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On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing a reporter who went undercover in multiple crisis pregnancy centers to see how they treat young women who fear they’re pregnant. Also, Mike Huckabee tries to shame Natalie Portman for being sexually active and gets called out on it, and news comes out that a whole lot of men have HPV.
I’ve been hanging onto this for awhile, but I think it’s still as fresh as when I first watched it. Greta Christina did a great video where she showed a straight woman being interrogated for her sexual orientation in the same way that gay people often are.
- psychology *
I’m only 33 and I remember a time when a lot of these questions were asked of gay people regularly in mainstream sources as if they were perfectly rational. Now that seems to be fading, but this is still a problem in many parts of the country.
One thing I’ve learned about movement conservatism, especially with regards to so-called “family values”, that is, anti-feminist conservatism, is that the followers have really easy, well-labeled buttons to push. And their leaders looooooove to push them. And one of the biggest buttons is labeled “this woman is having sex with someone is who not you, so hate her”. Though you can modify that one a little to get the judgment of the angry church ladies on the sexually active woman, but the point is hate hate hate. If the woman in question has other qualities that can be used to shore up the sense that she’s uppity, such as professional success or great beauty, so much the better. Which is why it was sort of inevitable that Mike Huckabee, who has many books to sell, would push this particular button when he was on Michael Medved show.
- huckabee 1 *
Yep, Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her role in “Black Swan”, and she had the nerve to get up on stage and everyone could see she’s totally preggers! Which means that she totally is having sex! This entire segment had a lot of blather about the supposed bad message this sends to women, with Huckabee claiming that most women confuse themselves with wealthy Hollywood actresses. But that excuse was paper thin, and it couldn’t have been more obvious that this was about shaming a woman for not hiding in her house because there’s visible evidence that she’s touched a penis. Seriously, I think the last time that women were actually expected to be cloistered at home when they were showing a pregnancy in America was the 19th century.
Huckabee going after a beloved actress for being happy and pregnant in public was one of those things that didn’t work out as well for him as he’d probably hoped it would. Instead, it kind of made him a laughingstock. Chris Matthews went after him, just mocking the hell out of him.
- huckabee 2 *
I’m actually skeptical that Mike Huckabee is really running for President. I think he’s actually trying to sell books and using the possibility of a presidential run to get booked on talk shows so he can sell books. But being compared to Charlie Sheen isn’t really good for either book sales or presidential aspirations.
Ed Schultz also found cause to just hammer at Huckabee, this time for being really obvious in his trolling, as proved by his hypocrisy.
- huckabee 3 *
Schultz reaffirms that he’s not saying anyone should be judged for being a young, single mother and certainly not for daring to leave the house while pregnant. But it does drive home part of what Huckabee is doing here, which playing identity politics. Women’s sexuality has always been used as a weapon in the us vs. them game. So-called Hollywood liberals are part of the coastal elite that wingnutty types put in the “them” category, along with college professors, non-white people, gay people, and anyone else they’re claiming isn’t a Real American that day. Portman’s pregnancy was just being used as a weapon in that particular war.
Of course, Mike Huckabee then acted the victim.
- huckabee 4 *
Actually, slut-shaming a woman and agreeing that pregnant women who aren’t married should be too ashamed of themselves to leave the house is definitely an attack. Huckabee may think he has a right to act like the moral scold and not get called out on it, but I’m afraid that’s just not how it works.
I continue to have mixed feelings about the way that the invention of an HPV vaccine has drawn so much attention to the existence of this virus. As a general rule, I’m a big on more knowledge and more education, but one problem with STIs is that they’re so stigmatized. So HPV often gets made into a bigger deal than it is. To make it worse, it tends to be associated with women more than men, and so all sorts of negativity regarding female sexuality gets caught up in people’s reactions. In my experience, no matter how much you emphasize that the virus is super duper common, people tend to associate it with promiscuity. I’ve had people, with a completely straight face, suggest to me that they think there are people who are sexually restrained enough they don’t need the vaccine, even though the conservative estimate is that more than half of adults will have it at some point in their lives.
So that’s where I’m coming from when I take in news reports like this.
- hpv 1 *
What makes this news so surprising is that it basically means that men have a lot more HPV than women. Most news reports I read or watched on this story didn’t frame it so bluntly, but that’s the basic gist of the story, and why it’s being covered so much.
- hpv 2 *
So, what this shows is that men have higher HPV rates than women at an older age. If you did a survey of women 18-80, you would not be looking at a 50% HPV rate like you have in men. Does this mean that men are sleeping around and women aren’t? Is there an epidemic of unfaithful men? No, and you can rest easy.
- hpv 3 *
So, in other words what they’re saying is not that women get less HPV because they’re all super monogamous. Or that men are super slutty. It’s that women who get HPV develop more of an immunity to future infections than men do. This is bad news in the sense that it sucks that half the population doesn’t have the same physical resources to fight off infection as the other half. But I do think there’s a strong chance that this news could mean that it will be easier to advocate for more widespread vaccination of both boys and girls. That’s especially true in light of new evidence that shows that HPV could also cause throat and oral cancers, which men get as well as women. Also, HPV causes genital warts, which are not life-threatening or particularly dangerous, but are also something most people can be convinced they would like not to have. If we can reframe HPV as a problem that men have along with women, some of the taint and taboo of it would likely recede.
Or maybe not. While I was listening to another, drier report on this on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, they started to take questions of the doctors who were on as experts. And this was asked on Twitter.
- hpv 4 *
I’ll admit I was kind of amused at how abrupt the doctor was. The person asking the question kind of let their bigot card show with the use of the term “homosexual”, which is increasingly used only by conservatives, whereas most other people just say “gay” now. But really it was the claim that straight and gay men can be assumed to have “vastly different” sexual habits that caught my attention. Clearly, the tweeter was hoping to blame the scale of this disease on gay men instead of straight men. But even if, and I haven’t seen solid recent data to show this, the gulf between gay and straight men is so high on average, gay men are still such a small percentage of the population that they simply couldn’t have a dramatic effect on the bottom line numbers. Again, the study showed that 50% of all adult men have HPV. Only something like 3 to 10 percent of men are gay or bisexual, so even if 100% of gay men have the disease, which I doubt, that would still mean that at least 45% of straight men have HPV.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, everything is misogyny edition. Rush Limbaugh was crowing about the attack on NPR that involved secret taping of a fund raiser named Ron Schiller. As is his custom, he works some misogyny into it.
- Limbaugh *
There’s nothing, not even public broadcasting, that isn’t about hating women and hating the feminine with this guy.