Rick Santorum’s crusade to save America from the pandemic of pornography may seem like an out-of-the-blue call to action against smut—the kind of campaign rhetoric that supplies comedians and late-night talk-show hosts with good material—but for the last 40 years my family has lived this culture war. In the 1970s my father was prosecuted by the federal government for distributing Deep Throat, and today owns adult erotic retail stores. Read my full article.
All this retro 70s style debate about access to birth control is like stepping back in time. Didn’t we already decide 40 years ago women should freely determine their reproductive fate? Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but it’s archaic for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum to believe birth control is harmful for women. Even more insulting is his PAC donor, Foster Friess, eluding to that “back in the day” philosophy that an aspirin in between a woman’s knees is a cost effective form of contraception. Rush Limbaugh became the star creep when he called Georgetown Law student, Sandra Fluke, a slut for speaking out about birth control coverage provided by religious institutions at a Congressional hearing.
My book topic often leads my writing group to discuss sex and women’s issues. And in the context of today’s conversation about contraception, I wanted to share a comment made by a fellow member some time ago before all this recent news coverage. She said, “I’d rather have little girls looking like teens and learning about sex too early than teenagers looking like good little girls and being clueless about sex.” Although we don’t want to see our daughters and granddaughters grow-up too soon, we know from past history that an atmosphere of moral judgment and silence about sexuality leaves women easily ostracized for premarital sex or pregnancy. As you know these comments by Limbaugh and others are reflective of an attempt to ostracize women and marginalize an important women’s health issue.
Recent events illustrate that some attitudes haven’t changed much since the 1970s and that people still believe a widely held misconception that women who have sex outside of marriage are sluts or whores without morals. This attack is a common tactic used to degrade women and harm their credibility in an effort to demean their message. But today women hold more power, money and influence to fight back and will never be quiet on issues that affect our freedoms and rights. This upcoming election, watch as women vote overwhelming Democratic and Republicans spend the months leading up to November faltering under the weight of their bad press. While the aforementioned men seem to pine for the good old days, we will remind them (yet again) that the days of chastity belts are long gone.
I also want to acknowledge how porn has been influential in spurring conversations and debates about sex and women’s sexuality. When porn became widely available in neighborhood movie theaters and Deep Throat arrived on the scene in 1972, it created awareness about equal sexual pleasure and increased the demand for birth control which was becoming more widely used at the time. I don’t think women would have won as many hard fought battles for reproductive freedoms and taken such an active role in controlling when they have children, if it had not been for the influence of porn that shaped our opinions about sex at a critical time.
Today sex and porn are still popular and a part of our culture so we should talk about these issues without reverting back to some dangerous views that will limit choices for women. Let’s hope religious organizations will take a broader view about providing contraception coverage and realize a person can freely practice their religion but their religious convictions shouldn’t be forced on to anyone else.
Porn has a place in our society —at least that is what I think. I would like to hear from you on his topic so please answer this quick poll on my blog. It will only take a minute. Thanks!
A day before the voting begins in the Republican primary in my home state of Florida, I couldn’t help but think of the axiom, “to err is human, to forgive divine.” Voters in the politically twisted state of Florida will have to muster quite a bit of forgiveness where current Republican presidential hopefuls are concerned. Claims by Newt Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne Gingrich, he wanted an open marriage, and Mitt Romney for being evasive about releasing his tax returns has kept the press going for weeks. The voters in South Carolina, even women, found it in their hearts to forgive Gingrich and delivered a huge win for him in that state. It doesn’t look like the same thing will happen in Florida for Gingrich or exactly why he had such a stellar victory in South Carolina.
The electorate is fickle but in Gingrich’s case, I think he was forgiven because he seems to the brightest in the bunch of very average Republican nominees. The changing polls during the primaries indicate the frustration of voters in the search for a good candidate. In the absence of a leader with a full range of admirable qualities, South Carolina voters overlooked Newt Gingrich’s character flaws in favor of his high intelligence.
But why do some politicians receive our forgiveness (and votes) and others do not? The reasons vary based on our past experiences and sometimes unwavering personal philosophies. Who really knows since forgiveness is very personal and arbitrary. We may decide a candidate’s ideas or what they symbolize trump some serious personal failings.
Good examples are Bill Clinton, who masterfully crafted the “it’s the economy stupid” message and was elected despite the Gennifer Flowers scandal. And still received high approval ratings after the Monica Lewinsky story broke. I, along with many others, thought Clinton was a good President and effectively governed despite being a serial cheater. I forgave him because I favored his democratic policies but disapproved of his infidelities.
Ronald Reagan inspired patriotism on the heels of terrible economic times in the late 1970s and even though he was viewed as “just an actor” and not that bright, he still achieved landslide victories in 1980 and 1984. He’s revered today as a political icon but no one seems to talk about the Iran Contra scandal. I guess all is forgiven, right? Nixon, though vilified and forced out of office, was later recognized for some big accomplishments such as opening relations with China. Time, death and charisma seem to ease the way to forgiveness.
Then there are other politicians (there’s a long list) who seem to be beyond forgiveness and have absolutely no redeeming qualities. Senator John Edward committing adultery and fathering a child with Rielle Hunter while his wife, Elizabeth, suffered with cancer; Congressman Mark Foley sending sexually explicit messages to teenaged House pages; and Congressman Gary Condit evading investigation amidst the desperate attempts to find missing intern Chandra Levy. Thank goodness their political careers are OVER.
Infidelity and questionable ethics are not the ideal traits of a presidential hopeful and we aspire for our elected officials have the full package— high moral character, political deftness and scholarly competence. But more often than not, candidates don’t have all the qualities we would like and we rely on forgiveness to elect our leaders. We are forced to make decisions as to who we elect based on which qualities we dislike the least. Good luck to my friends and family in Florida who might vote in the primaries tomorrow. You’ll have lots to forgive of the candidates on the ballot.