If you’re still on social media after yesterday, you’re profoundly masochistic, in need of a stiff drink, or both. Take this moment to examine your Twitter timeline for evidence of the following words: “slippery slope,” “minefield,” “ban,” and “birth control.” Use them as a drinking game and get yourself most of the way into a bottle of Smirnoff. If there were ever an excuse for day-drinking, it’s the amateur constitutional lawyering happening across the Internet. Let’s not mention the Oval Office, where the “constitutional lawyer” in residence stridently disagrees with the professional justices on the Supreme Court.
What has happened over the course of the last twenty-four hours is nothing short of a War on Women. But this isn’t the war that has dominated headlines for its fanatical notion that people do not lose their right to believe in a higher power once they open their organic, locally-sourced artisanal coffee joint in greater Portland. The women who purport to speak as mouthpieces of the feminist movement on the Internet may be the least intelligent consumers of media since the people of Salem took the word of two twelve-year-old girls as gospel truth of demon infestation.
When addressing Internet feminists I use the word “feminist” loosely, since while the term should encompass nearly every walk of life interested in the true rights of women, it seems in this case to refer specifically to someone who is so hapless at financial and reproductive matters that she’d practically prefer bottles of birth control be administered by a government authority that also watches her swallow them. To hear such harpies opine you’d think the Earth had caved in, the bottom had fallen away, and that condoms were going to be placed under lock and key by ruthless and uncontrollable Hobby Lobby executives bent on bringing about a dystopian Margaret Atwood novel.
Absent from the discussion is the notion that the ruling was relatively narrow. It applies provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (authored by Senator Chuck Schumer and signed in to law by Hillary Clinton’s husband) to companies that are directly owned and managed by people who have day to day connections to the business. The ruling applies only to the Health and Human Services contraception mandate, and the ruling itself offers a congressional remedy that would serve the government’s purpose of handing out free birth control whilst preserving those First Amendment rights that our country was founded on, thanks to that ragtag band of Plymouth Rock-bound puritanical nutcases.
Such nuanced, yet rather obvious conclusions had to be drawn from the opinion itself, but in order to draw them you also had to read it, something which these Spokeswomen for All Ladies seem shockingly unable to do. Is birth control now illegal? Will women be forced to bleed to death in the streets from endometriosis without the necessary treatment the pious class keeps just slightly out of reach? No. At least sixteen birth control options are still on the table for Hobby Lobby employees, and will be there tomorrow behind the pharmacy counter, unmolested by the creeping hands of corporate hegemony (and even the Catholic Church has no prior objection to your chosen therapeutic treatment).
What results from all of this is a War on Women’s Intelligence where lock-step, conformity-demanding legions with the intellectual curiosity of a lesser Kardashian spread a message to a waiting audience with little regard to its veracity, inciting panic with a campaign of misinformation. Whether this misinformation takes root speaks of the audience, of course, but the mere fact that women in places of influence seem hell-bent on speaking directly to a female audience with nothing but thinly-veiled contempt for that audience’s intellectual capacity is a real killer. Almost without exception, everyone hawking the War on Women thinks women are dumb enough to believe them. And it’s a calculated decision: were we to discuss real policy goals in the service of improving access to women’s reproductive services, we’d be talking market solutions, scaling back governmental regulation to lessen the cost of available medications, and teaching a basic understanding of the female anatomy in our “comprehensive” sex education courses. We would instruct young women on how to know and understand their complex bodies, not merely how to shove a pill down their throat and hope for the best.
Internet feminists and the like understand that any truly fruitful national dialogue about issues important to women involves not just concession that they may be wrong or that their ideas may be scientifically incomplete, but that any national consideration of market-based policies designed to truly make women’s healthcare more affordable and safer may go at odds with their larger pro-regulatory goals. After all, giving Planned Parenthood some much needed competition in the free clinic space or hoisting on the educated single women of our age the need to take personal responsibility in the course of their own reproductive health needs would run counter to the idea that a suffocating and paternalistic government needs to personally manage nearly every aspect of their lives. Grainy Facebook profile photos of Ruth Bader Ginsberg are a poor replacement for true consideration of what’s best for America’s women.
The most deeply ironic part of the campaign is the two hashtag slogans which, despite the White House’s continual yet unsuccessful use of the method in world affairs (Russia really backed down from that #standwithUkraine State Department Twitter battle), remain at the core of the White House’s response to the Hobby Lobby decision: #standwithwomen and #notmybossbusiness (which is also, technically, grammatically incorrect). The White House stands with women only insofar as they impart greater authority to the president over their private affairs, as though he was a would-be husband in a work of pre-nineteenth century literature, and support the president’s agenda with regard to his health care program (which is, ironically, a corporate work of literature itself). The assertion that birth control is “not my boss’s business” only applies selectively: my boss should not be concerned with what I do in my bedroom and bathroom, apparently, except when he gets the invoice for it.
So while the self-proclaimed voices of women’s rights continue to chant out their slogans and churn out horrendous graphic design work aimed at cowing women into their orthodoxy and out of their constitutional rights, remember: even they didn’t know they were victims until the Obama administration convinced them that paying for their own birth control was an oppressive scheme. In the end, they’re just taking orders from a man.