While I’m a novice political wonk, I’ve been resisting writing about the presidential campaigns of conservative douchebags Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Governor Rick Perry. Listening to their sexist, racist, ignorant rants makes me want to claw my ear drums out. But hiding my head in the sand isn’t going to make them go away. Although I wish to god it would. But I can’t keep silent about this.
On Monday night, Bachmann lambasted Perry at the GOP presidential debate for his surprising support of the HPV vaccine Gardasil. In 2007, Perry issued an “executive order mandating that female students in Texas be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) before entering the sixth grade.”
“I’m a mom. And I’m a mom of three children. To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection thru an executive order is just flat out wrong.”
Um, yeah no. Trying to protect young women’s health and save lives isn’t wrong.
While this certainly wasn’t her intent, Bachmann’s disapproval sheds light on the fact that Perry didn’t (and doesn’t) really give a shit about women’s health. More than likely, Perry supported the HPV vaccine to garner campaign donations from pharmaceutical company Merck, who happen to be the makers of Gardasil. A dude who supports Ohio’s “Heartbeat Bill,” abstinence-only education, forced sonograms and stripping access to abortion is no friend to women and no reproductive rights ally.
Social conservatives,’ like Bachmann (and now Perry as he seems to have backpedaled on his earlier decision), condemnation of an HPV vaccine reeks of the same misogynistic bullshit that accompanies attacks on birth control, abortion and women’s healthcare. Too many asshats compulsively obsess over controlling women’s sexuality and reproduction, and punishing those for their sexuality.
HPV, which has no cure, can lead to cervical cancer. People usually contract the virus through sexual contact, part of the ridiculous reason detractors of the HPV vaccine got up in arms about administering it to girls as they claim it would condone sexual activity. But it’s to PREVENT the virus BEFORE they’re sexually active. And I seriously doubt these same people claiming to care about children would freak out about flu shots or tetanus, measles and polio vaccines. A medical condition is a medical condition.
The majority of the population has or will have HPV. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC),
“HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.”
Jill Filipovic at Feministe pointed out that writer Ayelet Waldman (one of my friend Sarah H.’s fave authors) faced ridicule and scorn for tweeting about her own experience contracting HPV from her husband, writer Michael Chabon. Foster Kamer at the New York Observer said Waldman’s revelation was “oversharing.” I say fuck that. This is a real disease that happens to real people. No one should be made to feel mortified for a medical condition.
I’m a firm believer in speaking up about our experiences. We shouldn’t be silent about our health or our choices. Jen Doll at The Village Voice proclaimed today HPV Day. Share your experiences if you’ve had or have HPV. Blog, tweet and post on Facebook. Speak out about this sexist nonsense. Oh, men can incessantly chatter on and on about their erectile dysfunction and that’s not TMI but women talking about HPV is?! Spare me.
Let’s speak out; it’s time we made our voices heard. Our health shouldn’t be a source of shame. Those opposed to HPV vaccines and reproductive healthcare are the ones who should hide their hides in shame.
Follow the HPV Day tweets at #HPVDay.