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F*cking for Fun: The Hobby Lobby Decision

This astonishing ruling triggered off thoughts expressed some months back about women, birth control and sex. So, today’s blog is an updating of them piggybacking on the Hobby Lobby ruling.

As soon as this 5-4 vote was announced and Alito’s majority opinion was read the howling from the left began — and it continues and it should. It just might be the worst, illogical, nakedly biased SCOTUS ruling since Dred Scott. Frankly, I didn’t expect it and I don’t think anyone with two neurons left to rub together did. When the case was first accepted by the Court I thought it would be DOA. It seemed so ludicrous, so outside the realm of anything that anyone could tie to principles enshrined in federal law. Like so many others who follow the Washington wars, I was wrong. The reason is now obvious. We were looking in the wrong places. This ruling isn’t grounded on the Constitution or driven by the need to protect the rights of the owners of Hobby Lobby or whether corporations are people and protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). That’s all window dressing. The decision is about fucking. Yes, fucking — specifically women fucking for fun.

So much of the blather that streams from the far right in this country has to do with weird vestiges of our puritanical past that it isn’t even amusing any more. As noted in that earlier blog, those who oppose abortion claim they are all about the sanctity of life or protecting the unborn child. Nonsense. If they loved life they wouldn’t support capital punishment in the face of overwhelming evidence that the innocent are executed with far greater frequency than the guilty. They wouldn’t back idiotic wars where thousands die. They would support pre- and postnatal health care, day-care centers, paid parental leaves, Head Start and other programs that benefit children. The deep reason for the conservatives’ opposition to a woman being able to make a decision about terminating an unplanned pregnancy is because in their minds she is guilty of a horrible sin: having had sex without the specific intent to become pregnant. And the punishment for this crime is to have to bear, raise and support an unwanted child. If these pseudo-moralists really wanted to reduce abortions they would support sex education and freely available birth control, the two programs that actually do work in limiting the number of unwanted pregnancies.

And this same twisted sense of morality is what lurks behind the well-dressed opinion that Justice Alito authored. It may have pseudo-legal language linking it (rather painfully) with the RFRA and echoing the equally-misguided Citizens United decision but it isn’t being driven by these statutory niceties. It’s because women who use birth control fuck for fun.

Harsh? Yes. But dig down a bit, below the surface. Look for consistency. Look for the common social schemas embraced by elderly Catholic men. Note the parallels with the anti-sexuality of Catholicism, the inbred sexism, the meme of male-supremacy, the view of women as chattel, property, the lingering women-in-their-place ethic. These sexist themes still ring dull-thudding bells despite claims to the contrary. Alito’s majority opinion reeks with painful apologies where empty claims are made about the severe limits of this ruling, of how it only applies in a sharply constrained way to a few corporations.

He read Ginsburg’s angry, passionate dissent. He knows at some level what the majority has wrought and he grasps, in a vaguely uncomfortable way, just how much his judicial belief system is interwoven with that of an outdated Catholicism — the one where women are seducers, duplicitous, dangerous. Where women should be modest in their dress and never provocative in their manners. Where a woman raped is a woman who asked for it, wasn’t careful, shouldn’t have been there or acted like that or should have known better. Men can’t help themselves so women must take care not to inflame them. A woman can’t be left to make decisions about her body, her sexuality or her partner. And no for-profit corporation should have to provide benefits that make it more likely that women will engage in recreational sex.

There’s been a lot of chatter about the right-wing’s “war on women.” Well, the Hobby Lobby decision is the latest salvo. It wasn’t about religious freedom or Obamacare or the Constitution or the RFRA. It was about women enjoying sex. The women on the court, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, know this. They understand. They’ve been there. They can’t put it quite like this though. So I’m doing it for them.

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