posted 2012-03-21 22:52:47

You Just Can’t Shut Up a “Slut”

A student’s reaction to the Limbaugh-Fluke controversy

Lauren Alfano

Contributing Writer

By now, the fallout from Rush Limbaugh’s vitriolic attacks on Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke is widespread, but for anyone who has not been keeping up with the news, here is a quick recap of events:

A couple of weeks ago, an all-male Congressional panel led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) held a decidedly one-sided hearing on contraception, following President Obama’s proposal to mandate insurance coverage for birth control. The extreme partiality of the hearing prompted Congressional Democrats to hold their own hearing on the issue, during which Sandra Fluke offered a heartfelt and well- delivered speech to the pro-contraception crowd. Ms. Fluke, a third-year Georgetown Law Student, who was prevented from testifying at the Republican-led hearing, was poised and articulate as she explained the essentiality of contraception coverage, particularly as it related to preventative care and offered personal anecdotes as evidence.

Even those most staunchly opposed to contraception probably would not have dared to act as ultra-conservative commentator and general loudmouth, Rush Limbaugh did, when he completely circumvented the issue under debate, and instead attacked Ms. Fluke directly:

“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex -- what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

When some questioned his choice of words, Limbaugh stubbornly hardened his stance, declaring that if Ms. Fluke believed that her contraception should be covered by insurance, then it was only fair that she post videos of her sexual activity online for the world to see.

These ludicrous statements provoked justifiable outrage, not just in liberal circles. Many conservatives including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, denounced Limbaugh’s remarks. Perhaps even more painful

for Rush’s bottom line, a number of his sponsors pulled their ads from his show, leading him to backtrack and apologize (after two days of staunchly defending his remarks). “My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir,” Limbaugh said in a statement on his website. “I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices... For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”

Well, Mr. Limbaugh, if calling someone a “slut” and a “prostitute” does not constitute a personal attack, then I truly cannot imagine what does. And, to be frank, I just don’t buy your apology any more than I buy your qualifications to judge anyone else on moral grounds as a triple-divorce with a record of illegal prescription drug abuse.

This is not the first time that the less-than-diplomatic Limbaugh has been caught in the crosshairs of controversy due to his childish stupidity. Quite recently, and despite his own weight problems, Limbaugh attacked the First Lady’s figure. According to him, if a woman doesn’t look like the type “...that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or...a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months...” she is apparently hypocritical for encouraging children to eat healthier (the First Lady’s ability to bang out twenty-five push-ups on national TV apparently notwithstanding.) other incidents, the response to his most recent hateful speech was not overlooked with a tepid slap on the wrist.

You see, Limbaugh impulsively attempted an old-fashioned maneuver. He believed that by calling Ms. Fluke a slut he could silence her. He supposed that in today’s society using contraception is synonymous with being sexually promiscuous. And he assumed that there is nothing a woman would fear more than being labeled a slut (except perhaps “fat” or “ugly” of course). So rather than countering Ms. Fluke’s positions in debate, Rush chose instead to attack Sandra Fluke herself. But without the smokescreen of support from “family values” groups and similar social right-wingers, Limbaugh’s shamefully judgmental and dated rhetoric can be seen for what it really is: misogynistic hate speech designed to embarrass and shut up an intelligent woman with an opinion.

Perhaps he thought that with tensions as high as they are around the issue of contraception, he could count on the support of other staunch social conservatives to point fingers at the “fallen woman” who (gasp!) is sexually active! But what he failed to consider is that after decades of significant educational and professional advancement, the last thing women will tolerate is a man who would attempt to silence them with a below- the-belt blow. A man who will tell them what sort of woman they are, based on what they choose to do with their bodies. Rush also failed to notice that a good percentage of men have already come to this realization.

Sandra Fluke is clearly a well educated woman; a young professional who is confident in expressing her opinions. She is not unlike many other women in this country who now comprise over fifty percent of individuals earning advanced degrees. Women who, despite centuries of shame, are becoming confident in discussing their personal needs with their doctors and their partners alike. Modern women can relate to Sandra because no matter how they vote they all are in some important way just like her. Modern men across the spectrum also get it: women like Sandra are their friends, their co-workers, and their partners.

Limbaugh’s remarks have confirmed what many already knew: He is a clownish, undereducated pig still hanging on to fantasies of the “Old Boys Club.” Had he remained in college for longer than two semesters, he might have learned a few things: 1. Bullying might get you what you want on the playground, but it doesn’t always work in the real world—especially when your target can fight back. 2. Women are the intellectual equals of men and can no longer be silenced by criticisms of normal sexual behavior. And, most importantly, 3. This nation has come quite far since the 1970s, so if you can’t catch up, then please shut up.