Monday, April 03, 2006

The Duke Rape Case

Alas a Blog has several posts about this case (white members of a college Lacrosse team allegedly raping a black exotic dancer) which has roused a lot of attention in the blogosphere. Now Rush Limbaugh, the uebermisogynist, has joined in the discussion:

From the March 31 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

CALLER 1: Why is it, do you think, that you haven't heard hardly anything from Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton about the whole immigration thing? I mean, the silence is deafening from --

LIMBAUGH: Well, they're busy.

CALLER 1: -- the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and the --

LIMBAUGH: They're -- they're busy. They're busy. The Reverend Jackson is in New Orleans. He's leading a big march there tomorrow. The march is -- what is it called? The -- the march for the right to return a protected vote and reconstruction. He's trying to -- they got problems down in New Orleans. They don't have voter base, and Sharpton's working on a New Orleans deal, too. He's trying to figure out how he can get involved in the deal down there at Duke where the lacrosse team --

CALLER 1: Yeah.

LIMBAUGH: -- uh, supposedly, you know, raped, some, uh, hos.

In a later conversation, Limbaugh apologized for calling the woman allegedly raped a whore:

LIMBAUGH: I just, I'm looking at this case down there at Duke, [caller], and it's -- there's some things about it, some inconsistencies. You've got some timeline differentiations and matriculations and, and so forth. I'm just -- but it was, it was terrible slip of the tongue, and I am, I am terribly, I am terribly sorry.

There is so much hidden in these short exchanges: questions about race, questions about women's worth based on their sexual availability, questions about sexuality as a commercial product and what it means for the purported sellers and buyers. That is to put it very nicely and neutrally. Another way of saying the same thing is that Rush thinks black women who are exotic dancers are whores and that you can do to whores whatever you want to, including raping them.

So odd that calling a woman a prostitute is an insult. Just think about it: if a woman is selling sex to men she is doing exactly what her customers want. She is not using violence against them, she is not withholding the sex in the way some misogynists accuse women of doing to get power, she is following the rules of the traditional society to a t, and yet her occupational title is an insult.

And not only is it an insult, but her whole being is viewed as stripped of all human rights. A whore has no real right to refuse sex, ever, has no real right to be protected by the laws which protect other women (however imperfectly that might be), and sometimes it seems that even the murder of a whore is not as horrible as killing women in general.

This is a paradox, this whole manner of treating sex workers in the mind of a traditional patriarch.