men, masculinities and gender politics

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Rush Limbaugh: Losing His War Against Women

(I had another blog all set to go for this week. But sometimes something so offensive happens that I just need to address it instead. And this week that offensive thing was the conservative American radio firebrand Rush Limbaugh. I try to avoid giving trolls like Limbaugh any further attention. But sometimes when they get so unbelievably offensive, I just need to respond.)

This week Limbaugh went too far (again). But this time in so doing he displayed his true misogynist mindset for the whole world to see. And he is beginning to pay the price.

What set him off was the testimony of Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, who spoke at a U.S. congressional hearing in support of requiring companies to include birth control as part of their healthcare coverage for employees.

Simply put, Rush thinks that women who want birth control are sluts.

This opposition to birth control is pretty rich coming from a guy who was detained at Miami airport in 2006 while returning from the Dominican Republic for having in his luggage a bottle of Viagra pills that had not been prescribed to him! (He later stated that he had a really great time in the Dominican Republic: "Wish I could tell you about it, but I can't.") Clearly Rush has no problem with the idea of having sex himself. It's just women who shouldn't be having sex -- or at least not without him.

For Rush Limbaugh, a woman using birth control automatically means that she is having sex, and lots of it. And that makes her a slut. He ranted:"What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] 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," Limbaugh said. "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."

That statement is just so, so wrong. On pretty much all levels.

First, the woman's name is Sandra Fluke, not Susan.

Second, Rush, she is a law student at Georgetown University. Hardly a "co-ed." (What the hell did that now-outdated but always-inane term ever mean anyway?) And there is no question in my mind that Ms. Fluke could bury you in any debate. Because, after all, law school trains students in the use of logical argument -- something you clearly have limited experience with or passion for.

It would be pretty entertaining to see how those two whole semesters you spent at a university (where, your mother once said, you "failed everything") would stack up against Ms. Fluke's Georgetown law degree.

Third, Rush, you have a lot to learn about birth control. It is expensive, and if it is in the form of hormonal birth control (i.e. the pill, the ring, a shot, etc.) it is continual, not episodic! Taking a birth control pill is not like just popping one of your beloved little blue penis pills, Rush. A woman must be vigilant throughout her cycle, and not just when she wants to have sex. A woman who takes a daily pill is probably not having sex every day, despite your little fantasy to the contrary.

Another thing you should learn about birth control, my friend, is that many women take birth control pills for reasons other than contraception. There's a little thing called the menstrual cycle, Rush. And some women use hormonal pills to help regulate it. (Of course, you probably don't approve of that either, since in your mind women who attempt to regulate a troublesome cycle are no doubt failing to pay the proper penalty that Eve incurred for all women by listening to that darn snake and giving Adam that darn apple. On that topic, while I know that both Adam and Eve got thrown out of the garden, remind me again what extra penalty Adam incurred for his role in that whole "tree of knowledge" thing? Oh yeah, nothing -- even though both Eve and the snake got further punished. But you're probably okay with that too.)

Fourth, Fluke was not asking tax payers to pay for her contraception. So, my friend, please tell me exactly why this is any of your concern? Unless you are just trying to control women's sexuality. But that couldn't possibly be your agenda, could it???

Rush: Pimp-in-Chief? Limbaugh concluded his stunningly sexist rant by insisting that if women want their contraception covered by their employers' insurance programs, they must then post graphic videos on the internet of themselves having sex. "So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal," Rush blathered. "If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."

His argument (even though it is totally based on false premises -- please bear with me here, folks) is essentially this: "I bought you. I own your sexuality. Now perform for me, b----!"

In Rush's world, women who desire to have sex are nothing but immoral sluts. And women who want their birth control paid for are prostitutes. But clearly he has absolutely no problem with men who would enjoy watching videos of those same women being penetrated. (It seems like he'd like to watch it, too!) This is the classic (and extremely offensive) stance that a woman who sells her body is disgusting, but the "johns" who use that woman for sexual pleasure are just regular, every-day guys. And dear old Rush, he's willing to set it all up for us. And that makes him a pimp.

Nothing new under this misogynist son. Much has been written about the American right-wing's seeming new-found opposition to birth control. (The Obama administration must be simply ecstatic that Rick Santorum, who actually opposes women using contraception, is a serious contender for the Republican nomination.) And Rush is right there in bed with him. Rush idiotically declared:

"A Georgetown coed told Nancy Pelosi's hearing that the women in her law school program are having so much sex they're going broke, so you and I should have to pay for their birth control. So what would you call that? I called it what it is [being a slut]. So, I'm offering a compromise today: I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want."

In Rush's world, women have two choices: be a virgin, or be a whore. It is a world the Taliban would well recognize -- and approve of.

But attempts to control women's sexuality are nothing new. It is one of the core tenets of patriarchy. Foot binding. Chastity belts. The burkha. Female genital mutilation. "Corrective rape" of lesbians. Perpetuating the Madonna/Whore dichotomy. All of these are attempts to control women's sexuality.
 

But it is clear that trying to control women's sexuality never works. Despite the best efforts of misogynists throughout history, women are embracing their sexual selves like never before. So why do men keep trying to control this insurmountable force? Because to a patriarchal male like Limbaugh, a woman's power is simply terrifying. An empowered woman will not obey. An empowered woman cannot be controlled. An empowered woman will not shut up. And -- most dangerously -- the existence of empowered women threatens to blow apart the myth of male supremacy that is the very foundation of patriarchy. An empowered woman shows the world that the old boys' club is just that: a bunch of scared little boys.

And in our sex-negative, patriarchal culture, a woman who is sexually empowered as well, whose passion cannot be controlled by men, who will not be dominated, and who will not just put up and shut up is Rush Limbaugh's worst nightmare!

Women are winning. Mohandas Gandhi is reported to have once said about oppressors: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

And when it comes to women, Rush Limbaugh certainly isn't ignoring them, and he isn't laughing at them any more, either. There was no humor at all in what he was saying about Ms. Fluke. Rush is fighting women's progress with everything that he has. But he is losing. As a result of immense pressure from Americans who were utterly outraged at Limbaugh's remarks about Ms. Fluke (and about women in general), Rush's corporate sponsors are now dropping him like a hot potato.

Rush is discovering -- no doubt to his horror -- that as women become increasingly empowered and shake off the chains of patriarchy, his old time misogyny no longer pays quite as well.
 

And that, my friends, is a very good thing indeed.
 

Rush

WELL SAID and THANK YOU!!! Yes, I know I am shouting!!!!! I do it frequently when the PRESS chooses to give him "time" on the air.

mchodges