Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Repo Rights: Sluts, Whores, and Bullies

You don't have to have sex to be called a slut or a whore. Any girl who survived middle school can tell you that. But bullies rarely consider accuracy before they resort to name-calling.

According to many conservatives, women who have abortions are sluts and whores. And women who support access to abortion are sluts and whores. Regardless of their sexual activity. 

Additionally, women who use birth control are sluts and whores. And women who support access to birth control are sluts and whores. 

Do we see a pattern? Women who believe they have the right to control their bodies and reproduction are intimidated with insults usually reserved for bathroom stalls. What used to be a predictable, not to mention hurtful and damaging part of socialization is now very political.  

In Texas, a 14-year-old girl was called a whore for the sign she held outside the state Capitol advocating for abortion. It said"Jesus isn't a dick so keep him out of my vagina."

After watching the epic Wendy Davis filibuster, this teenager was inspired to exercise her first amendment rights. Determined to keep church and state separate, she created a sign expressing her opinion.

Taking turns holding the masterpiece, she and a friend were exposed to counter-protesters so offensive police had to step in. But the real backlash came from the internet
One person said that my parents should be arrested for child abuse and in another unbelievable comment, someone suggested that my dad must invite all my friends over to "play abortion clinic."
Her father remains supportive, defending his daughter and her rights. Luckily, she has a strong role model, and a nation full of allies, while she doesn't "look up to anyone who says they are Christian but treats women the way I've been treated these past few days as a teenage girl."

Some bullies hide behind the anonymity of screen names. Others have turned public-shaming into a profitable career. But professional bully Rush Limbaugh, may finally be silenced-- or at least contained. 

Limbaugh has been losing sponsors since he called Sandra Fluke a slut. When the Georgetown law student argued birth control should be covered by health insurance, Limbaugh insisted Fluke was having so much sex, she couldn't afford birth control and that taxpayers should get to watch her have sex, if they were expected to foot the bill. 

His outrageous statements indicated how little he understood about women's health. And sponsors who knew better began to pull out

This week, Politico reported Cumulus will not renew its contract with Limbaugh. Following this story since May, the blog revealed
The host was considering ending his affiliation agreement with Cumulus because CEO Lew Dickey was blaming the company's advertising losses on Limbaugh's controversial remarks about Sandra Fluke... On an earnings call two days later, Dickey reported a $2.4 million first-quarter decline in revenue related to talk programming, which he attributed, indirectly, to Limbaugh's remarks about Fluke. 
While the satellite radio provider is ready to break ties, Cumulus affiliate Clear Channel will remain Limbaugh's conservative soapbox. But this broadcast company is currently under fire after refusing to air commercials for the South Wind Women's Center (SWWC) in Wichita, Kansas. 

Many have commented on the irony. Somehow, a media outlet supporting offensive opinion-leaders like Limbaugh found it "indecent" to say the SWWC is "committed to providing quality reproductive healthcare" or that the medical facility "trusts women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families."

Maybe the words "reproductive" and "women" have finally become synonymous with "slut" and "whore," making them unfit for the airwaves. Or maybe Clear Channel is simply opposed to women making their own decisions. 

Another form of bullying is silencing your target, with force or manipulation. The feminist group Women, Action, and the Media (WAM) recognized this immediately, and responded. 

"Women’s health care is never indecent, and everyone has the right to know where they can get medical care," WAM said. They are encouraging people to sign the SWWC petition and contact Clear Channel's general manager to reverse the decision.

The company hasn't been swayed yet. And from radio stations that suppress the truth, to hosts that spread lies, to listeners who take their hate to the streets, they're all a bunch of bullies.  

The way bullies attack other people usually says more about their own shortcomings. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't stand up to them. 

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