Don’t Worry, Rush Limbaugh, We Didn’t Forget You

When my sister mentioned to me that it was “time to blog”, I wasn’t sure what she meant, because unfortunately, I had not had access to the internet when Rush Limbaugh originally opened his big mouth and called Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke a slut and a whore when she went to testify about birth control.

Thankfully, I’m all caught up now.  And by “all caught up” I mean “intensely angry that this even happened”.

I think we can all agree that Limbaugh was in the wrong.  First and foremost it was borderline slander to call her a slut and a whore publicly in that manner; it was also completely uncalled for.  I don’t go around calling pro-lifers sluts and whores, and would expect the same courtesy to be extended to myself.  The fact that this even happened is absurd.

Luckily, many people agree with that stance.  By now I’m sure most of our readers have heard that several of Limbaugh’s sponsors either backed out or threatened to do so, not wanting to support this kind of hate speech.  I’m grateful that this happened, because in America, absolutely NOTHING speaks louder than money, and there was no stronger message that could be sent that something has to change.

On March 2nd, Rush Limbaugh issued an apology to Ms. Fluke, stating that he had been trying to illustrate the absurd with absurdity and that he meant to create humor, and had merely used the wrong words-~-he also claimed that it was never meant to be a personal attack on Ms. Fluke (source: http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/03/rush-limbaugh-apologizes-to-georgetown-student-116294.html)

To be completely honest, I’m not sure any of us were laughing.  And despite his claims that this was not a personal attack on Sandra Fluke, the fact remains that his comments reflect a social portrayal of sexually active women as “sluts”, people who should be ashamed of their behavior.  This is just another extension of the slut stigma, and the way it appears in the media.  Rush Limbaugh’s presentation of that stigma may have offended enough people to force an apology, but unfortunately, the backlash likely won’t be enough to change the fact that many people DO act like women who are sexually active are irresponsible, loose, or otherwise immoral.

Never mind that being on birth control does not mean you are sexually active.  There are any number of medical reasons why birth control may be perscribed-~-to treat ovarian cists, for example (bet Rush never thought of that one).  The presumption is that if you’re on birth control you are obviously being careless in sex (even though remembering to use contraceptives would indicate the opposite).  If anyone could be accused of absurdity, it is not Sandra Fluke for testifying to the importance of birth control-~-it is the conservative movement for failing to recognize the medical uses of contraceptives and the right of women to make choices about reproductive health with the same lack of constraints enjoyed by men.

So no, maybe Rush Limbaugh didn’t mean Sandra Fluke is a slut.  But he meant that women who use birth control and are sexually active are sluts, and if Fluke falls into that category, well…It’s very much like a former coworker of mine who informed me that, and I quote, “Jewish girls are whores”.  When I got offended, he said that he “wasn’t talking about you” (meaning me)-~-but he was.  He knew I was Jewish, and he created a category into which I easily should have fallen based on his criteria.  Young woman, Jewish…whore.  In his world.  Obviously, anyone reading this should realize that this is utter fallacy, and that it was of course horribly offensive.  But he “wasn’t directing that comment at you” (me), just as Rush Limbaugh wasn’t directing that comment at Sandra Fluke…just a demographic category she likely belonged to.

My favorite response to this whole debacle, however, has come not from feminist or DC activists or even Limbaugh’s sponsors: it came from Gloria Allred, a famed celebrity lawyer, called for prosecutors to charge Rush Limbaugh under an anti-defamation law still on the books in Florida.  According to said statute, “Whoever speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.” Allred stated that she is concerned about the impact this could have on female activists’ willingness to speak out, especially about issues like sexual and reproductive health, and also said that Limbaugh’s apology was “meaningless”.  As Allred pointed out, the antidefamation law is still on the books and can definitely be used in this case-~-although some are concerned about the role of First Amendment Rights (source: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2012/mar/09/lawyer-prosecute-rush-limbaugh-defamation/?partner=popular)

All we can do now is wait and see.

 

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~ by Randi Saunders on March 11, 2012.

3 Responses to “Don’t Worry, Rush Limbaugh, We Didn’t Forget You”

  1. Yes! Rush Limbaugh is silencing women by calling them sluts. He is also framing the situation so that what America sees is that all women who want access to contraception are sluts. Even if that’s not true, that is the message everyone takes in and believes. Sandra Fluke wasn’t talking about sex at all, she was talking about needing contraception for medical purposes and Limbaugh switched it up to be that she was having so much sex she couldn’t afford her birth control. Some people think Rush is being given too hard of a time and some agree with him. Disgusting, I know. I had not heard of that law in Florida- awesome. Whether it can be charged as a misdemeanor or not, I don’t know, but there’s a lot of talk about taking him to court and though I’m not usually litigious, I hope they do! Liza Wolff-Francis, Matrifocal Point

  2. Thanks all

  3. […] control is a medical decision made by patients and doctors together.  When we as a society allow people to deem those who use birth control “sluts”, we say that using birth control is bad, it is something to be ashamed […]

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