According to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, I’m a slut. If society accepted Limbaugh’s definition of a slut, thousands of other young women would receive the same label.
You see, I’m an advocate for birth control. I support the right for women to control their own bodies, to recognize that they are not prepared to raise a child and to practice safe sex.
In recent weeks, Democrats and Republicans have argued fervently on the issue of birth control. Republicans insist that employers, especially religious-affiliated institutions, should not be mandated to provide free birth control coverage. Democrats, on the other hand, maintain that women should have access to birth control, and the choice lies with the individual to use contraception.
Of course, Limbaugh did not directly refer to me or any fellow advocates as sluts. But he might as well have.
On Wednesday, Limbaugh said that Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who spoke to Congress about contraception coverage, was a slut and a prostitute.
“What does it say about the college coed … who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex,” Limbaugh argued.
Limbaugh’s comments brought a fury of backlash, and rightfully so. Limbaugh, a man who claims to righteously defend morality and virtue, was vicious, inappropriate and irresponsible. He stood up and did the dishonorable thing for a party that always claims honor.
It wasn’t until several days later that Limbaugh apologized for his inappropriate behavior. In fact, Limbaugh continued his attacks on Friday by ridiculing President Obama for supporting Fluke.
ABC News reported Limbaugh made a kissing noise with his lips and mocked Obama. Limbaugh went on to deride Fluke again, saying she had so much sex she couldn’t afford it.
This issue is about more than birth control. It’s about the simple lack of civility displayed by Limbaugh. No woman should fear the consequences of standing up for herself. No person should be degraded for being an advocate for reform.
What does it say about a man who degrades women and refuses to make compromises? What does it say about a man who believes he has the right to impose his beliefs on everybody else?
Susan B. Anthony once said, “No man is good enough to govern any woman without her consent.”
Anthony’s words stand true, even today. Men like Limbaugh believe they have the right to inflict their views on the general population, disregarding common sense and civility.
Granted, if religious-affiliated institutions are mandated to provide birth control coverage, it would oppose many of their core beliefs. However, no one is forcing individual employers with religious objections to use contraception. It would only require institutions to support every individual and their beliefs.
First and foremost, Limbaugh needs to learn that his behavior was lewd and inappropriate. Limbaugh also needs to understand that his insolence won’t stop us. This is a fight worth fighting.
To invoke the wisdom of Anthony once more, “Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about a reform.”
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org