Sunday, March 04, 2012

Rushing to Her Defense

I spent 16 or so hours Saturday trying to get advertisers to drop Rush Limbaugh.

You can read what Rush Limbaugh said here: Article about Limbaugh's comments You can read what Sandra Fluke wanted to testify here: What Sandra Fluke Wanted to Say to Congress

It is not my usual Saturday pastime. I usually write papers for grad school. Today, I did this because events took the perfect turn in my life to make me unable to keep still and ignore him, as I usually do. Most of my friends don't particularly like Rush. Many abhor his kind of "entertainment." We mostly leave him to his followers and hope not to add to his publicity. It's a good plan for hate-mongers who make a lot of money on their ability to denigrate others.

Not today.

One reason is the picture on my living room table. It's of my daughter, a young elementary school teacher. She is the reason I breathe on some days. It's that elemental with me. No one will stand when threatening her health, psychological well-being, or happiness. I will not allow it.

Another reason is the hard couple of weeks I had at school. I took some crap and managed my way out of it. It doesn't matter who or what or how. It was not earth-shattering, but it was unnecessary crap. I thought at first I would just ignore it and let the crap build up and flow around me. Then, it became too much, so I got out of the way of the crap and felt much better for having done so.

Which leads me to a third reason. While I was all hip-deep in my own little drama, I almost let someone down in a big way. Another young woman, not unlike my daughter--beautiful,intelligent, struggling at times the way the young do--told me she had thought she might just drive into oncoming traffic.

Yes. That is exactly the response I should have had. I should have wrapped her in my arms and used all the skills I have to pull her back into the flow of life.

I didn't.

I murmured some words and moaned that I felt awful too. And I went on my way.

And I am humiliated.

Because there is a fourth, fifth, and sixth reason I went after Rush Limbaugh's advertisers this week.

Fourth is that I was sexually abused as a child and raped when I was a young woman. I suffered a lot of shame and self-loathing for that. I know that I don't need to feel that way now. Therapy. Work. Hard-headedness. The need to live a decent life for my daughter brought me out of that. I would never let someone have the power to make me feel less than any more. Never. I have learned better and know how to deal with that kind of damaging self image.

Which brings me around to number five in my reasons to let Rush Limbaugh have it on Saturday. I went to a lot of training to learn how to advocate for others who have been sexually assaulted. I did some of that work formally, a lot more informally, and some here online. Before I went back to college at age 47, I spent a good bit of my spare time that way. With women, mostly women, who had been ripped up and tossed out by men, mostly men, who thought that their bodies and their lives were good for nothing more than sexual violence. I made it my business to speak up and say my refrain for victims: "I am sorry that happened. It's not your fault. You are safe now. I am here to be of help."

And from now on--Number Six--I will be again.

I made myself a promise when I collected myself after the little "taking crap" incident at school and realized, humiliated and horrified, that I had not reacted in the appropriate way to that young woman who wanted to drive into oncoming traffic.

The promise is this: I will not ever hold my tongue again. Never. Come what may, shitstorm or not, for me or anyone else in need of help, I am using this very loud mouth and these arthritic fingers on the keyboard to do whatever I can for whomever I run across that is being victimized, made to feel less than worthy, or is in need of whatever skills I have or can muster. I will stand up for myself too and damn the cost.

Nothing feels worse than thinking a young woman may be driving into oncoming traffic and you are doing nothing to stop it. By the way, she didn't. She spent her Saturday doing life-affirming things. She is going to be ok. And so am I, and so is Sandra Fluke.

And that is why I am still up at 2:44 am on Sunday, writing this. Because I was stupidly ignoring my real purpose. I am making it my business to speak up from now on.

It is not ok to make money by turning political polemic into personal attacks on someone's good name and well-being. It just is not. That is sleazier than the prostitution Ms. Fluke was accused of. That is unacceptable.

A young woman wanted to to petition Congress to hear the effect that lack of access to birth control was having on her classmates. She wanted to talk about real health issues, pain, and suffering. And for that, she was called a prostitute, a slut, and made the subject of degrading sexually exploitive talk about how she should be forced to make sex tapes and show them to Rush Limbaugh and his ilk.

I have one clear message about that: OH HELL NO. Oh, no. No you don't. You, Mr. Limbaugh, do not get to wriggle out of this one. You have underestimated the mothers and fathers of this country if you think we will hear you speak this way to our daughters and let it pass. I won't shut up until you are not making one penny off of such hateful speech. I won't stand idly by and watch you shove one of our young women into oncoming traffic. She is no slut. She is no prostitute. She is a student who wanted to speak to her elected officials about the effect of a proposed legislation on her classmates' health. This is not a reason to submit her to sexually degrading comments. It is abusive and it is wrong. It is not her fault. It is yours. And I intend to keep agitating until you are in no position to ever do this again for profit.

You can help. Many advertisers have dropped him today because of the huge response to his terrible comments. Go to Clear Channel Communications Facebook page or company website and let them know you don't want them to pay Rush Limbaugh to sexually degrade women. Not one dime, not one crumb for him.

1 comment:

annie said...

Cyn, thank you. You are one fierce advocate.