Rush Limbaugh and the Birth Control Controversy: Nice Girl Responds

There have been countless articles and comments making their way through the public consciousness regarding Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic comments about Sandra Fluke, but I would also like to respond to this recent event and how it relates to the double-standard that many Conservatives espouse.

For those of you who don’t know, Sandra Fluke is a law student at Georgetown University. She wanted to speak before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. The issue at hand was whether or not religious institutions should have to provide health care coverage for birth control. Sandra Fluke has long been an advocate for women’s rights, but she was denied the opportunity to speak before the committee regarding the issue. Sandra Fluke testified instead to the House Democratic members. And then, Rush Limbaugh decided to attack her on his talk radio show.

“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] 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. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. [...] So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal: if we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch. [...] She was not allowed to testify because it was not about women at Georgetown who have so much sex they can’t afford birth control. [...] She’s having so much sex she can’t pay for it, and we should. [...] So the woman comes forth with this frankly hilarious claim that she’s having so much sex — and her buddies with her– that she can’t afford it. And not one person says, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?”

Clearly, Rush Limbaugh has no idea how birth control works. Here’s a hint, Rush: it isn’t like Viagra and it isn’t like condoms. A woman doesn’t just take a pill when she intends to have sex that day. Hormonal birth control can take two weeks to start being effective when a woman is initially prescribed the medication, and she has to take a pill almost every day for it to continue being effective. The cost of birth control is steady, no matter if a woman is celibate or if she is having sex multiple times per day.

I recently discussed the statistics of women who use birth control here. The vast majority of women who use hormonal birth control, literally, MILLIONS of women, use it for reasons other than contraception. That is why Sandra Fluke wanted to testify before the committee, not because she wants the country to pay her to have sex. But that clearly isn’t how Rush sees it.

It appears that Rush Limbaugh, like so many of his fans (and myself, at one time), has the dangerous and simplistic view that there are two types of women. There are “nice” women, who choose to abstain from sex until they are married, and there are “bad” women, who don’t.

As recently as 60 years ago, we were a predominantly agrarian society. It made evolutionary sense that a young woman who was unmarried remain a virgin. After all, she would not be the one to inherit her family’s property and farm, and her eventual husband would want to be sure that any children that came during the marriage were biologically his.

This is no longer the case. Indeed, unless women are still “property”, then virginity and chastity before marriage no longer actually matter. With the industrial revolution and the later sexual revolution, women are no longer relegated to the home, and they are no longer dependent on the men in their lives to provide for their livelihood. They are also free to engage in sexual activity if they so desire, without the fear of becoming pregnant with a child that they are unable to provide for. Women who do become pregnant outside of wedlock, or who cannot provide for a child are also derided by the vast majority of conservatives. I would go so far as to say that they view any woman who has refused to relinquish control over her own sexuality as dangerous, and would prefer that all women remain abstinent until they are married.

It is unrealistic to tell young women that if a woman cannot provide for a potential child, that they should completely abstain from sexual activity. Sex is natural and a healthy part of an adult life. Indeed, I personally believe that a woman who enters marriage without having experienced any form of sex is doing herself and her partner a disservice. If the two are sexually incompatible, or do not understand the mechanics of sex for pleasure and intimacy, the inevitable dissatisfaction will fester and the relationship will suffer with infidelity or divorce.

To Rush Limbaugh, the fundamental worth of a woman lies in tending her marriage prospects, and ensuring that her father or husband have complete control over her entire sexuality. Rush clearly still views women as property. But his comments did not just attack Sandra Fluke. His comments attacked all women.

Yesterday, I read a heartbreaking blog at the Daily KOS, which can be found here. A 16 year old young woman was attacked by her peers for taking hormonal birth control to manage her menorrhagia and secondary dysmenorrhea, both of which are incredibly painful and traumatic for a young woman. Girls at her school used Rush Limbaugh’s words to cause this brave young woman further pain and trauma. Her mother has spent days trying to convince her daughter that taking a prescription to ease her pain does not make her a “slut” or a “prostitute” any more than taking ibuprofen for a headache does. I hope that during this mother’s visit to the principal and school counselor today, she demanded that the harassment and bullying stop immediately.

Rush, you gave a classic non-apology to Sandra Fluke, saying that your words were “in poor taste”, but only after you started hemorrhaging advertisers. I want to see a real, heartfelt apology to ALL women for your hateful and horrible words. I demand that you stop your harassment and bullying of women, immediately.

Posted on March 5, 2012, in Birth Control Pills, Contraception and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. While i agree with you on most of that, i dont’ think what you think he is saying about women being property is true. I think he just doesn’t want to pay “taxes” for women to have birth control. so really he’s against national health care. This does not mean he is in the right at all. i think he’s a loathsome little creature for saying this bs on the air and should be put in his place. But i do think you are wrong on the property front.

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