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Republican Men Have Some Weird Ideas About Periods and Pregnancy

More proof that these men have no idea what's going on inside the bodies they so desperately want to control.

Pro-Abortion protest sign reading 'mind your own uterus'

Researcher Tresa Undem recently posted a Twitter thread of her “‘Top 20’ insights over the past year on views toward women and equality.” The whole thread is fascinating, with important insights into the ways in which different demographics (specifically men and women and Republicans vs. Democrats) view issues of gender and equality.

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But this is the one that broke me:

40% of Republican men think that every menstruating person on the planet gets or might get their period on the exact same day, on the first of the month according to the modern Gregorian calendar? Can you imagine?

The fact that so many men understand so little about our bodies is not new information. I’m immediately reminded of a (less than) fun tidbit from Ann Friedman’s profile of Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space. When preparing for her trip aboard the space shuttle, Friedman writes, “Tampons were packed with their strings connecting them, like a strip of sausages, so they wouldn’t float away. Engineers asked Ride, ‘Is 100 the right number?’ She would be in space for a week. ‘That would not be the right number,’ she told them.”

That quote stuck with me for its absurdity, as I’m sure this 40% statistic will. And it sure would be nice if we could believe that this statistic about Republican voters didn’t also represent Republican lawmakers, but they don’t even try to hide their ignorance either.

The mostly white, male, Republican lawmakers constantly trying to legislate our bodies don’t even pretend to know what they’re talking about, medically speaking. Remember when Missouri’s Rep. Todd Akin said that women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”?

In the years since that ludicrous moment in 2012, a lot of men whose job it is to weigh in on these things haven’t tried to educate themselves on the matter. In 2016, Idaho’s Rep. Pete Nielsen said, “Now, I’m of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident,” adding, “That may be true with incest a little bit.”

Things haven’t gotten better with the recent wave of extreme proposed abortion bans.

According to Slate’s Christina Cauterucci, some Alabama lawmakers were “proud of their cluelessness” during a debate on one of their  bans earlier this year.

Based on Tuesday evening’s floor debate, Alabama’s GOP senators not only appeared to fall far short of that threshold—they were pleased by it. Sen. Clyde Chambliss, one of the bill’s main supporters, demonstrated a fair bit of confusion about how human reproduction works as he debated Democrats. “I’m not trained medically, so I don’t know all the proper medical terminology and timelines and that sort of thing,” he said, “but from what I’ve read, what I’ve been told, there’s some period of time before you can know that a woman is pregnant. … It takes some time for all those chromosomes and all that.”

Indeed, many people don’t even know they’re pregnant at the six or eight-week mark at which states across the country are trying to ban abortion. But why would we expect Chambliss or his colleagues to understand that? They’re only creating laws around these things.

“Republican men with anti-abortion agendas have long taken a perverse kind of pleasure in their illiteracy on the very topics they harp on the most,” Cauterucci writes. “They love to talk about the sanctity of motherhood and the milestones of fetal development; Chambliss, for instance, wore a pin on Tuesday night that he claimed was the size of a fetus’s feet after 10 weeks of pregnancy. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of biology that medical professionals, insurance companies, and patients will have to parse to determine what reproductive health care is legal and when, they plead ignorance.”

This insistence on maintaining control over our bodies while simultaneously feeling entitled to cling to their willful ignorance is so infuriating. Or maybe I’m just overreacting. After all, it is September 3rd, meaning I and the rest of the menstruating world are all right in the middle of our periods, right?

(image: SETH HERALD/AFP/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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