Eileen Cook Author, Writing Consultant, Editor

I am not a slut

I’m a lot of things, some good, some bad, but one thing I am not, is a slut. And I’m also not someone who takes well to bullies.

Recently there’s been debate in the US on the issue of contraception and if it should be covered by insurance plans. This post isn’t about that. I have my views, which you may, or may not, agree with. I’m liberal and my parents are conservative so we tend to debate issues frequently. I don’t think we’ve ever changed the other’s mind, but we do sometimes walk away with new insights to the other side’s perspective. It’s possible to believe, even strongly believe, in different things and still be respectful.

This post is about a woman, a Georgetown law student, who spoke recently at a hearing on the issue of contraception funding regarding her views. This post is about taking a woman’s views and diminishing them because of her gender and it’s not okay.

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh said on his show that as she was asking for contraception to be covered she was asking to be paid to have sex. That she was a slut. Here’s the quote: “It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute,” Limbaugh continued. “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.” When asked to apologize he went on: “So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are 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.”

For the record:

1) Birth control pills must be taken daily in order to be effective. A woman does not take a pill just on the day that she intends to have sex. Thus, the fact that a woman is on birth control does not indicate how much sex she is having or how many partners. Saying she’s having “so much sex” is both ignorant and rude.

2) Many women take birth control for health reasons unrelated to trying to stop conception including management of Endometriosis, painful or strong periods, and management of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. To imply that because women believe they should have access to this healthcare means they must be sluts is also ignorant. In fact, explaining that many women need birth control (statistics show roughly 14% of women are on the pill for non-birth control reasons) was part of Ms. Fluke’s point to congress.

3) Where is the hue and cry that men who access Vigara (often covered by insurance plans) submit sex videos? Are they required to prove they are married so we know they aren’t behaving as “sluts?” Should they also submit statements from their partners that not only are they able to maintain an erection, but that they’re able to do something useful with it?

4) An individual’s sex life is his or her own business and has no place in public discourse on contracpetion. It’s irrelevant. It’s insulting. It’s wrong. Should contraception be covered is a different issue. You want to debate that- fine. You want to insult women and call them “Georgetown babes” it isn’t okay. If your only argument to someone’s stance is to call them a vile name it is a very weak debating point. I was on the debate team in high school and while I wasn’t state champion, the way I recall, you didn’t win with arguments like: “oh yeah? Well, you’re a whore.” Name calling wasn’t okay in elementary school and I sure as hell expect a lot more of adults.

5) The term “Feminazi” is designed to be inflammatory. If you can’t tell the difference between someone who advocates for women’s rights (regardless how you may feel on those issues) and Nazi’s who promoted the murder of over six million people then perhaps you should spend more time reading and listening and less time talking.

This is an attempt to diminish and dismiss an individuals viewpoint by name-calling. This is not an argument for an opposing viewpoint. It’s being a bully. It’s insulting to women and as a society we shouldn’t stand for it anymore.

You know what else I’m sick of?

I’m sick of women political candidates being discussed for their appearance. If we’re going to ask female candidates to submit to a beauty pageant then I assume it would also be reasonable to ask the male candidates to submit to a Speedo display so we can all check out their package and determine if they have the cojones for the job. (Note gentleman- any indication of jockey stuffing will be dealt with harshly) I didn’t like Sarah Palin’s views when she was a candidate. However, I loathed when the debate of those views focused on how she looked or if she would be able to be a good mother if she were elected. (A question I have yet to hear asked of a male candidate- how he’ll juggle his family and work demands) This isn’t a republican/democrat thing, this is a woman thing. A human thing.

I have no illusions that I can change the mind of someone who actively dislikes women and our right to be equal players in society. Rush once stated that feminism gave “unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” That tells me that no matter what I say Rush gleefully denounce my views as a I am an ugly whore. What may surprise people is that I also will defend an individual’s right to free speech, even if I find that speech to be offensive. He has a right to say whatever he wants. However, free speech doesn’t mean that I have to listen quietly. I can respond.

Women have significant buying power. I will not purchase goods or services from companies that support bullies. Lists of companies that advertise on Rush Limbaugh (or any other media figure who acts in this way) can be found online. (A few have already pulled their support) I will discourage my friends and family from purchasing from these companies. If you think calling me a slut is a good idea then you can kiss my wallet goodbye too. I’ll spend my money somewhere else.

I will speak out on how I feel on this issue and do my best to educate others, including teen women, that no one has a right to call them a slut for having an opinion. I will encourage women and men to stand up to people who do this and call them on it. Argue the issue, not the individual.

Limbaugh is unapologetic. “I think this is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious,” he said on Friday. Later, he did issue an apology. He says he didn’t mean it to be a personal attack. Really? You called her a slut by accident? You said her family “should be ashamed of her?” Call me crazy, but I don’t think this is an apology, this is a cover your ass moment. Let me see your change your rhetoric, then I’ll believe you. He said last week- “And now, at the end of this week, I am the person that the women of America are to fear the most.”

I do not fear you Rush Limbaugh. You give yourself far too much credit. My parents taught me to stand up proud and strong to bullies. You motivate me to action. You motivate me to remind others that disagreeing with me is fine, calling me a slut is not.

I will vote. I will be heard. I will not be bullied. I will stand up for other women who are disparaged this way. I will not be called a slut.

18 Responses to “I am not a slut”

  1. Christa said:

    I love every minute of this blog post. Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you for stating so eloquently obvious points of political discourse and how vilifying women with terms like “feminazis” and “sluts” ultimately is a gender-based hate crime that perpetuates silence.

    When I was in college, my best friend and I pulled a bumper sticker off a van that said, “How can I love you if you don’t lie down?” and had a silhouette of a sexy woman on it. The guys we knew said that we were preventing this car driver’s right to free speech. To me, perpetuating that sort of ignorance and sexualizing women in that way silences me and does SO much more damage in terms of my free speech.

    If I am scared to speak out about issues because of the consequences, you have taken away my free speech. This has happened to rape victims so many times that it is laughable. When rapists get off because of the kind of sex a girl likes to have or because of how much she was drinking or because she really “wanted it” or for whatever other gender-biased reasons, then you silence other rape victims.

    When women are infantilized or demonized for taking care of their own health care, you silence women in the future. Fear of attacks like Rush’s keep women from speaking up and speaking out and it is RIDICULOUS.

    Good girl, Eileen.

  2. Erin E. said:

    Very, very well stated. I was telling R the other night that Limbaugh’s apology was equal to an apology from a four year old. He isn’t apologizing because he thinks he did anything wrong. He’s apologizing because someone told him to, and the apology holds about as much weight.

  3. Amy R. said:

    I started using birth control when I was 18 and have been using it ever since (I am now 26). Why did I start using it? My cycles were never regular (It would come, then be gone for 4 months. Then come back again, and be gone for another 2 months. Ridiculous). I also had some serious acne. The pill has certainly fixed those things. I am also grateful knowing it can help lower my chances of getting ovarian cancer (which as we all know, is a silent killer). Some days I wish I wasn’t putting hormones into my body. It’s contributed to my weight gain and has made my chest larger, which I am very annoyed about. Sometimes it gives me weird mood swings. But, I take it for all said reasons above. Now that I am in a committed relationship, but not married, I use the pill so that I do not accidentally bring a child into this world when I am not ready for one. I am being responsible. I know the pill isn’t fool-proof, but I will continue to be on it until I decide to stop. Simple as that. I am so tired of our government’s debate over this issue. I just want to have my own choice over the things that pertain to my own body. Why can’t we just be? It’s sad that things like equal rights is still being debated in this day and age. (Don’t get me started on the gay marriage issue. Sigh.) I wonder if/when the male birth control pill comes out, if they’ll be called sluts too? Or if they’ll be called responsible manly-men?

    Very good post, Eileen. I agree with you 100%!

  4. Liz J in Central Illinois said:

    NO ONE could have said it better than you, Eileen. I agree with you, totally!

  5. Ginger Calem said:

    So well said!! I agree with every word.

    Off to find all the products I will no longer purchase! 🙂

  6. Tawna Fenske said:

    Amen, sistah. Amen.

  7. Joelle said:

    You should send this to every newspaper in the country. This one and down south. It’s an amazing piece of writing. Good job!

  8. Joanne Levy said:

    Wow. Seriously. Wow.
    I typically stay away from political shows and debates (particularly those in the US) but this one has been all over social media, so it was hard to miss. That said, I didn’t really know the details until I came here and saw where you quoted him. Wow, is about all I can say. I’m amazed that this kind of thinking still goes on and finds a public forum, but kudos to you, Eileen, for standing up and speaking on behalf those people who have a brain and were taught basic human decency.

  9. Shari Green said:

    Awesome post, Eileen. So well said. I’m one of the many women who need birth control for health reasons. (I know, I know… such a slut.) I can’t believe that guy is still on the air — I’ll definitely look up the sponsors and pull my support of their products.

    Thanks for posting this.

  10. Sara C said:

    Amen, sister, amen.

  11. Maureen McGowan said:

    So well said, Eileen. You are my hero.

  12. Kim said:

    YES! Well said, Eileen!

  13. Agy Wilson said:

    Thank you so much for this Eileen. We’ve discussed the use of the term, and the way I feel about this, is some people use words to shame and contain, where as I prefer to use them to educate and communicate. I will NOT let someone else’s use of a word define me. The larger point which has been not been made to my satisfaction, when the defacto head of the Republican party (seriously, he took Santorum and Romney’s responses, smashed them together for a half-ass pseudo apology) doesn’t just demonize Sandra Fluke. He demonized ALL women. The message clearly sent is women need to shut up or face this kind of attack. From a national personality and his minions– started with reading his supporters vile words, for me. I understood Rush’s hatred it’s been there all along. I knew there were those die hards, but actually encountering them and what they were saying of Sandra and the skew of the facts– posted links to her testimony, I became a bit unhinged. Of course this has nothing to do with the real issues (and I would argue this became a discussion as it’s a political ploy; twenty eight states have President Obama’s policy in place. Eight others have even more stringent policy’s in place). I think if more people stand up to this kind of lies, hate, bile and let the people who spew this stuff OWN their own filth, the discourse might actually become a real possibility rather than what passes for politics now.

  14. Alexa said:

    Brilliantly put Eileen!

  15. Your Very Very Proud Father said:

    I totally agree with you that Rush’s use of terms such as slut and so forth were totally out of place and he should have had to have apologized for them. When you start using terms like this you are losing any validity that you may have in your argument. Rush lost his chance to discuss whether a Catholic university should be required to provide contaception drugs to people on the university”s health insurance. His views are now lost and only the terms and his use of them are what is being remembered.

    I am also extremely pleased to see that you are listening to Rush and not picking up what he said or did not say from one of your liberal commentators or news analysts. Does this mean you will have Fox News at your house the next time we visit?????

  16. Jen said:

    Exactly. Furthermore, I feel that the stores & pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control and Plan B prescriptions based on “religious beliefs” should not sell condoms and Viagra. It’s only fair after all.

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