Offensive Remark of the Week: Bill O’Reilly is Getting Desperate Edition

by Cara on July 22, 2008

in 2008 election, assholes, bigotry, discrimination, media, misogyny, offensive remark of the week, patriarchy, politics, reproductive justice, Republicans, sex and sexuality, sexism, stereotypes, women’s health

You may have seen Planned Parenthood’s new ad with John McCain staring uncomfortably and helplessly for 8 full seconds when asked about whether or not health insurance should have to cover birth control if it covers Viagra. And of course, they would have been inexcusably negligent to not produce such an ad — McCain handed us gold there.

Well Bill O’Reilly is very displeased that someone is trying to take away the male right to have sex when clearly it was something only ever intended to apply to women. (Bill O’Reilly only supports straight sex, but this contradiction has been overlooked for centuries now.) See the video, with key transcript below:

“Viagra is used to control a medical condition; that’s why it’s covered. Birth control is not a medical condition. It’s a choice. Why should I, or anyone else, have to pay for other people’s choices? [very irrately] Do I have to buy you dinner before you use the birth control? Give me and every other taxpayer a break, Planned Parenthood.”

Oh my. Check that shit out. Bill O’Reilly not only managed to argue that penises have inalienable rights but vaginas don’t, he also managed to call women gold-digging whores. The clear anger and frustration he was expressing as he made the “dinner” remark, though, makes me think that he might have a personal axe to grind.

Now, let us examine this argument very carefully. Using birth control is a choice. What kind of choice might that be? Could it possibly be the choice to have a normal (heterosexual) sex life without ending up with a dozen children? The kind sex that the vast majority of Americans have at some point in their lives? And would that be the same “choice” to have sex that is inherent in taking Viagra? It really strikes me that they are the same choice, but that women and men simply have different medical needs at times in order to make that same choice.

But, as we know, men have sexual rights (urges that they can’t control and all), and women do not. And after all, isn’t it the normal state of things, manly men walking around with massive boners and the (married) women all knocked up? Viagra saved the natural order (ignoring the fact that most men using Viagra aren’t having sex with women using birth control), and now you hairy feminists want to screw it all up!!! *pouts*

Here’s the thing, Bill: men like sex. And also, women like sex. There are people who are asexual, but by and large, people like sex. No, really, it’s true. When men cannot have sex due to erectile dysfunction, it’s very understandable that they would want to do anything they can to correct this problem. And when women cannot have sex because they will otherwise become pregnant when they don’t want to, it’s very understandable that they would want solve that problem, too. Fertility is not a medical condition, but pregancy is — birth control is therefore preventative care. And, of course, it theoretically helps to lower the number of “welfare queens” and slutty women running around having abortions that O’Reilly so commonly complains about. Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition, but hardly a life-threatening one. It is a condition that threatens a person’s quality of life — just like unplanned pregnancy (though of course having another child to feed is in the end a bigger impact than not getting laid).

So, if having sex is a choice, and taxpayers or insurance companies shouldn’t have to pay for other people’s choices, Viagra needs to get scratched off that list of covered drugs as well.

Or, we could just do the right thing and accept that consensual sexual contact with other people is a right for all humans. And since women are still going to fuck — let’s just face it, birth control or no birth control — we could also recognize that if not an issue of rights and equality, accessible birth control certainly is a public health imperative.

But back to that “dinner” line. There’s so much sexism crammed in there that it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, there’s the old insinuation that women “trade” dinner and other such fancy things for sex — and along with it the understanding that if the man makes his “payment” the woman needs to put out that “service.” Of course, a straight man would never just take a woman out to dinner because he enjoys that woman’s company, and men and women never split the dinner bill, and there’s no way that *gasp* a woman might buy a man dinner while on a date. And as should be clear, when the “buy you dinner” concept comes up, O’Reilly isn’t talking about McDonald’s — he’s talking about greedy bitches ordering the most expensive thing on the menu at a very nice restaurant and acting ungrateful all the way.

The idea is that birth control is comparable to an extravagance, and that women ought to be grateful for being allowed to take it. Of course, if dinner buys you sex, and birth control is comparable to dinner, one really does have to wonder where O’Reilly is going with this. *blinks* In any case, the way wingnuts seem to be growing more and more rabid with each day appears to me to be a good sign for how they’re feeling about their prospects in November.

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{ 25 comments }

1 Glam July 22, 2008 at 5:59 pm

I completely agree, but I wanted to mention that birth control pills are also used to control many female reproductive diseases, like endometriosis, which I have been controlling with the pill for years. Under Mr. O’Reilly’s government regime, I would have to risk growing more painful ovarian cysts.

2 konstanze July 22, 2008 at 6:03 pm

In any case, the way wingnuts seem to be growing more and more rabid with each day appears to me to be a good sign for how they’re feeling about their prospects in November.

I hope you’re right. I loved the commenter’s point about making them spread our messages instead of vice versa. Things are definitely looking better election-wise now than they were in 2004, but there’s still a lot of time left.

3 Lindsay July 22, 2008 at 7:37 pm

If if BillO doesn’t think birth control is a medical condition, pregnancy is and I sure as hell want to avoid that.

The Viagra/birth control thing just blatantly demonstrates the double standard prevalent in American culture regarding men’s sexuality and women’s.

4 Cara July 22, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Excellent point, Glam. Thanks. (I always end up forgetting that one . . .)

5 jovan byars July 22, 2008 at 8:18 pm

I am glad that Planned Parenthood is airing this ad. And I am glad that you, Cara, is holding Bill O’Reilly accountable for his misogynistic agenda.

6 Lemur July 22, 2008 at 8:34 pm

You know, I could say something witty and scathing, but I’m just going to shake my head and proclaim that there goes a grubby, slimy little skanker of a man. Cause he really thinks that 70-year-old dudes with boners is WAY more important than reproductive health. Douchecornet.

7 SunlessNick July 22, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Fertility is not a medical condition, but pregancy is — birth control is therefore preventative care. And, of course, it theoretically helps to lower the number of “welfare queens” and slutty women running around having abortions that O’Reilly so commonly complains about.

I’m not sure he’s capable of making those kinds of connections, including the one about Viagra potentially increasing the number of pregnancies (and the increased chances of men like him having to pay child support, and ah, I wonder if that’s where the bitterness might be kicking in).

Frankly, I suspect he’d be just as happy to let unwanted babies and women starve. And that’s not hyperbole.

8 Jessica Winter July 22, 2008 at 11:14 pm

I’m not the first to point this out, but it’s silly that he refers to giving *taxpayers* a break when the issue was requiring *private insurance companies* to treat birth control the same way they treat other prescription medicines. If Bill O’Reilly wants to sign up for a health insurance plan that doesn’t cover prescription medicines, that’s his choice.

9 brenna July 22, 2008 at 11:31 pm

Women on antidepressants may benefit from Viagra

Watch that piss O’Reilly off and medicaid/re not cover it.

10 Dea Nutrix July 23, 2008 at 2:21 am

Erectile dysfunction is never life-threatening, but complications in pregnancy and childbirth often are, whether the pregnancy is wanted or not, and whether the child is a financial burden or not. Clearly one of these things is a greater “medical condition” than the other.

Ectopic pregnancy, placenta previa, placenta accreta, placental abruption, gestational diabetes, hyperemisis gravidarum, and preeclampsia immediately come to mind as possible and not uncommon pregnancy complications that can be life threatening.

Childbirth can include such life-threatening risks as hemorrhage, infection, and emergency surgery (for one of dozens of frequently unforeseen complications).

Then there are the complications that, while not exactly life threatening, aren’t the sort of thing the average Viagra user would give a second thought: unnecessary episiotomy and the resultant scar tissue and pelvic floor damage; pelvic floor damage from delivering in lithotomy or semi-reclined position, or as the result of assisted delivery such as the use of forceps or suction, which can cause sexual dysfunction and urinary incontinence; fourth degree tears, usually the result of an unnecessary episiotomy, this is when a tear continues through the perineum and anal sphincter, sometimes resulting in permanent fecal incontinence, and sometimes necessitating a colostomy; problems with caesarian wounds that don’t heal properly; future fertility issues stemming from uterine scarring with caesarian section; permanent pain from changes in the spine and pelvic bones or connective tissue; postpartum depression; hanging excess skin from abdominal stretching that makes normal activities like exercise painful.

Those are just the physical, “medical” conditions that women I know have experienced. It’s the non-medical situations that are usually hardest of all to cope with. I’d like to know how many men with erectile dysfunction have had to make a choice between dealing with their condition and making a living (because women still get fired for being pregnant, and they still can’t always afford childcare). Or how many of them are murdered because of their condition (homicide is the number one cause of death among pregnant women in the US).

11 PixelFish July 23, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Let’s not forget that for many people to take certain types of medications, it’s necessary for them to take birth control not to get pregnant as their OTHER medications might affect a fetus. Many doctors won’t prescribe some medications without making sure you are on birth control first or recommending that you be on it. (Accutane springs to mind, but there are many others.)

12 pinko July 23, 2008 at 8:54 pm

It’s clear to me that all those limp dicks are a sign from God. I don’t think insurance should be interfering with God’s will.

13 Cara July 23, 2008 at 9:05 pm

. . . I’m hoping that was satirical, pinko. Yes?

14 cola July 23, 2008 at 10:15 pm

My favourite part about his incoherent fear and bluster is that we’re talking about private insurance programs. Aren’t we? I mean, if we are, we aren’t even talking about O’Reilly’s tax dollars.

15 ophelia July 25, 2008 at 1:29 pm

When I covered this over at Feminocracy, I had a very persistent commenter who insisted that viagra corrected a problem whereas birth control interfered with a natural process. Further, when pressed about what the difference between using medications that allow you to have sex was he insisted that the fact that women could have sex made the difference. When pressed further, he came to the conclusion that sex doesn’t count unless there’s orgasm. In short, insurance should pay for men to have orgasms but not to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Because we all know that no orgasms is a bigger and longer lasting issue than unwanted pregnancy.

I’m still not sure how one can twist their logic into enough knots so that this double standard makes sense.

16 SunlessNick July 25, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Isn’t it natural for dicks to wear out over time?

17 Cara July 25, 2008 at 6:54 pm

On a personal note, I certainly hope not ;)

Seriously though, men do generally lose libido over time, but being unable to have sex as often as you once could isn’t the same as erectile dysfunction. Though sometimes yes, the two are conflated.

18 SunlessNick July 26, 2008 at 8:21 am

I’m betting that the likes of O’Reilly conflate them. And in any case, most medical problems are nothing but natural processes we don’t want to have processing inside us.

19 Heather July 26, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Ah, I love the sound of O’Reilly’s fear.

On another note, guys can go out and get FREE condoms a lot of places (or not ridiculously priced condoms). And their Viagra is covered. Anyway, bottom line: birth control is exspensive for women. So, BO’R, you are also in the game to make women poor. Not that I’m surprised and didn’t know this before now.

20 zombie z July 27, 2008 at 11:09 am

Did anyone see Nas threaten to “rip off” Bill’s nose on the Colbert Report maybe last week? At the time I just LOLed, but I’m starting to think he’s on to something.

21 Mike August 5, 2008 at 12:40 pm

I definitely agree with your points about o’reilly’s nonsense, but I’m curious about your take on factcheck.org’s stance on this: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/mccains_viagra_moment.html

The factcheckers say that the disparity in viagra/birth control coverage isn’t clear enough to make McCain’s empty response something he should be embarassed for. Does planned parenthood have different numbers?

22 Cara August 5, 2008 at 12:49 pm

I think they miss the point of the ad. The point wasn’t to indicate that there is a great disparity, in my opinion, but to indicate that McCain cannot answer a very basic question about women’s health care. Some health insurances certainly do cover Viagra and not birth control, but I have no idea what the numbers are or if PP has differnet ones. The point is 1. regardless of how often it happens, it shouldn’t and bc should always be a part of standard health insurace, and 2. McCain was asked a very simple question — one only asked because of remarks made by someone working for his campaign — about a women’s health care issue and was so out of touch that he could not only not answer the question properly, he couldn’t even work out a logical answer for himself in that stretch of time. It was pathetic because it was a very simple question with a very easy answer, but when it comes to sexual health care policy — as further evidenced by his remarks (or lack thereof) regarding condoms — McCain doesn’t know jack shit, and doesn’t seem intent to fix that gap in knowledge.

23 Mike August 5, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Though it’s still kind of frustrating to me that pp left the ad’s interpretation open to factchek’s argumenet, your points are well taken. I think it would’ve been nice if pp followed the clip with something about mccain’s voting record on bc to drive your points home.

24 Cara August 5, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Agreed, Mike — PP has other ads (though I think they might just be online ones?) discussing McCain’s voting record on bc, but I something along the lines of “McCain has voted against accessible birth control X times” at the end would have made the ad stronger.

25 belledame222 August 5, 2008 at 9:49 pm

gross as that is, sadly, I gotta say it seems like SOP for O’Rly, who I -still- don’t understand how he hasn’t simply exploded by now; the man’s a heart attack waiting to happen.

but, in general: yeah. fingers crossed for what it might portend in November. The television is Not McCain’s Friend. Among other things. It’s feeling rather Nixon v Kennedy in some ways, actually.

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