“The sooner u change, the sooner I can stop fighting,” Fluke wrote back.
But then her supporters swarmed. Called the man names. Called him at home. Called his work. Soon, Fluke found herself urging respect for the troll. That Twitter account has since been removed from the Web.
“When you have a big microphone,” she says now, “you have to be careful.”
On the campaign trail, also, Fluke is too much of a hard worker to simply tell and retell her own story. At a campaign event in Boca Raton, she left out much of the saga of sex, sin, the Hill and the pill that had made her famous.
Instead, she had written a specially designed speech about something far less epic. The race for Florida’s 22nd Congressional District.
“She has really presided over an economic revitalization in West Palm Beach,” Fluke said of former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel (D), who is running for the seat.
A voice for choices
Fluke’s goal is not just to disappear after the election but to stay on the national stage as an independent voice.
But a voice for what, exactly? In some recent speeches, she has been an eloquent advocate for her own tribe: a generation of high-achieving women who have plunged into consuming careers and delayed starting families.
For them, Fluke has argued, the pill is not just a choice. It is a necessity, therefore must be kept cheap and easily available.
“That is absolutely essential to our ability to follow our dreams, to pursue the education we hope to achieve and to navigate a successful career path,” she said in a speech to the California delegation at the Democratic convention in Charlotte. “It is essential that we have control over our own reproduction, to have equality of opportunity.”
That could be a powerful restatement of a feminist idea: Women’s careers deserve protection from sex, just as from sexism.
Of course, there are a lot of people who don’t agree.
“I really resist the argument that a woman can’t be free and equal without a pack of pills,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony List. “If we want it, we can get it [ourselves]. . . . It seems very patriarchal that we could be bought off as women voters” with contraceptives, she said.
Anyway, that’s just one fight Fluke is interested in. There are others. She also wants to help poor women who want contraceptives but can’t afford them. Online, she has also opined about locked-out NFL referees, domestic violence, child labor and the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“When you have the opportunity to do something important for what you believe in, you have a responsibility to do that,” Fluke said.
But there are so many things she believes in. “What next? What are the big ideas I can put out there? . . . Sometimes, I put a lot of pressure on myself” to figure that out, she said.