Rush Limbaugh, conservative pundit and professional shit-stirrer created quite a controversy last week when he referred to an intelligent, educated woman arguing for women’s reproductive health as a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student was barred from testifying before Congress during the birth control debate. Instead, she participated in a mock hearing, giving a thoughtful defense of the new policy mandating that health plans cover birth control. This is where she earned the ire of the talk radio host.
In the media firestorm that followed Limbaugh’s offensive comments, even President Obama weighed in. He called Fluke himself to thank her for speaking out. Of course, he wasn’t the only one who jumped in the debate. Twitter was a buzz with some truly disturbing social commentary, expanding upon Limbaugh’s original remarks with even more vitriol. [tagbox tag="slut-shaming"]
Now, in a surprising turn of events, Rush has issued an apology of sorts. After losing three corporate sponsors from his radio program, Limbaugh apparently had a change of heart and released the following statement:
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.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.
My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.
I mean, I guess this is an apology. At the very least, it’s the best that we should expect to see from a man notorious for being offensive and “absurd.”
Not to beat a dead horse Mr. Limbaugh, but this might be the very reason that labels like “slut” and “prostitute” aren’t funny. They aren’t jokes. And if you were attempting to be humorous, you very obviously failed. Even worse, those who listen to you and trust your opinion probably weren’t joking when they criticized her appearance and suggested that she be sterilized.
Our culture has a problem with using this insulting descriptions of women as punchlines. Young men think it’s okay to joke with women using terms that are meant to degrade a female’s sexuality. If want to know how strong the word “slut” is in our national psyche, whisper it in a high school cafeteria. These words have power. By playing them off like a joke, Rush tells young men that it’s acceptable for them to describe females in this way, as long as their “joking.”
Do I think that Rush really meant to add a “JK” at the end of that whole “prostitute” business? No. I think it’s how he’s trying to solve a problem that’s costing him money. But if we accept this whole “I was just joking,” excuse, it makes it okay for others in the media to make despicable comments and then brush them off as failed humor.
Sandra Fluke might choose to accept Rush’s pseudo-apology. That’s her own choice. But as a woman and a citizen, I don’t accept that calling someone a slut is funny.