Says Rush Limbaugh, anyway. A recent Italian study has determined that penises have shrunk in size by about 10% during the last 50 years. Why? researchers suggested weight gain, pollution, stress, and smoking — but Limbaugh knows better.

Because if you think about it, what else has happened during the last 50 years in addition to people getting fatter, more stressed out, and suffering more pollution? Why, the feminist movement happened, Rush reminds us! Therefore, physical changes to men’s bodies must be due to “the feminazis, the chickification and everything else”!

If there’s anyone who ought to know about weight gain and stress, it’s Limbaugh — but hey, then he’d have to take personal responsibility, right? Why not, instead, make us all out to be victims? Why not insist that we are a culture entitled to have no feminism or chickification? Why not blame the feminazis for culture’s troubles instead?

Stands to reason, right? And by reason I mean nonsense.

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?)

How would you feel if Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer came out and said, “If there are any more boys out there who’re thinking about coming forward with sexual assault charges against my client, you should think twice”?

How quickly would he be censured? His license revoked?

Yet that’s exactly what Herman Cain’s lawyer did, except he (safely) delivered that threat to women. “Anyone should think twice before you take that type of action,” Lin Wood said, addressing sexual harassment victims considering coming forward with charges. “And I think it’s particularly true when you are making serious accusations against someone running for president of the United States, but I think it’s equally true if you are making those accusations against your next door neighbor.”

Think twice. As if women who’ve experienced sexual harassment haven’t already thought twice — as she weighed the costs of reporting a boss or co-worker. As she thought about feeling derided and violated, yet worried the backlash of her reporting would be worse. As she wondered whether he was serious when he suggested she’d lose their job unless she succumbed. As she got glares from the other women in the office who thought she was flirting with him. As she wondered how to find health insurance if she quit. As she received no help whatsoever from the human resources person to whom she reported it.

This isn’t about someone else. This is about you.

Wood’s threat — from a lawyer! — has to do with the public shaming women will experience if they come forward. Rush Limbaugh has already started piling abuse on Sharon Bialek, the most visible of the accusers. (Can you imagine if Limbaugh tried to make slurping noises about the boys abused by Sandusky?) But this isn’t just a question of verbal insults: I can’t imagine how many death threats have been thrown at Bialek and Karen Kraushaar.

The Cain campaign has raised $9 million since news of the sexual harassment charges came out on October 1. He thinks it’s really funny to recommend that Mitt Romney get charged with sexual harassment to help his poll ratings, because polls still place Cain at first, or tied for first, in the pack of GOP hopefuls.

Readers: what will it take for you to get angry enough to do something about this misogynistic culture? When will you say to yourself, this is enough — I’m willing to stand up for myself and other women?

Because at the rate we’re going, we’re getting to a place where no woman is a “good enough” victim; we’re all bitches now. No rape or assault will be enough to protect you from the charge of being a bitch for reporting it.

You know how to start? Talk about the sexual harassment you’ve received, and talk about why it put you in an impossible situation. Talk about how hard it was to talk about it. Talk about how the frustration is doubled when you feel both violated and silenced. If they’re telling us we are all bitches now, then they’re going to have to hear something in response. Basta!