This post will be much less fluffy than previous posts. I don't often get on a soapbox about serious issues, mainly because I want to make sure that I know what I'm talking about before I say anything, and by the time I'm comfortable with that, the moment has passed.
But "the moment" of women's issues is not in danger of passing any time soon. There are some days I can't believe I'm really waking up in 2012, because it feels more like I've gone backward in time. My current focus is the brouhaha in the wake of Rush Limbaugh's comments about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who testified before a congressional committee as to why contraceptives should be covered by insurance.
First, let me state that while I'm liberal, I do not align myself with any political party. Next, I've heard some Fluke supporters claim that Limbaugh is "picking on a college student." I don't agree with that; Fluke is 30 years old and is a third-year law student. She's an adult and she put herself out there and should expect some criticism. But to be called a slut and a prostitute by a national radio talk show host? Really?
I've heard and read remarks asking why there wasn't this outrage over (and this is just one example) Bill Maher calling Sarah Palin a four letter word that starts with "c." What's the difference, they ask?
Here's the difference. I'm not condoning public name-calling of anyone. But Maher was rude and disrepectful toward one person. Limbaugh was rude and disrespectful toward women in general, implying that women who have sex are sluts. Yeah, yeah, I know that's not what he said, and that's always Limbaugh's defense, but it's clear to me that's what he meant. And yes, he was completely inappropriate in saying of Fluke, "she's having so much sex she can't afford contraception." Newsflash: women don't take birth control pills every time they have sex, and if you think they do, you really need to shut up about this issue.
I'm not saying that birth control should be free (and by "free" I mean available without a copay), but it's completely irresponsible when birth control is not covered by insurance. And let's talk about the fact that birth control pills are often used for reasons other than contraception, which by the way, was the main focus of Fluke's testimony.
A friend of mine recently said that the birth control controversy is really a marketing issue. She suggests that birth control be rebranded as medications that are "effective tools against endometriosis, ovarian cysts, excessive cramping and ovarian cancer, but with a side effect that they prevent pregnancy." Personally, I've been taking birth control for years and the reason has nothing to do with pregnancy prevention. I'm fortunate that my insurance coverage includes contraceptives, so I only pay $10 or so out-of-pocket each month.
I definitely don't want to sound like I'm gender-bashing, but ladies, we need to step up and stop allowing men to dictate our health issues. We need to have a voice in what matters to us. Sandra Fluke has been such a voice and I hope there are many more to come.