Tag Archives: sexism

Mon Corps, Mon Choix: Slut Walk Paris 2012

Paris was dreary and grey yesterday, and pedestrians walked the streets with their heads hung low beneath umbrellas and hoodies, hurrying to escape the rain. But unlike the rest of the city, Paris’s sixth arrondissement was alive. Here, feminists gathered to protest sexism, rape and victim-blaming as part of the international movement, Slut Walk. Slut Walk started in Toronto in 2011 after a police officer claimed, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” His statement caused thousands to take to the streets, and Slut Walk quickly spread to cities across North America and Europe.

I joined the marchers of Slut Walk Paris 2012 on their trek across the city, which ended at Place du Panthéon. The men and women brandished signs painted with anti-rape-culture slogans like, “mon corps, mon choix,” my body, my choice, and “le viol est un programme politique,” rape is a political program. At the front of the march, a woman with a megaphone led the protesters in their chants. “Le sexisme est une maladie sociale,” they yelled in unison. Sexism is a social disease.

The march concluded at Place du Panthéon, where France’s national moto, liberté, égalité, fraterité, loomed overhead. In the background, the Eiffel Tower stood like a sentinel guarding this historic, traditional city, where classic gender roles maintain a significant, yet waning, presence.

Attending Slut Walk in Paris was an opportunity I could not miss, although I’m still not sure how I feel about the movement as a whole. I invite you to read critiques of Slut Walk here and here. I support the movement’s message– there is never a justification for rape and sexual violence– but I’m still not sure I support the means as the most powerful, effective way to combat rape-culture and victim-blaming. Even so, the energy and determination of these protesters was contagious, and I found myself breaking my journalist’s rules and chanting and marching along, side by side in solidarity with fellow feminists.

Le sexisme est une maladie sociale. 




Filed under Most Popular, Paris, Photos

Sorry, Rush– an apology isn’t going to cut it

“We are fortunate to live in a democracy where everyone is entitled to their own opinions regarding legitimate policy differences. Unfortunately, numerous commentators have gone far beyond the acceptable bounds of civil discourse. No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence our voices. The millions of American women who have and will continue to speak out in support of women’s health care and access to contraception prove that we will not be silenced.”

– Sandra Fluke, Georgetown University 

Rush Limbaugh may have formally apologized to Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke today for openly degrading her over the airwaves, but he has yet to apologize to the women of America, whom he has viciously attacked and irrevocably insulted.

Sandra Fluke stepped into the spotlight after her appeal to Congress to support the new bill that requires health insurance to cover contraceptives. Her main point was not that she and her peers need birth control to prevent pregnancy, but that access to birth control is necessary to address health concerns that can be remedied with hormonal treatment. Fluke told a story of a 32-year-old woman, one of her good friends, who developed a cyst “the size of a tennis ball” on her ovary because she couldn’t afford birth control pills to regulate her illness. The woman had to have her ovary removed, and now she is experiencing the symptoms of early menopause. Had she been able to get affordable hormonal pills, Fluke said, this may not have happened.

Several conservative commentators have used Fluke’s statement as an opportunity to condemn feminists and women who are fighting for their reproductive and sexual rights. But none have been so derogatory as Rush Limbaugh:

“What does it say about the college co-ed Suzan Fluke (sic), who goes before 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!” he said on Wednesday.

As if that wasn’t enough he added this on Thursday, according to the Huffington Post:

“A Georgetown coed told Nancy Pelosi’s hearing that the women in her law school program are having so much sex they’re going broke, so you and I should have to pay for their birth control. So what would you call that? I called it what it is,” he said. “So, I’m offering a compromise today: I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want.”

But wait, there’s more!

“So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal: if we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

There is no question that this is disgusting, degrading, and downright childish. What else would you expect from Mr. Limbaugh? But this is more than Limbaugh’s typical repertoire. This is sexism, and a blatant assault on not only Fluke, but all women.

It an attempt to save some face, Limbaugh apologized to Fluke today in a statement on his website, saying that his “choice of words was not the best” and he “did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”

Not the best? Don’t you mean, undeniably and outrageously offensive?

Listen Rush, we all appreciate the apology to Sandra Fluke, who has been sophisticated and courageous in her fight to not only defend herself, but her fellow females. But that isn’t enough. These words target each and every woman in our country, and beyond, and they will not be forgotten.

Already, advertisers have begun to retract their support of Limbaugh’s show and one blogger has called for a boycott of companies that sponsor the show. There is even a Twitter hashtag for the campaign, #BoycottRush, and Facebook pages have been created to assist in the effort. Clearly, we are not satisfied with “sorry.”

Whether you’re female, male or somewhere in between, such sexist comments cannot and should not be tolerated. Limbaugh has completely ignored the fact that he has attacked 50 percent of the people on this planet, and we should not treat his so-called “apology” as sufficient. We cannot let him return to his pulpit as if this never happened; we cannot let this issue disappear.

Why? Well, this isn’t just about Rush Limbaugh and his crazy ideas. This is about a serious social conflict in our country. We may claim that we’ve achieved gender equality, and due to many of the rights we’ve won, this would appear to be true. But when a man feels he can go on national radio and call a professional woman a “slut,” something is clearly wrong. No person, male or female, should be subjected to this kind of verbal battery, and no nation that claims to support women’s rights should allow this kind of “discourse” to go unnoticed.

For all of those cynics out there, for all of the men who’ve asked me why I’m a feminist, this is why. A woman should be able to argue for her rights without being called a prostitute. That, my friends, is not civil. It is not rational, open dialogue. It is sexism.

Limbaugh’s response to Fluke’s testimony revealed that he is a narrow-minded, sexist coward. Like some, he believes that if we give women the right to determine their destinies, they will rule the world. They will be strong, confident, and empowered, and they won’t take anymore chauvinistic bullshit.

Well, Mr. Limbaugh, your fears have been realized. Women and our allies are strong. We are confident. We are empowered. However, contrary to your simpleminded notion, we are not out to rule the world.

We are out to change it.

And if I know anything about you, sir, that is your greatest fear.


Filed under Most Popular, Prose