The National Organization for Men Against Sexism condemns the latest hateful message from Rush Limbaugh and encourages his removal from the airwaves. Limbaugh is one of the leading spokesmen for the most extreme side of the Republican Party and has a long history of sexist, racist, heterosexist and other indecent statements. As men and women of conscience, we cannot allow this man’s voice to be the only one heard.
Georgetown University Law Student Sandra Fluke spoke before a Congressional Committee considering President Obama’s decision to require coverage of contraceptive medical care for women. She sought to point out that the treatment is used for medical conditions in addition to preventing pregnancy so the opponents are seeking to prevent women from obtaining needed medical treatment. Limbaugh, who is one of the most powerful men in the media, launched a vicious personal attack on the student using some of the most offensive slurs in the English language. NOMAS agrees with domestic violence advocates who refer to these slurs as the “language of abuse.” Our analysis understands that such misogyny is used to silence, dehumanize, and disempower not just Sandra Fluke, but all women who may give voice to their rights and concerns that oppose institutional sexism and inequality.
One of our spokespeople, Michael Kimmel, has written a letter to the New York Times: “If Rush Limbaugh has erectile dysfunction, he can get a prescription for Viagra or another erectile dysfunction medication. His prescription will likely be covered by his insurance policy so that he pays only a modest co-pay. That is, WE will be paying HIM to have sex. By his criteria, then, he will also be a prostitute. Rather than videos, however, we’d much prefer that he demand for women the same privacy he’d expect for himself.”
The slanders made by Limbaugh have no place in this society. He has continued to defend his behavior despite substantial public criticism. This demonstrates that he is too biased and obnoxious to ever change. We find it particularly disturbing that many of the other leaders of the Republican Party, including presidential candidates have failed to display the decency and courage to condemn this outrageous personal attack on a young woman. NOMAS commends Susan Fluke for speaking out on this issue. We believe it is important for men and women to make sure that there will never again be a place in our public discourse for the offensive ideas and language expressed by Rush Limbaugh. Only by creating a strong backlash can we remove the kind of poison Limbaugh and his supporters represent.
NOMAS believes that for an apology to be appropriate it must include a sincere expression of regret for what he said, accept full responsibility for his offense, an understanding of the harm he caused and a commitment to never commit such an offense again. Limbaugh’s “apology” contains none of these necessary ingredients and instead continues to explain and justify his comments. We are also troubled by his initial attempts to justify his vile comments by continuing his personal attack on Susan Fluke. This was not some subtle or inadvertent offense, but the use of language that is never appropriate based on a misogynist view. Limbaugh’s feeble attempt at an apology does not change the need for him to be removed from the airwaves.
NOMAS encourages decent people to boycott his sponsors and notify stations that air his diatribes. Tell sponsors that pay to have his vile comments broadcast that their participation will no longer be tolerated. Their money (and ours) should go instead to supporting pro-women groups like Planned Parenthood and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.