Samantha Bee did a spot on The Daily Show about Medicare funding penis pumps. Now, I know the spin is outrageous, and sometimes rhetorical, and meant for entertainment, but usually there’s truth to what they report on The Daily Show.
I thought, I can’t believe it. Sometimes dear Sam Bee goes over the top.
So I googled.
Lo and behold: The Atlantic, CBS, NBC, hell, even fucking Fox News corroborated. But only in the context of the government paying an average of $360 per pump. I googled that, too. There were a number of fine, fancy, multi-speed models for well under $100.
Then I cried. For like an hour. Big sobs. For people who are born one sex, but identify as another, whose choice to do so is suspect. For anybody who was not born into favorable class, race, ethnicity, sex. For my sweet girl, who has to grow up in this world full of asinine, inexcusable double standards like this one.
I cried for the shot abortion doctors, for myself and other women who’ve paid thousands of dollars for birth control, for young, poor, or sick women whose access to reproductive choice is constantly under attack by the very same population who need a medicare funded penis pump. By the very same population who called Sandra Fluke a harlot for advocating for the women’s health issues related to birth control.
By the very same population who would not consider gender reassignment a viable option for government funding, or other-gendered people to be a part of this conversation at all.
Look, It’s not about the penis pump. It isn’t.
I identify as a sex positive feminist, that is, I am a feminist who likes sex and thinks people should have it if they want to, whatever kind they choose, and does not, in general, view it as another conquering act by men, but instead a mutually enjoyable pastime, when between consenting adults.
Of course, I know that makes me a slut.
But let’s be for real. Penis pumps and birth control (including abortion) are not perfectly analogous. First, do penis pumps ever prevent life-threatening medical events? Do penis pumps ever prevent men from living in constant pain and/or extreme bleeding? Are penis pumps ever a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia (and therefore its own set of separate life risks)? These are honest, not rhetorical questions. We’ll get to the rhetorical part later.
So why is there no debate about government funding for penis pumps (only noting the fact that medicare is over paying), but there’s constant debate about government funding birth control, abortion, sexual reassignment surgery, etc.
Penis pumps do fall safely on the spectrum of reproductive choice, for whatever reason a man wants or needs one (recreation, medical inability to achieve an erection, curiosity), the ability to get and maintain an erection, a healthy, normal part of the male sexual experience, is a reproductive choice. To ejaculate or not to ejaculate?: That is the question.
Why the hell is nobody picketing the penis pump clinic? Unnecessary ejaculation (that is, sex for pleasure) is interpreted by both orthodox Judiasm and Catholicism as sinful. Where are the lines of Catholics outside the VA clinic? Why has nobody ever anywhere written a sign that says, “GOD SAYS NO PUMPS!” and “PENIS PUMPS ARE MURDER!”
Let me be absolutely clear, I have no issue with government funded penis pumps, as long as government funding things that make it easier for men to enjoy their sexuality are treated with the same scrutiny as those that enable women, transgender people, and homosexuals to do the same.
Here are two recent pieces of news: From the National Women’s Law Center discussing the state-level overreach into reproductive choice; And a piece in Rolling Stone about the stealth war on abortion. You can read as much as you want about that, just google “laws preventing women’s access to reproductive choice.”
So now, in the case of the government funded penis pump;
I’d like to use some of the rhetorical devices that have been developed by enterprising conservatives for discussing non male, nonwhite, non cis-gender, use of, pursuit of reproductive choice, enjoy:
Men who can’t get erections do not deserve access to penis pumps because they’re being naturally selected against.
God hates men who need penis pumps.
If a man really, really wants an erection, the penis has a way of just getting it up.
An inability to get an erection must be God’s punishment for bad sexual choices in a man’s past.
If a man is being raped, his body has a way of shutting that whole thing down so he can’t maintain an erection. What if these penis pumps, that act against God’s will, are appropriated by rapists?!
If a man can’t get an erection, it’s because God doesn’t want him to.
Penis pumps are unnatural, an abomination, a cosmetic device. A man should have other ways to derive sexual enjoyment than via his penis.
A man does not deserve a penis pump because his inability to get an erection is not a life-threatening condition.
A man does not deserve the choice whether to get an erection, wanting to get an erection when he can’t makes him a slut. A gigolo. A person of low moral standards.
I know! Let’s make a law: if a man wants a penis pump, he should have to endure a probe ultrasound (into his urethra), without local anesthetic, narrated by his doctor, to ensure there is actually a medical problem that warrants one.
Can you think of any others?