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Fundies ignoring that their god probably wouldn’t be too keen on Viagra

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 13:39 EDT
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At XX Factor yesterday, I joked that Gingrich and other anti-choice nuts are going to rethink their opposition to stem cell research in record time if, as hoped, a cure for a certain form of erectile dysfunction is created. Really, it was only half a joke. The ugly truth of the matter is right wingers’ utterly different approach to women’s reproductive health care and men’s access to ED drugs demonstrates that contrary to their claims of simply acting on devotion to Jesus, these folks are using religion as a cover for a deep-set misogyny. From the Catholic Church to most info you can find on religious websites to the anti-choice members of Congress, when asked about Viagra, they are supportive. Republicans like John McCain have routinely voted against bills that would require insurance companies that cover Viagra to cover contraception. The reason for this is simple: plain misogyny. Anti-choicers tend to see contraception as a “party drug” that allows dirty sluts to go slut it up. But they see Viagra as allowing men their god-given erections. That this is a hypocrisy is glossed over with an argument I’ve seen all over religious websites, but is best voiced by Bill O’Reilly:

The argument is that erectile dysfunction is a condition that needs to be cured, but since pregnancy is “natural” (actually, so is erectile dysfunction, as it’s often just part of aging), preventing it is dirty slutdom. It’s the thinnest of excuses for naked misogyny, especially if you consider that the worst that will happen physically to a man who doesn’t get an erection is that he doesn’t get an erection, but a pregnant woman is going to suffer weight gain and severe pain no matter what, and some of the more serious side effects of pregnancy are diabetes, stroke, and even death. 

Since anti-choicers by and large present themselves as devout Christians who are only doing god’s will, however, that makes this misogynist bullshit even worse. Right now, the Catholic bishops are screeching because the HHS is going to require them to cover birth control prescriptions for organizations they control that hire from and serve the general public. What’s nakedly sexist about this is the Biblical justifications for banning abortion and contraception are extremely thin, but the Biblical justification for denying access to Viagra is really sound. Anti-choicers have cast around wildly in the Bible looking for verses that mention abortion or contraception—which have been around in one form or another since roughly forever—and haven’t found much. A little poetic language about the womb doesn’t mean banning abortion, nor does a strange story about a man defying god’s direct orders to impregnate his dead brother’s wife say much about contraception so much as the importance of taking direct god-orders seriously. 

But Paul’s writings in the New Testament are pretty clear on this: he thinks while married sex is better than fornication, no sex at all is the best of all possible worlds. He reluctantly allows that married people, having already gone ahead and been dirty sex-havers, should continue to do that, but it’s definitely less than ideal. With this worldview in mind, the Christian seems obligated not to see erectile dysfunction as a tragedy, but as god sending a hint to you that your days of being distracted from your worship by sexual concerns are being called to an end. Paul seems very clear on the point that people have sex for fun and not really for procreation, so the use of birth control strikes me as no more sinful by this measure than simply marrying in the first place. But trying to reverse god-given celibacy with modern medicine seems like directly defying god’s obvious will when he struck you with ED. That is, if you read the Bible with an intention to actually doing what it says. Most Christians—even the good ones—come to the Bible with a predetermined belief in what’s right and look for rationalizations in the verses. It’s clear with anti-choicers that they just don’t like women and seek verses that reinforce that, ignoring the fact that Paul is probably just as concerned with how filthy male sexuality is as female.

The good news is I’m not Christian, so I’m free to see all this hostility to sexuality as perverse, and believe instead that sex is up there with chocolate and warm days in reasons to be thankful to be alive, and that medical science should make it their business to make the enjoyment of life safer and less stressful. Thus, Viagra and birth control for all!

On that note, enjoy this story of a legislator in Virginia who has introduced a bill requiring that men who want Viagra undergo a rectal exam in order to do so. For their own health, you know. Just like those mandatory vaginal probes fro women seeking abortion. 

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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