Slut-Shaming is Not a Winning Strategy

In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren has already hit Scott Brown for his vote on the execrable Blunt Amendment:

Senator Brown took sides with Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and the right wing of his party, against the people of Massachusetts, who in tough economic times rely on insurance to get the health care they need.

To repeat a point from yesterday, the ultimate outcome of Mitch McConnell’s vaunted practice of securing party discipline is this: a group of vulnerable GOP senators with clear votes on deeply unpopular policies, from Paul Ryan’s budget to this plan to give employers a veto over the private lives of their employees.

I’m amazed that Republicans are still on this road; as Amanda Marcotte points out, the initial compromise was an out for them. They could claim new ground as defenders of religious freedom, sow dissent among Democrats, and give the Obama administration a bad week of press. It was win-win for them. But like a novice chess player who confuses aggression with strategy, the GOP couldn’t stop its assault on the administration, and continued to escalate its attacks. In escalation, Republicans revealed the extent to which this fight isn’t actually about religious freedom—it’s about sex and the women who have it.

As far as I can tell, the GOP has fully committed itself to the proposition that women who have sex should be punished by their employers, a fact underscored by Rush Limbaugh’s cruel and hateful attack on Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University Law School student who testified before Congress about the problems that come with inadequate access to contraception. If you’ve been on the internet in the last 24 hours, you’ve probably heard Limbaugh’s misogynistic rant:

“What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.” […]

“So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch,” he said.

The most important thing about this? Not a single Republican lawmaker has condemned Limbaugh for this vitriolic nonsense. Limbaugh isn’t just a radio host; he’s one of the most influential people in conservative politics, with millions of followers and regular praise from elected Republicans. The silence from GOP lawmakers isn’t evidence of agreement, but it’s certainly a sign that they fear the consequences of opposition.

With that in mind, here is a tip for the Republican Party: In 2008, nearly half of independents were women. You might think otherwise, but restricting their health care and calling them sluts isn’t a winning strategy.

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