Rush to judgment
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.