CNN Conservative pundit, Erick Erickson, who potentially hears Charlie Brown’s teacher every time women speak, had this inspiring response:
Classy. He has since faux-apologized: “My apologies to those who were offended by my tweet. Wasn’t my intention.” There are few things I loathe more than this sort of non-apology, which is code for, “It was just a joke, lighten up.” I can only imagine how Erickson felt when Sandra Fluke talked about women’s health and the importance of women’s voices.
We’ve also seen another future we could choose. First of all, we’d have the right to choose. It’s…an America in which our president, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters—not his delegates or donors—and stands with all women. And strangers come together, reach out and lift her up. And then, instead of trying to silence her, you invite me here—and give me a microphone—to amplify our voice. That’s the difference.
I know a lot of reasonable people are really disappointed that contraception has become a controversial issue in 2012. I keep hearing this sighed refrain: “ Why are we still talking about this?” It is exhausting and disheartening and even a little scary to have to fight these same battles all over again. But here’s the upside: we’re having a legitimate discussion about a women’s rights and social issues in this country. For the first time in my life, Democrats are not begrudgingly pro-choice; they are embracing it and featuring it in a prime-time DNC speech. I know NBC and ABC didn’t show Fluke, but I was watching CNN and, although they may employ Erickson, they showed it. After her speech (male) pundits were saying things like, “these forced ultrasounds are horrible and invasive” and then other people nodded in agreement! I actually squeezed my partner’s hand in that moment and said, “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation on a national level!”
For as long as I can remember, feminists have been painted as the radical ones. Abortion makes people upset and uncomfortable, and even centrists who default to pro-choice seemed to prefer that the issue would just go away. But then something happened, and now democrats are stumbling over themselves to say, “We’re pro-choice! We support equal pay for equal work! We think Planned Parenthood does important work!” The democrats even included a plank in their official platform in favor of gay marriage. It’s the Republicans who are trying to hide their backwards take on social issues, because the tide is turning, my friends.
I happen to think that when the Congressional Republicans decided to make contraception an issue they made a fundamental strategic misstep, and in that moment they allowed the national debate to slip through their fingers. Because here’s the thing: Abortion still makes people uncomfortable, and so when Republicans kept that at the center of the debate, they had an advantage. But it’s 2012, and everyone’s a-okay with contraception. When the debate became about birth control access, and law students were getting slut-shamed, and women’s voices were blatantly excluded from a matter of women’s health, the Republican party turned their hand and the American public saw what feminists have been saying for years. This isn’t actually about abortion; it goes far deeper than that.
Then the internet exploded over Susan G. Komen trying to defund Planned Parenthood, and in that moment I think a lot of people learned for the first time what Planned Parenthood actually does. The radical right (which seems to have a stranglehold on the Republican party) got too cocky, reached too far too soon, and America woke up. And the Democrats were paying enough attention to swoop in and seize the strategic advantage to be had by not being a dick. The Erick Erickson’s of the world still exist and unfortunately they still have clout, but it is becoming increasingly clear that they are on the wrong side of history. I for one couldn’t be happier that we’re still talking about these issues, because as a country I think we’re finally talking about them in a way that matters and in a way that might affect real change.