The XX Factor

Sandra Fluke’s Speech Made Republicans Crazy. Which Is Just What the Democrats Want.

Sandra Fluke speaks at the DNC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

For a short period yesterday evening, a moment of panicked confusion broke out among those of us obsessively watching and tweeting the Democratic National Convention, when Sandra Fluke did not go on stage as scheduled. It turns out that we needn’t have worried; convention organizers made an apparently last minute decision to move Fluke’s speech to later in the night, giving her a prime-time audience. It’s a move that indicates Democrats have finally stopped freaking out at the first sign of reactionary histrionics, and instead have embraced the strategy of taking the fight to conservatives. After decades of playing along with conservatives who dress up their hostility to female sexuality as nothing more than an interest in “life,” Democrats have finally realized that baiting the anti-choice right into showing its misogynist, sex-phobic side may just be a winning strategy. Apparently, all it takes to set off the desired response is a reasonably attractive 31-year-old law student who is willing to speak about contraception in public. Twitter absolutely exploded last night with conservatives returning to the claim that being a mild-mannered thirtysomething who is engaged to be married makes a woman a pervert and radical feminist beyond all imagining. The Moderate Voice and Salon collected some of the more creative right wing reactions on Twitter, and here are some of our “favorites”:
That two people who are known to have had sex in the past (not with each other) were at the convention just generally drove the right wing Twitterati wild. One thing I did learn last night is that anyone who uses prescription contraception that is covered by insurance is a disease-ridden sex maniac. Of course, there were those who weren’t satisfied with just nursing a grudge against sex-haver Bill Clinton, but also against recently departed sex-haver Ted Kennedy.
A shout-out is owed to those who managed to avoid the baffling sex jokes, and instead went straight for the kill: Women expressing opinions out loud in public is the scariest thing that has ever happened. For those who missed the speech, here is the most angry, strident thing a woman has ever uttered:

In that America, your new president could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs. Who won’t stand up to the slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party. It would be an America in which you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds we don’t want and our doctors say we don’t need. An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it; in which politicians redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again; in which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve help, and which don’t. We know what this America would look like. In a few short months, it’s the America we could be. But it’s not the America we should be. It’s not who we are.
On some level, conservatives must know how bad their reaction to Fluke makes them look, and how out of touch they must sound to regard premarital sex, which has been engaged in by 95 percent of Americans, like it’s a freak show instead of a normal part of life. But apparently, they can’t help it. As for the Democrats, convention organizers demonstrated that they know their enemies very well with this move, which bodes well for the upcoming election.  Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention.