Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sexual Resentment and the Conservative Attack on Women

by NYMary

(Sorry for the silence: was supposed to have been posting for the last week, but just got back into reliable connection on the weekend.)

This week on Alternet, Amanda Marcotte assembled a handful of known facts to explain, as she says, why Sean Hannity is so mad that you're having sex. Not that you're having abortions, or that you got raped, or that you use birth control that they must now pay for: no, you're just having sex, and that's enough.
Here’s five ways conservative attacks on sexuality have grown more radical in the past year alone:

1. Turning contraception into a political issue.
2. Making sexual resentment a right-wing trope.
3. Race- and class-baiting the sex lives of others.
4. Suggesting rape is fair punishment for sexually active women.
5. Ramping up hysteria about abortion.

Read the whole thing, for sure.

Marcotte is clear here that the attack on sex is an attack on women: after all, we bewombed, benighted souls are obviously the ones who require public reprobation from the likes of Hannity and Limbaugh to see our true natures--voraciously sexual, we seek to delay, I dunno, Aeneas and the like from the manly purpose of building civilizations because we go out in public without our burqas. And sometimes, we have sex without wanting a baby. And sometimes even with people we aren't married to!

I was particularly taken with the jealousy argument Marcotte makes in argument #2. I mean, all her points are good, but this one is an angle I had just not really thought about before. Marcotte says:
Sean Hannity is really the master of this one, routinely invoking the specter of some young thing getting naked with men who aren’t in his audience, in order to make his audience resentful, and ready to take it out on women as a group. On the February 23 edition of his show, Hannity said, “I’m pro-choice in this sense: If you choose to get in the back seat of a car with somebody; if you choose to make out with them; if you choose to grab, grope and fondle; if you choose to take one article of clothing off after another...guess what? You made a series of choices.” He made sex, which your average American has more than twice a week, sound like some subterranean and strange activity that ordinary people turn their noses up to, and like it’s a criminal offense requiring the loss of freedom, at least for women. ... It’s just a matter of time before he comes right out and says that if he or his viewers aren’t getting sex at home, no one else should be, either.

Hannity might be partly playing on a generational thing here: his audience generally aged out of sex in cars well before the heyday of the Dodge Dart (but they loves them some insured Viagra!): I'm not that old, but the idea of having sex in a car now just seems logistically complicated. Nevertheless, I wouldn't deny such awkward encounters to anyone else, provided they're consensual, natch.

In any case, I'm not sure much of what Marcotte is saying here is news to anyone paying attention to these issues, but sometimes it's good to collect all the insults into one pile and call them what they are.

(cross-posted at WhiskeyFire)