An issue that still leaves many flabbergasted as to why this is still an issue– women’s reproductive rights has been under fire by our government leaving access to healthcare in a precarious position as of late. Planned Parenthood, an organization that manages centers for reproductive healthcare and sex education, has been targeted specifically regarding its abortion services by those with a “pro-life” stance and conservative political affiliations. Not only has its government funding been essentially yanked, it has also been literally under fire, and been the site of bombings and attacks. With multiple campaigns of support for Planned Parenthood, and protests for women’s rights such as the recent Women’s March across the country and other parts of the world that turned out millions of people, the fight for access to reproductive healthcare has been called out as a vital issue that affects not only women, but all of us.
The famously comedic video and film website Funny or Die recently decided to give their two cents in the fight for women’s reproductive health. Publishing an ad-style video narrated by famous women from film, tv, and pop culture, Funny or Die’s strategy behind the video targeted an audience of heterosexual men. Playing to these attractive women’s bodies and sex appeal, the video “humorously” oversexualized them as incentive to gain heterosexual male allyship concerning women’s healthcare politics. The women themselves referenced how their audience has probably fantasized about their bodies, and while delivering statistical information about uterine and vaginal health, posed and mimicked sexual facial expressions and body language.
The point was to display a contrast between the incentive of sex with the very real and not-so-sexy information surrounding a healthy and functional uterus. The dialogue consistently calls attention to what heterosexual men “probably haven’t thought about when [they’ve] imagined [women] playing beach volleyball in a rainstorm…” or [insert sexual innuendo or body part here]. And finally concluded with the strong argument that should heterosexual men choose to support women’s access to healthcare, “That way, if you ever do get a chance to have sex with us, we can do it in a safe, responsible manner.”
Applause for good intentions, but I’m sorry, there are quite a few things that I have to point out this video does more harm than good. It’s fantastic that Funny or Die is attempting to spread the message that uterine and vaginal healthcare should be important to heterosexual men. But, the underlying message shouldn’t be that they should care because not taking care of women’s vaginas means that you can’t fuck them. Women shouldn’t have to parallel the importance of their healthcare needs alongside their abilities to sexually please men. The message shouldn’t be, ‘hey men, think about me in relation to your dick. Yeah, now you care, right?’ That’s exactly the opposite of how women should be teaching men to think about women’s bodies.
This video is dangerous in that it plays into objectification and sexism. Using sex as an attention grabber to disseminate information is one thing, but to also utilize it as the reason why men should care about equal access to healthcare is appalling. It reproduces the notion that women’s bodies are important only through their relation to men and what men can get from women. This is not the message we need to be sending, especially as women attempting to bring attention to a serious issue whose main opponents are men who believe they have a say in the control over women’s bodies in the first place.
That is the problem already! Heteronormative society already believes that women shouldn’t be in control of their own bodies. It already holds no respect for it. Women are hypersexualized, objectified, and body policed every day at every age, and this stems from the ideology that women’s bodies exist for the sexual pleasure of men first and foremost as a “natural” instinct. This video works the angle that makes that ideology true.
Funny or Die’s video is a misguided attempt at humor and activism that merely reinforces the power of the systems in which it is trying to critique. It is also indicative of the lack of awareness rampant in white feminism that uterine and vaginal healthcare is synonymous with and exclusive to women. A great amount of gender-variant folks and trans people need healthcare as well, and leaving them out of this conversation is cissexist as well as trans and homophobic. For by leaving out representatives from these communities specifically in this video, means to say that genderqueer and trans folk cannot be sexualized in a positive or alluring way.
Better luck next time, Funny or Die. Try not to think with your dicks in the future.