In her frightening story in the most recent Texas Monthly, Mimi Swartz describes the comical-if-not-for-its-serious-consequences reaction of male lawmakers when one of the few women in the Texas legislature took the floor to explain the "intrusive" details of a "transvaginal ultrasound." The (male) sponsor of the bill requiring the procedure of all women seeking an abortion "stammered," Swartz reports, while admitting that he wasn't aware that is what he was trying to legislate.
It is hardly the only time a bunch of men have been flummoxed lately over the details, rather than the morals, of the female anatomy.
In February, Nancy Pelosi offered to "explain biology" to colleagues in the House of Representatives, after they held a hearing about women's birth control that did not include testimony from a single woman. During that same circus, Rush Limbaugh appeared to think the birth control pill works like a condom -- or, more probably, like Viagra, accusing Sandra Fluke of "having sex so frequently that she can't afford all the birth control pills that she needs." (Reality to Rush, you take the medication once per day whether you have sex daily, monthly or not at all. There are no volume costs.)
In June, Michigan state representative Lisa Brown was barred from speaking before that body after using the word "vagina" to argue against a law limiting therapeutic abortions. "What she said was offensive," The Detroit News quoted her colleague, Rep. Mike Callton as saying. "It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company."
And now there is Representative Todd Akin, who would like to be Senator from Missouri, who argued this past weekend that in the case of "legitimate rape" a woman can somehow prevent herself from becoming pregnant.
Put aside for the moment the horrifying reality that Akin feels that some rapes are more "legitimate" than others. And let's focus on the fact that so many men in positions of power over women's health are so clueless about female biology.
Perhaps this is the result of decades of diluting sex education in schools? Have we created an entire generation of men that truly don't know the basics? Yes, Mr. Akin has apologized, though his cluelessness persists. Did he really have to say his words were "ill-conceived"?
Yesterday President Obama had many women cheering when he said, "I think these comments... underscore... why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women." I was one of those who cheered, and tweeted, his words.
But I think that needs to be refined a bit. I don't mind some men being involved in decisions about my reproductive health. I very much want my husband's thoughts, for instance, and I welcome the input of my doctors, male and female.
It's not that men should not be allowed to pass laws about women -- rather STUPID men should stay the heck away. Know your facts, please. Respect the reality that you can not fully inhabit my experience.
Only then are you entitled to an opinion.
Follow Lisa Belkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lisabelkin