The most cheerful number I have seen today was not in my first period math class, and did not come from my physics textbook. I saw it in an email from a feminist website that I received when I got home from school.
142 is, to me, the most cheerful number I have seen today, but to somebody else it is everything but. That someone else is Rush Limbaugh, and while the number “142” brings me the same kind of delight as a chocolate cupcake or clips from the Daily Show, to Rush it is quite possibly quickening the biodegradation of his considerable figure. 142 is how many advertisers Rush Limbaugh has lost since his comments on activist and law student Sandra Fluke last February.
In the unfortunate case that you live somewhere where you cannot access the likes of the Huffington Post or Rachel Maddow or other news sources, or if you have blocked out the past three weeks of unpleasantness, allow me to refresh your memory on Miss Fluke’s story.
Congress holds hearing on birth control. Congress doesn’t invite any women to talk about birth control. Democrats notice mistake, bring in Sandra Fluke to testify about the dangers- physical, economic, and social- associated with the decreased access to birth control proposed by the Blunt Amendment. Rush Limbaugh hears Fluke’s testimony. Rush Limbaugh gets angry. Rush Limbaugh calls Sandra a “slut” and a “prostitute” and says she should be forced to post sex tapes online. Americans are outraged. Obama stands with Sandra Fluke. Advertisers pull sponsorship from Rush’s radio show. Rush “apologizes”. More advertisers leave.
This brings us to today- 142 advertisers have decided that this time, Rush has gone too far. I am ecstatic to stand with those 142 advertisers. It’s not that Limbaugh’s use of the word “slut” was SO middle school, or that his demands for sex tapes were disgusting and insulting. It’s that Rush participated in slut-shaming. He took an empowered woman with a voice, and he attempted to silence that voice not by debating the flaws in her argument, but by de-meriting her message based on derogatory language. He told us that we shouldn’t take Fluke seriously not because she was wrong, but simply because she was a woman.
Those 142 advertisers- and the people who pressured them to withdraw support for Limbaugh- recognize that we need to move beyond these tactics. If wanting to have responsibility over my own body and the right to speak my mind, regardless of whether or not I have a uterus, makes me a slut, I am the biggest, hookeriest slut out there. And I’m proud to flaunt the same slur as the likes of Sandra Fluke.