(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/03/0212_honor1.gif)Some people just won’t accept an apology.
The activists who so recently urged Americans to “move on” from a Democratic president’s abuse of women can’t seem to let go of a conservative radio host’s abusive comments toward a woman. Ideologues prove nimble like that in their indignation.
Media Matters launched a six-figure, eight-city advertising campaign on Thursday against Rush Limbaugh’s continued presence on the radio. A day earlier, the Los Angeles city council passed a resolution 13-2 condemning Rush Limbaugh-carrier KFI-AM for “foster[ing] an environment where negative comments can go unchecked.” This follows feminist attorney Gloria Allred imploring Palm Beach County’s district attorney to “open an investigation into whether or not Mr. Rush Limbaugh is in violation” of Florida laws for labeling a law student a “slut” for demanding free birth control and Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem’s article calling on the FCC to mute Limbaugh’s microphone. The seventysomething trio explained, “He is indeed constitutionally entitled to his opinions, but he is not constitutionally entitled to the people’s airways.”
An overfed, wealthy, rich, white, older, conservative male makes for a convenient face of sexism for the Gloria Allreds and Jane Fondas of the world. But for most women of the world, sexism manifests itself as something far worse than unwelcome, ungentlemanly comments directed their way. Obsessing over name-calling trivializes sexism as a matter of mere words. In truly patriarchal societies, sexism means murder, genital mutilation, forced marriage, and other sanctioned oppression.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported this week that at least 943 Pakistani women were the victims of honor killings last year. The number grew by more than 150 from the previous year. Fathers, brothers, and husbands generally perpetrate the murders, motivations for which range from the victims partaking in unsanctioned romances to requesting songs on the radio to falling victim to rape. Families subjected 93 minor girls to honor killings. The local authorities routinely ignore this savagery against women.
Codified polygamy and enforced female mask wearing exemplify the official contempt of many Islamic states for half of their populations. Islamic courts weigh the testimony of females as half the value of the testimony of males. The Koran grants men double the inheritance of women. By custom, and in some instances by law, women in Islamic countries must gain permission from their closest male relative to marry or to travel internationally. Male-to-female literacy rates demonstrate the vast inequalities in Egypt (83% to 59%), Afghanistan (43% to 13%), Pakistan (63% to 36%), and throughout much of the Muslim world. Where Islam rules, women are ruled.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that three million girls undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) annually. The organization reports, “The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and among migrants from these areas.” This is another way of saying that the barbaric practice roughly corresponds to locations where Islam dominates. But, of course, WHO never mentions Islam in its February fact sheet on the 140 million cases of FGM.
There is a war on women. It doesn’t involve Catholic schools obstinately refusing to pay for the contraception of their students or the right of thirty-year-old women not to be called rude names. Honor killings, spousal rape, female genital mutilation, polygamy, and the veil are proof that this war on women is very real. Ironically, Rush Limbaugh regularly uses his program to inveigh against those waging this war on women. But the activists busy accusing Limbaugh of orchestrating a war on women haven’t bothered to highlight this very real war on women.
Political correctness makes hell of political principles. It sanctifies certain “victim” groups (women, minorities, gays, non Westerners, etc.). It demonizes certain “oppressor” groups (the wealthy, white heterosexual males, Westerners, etc.). When one victim group victimizes another victim group—e.g., Muslims tyrannizing women—the mental wiring of the politically correct short circuit. It’s more flattering to the overarching ideology to cast a rich, white, male as the poster child of sexism and to leave the sexism of impoverished, tribal Muslims on the cutting room floor.
If the utterance of a few insulting comments on the radio and the refusal of religious universities to provide free birth control are the evidence of a war on women, the evidence shows there really isn’t a war on women—at least in America. By fixating on the misogynist words of political adversaries, and ignoring the misogynist language of political allies (Bill Maher, Alan Grayson, Ed Shultz) and the misogynist practices of extremist Muslims, the American Left prompts neutral observers to wonder whether the issue is really sexism or if it is one of using sexism as a brickbat to beat political opponents into silence. Given the pressure campaign on governments and companies to force America’s most popular talk-radio host off the air, the latter seems a more plausible answer.
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