broadsideblog

The war on women escalates: Rush Limbaugh calls law student Sandra Fluke a slut

In news, politics, religion on March 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm
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If you live anywhere beyond the United States — as many of you do — thank your lucky stars if you’re a woman who cares about reproductive rights.

Ba-boom!

That’s the sound of freedoms cracking and crumbling under constant, daily, escalating barrages of laws proposed, amended and passed restricting our rights to abortion and birth control.

And, hey, whenever politicians pause for breath, right-wing radio show talk hosts like Rush Limbaugh are eager to pick up their cudgels and start beating women bloody with their verbal abuse.

Like this:

What does it say about the college coed Susan [sic] Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.

The johns, that’s right. We would be the johns — no! We’re not the johns. Well — yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word.

OK, so, she’s not a slut. She’s round-heeled. I take it back.

Women in the United States are living in the most toxic era I can remember since moving here in 1988. We joke nervously on Facebook about when burquas will be required.

But it’s not funny.

Thank God, on April 28, women will be marching in Washington D.C. to make our voices audible — and our bodies visible — above the misogynistic and appalling din of the religious right and the politicians they fund.

It’s become so bad that one of the few remaining moderate Republicans, a woman who supports the right to abortion, Olympia Snowe, will not be running again. Like all of us, she’s fed up.

Reported The New York Times:

“Everybody’s got to rethink how we approach legislating and governance in the United States Senate,” Ms. Snowe said in an interview on Wednesday. She shook her head at how “we’ve miniaturized the process in the United States Senate,” no longer allowing lawmakers to shape or change legislation and turning every vote into a take-it-or-leave-it showdown intended to embarrass the opposition.

The vote set for Thursday, framed as a choice between contraceptive coverage and religious freedom, was not the reason Ms. Snowe made her announcement, she said. Her retirement decision was bigger than any one vote. But people familiar with her thinking say the re-emergence of such hot-button social issues helped nudge her to the exit.

Georgia Chomas, a cousin of the senator who described herself as more like a sister, said social conservatives and Tea Party activists in Maine were hounding her at home, while party leaders in Washington had her hemmed in and steered the legislative agenda away from the matters she cared about.

As I posted last week, the American economy remains in the toilet. Having officially left Afghanistan, remaining American troops are being targeted there and killed by people we’ve spent billions trying to help.

Women’s rights look like the easiest, softest next target. Women have become complacent, people tell me, persuaded that the battles of the 1970s are long-over, our freedoms won and secure.

I think not!

Aux armes, citoyennes…formez vos bataillons!

  1. I am sharing your post on my Facebook page and encourage others to follow suit. Thank you for your advocacy and for adding your voice to the growing chorus of women, who will not tolerate 13th century theocracy replacing our democracy! Let’s get back to the real issues of the day, I agree.

  2. What happened? What the hell happened?!

    Between comments from an Indiana legislator about Girl Scouts, all male panels on women’s reproductive health, and the shameful rhetoric, I’ve felt like I’m scrambling to try and catch up with where all of this is coming from suddenly! When did women collectively turn into a political bargaining chip for men again?!

    • Great question and… I wish I knew.

      My theories:

      1) throwing red meat at the Republicans in a desperate race to the bottom. They can’t agree on any useful strategies on education, foreign policy or the economy — so distraction is their best option. No ideas on anything serious? Go after women!
      2) women are deeply split economically and politically
      3) women are complacent politically and unorganized
      4) we don’t know what to do or how to respond

  3. I continue to be shocked by my granddaughter’s (and friends) lack of interest in this topic. I find she is a typical 20 something, who doesn’t mind the misogynist drek on television and the violent lyrics that focus on demeaning and mistreating women. It’s sad. Sometimes I wonder what we accomplished in the 70’s.

    • I wonder how much she’ll mind when 1) she can’t get easy and affordable access to birth control or 2) needs an abortion and can’t get one.
      It’s all easy to dismiss when you assume your rights and privileges — the ones women fought hard for! — are permanent, when clearly they are not.

  4. Whenever I read anything about reproductive rights in the US it seems mindboggling. Giving easy access to birth control and Plan B seems like a no brainer. Mind you, we have our own problems in Canada. Recently, a police official told women to avoid dressing like sluts to prevent becoming a victim of sexual assault.

    I also hate how the word “slut” gets tossed around. It hurts even more to hear women use the term. Let’s do away with “slut” and call it what it really means: “women who enjoy sex” and then, we can come to the conclusion that there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • As a Canadian living here since 1988, I agree! I used Plan B in 1976, when I was in college in Toronto. American women seem to live in the contraceptive Dark Ages.

      Slut is a useless term. I’m not sure it means “women who enjoy sex” (maybe) as much as “women who have a lot of sex with a lot of people.” And the problem with that is….? Men do it all the time.

      It’s a sick, sad, screwed-up time we’re living in that has chosen to re-demonize women’s sexuality (and ability to choose when and where we want to bear children — freedom, OMG!!!!) We have to keep fighting back, loudly, non-stop — and vote these women-hating politicians OUT of office, where our taxes pay for their insanity.

      • You point out another good point – which is that women (and everyone else) NEED TO VOTE! I did some phone campaigning for an election and I would hear women say “I’m too busy with my kids” or “I’m not going to vote. I’m just a housewife”. I’d tell them that that’s exactly why they should vote.

        I hear Plan B used to make you very sick (temporarily). I actually joke that the UofT student clinic hands out birth control like candy – as in there is nothing taboo about it.

  5. I don’t recall feeling super sick from it, although you are flooding your body with hormones.

    I’m OK with U of T’s attitude. Women make their own choices. And better to have birth control than end up accidentally and unwantedly pregnant.

    Women have NO freaking excuse — short of being in the hospital on an IV — for not voting. If they are being treated (and we are) like chattel and we don’t speak out…well, who chose it by being passive?

  6. It seems a sad time that in America at the moment, a country who’s act of independence espouses freedom, and I think states that government is by the consent of the people, is being controlled by a growing group of extremists bent on their own world view being taken as truth.

    The more I hear out of the elections, and about the limitation of liberties the more worried I become.

    Where will this end, when will the moderates step outside and be heard?

    Jim

    • I wonder indeed where it will end….and I fear there ARE no political moderates any more, which is the problem. There is some ferocious and insatiable need to align oneself with the Christian right and prove how totally conservative (i.e. anti-woman) you are. It is a contest women will LOSE.

  7. [...] been a bit gobsmacked by the politics of gender and sexuality.  Here’s the ever fabulous Caitlin Kelly’s take on Rush Limbaugh’s latest verbal spewing and how misplaced the latest conflagrations on [...]

  8. Caitlyn – A sincere thank you for writing about this topic – With all the infuriating abuse that women’s rights are taking in congress, it’s encouraging to know that other people are taking notice and taking action, whether with votes, rallies, however they see fit.
    I was appalled to read that two states (Texas and more recently, Virginia) have now passed legislation mandating that doctors perform a sonogram or more specifically, a transvaginal ultrasound – in many cases, a medically unnecessary procedure — on any woman having an abortion, AND undergo a 24 hour waiting period before returning.

    Ok, 1) Mandating the (once again) medically unnecessary forced penetration of a woman’s vagina?
 Really? There are so many things wrong with that I don’t even know where to begin. It’s state-sanctioned object rape, no matter how they try to frame it.

    2) A 24-hour waiting period to “ensure” women have appropriately considered their decision? Really? Apparently Texas and Virginia have decided that women are so incompetent at making choices, they require government-mandated time to think.

    Agh!! So angry. I’ll say it with my vote, and admittedly, a few colorful letters to local congressmen (unfortunately, I’m a not-so-proud TX resident). Thanks again for your post!

    • Sorry — ** Caitlin!!!

    • It is a shockingly misogynist time in the political culture, indeed!

      • Let’s hope it isn’t sheer misogyny driving their legislation…!! Given that I’m pretty much against any government interference with the doctor/patient relationship (senators and representatives have shown, on average, a complete lack of actual medical knowledge — in effect it’s like your accountant deciding what treatment you should get), still… it IS pretty disconcerting how often women’s health gets targeted as an agenda-promoting pawn.

        I wonder if it’s misguided/misunderstood application of social standards, or if women are honestly considered second-class citizens to a lot of individuals? And how can we change that mindset if it’s the latter??

      • It’s a pattern of behavior that confounds many women…The decision-making seems driven by the religious right and doing anything, anywhere, any time that might possibly appease them…and women’s medical needs be damned.

        I grew up in Canada to the age of 30 where IS no religious right. It is shocking to me how much power legislators have given to them, certainly the Republicans.

        And, yes, many people — pardon my language — don’t give a shit about women’s rights. That’s why women and men who DO must fight hard and long to retain what we have and acquire more.

  9. You know it’s getting bad when PAT BUCHANAN says that targeting women is the wrong thing to do! (wish I had a link for that – saw it on Facebook).

  10. [...] The war on women escalates: Rush Limbaugh calls law student Sandra Fluke a slut (broadsideblog.wordpress.com) [...]

  11. I’m glad I found your blog, I enjoyed your post, and I appreciate that you read mine on this same subject. I’m just starting my new blog, and it was this Limbaugh incident that compelled me to do so. After Virginia and Santorum and on and on, I guess he was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and made it open its mouth. My daughter’s too young to know about this stuff yet, but I hope there’s less of it to deal with by the time it truly affects her, and that’s only going to happen if women keep saying what needs to be said on our own behalf. Every voice counts! Thanks for adding yours!

  12. When I read about this happening in the US, I am left incredibly disturbed. I enjoyed reading your article. I appreciate your opinion. Thank you for sharing it.

  13. [...] to this unAmerican process have come from women, including Joan Walsh at Salon.com and my friend Caitlin Kelly at her blog, Broadside. For the record, however, let me [...]

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