by: Maggie Carr
A lot of people were shocked and appalled by this past week’s Rushgate, but friends, I am not among their number.
Admittedly, it’s sorta validating to see people who never really seemed to care about this kind of stuff suddenly losing their minds over what a douchecanoe he is. I really want to share in the gape-mouthed, spluttering indignation, but embedding this Home Alone screenshot is all I can muster:
THIS IS MY SURPRISED FACE.
Don’t mistake me. The things he said about women who use contraception have absolutely no place in public discourse. They were not only sexist, but unspeakably cruel—especially since he decided to use a young, comparably unconnected student attending a notoriously socially conservative law school as his piñata. (This is to say nothing of the sexual aggression of his follow-up statement.) These comments derive from a hate of women that is so entrenched, so furiously roiling, that it scares me if I think about it too much.
But if you’ve been paying the slightest bit of attention to Rush Limbaugh, for, oh, I don’t know, four decades, you already know that he is a homophobic, racist, misogynist piece of donkey doo. So I’m wondering why the Sandra Fluke comments are It: the catalyst that finally turned the public’s response to Rush from casual hands-over-ears tolerance to righteous indignation.
He exclusively calls women’s rights supporters “feminazis” and despite being obese himself—allegedly to the point of causing serious health problems—is offended that the many “lard-ass women in politics” are allowed to be just that with no repercussions. He has stated that “when a gay person turns his back on you […] it’s an invitation,” presumably, to nonconsensual anal sex. He has referred to our president as “Barack the Magic Negro,” called for segregated buses, referred to untrained Latino workers as “stupid Mexicans.”
Where were the fleeing advertisers, the statements from leading political figures that this sort of discourse wouldn’t be tolerated? Where was the widespread, Fluke-level outrage?
Once, he responded to an African-American listener who disagreed with him by demanding that she “take the bone out of [her] nose and call [him] back.” (It is deeply interesting that a woman of color actually tolerates the tripe coming out of his mouth, so much so that she listens to his show on a regular basis, but that’s neither here nor there.) It doesn’t matter whether you’re an Occupier or a member of his own flock: when he’s challenged, this is the kind of stuff that he’ll throw back at you.
The man is a child. A tantrum-throwing child with no desire to learn, to grow, to maturely discuss, to maybe not hate people who aren’t Rush Limbaugh.
Maybe that’s cynical, and if you want to keep fighting the good fight by debating whoever those people are who hang on his every word, be my guest. These people do exist, apparently in great numbers—though I’d be damned to find any out-and-proud Rush listeners in my circle of acquaintances. There’s honor in respectfully communicating your point and refusing to back down, no matter how futile such a discussion might be.
But I’m done here.
Rush Limbaugh can believe whatever the hell he wants to believe. I’ve come to realize that no amount of jumping and shouting and sign-waving is going to change him. There’s only so much that can be said about a guy who makes millions of dollars a year for being a bigot.
So instead of posting my kabillionth status update about a far-right-of-far-right pundit saying something hateful about people who don’t look or love like them, I’m donating to Planned Parenthood. Because while brave women like Sandra Fluke work legislatively to eliminate gaps in healthcare coverage for low-income women, Planned Parenthood is actively filling those gaps. Every day. All over the country. And my donation, no matter how tiny it may be, is helping them to do that.
Refusal to engage is not a free pass. I may not care about Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, but I care deeply about the women he’s trying to tear down. This just seems like a better way to support them.
Maggie Carr is a feminist, actor, and sometimes writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BA in English and American Studies at Boston College, where she was awarded the Janet James Essay Prize in Women’s Studies for her senior thesis on the performativity of storytelling in Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Her interests—both in research and life—include pop music, cheesy musical theatre and vinyasa yoga. She tweets sporadically at @racecarr.