Mr. Limbaugh, Ms. Fluke, Ms. Bloom and Lucy in Women's History Month

Amy's unusual view is an attempt to live deeply with extraordinary gratitude in an ordinary life.

"Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression." -Margaret Sanger

Today I went to one of the most perfect places I know. The North Kingstown Library. It’s a truly perfect place of books. When I was a kid, I regularly was thrown out of the library because I was too loud…but I kept coming back.  I always think that librarians are smarter than most people. I revere them like I am with someone famous, someone incredibly accomplished more than say Lady Gaga or Desmond Tutu. They are around books all day long. It must be such a pleasure.

Anyway, today I was on one of my “obsessive errands.” (I get obsessed with things. It’s completely unintentional but it happens.) So right now, I am obsessed with: lavender, learning how to build a garden, learning more about dachshunds, Etta James and books for 11-year-old girls. 

What is perfect about libraries is I could have been there for any of my latest obsessions.

However I was there for Lucy. Maybe you know her, or someone like her? She is a smart, creative spirit. When she was very small (maybe three or four) I babysat her and she was not one to go to sleep easily. I looked in on her and there she was, tucked in sweetly – eyes wide open. She just didn’t want to miss a thing. I completely understand. So, now at 11 years old, Lucy is the voracious reader that I used to be. I am in a book war with her, trying to find a book to give her that is really good that she hasn’t read. (Anne of Green Gables? Harriet the Spy? The Secret Garden? Matilda? Yes, she has read it.) An excellent obsession for a rainy March Saturday.

While I am on my search I see two littles: my term for kids ages 8 or younger – girls that are dressed in tiny Ugg boots and charming raincoats. One little is on the counter with a purple raincoat watching her dad check out. She has a round face with tips of curls showing through her hood. The other little is in a pick raincoat she steals a look at me.  She is standing next to her father. I smile greedily the way women of a certain age do at children when those women happen to be childless. 

She curls into her father and then she reaches up to touch her sister and then takes her pointer finger to gently tap her sister’s ring finger, as if she is holding a delicate piece of silk on her special blanket. She steals looks at me unsure if I am friend of foe. She makes a small comfort game of tapping her sister’s finger as she looks toward and then away from me. It was one of those moments when you get to witness connection the kind that doesn’t need words or explanations. (I know about this connection because I too have a sister.) These too girls also were here for books. I try to see what they are reading over their dad's shoulder...

So, all this time with these little girls got me thinking…about Rush Limbaugh.

Mr. Limbaugh who, in his disagreement with the views of a Georgetown student Sandra Fluke (who had advocated before Congress for insurance companies to fund birth control), called her names like “slut” and “prostitute.” He made other incendiary comments I prefer not to list here (we are a family Patch) but I encourage you to inform yourself on media sites such as: www.mediamatters.com.

It is more than fine with me that Mr. Limbaugh disagrees with Ms. Fluke. I also have no problem with him speaking about his views on his radio show. I believe such free speech is one of the best freedoms with have as Americans. In fact, I am using this freedom right now. What I find disappointing – and let’s face it, despicable – is that Mr. Limbaugh thinks the words he used are reasonable words in a debate of social issues. (Well, he did until many of the companies who advertise during his talk show suspended their support, then, and only then, he issued a very weak apology.)

They are not. These words offend me. First, as a person I am bothered when any hate language – whether or not I am a member of the group. (So language that is derogatory in race, gender, sexual orientation, physical/mental needs , age all of it.) And also because I happen to be a woman. I love the debate. I was raised by two “vote-in-every-election” parents – one on the right and one on the left. I know debate! When I took debating in junior high, one the main constructs was to never use “coarse language” because this lacked dignity and, frankly, intellect.

Ironically (and I think this is a true example of irony because so many use this word incorrectly) it happens to Women’s History Month. Yep. We are celebrating what women have contributed to our country. Aw jeez. 

I celebrate many women – right now it is Ms. Lisa Bloom and her great article “How to Talk to Little Girls.”

She urges all of us to talk with little girls not about their beauty, bodies or looks but instead that we ask them about what they are reading. What are they interested in? In the article Ms Bloom notes:

This week ABC News reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In my book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, I reveal that 15 to 18 percent of girls under 12 now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and 25 percent of young American women would rather win America's Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they'd rather be hot than smart.”

I am guilty too: didn’t I just describe the two little girls at the library by their “darling raincoats,” i.e. looks? However, I am part of the solution too, because I was there to see if I can find a book to challenge the smart curious mind of a future woman – Ms. Lucy –  who will be able to vote in a mere seven years!

I can’t blame Mr. Limbaugh for all this, can I? Well…no I cant. However, this is why what we say about women is so serious.  I’d prefer he not speak that way at all. There are girls growing up right now. They are listening. What are we saying?

Please comment!! I’d love to hear what you think of the situation of the words used by Mr. Limbaugh, Ms. Fluke’s view on birth control, the article by Ms. Bloom or the smaller issue of what I can find for Lucy to read. Or, is what Lucy – an 11-year-old growing girl – reads really a smaller issue? Happy Women’s History month to all of us who benefit from the strides of women. (All of us.)

(Oh come write with me - looking to start a new group in April: www.explorewritingworkshops.com)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Judith March 09, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Okay, I will be the first to comment. Mr. Limbaugh's antics remind me of one of Macolm X's saying when Pres. Kennedy was shot: "..the chickens are coming home to roost". After years of exploitative and racist remarks that he's made about Jews and Blacks (especially, Black folk), it took a singular, personal attack on a white woman in a decisive election year for people to start turning their heads and raising their eyebrows. It's reprehensible that Ms. Fluke has been the unintended sacrificial lamb, so to speak, but this is so often how often culturally our country reacts--injustices inflicted by the ruling class go unchecked for a long period of time until it has a particular implication for that class. As for books for 11 year old girls--I think they also like the youger version of what we'd call "chick lit". I used to cringe a bit when i'd see my 11 year old daughter's choices for novels versus what i and her father would rather she read, but it's her choice, she enjoys them ,and it keeps her reading. And, it keeps us on top of what is comunicated through literature to pre-teen girls nowadays. Try looking at Beacon Street Girls series or Emily Strange books (dark, goth-girl satire)
Ms M March 09, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Re: Rush, Michael Moore's tweet summed it up "Rush - as soon as you started loosing the big $$ from your hate speech, you caved & obeyed the men who pay you. Who's the prostitute now?". Of course we all know it was an empty apology anyway. I'm for free speech, but ignorant, inane, hateful rankings don't qualify. Rush is lucky Ms. Fluke is strong enough to handle his nonsense. The situation could have turned even uglier. He is a paid bully - and should not be allowed to get away with it.
Carolyn March 09, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Carolyn Because of Winn-Dixie was one of Alex's favorites books. I love your blog and now that I know where it is I'll be sure to follow you!
NK_Voter March 09, 2012 at 05:40 PM
RL's comments were out of line. However, the filth that has come out of the mouths of liberal "commentators" about other women was much worse and passes without comment. Why is that when both are wrong? Nevertheless, the issue isn't women's health--birth control is available at any corner drug store and family planning clinic. Why do insurance companies (and I, through higher insurance costs) need to pay for other peoples voluntary activity? How is this fair? Insurance protects people from large ticket, unexpected items--car crashes, fire, and surgery, not $10 a month birth control items. Perhaps this is why Ms. Fluke overestimated the costs tenfold. It also takes the argument away from where it started--an administration forcing a religious institutions to provide services, services freely available elsewhere, that are against their code. Frankly, this is unconstitutional, and Ms. Fluke, a long time activist, should be chastised for trying to divert us away from the core issue.
Steadman March 09, 2012 at 06:56 PM
NK Voter, turn your fox news channel back on and stop defending this pig. The issue is precisely women's health. You have obviously never purchased birth control pills. I assure you that without insurance, they are never less than $100 a month. I also can assure you that they serve many more useful purposes in human health than preventing pregnancy. It is not a party drug, it is a vital hormone that often needs be manipulated into balance for women of many age groups and with many different conditions. Your comments make me think it you who should be chastised for trying to divert US from the core issue. Self-righteous men trying to shame women into silence.
NK_Voter March 09, 2012 at 08:48 PM
I didn't defend RL. Try reading my comment again. But I thank you for the illuminating display of liberal feminist tolerance of views other than your own. And if you wish to read a angry, hateful, self righteous post, please read your comment again. Please tell us, in civil terms, why is it necessary for Catholic hospitals to sell birth control against their religious convictions? I haven't noted the lack of availability to date. But then again, it's not about BC or health, is it? It's about forcing an agenda on Americans. It is an attack on our freedom. As for your never leass than $100 a month cost: FROM the article $100 or $1,000? Wide price range for birth control By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer – 2 hours ago WASHINGTON (AP) Just the pill has a huge range, from $9 a month for generics to $90 a month for some of the newest brands, plus a yearly doctor's visit for the prescription. That's if you don't have insurance that covers at least some of the tab — although many women do. And if those prices are too much, crowded public clinics offer free or reduced-price options. But it might take a while to get an appointment.
John Connelly March 09, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Congrats Amy on your blog... nice and topical. That Lucy is one unbelievable reader. Anyway... to wade into the water of this controversy a little. I think it is very tricky stuff... as has been pointed out in prior comments liberal commentators like Bill Maher who has referred to Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman as c***s and Matt Taibbi a writer for Rolling Stone who has regularly appeared as a guest on Maher's show as well as Imus in the morning has said worse than that. Ed Shultz who hosts a show on MSNBC called Laura Ingrahm a whore. Clearly we could do without all the "coarse language" as you called it.
John Connelly March 09, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Funny... the debate began as one about religious freedom and then a carefully and brilliantly executed pivot was made by the democrats - who do you think is paying for Ms. Fluke to get to her numerous TV appearances. And the comments she made never would have seen the light of day were it not for a "special session" consisting entirely of democrats after she was denied her request - one engineered by the democrats - to speak in front of a joint session of congress on religious freedom. The White House was losing the debate on religious freedom and so they trotted out Ms. Fluke to help change the subject. Mr. Limbaugh opened his big mouth and the rest is history. It did not matter that what she said was preposterous. It only mattered that the debate changed. And to those folks dreaming of an Imus like firing of Rush Limbaugh. Think again. While he may continue to lose advertisers, he owns his radio network and some radio stations. He will broadcast as long as he wants. Sorry.
Ms M March 10, 2012 at 02:00 AM
FYI ... birth control is $40/month (at least in the state I live in). This is a prohibitive dollar amount for certain women (aka students). Asking Employers (which was the original objective of health care reform) or Health Care providers to pay this is actually less expensive (if we choose this to be an economic discussion) than pre-natal, maternity, birthing and lifetime expenses of a child that was not intended.
Tuni Renaud Schartner March 10, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Amy, I love your writing and that you are happily supporting Lucy's "habit":). What did you end up finding for her? I, too, love libraries and books...I remember visiting a friend at Yale (decades ago) and as I walked into one of the libraries I just started to cry! I appreciate that my mom nurtured my love of reading and to this day it is absolutely one of my favorite things to do. As far as RL...I feel bad that he is so angry and that so much energy is wasted on negativity. There are so many other things we need to work on....
Leah March 10, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Amy, this was a wonderful read. Thank you for an insightful article. May I make two suggestions for Lucy (not sure if these are too young for her), the Babysitters club series and the Boxcar children series.
NKGOP Watch March 11, 2012 at 03:15 AM
The remark was wrong by any measure. I NEVER listen to Rush L. and Amy here is the most important comment you could read. Amy presents one side. The less bad side it seems the LEFT has a HORRENDOUS track record slandering conservative women. Read this for a clue: Amy speak to the numerous examples of EVEN WORSE remarks directed by the left against conservative WOMEN such as Gov Palin, and Rep Bachman, and the author: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/292791/war-conservative-women-michelle-malkin
NKGOP Watch March 11, 2012 at 03:17 AM
And for those too lazy (or scared) to click the above link, here are some highlights: It was Matt Taibbi, now of Rolling Stone magazine, who mocked my early championing of the tea-party movement by jibing: “Now when I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy set of (redacted) in her mouth. It vastly improves her prose.” It was Keith Olbermann, then at MSNBC and now at Al Gore’s Current TV, who wrote on Twitter that columnist S. E. Cupp was “a perfect demonstration of the necessity of the work Planned Parenthood does” and who called me a “mashed up bag of meat with lipstick on it.” He stands by those remarks. Olbermann has been a special guest at the White House. CONTINUES...
NKGOP Watch March 11, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Some of us have not forgotten when liberal Wisconsin radio host John “Sly” Sylvester outrageously accused GOP lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch of performing “fellatio on all the talk-show hosts in Milwaukee” and sneered that she had “pulled a train” (a crude phrase for gang sex). (Earlier, he called former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a “black trophy” and “Aunt Jemima.”) Or when MSNBC misogynist Ed Schultz called talk show host Laura Ingraham a “talk slut” for criticizing Obama’s petty beer summit. Or when Playboy published a list of the top 10 conservative women who deserved to be “hate-f**ked.” The article, which was promoted by Anne Schroeder Mullins at Politico.com, included Ingraham, “The View’s” Elisabeth Hasselbeck, former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, and others. Yours truly topped the list with the following description: a “highly f**kable Filipina” and “a regular on Fox News, where her tight body and get-off-my-lawn stare just scream, ‘Do me!’” And then there’s the Left’s war on Sarah Palin, which would require an entire national forest of trees to publish.
NKGOP Watch March 11, 2012 at 03:19 AM
It might also be noted that Ms. Ingraham is a breast cancer survivor
mark henricks March 11, 2012 at 08:48 PM
you know what's ironic about liberals and their progressive associates? They are so much more biased against women's rights than the conservative camp is. It's just that they have the protection of the media to shield them.
NKGOP Watch March 12, 2012 at 05:07 AM
sounds cynical, but the left needs victims and controversy to stay in business. we have the second woman secretary of state in a row (previous one african american/woman) and an african american president. there are no longer any meaningful race/gender barriers in this country to achievement for those who decide to do it.
Artemis March 20, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Very useful things that young women can learn from Limbaugh - and such people as NKGOP Watch - are the power strategies and emotional dynamics of how bullies, abusers and deniers operate. Many people do not understand these dynamics and are repeatedly victimized by them. Others take the side of the powerful and deny that abuse is occurring, blame the victim, or a host of other dishonest but goal-oriented behaviors. Try to analyze what these folks are gaining by their dishonesty rather than just becoming blindly angry, depressed, or worse- emulating them.
NKGOP Watch March 20, 2012 at 05:00 AM
wha????????????? lol men in white coats, please hurry!


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