It was too late for Rush Limbaugh. Maybe it was the petition we posted here in Femination, maybe it was the brave and awe-inspiring media backlash, Obama’s condemnation, or the six advertisers that pulled out of his program, but Limbaugh, four days after his attack, finally apologized, much to our pleasure. But his apology sucked, and kept the same incorrect rhetoric that birth control covered by health insurance is all about “getting paid to have sex.” Here is an excerpt from his website:
“I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. … Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.
My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
If we can just take a minute of silence to reflect on the irony. He did not mean a personal attack? What else do you expect if you call someone a “slut”? I also find it deliciously entertaining that he apparently believes that “it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom,” yet that is exactly what Republicans are trying to do. In having to read his insulting and absurd remarks some consistency would be appreciated.
What is great though, is to see everyone talking about this. Rachel Maddow does a great summary of the issue, and points out that what seems to be at the heart of the matter here is that those opposed to birth control don’t really know what it is. Contrary to Rush’s idiocy, as Maureen Dowd says, “Mother Jones pointed out that Rush, a Viagra fan, might be confusing the little blue pill and birth control, since “when and how much sex you have is unrelated to the amount of birth control you need.”
Joan Walsh writes about it in Salon.com, where she “thanks” these conservative ideologues who have galvanized the women vote. Three New York Times columnists wrote about it today, Nicholas Kristof (though that isn’t surprising; it was actually taking him a while), Maureen Dowd, and Charles Blow.
In his aptly named column, “When States Abuse Women”, Kristof says Alabama, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Mississippi are considering legislation similar to the worst one in Texas, where women who want an abortion have to get an infamous transvaginal ultrasound, have to look at it, do a big list of other humiliating stuff, then return 24 hours later to actually get the abortion.
Dowd performs some needed fact-checking, pointing out how Limbaugh ”said insuring contraception would represent another ‘welfare entitlement,’ which is wrong — tax dollars would not provide the benefit, employers and insurance companies would.” But this statement of hers is simply beautiful:
“Rush and Newt Gingrich can play the studs, marrying again and again until they find the perfect adoring young wife. But women pressing for health care rights are denigrated as sluts.”
Of course, this is not restricted to Rush Limbaugh; this exploded like it did because he has long been embraced by the Republican party as their “uncensored spokesman”, as the guy who has the guts to say what they are all thinking or intending with their legislation.
It also speaks to how society at large views these words and reacts to them. Fluke herself commented on this, as reported on NPR, saying that ”she was stunned by the insult, but primarily because Limbaugh’s comments still were considered acceptable discourse in certain sectors of society.” As a society we are still fine with calling women a “bitch” as a general insult, even when we mean that person to be an asshole, an idiot, bigoted, ridiculous, etc. They’re all bitches anyway, right? No, not OK. I’ve used it in the past, to for example, refer to Sarah Palin, but I know better now. If you’ve ever wondered whether “bitch” is OK to use, it’s probably not.
- Petition to Denounce Rush Limbaugh (femination.wordpress.com)
- Even After Apology, Web Company Still Withdrawing Ads From Limbaugh Show (mediaite.com)
- Rush Limbaugh apologizes to Sandra Fluke for ‘slut,’ other remarks (latimes.com)