Radio personality Rush Limbaugh is under fire for calling a woman a "slut."
I probably wouldn’t have known about Sandra Fluke, had Rush Limbaugh not called her a “slut.”
Fluke is the Georgetown Law student who testified before a Congressional committee about the necessity of employer-paid birth control. That you've probably heard her name by now is remarkable, considering that people testify before Congress all the time — unless your company’s on the line or you happen to work inside the Beltway, who’s testifying about what barely makes a blip on the national radar.
So in many ways, Limbaugh’s insult heard ‘round the Web, and thus the world, gave a topic that wasn’t getting enough attention — there’s no such thing as oversaturation when it comes to discussing women’s health — a wider national discussion. For that, I thank him. For everything else? Ugh.
Advertisers and affiliate stations of his syndicated radio show are fleeing all associations with Limbaugh, and he’s been grasping at straws to save his career and his money. As I ponder how he’s still on the air when a few weeks ago CNN suspended and still hasn’t reinstated Roland Martin for a far lesser offense, Limbaugh has issued a half-humble apology to make amends.
“I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke,” Limbaugh said in a statement. “My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
As eyes rolled, advertisers continued to bail. President Obama, who called Fluke on Friday, side-stepped an opportunity to deliver a death blow to Limbaugh, weighing in on the apology’s sincerity with “I don’t know his heart.” By Monday, still between a rock and a hard place, Limbaugh was flailing, finally settling on Don Imus’ convenient blame-a-Black person excuse to deflect attention away from himself and onto hip-hop. “Rappers can say anything they want about women, and it's called art,” Limbaugh said on his show. “And they win awards for it."
What’s wrong with hip-hop is another discussion for another day. I will not be distracted. Like my father said when I was a child acting a fool and using crappy excuses, “God didn’t give you your own mind to go around using someone else’s!”
Back to the issues at hand: Limbaugh crossed the line by attempting to shame women — not just Fluke but all independent women who have a voice and an opinion and aren’t afraid to use them. That’s the only reason a word like “slut” has ever existed: to shut women up. To use that vile term is ignorant and low-class, and speaking it says more about the speaker than it does about the person targeted. There are no excuses for what Limbaugh said, and I don’t know that there is an apology big enough to make right what he did wrong.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk