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.