Monday, March 5, 2012
Sandra Fluke and the Rise of Fourth-Wave Feminism
Feminism comes in waves.
First-wave feminism was concerned with the right to vote and property rights.
Second-wave feminism was concerned with legal and social barriers to educational and professional opportunities for women. In second-wave feminism, porn was bad.
Third-wave feminism gave us the indulgent academic disciplines of ecofeminism and queer theory; Slut Walks; and girl bands. Porn was acceptable again.
Sandra Fluke's remarks before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee mark the public debut of fourth-wave feminism. In this wave, activists are no longer concerned with rights or legal impediments, because those battles have largely been won by the first and second waves. For example, reproductive rights would seem to have been settled by the second-wave feminists and the Supreme Court case of Griswold v. State of Connecticut, which overturned states' laws banning contraceptives, so what's left to fight about?
Watch Sandra Fluke's remarks again, if you can. She describes how the women at (Catholic) Georgetown University have suffered "emotionally, medically, and financially" because of the University's religiously-based refusal to cover contraceptives in its insurance plan. She tells the tale of a friend with polycystic ovary disease who, unable to afford the $100/mo unsubsidized cost of the oral contraceptives used to treat her disease, stopped taking the pills and subsequently lost an ovary. She tells the tale of another woman who felt "embarrassed and powerless" at the drugstore counter when she realized that her contraceptives were not covered by insurance.
Embarrassed, powerless, don't know where to turn: that is American womanhood to a fourth-wave feminist. If the first wave gave us the Suffragettes and Carrie Nation, the fourth wave has given us whiny little bitches and fainting women. These women, Sandra Fluke instructs us, HAVE NO CHOICE but to go without contraception, which can cost over $3000 while a woman is in law school.
Fortunately for Sandra, she was only giving opening remarks at a committee hearing and not formal testimony before Congress, or she might have to answer for having provided false testimony. The medical histories are protected by privacy law and are therefore completely unverifiable, but Fluke's assertions concerning the cost of contraception are very easily challenged.
The woman with polycystic ovary disease, the woman who was "embarrassed and powerless" at the pharmacy counter, and the married couple who just couldn't fit contraceptives into their budget are all examples of Silly People. Silly People who, when confronted with an unmanageable expense, didn't make any effort to find a workable alternative, just whined about it to anyone who would listen. If these Silly People had picked up a phone, they would have quickly learned that oral contraceptives can be obtained from WalMart or Target for $9 per month. Assuming 34 months to complete a J.D., that would amount to just over $300, well short of the $3000 claimed by Sandra Fluke.
For the sake of these Silly People, Sandra Fluke would have us toss the First Amendment overboard, and force Catholics to subsidize a product which violates their religious beliefs and conscience.
When these Silly People, these whiny little bitches and fainting women, came to Sandra Fluke with their tales of contraceptives denied, did she help them research cost-effective alternatives? I'll bet she didn't; women who were actually empowered to act on their own behalf would be less valuable to her as props in a campaign against organized religion and religious liberty.
And that's what this battle is about. No one is preventing women from using contraception, the battle Sandra Fluke is fighting isn't about women's rights at all. The battle is about the threats to religious liberty posed by a President who regards it as seditious for a religious institution to openly disagree with him, and whose most tender feelings for the Constitution occur when he imagines rewriting it. We must make sure Barack Obama and Sandra Fluke end up on the wrong side of history.