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Why Is Sean Hannity So Mad You're Having Sex? 5 Ways Conservatives Attack Sexual Freedom

Conservatives' attacks on sexuality have grown more radical, in the past year alone.

The hard right turn taken by the conservative movement in the past couple of years has meant a rapid increase in conservatives taking unpopular stances: opposing Social Security and Medicare, pushing for a default on government debt, and various austerity measures sure to protect the rich while plunging the rest of the country into economic darkness. But they haven’t just embraced wildly unpopular views on economic issues, but also on social issues, especially when it comes to sexual freedom.   

Traditionally, conservatives have kept their attacks on sexual freedom limited to areas where they know they can gin up more controversy, such as gay rights and abortion. They had a larger anti-sex agenda, but knew it would be hard to sell to the public at large, and so merely chewed on the corners of sexual liberation. But something about the election of Obama caused a synapse to blow in the right-wing brain, and the attacks on sexual liberation have expanded beyond gay rights and abortion. Now conservatives are attacking sexual freedom on many fronts: abortion, access to contraception, and freedom to be sexual without being assaulted for it, freedom to be sexual no matter your race or class.  

Here’s five ways conservative attacks on sexuality have grown more radical in the past year alone: 

1. Turning contraception into a political issue. Conservative pundits and activists have really turned up the intensity of their attacks on contraception. That’s  contraception, not abortion. Since contraception doesn’t have any real implications for fetal life, the pretense that conservatives oppose abortion out of some great love of life has been gradually abandoned in favor of blatant attacks on contraception access, complete with warnings about the supposed evils of non-procreative sexuality.   

It started with the Republicans attempting to shut down the federal government over subsidized contraception for poor women. The surface excuse for bringing budget negotiations to a halt over contraception subsidies was that Planned Parenthood offers abortions with a separate funding stream, but that rationalization was thin even by conservative standards, and fell apart when Planned Parenthood supporters pointed out that contraception prevents abortion.  

Plus, some legislators didn’t even bother to keep up appearances. Rep. Steve King lambasted Planned Parenthood's  federal funding by declaring that the century-old organization is “invested in promiscuity,” a claim that assumes promiscuity isn’t capable of selling itself. 

After the federal attack on Planned Parenthood failed, conservatives didn’t just pack up and go home. Many state legislatures, including those in Indiana, Texas and Kansas, set out to cut off Planned Parenthood’s contraception funding. Anti-sex arguments got bolder on the state level, with New Hampshire council member Raymond Wieczorek justifying his committee’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood by saying, “If they want to have a good time, why not let them pay for it?” 

We’re currently in round two of the right wing’s escalation of attacks on contraception access. This time, hay is being made over Health and Human Services passing a regulation that will require insurance companies to offer contraception without a co-pay. The right-wing media’s reaction to this could charitably be described  as a complete freak-out.  

2. Making sexual resentment a right-wing trope. Sean Hannity is really the master of this one, routinely invoking the specter of some young thing getting naked with men who aren’t in his audience, in order to make his audience resentful, and ready to take it out on women as a group. On the February 23 edition of his show, Hannity said, “I’m pro-choice in this sense: If you choose to get in the back seat of a car with somebody; if you choose to make out with them; if you choose to grab, grope and fondle; if you choose to take one article of clothing off after another...guess what? You made a series of choices.” He made sex, which your average American has more than twice a week, sound like some subterranean and strange activity that ordinary people turn their noses up to, and like it’s a criminal offense requiring the loss of freedom, at least for women.   

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