The man who once said that Hillary Clinton had a “testicle lockbox,” and called her a “Femi-Nazi,” may finally have stepped in it in such a way that he did every woman in this country a favor…His tasteless and horrid comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute,” seem to have struck a deeper chord than these matters typically do.
In Kirsten Power’s second article on the subject in as many days, she quoted Jehmu Greene, formerly of WomenCountPAC, who felt that the insults to Ms. Fluke regarding her testimony on contraception were being co-opted by the White House to scare women back to the fold during an election year. She couldn’t be more right. But the debate is starting to take an interesting turn…
A number of articles have been written by women on both sides of the aisle decrying not only Mr. Limbaugh’s words, but asking the more important question: why aren’t the oinkers on the left getting hauled off to the stocks as well? So called liberal-leaning commentators or comics do not get a pass for their disgraceful behavior simply because they claim to agree with us on the issue of choice. Being called a slut by Rush Limbaugh is no more grievous than when Bill Maher or Chris Matthews or Matt Taibbi or Keith Olbermann does it. In fact the cost is even greater when it comes from guys who pretend to be members of, or sympathize with, “the party of women’s progress.”
Whether we are talking about Sarah Palin (“c*nt,” “twat”), Michelle Malkin (“mashed up bag of meat with lipstick”), Hillary Clinton (“white bitch,” “yapping troll,” “nutcracker,” “Nurse Ratched,” “she devil”), or Laura Ingraham (“talk slut”) or Michelle Obama (“emasculating”) – I think we’re done. Don’t you?
Greta Van Susteren just declared she was boycotting this year’s Correspondent’s Dinner if Louis C.K. was permitted to perform there. Louis C.K. just bowed out of the event.
Is it possible that women on both sides will finally call a truce and stop allowing themselves to be treated as one issue voters long enough to insist on an end to this debasing rhetoric? Regardless of party, ideology, ethnicity, I would hope we can agree that no matter the source of piggish commentary, or the target, a zero tolerance policy is required.
But not everyone is in agreement. Bill Maher, who just became a million dollar donor to a SuperPAC dedicated to re-electing President Obama, has a number of defenders. They are chasing their own tails in an effort to run interference for a man who has said, among other things,
“They fined CBS a million dollars for showing Janet Jackson’s nipple. Just think what they could get for Hillary Clinton’s c*nt.”
But he’s a comedian. It’s not the same thing. It is a lesser crime.
Actually, he fancies himself a commentator on his HBO show, and has played that role on a number of news programs. Mr. Maher is content to pretend his words have weight and value, until he says something that gets him into trouble. Only then does he hide behind the magic veil of “comedian.” Comedians do just as much harm. They, too, have a powerful bully pulpit. Over time, the constant negative commentary works as well as brainwashing on a public that is saturated with it.
And what are the excuses of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who made comments about Hillary that were positively bi-polar. Or Keith Olbermann, who suggested a super delegate beat her up to get her to drop out of the 2008 primaries? Or Dana Milbank who said Hillary ought to be drinking “Mad Bitch Beer”?
Boycotting the stations, or written media, who keep the culprits employed might have an effect, if enough people did it.
If we woman, who comprise nearly 52% of the population band together over this one, the behavior would stop or at the very least, dissipate. Because the guys would never win another election without us. Another plus is that more qualified women would likely contest for elected office, having less trepidation about having to run a misogynist gauntlet in their campaigns daily where wardrobe choice and ankle size, vocal quality and cackles trump policy positions, and where they are regularly referred to as “whores.”
While it was only fitting that Rush Limbaugh apologize for his behavior, he should not be singled out or used politically as a distraction from the larger debate. If politicians are only coming to the defense of women when they need our votes, it is up to us to say ‘you can do better.’
President Obama called Ms. Fluke to express his support. But if he really wants to support her – then he must return Bill Maher’s million dollar donation to his re-election campaign, since Maher, like Limbaugh is a horrid culprit in this debate and a regular purveyor of sexist attacks upon women of both parties.
The President has the most powerful bully pulpit in the world. Rejecting this man’s money would go a long way toward proving that this zero tolerance policy starts at the top, and is not just about politics.
Anita Finlay is the author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage, a Hillary supporter’s rude awakening, which will be released in April 2012.