I was fortunate to see Sandra Fluke live this past April when I brought five students to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Young Women’s Leadership Conference. She spoke passionately about her experience testifying before a panel of men about women’s need for birth control. She is a true reproductive justice activist.
I was thrilled the DNC invited her to be one of their speakers, not only because of her passion for reproductive rights, but also because she is a young outspoken woman who TELLS THE TRUTH.
Should I be surprised at the aftermath of her speech? Should I be surprised that the right wing CHRISTIANS used sexualized language to critique her? I guess I shouldn’t, as Rush Limbaugh’s horrible attack of her after her Congressional Testimony where he stated,”What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. 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. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.” (If you want to read more about the Rush Limbaugh attack, read David Frum’s article) It doesn’t make sense to me that a party who extols the virtues of Christianity would say some of the horrible things they have been saying about this woman. Honestly, I would be embarrassed if I was a pro-choice Republican woman. Here are a few of them:
Before the speech, the lovely Ann Coulter tweeted, “Bill Clinton just impregnated Sandra Fluke backstage.”
The rest of this I quote from David Frum’s CNN column “Slurs only Bolster Sandra Fluke’s Cause.”
Stephen Kruiser: “Tricky camera work to keep TV audience from seeing (David) Axelrod’s hand up Fluke’s a**.”
Steven Kruiser: “Sandra Fluke has been blessed with a quarter-million dollars of elite education … and she has concluded that the most urgent need facing the Brokest Nation in History is for someone else to pay for the contraception of 30-year-old children.”
James Taranto: “Seriously, the party of Andrew Jackson and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman chose to showcase someone whose claim to fame is that she demands that somebody else pay for her birth control.”
Joe Walsh: “Think about this, a 31-, 32-year-old law student who has been a student for life, who gets up there in front of a national audience and tells the American people, ‘I want America to pay for my contraceptives.’ You’re kidding me. Go get a job. Go get a job, Sandra Fluke.”
Sandra Fluke’s original testimony was about student’s having access to birth control at Catholic Universities, like Georgetown, where she is a law students. This was not about taxpayers paying for birth control, although that’s what one would think it was about if you read all the pundits responses to her.
What remains for me, however, is what these attacks on Fluke tell us about the way women are represented in our culture. A smart, young woman cannot get up in front of a group of men, only men, and talk intelligently about the needs of young woman without being sexualized and demonized. Women can’t run for office without being ripped apart about how they look and what they wear. Hillary cries a tear, she’s emotional and clearly can’t be President. Elizabeth Warren looks like a librarian and thus isn’t “hip” enough to be a Senator. Michelle Obama is gorgeous and has style so she should be on the 2012 ticket. And people wonder why more women don’t run for office. What smart woman wants to put herself through THAT kind of scrutiny, opening herself up to being called a slut or ugly or emotional, none of which has anything to do with her politics and her leadership ability.
In the years that I have observed the world through my purple-hazed feminist glasses, I don’t recall it being so crude, so mean, and so trivial. For male conservative leaders to use sexual language to critique a person’s opinion instead of intelligent critique backed up with facts only demonstrates who is really the idiot in the room.