• Wed, May 9 2012

‘Rush Babes For America’ Exploits The Very Women It Pretends To Represent

It”s such an obvious plea for press that I feel mildly guilty mentioning at all, but Rush Limbaugh has launched an initiative to represent conservative women. The talk radio icon believes that women’s organizations such as NOW (National Organization of Women) alienate conservative ladies who don’t always agree with their left-leaning agendas. So he decided to launch his own group for “the millions of conservative women who know what they believe in: family, American values, and not being told by faux feminist groups how to think.”

That’s all fine and good. And some might argue that conservative women need and deserve to have their own organization that doesn’t equate pro-choice beliefs with being female. After all, plenty of intelligent and thoughtful ladies don’t always agree when it comes to reproductive rights. Those women should feel free to organize and to generate discussion about political or cultural problems that concern them.

Except, of course, Rush Limbaugh’s interest in this area has nothing to do with helping women connect with causes that matter to them. He’s not trying to respond to the media narrative about the “War on Women.” And I have this feeling that he doesn’t care too much about family values here. Rush is doing what he always does, creating a controversy to promote his “lightning rod” brand.

It’s obvious, because he chose to title the initiative “Rush Babes for America.”

He used what he knows is an inflammatory and disrespectful term and he probably did it so that women like me would get angry and write about it. Congratulations, Mr. Limbaugh.

The shock jock claims that women are a core part of his audience and that he just wants to show how many conservative females support him and his message. I say that’s ridiculous. I don’t care what your politics are, very few ladies want to be referred to as anyone’s “Babe.”

When discussing politics or family values, whether we’re stay-at-home or working moms, females are pretty much universally fed up with being sexualized. I think we’re in agreement that condescending labels such as this seek to marginalize women, no matter what political party they’re affiliated with. And an outline of the an attractive female like you would find on the wheel flaps of a semi is really not the logo that any woman alive wants to be represented by.

If Rush Limbaugh really wanted to give a voice to conservative women, he failed dismally. He just made that statement that you’re either a femi-nazi or a you’re a sexual object. In fact, his whole ploy here might be more offensive to conservative women (specifically because it’s exploiting them) than any of the liberal insults hurled at Republican ladies.

For professional women, plenty of us would be happy to join organizations that focus solely on business equality issues we can agree on. The politics of reproductive health don’t have to get in the way of support for necessary legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. You don’t have to identify as a feminist to wish that women were better represented in boardrooms and executive offices across the country. Rush actually might have a point that some of NOW’s liberal agenda might be off-putting for conservative women. But I don’t think that being called “Babes” is really the alternative they’re after.

Bottom line, this offensive bit of gender baiting has nothing to do with supporting any women at all. It’s just using them as a branding tool. And not that I really think this is possible, but Rush should be ashamed of himself.


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