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November 29, 2012

The ESC Reads 50 Shades of Grey: Chapter 10

WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers. But, of course, that's kind of the point.

We decided to tackle the Fifty Shades of Grey series one book at a time and give everyone chapter-by-chapter summaries and critique. We're going to read Fifty Shades of Grey... so you don't have to.

Chapter 10

Summary: Ana meets Christian's mom, who is thrilled to meet her because Christian has never introduced her to a girl before and so she always thought he was gay. Christian takes Ana home and tells her to research the contract that he gave her and BDSM in general so she'll know what she's getting into. He gets annoyed when she says that she wants to be able to discuss sex with Kate since she has no frame of reference and needs a friend to talk to, as if this is a totally unreasonable request. Ana and Kate compare notes about having sex with the Grey men. José calls Ana a million times to apologize for making a pass at her, and says "Dios mio" a lot in case we forgot that he's the Latino character in our story. We learn that Christian was "seduced" by a friend of his mother's when he was 15 and that she's the one who showed him the ropes (and whips, floggers, nipple clamps, etc.) of BDSM. That "showed him the ropes" joke was terrible and we apologize. This book sucks and we're really hurting so sometimes we just lash out like that. Oh, and we also learned that Ana's subconscious is a shapeshifter.

Sexiness factor (scale of 1-10): 0

Plot Holes, Fact Checking Fails, and Other Observations:
He gazes at me. He’s amused, his eyes dancing with mirth. He kisses my forehead quickly and beams at me. “Another first,” he acknowledges, but I have no idea what he’s talking about.
That's okay because we never have any idea what either of you are ever talking about.
Christian glares at me. “So the photographer called?”
Crap. “Yes.”
“What did he want?”
“Just to apologize, you know – for Friday.”
Christian narrows his eyes. “I see,” he says simply.
Dude, it's none of your business who was on the phone or why.
“This is the contract. Read it, and we’ll discuss it next weekend. May I suggest you do some research, so you know what’s involved.” He pauses. “That’s if you agree, and I really hope you do.” He adds, his tone softer, anxious.
“You’ll be amazed what you can find on the Internet,” he murmurs.
Internet! I don’t have access to a computer, only Kate’s laptop, and I couldn’t use Claytons’, not for this sort of ‘research’ surely?
She's a college student but she has no access to a computer? And just the way she is so incredulous is kind of ridiculous - Research? Internet!? What's that?
“I’ll just make a call,” I murmur. I just want to hear Kate’s voice.
He frowns. “The photographer?” His jaw clenches, and his eyes burn. I blink at him. “I don’t like to share, Miss Steele. Remember that.” His quiet, chilling tone is a warning, and with one long, cold look at me, he heads back to the bedroom.
She's not even calling José! Sure, maybe she could have tried communicating that fact to Christian rather than just standing there blinking at him, but again, it's none of his business and there wouldn't be anything wrong with it even if she was calling him, because he's just a friend and she hasn't even agreed to anything with Christian yet. Dial it down a fucking notch.

Ana's subconscious, inner goddess and other invisible friends:
I despair at my clothes. Maybe I should take Christian up on his offer of clothes. My subconscious purses her lips and mouths the word ‘ho’. I ignore her.
Did Ana just slut-shame herself? That's almost impressive.
I stare at him, unable to articulate anything – even my subconscious is silent.
So for once her subconscious is actually acting like... a subconscious?
“Oh… by the way, I’m wearing your underwear.” I give him a small smile and pull up the waistband of the boxer briefs I’m wearing so he can see. Christian’s mouth drops open, shocked. What a great reaction. My mood shifts immediately, and I sashay into the house, part of me wanting to jump and punch the air. YES! My inner goddess is thrilled.
Ana's inner goddess really needs to get out more if this is all it takes to thrill her. Maybe she and the subconscious can have a girl's night or something.
“Yeah, took almost a year to have my first orgasm through penetrative sex and here you are… first time?” I nod shyly. My inner goddess sits in the lotus position looking serene except for the sly, self-congratulatory smile on her face.
Setting aside the whole inner goddess thing (most because we're running out of ways to point out how stupid it is), we have to give E L James one point here for at least somewhat acknowledging how ridiculous Ana's magical multi-orgasmic first time was.
Too obvious, Steele! My subconscious glares at me, wagging her long skinny finger, then morphs into the scales of justice to remind me he could sue if I disclose too much.
This sounds like a dream you would have after taking too much cold medicine before bed.

BDSM Analysis:

We get some important info about Christian's past in this chapter, so we're going to include the whole section:
“Why have you never had vanilla sex before? Have you always done… err, what you’ve done?” I ask, intrigued.

He nods slowly. “Sort of.” His voice is wary. He frowns for a moment and seems to be engaged in some kind of internal struggle. Then he glances up, a decision made. “One of my mother’s friends seduced me when I was fifteen.”

“Oh.” Holy shit that’s young! 
“She had very particular tastes. I was her submissive for six years.” He shrugs. 
“Oh.” My brain has frozen, stunned into inactivity by this admission. 
“So I do know what it involves, Anastasia.” His eyes glow with insight. I stare at him, unable to articulate anything – even my subconscious is silent. 
“I didn’t really have a run-of-the-mill introduction to sex.” 
Curiosity kicks in big time. “So you never dated anyone at college?” 
“No.” He shakes his head to emphasize the point. The waitress takes our plates, interrupting us for a moment. 
“Why?” I ask when she’s gone. 
He smiles sardonically. “Do you really want to know?” 
“I didn’t want to. She was all I wanted, needed. And besides, she’d have beaten the shit out of me.” He smiles fondly at the memory. 
Oh, this is way too much information – but I want more. “So if she was a friend of your mother’s, how old was she?”

He smirks. “Old enough to know better.” 
“Do you still see her?” 
“Do you still… err…?” I flush. 
“No.” He shakes his head and smiles indulgently at me. “She’s a very good friend.” 
“Oh. Does your mother know?” 
He gives me a don’t-be-stupid stare. “Of course not.” The waitress returns with venison, but my appetite has vanished. What a revelation. Christian the submissive… Holy shit.
And here's some of Ana's reaction to this news when she's thinking it over later:

He’s such a complicated person. And now I have an insight as to why. A young man deprived of his adolescence, sexually abused by some evil Mrs. Robinson figure… no wonder he’s old before his time. My heart fills with sadness at the thought of what he must have been through. I’m too naïve to know exactly what, but the research should shed some light.
One of the most common criticisms of 50 Shades is that it doesn't portray a typical or "normal" or healthy BDSM experience, and so it's potentially sending a lot of people the wrong message about what these kinds of relationships are usually like. That's fair, but at the same time we have to defend E L James somewhat by acknowledging that she never claimed she was writing a how to book or the definitive portrayal of a D/s relationship. There are red flags flying all over the place in this chapter.

Obviously that doesn't mean that anyone should stop criticizing the book or pointing out all of the ways that ELJ gets it wrong. (We're certainly not going to.) We're just saying that we think she was at least aware of the fact that Christian and Ana's relationship was pretty dysfunctional right from the start. After this chapter it should be pretty clear to most readers that this setup is less than ideal - a man who was "initiated" into D/s relationships at age 15 by a woman old enough to be his mother, and a naive and inexperienced young woman getting in way over her head with a man that she believes was sexually abused by an "evil Mrs. Robinson".

That being said, there are still plenty of inaccurate and problematic messages that James does send (intentionally or not) in the coming chapters, so stay tuned.

Some of the worst writing in the chapter:
He grins, leaps up off the bed, and pulls on his jeans, no underwear!
OMG no underwear! Qué escándalo!
“I have no clean clothes in here.” I am filled with sudden panic, and considering what I’ve just experienced, I’m finding the panic overwhelming. His mother! Holy crap. I have no clean clothes, and she’s practically walked in on us in flagrante delicto. “Perhaps I should stay here.”
Do people in the real world actually use the phrase "in flagrante delicto"? Seriously, leave a comment if you've said or heard or even thought of this phrase recently. I think the last time I heard it, I was watching Clue. Speaking of which, here is a representation of how we feel about 50 Shades of Grey:

He’s wearing a black leather jacket. He certainly doesn’t look like the multi-multi-millionaire, billionaire, whatever-aire, in these clothes. He looks like a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, maybe a badly behaved rock star or a catwalk model. I sigh inwardly, wishing I had a tenth of his poise.
Shut up, Ana.
Beside the elevator, I can see the black 4x4 Audi, but it’s the sleek, black sporty number that blips open and lights up when he points the key fob at it. It’s one of those cars that should have a very leggy blonde, wearing nothing but a sash, sprawled across the hood.
Oh, one of those cars. Got it.
He smiles his dazzling head-cocked-to-one-side smile, and my stomach pole vaults over my spleen.
So her inner goddess does yoga and now her stomach is pole vaulting? Can't wait to hear about how her pancreas is really into rhythmic gymnastics.
“What’s vanilla sex?” I ask, if anything to distract myself from the intense, burning, sexy look he’s giving me. He laughs.

“Just straightforward sex, Anastasia. No toys, no added extras.” He shrugs. “You know… well actually you don’t, but that’s what it means.” 
“Oh.” I thought it was chocolate fudge brownie sex that we had, with a cherry on the top. But hey, what do I know?
Nothing, Ana. You know nothing. You especially don't know how to describe things in a way that doesn't make you sound like a complete moron.
“My first time was horrid,” she continues, making a sad comedy face.
A sad comedy face? What, like one of those clowns with the one tear coming down?
My mind drifts to last night, and this morning… and the incredible, sensual sexuality I’ve experienced.
Sensual sexuality? This is like when Cosmo writes articles about how to have the sexiest sex ever.
Kate blushes. Oh my… Katherine Agnes Kavanagh goes all Anastasia Rose Steele on me.
And on that note, the Evil Slut Clique is about to go all "we need a fucking drink" on this stupid book.

Conclusion: There was a lot going on in this chapter, but the whole setup with Christian's mother at the beginning may be the thing that bugged us the most. She's thrilled and relieved to meet Ana even though Ana isn't particularly charming and doesn't say anything remotely interesting during their meeting, purely because she realizes that Christian and Ana are fucking and that probably means that her son isn't gay like she always thought. This whole not-at-all-homophobic-and-ridiculous situation is played for laughs because E L James is a terrible writer and this book blows. Get ready for the next chapter, when we'll finally get a look at this contract that we've been hearing so much about.


November 7, 2012

Our Post Election Results Recap

Four More Years!

We're very happy that President Obama was reelected! We admit that we do have a few criticisms for Obama (we have some issues with everyone don't we?) but we couldn't be happier that Mitt Romney lost. We are really really really happy.

But this wasn't just a big night for the presidency... there are a lot of other important milestones that came out of this election. For instance, there were 10 female senators elected (or re-elected) into office, bringing the U.S. Senate to a record high of 20 women. And fifteen of the Republicans we quoted in our The Republican Party Hates Women post the other day were defeated!

Some important milestones and/or accomplishments:
  • Arizona - Kyrsten Sinema (D) may be the winner of Congressional District 9 (technically the provisional ballots haven't been counted yet, but as of today she has the lead). Sinema would be the first openly bisexual member of Congress. 
  • Florida - Florida voted against the anti-choice Amendment 6, which would have limited abortion funding and access.
  • Hawaii - This year Hawaii sees its first female Senator, Mazie Hirono (D), who is also the first Asian-born immigrant to be elected to the U.S. Senate and the first Buddhist Senator.  Hirono's House seat was won by Tulsi Gabbard (D), who will become the first Hindu-American in the House of Representatives. Gabbard is also one of the first female combat vets to serve in Congress, along with Tammy Duckworth (D) of Illinois. 
  • Illinois - In addition to being one of the two of the first female combat vets to serve in Congress (along with Gabbard above), Tammy Duckworth (D) is also the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois. 
  • Indiana - Richard Mourdock (R), the Senate candidate who suggested that pregnancies from rape were "something that God intended to happen", lost big time to Joe Donnelly (D) in the race for the Senate. Although Donnelly isn't exactly the best when it comes to reproductive rights (he only supports abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk), he's still a step up from Mourdock any day.
  • Maine - Maine voted to legalize same-sex marriage! Maine's "Question 1" repealed a 2009 referendum that struck down a law to legalize gay marriage.
  • Maryland - Maryland also voted to legalize same-sex marriage, by passing "Question 6".
  • Massachusetts - Elizabeth Warren (D) is the first woman to ever represent Massachusetts in the Senate, beating out Cosmo centerfold incumbent Scott Brown (R). 
  • Minnesota - A measure to ban same-sex marriage ("Amendment 1") in the state's constitution was voted down. That doesn't mean that gay marriage was legalized, but it's still hopeful because it hasn't been officially made illegal. Minnesota also defeated an amendment ("Amendment 2") that would require all voters in the state to show photo ID before voting.

  • Missouri - Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) beat Todd Akin (R) with 54.7% of the vote.  Yes, that's Todd Akin who thinks that pregnancy resulting from rape is "really rare" because women's bodies can magically "shut that whole thing down" if the rape is "legitimate". His chances at becoming Senator of Missouri sure got shut down by women voters.
  • New Hampshire - For the first time in history, New Hampshire is being totally run by women at the federal level. In addition to its second female Governor, Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire elected Carol Shea-Porter (D) and Ann Kuster (D) to the House of Representatives. They join Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R) in an all-female Congressional delegation.
  • North Dakota - Heidi Heitkamp (D) won the race for North Dakota Senate, making her the first woman to serve in Congress from North Dakota, in either the Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • Washington - Washington's "Referendum 74" to legalize same-sex marriage is expected to pass. Washington is a vote-by-mail state so official results may take up to a week to tabulate, but so far it looks good. Support appears to be leading 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent.
  • Wisconsin - Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) is the first openly gay candidate elected to the U.S. Senate.

A lot of great stuff, right? Of course, it's not all wins...

  • Alabama - Alabama proved to still have some leftover racism when voters shot down a measure ("Amendment 4") that would remove language from their constitute that references segregation by race in schools. Yes, that's right. Although the Supreme Court decision on segregation was made in 1954, the people of Alabama still won't officially remove it from their constitution.
  • California - California passed two propositions that we're not psyched about. Proposition 35 to ban human trafficking and sex slavery and Measure B (Los Angeles County) requiring condom use in adult films. We totally understand why the average voter would think that both of these measures were a great idea, but the language used is problematic, there are a lot of negative implications and overall it's just unrealistic and not helpful. California also failed to pass a proposition requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food.
  • Minnesota - Michele Bachmann (R) actually got reelected! How!?
  • Montana - Montana passed a measure "LR-120" that will require parental notification before a minor can get an abortion. It passed with more than 70% of the vote. Sigh.
  • Oklahoma -A majority of voters chose to pass the Oklahoma Affirmative Action Ban Amendment ("State Question 759") which will ban affirmative action programs in the state and prohibit "special treatment" based on race or sex.  
So clearly, it's not a perfect world yet... but overall, we're optimistic about the next four years with Obama and Biden.

And it's clear that someone out there has a sense of humor: President Obama won in every state that Romney could consider "home" - Massachusetts, Michigan, California, and New Hampshire. Ouch! He also won Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin as well as District 1 (Rock County, Ryan's district) where surprisingly Ryan won reelection... with the lowest margin of his career (just under 55% of the vote). Guess they thought he'd need that job after all.

November 5, 2012

The Republican Party Hates Women: A Treasury of Quotations

Lately it seems like Republican politicians can't even open their mouths without saying something offensive about rape. The views expressed by people like Todd Akin are awful, but not at all surprising to those of us who have been paying attention to the increasingly vocal and virulent misogyny of the GOP.

But despite the fact that Akin and company are putting their sexism out there more and more each day, I'm sure we've all heard at least one of the following excuses made for him or any of the other offenders who have made news lately:
  • But he apologized! (Bonus points if it was actually one of those non-apologies like 'sorry if you were offended, or if you're John McCain accepting Richard Mourdock's "apology" on behalf of women even though he didn't actually apologize.)
  • His comments were taken out of context! (Bonus points if the person references the liberal media while making this excuse.)
  • He's entitled to his beliefs! (Someone tried this one on us recently, and shockingly they had no comeback when we pointed out that there's a difference between having beliefs and trying to make your beliefs the law and deny people with different beliefs the right to make different choices.)
  • He's just a fringe lunatic/extremist/outlier who doesn't reflect the real GOP. Most Republicans don't feel that way!
It's that last one that we want to focus on now because the truth is that people like Todd Akin absolutely do reflect the sexism of the Republican Party accurately. It's no secret either - it's in the bills that they promote, in the words that they say, and in the official party platform - and yet many people both inside and outside the party continue to deny that there's such a thing as the "war on women" or that the party has a major sexism problem. So to help them out, we've decided to round up a bunch of quotes on the subject so that we can hear it right from the mouths of prominent members of the GOP and judge for ourselves.

We're going to include a section with some of the "classics", like Pat Robertson's famous quote about feminism, but we're keeping the rest of the quotes as recent as possible, because the point is that this is today's GOP. This is what the Republican Party believes, promotes, and supports today, in 2012, and this is what they want for the future. Let's get started:

The Classics

  • "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." - Pat Robertson, 1992

  •  He compared the cold, foggy weather spoiling the event to a rape, telling ranch hands, campaign workers and reporters around a campfire, ''If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.'' -Clayton Williams, candidate for governor of Texas, March 1990

  • "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society." -Rush Limbaugh, 1987 and repeated in 2005

  • "Real liberators of American women were not feminist noisemakers; they were the automobile, the supermarket, the shopping center, the dishwasher, the washer-dryer, the freezer, the garbage disposal and frozen food." -Pat Buchanan, 1998

  • "The life expectancy of men is drawing closer to that of women. Women still live longer than men because their lives are easier." -Rush Limbaugh, March 2005

  • "Liberal women have feminized politics to such a degree that male politicians can't even be men, which may explain why politicians as a group are often caught in these sex scandals. Everybody says, 'What is it about politicians?' Anybody ever think it might be liberal women? ...Women have neutered the business of politics so effectively that the men who are involved in politics constantly have to prove their masculinity to themselves and to others." -Rush Limbaugh, June 2011

  • What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps. (interruption) The johns? We would be the johns? No! We're not the johns. (interruption) Yeah, that's right. Pimp's not the right word. Okay, so she's not a slut. She's "round heeled". I take it back. ...Can you imagine if you're her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be? Your daughter goes up to a congressional hearing conducted by the Botox-filled Nancy Pelosi and testifies she's having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope. ...So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch. -Rush Limbaugh, February 2012

  •  We could quote Rush Limbaugh all day, but we have to cut if off somewhere or this post will never end. But before we stop, we want to point out the language that Rush uses to describe women every day. Not only is he very proud to have invented the term "feminazi", but he has also called various women anchorette, infobabe, Senatorette, Chairbabe Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz, referred to Nancy Pelosi as a witch, calls the National Organization for Women the National Assocation of Gals (or NAGs for short), and so on. And 99% of the GOP worships at Rush's altar and never calls him out on anything that he says.

  • "Just again, the example of the eloquence of Sen. Obama. He's [for] health for the mother. You know, that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything. That's the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, 'health.'" -Senator John McCain, October 2008

We need a visual aid to convey the mocking scare quote that McCain used in that last statement, which was made during a presidential debate:

The Rapeublicans

  • “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”  Todd Akin, Missouri congressman and candidate for Senate, August 2012

  • “Oh, life of the mother – exception of life of the mother, rape and incest. Yeah, I’ve always — that’s a mantra, you know, I’ve said it so often it just spills out. If you really – there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest — compared to the usual abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is a tiny, tiny percentage. …. [I]n terms of the percentage of pregnancies, percentage of abortions for rape as compared to overall abortions, it’s a tiny, tiny percentage. [...] Most abortions, most abortions are for what purpose? They just don’t want to have a baby! The second reason for abortion is you’d like a boy and it’s a girl, or vice versa. And I know a lot of people are opposed to abortion who are pro-choice.” -Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, September 2012 

  • Q: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let's say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?

    A: I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. -Sharron Angle, candidate for Senate from Nevada, June 2010

  • Q: You have two daughters. You have many granddaughters. If one of them was raped -- and I accept it's a very unlikely thing to happen -- but if they were, would you honestly look at them in the eye and say they had to have that child if they were impregnated?

    A: No. If it's an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen. -Presidential candidate Ron Paul, February 2012

  • Q: So a rape victim, in a hospital. And it’s a hospital that is run by a Catholic institution. Emergency contraception, should that be—should she be sent to another hospital in the middle of the night when she’s in dire distress?

    A: I don’t think that the government should overreach. I mean it’s a separation of church and state in my view, and I think that a religious institution has the right to decide what its policies would be in that, in that case.

    Q: Yeah and I respect that, I just wonder if that institution, gets a certain, a majority of it’s money from the government, if it’s mostly federally funded, does that play a role in your thinking?

    A: Well I just think again, that it is an issue of separation of church and state, and that institution should decide what its role would be, and what it’s comfortable with doing in that instance. -Linda McMahon, Senate candidate from Connecticut, October 2012
You'll be relieved to learn that McMahon later clarified and said "It was really an issue about a Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in in an emergency rape. That was my response to it. I absolutely think that we should avail women who come in with rape victims the opportunity to have those morning after pills or the treatment that they should get." Because apparently "emergency rape" is a thing now. You know, as opposed to 'no big deal, I'll get those morning after pills when I get around to it' rape.
  • “This bill does not require a trans-vaginal exam. … It leaves that up to the patient and the physician to make that determination. Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that's part of the counseling that goes on.” -Idaho Senator Chuck Winder, March 2012
  • Q: Do you really believe, in every case, it should be totally wrong, in the sense that -- I know that you believe, even in cases of rape and incest -- and you've got two daughters. You know, if you have a daughter that came to you who had been raped. And was pregnant and was begging you to let her have an abortion, would you really be able to look her in the eye and say, no, as her father? ...And they are looking at their daughter ,saying, how can I deal with this, because if I make her have this baby, isn't it going to just ruin her life?

    A: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn't have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn't, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I've always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created -- in the sense of rape -- but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can't think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation. -Former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, January 2012

  • Q: Specifically where you stand when it comes to rape, and when it comes to the issue of should it be legal for a woman to be able to get an abortion if she’s raped?

    A: I’m very proud of my pro-life record, and I’ve always adopted the idea that, the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life. -Congressman and VP candidate Paul Ryan, August 2012

  • "He also told me one thing, 'If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry.' Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she's not going to say, 'Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.' All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she's underage. And he just said, 'Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,' he said, 'they rape so easy.'" -Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard, December 2011

  • King supports the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." It would ban Federal funding of abortions except in cases of forcible rape. Right now, Medicaid also covers abortions for victims of statutory rape or incest - for example, a 12 year old who gets pregnant. Congressman King says he's not aware of any young victims like that.

    "Well I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way, and I'd be open to discussion about that subject matter," he said. -Rep. Steve King, August 2012

  • "Incest is so rare, I mean, it’s so rare. But the rape thing…you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept her child, gave it up for adoption, she doesn’t regret it. In fact, she’s a big pro-life proponent. But on the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s the consequence of this crime, how does that make it better? You know what I mean?" -Congressional candidate John Koster, October 2012

  • Q: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?

    A: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.

    Q: Similar how?

    A: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.

    A: That’s similar to rape?

    A: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.  -Tom Smith, Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, August 2012

  • I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have for to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen. -Richard Mourdock, Senate candidate from Indiana, October 2012

A few Republicans did criticize Mourdock in particular and distance themselves from his comments (it is an election year after all), but many other ran to his defense. Here's a quick sampling:
  • Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel: "I’ve gotten to know Richard because we’re both state treasurers. We’re treasurers in states next to each other. He’s a gentleman. He’s a class act. He’s a thoughtful guy." 

  • Senator and NRSC chair John Cornyn: "Richard and I, along with millions of Americans — including even Joe Donnelly — believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous."

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "It’s incredibly irresponsible for anyone to take what Richard said about his views on life to demean his opposition to the detestable act of rape. We’re at the end of an election season here and I understand each side is looking to make hay out of every comment, but sharing the view of millions of Americans that life begins at conception is Richard’s deeply held personal belief that shouldn’t be misconstrued by partisans to imply something it does not."

  • Newt Gingrich: "If you listen to what Mourdock actually said, he said what virtually every Catholic and every fundamentalist in the country believes, life begins at conception...[Mourdock] also immediately issued a clarification saying he was referring to the act of conception, and he condemned rape. Romney has condemned — I mean, one part of this is nonsense. Every candidate I know, every decent American I know condemns rape. OK, so why can’t people like [Obama deputy campaign manager] Stephanie Cutter get over it? We all condemn rape. Now let’s talk about whether we also condemn killing babies in the eighth and ninth month."

Women's Health & Reproductive Rights

  • With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance…There’s no such exception as life of the mother. And as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology, health of the mother has become a tool for abortions anytime under any reason. -Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, October 2012

  • "This contraceptive thing, my gosh it’s such inexpensive, back in my days we used Bayer aspirin for contraception, the gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly." -Rick Santorum campaign donor Foster Friess, February 2012

  • “In the vast majority of these cases, [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience." -Virginia Deputy House Majority Leader C. Todd Gilbert, February 2012

  • "Mr. Speaker. I just have to take issue with the comments that have been preceding this debate. This is not a political issue. This is a human issue. Let me just say this to all of my colleagues who are about to vote on this issue. On the motion to recommit. The health exception is a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through it. The health exception would render this ban virtually meaningless." -Paul Ryan, April 2000

  • Q: I know Rick Santorum in his speech was talking a lot about this. He even went so far as to say, “I don’t think insurance plans should be covering birth control in the first place.” Do you think he’s right about that?

    A: I do, I do. I don’t think that’s the role of government. We have to start rolling back government. There are many issues out there beyond Obamacare, but really the issue overlying everything is, is this nation going to survive? And that ultimately becomes an issue of economics. -Richard Mourdock, October 2012

  • While campaigning for governor in April, he told the Wisconsin Right to Life convention that during his time as a state legislator, he was proud of "trying to defund Planned Parenthood and make sure they didn't have any money, not just for abortion, but any money for anything." -Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, April 2011

  • Q: What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?

    A: Well, there’s probably a lot of — I’m not a woman so I’m thinking, if I’m a woman, why would I want to get — some of it has to do with economics. A lot has to do with economics. I don’t know, I have never — It’s a question I have never thought about. -Ohio state Rep. Jim Buchy, September 2012

  • Frank Szabo said that as sheriff, he would arrest any doctor performing elective or late-term abortions in his jurisdiction. "There is a difference between legal and lawful," Szabo said.

    Szabo explained the difference by referring to the issue of slavery, which he said used to be legal but was never lawful under the Constitution. He said that even though elective abortions are legal in New Hampshire, with some restrictions, he doesn't consider them lawful. But Szabo may have inflamed the issue further when asked if he would use deadly force to prevent an abortion.

    "I would respond specifically by saying that if someone is under threat, a full-grown human being, if they're under threat, what should the sheriff do? Everything in their power to prevent them from being harmed," he said.

    When pressed about what he would do if he learned that a doctor was about to perform an elective abortion, Szabo replied he would do what it took to prevent that from happening.

    "Absolutely," he said. "Well, I would hope that it wouldn't come to that, as with any situation where someone is in danger, but again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late-term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped." -Frank Szabo, candidate for sheriff in Hillsborough County, NH, August 2012

  • "Of course I support the Blunt Amendment." -Mitt Romney, March 2012

  • “Today marks the 39th anniversary of one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history, when the court in Roe v. Wade claimed authority over the fundamental question regarding the rights of the unborn. The result is millions of lives since that day have been tragically silenced. Since that day, the pro-life movement has been working tirelessly in an effort to change hearts and minds and protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Today, we recommit ourselves to reversing that decision, for in the quiet of conscience, people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year cannot be squared with the good heart of America.” -Mitt Romney, January 2012

  • "I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench." -Mitt Romney, June 2011

  • "Absolutely." -Mitt Romney, when asked by Mike Huckabee whether he would support a "life begins at conception" or "personhood" constitutional amendment, October 2011

  • "Many issues are at stake, but some issues are not negotiable: The right to life from conception to natural death. Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined. It is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty for the government to force the Church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life.

    Your vote will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire? This is Mike Huckabee asking you to join me November 6th and vote based on values that will stand the test of fire." -Mike Huckabee, November 2012
That last one is one of those statements that I can appreciate because, while it's totally stupid and offensive, I feel like at least it has some poetry to it. Kinda like at the last debate when Mitt Romney said that Syria was Iran's "path to the sea". Totally 100% inaccurate - Iran is already on "the sea" and doesn't even share a border with Syria - but it sounded nice. Like I could see putting "you are my path to the sea" in a love letter or something. This is a similar thing. I want to approach someone randomly, like maybe a Starbucks barista, and bust out the test of fire. "Sure this pumpkin spice latte is good, but is it the best one you ever made? Are you proud of it? Would Jesus like it? Will this latte stand the test of fire?"

Equal Pay

  • Q: You voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you think it is okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same work as a man?

    A: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is that I’m making that particular distinction. I believe in free enterprise. I don’t think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don’t pay. I think it’s about freedom. If someone what’s to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that’s fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble. -Todd Akin, September 2012

  • What about something like a pay equity law, that men and women should be paid equal pay for equal work. Is that something that you think would be appropriate for the role of state government here in New Hampshire?

    I certainly think women should be paid the same as men. Young workers should be paid the same as older workers if they achieve the criteria for salary. But I don’t know that it’s appropriate for the government to continue to micromanage the workplace. -Ovide Lamontagne, candidate for governor of New Hampshire, October 2012

  • But just because they call a piece of legislation an equal pay bill doesn’t make it so. In fact, much of this legislation is in many respects nothing but an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits, which may have nothing to do whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace. -Senator Marco Rubio, October 2012

  • "Lilly Ledbetter was not an equal pay law. It was about opening up the lawsuits and statute of limitations. It wasn't an equal pay law, and of course, we support equal pay." -Paul Ryan, October 2012

  • "We don’t think America suffers from a lack of litigation." -Sen. Mitch McConnell, explaining why Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, June 2012

  • "Will, you know, will repealing [the Lilly Ledbetter Act] be a priority? If you came back and said, you know, that's really the thing that's hurting my business the most. My guess is there are other things that we can do that have a higher priority in terms of what I, what I believe might need to be done. I think you know we need to create -- that thing is a nuisance. It shouldn't be the law." -Pete Hoekstra, former Congressman and current Senate candidate from Michigan, April 2012

War on Women? What War on Women?

  •  “Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that.” -Paul Ryan, October 2012
  • "You know, liberals, ladies and gentlemen, are still in a state of shock and disbelief over the notion that "social issues" don't hurt Republicans. You see the reason for the manufactured, false, it-doesn't-really-exist attempt to convince people Republicans have a war on women... Which, again, as mayor of Realville: Republicans date women, they marry women, they have children with women. They take women to dinner. They buy women diamonds and open car doors for women." -Rush Limbaugh, March 2012

  • "If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars. It’s a fiction." -Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, April 2012

  • "...the Democrats have been trying to create, manufacture this war on women...And the fact of the matter is that they've taken it too far. And that it's being exposed that there is no war on women. What's happening is that there's a distraction that the Democrats are trying to distract the American people from the real issues. -Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, April 2012

  • "I’m fed up with it. I’m really, really sort of at the end of my rope in terms of the Democratic Party claiming we have a ‘war on women.’ The Democratic Party seems to believe the only things women care about is government-funded contraceptives and government handouts from cradle to grave." -Liz Cheney, August 2012

Miscellaneous Misogyny

  • “I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent. She had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.” -OMG it's Todd Akin again! (September 2012)

  • "The only hitch in an otherwise perfect week was the awful noise coming from the hotel room next door to mine. Turns out it was just Debbie Wasserman Schultz, practicing her speech for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week. Bless her heart." -Mike Huckabee, August 2012

  • "We need you to come in and lock shields and strengthen up the men that will go into the fight for you. To let these other women know, on the other side, these Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women who have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness, to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient." -Rep. Allen West, April 2011

  • "I was marching in a parade in Schaumburg, Sunday, two days before the Democratic convention, when Tammy Duckworth was on a stage down in Charlotte -- if you can look at the picture -- picking out a dress for her speech Tuesday night."

    "...at this point the only debate Ms. Duckworth is actually interested in having is which outfit she’ll be wearing for her big speech." -Rep. Joe Walsh, October 2012

  • "My wife likes to shop." -Former Wisonsin governor and current Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, explaining why he chose to become a lobbyist after leaving the Bush administration

  • "We’ve got real issues to talk about not the latest bimbo eruption." -Former governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, addressing sexual harassment allegations against fellow candidate Herman Cain, November 2011

  • "She goes to Washington, D.C., it’s a little bit like one of those dogs, ‘fetch’. She goes to Washington, D.C., and gets all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies, and brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri." -Todd Fucking Akin, October 2012
Just to make sure the intended disrespect was perfect clear, senior Akin campaign aide Rick Tyler tweeted this:

This is far from a comprehensive list, and that's kinda the point. Republicans are literally saying stuff like this every single day. It's impossible to keep up. And they're not just talking, but also constantly pushing a legislative agenda designed to force these sexist views on all of us. The Republican Party has proven more than ever in the past year that they don't understand how our bodies work, they don't care about the discrimination and challenges that we face in the workplace, and they don't respect us enough to let us make our own choices about our health and our lives. So they don't deserve our support, or our silence in the face of their sexism. That's why we're never going to shut up about it, no matter what they call us.