Rush to judg­ment

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - By Daniel Mcconchie and Mailee Smith

The re­cent furor over ra­dio per­son­al­ity Rush Lim­baugh call­ing Ge­orge­town law stu­dent San­dra Fluke a “slut” has been use­ful in ex­pos­ing how much misog­yny is still ac­cepted in news and en­ter­tain­ment me­dia. In the midst of the de­nun­ci­a­tions and re­but­tals, years of de­mean­ing anti-woman rhetoric from both sides of the po­lit­i­cal aisle have been dredged up, ex­posed and rightly con­demned.

Yet what is shock­ingly ab­sent from this dis­cus­sion is the bla­tant misog­yny on full dis­play dur­ing prime-time “en­ter­tain­ment” pro­gram­ming. Mr. Lim­baugh’s com­ments hap­pened last week, and the con­tro­versy re­sumed on Mon­day with­out miss­ing a beat. Over the week­end, ABC pre­miered “GCB,” pre­vi­ously ti­tled “Good Chris­tian Bitches,” but no one has spo­ken out about the of­fen­sive ti­tle, let alone the in­her­ent sex­ism in the new se­ries. Later this spring, ABC also will be air­ing “Don’t Trust the B—— in Apart­ment 23.”

Although anti-woman lan­guage in the po­lit­i­cal realm is still hotly de­bated, we seem to be only too will­ing to put up with it in the en­ter­tain­ment realm.

Last week, USA To­day pub­lished a piece by Carol Mem­mott that amounted to lit­tle more than a de­fense of the “B-word” on tele­vi­sion. In it, Ms. Mem­mott quoted Ann Char­ity Hud­ley from the Col­lege of Wil­liam & Mary, who in­sisted that “for some peo­ple [the B-word is] com­pletely not deroga­tory” while point­ing out that for some, the word is even used as a term of en­dear­ment.

“GCB” seems more than sat­is­fied to fol­low in the foot­steps of “Des­per­ate Housewives,” air­ing im­me­di­ately af­ter the lat­ter. Like “Des­per­ate Housewives,” it re­in­forces sex­ual stereo­types. Women’s iden­ti­ties are de­ter­mined pri­mar­ily on the

As Virginia’s ul­tra­sound bill, signed Wed­nes­day by Gov. Bob McDon­nell, takes its place in the law books, leg­is­la­tors de­serve praise for deal­ing proac­tively with the vast ar­ray of mis­in­for­ma­tion and out­right lies prop­a­gated by the bill’s op­po­nents and their al­lies in the me­dia. But if the final de­bate in the Virginia House of Del­e­gates is any in­di­ca­tion, some abor­tion pro­po­nents will stop at noth­ing to ad­vance their agenda.

Ear­lier in the process, op­po­nents ma­li­ciously claimed that the bill would “harm” women. In re­al­ity, the bill sim­ply man­dated that abor­tion providers con­duct a life­sav­ing test in ac­cor­dance with “stan­dard med­i­cal prac­tice” and al­low women to view the re­sults of that test. An ul­tra­sound be­fore an abor­tion is a crit­i­cal test be­cause it as­sists an abor­tion provider in de­ter­min­ing ges­ta­tional age of the un­born child and di­ag­nos­ing ec­topic preg­nan­cies — both of which are im­por­tant med­i­cal con­cerns. In fact, you can’t get an abor­tion at Planned Par­ent­hood of Virginia un­less you agree to un­dergo an ul­tra­sound first.

The me­dia seemed ea­ger to as­sist in the mis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign by re­peat­ing dis­tor­tions by abor­tion ad­vo­cates who be­gan claim­ing that the orig­i­nal bill man­dated “transvagi­nal” ul­tra­sounds and amounted to “state-sanc­tioned rape.” Ed Schultz on MSNBC stated that the bill “would re­quire a highly in­va­sive transvagi­nal ul­tra­sound first.” The is­sue has also came up on “The Rachel Mad­dow Show,” “The Daily Show With Jon Ste­wart” and even “Satur­day Night Live.”

These claims were false. The truth is that the orig­i­nal bill re­quired that an ul­tra­sound “shall be made pur­suant to stan­dard med­i­cal prac­tice in the com­mu­nity.” In other words, abor­tion providers would have had to fol­low a ba­sic stan­dard of care.

ba­sis of their at­trac­tive­ness, to whom they’re mar­ried, or the purses they own. When the main char­ac­ter is look­ing for a job, her own mother en­cour­ages her to put her breasts on dis­play.

Through­out his­tory, racist and misog­y­nis­tic lan­guage has been used to keep an en­tire group of peo­ple “in their place” — to strip them of their dig­nity, in­di­vid­u­al­ity and hu­man­ity and thereby make mis­treat­ment, abuse and even vi­o­lence to­ward that group or in­di­vid­u­als in that group seem some­how more ac­cept­able.

The sub­lim­i­nal mes­sage is that women are not wor­thy of re­spect. They are less than hu­man. They are slaves to an­i­mal­is­tic pas­sions. They ex­ist to be sex­u­ally avail­able to men, and noth­ing more. Women who are ex­posed re­peat­edly to mes­sages like these may even­tu­ally come to be­lieve they have no worth be­yond their sex­u­al­ity. Men who are ex­posed re­peat­edly to mes­sages like these may come in time to be­lieve it is their right to treat women poorly, even to be abu­sive.

Misog­yny in en­ter­tain­ment is cer­tainly not limited to “GCB.” You can see it in re­al­ity shows like “The Bach­e­lor” and in NBC’S re­cently can­celed “The Play­boy Club.” It should be op­posed ev­ery­where, at all times. At a bare min­i­mum, how­ever, we should all agree that the word “bitch” doesn’t be­long in the ti­tle of a pro­gram.


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