After Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown law school student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for believing that insurance should cover the cost of birth control, pundits on the right and left quickly pointed out that liberal media figures have also used sexist slurs.
I have perhaps written more than anyone about the use of sexist slurs by prominent men on the left lobbed at Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham, Hillary Clinton, and Michele Bachmann. But to lump Chris Matthews, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, or Ed Schultz in with the likes of Limbaugh downplays the veracity of Limbaugh’s very long and very public hatred of women.
Limbaugh has spent two decades attacking feminists, female political leaders, professional women, women who speak out, and women’s gains more generally. This formula makes his almost exclusively older, white, male audience feel more powerful in a world where changing gender roles have challenged non-meritorious power structures that benefit them.
Limbaugh popularized the term “feminazi,” which aligns feminists – those who believe in the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, and who started the anti-domestic violence and anti-child sexual abuse movements – with the most notoriously violent regime of the last century. Back in 1992, Limbaugh appeared on the Phil Donohue Show to discuss feminazi trading cards.
Limbaugh has repeatedly said that feminism “was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.” His favorite pastime is to attack the National Organization For Women, and in October of 2010, he called them “a bunch of whores to liberalism.”
In 2010, Limbaugh defended his decision to judge the Miss American Pageant, claiming that he loves women and is a huge supporter of the women’s movement, “especially when walking behind it.”
Bashing Female Political Leaders
Limbaugh regularly attacks Hillary Clinton in sexist ways, referring to her “testicle lockbox,” calling her a “lyin ass bitch,” questioning whether Americans want an older female president, and saying she “reminds men of the worst characteristics of women they’ve encountered over their life: totally controlling, not soft and cuddly.” Limbaugh also referred to 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton as a “dog.”
Limbaugh often makes derisive comments about Michelle Obama’s weight and said the presidential limo “weights eight tons” without the First Lady in it. In October of 2011, Limbaugh said that “there are plenty of lard-ass women in politics” who “get a pass on every aspect of their appearance.” But they don’t get a pass from Limbaugh who makes his living insulting the physical appearance of women in power.
In this segment, Limbaugh rants against Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, claiming that they’re unqualified and essentially stupid.
Bashing Professional Women
In Limbaugh’s teenage fantasy world, female journalists are “info babes” and “anchorettes.” He even suggested that many women would be “flattered to be hired as eye candy.” Limbaugh believes the media, politics, and unions are under the constant threat of “chickification” from which “nothing good can come.”
Bashing Women who Speak Out
In line with the Fluke fiasco, Limbaugh seems particularly keen on attacking women who speak out. In 2011, he joked that the women who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment appeared together because “they want to synchronize their menstrual periods.”
Just last week, when race car driver Danica Patrick told a reporter that the government should make decisions concerning contraception coverage, Limbaugh used an ad hominem attack to berate her: “What do you expect from a woman driver?”
Bashing Women’s Progress
Limbaugh is highly critical of the gains women have made in American society in recent decades. In 2009, he stated that “everybody knows it was the vacuum cleaner that liberated women more than the pill.” In his defense, Limbaugh may have said this because he doesn’t understand how the pill works.
In Limbaugh’s mind, women live longer lives because they have it easier than men. In 2006, Limbaugh compared his cat to women: “Once I feed her, guess what? She’s off until the next time she gets hungry. And she doesn’t have to do anything for it, which is why I say this cat has taught me more about women than anything in my whole life.”
In Limbaugh’s world, women are conniving bimbos. He told Sandra Fluke, “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex…we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
For Rush Limbaugh, then, women in positions of power or those who speak out on behalf of themselves or other women are to be ridiculed and derided. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, he was identified as the most trusted news personality in the nation in a 2008 Zogby poll.
Given his 20 year war on women, it’s not at all shocking that Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke these sexist slurs. What is shocking is that the American public has finally taken notice.