course I’m sure these attacks fall into “any bullshit that can destroy Obamacare is good bullshit” category but it’s telling how many right-wingers focus their criticism specifically on ob/gyn stuff, as opposed to women buying policies that guarantee coverage for prostate cancer or Viagra (or in the case of Krauthammer, a paraplegic, that abled people’s policies cover wheelchairs and similar necessities like he relies on). Or that someone like me, who has a glass of red wine daily and doesn’t smoke, still has a policy that covers alcoholism and lung cancer. That’s all cool, but not the ob/gyn stuff.
Part of that may be simple prudery because the ACA includes birth control. If women want daily birth control pills it must be because they want sex every day; Mike Huckabee says it’s insulting the ACA covers this since it implies American women can’t control their libido. Of course it implies nothing of the sort: taking birth control regularly simply guarantees that if the circumstances for sex arrive, you don’t have to worry about pregnancy. But forced birthers hate the idea that women can have sex and refuse motherhood.
This may relate to why Republican judge Reed O’Connor just struck down the ACA requirement insurers cover preventive care, including much ob/gyn care, birth control (apparently not all forms) and cancer and HIV screenings (the government can appeal this). HIV and contraceptives, according to the post at the link, are his big bugaboos (the plaintiff in the case is a homophobe anti-vaxxer).
Some conservatives also hate the idea of treating pregnancy as a health condition rather than the magical miracle of women’s nature. Never mind that we have the highest maternal death rate in the developed world, misogynist Matt Walsh thinks “If a woman’s reproductive powers were seen as powers, rather than a disease or a burden or an oppression, I think conservatives and liberals alike could find many common reasons to reject the pill.” Here’s an idea Mr. Walsh: let each woman decide for herself whether a specific pregnancy is a burden or a blessing. Walsh thinks we should “get past the notion that a woman must be liberated from her nature” but neither he nor I get to define an individual woman’s (or man’s) nature for them.
I’m quite sure Walsh wouldn’t tolerate anyone defining his for him. And I’m just as sure that in his eyes (and Huckabee’s, Krauthammer’s, etc.) That’s Different.
You can read more of my work about misogyny in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward.