The Host

Virginia Lawmaker Calls Pregnant Women “Hosts”

The HostBy Amanda Marcotte in Slate (Go there for more articles like this)

Virginia Republicans just don’t know how to avoid being wildly offensive. The latest in a long line of Virginia politicians offering weird and unsettling opinions regarding women is state Sen. Steve Martin. Perturbed that he got a generic Valentine’s Day mailing from a pro-choice coalition that called on politicians to not restrict abortion or reduce access to contraception, Martin went on Facebook to cough up an immediate classic:

You can count on me to never get in the way of you "preventing
an unintentional pregnancy." I'm not actually sure what that
means, because if it's "unintentional" you must have been
trying to prevent it. And, I don't expect to be in the room
or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a
contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb,
I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the
child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it.

The wording about pregnant women being “hosts,” which confirms every worst suspicion that pro-choicers have about abortion opponents, is sure to grab all the headlines. The contraception language isn’t a whole lot better, however. As is typical with many conservative men on this issue, there’s a tendency to talk about contraception in distancing language that makes it sound like an outré sexual kink instead of a normal part of women’s health care. Overall, women come across, in this passage, as foreign creatures whose behavior is both alien and somewhat disgusting and who only hold interest to Martin insofar as they are the “hosts” to embryonic life. On the one-to-10 scale of right-wing misogyny, I give this an 8.5: more stomach-turning than refusing to use the word vagina while trying to pass laws controlling it but still falling short of the gold standard, “legitimate rape.”

AlienMy mind is swirling through literature and cinema with dozens of images suggesting women (or parts of women) have been turned into specialized “hosts” whose only task in life is to bear children, new citizens (or slaves) for the ruling classes to exploit. Sometimes this is in a laboratory facility, like Coma by Robin Cook; or in a dystopian world, as in Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog; or even in a pseudo-hive as in Frank Herbert’s novel, Hellstrom’s Hive. Whether to give birth to new citizens or to replenish the supplies of spare body parts, there has been a great deal of literature and film suggesting that women’s bodies are a commodity to be exploited by men who know what’s best for them.

So is it really a surprise to learn that some cretin in Virginia government sees women as hosts. Perhaps we should be grateful that he didn’t call women “receptacles”  or “outlets” or some equally demeaning term designed to objectify and dismiss women. You would think that these idiots would at least be concerned that half of their constituency is female. Then again, we still have the mystery to end all mysteries: how can the Republican Party survive and convince any voters that they are concerned for the voters’ best interests?

True, money and mendacity can still bamboozle a lot of voters.

(For a reminder of many of the statements coming out of the Idiocracy, go back to this post.)

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