Rush Limbaugh’s crass misogyny and sexist name-calling against female law student Sandra Fluke for her pro-contraceptive activism has caused some 19 corporate sponsors to fall back, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Last week, Limbaugh called the 30-year old woman a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she testified before Congress that her school’s health plan should cover contraception. (Transcript here).
A known woman-hating misogynist, facing consequences for his woman-hating misogyny? Really?
Call me a cynic, but something just doesn’t smell right, where Limbaugh has been a woman-hating asshole for decades, spewing misogyny and direct attacks against women and feminists for as long as he’s been on the air. If Limbaugh has finally crossed some kind of line, I have a couple of questions about that. Like, what line? And, huh?
From the CSM article:
Limbaugh got the controversy started last Wednesday when he impugned Georgetown University’s Sandra Fluke on the air, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she appeared before a congressional committee arguing that her school’s health coverage should include birth control. Limbaugh later in the week insisted that the public should have access to video of her sexual encounters in exchange for the alleged funding of her birth control.
The comments struck many as extraordinarily crass, even for Limbaugh, who frequently makes derisive ad hominem attacks against those he disagrees with. A boycott movement quickly took root, spreading across online communities on sites like Reddit and Facebook, and the strong reaction against Limbaugh inspired seven sponsors to pull ads.
Carbonite CEO David Friend wrote on his company’s blog: “No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Ms. Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show.”
Extraordinarily crass? Maybe, but not only has Limbaugh always been crass, he’s also been constantly outdoing himself for years.
There is plenty of reporting out there right now, outlining the attributes of online feminist activating, and making parallels between the Limbaugh boycott, the Komen/Planned Parenthood debacle, and even Slutwalk. People are saying hopeful and generally positive things about feminists coming together and utilizing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to get their message across, and quickly, and that they are getting results. (In the case of the alleged “results” of Slutwalk, a couple of footnotes would be nice? Komen reversing its idiotic decision to de-fund breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, is well-documented).
Luckily, there’s no need to repeat any of that here, so I won’t.
But what I would suggest is happening here, perhaps in addition to the other stuff being reported elsewhere, (successful reformism?) is that somewhere along the road in his misogynistic rant, Limbaugh has communicated that recreational PIV is unnecessary, thereby challenging the sexual entitlement of liberal men. And it’s predictable that there would be some blowback from that, and this is in fact what we are seeing.
Specifically, Limbaugh has challenged liberal men’s entitlement to unrestrained sexual access to empowerfulized liberal women — women who are willing to acquiesce to liberal men’s brand of rape-culture, which requires sexual access to all females, all the time, so long as liberal women have ready access to contraception and abortion. And (and!) so long as liberal women don’t feel so shitty about experiencing unwanted pregnancies, and using these services, that they refuse to have recreational PIV at all.
And Limbaugh’s attempted slut-shaming, like all slut-shaming, has potentially affected both.
And from women’s perspective, they are rightly enraged, but about what exactly? Surely it’s not that one woman — even a woman similarly-situated to themselves — being called a “slut” by some misogynistic blowhard that obviously hates all women as a sexual class, and supports male supremacy with every breath, stings, even though it does sting. How many times does that happen every day?
It’s that liberal women in particular have literally everything to lose if their access to contraception and abortion is denied, or made more difficult: if contraception and abortion were suddenly (more) difficult to come by, would their good-guy liberal men agree to keep their dicks in their pants out of care and concern for liberal women’s health and wellbeing? Of course they wouldn’t.
And liberal women are going to be rightly pissed when someone — anyone — calls attention to the ugly details of the sexual deal they have struck with liberal men, perhaps especially when it’s done without acknowledging the big picture, or when unfairly calling women “prostitutes” when the same thing could just as easily be said about men who engage in recreational PIV, an activity with obvious financial consequences, where someone (usually the woman!) is footing the bill. The fact that recreational PIV is unnecessary, is one of those details perhaps better left in the fine print.
Hilariously, in addition to shitting on all women and tweaking liberal men’s sexual entitlement, Limbaugh has probably also pissed off corporate America by suggesting that PIV for pleasure’s sake — you know, the kind that requires the purchase of products, devices and procedures to stave off unwanted reproductive consequences — is consumerist, and wasteful “luxury spending”.
Is corporate America going to stand for Rush Limbaugh blowing the lid off of this or any consumerist racket? Doubtful; he may as well have told his listeners that they shouldn’t be spending money on dumb trinkets to make themselves feel better, when spending money itself is so stressful and creates financial and emotional insecurity. Corporate America hates that in general, as it is antithetical to its own interests, and at obvious odds with the idea of corporate media sponsorship; media figures are supposed to be pushing consumerism, not deriding it. Even if that seems like a reach, and it may well be, are we really supposed to believe that corporate sponsors are that offended by this instance of Limbaugh’s misogyny, and that it has anything to do with some of these corporate bigwigs having daughters about Sandra Fluke’s age? Like that’s not a reach? Please.
And for what it’s worth, I actually think that Obama calling attention to Jessica Simpson’s weight gain in order to bond with fellow liberal doodbro Matt Lauer was worse than what Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke. I saw that one live, baby, and it was obscene, and heartbreaking…but these things are a dime a dozen, and offense is at least partly subjective. Examples of misogynistic, political footballing with women’s lives abound, so what, objectively, makes this latest thing with Limbaugh SO MUCH WORSE than anything else, or even worse than something that happened that day, or any day?
In short, call me crazy, or just plain wrong if you want, but if Rush goes down over this, and he well might, it probably won’t be because he is a misogynistic blowhard who hates women, (but surely uses them himself, sexually and in every other way) and supports male supremacy with every breath. And it won’t be because he crossed some kind of unacceptable woman-hating threshold, because that line simply does not exist, and we see evidence of that every day. So *either* there is a line, *or* it has to be something else. And so far, there is simply no evidence that I can see of the existence of a line in the sand, when it comes to misogyny and woman-hatred in the media.
Rush potentially going down because he tweaked liberal men’s sexual entitlement, or failed to properly sell consumerism on behalf of his corporate sponsors, makes much more sense than the suggestion that he is going down because he is a misogynist, and because he deserves it for the way he treated Sandra Fluke, or any woman, or all women, Facebook and Twitter campaigns notwithstanding. That just doesn’t make any kind of rational sense at all.
UPDATE: @thinkprogress tweets that the dropped-sponsor count now stands at 43. See also @StopRush.