The XX Factor

Uterine Incorporation

Someone had to buy the URL and Florida’s ACLU just got there first. The name of the website refers to a recent incident, when state representative Scott Randolph was censured by Republican House leadership for joking that his wife should incorporate her uterus if she wants to be free of government intrusion. The joke hit where it hurts-Florida House Republicans have introduced at least 18 bills aimed at restricting women’s control over their own uteruses-and the excuse to censure Randolph was based on the grounds that “uterus” is a dirty word that can’t be heard by the likes of congressional pages (who are old enough, in Republican eyes, however, to be forced to bear children against their will ) and Capitol visitors.

If you were a screenwriter or novelist and you had a character take offense at the word “uterus” to demonstrate prudishness and misogyny, you’d run the risk of being accused of hyperbole, but as this incident demonstrated, social-conservative leadership is exactly that tone deaf to how hateful and out-of-touch they sound. It also made it hard not to draw the conclusion that just such a panicked, hysterical reaction to the mere mention of a female body part is undergirding the heavy focus on controlling women’s sexual and reproductive choices, regardless of all the hand-waving about fetuses anti-choicers might engage in. Not using this as a platform to organize and fundraise would simply be foolish.

The whole incident does bring up one uncomfortable question, however. The first rule of social conservativism is that the thing they rail against the hardest in public is that what gets them off the most in private. (See: Ted Haggard, David Vitter, George Rekers, Larry Craig, etc.) But the mysterious Republican hasn’t been named who got the vapors at the word “uterus” and managed to instigate the move toward censure. Who is this man (or woman), and what are we in store for when he or she is eventually outed through a loud-mouthed partner or in a police sting? What does a uterus fetish even look like? Maybe it would be wise to collect some predictions from sexperts about what the end game we’re looking at here is going to be.