What Took You So Long?: My Complicated Feelings on the Current Rush Limbaugh Backlash
Rush Limbaugh has been racist, sexist, homophobic… you name it, for years. It seems to finally be catching up with him. Over the past few weeks, people have been outraged over Limbaugh’s comments to Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke when she called to express her favor towards birth control access. On the air, Limbaugh called her a slut and a prostitute, and said, “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.”
Now, don’t get me wrong- I absolutely abhor Limbaugh’s comments, and I absolutely believe that he should be held accountable for the hateful, inappropriate messages he spewed over the air that day. What I don’t understand is why we let it get to this point. It isn’t as if this is the first time Limbaugh has said something inappropriate.
I am a Black woman, wondering where all of Limbaugh’s advertisers were when he told an African-American female caller to take the bone out of her nose. I want to know why no one spoke up when Limbaugh said that the NFL looked like a game between the Bloods and the Crips sans weapons. Where was the boycott when Limbaugh said that all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?
I’m glad that he’s finally being held accountable, but I’m hurt also that it took this long for people to realize that a bigot Limbaugh doesn’t belong on the air- radio, television, or otherwise. Why doesn’t it matter if Limbaugh insults me, but when he insults a White woman the world stops? What about when he said insulting things about gay people? He’s insulted plenty of other groups as well…do they not matter either?
Feminists are supposed to be dedicated to ending oppression across all axes and leveling the playing field for all. I’m asking that they take a look at their own playing field, because sometimes I don’t feel welcome in the feminist movement. My principles line up with those of feminism, but if an attack on me isn’t an attack on you, I want no part of it.
—Keir Bristol, www.andthenkeirsaid.com
Sign the Petition
In the United States, the radio airwaves are owned by the citizens and broadcasters must apply to the Federal Communications Commission for licenses in order to use them. In order to receive a license, the station must prove their programming is in the “public interest.”
Hate speech is never in the public interest.
Sign the new WMC petition on Change.org—FCC: Investigate Whether Stations Airing Limbaugh Are Violating “Public Interest” Mandate
The Woman He Attacked Could Have Been Me
I have been thinking a lot lately about why Rush Limbaugh’s comments bother me more than many other sexist statements in the media. I don’t like it when female public figures are belittled through references to their appearance, or through calling them names. And I think both liberal and conservative commentators should be called out on this type of behavior.
But while calling women names is distasteful, it has never offended me on a personal level in the way that Limbaugh’s remarks did.
I think ultimately, his remarks got to me because he could have been talking about me. He wasn’t just talking about one woman—he wasn’t just using name-calling to criticize an individual for her political beliefs or strategy. No, he was insulting a group of women for being women—he was criticizing a woman for nothing more than standing for other women, for representing issues of our sex, for representing me.
When someone uses sexist language to talk about Palin, or Bachmann, or Clinton, they aren’t talking about me. Sure, the way they talk and the language they use may contribute to a culture that would allow them to talk that way about me, but it isn’t really about me.
But Limbaugh’s statements got to me personally because they were about me. They weren’t about criticizing a public figure. The woman he attacked could have been me. No I didn’t go to Georgetown Law School, but I nearly did. And no, I probably wouldn’t have thought to testify in front of Congress, but I’m glad that somebody did. And I am on the pill. And like the friend Sandra Fluke spoke about, I was originally put on the pill for medical reasons having nothing to do with sex. I saw my prescription go from $72/month to $5/month with changes in my health insurance and the availability of a generic version.
When I heard Rush Limbaugh call Sandra Fluke a slut for her remarks, I heard him call me a slut too.
FCC should clear Limbaugh from airwaves
[WMC Founders Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem. Photo credit: Jenny Warburg, WMC Photojournalist]
This is an excerpt from an op-ed written by WMC Co-Founders Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, published on CNN.com.
Limbaugh doesn’t just call people names. He promotes language that deliberately dehumanizes his targets. Like the sophisticated propagandist Josef Goebbels, he creates rhetorical frames — and the bigger the lie, the more effective — inciting listeners to view people they disagree with as sub-humans. His longtime favorite term for women, “femi-Nazi,” doesn’t even raise eyebrows anymore, an example of how rhetoric spreads when unchallenged by coarsened cultural norms.
At least this most recent incident has turned a spotlight back on the vile, damaging statements Limbaugh has been promulgating for years. His sponsors are dropping him; his stations have begun to follow suit. VoteVets, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, released a statement by female vets, including Katherine Scheirman, former chief of medical operations in the U.S. Air Forces, demanding that the American Forces Network drop Limbaugh from its programming.
They state, “Our entire military depends on troops respecting each other — women and men. There simply can be no place on military airwaves for sentiments that would undermine that respect.”
Limbaugh’s media presence bullies us all, men and women alike. It must end.
From an “Overeducated” “authorette”
Insults & Misinformation by Rush about Girls’ Group Attending UN’s 4th World Conference on Women
In 1995, New Moon Girls - www.newmoon.com - organized a delegation of 13 girls from the U.S. to participate in the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. The conference is where Hillary Rodham Clinton made her famous speech about “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights.”
The day before our departure to China, Rush Limbaugh tried to bully our group and the Minneapolis Public Schools on his show. He said we were feminazis taking girls to a radical lesbian conference in China to indoctrinate them. He also said that the Minneapolis Public Schools were funding the trip. None of what he said was true! We were taking the girls to the conference so they could speak for girls’ rights and perspectives in many sessions. And we raised all the funds on our own, from individuals and from the Kellogg Foundation. Participating in the conference was life-changing for all the girls and adult women who were part of our group. And Rush’s attempt to bully us just showed us in one more way that what we were doing was important and valuable for girls and women.
The girls at the Speak Our for Girls NGO Forum
Rush is Right
[Tracie McMillan, pictured here, is the author of “The American Way of Eating” and was called "single, white woman, overeducated" by Limbaugh]
This post was written by Cara Hoffman, cross-posted from carahoffman.com.
Rush is right. Young, single educated women are trying to take away his freedom. People like Sandra Fluke, who rationally explained the personal economics of obtaining a drug that benefits all people not just women; and people like Tracie McMillan who writes about the economics of food policy and production, and calls into question the boys club of low wage industries.
Limbaugh’s freedom has gone unchecked for a long time; his freedom to deliver a constant stream of invective and hate speech, the foundation of which is misogyny. So his anxiety is well justified.
People once had the freedom to lynch, terrorize and sexually assault African Americans until that freedom was taken away. They had the freedom to deny them an education, a vote, the right to marry whom they chose, until that freedom was taken away. They had the freedom to mock and use racial epithets and hate speech in all forms of media until that freedom was taken away.
Rush’s listeners know they’ve been losing the freedom of putting their hatred for women into action for a long time now. Freedoms they had before women were allowed to go to school, or to vote, before rape shield laws existed, before domestic violence laws changed. They know as long as there is no level playing field, as long as women are kept second class citizens, the freedom to discriminate, exploit, intimidate, and reap the benefits of the economic and social freedoms that come from creating an underclass remain.
Young single educated women and men, working class women and men, married women and men are at the forefront of dismantling your freedoms, Mr. Limbaugh. Rest assured we will be taking them. You won’t have to wait much longer.
What is this blog?
#BulliedByRush is a Women’s Media Center campaign in response to the long history of offensive comments and attacks made by Rush Limbaugh, most recently about Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke.
For 20 years Rush Limbaugh has been using offensive language to dehumanize woman and other marginalized groups. It’s time to call it what it is: Bullying. We encourage anyone who has ever felt bullied, harmed, or intimidated by Rush Limbaugh to submit their stories. Whether directly or indirectly, personally or collectively, if you feel you have been targeted by Rush, please share your story in solidarity with Fluke and all the other people he has bullied before her.
SPEAK OUT ON TWITTER with #BULLIEDBYRUSH.