Thanks, Rush Limbaugh!
3 March 2012
Sometime last summer one of my Facebook friends posted something about an outrageous anti-abortion issue in Texas, and I commented by saying something about how it appeared to me to be part of a widespread war on women. She reacted badly. “I don’t like to use hyperbole like ‘war on women,'” she wrote. “I just don’t think liberals should respond with the same overwrought language as conservatives use.”
I gave up. Facebook status updates are not the place to have disagreements about politics.
I’ve been wondering whether any of the intervening events have changed her mind. The vaginal probes. The personhood measures, which would seem to outlaw most forms of birth control and would make women liable to criminal investigation if they miscarried. The overt anti-contraception measures. The idea that giving employers full say over each of their employees’ health decisions is somehow a way to ensure religious “liberty.”
And now we have Rush Limbaugh, who has decided that any woman who discusses contraception needs to be humiliated on the airwaves. Apparently going with the “all publicity is good publicity” philosophy, he railed against the sole woman scheduled to appear before Congress to testify about the many medical uses of birth control. This young woman — a Georgetown law student named Sandra Fluke whose close friend lost an ovary because she could not obtain access to the Pill — was ultimately eliminated from testimony but appeared on various news shows to offer her evidence to the public. To Limbaugh her pitch for the Pill makes her a “slut” and a “prostitute.” “She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception,” he said.
People in both parties found that to be too much. Not only did President Obama call Fluke to thank her for publicly backing his regulations mandating contraception coverage, but even Republicans John Boehner and Rick Santorum came out to denounce Limbaugh’s “absurdity.”
Georgetown’s president, John DiGioia, emailed the Georgetown University community to back Fluke and celebrate her intelligent, respectful engagement with civil discourse and to decry Limbaugh’s “behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.”
Limbaugh has doubled down. In response to the furor, on Thursday’s show he followed up his prior comments with even better ones. “So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.”
So why, given this diarrheac mess, do I want to thank Rush Limbaugh? For making the two sides abundantly clear. I want to thank him for taking Rick Santorum’s anti-contraception theology to its logical conclusion. To clarify the Blunt Amendment’s obfuscation of the contraception issue. For reviving his “feminazi” term to apply to all 98% of American women who use birth control.
Because here’s the thing: I am really fucking sick of having male politicians tell me their vaginal probes are about a “freedom of information,” or that their denial of women’s reproductive health coverage is about “religious liberty.” Thanks for articulating the War on Women in the starkest possible terms.
At last, a real rain has come to wash all the doublespeak away. Women who have health needs are sluts, and women who speak about those needs should be publicly humiliated. Whew! The fresh air is exhilarating.
(Democrats: this is your cue to start winning elections. Do you really need more ammunition than this?)