Welcome Nancy L. Cohen (NancyLCohen.com) and Host Pamela Merritt (AngryBlackBitch.com)

Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America

Nancy Cohen’s Delirium grabbed my attention from the opening paragraph of the book’s introduction.

“The 2012 Presidential election was supposed to be about the economy. Suddenly, last winter, it turned into a referendum on sex.”

I recall shouting out “preach, sister!” and then gleefully diving in.

As a reproductive justice activist in Missouri, I had a lot of “preach, sister!” moments while reading Delirium. I’ve seen the damage wrought from the relentless assault on reproductive rights…the unplanned pregnancies resulting from a lack of comprehensive sex education and access to contraception, the emotional and economic toll taken as women navigate a seemingly endless series of hurdles to access reproductive health care, and the devaluing of pregnant women resulting from legislative attempts to cast them solely as reproductive vessels who forfeit their rights once pregnancy has been confirmed. I’ve also seen the transformative power of activism, particularly in my home state of Missouri where the masses hold far more nuanced views on the politics of sex than those elected to represent us. For every challenge to access to birth control or abortion care, there is a fired up response that gives me hope for the future.

I learned a lot from reading Delirium. I was born one month after the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, so I’m considered Generation Roe because I’ve never lived in a world without that constitutionally protected right to privacy. Delirium provides a fascinating, and at times, painful look at the policy and political party shifts, maneuvers, and wrong turns that took America from the sexual revolution of the 1960’s to the sexual counterrevolution we are embroiled in today. I consider myself a history buff and even I found myself surprised, shocked, and enlightened by the detailed analysis Cohen provides in Delirium.

Confession: I’m guilty of sometimes dismissing the preaching of sexual fundamentalists as bizarre, attention seeking, or a symptom of some undiagnosed disorder. Nancy Cohen’s Delirium challenged me to take seriously what I’ve become too comfortable mocking and then ignoring. Cohen’s examination pushed me to think about the origin of the current climate of sexual politics, and I realize there’s serious value in that. Its one thing to note the outrageous statements of someone like Phyllis Schlafly, but the greater value comes from understanding where she came from and the political purpose she and her organization plays.

As American enters the final weeks of the 2012 election season, I’m as worn out as most activists. I’m anxious about the future because I know that there are real world implications to the outcome of Election Day. I’m frustrated with the way the media treats the Midwest and how often states like Missouri are dismissed as lost causes. The view is different on the ground, but we struggle to get that story out because the counterrevolutionaries have possession of the microphone and the attention of the mainstream press. Sometimes the best way to determine the path forward is to look back as the journey we’ve taken thus far. As we move closer to November 6th, Delirium has me wondering what’s going on behind closed doors right now that we’ll be dealing with in the months and years to come.

 

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

146 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Nancy L. Cohen, Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America”

BevW October 14th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Nancy, Welcome to the Lake.

Pam, Welcome back to the Lake, and thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Hi all! I’m Pamela Merritt (Shark-Fu) and it is my pleasure to host this book salon discussion of Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America with Nancy Cohen! I anticipate that this will be a lively discussion. Welcome to the Book Salon, Nancy!

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Let’s jump right on in, shall we? Nancy, I’d like to begin with a question about the inspiration behind Delirium. Why write a book about the politics of sex in America now?

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Thank you, Pam, Bev, and everyone else at FDL for hosting!

Elliott October 14th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Greetings sharkfu and Nancy

Any chance women’s control of their own bodies will be properly addressed in the remaining presidential debates? I gotta say it’s been disheartening, the coverage this election, so far.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:03 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 3

Just take a look at where we are on the eve of the election. It’s crazy.
The GOP is farther to the right than any political party in American history since the time of slavery. And it’s no coincidence they’re obsessed with ladyparts, sex, birth control, and gays.
This isn’t a sideshow, a “distraction” for the right. It’s the main attraction.
How we got here, and why, is the story I tell in Delirium.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Nancy, you begin with Sex and Revolution and the pill. Why start there and why do you think there was such a strong reaction to access to birth control?

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to Elliott @ 5

I’m with you on the disheartening quality of it. There’s so much at stake in this election, and Romney has gotten off easy with his disingenuous–that’s a distraction line. Biden got in a good moment at his debate that I think registered. The next debate is tricky, as it is a townhall with undecided voters. So it’ll be up to that audience, and many of them will have been paying little attention to the war on women.

dakine01 October 14th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Good afternoon Nancy and Pam/Shark-fu and welcome to FDL this afternoon

Nancy I have not read your book but do know that the RW perspective (as shown by the so-called anti-abortion Congressman) is more about controlling women than anything else since the forced birthers are also anti-contraception and are also the ones who basically have been eviscerating the safety net such tht once the child is born it is YOYO time (yer on yer own)

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to Elliott @ 5

Greetings Elliott! I think the GOPs attacks on access to birth control woke a lot of people up. On the ground I hear a lot of people talking about how they’ve gone too far and taking a new look at their agenda and what they really want to accomplish.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:11 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 7

Perhaps if the Pill had never been invented, our politics would be very different today. There’s such a strong reaction to birth control because this all goes back to sex.
The Right had no base, no actual voters, until a small group of reactionaries organized AGAINST the sexual revolution, feminism, and gay rights.
America’s plunge into delirium is a predictable result of a systematic, multi-decade long political movement to strip women and gays of personal freedom, rights, and opportunity.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:11 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 9

Too true. One of the many things I enjoyed about Delirium is that Nancy delves into the motivations behind the right’s move to control women’s bodies and how politics and policy were manipulated toward that goal.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:12 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 7

Bear with me everyone–taking me a bit longer to answer than I anticipated. I’m here and will get to all your questions in good time :)

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:13 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 11

I was fascinated by your use of sexual fundamentalism in discussing that movement. Sex without fear or oppression is seen as a privilege of the few.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:14 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 13

No worries – take your time! We’ve got 2 hours and I’m sure lots of great questions to come!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:15 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 12

Yes, let’s look at the motivations. I tell the story of how this sexual counterrevolution started against the Equal Rights Amendment–not against abortion.

Elliott October 14th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 10

ahh that is good to hear

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 16

Yes, please elaborate because I don’t often see it framed that way.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:18 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 14

And sex without fear is also very, very new in the scheme of world history. Women always had to worry about accidental pregnancy and disease before there was reliable–and LEGAL–birth control. Control of women’s sexuality is the surest way to control women, to keep us dependent on religion, men, and authority. THAT’S what drove these people, and that’s one of the reason I call it SEXUAL FUNDAMENTALISM.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Nancy, as a Midwest RJ activist I’ve spent years trying to warn folk that the same movement targeting abortion also has birth control in their sights. Why do you think people see attacks on access to abortion as separate from attacks on access to birth control and do you think that perception is the result of deliberate spin from the right?

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:21 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 18

I’m a historian and one of the first things you look at is chronology. In this universe, something that happened AFTER can’t be the CAUSE of something that happened earlier, right? One of the first chapters in the book is about the movement to defeat the ERA, which began in 1972. Before Roe, and before the antiabortion movement kicked off in 1978.

Elliott October 14th, 2012 at 2:22 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 11

yeah, and I bet the likes of Paul Ryan and his wife Janna use birth control to shape their catholic family. infuriating, the hypocrisy.

And Mitt’s children using in vitro fertilization, I suspect to eliminate the possibility of Alport Syndrome.

as Atrios puts it “for me, but not for thee”

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 20

Very good question. First on the spin: until recently, the right did a good job of masking their real motivations and intent. (More on that as we discuss the book.) Opinion on abortion is divided–because most rational people draw a line somewhere between when they think a fetus has claims as a person. So when most people hear the word abortion, it’s triggering that. Americans are quite supportive of first trimester abortions. After that, not so much–though they still strongly believe it is the woman’s choice.

Suzanne October 14th, 2012 at 2:24 pm

sharkfu! welcome back. nancy, thank you for being here today. what can we do to keep our reproductive rights?

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Speaking of 1972, I was riveted by the section in Delirium detailing the drama at the ’72 DNC over McGovern and the fallout afterward. Can you talk a bit about the internal battles within the left and the feeling by some that Dems were hurt by being progressive on social issues?

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Welcome, Nancy, and good to see you again, Pam/Shark-Fu!

I’m in the KC area on the other side of Missouri from Pam, and while Todd Akin has been a known quantity in Missouri politics for quite some time, it was his recent comments on “legitimate rape” that burst like a bombshell on the national scene.

As I wrote here at FDL back in August:

. . . the 36% who supported Akin [who gave him the victory in the GOP primary race] are neither surprised nor bothered by Akin’s comments. He may have said publicly what perhaps (for political reasons) ought to have been kept private, but make no mistake. The far right wing of Missouri’s republican party likes this guy and likes what he said. Period. If Akin were to quit the race because of pressure from Romney or Mitch McConnell, they’d be beyond angry. Akin is their guy, and they would not take kindly to outside agitators forcing him to quit.

Akin is not an aberration in the Missouri GOP. This is the state that gave the nation Rush “She’s a slut” Limbaugh, after all, as well as John “cover up the lady parts on that statue in the lobby” Ashcroft.

But this is also the state whose internal political debates over slavery — conducted with the same sense of nuance and humility as Limbaugh, Ashcroft, and Akin discuss sex — shaped the pen and wit of young Samuel Clemens. If Missouri’s politicians were reasonable folks, Clemens might never have taken up political commentary and satire as Mark Twain.

As I read Delirium, Todd Akin and his supporters kept coming to mind.

In the introduction, you wrote “My aim in this book is to uncover the hidden history of the sexual counterrevolution: to show how battles about sex, women’s equality, and gay civil rights have divided Americans, shattered the political parties, unhinged the nation, and created our current political dysfunction.”

Amen. You’ve described a worthy target for your book, and you hit the bullseye as you wrote it.

Especially the “unhinged” part.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:26 pm
In response to Peterr @ 26

Hello, friend!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:27 pm
In response to Elliott @ 22

The hypocrisy is legion. But Romney actually acted in accordance with his Mormonism, which encourages very large families (and submissive women), discourages birth control to limit family size, but doesn’t see it as a cardinal sin. BTW, I wrote about Mitt’s Mormonism a few weeks ago. Scary, here’s the link: http://www.alternet.org/belief/mitt-romneys-role-mormon-bishop-shows-his-extremist-religious-beliefs

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:28 pm
In response to Peterr @ 26

Thanks Peter, and good to meet you.

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Could you explain where there is such a deafening silence on male reproductive issues-namely,WHY isn’t elective(male) vasectomy as much or more an issue than female reproductive right choices?

Does your book address this inequality??

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 24

Turnout! Turnout! Turnout! The secret is these sexual fundamentalists are less popular, but more powerful than we think. They’ve had their eye on the prize of political power for 40 years–and progressives need to stay focused there too to thwart them.

hpschd October 14th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Welcome!

In the ‘Tea Party’ chapter, you describe a campaign in the Maine TP (2010)to outlaw abortion and gay marriage on the basis of the phrase in the preamble of the constitution “insure domestic tranquility”

Now are we dealing with stupidity or intentional groping beyond the limits of credibility for effect?

If this is the opposition, heavily financed, how do you deal with that?

I have always believed that an intelligent person is one who can be swayed by argument.

I am starting to doubt this though.

Phoenix Woman October 14th, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 25

Seconded!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 25

Thanks for bringing this up Pam. The assault on women’s freedom and rights is the agenda of the Right, and teh GOP which they have captured. But the Democrats are partly to blame because they let it happen.

Delirium tells the story of the Democratic sexual counterrevolution too. The short answer is that following the ’72 election, every time Dems found themselves on the losing side, they went to a death-by-McGovernik default. Misinterpreting public opinion, they decided that being progressive on women’s rights, abortion, gay rights, was a loser with Middle America, and they started running tot he Right. They were wrong. But it took until recently to change that pattern.

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Nancy, I’m curious about your thoughts on how race plays into the “politics of sex” that you write about here.

At the same time as the Pill was transforming the culture, and before Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court threw out the laws prohibiting interracial marriage with their ruling in Loving v. Virginia. This strikes me as yet another piece of the “it’s all about control” aspect of the far right’s understanding of sex, and yet another place where the right lost the debate.

Your thoughts?

perris October 14th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America

plus the inverse, the sex in politics in America

I believe the reason we have religion in the first place is the power it wields when you understand it.

I believe thomas pain says it best;

Accustom a people to believe that priests, or any other class of men can forgive sins, and you will have sins in abundance.[The Theological Works of Thomas Paine, p.207]

,,,The adulterous connection between church and state.

Phoenix Woman October 14th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 31

Yup, yup and yup. The Fundies have been going after every elective office possible.

They particularly like targeting school boards because few people bother to scroll down the ballot and vote for school board candidates, which means a person can get elected to a school board, even in a large city, with surprisingly few votes. That is why so many otherwise-sane places have school boards dominated and run by anti-education whackjobs who keep trying to smuggle creationism as science into public school curricula despite being continuously smacked down by the courts.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
In response to hpschd @ 32

Whoa, deep questions. First, the politics of it. These sexual fundamentalists (like those in Maine) are a tiny minority, perhaps 17%, of the nation. On the issues, they are outnumber, 2, 3, 4 to 1. So progressives should be aiming at the so-called middle, because the center in the US IS socially progressive. No need to bring the far-right on board for victory.

As to reason, argument, stupidity… What’s left on the Right (no pun intended) is fundamentalism (of many religions). Many of these folks are home-schooled or home-schooling, and they use bogus history texts to teach. The sad thing is there is a separate universe, particularly among the evangelical and charismatic fundamentalist Protestants.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 37

Exactly. So then the question is, when do progressives step up for this long march through the school boards?

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Nancy, I’d love for you to discuss the myth of a conservative awakening sweeping in Reagan. I’ve always seen Reagan as anti-feminist and was struck by your argument that his administration’s cut to programs were more consistent with is small government slash-fest than an anti-feminist position.

perris October 14th, 2012 at 2:43 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 39

Yup, yup and yup. The Fundies have been going after every elective office possible.

I believe they started the real campaign with judges, they also started the campaign in what they “called” the liberal media, now it’s hard to find progressive themes where once they would abound

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:45 pm
In response to Peterr @ 35

Race plays into it in so many ways, and there’s no doubt that the sex/fundies have taken advantage of the explosion of racism from the fringe in response to Obama.

I guess I see this as a wave. First the civil rights movement swept America–and swept the white South out of the Democratic Party. And then the sexual revolution revolutionized family, gender, and sex–and created a different divide over tradtionalism versus progressivism. That divide overlapped tremendously with the racial one, because of hte religosity of the white south.

Tammany Tiger October 14th, 2012 at 2:45 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 37

The wingnuts are also more likely to show up at school board meetings and complain about the public schools turning into Sodom and Gomorrah. There’s almost zero downside: either the school board makes concessions (the squeaky wheel gets the grease); or, if they don’t, the wingnuts play the victim card and demonize the school board.

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 34

I particularly liked your description of Howard Dean in 2003 and 2004, and how the Democratic party establishment reacted. “As far as the Democratic establishment was concerned, Dean’s rise was a catastrophe waiting to happen. And a familiar one at that. Dean seemed to be a typical ultra-liberal insurgent, like Edward Kennedy, Walter Mondale, or even George McGovern, and they set to work to marginalize him.” [p. 223]

Tammany Tiger October 14th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Ms. Cohen, let’s assume that the Religious Right wins the culture war: abortion is outlawed and access to contraception is greatly reduced. Would we then see massive defiance of the law, as we did during Prohibition? Could we also see a counter-reaction, like that in France or Ireland, against religious interference with public policy?

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 42

Nancy, do you think progressivism will benefit as America moves toward becoming a nation with racial minorities as a majority? Also, how do you think that will impact the politics of sex on both the reproductive health tip and the LGBT equality tip?

hpschd October 14th, 2012 at 2:49 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 30

After our one child, I got a vasectomy. The urologist tried to talk me out of it, and insisted that my wife consent; she did. It took about half an hour in his office, and was basically painless.

Several other guys I worked with (at a Safeway store) at that time (1975)also got vasectomies. It seemed to be a very reasonable choice.

Population growth was a big concern, Malthus and all that.

I have no idea what the general attitude about vasectomies is now. The idea of population growth does not seem to be much discussed these days.

When I wa born (1948), the population was 2 billion, now it’s 7 billion.

That, to me, is scary.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:51 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 45

Well, we all know that abortion in America existed before Roe and it will exist if (Goddess forbid) they overturn Roe. I think there’d be a backlash and the sad thing is that Prohibition shows us that Americans are hard headed and have no long term memory when it comes to bad policy doomed to fail.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:52 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 40

Reagan won all of 50.7% of the popular vote in the lowest turnout election in decades. There was no popular groundswell for the Right. The real Reagan revolution was inside the GOP against moderates (the Bush seniors and Republican feminists). The religious right was a minority faction in the GOP coalition. Reagan threw it some bones–at a pretty heavy cost to women internationally–but also ignored it on other things. Remember, he appointed Sandra Day O’Connor, knowing she was pro-choice. And she became the vote upholding Roe in 1989 (I think that’s the year).

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Ok, catching up here folks…

hpschd October 14th, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 38

You pointed out in that chapter that 90% of TeaPartyers vote. That gives them some extra clout.

And they get a lot of media attention.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 43

Yes, they are active on many fronts, and they are brilliant at gumming up the works. Still, counter-organizing would give the media something else to focus on, and give honest journalists a hook to counteract the Right’s spin.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:55 pm
In response to hpschd @ 47

One of the provisions in Obamacare the Right is fighting is vasectomies, by the way.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 49

I think that all gets lost in the heated rhetoric of the time. I think of Reagan and I immediately think of Lee Atwater…and then I break out in hives.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 2:57 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 45

If people stay tuned in, I don’t think they’ll win the culture war. But yes, there would be defiance. I’d turn it Pam and other repro rights activists to say how that would effect their work. To me it seems poor women would be royally screwed.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 2:58 pm
In response to hpschd @ 47

In Missouri the organizations opposed to birth control are also opposed to vasectomy and they cite “religious liberty” for both. They want employers to be able to deny insurance coverage for birth control, sterilization, and vasectomy.

Tammany Tiger October 14th, 2012 at 2:59 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 49

There have been three insurgencies within the Republican Party in the past 40 years. The first was the Reaganites in 1976-80. The second was the Religious Right, especially supporters of Pat Robertson’s presidential campaign (in my home state of Michigan, there was a doozy of a fight over control of the state GOP). The third was the Tea Party. Each insurgency moved the party to the right, and kept the party strong by replacing those Republicans who aged out.

The only insurgency within the Democratic Party since 1972 was led by Howard Dean, who has been neutered and defanged by the party establishment.

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Nancy, I’m a Lutheran pastor, and so your final chapter on sex and religion was one I was anxious to get to. This is an important part of the discussion, and I’m glad it was included this way.

The stories of the Catholic church in this era are quite interesting. Even as the hierarchy of the church is increasingly conservative and increasingly focused on sex (fighting against abortion, divorce/remarriage, contraception, and marriage equality), the laypeople of the church are increasingly disregarding the bishops. Some are leaving the Catholic church completely, while others shrug their shoulders and say “what can you expect from a bishop?” and continue living their faithful lives. (The hierarchy’s increasingly public record on priestly child sexual abuse is not helping their credibility, either.)

And yet, the Democratic establishment seems bound and determined to give the US Conference of Catholic Bishops more and more deference (see Cardinal Dolan’s invitation to give a benediction at the DNC, for example). One notable exception was Joe Biden’s comments at the VP debate on his faith and abortion, and his unwillingness to impose by law his religious beliefs on other faithful people.

Do you see Biden’s comments as an aberration, or are Democratic leaders realizing that the lay Catholic faithful are not mindless followers of leaders like Dolan and Co.?

RevBev October 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 56

Why not hysterectomy if those parts are so up for discussion?

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 46

I do think progressivism across the board will benefit. You see that already in Obama’s better polling among all registered voters. The polling shows minorities do not like government interference in private behaviour, regardless of their own views on contested issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to hpschd @ 51

Glad you pointed that out. 40 million people who voted in 2008 didn’t vote in 2010, and they were predominantly Obama voters. The Right, and the religious right in particular, has held on past its sell-by date because most people tune out in every midterm election.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:02 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 57

I disagree. The Voting Rights Act was in large part the result of an insurgency from disenfranchised black voters and they have remained a force in the party. Jesse Jackson’s run was an insurgency because he forced the party to address things they were set to ignore. And the fact that the platform included marriage equality was the result of pressure…trust. Every gain on LGBT equality within the Dem Party has come from activism under that tent.

BevW October 14th, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 56

Please tell me this covers Viagra and the other male drugs. No more employer paying for the drugs?

dakine01 October 14th, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 48

I grew up in small town Kentucky in the ’50s/’60s. My uncle was a doctor and though I don’t have first hand knowledge, I do have second hand that he performed abortions. Of course, it was usually the “good girls” side of town who could and did get them

Tammany Tiger October 14th, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to Peterr @ 58

I’m still waiting for a prominent Catholic Democrat to tell his or local bishop–in public–to take a long walk off a short pier.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 57

In Delirium I show how all three of these GOP insurgencies are ALL part of the sexual counterrevolution. It’s important not to let these very unpopular, out of the mainstream activists rebrand themselves every time Americans throw them out in disgust.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:04 pm
In response to RevBev @ 59

Oh, they aren’t fans of hysterectomy either. They tend to use hysterectomy from the racial genocide angle…saying that black women are targeted for unnecessary hysterectomies. But they haven’t moved to ban insurance coverage for them yet.

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

WHY is there so much emphasis on regulating lady parts..yet so little assigning of the SAME priority to regulating male parts?

And WHY is this continuous inequality NOT made into more of a wedge issue by those who allegedly espouse equality of the sexes ?

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:06 pm
In response to BevW @ 63

No such luck. SB749 is all about birth control. Any employer can refuse insurance coverage for birth control on moral grounds…and moral grounds are not strictly defined. It has been challenged, but Gov. Nixon vetoed it and the GOP controlled Assembly overturned the veto.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:06 pm
In response to Peterr @ 58

Good question. I talk a lot in the book, as you know, about Democrats’ fear of standing up on principle for our rights. I think they’ve finally gotten it–that the public is with them, not against them on this. But I do worry that if Obama loses, Dems will default to this fallback and resume giving undue deference to the likes of hte bishops.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 64

I’ve met lots of folk with stories like that! Small town doctors provided all manner of care. Dr. Tiller’s father was one.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:08 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 70

I agree and I share that same worry.

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 3:08 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 56

Which brings us back to . . . Control.

I am gobsmacked at the notion that people are seriously putting forward the proposition that employers — not just religious organizations, but any employer — should have the ability to dictate the reproductive lives of their employees, based on the religious views of the employer.

Jim Crow’s defenders in Selma and Birmingham from back in the day would be smacking their heads. “Why didn’t we think to claim that our racist laws are our way of exercising religious freedom? ‘I believe that my lunch counter should be segregated, as a matter of faith.’”

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 68

Now that you mention this, here’s a recent article of mine in The Guardian on how this is in fact about the fundamental question of women’s equality. Not sure why link isn’t showing, try this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/22/republican-party-wrong-side-history-female-equality

Tammany Tiger October 14th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 66

It astounded me that in 2010, when zanies with tricolor hats and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags started holding rallies, the Democrats didn’t point out that these people were Birchers, racists, and crackpot conspiracy theorists that the Republican establishment had tried to hide in the attic for years. But then again, most Democrats have the debating skills of dung beetles.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:10 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 71

Fascinating about Dr. Tiller’s father!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to Peterr @ 73

Or since Newt Gingrich thinks it does a black 13 year old good to be a janitor, why not scrap the child labor laws. Really, amen, I’ve been thinking exactly the same thing Peter.

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Would love to see it..can you provide a link..thanks!

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to Peterr @ 73

Oh, but they did! I remember hearing “religious freedom” quoted in Eyes on the Prize and many bigots try to use the Bible to make the case for racial segregation. I just think they found more solid ground on state’s rights because that triggered all that Civil War adoration.

dakine01 October 14th, 2012 at 3:14 pm
In response to Peterr @ 73

Actually a quick check of der Google, it appears the Jim Crow laws did use a religious justification, but it obviously got laughed at

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:14 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 78

Let’s try it again. Here’s unlinked url: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/22/republican-party-wrong-side-history-female-equality and the link (which didn’t take last edit):

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:14 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 76

Yes, I saw an interview with Dr. Tiller where he talked about finding out that his father provided abortion care and his realization that patients would be without care without his father there. It was so interesting and I thought of it when I heard of Tiller’s murder.

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 76

Note, too, that George Tiller was a church usher in a Lutheran church.

Hmmm . . . thinking about Tiller and his death in the narthex on a Sunday morning makes the title Delirium even more a propos.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 79

And slaveowners used the bible and Christianity as their major justification for slavey, just sayin’

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to Peterr @ 83

So true.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:16 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 84

Preach.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:17 pm
In response to Peterr @ 83

Yeah, I knew when I was writing it that GOP would go nuts this election, hence the title. But I did think they’d be smarter and use their typical stealth play instead of going WAY, WAY out on the edge with birth control.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 75

Democrats who called Tea Party out for antiwomen zealotry won their elections; those who tried to hide, lost. (Not universally, but for the most part.)

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Nancy, it seems as if the tide is changing on the issue of same-sex marriage at least in the polls. Do you see a shift there and do you see anything positive in polls that show support growing? If so, has the politics of sex burned out or is it just take a breather regarding LGBT equality?

hpschd October 14th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Prof. Richard D. Wolff describes the ‘traditional’ family as feudalism. The woman, serf-like, serves the home and family. When this structure started to change, many people were clearly terrified. He interprets their opposition to gays and abortion as part of the reaction to the changing family environment – from ‘dominant father’ to ‘negotiated obligations’.

I my life, it was a difficult transition. I got involved in the ’70′s with a men’s consciousness-raising group. This helped me understand what was going on in society and in my life and relationships. It was not easy, I had a long way to go (and still do).

It would be nice to find such a group again, but with women and men.

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 3:21 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 79

Right — let me clarify.

They’d be smacking their foreheads, saying “Why couldn’t we get away with that?”

The answer, of course, is that when your opposition is being led by a bunch of Christian clergy, it’s hard to get folks to take claims of “you’re oppressing the Christian church!” seriously.

Today, though, too many churches and pastors of the non-fundy variety are taking the quiet path. Instead of standing up to sexism and homophobia, most would rather not talk about it. (Thankfully, my ELCA is less inclined to do so.) Thus, when the Catholic bishops take the stage, the media tends to present them and their evangelical fundamentalist partners as The Voices of Religious People, rather than but one segment of religious political believers.

Any thoughts, Nancy, on how churches might better engage these issues?

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Hubba,hubba!!

One helluva piece,Ms. Cohen.

And to paraphrase,if I may, the last part of that article:

“Half a century on from a time when birth control was illegal and sex discrimination was the norm, many Americans might not have realized how far we’ve come…..gone backwards.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
In response to Peterr @ 91

So true! I was thrilled to see clergy step up and speak out about MO’s birth control refusal bill. It was refreshing and I hope it was a sign of things to come!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I do see very positive trend in support of gay marriage. Indeed, as I talk about in the book, Dems completely misread the role of gay marriage in the 2004 election. Here’s my concern: support for gay marriage is just approaching the level of support that abortion rights have held for 40 years. So, the sexual fundamentalists will continue to fight it tooth and nail, and we’ll keep having to refight the battle.

The good news is their days are numbered. If we handle it right.

firedupfirepup October 14th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 68

Because it’s really about controlling women.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:25 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 94

I agree. It seems appropriate to mention during LGBT History Month that great strides have been made because folks have pushed from the ground and from within. I see the advancement of LGBT equality issues as a work in progress but a net positive.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:26 pm
In response to hpschd @ 90

Thanks for that comment.I agree with Wolf’s analysis, even if I put it in different words. I try in my book to acknowledge the upheaval in the family and that decent people could have legitimate problems with it. What strikes me now is that the only people who still have big problems with the change are religious zealots who want to impose their values on the rest of us. I agree that the next movement is one of women and men together–just as the original self-titled feminists believed.

I’m doing my little part for that with an article in this month’s Playboy. So I’ll say it, go buy the November issue of Playboy :)

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:27 pm

As we enter the final half hour (time speeds when you’re having fun!), I’d like to ask Nancy how we harness this amazing and sometimes alarming history and use it going forward?

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 92

Oh, we’re not going to let them take us backwards, are we? And by the way, here’s how you can keep up with my articles or random thoughts on the war on women: https://twitter.com/nancylcohen ; Delirum by Nancy L. Cohen (at FB) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delirium-by-Nancy-L-Cohen/100599496726433; and my website http://www.nancylcohen.com/

firedupfirepup October 14th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 68

(see #90, paragraph 1)

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Call me cynical, but my guess is that Wall Street already has algorithms on women’s ladyparts for the next 25 years or so..

…and probably betting,just in time, on reinstatement of the draft for future cannon fodder…

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

THANK YOU so much for your efforts and graciousness!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 98

Thanks Pam. Most importantly, remember that the sexual fundamentalists are the zombies of American politics.

First, recognize the patterns on the right/GOP. I talk about how they swing between overreaction (think, birth control) and stealth (think Bush the compassionate conservative who intimated he would choose a pro-choice running mate).

Second, and urgently, with good turnout Romney/Ryan will lose the election. If they win, it’s a disaster (but I don’t have to reiterate that here).

Third, stay vigilant AFTER the election, because it’s in these lulls between prez elections that the sexual fundamentalists regroup, rebrand, and return to power.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 96

LGBT movement has been the smartest recent progressive movement when it comes to the relationship tw the movement outside and the attention to electoral politics.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

So true. At the state level, LGBT equality groups have been doing amazing work and building relationships with folk I’d never dream would come on board. A lot to learn there.

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

My response at #101 was to #95,btw.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

So true about the post-election vigilance!

Tammany Tiger October 14th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

One more question, and it involves megachurches. Most of them take a hard line on gender roles and sexuality, yet the pews are packed every Sunday. What attracts people to this brand of religion?

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 3:36 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 97

Heh.

I’m picturing Playboy sitting on the desk in my office as the president of the congregation comes in to talk about next month’s council meeting. “I just bought it for the articles. It’s research. Really.”

;-)

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to Peterr @ 109

LOL!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Now, on the positive side. Cultural progressivism is the new American way, and the days of the extremists are numbered. But the next couple years are critical in preserving rights and freedoms that were hard fought for and won. Active political participation–in electoral politics–is the key to preserving them.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to Peterr @ 109

Just what my uncle used to say when we’d steal into his trunk of Playboys in the basement…

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 108

Community, redemption, and the chance for a second chance. But many of the megachurches are very authoritarian, so they get that along with the positive stuff.

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 108

LOTS of religious scholars are trying to a handle on that question. The closest thing to a consensus is that in an era when so much seems to be changing and people’s lives are in upheaval on so many levels, some people are hungry for someone — anyone — to act with confidence and enforce some control on the world.

Again, Nancy’s starting point identifying the desire for Control as the key to this discussion is absolutely right on target.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:40 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 105

The change in labor has really been encouraging, especially.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

So true, Nancy! As a political organizer, I’m regularly challenged to keep up the fight. But nothing fires me up like watching other people get active and organize. The last year may have been a war on women, but we sure as hell didn’t let them march all over us. I’ve seen some amazing growth in reproductive justice and I think we have the ability to carry it forward into 2013!

hpschd October 14th, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to Nancy L. Cohen @ 97

I’m doing my little part for that with an article in this month’s Playboy. So I’ll say it, go buy the November issue of Playboy :)

For the articles, of course. ;)

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:42 pm
In response to Peterr @ 114

Thanks Peter. I started this project thinking it was just about women and the research pointed me to the much larger issue of control. Personally, I think this insight is a good starting point for bringing men into this discussion and movement. Ie., it’s not “men” waging a “war against women.”

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

@#108]tammany tiger

Attraction to megachurches?

IMHO, the gospel of greed.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 116

Absolutely! Now we know and we’re appalled. Sometimes I think about what might have happened this year if the birth control mandate hadn’t somewhat coincidentally come up during the GOP primary. Basically, we’d have all these Republicans running around (Akin) with these thoughts but no outlet to share their quaint views with the rest of us.
Thank Obamacare for pulling the curtain back to show the sex police standing at the levers of the GOP machine.

Tammany Tiger October 14th, 2012 at 3:45 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 119

There’s a book waiting to be written on what I call the Church of America: an amalgam of Calvinism, the Gospel of Wealth, Onward Christian Soldiers, and the self-help movement.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

So true! I’ve been using this as a teachable moment because we’ve warned folks for years and they thought we were off our rockers. Now, we have proof not just that this is about control but that they are organized on that at all levels (local, state and federal). Many thanks to ObamaCare and wacky Missourians.

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Extremists who feel cornered are dangerous folks. See “Tiller, George.”

Ironically, this is where I think the LGBT efforts at marriage equality are the most potentially transformational, because they tap into all the values of stability, order, faithfulness to one’s partner, providing for children, etc., that the far right thinks are being undermined.

Look at it this way. Two eighty year old lesbian activists in San Francisco getting a marriage license are not nearly as threatening as the 60s-era proponents of free love and sex for all, even to the vast majority of conservatives. Other than the extreme far right, the notion of growing old with your life partner is something that makes people say “Awwww . . . isn’t that sweet?”

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:47 pm

On this church question, remember that the Mormon Church officially opposed the Equal Rights Amendment before it started throwing its weight and money around against gay marriage.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Good point!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:49 pm
In response to Peterr @ 123

Yes, and more broadly, progressives win when we couch our campaigns in American values. That was a big part of the Civil Rights movement.

hpschd October 14th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Thanks to all for a great discussion.

This is another area that is hard to be really open about as this issue (along with racism) has been supposedly ‘settled’.

Thank you Nancy Cohen for a your really interesting (and enlightening) book. I need to understand these things much better, and thanks for the guidance.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:49 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 122

So when they go underground again, like they did with the Tea Party, our job is to expose them. Because this is what will happen if Obama wins.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:50 pm
In response to hpschd @ 127

And thank you for the great questions. I’m glad you enjoyed the book and please spread the word!

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Nancy, I do a lot of reading, and you are brilliant when it comes to crafting the opening to your writings. Like Delirium, your article in Ms. Magazine also opens in a very, very engaging manner:

When “Sluts Vote” becomes a popular political slogan, you know something is odd in American politics.

It’s the vagina, stupid. . . .

What are you working on next, or are you still basking in the glow of getting this book out there?

BevW October 14th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon discussion,

Nancy, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book, and the results of Sexual Fundamentalism.

Pam, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Nancy’s website (NancyLCohen.com) and book (Delirium)

Pam’s website (AngryBlackBitch.com)

Thanks all, Have a great week.

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

We’re down to the final 10 minutes and I’ve got to ask if folks have any final questions!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:52 pm
In response to Peterr @ 130

Ok, love the praise, I have to admit :) I’m turning over a couple ideas. Let’s see what happens 11/6.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:52 pm
In response to BevW @ 131

Thanks for the opportunity, Bev!

BevW October 14th, 2012 at 3:53 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 134

Thank you and Nancy for a great discussion.

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:53 pm
In response to sharkfu @ 132

And please feel free to send me more later at Twitter https://twitter.com/nancylcohen or facebook.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Many thanks to Nancy for a great discussion! Go buy and read Delirium, y’all!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Thanks Pam and Bev and everyone who participated. Loved being in the Lake for a couple hours for smart convo.

hpschd October 14th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Did anyone ever actually burn their bras?

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Tis always a pleasure, y’all. Many thanks to all participants too!

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

@#121:

Any idea what it’s title should be?

Perhaps” Revelation Revolution”?

(After all, revolutions are fought by those whose bones are easily counted…)

Peterr October 14th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Feel free to drop by FDL any time — either in the comments of one of the posts, or put up your own diary at MyFDL.

Thanks for all your efforts on this!

Nancy L. Cohen October 14th, 2012 at 3:56 pm
In response to hpschd @ 139

No. Urban legend.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:56 pm
In response to hpschd @ 139

I burned a bra in the 90s but it was part of a campus protest. Took FOREVER to catch fire!

Gitcheegumee October 14th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

IIRC, y’all can comment for another 24 hours after this salon closes.

sharkfu October 14th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Looks like we’re wrapping up, so thanks again and I hope everyone has a fantabulous week! Go…fight…VOTE…win!

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post