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.
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