Yesterday, I indulged one of my guilty pleasures: right-wing talk radio. While enjoying a particularly passionate discussion by Rush Limbaugh on the recent Herman Cain sexual harassment debate, he referred to these “female complainers” (i.e. women who claim to have been sexually harassed) as the “feminazis”. I thought: wait, can he say that? Apparently, he can. What really worries me is what this term represents – that feminists are still fighting an uphill battle, despite all the changes that have been made.
While it’s no secret that Limbaugh is no friend to the feminist movement, it’s still shocking the lengths that he and other mainstream media pundits are taking to denounce them. In fact, Limbaugh pointed out during his radio show that number 24 of his “35 Undeniable Truths of Life” states that, “feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society”. Limbaugh made this statement in 1987, and in 2011 he referred to feminists as “feminazis”. What this trend shows is not that an influential spokesperson is fixated on an anti-women rhetoric, but that how little has changed in the past 20 years.
This comparison reminds me of an event I attended last week: the National Women’s Health Network (NWHN) Awards. The keynote speaker, Byllye Avery, Founder of the Avery Institute for Social Change and the National Black Women’s Health Project, lamented about how women are still facing opposition. Byllye stated that she’s shocked that 30 years after the foundation of NWHN that women in 2011 would worry about their threats to their reproductive rights. What this means, she said, is that the battle isn’t over, and we still have a long way to go.
While the offensive jargon of a right-way commentator may be minor, it has huge implications for the state of the women’s movement. In a society where the term “feminazi” is used refer to women fighting for the rights to their body, no wonder a country that advocates freedom and equality is having challenges in the battle of the sexes. Also, media representatives such as Limbaugh have a enormous sphere of influence that reverberates throughout all levels of society. Amidst a heated political climate, women’s voices need to be heard as well.