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Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student for health insurance to cover the cost of contraception, was called a "slut" by Limbaugh.
Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student for health insurance to cover the cost of contraception, was called a "slut" by Limbaugh.

Georgetown, an enclave of the media and political elite, can be too perfect, self-important, and seemingly disconnected from average American concerns. But now, some women in Georgetown have taken on a bully. Georgetown women, for a change, are the underdogs.

"As a woman who has been viciously slashed by Rush Limbaugh, I can tell you, it’s no fun," wrote Maureen Dowd, a West Village resident, in one of her most personal columns to date in the New York Times. "At first you think, if he objects to the substance of what you’re saying, why can’t he just object to the substance of what you’re saying? Why go after you in the most personal and humiliating way?"

That is what happened to Sandra Fluke, a 30-year-old Georgetown law student who Limbaugh branded, on the mega-airwaves of American talk radio, a “slut,” “a prostitute” and “round-heeled” for testifying to Congress regarding the debate over whether health insurance should cover contraception for women.

"Sandra Fluke 'goes before a Congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her?' Limbaugh coarsely ranted. '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. The johns,'” Dowd quoted Limbaugh as saying, in her Sunday column.

Fluke's crime was representing the opinion of many women before a House panel aimed at ensuring that those who work for Catholic institutions can access the same reproductive options that other American citizens consider normal. Dowd, a Catholic who has defended her faith, and that of others, knows when a religious discussion has crossed the line into misogyny, or shall we say, simple debasing of women.

Lest we think that the presence of powerful women among us -- neighbors like Dowd, Valerie Jarrett, Madeleine Albright, Sally Quinn, and Kitty Kelley, all residents of Georgetown -- signify that women will be accorded with the respect and dignity assumed by all citizens, Limbaugh's ugly rant -- his belated and requisite apology notwithstanding -- is evidence to the contrary, and a wake-up call.

President Obama called Fluke to ask how she was doing, and to remind her that her parents, traditional Catholics, should be proud.

Friday, Georgetown U. President Jack DeGioia praised Fluke's "civil discourse" in a letter that criticized Limbaugh's rant: "And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position -- including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels -- responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student."

Limbaugh at first mocked DeGioia's statement in an ongoing spray of acid -- as though DeGioia were a treebox on 36th Street. But after some advertisers threatened to pull back their support, Limbaugh offered a more prepared 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," Limbaugh's statement said.

In 2012, there are choices everywhere. Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania Senator, has questioned women's long-established service in our military. Front runner Mitt Romney said Limbaugh's rant against Fluke was "not the language I would have used, but I'm focusing on the issues that I think are significant in the country today."

The Georgetown Dish invites Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum to visit Georgetown -- to ask women what issues are significant to them today. The right to reproductive choice comes to mind. With a Supreme Court teetering on the edge of Ultra Conservative, such rights are not a given.

David Friend, CEO of former Limbaugh advertiser Carbonite, articulated the appropriate response to this incident a bit better than all the candidates for President: “No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”

0 Comments For This Article

Alix Sundquist

All women, regardless of political or religious beliefs, should be proud of Sandra Fluke! Brava, Sandra!


When the question is forgotten and twistted everyone seems to forget this is not an attack on a woman's right to contraception but having a religious organization pay for it.When it comes to limbaugh 's comment where were you when Msnbc anchor called Sarah Palin a dumb B... And Ann colter the exact same term Slut ,Michele Backman an idiot,moron I could go on .I found it interesting protection of women go only one way ,the democrat way.

Herb Lerner

Why should anyone be surprized at the vitriolic ranting from Rush Limbaugh on the issue of women's rights? He frequently refers to feminist comments as those from "feminazis." The only way to deal with him is for responsible companies to withdraw sponsorship of his program, and for individuals to stop listening to the radio stations that he has access to for three hours each weekday.

Mike S.

The thrice-divorced Mr Limbaugh obviously has a problem with the ladies. His demanding his maid purchase illegal narcotics for him aside, along with his being stopped entering the country with a large quantity of Viagra, he simply lacks manners and decency. It wasn't just his calling Ms Fluke a slut and a prostitute, and apologizing for "his choice of words." It was so much more than that.

Mr Limbaugh spent three days attacking Ms Fluke, including such gentlemanly observations as, "she has so much sex, I don't know how she can stand up." And his demand that she put her sexual encounters on the internet, because, "I want to watch. I'm paying for it, so I want to watch."

Nowhere in his ad hominem attacks did Mr Limbaugh concede that Ms Fluke testified on behalf of a young lady with a medical condition that required medication also used for birth control to treat her swelling and infection. Mr Limbaugh doesn't understand that some medications have more than one use. And he certainly didn't mention that the young lady was denied the medication and subsequently lost one of her ovaries. That was a central theme in Ms Fluke's testimony, but somehow it didn't make it on the Excellence in Broadcasting Radio Network. The truth is not excellent enough, I guess.

There's an election coming, and women have become energized and infuriated by what they see as a series of attacks on them. This is a huge gift to the Democrats. Republican insiders are beginning to realize they need to choose whether to repudiate Limbaugh and anger his ditto-heads or Rally Round Rush and face the wrath of millions of women. It seems like an easy choice, unless it's a bunch of fat, old, white guys who have to make it.

The betting here is the GOP does a half-hearted job of distancing itself from Limbaugh, and Ms Fluke maintains her dignity and continues to wipe the floor with El Rushbo. People love seeing someone standing up to a bully. No one's afraid of Rush any more, and he'll never be the same.