Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, and the Vilification of Women in the Public Arena

This is my first-ever political post on Winging It, which makes me a bit nervous, but I really feel the need to speak out.

A few days ago, Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a name on the air, a derogatory name to do with her being a woman. He shouldn’t have done that, and I do not agree with his choice. But it is his choice. It is also, of course, his advertisers’ choice to pull their advertising because of it, and individual radio stations’ choice to eliminate his program from their lineup. I support these people having freedom of choice.


A few years ago, Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a similar name on the air. Actually he called her not just one but at least two different names, repeatedly, both highly derogatory terms for female anatomy, and both generally considered far more vulgar than the word Limbaugh used. No one called for Maher’s program to be removed from HBO. This was largely, I believe, because the mainstream media agrees with Bill Maher’s general view on things, and dislikes Rush Limbaugh’s popularity and his views that differ from the mainstream media. So when Bill Maher called a female public figure by a name that denigrates women everywhere, it was not widely reported and never became the subject of public discourse.

In fact, David Letterman also called Sarah Palin the very same name that Rush Limbaugh used toward Fluke. There was virtually no objection.

One’s political affiliations should not matter in this case. This sort of name-calling goes far beyond political debate. Using derogatory female terminology to vilify a woman in the public square is beyond the pale. It should not be allowed, and I would think both sides would think shame to themselves to stoop to this sort of malicious defamation of the feminine. The Right upholds the ideal of feminine purity. The Left staunchly supports feminism. Why would either side allow such vicious words to be used as cheap shots to tear down a woman on the opposite side?

And when either side does so stoop, as political pundits will tend to do, then the outcry from the media and the public should be the same. Such talk should not be tolerated merely because one generally agrees with the one calling the names, or because one dislikes the person who is being vilified. Nor should it be used merely as a political football to run with when one dislikes the pundit who slipped up and used a politically incorrect word.

If it is wrong for someone you dislike to use such language, it is wrong for someone you agree with to use it too. It cheapens the entire political process for it this to be acceptable from anyone.

If Rush Limbaugh can be called on the carpet and is a big enough man to apologize on the air, what about Bill Maher? How about a public request for Bill Maher to take responsibility for cheapening the airwaves and in effect setting the stage for Rush Limbaugh’s malicious remarks? Instead, we have Maher flippantly affirming his callous invective with the excuse that it’s okay for him, because he’s on HBO and doesn’t have sponsors.

Maher may have missed the point just slightly. One does not proffer an apology merely because outside forces can create enough pressure to force one to do so. One apologizes because it is the right thing to do.

Sadly, when I switched my blog from Winging It to Carma with a C, I lost a lot of things including comments! So I’m copy/pasting them when I can.

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