Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Calling Out Left-Wing Sexism [UPDATED]

Perhaps you're aware that Rush Limbaugh, an awful human being, has gotten into some trouble for his recent hate-filled tirade directed at a young law student. She wants employers to be forced to provide benefits, including covering the cost of contraceptives, arguing that those pills provide multiple medical benefits to women. Rush said she was a slut, a prostitute, and that if he's paying for her to have sex (which he wouldn't be-this is about employers providing medical benefits) then she should post sex-tapes of her sexual escapades for him to watch. It resulted in a boycott that probably won't hurt Mr. Limbaugh in the long run, but only time will tell. The conservative reaction, at least the one I saw on social media, was to point out that liberals do the same thing. I asked plenty of times for examples, and it took liberal Tim Wise posting this article on his twitter for me to see that there was some actual misogyny from pundits on my side.

I wholeheartedly denounce all misogyny regardless of where it comes from.

However, we really do have to look more in depth at the misogyny of the Left vs. the misogyny of the Right.

Most of the comments Kirsten Powers points to in her Daily Beast article are either arguably non-misogynistic, clearly non-misogynistic or very mildly misogynistic. Calling Sarah Palin an idiot is not only fair game, it's completely true. Simply criticizing or insulting a woman is not sexism. When Keith Olbermann said someone should take Hilary Clinton into a room "and only he comes out" when advocating her dropping out of the 2008 Democratic Primary race. It was clearly a metaphor for a mafia assassination, not spousal abuse, though it was improperly worded. Calling someone a "twat" or a "cunt" is no more sexist than calling them a "dick" or a "prick", in reality. They're all insults using genitals that can just as easily be used on people of either gender. "Bimbo", the most common insult used by the left-wing media personalities singled out in this piece, is a sexist insult, but it's a fairly mild one, just like calling a Canadian a "hoser" is mildly insulting. Mocking Hilary Clinton's "flabby arms" is childish, but it's not sexist, unless "flabby arms" is somehow a symbol of femininity. However, calling Laura Ingraham a right-wing slut is wrong (regardless of my agreement of the point Ed Schultz made around that insult) and some of the things Bill Maher said are over the line.

The difference between this, however, and what conservatives do is threefold. Firstly, the victim of Limbaugh's insults was a university student. Yes, she was also an activist, but she was hardly a "public figure", while all the women these liberals attacked are either politicians or pundits (or in Sarah Palin's case, both). Secondly, while the liberal pundits mentioned by Powers are out of line, they're only attacking one woman, explicitly. Rush Limbaugh, and the awful people who supported him (Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Bill O'Reilly, etc.) didn't just call Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute, they called every woman who uses any contraceptive, even for medical purposes, a slut and a prostitute. A lot of the many, many awful things Limbaugh has said about women are applicable to most or all women, while it's pretty hard to apply "Laura Ingraham, that right-wing slut" to anyone other than Laura Ingraham without a lot of stretching. Finally, liberals may, on rare occasion, say bad things about women. Conservatives do things that hurt women, including the various "personhood amendments" that would outlaw abortion and several forms of contraceptives, and they're trying to do everything listed in this link. What does more damage: a pundit calling someone a slut or a politician trying to allow hospitals to let women die rather than giving life saving abortions?

So, yeah, I'm willing to call other left-wingers on their sexism. It's wrong, and they should know better. But I'm glad people are more focused on the bigotry of the right-wing, because they're just plain worse in every conceivable way.

UPDATE: Keith Olbermann has replied to the article by Powers, or at least two of the comments she called out. Please watch this to the end.

I had no idea that Powers deliberately misquoted Olbermann, that she wasn't a conservative, or that she works on Fox. That really makes me lose a lot of respect for Powers. I also had no idea that the "mashed up bag of meat with lipstick" thing was a reference to anything. That one confused me. I do think the "with lipstick" part is mildly sexist, but he did apologize in that clip. Unlike Limbaugh's apology, I believe Olbermann. I also admire his conviction to raise the bar by suspending his negative (but popular and entertaining) "Worst Person" segment. Let's hope it works.


  1. Best write up I've seen on this issue. Nice job.

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  3. I find it ironic that you're calling out Rush when you yourself are pretty much a left-wing Limbaugh.

  4. You ignore all the conservative media folks who have claimed what Limbaugh said was wrong..., Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Michelle Malkin... they ALL stated what he did was wrong. More than once. And you don't show any reference to the many, many deplorable things said by leftists about conservative women... you are being intellectually dishonest and you know it. Here is just a wee little snippet of typical speech from the left...

    1. 1: Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck supported Limbaugh's sentiments, and frankly, each of those idiots you've mentioned have been absurdly sexist in the past despite some of them being women.
      2: You didn't read this article, did you? Are you a spambot?