White: Offensive comments illuminate modern sexism, war on women

Surely by now many have heard the comments made by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh about female Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke. Fluke appeared in Congress to give testimony on her support for requiring insurance companies to cover contraceptives.

Limbaugh said: “What does it say about college coed Susan Fluke? … Essentially that she must be paid to have sex? … It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute … So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis … if we are going to pay for your contraceptives … we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch … [Sandra Fluke] is having so much sex, it’s amazing she can still walk.”

Those words speak volumes about Limbaugh’s character, but even more about the state of sexism in this country. Unfortunately, sexism still exists and the debate over contraceptive rights that has been brewing in our political system has highlighted its existence more than ever.

There is a double standard in this country when it comes to women’s rights that we can see clearly when we look at contraceptive rights. In some states, for women under the age of 18 to purchase the pill and other forms of birth control, they are required to have permission from their doctor or parent.

All a 16-year-old male has to do is walk into a drugstore, pick out which condoms he wants and pay the cashier. In some states, women are forced to go through an ultrasound, a 24-hour waiting period or even a gruesome lecture about what will happen to themselves and their baby during an abortion before they can have one. Men need only pay some money in child support and they can get away with never seeing their baby again. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there are different standards.

Many republican presidential candidates have been assailing women’s rights under the guise of religion. Former Sen. Rick Santorum has been most vocal about contraceptive rights, calling monetary support for contraceptives being given to women a “grievous moral wrong.” The argument is of course that certain forms of Christianity forbid contraception because they see the act as sacred and the wasting of potential life as an affront to God. But unless they come out as strongly against masturbation or natural “potential life” expulsions, it is tough for that argument to hold water.

Furthermore, consider who creates these laws and brings up these issues. At the original congressional hearings on contraceptive rights, no women were asked to speak. Santorum and Limbaugh certainly do not qualify as female representatives. Additionally, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is leading the opposition to contraceptive rights, is led by 18 male cardinals and a male pope.

Men are telling women what to do with their bodies in every aspect of this debate. Limbaugh, Santorum, the Catholic Bishops and those who continue to try to control women’s use of contraception are saying, in essence, “Man knows best.” In their eyes, women cannot be trusted with their own bodies; it is up to men to look out for them.

I think it would be difficult for Rush Limbaugh to call me a feminazi. And yet, here I stand, a rationale human being saying to you that sexism still exists in this country. Our society continues to say to women that they are not intelligent enough to make decisions about their own lives and bodies. It’s sickening, it’s disheartening and it’s all happening under our noses.