Rush Limbaugh, Sandra Fluke: Women in Media Take Notice

Today is the day that will decide if the GOP will remain relevant or go spinning down into infamy, joining the wall of shame that features Joe McCarthy, ‘I am not a crook’ Nixon, and other self-protecting ideologues who lost the thread of what it means to be in public service–or in the case of Rush Limbaugh, the voice of many of those in public service. Will the leaders of the Republican party speak up? They haven’t as yet. Or will they remain, silent and terrified, and allow their party to be co-opted, marginalized, made ridiculous.

I am not a ‘lefty’. Full disclosure–I am from New Hampshire, the ‘live free or die’ state where it is very respectable to hold independent political views. Nor is this a political site, or a political association. EWIP embraces women in media from all political viewpoints.

But the words of Rush Limbaugh about Sandra Fluke is a media issue–an issue to which women in the media must rise to respond.

I am old enough to remember the 70’s, and even much of the 60’s, rather well. I remember the beginnings of modern feminism, and the vitriol that greeted it that came from many quarters. And the vision of a panel of aging white men making decisions that affect women’s health and reproductive choices brings those days back to me vividly.

Today I know many young women who see no need to take a political position on women’s health and safety. I see their point. We have grown past so much of it. But listening to Rush Limbaugh reviling a young woman who dared to testify before Congress, in language that surely would have lost him his job if he had been speaking of a racial or ethnic minority, made me remember that yes, there are men out there who truly do hate women.

Why? I really don’t know. But the hatred and fear of a woman taking control of her own life, her own reproductive choices–or, in this case, having a voice in Congress–was evident in attack of Limbaugh on Sandra Fluke. To someone like me, who remembers when this kind of misogyny informed policy, who sees it seeping in–actually, tidal-waving in–to our current discourse, it’s a little scary.

Women in media, this is an issue. We don’t have to scream or curse back. But we need to say something. And here is what I say:

Rush (I think at this point we’re on a first-name basis, don’t you?), look at a map of the world. Overlay the countries in which women have access to contraception, where they have the power to delay conception, where they have control over their reproductive choices. Now look at the countries in which poverty, infant mortality, and illiteracy prevail. I won’t spoil the surprise…it will be a surprise, won’t it, Rush? To you, anyway.

What you see you may find remarkable. Or you may not. But Rush, something you need to learn if you are to live in our world as a civilized person: using that kind of language about another human being? It’s not OK.

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