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Anti-Obamacare Ad Plays to Fears of Sexual Abuse, Ignores Women's Rationality

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The force is strong among opponents of Obamacare, as evidenced by a new ad campaign targeting young adults' participation in the healthcare exchange system.

Funded by the conservative group Generation Opportunity, the new #OptOut wannabe-movement aims to scare young people into forgoing healthcare coverage, because somewhere down the line, that will be more of a benefit to them than a burden. Right.

The premise of the campaign is that by participating in Obamacare, you are welcoming the government to have a say in your medical treatment, and to get this point across, these new ads portray that idea quite literally.

One in particular, however, goes far beyond crossing the line into tasteless and offensive territory. It features a young woman who, upon confirming with her doctor that she receives coverage through the ACA, is abandoned in a gynecological exam room, and frightened at the surprise appearance by "Uncle Sam" who is ready to perform her pap smear, metal clamp in hand.

Some have found the ad to be comical in that its storyline lives so far outside the realm of reality, it's impossible to take seriously. In fact, the ad itself seems to convey a sense of awareness of its own absurdity, showing a caricatured Uncle Sam sporting a "creepy" grin as opposed to his signature scowl, and concluding with a queer, circus-like musical selection as the backdrop for the takeaway, "Don't let government play doctor."

It was as if Generation Opportunity found it borderline amusing to portray this personification of government sticking its nose into the private domain of the doctor's office, catching young women everywhere in compromising positions while naively awaiting their doctors' return.

But in actuality, there's nothing funny about it. It's offensive on numerous grounds, but mostly for its disturbing play on women's fears and paranoia of sexual victimization.

Sexual assault comes in all shades, ranging from inappropriate touch to talk to observation to penetration, and what too many women come to find is that these acts are most likely to be committed by someone familiar and supposedly trustworthy.

Sad as it may be, the threat of assault must be on the back-burners of our minds in even the most mundane situations like going on a first date, walking home alone from work, fulfilling your daily duties as you serve in the armed forces, for example. It's on the back of our minds because it has to be, because it can and has happened that way to women before, because it's a part of awareness and proactivity.

It is the hope of every woman that should she put her body on display, whether on a romantic stage or medical, she would be treated with respect and dignity, in addition to mutual understanding of the trust that commands that space.

But the very opposite occurs in this ad. The young woman's trust is betrayed once the doctor leaves her alone in the room -- so she thinks -- when really the physician is conspiring against her in some twisted bait and switch operation.

What the patient thought was a safe and protected environment, governed by her trusted practitioner was actually the absolute opposite, which is the landscape of many sexually abusive situations.

Here, the doctor has two faces -- one she wears in the public space of a waiting room or hallway and shows the patient first, and another behind closed doors -- her true face -- which she shows second by enabling Uncle Sam's intrusion, bypassing the patient's consent, scaring and cornering her into submission.

It plays on nearly every fear of being watched, trapped, tricked, violated and intimidated, and by the end of the ad, you feel for her. The viewer is sent on this emotional roller coaster ride as the young woman in the stirrups is manipulated and humiliated, and to think that was all to promote a political policy and party is beyond troubling.

Would it really have been so difficult to present the case against Obamacare with factual arguments and evidence, and instead of playing to women's fears, play to our rationality? Women need not make decisions based on emotion and irrational emotion at that, which this ad feeds on and gains its strength from.

Initially, when the patient is asked about her choice to participate in Obamacare, she can't give a reason for doing so. "Yeah, it's my first time here," she says in an irrelevant and somewhat unempowered response. The ad doesn't even give her credit for making an informed decision to participate, so of course, it wouldn't give her good reason not to.

In a social climate where the vast majority of college students are female, a record-breaking number of women assume U.S. Senate seats, and more and more women are earning top tier titles in the workforce a la Sheryl Sandberg, female intellect is no longer underground and doubted, but rather presumed and celebrated. And perhaps even more ridiculous than this ad is the need to say so, to remind the good people of Generation Opportunity that they can unleash the big words and long numbers and that woman can digest them and draw their own conclusions.

Remind them that they can keep their stirrups and metal clamps to themselves and out of the conversation, and that there is a real conversation to be had, of which, any and all bizarre, voyeuristic portraits of Uncle Sam should be emphatically omitted.