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Why Ms. Sandra Fluke is a slut

Issue Date - 30/04/2012
On February 29, 2012, Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh panned Georgetown University Law Center law student Ms. Sandra Fluke as being a “slut” and “prostitute”. The series of abuse and vitriolic attacks on her continued over till March 2, 2012. The apparent reason for the same was the testimony she presented before US House Democrats supporting insurance coverage on contraceptives.

“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke, who goes before a Congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? 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.” The celebrity Conservative supporter Limbaugh followed up these statements in the nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show with 45 more instances of direct attacks on the law student.

The resulting national furore was quite dramatic with international and national commentators lampooning Rush. But in as much as Democrats seized the emotion of the moment to slam Limbaugh (and gained galloping brownie points from women across America), the Republican response was mystically anaemic. While 75 Democrat lawmakers signed a covenant accusing Limbaugh’s comments as being “sexually charged, patently offensive, obscene [...] an abuse of public airwaves...”, Obama, who is looking at further improving his popularity among women, called up Sandra to comfort her. White House spokesman Jay Carney termed the attacks “reprehensible”. Minority leader Pelosi called the attack “obnoxious”. Republicans unfortunately capitulated. Mitt Romney simply said, “It’s not the language I would have used.,” Santorum even justified the attack, commenting, “An entertainer can be absurd.” Similar were the responses of other Republican leaders.

Undoubtedly, this was a defining incident for American women, irrespective of their religious ideologies, irrespective of their political orientations, and irrespective of their position on whether contraceptives should be covered under insurance or not. Republican leaders had deserted them, in principle if not in person. Limbaugh’s attacks on Ms. Fluke were not just about an issue of contraceptive insurance, but about an ad hominem argument that any woman who uses or requests contraception must have a questionable character. It was shocking that many Republican party members even justified the method in the madness. On that parameter, it lost a wide trust vote.

The AP-GfK poll for February 16-20 2012 shows Obama’s approval ratings among women at 53%, a gain of 10% since December 2011. The New York Times reported on March 10, 2012, “As per a New York Times/CBS News poll in mid-February 2012, women, who in a January poll had disapproved of Mr. Obama’s job performance by 48% to 46%, now approved of him by 53% to 38%... A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this month showed that... While the president trailed Mr. Romney by six points among men, he had an 18-point advantage among women.”

There’s a growing thought among the common fence-sitting Republican supporter that if Mitt Romney does not get the party nomination, then they would vote for Obama. Such a thought process has suddenly gained a stronger following amongst women Republican supporters across America.

It’s too late for Republican leaders to show moral support to either Ms. Fluke or to criticise Rush – for records, he released an excuse of an apology later on March 3, an apology that Ms. Fluke refused to accept & termed insincere. What the Republicans need to do is to initiate women focused election drives immediately to reverse the resentment. Obama already has “Women for Obama” and “Nurses for Obama” drives that are actively gathering voter support. The Republicans have none.



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