Whitney Bashaw, Editor-in-Chief
I can’t hide my disgust for the current climate in Washington and the larger repercussions that the ripple effect of political ideology causes. What I’m referring to specifically is the venomous slut shaming by far-right darling Rush Limbaugh and the “no big deal attitude” coming from GOP presidential candidates in response. And generally, the “woman’s body as a battleground” tactic used by politicians is growing stale without losing the offensive odor of sexism and dogmatic moral superiority.
For the last three weeks the biggest fight among politicians on the Senate and House floors has been one of women’s reproductive rights. Largely the matter has been presided over by the same people who typically preside over all matters of country: a class of rich, predominately male, predominately white citizens. As has been suggested before and as one could assume, a room full of men will take an irrational stance when it comes to women’s rights. When it’s a room full of handpicked, religious men of the Judeo-Christian variety—as it was two weeks ago—the results are going to be Medieval. In fact, there was a woman who intended to attend-Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, an advocate for insured contraception on her Jesuit campus for three years. But she was banned from entering by Republican lawmakers because this was dispute about freedom of religion.
The stance is rooted in misogyny; it was manifest in the utterances of Rush Limbaugh in its most myopic form. When Limbaugh took two separate segments on different shows to insult Fluke, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute,” and, in regards to her “slutty” lifestyle. “We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” So the country could be paid back for the money we would be spending on her sexual escapades.
Georgetown University’s president was right to comment in defense of Fluke—despite his not agreeing with her—calling Rush’s diatribe vitriolic and misogynistic. I applaud the president of the college for having more of a moral backbone than any of the country’s presidential hopefuls.
President Obama called Fluke personally, which is no doubt an incredible statement in its own right. But it’s ironic that the implication of his lack of public defense appropriates this once again to the category of “women’s issues.” To do this, he is not acting on behalf of the entirety of the country, he is avoiding the fact that a man can fight on behalf of women’s rights. In fact, it’s imperative he does.
It’s the elephant in the room that no one will mention. Republicans rail against government intervention and slobber over the gold-plated dangling carrot of protected constitutional rights all while passing legislation like Texas did, cutting a primary source of female health care and enacting a forced vaginal ultrasound for women wanting abortions.
Is it okay because it’s a woman, or because she’s a “slut”? If a woman speaking up for fellow students about their reproductive health rights as citizens in a public forum makes a woman a slut, I hesitate to ask the substance of a woman who would not be a slut. For most purposes, it seems to be a line drawn in the sand. Mitt Romney said he “wouldn’t have used those words,” practically implying he was in agreement with its sentiment simply by saying nothing of the misogyny. Santorum distanced himself by saying: “He’s being absurd, but that’s you know, an entertainer can be absurd.” But it stands to argue that the GOP cannot distance themselves from Limbaugh’s comments or stance; they are the product of their present ideological platform.
I’m woman and I have used birth control. I have never had an abortion but I uphold the right for every woman to choose. Women are not one singular category, as we all know, so there is no reason to assume what is good for some—a righteous class they are—should be the norm for all. A woman who does not want to use contraception, abortion services, or listen to sexual education can do so of her own accord. It is not a politician’s right, a minister’s right, or for that matter any other person’s, be it male or female, right to tell them.
Sandra Fluke represents the symbol that will become the battleground for the fight now, and trampled