Written by Lady T. Originally published at The Funny Feminist. Reprinted with permission.
[I swore to myself I wouldn’t write about this, but I can’t seem to help it.]
Rush Limbaugh said something vile and misogynistic about Sandra Fluke. A lot of people got justifiably angry. After seven or eight advertisers dropped him like a P.R. nightmare potato, dear old Rush made an apology from the depth of his wallet – I mean, heart.
Of course, he didn’t leave it there. He blamed liberals for his original comments, saying that he “became like them” when he used misogynistic slurs to describe Sandra Fluke. Michele Bachmann also weighed in, saying, “I have never seen this level of outrage on the left about what the left-leaning commentators said about me.”
This reaction reminds me of the behavior I would see in my students when I taught eighth grade. Kid A would throw a pen at Kid B, and when I told Kid A to stop, Kid A would defend hirself by saying, “But Kid C did it to Kid D a minute ago and you didn’t say nothin’!”
Limbaugh is employing eighth-grade behavior here, deflecting from his own terrible action by pointing out what leftists have done in the past, and Bachmann is employing the same argument. They don’t have principled stands on misogyny; they just don’t like it when people use misogyny against them or criticize people on their side. They’re hypocrites.
But they’re not wrong.
As Kirsten Powers from The Daily Beast pointed out, many so-called progressive men like Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Michael Moore, and Chris Matthews (who hates Hillary Clinton like it’s his job), consistently employ misogynistic slurs and tactics against women they don’t like, be they Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Michelle Malkin, or other conservative women.
“So what?” You might ask. “Those women are bigots! These men are just telling like it is and calling these women out on their hypocrisy!”
Actually, no, they’re not. They weren’t saying that Sarah Palin was unqualified to hold national office because she was too uneducated in federal politics. They were calling her a “dumb twat” – reducing her to a female body part.
This is a problem. You can’t claim to be on the side of women if you turn around and use a sexist slur against a conservative woman. If you believe misogynistic slurs are wrong, you should believe they’re always wrong, not just okay when used against women you don’t like.
Now, I will freely admit that I break my own rules at times. I stop being a feminist when I’m in the driver’s seat and I say foul things when some [word redacted] cuts me off. Sometimes when I’m angry, I’ll unleash a b-word or even a c-word. I’m a human being, so are all of you, and sometimes we choose to do things that we know are wrong. It doesn’t make us bad people.
BUT I also don’t try to pretend I’m justified in saying the b-word or c-word. I don’t say, “She is such a [word redacted] and it’s okay for me to say that because I’m a feminist!” I say, “She is such a [word redacted] and I know I shouldn’t say that but I am because HULK SMASH!” Is it forgivable to slip up and say Those Words sometimes when we’re really angry? Sure. But “forgivable” and “right” are not the same thing.
So yes, I’m going to defend Palin and Bachmann and conservative women like them when someone else uses a misogynistic slur against them – even though I disagree with them on almost everything, even though they express bigoted viewpoints, even though they wouldn’t do the same for me. We all should defend them, because if we don’t take a principled stand against that kind of language, we can’t claim the moral high ground and we can’t make the world a better place for all women.
Besides, do you really want to be responsible for proving RUSH LIMBAUGH even the teensiest bit right about anything? I didn’t think so.
Lady T is an aspiring writer and comedian with two novels, a play, and a collection of comedy sketches in progress. She hopes to one day be published and finish one of her projects (not in that order). You can find more of her writing at The Funny Feminist, where she picks apart entertainment and reviews movies she hasn’t seen.