Women as Unclean and the Contraceptives Compromise | Misogyny | Catholic Church

Women  as  Unclean   and  the  Contraceptives  Compromise  

  By  Jane  Gilgun  



Summary     This  article  shows  how  President  Obama’s  recent  compromise  on  insurance  coverage  for   contraception  by  religious  organizations  is  a  cave-­in  to  bias  against  women.  His  motive  may   have  been  to  save  the  health  care  bill,  but  the  perception  is  bias  against  women  as  unclean,   inferior,  and  sexual.  The  ideology  of  some  in  the  Roman  Catholic  Church  sexualize  women  and   define  who  they  are.    The  organized  fight  against  contraception  coverage  is  the  latest  chapter   in  ideologies  of  bias  and  intolerance.       About  the  Author     Jane  F.  Gilgun,  Ph.D.,  LICSW,  is  a  professor  and  writer.  See  Professor  Gilgun’s  other  articles,   books,  and  children’s  stories  on  scribd.com,  Kindle,  and  iBooks.  


Bigotry  and  the  Contraceptives  Compromise  
Catholic  bishops  and  their  ultra-­‐right  Republican  allies  used  religious  freedom  as  a  cover-­‐ up  of  their  bias  against  women.  They  opposed  insurance  coverage  of  contraception  for  the   employees  of  religious  organizations.  They  won.  President  Obama  shifted  insurance   payments  to  the  insurance  companies  themselves  rather  that  order  religious  organizations   to  pay  for  the  insurance.  How  is  opposition  to  contraception  bias  against  women?    Women   raised  in  the  Roman  Catholic  Church  know  the  answer  to  that  one.     Women  who  use  contraception  are  whores  in  the  eyes  of  the  RC  Church.    It’s  that  simple.  It   doesn’t  matter  that  most  Catholic  couples  use  birth  control.  The  subtle  message  is  women   are  impure  and  unclean     This  is  rarely  stated  overtly,  although  a  priest  told  the  mother-­‐in-­‐law  of  Gail  Collins,  “You’re   no  better  than  a  whore  on  the  street.”  He  said  this  after  her  mother-­‐in-­‐law  told  him  in   confession  that  “She  had  several  young  children,  times  were  difficult”  and  she  and  her   husband  were  using  birth  control.     Women  in  the  RC  Church  are  subject  to  misogyny,  which  is  woman  hatred.  From  our   earliest  days  in  religious  instruction,  girls  learn  that  they  cannot  be  priests.    Only  boys  can   be  priests.  Little  girls  automatically  assume  they  are  inferior  and  unworthy.  When  we  are  a   little  older,  the  priests  and  nuns  tell  us  that  we  are  responsible  for  stopping  boys  from   being  sexual  with  us.    We  are  not  told  that  boys  are  responsible  for  their  own  sexual   behaviors.    We  can  keep  our  purity  only  if  we  control  the  sexual  behaviors  of  boys.       When  we  marry,  we  are  told  we  cannot  divorce,  no  matter  what.    If  men  beat  us  and  abuse   us  in  other  ways,  we  have  to  stay  married.    “Your  husband  is  a  bastard,”  a  priest  once  told  a   relative  of  mine,  “but  you  can’t  divorce  him.”    The  RC  Church  excommunicates  divorced   people.  They  cannot  receive  the  sacraments.       Forbidden  Fruit     Priests  giggle  to  each  other  in  front  of  women  that  they  are  forbidden  fruit,  more  desirable   to  women  because  they  are  forbidden.  Little  girls  learn  and  are  continually  exposed  to  the   idea  that  the  caused  original  sin  when  Eve  gave  the  fruit  of  the  tree  of  knowledge  of  good   and  evil  to  Adam.  Women  who  are  menstruating  are  unclean.    We  give  birth  amid  blood,   fluid,  and  membranes.  In  the  ideology  of  many  in  the  RC  Church,  sex  is  bad,  women  are   sexual,  and  therefore  women  are  bad.     In  the  eyes  of  many  in  the  RC  Church,  sex  is  bad,  contraception  therefore  is  bad,  women  are   sexual,  women  use  contraception,  and  therefore  women  are  bad.    

Obama’s  Compromise     A  front  page  story  in  The  New  York  Times  stated  that  President  Obama’s  decision  to  exempt   employers  associated  with  religious  institutions  from  paying  for  contraception  has  nothing   to  do  with  the  objections  of  the  bishops  and  other  ultra-­‐right  bigots.    His  motivation  was  to   save  the  health  care  reform  bill.    Sister  Carol  Keehan,  a  support  of  health  care  reform,  was   among  those  asking  for  exemptions  for  providing  insurance  that  covers  contraception.   Sister  Carol  is  head  of  an  “influential  Catholic  hospital  group.”     This  must  mean  that  President  Obama  did  not  give  in  to  bias  against  women.    Maybe  he  did,   and  maybe  he  didn’t.  The  perception  is  that  he  did.     Women  need  no  more  messages  that  they  are  whores,  no  matter  how  subtle  that  message   might  be.     References     Collins,  Gail  (2012).  Tales  from  the  kitchen  table.  The  New  York  Times,  February  9.  p.  A19.     Cooper,  Helen  &  Laurie  Goodstein  (2012).    Obama  adjusts  a  rule  covering  contraceptives:   Insurance  companies  to  pay:  Compromise  is  aimed  at  pleasing  Catholic  allies  on  the  left.     The  New  York  Times,  February  11,  pp.  A1,  A12.      

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