Anyone in my atheist circles who knows me knows that I keep tabs on conservative Catholic blogger Matt Walsh. His work can be found on The Blaze, where he frequently spouts off Catholic dogma and incoherent conservative talking points. I would love the chance to talk to the guy, half so I could record an interview with him so people could point and laugh at his words on a podcast, and half so I could help him give in to any repressed homosexual urges he might have and teach him how to truly love. But I digress.
I follow him on Twitter so I can watch what he’s saying and give a reply if needed. One time he told me the reason that I deconverted from Christianity, since apparently he knows me better than I do (and threw in an “I’ll pray for you” for good measure). He’s no stranger to being a heartless, condescending asshole to anyone wanting to contradict him.
While I think he’s astoundingly bad at reasoning most of the time, he got it profoundly wrong last week when talking about birth control. It started with a tweet saying that the poor were immature or irresponsible, and therefore did not deserve to be having sex.
Of course, Matt Walsh is Catholic, and is therefore of the opinion that sex is inherently tied to marriage and reproduction. I’m not strawmanning him here, he literally thinks that marriage is a cure for unplanned pregnancy, since according to him marriage necessarily entails reproduction. So he would like to see birth control done away with altogether, since married couples should be trying to have babies ever after and unmarried couples shouldn’t be banging. As usual when I see this nonsense from accounts with large followings, I sent a reply. You won’t believe what happened next!
Any woman (or assigned female at birth person) looking at this tweet likely has to pick up their jaw from the floor. For the non-vagina-owning readers here, you may be confused about why this tweet is such a big deal. Let me see if I can put it in words.
BIRTH CONTROL IS NOT NINE FUCKING DOLLARS.
What followed was an amazing cavalcade of women educating his ass. It’s been almost a day since I sent Walsh a response, and I’m still getting Twitter notifications from women chewing him out. And it’s a beautiful to watch.
For the record, regardless of how much birth control costs, Walsh is still an asshole. It’s just that this Tweet shows that he’s an exceptionally wrong asshole. I know of no reason why people should be robbed of a basic human pleasure (no Matt, sex is not a “luxury” as you’ve put it). People are going to fuck whether we like it or not, and being able to do it safely and responsibly is in our best interest. I see no reason why helping someone prevent raising a child in poverty because they can’t afford birth control is a bad thing.
In fact, birth control is very much a public health issue. For the past half a decade, the state of Colorado started an initiative to provide free birth control to teenagers, including IUDs and implants, which are long-lasting birth control methods. The results? Teen pregnancy in Colorado has plummeted. This allows most teens to get a better start leaving education and entering the workforce. This reduces poverty. It allows people to make responsible decisions for themselves (at a better time, when their brains have had time to fully develop). According to Governor Hickenlooper, this is a savings on state spending since Medicaid and government assistance are far more expensive than the up front costs of birth control. All these sound like great reasons to support publicly funded birth control (and they’re economically sound, which conservatives should value). I see no way that this could not be interpreted as a smoking gun for how to reduce poverty among teens and increase autonomy.
Due to my (partially) Catholic upbringing, I’ve been infused with the same sex-negative attitudes that Matt Walsh is espousing. Though I’ve been an atheist for four years, I’m still putting the work in to separate the truth from the lies when it comes to sex. I realize that everything I was taught about in a sex-negative culture has tainted my feelings. I still recoil a bit at the thought of people sleeping around with multiple partners. I have an overstated fear of STDs, and when I think about birth control I’m more likely to instinctively think of them as ineffective at preventing pregnancy or infections. I’ve come to see this as a result of being indoctrinated, and part of some hang-ups I still need to work through.
The difference between me and Walsh, though, is that I’m going to stay in my goddamn lane. As a penis-owner, I am woefully uneducated about the costs of birth control. As someone who isn’t currently in a sexually active relationship, I’m not going to tell people that they’re irresponsible for having sex. In this case, I’m not even going to argue with Walsh about birth control costs. I’m going to let the women above (and the many, many others) speak and tell him why he’s wrong. I don’t have an obligation to give my opinion on any damn thing I think is worth talking about, and I’m especially not going to argue about something I’m completely uninformed about. Perhaps Walsh could learn from that.