Political Animal


March 02, 2012 8:33 AM Slut-Shaming To Become Official GOP Talking Point?

By Ed Kilgore

When I mocked a droolingly ignorant column by CNS’ Craig Bannister suggesting women supporting a contraception coverage mandate were having too much sex, I felt a little cheap. Clearly, Bannister was some marginal antediluvian crank who only existed as link-bait for hard-pressed progressive bloggers who needed a easy post now and then.

Little did I know Rush Limbaugh would pick up the same bizarre line of attack and repeat it—nay, raise it to even higher levels of toxic absurdity—for (at least) two days. Given Rush’s status as He Who Must Be Obeyed on the right (remember then-Chairman of the RNC, Michael Steele, having to apologize to Limbaugh for daring diss him back in 2009?), we’re getting dangerously close to a moment when the “subsidizing sluts” argument for opposing the contraception mandate will become mandatory for the GOP presidential field.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman summed up the current state of the controversy:

If Limbaugh hasn’t gone too far this time, then “too far” no longer exists. Those Republican politicians who have genuflected to Limbaugh in the past — do any of them have daughters? Wives? Sisters? Mothers?
Will any of them dare to raise their voice in protest or disgust? Because again, if this is not going too far, what is?

What bothers me most is that Rush’s regular listeners must love this stuff, or he wouldn’t keep it up. And don’t tell me it’s all a shuck: anyone who finds this sort of crap hilarious probably enjoys tormenting small children and stray animals.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • bleh on March 02, 2012 8:48 AM:

    Well, yes. They are overwhelmingly angry males, and if this doesn't make clear then I don't know what does that much of their anger is driven or amplified by sexual frustration.

    (This is also why they love to start wars and hate on Democrats and hippies -- everyone knows that Democrats and hippies get all the sex they want, and the only way for Republicans to unwind is to blow things up.)

    The corollary, of course, is that all those women having sex with Democrats and hippies must be sluts. And even if they aren't, it annoys women to hear people say this, and they deserve a little punishment for not putting out for studly Republicans more often.

  • terraformer on March 02, 2012 8:50 AM:

    They're turning it up to 11 for this election because they realized that their demographics are dying off. Sure, there will always be the 27%ers - those who are just plain hateful, who revel in their ignorance, and who lack the empathy gene - but the older, white, baby boomer and past generations are increasingly taking dirt naps.

    So they stoke them in one last attempt to gain control of government (well, more than they have now) so they can ram through bills to destroy social programs and to increase the coffers of the rich in such a way that it takes decades to undo it all. They're not stupid, but they are evil.

  • DAY on March 02, 2012 8:54 AM:

    Indeed, many of his loyal listeners probably emulate their leader- serial wives, extra marital sex, trips to Caribbean playgrounds with an ample supply of boner pills. What's not to like?

  • jim filyaw on March 02, 2012 8:55 AM:

    one more reminder of how nutty, hell, how perverted the right wing has become. this plays especially well with the born again types (baptist versions of opus dei). like the catholic clergy, they're obsessed with sex and tormented by the idea that anyone could actually enjoy the act.

  • stormskies on March 02, 2012 8:59 AM:

    Limbaugh should have his arms and legs chainsawed off and then rolled into a prison where he then is nothing but the 'slut' or bitch for the inmates ...

  • Ron Byers on March 02, 2012 9:00 AM:

    How big is Rush's audience these days? I am pretty sure it is down from when he was at the top of his game.

  • Skip on March 02, 2012 9:01 AM:

    "If Limbaugh hasn’t gone too far this time, then “too far” no longer exists."

    Limbaugh has been trying to find the definition of "too far" for years now, and hasn't crossed it. And if he does cross it and gets fired, it'll be the liberal media's fault and he'll get a huge separation package and a nice watch before leaving.

    The man is untouchable, and therefore wholly corrupted by his absurd power.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on March 02, 2012 9:04 AM:

    Peerrrfect Thanks Rush, you great fat ugly toad.
    We all sit back and watch the women's vote for republicans evaporate .
    It's almost like he's playing for our team.
    Maddow nailed it last night.
    They seem to think they can excite people by framing this as a "government intrusion" talking point.
    Unfortunately it is very popular with women and I hear tell they don't warm up to being called sluts.

  • T2 on March 02, 2012 9:05 AM:

    I'd say let's immediately pass a GOP bill outlawing birth control pills. Then in November, let the women of the country vote and see what happens. If the GOP hasn't passed a bill removing women's right to vote, that is.

  • David NYC on March 02, 2012 9:11 AM:

    This is a well-esatblished meme in recent weeks. On Fox News Liz Trotta said that women in the military needed no protection against rape, and she doubled down when she got flack for it.

    When women came forward to accuse Herman cain of sexual abuse, Dick Morris all but said they were sluts.

  • berttheclock on March 02, 2012 9:15 AM:

    One positive in hiring all Hispanic construction crews to work on your property is they will not have "Rush" blasting from their work radios the way it used to be with white anglo crews. For a long time, I have suspected his main audience was geared to those types of construction crews and very bored and horny sales type riding around town feeling very lonely and, always, wanting someone to blame for their mediocre existence.

  • Peter C on March 02, 2012 9:20 AM:

    Part of the problem is that people like Rush have a permanent platform subsidized by the corporations of the very rich. Could Rush exist without Clear Channel? We've lost control of our airwaves (which are PUBLIC), and until we reassert control, we'll be subject to this sort of filth.

    This was not a natural phenomenon; it is the result of a strategic plan. If we regain control, we must start to reverse the trend.

  • wheresthebeef on March 02, 2012 9:25 AM:

    terraformer--You might want to keep in mind that it was the baby boomers (of whom President Obama is one) are widely associated with the civil rights movement, the protests against (and ultimate end of) the war in Viet Nam, the feminist cause, LGBT rights and helping generally to drag the nation out of the repressed and repressive post-WWII state in which America found itself. We're a generation with our own fair share of knuckle-dragging trogdolytes, but if you'll share with us the particulars of your own, self-righteous cohort, I'll be glad to enumerate the various and sundry crimes and misdemeanors of which your generation is guilty.

  • boatboy_srq on March 02, 2012 9:29 AM:

    The Reichwing blowhards seem to be making a living ranting about their wives'/daughters' morals being unnecessarily challenged by all this wantonness out in the world, thanks to "free" contraception and armies of recreational abortionists out to massacre teh baybeez.

    I find it particularly amusing, given how often one of them gets caught with someone else's wife or daughter.

  • Vokoban on March 02, 2012 9:29 AM:

    This guy sends Joseph Goebbels to school. He only forgot that his jews are still allowed to vote.

  • Steve W on March 02, 2012 9:33 AM:

    Another part of the problem is Clear Channel's business model. Most of the radio stations are small rural radio stations with only limited access/resources to affordable programs.
    And Rush's model is to actually use advertising dollars to pay these small stations to put him on the air. Which only continues to get better if it takes off.
    You know, this is America, and it is all about the MONEY.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on March 02, 2012 9:36 AM:

    How big is Rush's audience these days?

    The Today Show, which covered Limbaugh's comments this morning, stated his radio program had 5 million listeners. I don't know what he had at his "peak". I always assumed he had closer to 15 million listeners even today.

  • DAY on March 02, 2012 9:40 AM:

    Another point about his audience:
    They are largely middle aged males, men whom life has "passed by". Didn't get the big promotion because a smarter- and younger, perhaps female or Other-got picked instead.
    For fans of The Office, Packer is the archetype of a Limbaugh Dittohead.

  • Steve P on March 02, 2012 9:52 AM:

    Your aspersions are reprehensible and unfair. Judged by his recent digs, Rush is clearly a man of exquisite and sensitive taste. What real man wouldn't want surroundings like these?


  • Patrick Star on March 02, 2012 10:03 AM:

    The U.S. Catholic bishops must be relieved to know that noted humanitarian Rush Limbaugh stands with them on this issue.

  • stevio on March 02, 2012 10:11 AM:

    What a disgusting, vile excuse for a human. I'd place him right up there with the catholic pedophile-hinding bishops, and the trio of SCOTUS right-winged nihilists.

    It's obvious that the GOP doesn't have any males with families that have females in them.

  • zandru on March 02, 2012 10:18 AM:

    Another Personal Remark

    regarding Limbaugh and his audience - apparently, they assume that married women never have sex. Projection?

  • G.Kerby on March 02, 2012 10:19 AM:

    "but the older, white, baby boomer and past generations are increasingly taking dirt naps.
    So they stoke them in one last attempt to gain control of government (well, more than they have now) so they can ram through bills to destroy social programs and to increase the coffers of the rich in such a way that it takes decades to undo it all. They're not stupid, but they are evil."

    Please do not over-generalize. I am a "boomer" and I, and many of my contemporaries, have been fighting the BS and greed since the Nixon days. My late father and mother were part of the "greatest generation" that CREATED so many of the the social programs that you defend. Both were die-hard liberals to the day they died.

    While some "boomers" are greedy bastards (the ones we used to derisively call "weekend hippies" I'd surmise), it wasn't until I saw the 1980 repub convention up-close and personal in my hometown that I had ever experienced such fascist behavior from the 20-somethings who were probably more gen-Xers than boomers. But I would not paint that generation with such a broad brush, either.

  • MuddyLee on March 02, 2012 10:19 AM:

    Good to know Rush no longer has as many listeners as he used to - BUT - many prominent repubs have been on his show, and they need to be held accountable. Time for anybody claiming to be mainstream or liberal to make conservatives take a stand on these comments: Dick Cheney, Bill Bennett, McCain, Graham, Mitt, Newt, Rick, Palin, Bachmann, Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, Nikki Haley, Mick Mulvaney.

  • RT on March 02, 2012 10:32 AM:

    "this plays especially well with the born again types (baptist versions of opus dei). like the catholic clergy, they're obsessed with sex and tormented by the idea that anyone could actually enjoy the act."

    And it's creepy how much they think about -- and talk about -- the mechanics of sex. They more they claim it disgusts them, the more they think about it. They think about the mechanics of sex more than people who enjoy sex, I daresay.

  • jjm on March 02, 2012 10:38 AM:

    Just remember, Rush is THE most disliked news personality in America, by a big margin.

    His advertisers should start getting the picture soon.

  • numi on March 02, 2012 10:50 AM:

    In olden times (pre-Clinton) Sir Gasbag used to be funny. Seriously. He was always a RW twit, but he was often quite humorous. Until he got rich. Then he got nasty. Money does that to some folks, it seems.

    Also, I clearly remember Sir Gasbag bragging about his 20 million listeners. Just the other day, I read that he now claims only 15 million. If Rushbo is to be believed (a large if indeed) that would mean he has lost 25% of his audience since Obama took office. Hmmm. Fewer listeners, less revenue, lower pay (depending on the hypocrisy of his form of Capitalism). No wonder he gets more maniacal and strident as time goes on. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. All hail Karma!

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on March 02, 2012 10:51 AM:

    I am so torn over this whole debate:

    On one hand, I really think that arguing with stupid is just a lost cause. I always have a personal policy of just not arguing with people too stupid to know that they really are really stupid. There's nothing we can say to change the minds (or hearts) of those who think that women are sluts because they use bc. Nevermind that they may be happily married with children already, suffer from PCOS, or they just so happen to be obliging mistresses who don't won't to wreck the thunder of their two-faced GOP family-values-preachin' sugar daddies by popping out a baby during election season...

    But OTOH, this debate needs to be had at least for the sake of the impressionable. We should definitely be reasserting to those who are susceptible to a reasonable argument that women's health and reproductive rights can't be invalidated by some fat vainglorious teeny-peter on a microphone.

  • jeanne marie on March 02, 2012 11:07 AM:

    From what I've seen in the comments over at the Maddow blog and others, Rush's follows do indeed believe Rush is right. And sadly, I know a few of these folks (not just men, mind you) in person.

    It's truly pathetic. (Especially the women who adore Limbaugh).

  • boatboy_srq on March 02, 2012 11:13 AM:


    regarding Limbaugh and his audience - apparently, they assume that married women never have sex.

    I think it's more that their wives don't have nearly enough sex with them. And that's probably because their wives either a) were, according to their own dictates, brought up "properly" and thus don't have intercourse without the intent to have children; or b) married for them for something other than their sex appeal and avoid the experience out of distaste for their spouses.

    Which takes me right back to their concern for their wives'/children's moral obligations - but still leaves the nead for their mistresses' access to contraception, which somehow they forget.

  • GeneJockey on March 02, 2012 11:14 AM:

    The worst thing, even beyond slut shaming and the like, is that the entire argument gets reframed in their terms. Sandra Fluke was talking about requiring health insurance - which employees pay for with their labor, and students with their tuition - to cover what we, the actual customers need.

    This goes to the core of how the Right views labor relations - jobs are a boon granted to workers by the rich, not a transaction in which each gives something to get something. In this view, health insurance is not compensation that you earn, it's a boon your employer deigns to provide to you, and thus it is his choice what you actually get.

    This is the key point - that health insurance isn't a GIFT from employers and institutions, and thus something that they should be able to control. It is PAID FOR, by our labor, or our tuition, and thus it is OURS to control. To allow employers to dictate what kind of services we can and cannot have, based on their prejudices is tantamount to letting them dictate how we spend our salaries.

    But we end up discussing how awful the execrable Rush Limbaugh is, and the Right wins the point by default.

  • MCA1 on March 02, 2012 11:30 AM:

    @G.Kerby - somewhat meaningless distinction, but the oldest Gen-Xer's were still in the their teens in 1980. I think most demographers consider the first birth year of the generation to be '62 or '63. The generation didn't really start to form any sort of ethos or identity until around 1990, and it really gelled in the recessionary early '90s when great numbers of them were graduating from college to take up waiting tables. The preppies and financial system extractors you saw taking over the country's psyche in the 1980's, creating the culture in which celebration of wealth eventually became the country's secular religion, were almost universally Baby Boomers. By the mid-80's there were some of the first wave of Gen-Xer's entering the marketplace and, as you allude, sycophantically picking up the banner of making money above all else. But most of us were still moping around in high school (or younger), listening to the Smiths and watching the Breakfast Club, and starting to develop some of the resentment of our parent's overly-lauded generation and sense of being the forgotten ones that carries over to today.

    I agree that it can be dangerous to assume the stereotypes of certain generational patterns apply to anyone who fits a particular birthyear. But there is something to the social science behind identifying generational trends, as well.

  • 4jkb4ia on March 02, 2012 11:35 AM:


    I realized last night that Rush is cheerfully ignoring all of the government benefits that accrue to being married, which come to far more than $3000 in birth control. But really the only word for this kind of thing is vile.

  • Elphage on March 02, 2012 11:38 AM:

    If they are sluts, what are the men they are having sex with?

  • schtick on March 02, 2012 12:10 PM:

    I personally think that Druggie Rush Lameass should be sued by Fluke and also should be taken to task by whatever agency is supposed to control the airwaves. It's not the lies, because that is a line that can be so hard to define, but the trash talk of calling someone a slut, a prostitute and calling for her to post sex videos because she supports birth control for MEDICAL reasons is just plain too far over the line. I fear with all the shit Faux Fake and BS Newz spews, that will be their next mo is Lameass gets away with it.
    I'm not a prude by any means. I can't curse with the best of them, but I do not like to listen to sewer talk just for the sake of talking like it's the only thing you know.
    I know people that listen to Rush and they've even said he lies all the time, but they don't care. I don't get it, but maybe I was brought up better so I have some values.

    crapcha....doctrina thrasn....oh yeah.

  • schtick on March 02, 2012 12:13 PM:

    Oopsie! Meant for it to say I CAN curse with the best of them.

  • latts on March 02, 2012 12:22 PM:

    Actually, it's probably best to avoid generalizing about how much sex wingnuts have, and you'll find that most aren't against birth control per se. What really drives them (soapbox alert!) is the insistence that they don't need subsidies and coverage and protected benefits, because they're deserving; those who do are by definition unworthy and need to learn that they can't play if they don't pay. I could afford contraception without insurance coverage if need be, although I'd feel it, and most of the people screaming loudest either are in similar positions or are completely ignorant of how much help they do get (and if they are aware, well, it's because they have good jobs that they totally deserve, unlike those others).

    Really, everything you need to know to understand the screaming right is that they are centrally and obsessively motivated by the need to validate and inflate their status relative to the people they loathe; they have no real empathy outside their tribes, and in the words of Jane Austen, feel "perfectly entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others." Try it-- you'll see that every discussion with them turns into some justification for their own superiority and/or deriding others, no matter whether the arguments are economic or religious or cultural.

  • terraformer on March 02, 2012 12:53 PM:

    Okay, boomers - don't get all twisted up over my comment. Progressives are supposed to recognize and practice nuance, and it's the other side that only sees B&W.

    While I think MCA1 gets to the point pretty well, I'd just add that it is demonstrable that if one were to point to a demographic that represents a clear majority of people who support conservatives, it is the baby boomers and those born earlier. By far. This does not mean that all of those persons are ne'er-do-well misanthropes any more than all of Gen-X and/or Gen-Y are basement-dwelling pacifists. Calm down.

  • joanneinDenver on March 02, 2012 12:55 PM:

    EXCEPT. When Congress held hearings on the Katy Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act. RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) did not universally support the legislation which was designed to prevent rape of female Volunteers and to mandate that they receive medical support in the event they were victims of crime. There was a hue and cry from some male RPCVs and one or two female RPCVs that somehow the victims were "responsible" or were giving the institution a "bad name." I was appalled. The law did pass. However, based on that experience, one can not assume that Limbaugh and the far right are the only ones who still "blame the victim," or believe that "good girls" don't get raped, and therefore don't need birth control. Married women, of course, get whatever medical attention they need from their husbands. The republicans are getting something out of this line of attack. I just don't know what it is.

    The sadness with brave Sandra Fluke is that her testimony was not about securing contraceptives for herself, but she describes a specific case of a law student who had been prescribed contraceptives to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome. The law student finally could no longer afford the out of pocket expense and stopped taking the pills. The consequence for that student was
    severe medical problems. Fluke also talked generally about the cost of contraceptives. I hope she sues Limbaugh and Clear Channel. But, that, of course, would be her decision.

  • g on March 02, 2012 1:01 PM:

    I'm in a totally pointless and regrettable email exchange with Dana Loesch, because in a wine-fueled impulse I wrote her a question - "so since you're vilifying other women for using contraception, it's fair to ask what method you're using, and whether it's covered by your insurance policy."

    She wrote back that I was a "creep" for thinking about what goes on in her pants.

    I guess I should send my apologies to her. It's quite obvious she is completely unfamiliar with contraception methods if she thinks it has something to do with her pants. And her lack of knowledge of women's health issues makes her as much an authority on the topic as the white middle-aged male Congressmen who are dominating the discussion - and Limbaugh himself.

  • zandru on March 02, 2012 1:43 PM:

    @Gene Jockey: you make a really excellent point. Employer-supplied medical insurance is a part of the mutually-negotiated benefits package, and subject to legal requirements. Just as an employer may not pay less than minimum wage, just as the employer must carry workman's comp insurance, pay unemployment taxes, and deduct and pay Social Security, Medicare, and withholding tax contributions on behalf of the employees.

    If an employer chooses to provide medical insurance as a job benefit, it must meet certain mandated requirements. That's it. "Belief" or "faith" have nothing to do with it. If the employer refuses to obey the law, the feds need to prosecute.

  • Anonymous on March 02, 2012 3:26 PM:

    IMO all of this is just going to fuel discussion towards universal health care. I feel extremely fortunate that I am now covered by some really good insurance, but went without for a time due to unemployment and it p*ssed me off that I was in that situation when all other industrialized countries in the world have some sort of universal care.

    When will the neanderthals "get" that health care, including birth control, is a basic necessity for all. Infectious and other diseases do not target only the poor or uninsured and cost us all in lives and money. Unwanted pregnancies the right seems to want to "punish" women with by either not covering birth control or by outlawing abortion costs us all, and not just monetarily.

    The world must be laughing at the stupidity of too many Americans right now. I am so impressed with Sandra Fluke for her quiet but determined interview with Laurence O'Donnell last night. Such a contrast with those who call her names and defame her character.

  • Bill D. on March 03, 2012 12:24 AM:

    @Terraformer. Just about every poll I've ever seen that breaks down partisan affiliation by age groups shows Generation X being more Republican than the Boomers, though certainly not by any overwhelming margin. Where younger groups are definitely more liberal is on the social issues such as gay marriage, where each generation is more liberal than the one before it.

    In any case, stereotyping ends up being pretty misleading. There is a sizable contingent of Boomers who rebelled against the materialism and conventionality of their elders, and another sizable contingent who embraced those very things. People point to one contingent or the other to "prove" their point when such cherry-picking does nothing of the kind.