Tuesday, March 06, 2012

But Rush Thought It Would Be All Right

That is the one point that has not been under the magnifying glass in this whole lets-bury-the-bugger campaign.

Limbaugh thought that his use of the terms "slut" and "prostitute" (about a woman whose crime was speaking out in public) would be acceptable, that they would fire up his misogynist listener base, raise his falling ratings and give him enough tiny pokes from the rest of the world to add to his millions. He thought it would be all just fine.

And the reason? Because he has been allowed to get away with this for decades. He's the man who coined the term "feminazi," he's the man you could always go to for the most woman-hating comments possible. The one-stop misogynists' media supermarket.

And he got away with it, year after year after year. The Republicans stood in awe of him. The Democrats complained, but just enough to get Limbaugh even more audience. Attempts to boycott his advertisers were not strong enough.

And time after time I was told not to spend my snake venom on Limbaugh. He was a freaky sideshow, to be ignored, not worth the effort to write about. Besides, if people on our side attacked him then people on their side would attack us! Can't do that. There must be honor among bloggers as among thieves, right?

But mostly Limbaugh (and other right-wing pundits such as Savage and Beck) turned into something seen as a force of nature. We can't fight those. Hence the pretense that he was isolated, safely tucked away in a sound-proofed room with the other misogynists and racists to whom he was preaching.

The fact that the Republican Party was afraid of him suggested that the sound-proofing had failed, that Limbaugh mattered, that he was slowly changing the air in the public debates, re-introducing racism and misogyny as socially acceptable. Nothing could be done about it, however.

So what is different now? It could be that Limbaugh's importance had been overestimated throughout the years, because of poor survey methods about radio listeners. Or it could be that Limbaugh's audience is beginning to die out, or both.

Those possibilities alone do not explain why at least 32 advertisers have deserted Rush after his most recent slut/prostitute tirades. No, what has changed is that enough women are finally paying attention*.

It began with the Susan G. Komen incident and continued with the contraceptives battle in the war over the uterus. It has spread to women noticing all those forced-birther schemes in states.

And because women are both voters and consumers the fact that they are paying attention affects the advertisers and affects the politicians. Pretty astonishing, eh?
*It's as if the Sleeping Beauty of the fairy tale finally woke up, and not because she was kissed by the prince. It was a thorn from one of the roses which grew to keep her imprisoned that pricked her finger. And she woke up furious.

Will she stay awake? That remains to be seen.