Thursday, March 08, 2012

The International Women’s Day Slut Link

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There’s been a firestorm of controversy over the last week about American talk show host Rush Limbaugh calling a woman testifying before a US Congressional Committee a “slut”.

I’ve only listened to Limbaugh once in my life. It was June of 1995 riding in a cab in Nashville. He was on the radio talking about a homeless advocate named Mitch Snyder who had become so despondent he’d hung himself.

Rush did an impression of Snyder choking and strangling as he died, interspersed with some crude jokes and laughter. I asked the driver to turn it off.

Driver: “You don’t like Rush?”

Me: “I don’t like assholes.”

To his credit, President Obama called the young woman maligned and offered his sympathies. At a press conference yesterday, he said he’d done that to send a message to American women and especially his own daughters that such characterization was inappropriate.

His critics have claimed his motives were less about propriety than politics, and frankly, I have to agree.

Less than 14 months ago, the shooting of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords sparked a similar debate about the language used in political debate, with many on the left insisting it was “always” the other side opting for the coarse, the perverse and the violent.

Yesterday, conservative writer Michelle Malkin begged to differ:

The fact is, "slut" is one of the nicer things I've been called over 20 years of public life. In college during the late 1980s, it was "race traitor," "coconut" (brown on the outside white on the inside) and "white man's puppet."

After my first book, "Invasion," came out in 2001, it was "immigrant-hater," the "Radical Right's Asian Pitbull," "Tokyo Rose" and "Aunt Tomasina." In my third book, 2005's "Unhinged," I published entire chapters of hate mail rife with degrading, unprintable sexual epithets and mockery of my Filipino heritage.

If I had a dollar for every time libs have called me a "Manila whore" and "Subic Bay bar girl," I'd be able to pay for a ticket to a Hollywood-for-Obama fundraiser.

Self-serving opponents argue that such attacks do not represent "respectable," "mainstream" liberal opinion about their conservative female counterparts. But it was feminist godmother Gloria Steinem who called Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison a "female impersonator."

It was NOW leader Patricia Ireland who commanded her flock to only vote for "authentic" female political candidates.

It was Al Gore consultant Naomi Wolf who accused the late Jeane Kirkpatrick of being "uninflected by the experiences of the female body."

It was Matt Taibbi, now of Rolling Stone magazine, who mocked my early championing of the tea party movement by jibing: "Now when I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy set of balls in her mouth. It vastly improves her prose."

Wait. It gets better…

“Playboy published a list of the top 10 conservative women who deserved to be "hate-fucked." The article, which was promoted by Anne Schroeder Mullins at Politico.com, included (Laura) Ingraham, "The View's" Elisabeth Hasselbeck, former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann and others.

Yours truly topped the list with the following description: a "highly fuckable Filipina" and "a regular on Fox News, where her tight body and get-off-my-lawn stare just scream, 'Do me!’”

Ms. Malkin’s full column and expanded list of slurs can be found here.

The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2012 is “Empower Women – End Hunger and Poverty”. But in most countries it is set aside as a time to honor and praise women for their accomplishments.

And maybe that means we all need to clean up our act and treat not only the women, but everybody else in our lives with the respect they deserve.

5 comments:

JA Goneaux said...

Another four-bagger, Jim (relax, everyone, 'tis a baseball reference).

Agreed: about Limbaugh. Watched his TV show once years ago, turned it off after he held up a pic of Chelsea Clinton and mocked her. Seriously, how can anyone make the Clintons look good about anything?

It is said that sometimes if you disagree with a nice guy, you do so with your hat in your hand.

I guess you could say about Limbaugh that, even when he's correct, I wish he wasn't.

Agreed: the "I only insult people I disagree with" meme has to go. If you want polite discourse, don't start the convo by using language you are condemning.

As Bill Bennett says:

“My question is whether the President will give back the million dollars Bill Maher gave him. I don’t know how he’s going to explain that to Sasha and Malia, when that guy uses language that would make Rush blush.”

As the saying goes, you could look it up...

Anonymous said...

You know what I'd really like?

Somehow this entire discussion seems to be about how inappropriate it is to call people inappropriate terms. Whether the name-calling is due to race, religion, ethnicity, or gender, I'll happily agree with you there.

My problem is that there's legislation -- actual government legislation -- that affects millions of women that was at the core of this, and no one seems to want to talk about it.

What I wish is that for International Women's Day you had discussed Ms. Fluke's point, because no one seems to be discussing that. Why is it OK that insurers can refuse to cover a medication that is used to treat multiple medical conditions -- conditions unrelated to sexual activity -- because its more common use is for prevention of conception and some people object to that?

I'll quote Ms. magazine here. "While this bill (Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011) panders to religious extremist’s fears of women controlling their own sex lives, it also opens the door to other tempting repressions. The religious exemption could allow an employer who’s a Jehovah’s Witness to prohibit coverage for blood transfusions. A Scientologist would be able to deny psychiatric care to an employee. A traditional Christian Scientist, who hasn’t adopted the Church’s updated doctrine, could decide to deny all health care, except for prayer. The moral convictions’ [PDF] clause would allow anyone to claim a moral aversion to just about anything to deny their employees health care. If an employer is morally opposed to the use of animals in medical research, then any pharmaceutical products tested on animals could be excluded. Or, one may be morally opposed to providing health care at all to employees."

Your Regular Anonymous

DMc said...

The difference Jim, is that any time one of the so-called "insulters" on the Left have done this, Ed Schutlz, Bill Maher, whoever -- there has been noisy and voiceiferous denunciation from the LEFT.

Ed took himself off the air for a week.

There is just no comparison.

It is NOT the same. And anyway, that's the nyah nyah. The Nyah Nyah is unsolveable. It's neverending.

What about Anonymous' point?

Can we actually talk about the important thing for once?

Or are you just interested in the gainsaying?

jimhenshaw said...

DMc,

I completely agree with both you and Regular Anonymous that "the important" is what gets derailed by all this playground stuff.

But I have trouble swallowing your case for "noisy and vociferous denunciation from the Left".

Barbara Walters laughed at Laura Ingram when "slut" was slung at her. Nobody on the Left has ever criticized what's been said about Malkin.

You and I are both aware of the glee expressed in Canada when Ann Coulter was silenced in Ottawa. Did anyone from our Left step up to acknowledge how unfair and undemocratic that was?

Right now, Sarah Palin is waiting for Obama to call her to say he doesn't want either of his daughters referred to as a "dumb twat" like she has been from a man who just donated a million bucks to his campaign.

And check out this video of just how vociferous Democratic congresswomen are in condemning inappropriate speech.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikW7ljSm3Fs&feature=player_embedded

Sorry, your argument simply can't be supported by the facts.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have a hissy-fit, here.

In four blog comments, we're back at the "You're rude!" and "You're rude, too!"

I'm biased. I'll admit I don't think that public rudeness from commentators is as much as a problem as the legislation that -- at least in my estimation -- seems to be coming from the right. I will admit right up front that I think a large swath of the right in the US has a major problem with how the majority of US women choose to live their lives.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe my "argument simply can't be supported by the facts." Could we at least talk about it??

Your Regular Anonymous