It very often seems that whenever conservative Republicans talk about women and anything to do with sexuality, they manage to be oafish and offensive. Mike Huckabee gives us our latest entrant into the hall of shame.
In an effort to defend Huckabee, the folks at the American Family Association added context, because the missing context was the problem, right?
Huckabee’s statement didn’t start off that bad:
“Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them; it’s a war for them.”
So far so good, right? But then his next sentence was:
“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.”
There is no coherent connection between the two ideas – how do you move from “women are capable” to “they can’t control their libidos”?
Now, as Paul Waldman pointed out:
Huckabee’s position is that saying “Democrats are treating women like dirty sluts by saying they should have access to birth control!” is very, very different from just saying women are dirty sluts. He feels he’s been falsely accused of saying the latter, when he was really just saying the former. I’m sure that he thinks that if women just understood the full context of his statement, they’d realize he respects and honors them. What he doesn’t get is that women actually want and need contraception, and 99 percent of women who have had sex have used some form of contraception at some point in their lives. So when he tells them that contraception is for sluts, what they hear isn’t “Because I care for you, I don’t want you to become a slut,” what they hear is, “You’re a slut.”
Waldman’s insight only takes us so far, though. Huckabee’s statement sets up two opposite positions – birth control and self control. In his statement, Huckabee assumes the need for birth control is caused by lack of self control. He is saying that only sluts who can’t conrol themselves need birth control. And since 99% of American woman use birth control, he’s saying almost every American woman is a slut.
There’s not a positive spin on that statement.