Ladies, how would you feel if you were called a slut on a national talk radio show? Guys, how would you feel if someone did the same to your girlfriend or your sister?
For two days, radio host Rush Limbaugh did just that to Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke. He called her a “slut” and a “prostitute,” claiming that she was demanding that the American taxpayers pay for her to have sex since she had used birth control. The self-important, arrogant, holier-than-thou scoundrel then had the nerve to claim that he wanted compensation.
“If we’re going to have to pay for this, then we want something in return,” he said. “And that would be the videos of all this sex, posted online so that we can see what we are getting for our money.”
To say that I was disgusted by Limbaugh’s attack on Fluke would be an understatement. Limbaugh is known for making a name for himself with inflammatory comments such as these. However, this time he unequivocally crossed the line. Calling her a slut and a prostitute? Asking for a sex tape? And all of this from a person who supposedly represents conservative family values. At what point does a hypocritical, morphine-addicted, 61-year-old boor get off insulting anyone?
I am glad to see that I am not alone in my outrage toward Limbaugh. Many politicians and advertisers have withdrawn their support. After some delay, President Barack Obama personally reached out to Fluke and citizens throughout the country have boycotted the radio host.
Due to public pressure, Limbaugh issued a “sincere” apology to Fluke, stating that, “In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”
If this is Limbaugh being sincere, I would hate to see his insincerity. Fluke rejected this apology — and rightly so.
I am more disgusted by the lack of universal public outrage. Many of the Republican presidential candidates offered only wishy-washy condemnations of Limbaugh. Listeners have stood by him. Steve Landsburg, a professor in the economics department, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, March 5 as agreeing with Limbaugh’s economic position.
Perhaps most horrifying is the abundance of blame that has been placed on Fluke. The phrase “Sandra Fluke hypocrite” brings up 1.75 million hits when searched on Google. In the same Wall Street Journal article, Landsburg is quoted as saying that Fluke is not a “slut,” but equally as insultingly calls her an “extortionist with an overweening sense of entitlement.” He goes on to say that Fluke’s argument “deserves only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered.”
And all of this toward a poor law student who has become a martyr of this birth control movement.
Indeed, all Fluke did was speak in defense of her rights. Everyone should have the right to affordable health care. All women should be able to access affordable birth control if they want it. This is what Fluke was speaking for, not for religion or for socialist medicine and certainly not for taxpayers to “pay for her to have sex.”
Limbaugh’s remarks — and the fact that we, as a country, are even having this debate about birth control — highlight a serious flaw in this country’s attitude toward women.
Why is it that a government largely controlled by men thinks that it knows the best options for women’s health? More disconcertingly, why is it that the government refuses to listen to the input of the people who have personal experience in the policy matter?
Fluke had to testify in an unofficial democratic congressional hearing because she was denied access to the actual congressional hearings on the role of religion in health care. Not a single woman testified during these hearings.
Indeed, this situation underlies a grave lack of respect and equality for women. Women have made such great strides in society and in the workplace. Why the regress? Why are we again drudging up the battle of freedom and choice for what a woman does with her body?
No matter where one stands on the birth control debate, nobody deserves to be insulted and humiliated the way Sandra Fluke was. It is exactly this sort of demeanor toward women that leads to sexism and domestic abuse. One can only hope that we, as a society, can have a respectful dialogue, rather than resorting to base attacks. One can only hope that nobody’s sister, friend or girlfriend ever has to be the next Sandra Fluke.
Hansler is a member of the class of 2015.