When I want to talk about sex, I usually seek out women. And I usually pay $1.99 a minute. But Congressman Darrell Issa does it differently. When the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held his hearing Feb. 16 on the Obama Administration rule requiring religious institutions to include birth control in their employees' health coverage, his first panel had five men and no women. That panel, however, did finally answer the question of what happens when a bishop, a rabbi, a reverend and two Southern Baptists walk into a crowded congressional committee room: they piss off a lot of women.
Committee member Carolyn Maloney said, "Where are the women?" and then walked out with Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is not actually allowed to vote on legislation, since she represents Washington, D.C. And is a woman. Sure, there were two women on the six-person panel later in the day, but by that point the photo of the all-male first panel had flown around the Internet to every woman in America, all of whom had free time to look at it because they were not on panels.
I always thought birth control was equally relevant to both sexes, since we both are responsible for the kids. Then I saw the vile and repulsive things that happened to my otherwise lovely wife Cassandra when she got pregnant. That's when I realized birth control is indeed a women's issue.
So to make it up to the ladies for being left out by Issa, I decided to have nothing but women on my panel about whether churches should pay for drugs for erectile dysfunction. I also asked them about first-person-shooter video games. Issa's hearing was officially called "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" So I called mine "Can I Get Away with Calling Serious Professional Women and Getting Them to Talk to Me About Flaccid Penises and Blasting People in the Face with M-60s?"
Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown Law student whose friend lost an ovary because she couldn't afford the birth control pills that had been prescribed for her condition, had been invited to speak on the panel by the Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, but Issa rejected her the night before because she wasn't an expert on religious freedom. Though she wasn't right for his panel, it turned out she was perfect for mine. Fluke took a few human-sexuality courses when she was at Cornell and was a teaching assistant for one class. She informed the panel about the myriad causes of erectile dysfunction and listed some really dramatic treatments, which may or may not be covered by health insurance but which totally freaked out the committee. She also knew that Grand Theft Auto is not a first-person shooter.
Panel member Lisa Jervis, a co-founder of the feminist magazine Bitch, testified to the committee that "there's a lot of things you can do without an erection." She thought it was wrong for religious institutions' health plans to pay for Viagra but not contraception for their employees. "In my day, the right amount of whiskey did the trick," she said. When asked about first-person-shooter games, she interrupted the committee and said, "I'm bored now."