UPDATE: Why Didn’t the Advertisers Drop Rush Limbaugh Before Now?

A few days ago, I wrote that we should not consider as heroes those companies that have dropped their advertising from the Rush Limbaugh shows.  If they were really socially responsible, they would never have advertised with him at all.  The number of companies dropping the advertising continues to grow.  The Center for American Progress provides the report below.  What I find laughable from the report is that “[t]he advertisers have also requested to be excluded from other right-wing hosts including Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity [because Limbaugh and those shows] have been “’deemed to be offensive.’”  Of course they’re offensive.  They have always been offensive.  Again, don’t think any better of those companies because they now are dropping their advertising.  They should have never been advertising on them.

Here is the excerpt of the Center’s report:

Advertiser Exodus Grows Exponentially

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Rush Limbaugh’s vile, sexist attacks on Sandra Fluke and other women have taken a severe toll on his show.

Here’s the latest.

  • At least 140 Companies Have Dumped Limbaugh

ThinkProgress has obtained an internal memo from Premiere Radio Networks listing 96 national companies that have “specifically asked” their advertisements not be played during the Rush Limbaugh Show. Premiere is the distributor of Limbaugh’s program. The advertisers have also requested to be excluded from other right-wing hosts including Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. According to the memo, the listed companies’ advertisements should be excluded from these programs because they have been “deemed to be offensive.”

With these 96 new companies bailing on Limbaugh, the total number of advertisers boycotting Limbaugh has reached at least 140.

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Why Didn’t the Advertisers Drop Rush Limbaugh Before Now?

According to reports, there are now more than 30 advertisers who have left the Rush Limbaugh show.  That list includes Netflix, Sears, Capital One, and J.C. Penney.  In addition, two radio stations have dropped his program.  All of that is great, but I imagine that everything will eventually get back to normal for Limbaugh and he will continue to spew his hatred.  As Jon Stewart said, he is just a terrible person.

 
I suppose there is a chance that Clear Channel will suspend him for a short period and more advertisers will bail.  But, after all, money is money.  Does anyone really believe that advertisers will put their “morals” before money?  Inevitably, Limbaugh will be back with full advertising dollars and as horrible as ever.

 
So, don’t think that Netflix and Sears (etc.) are heroes.  If they had any sense of social responsibility, they would not have been advertising on his show at all.  After all, he has been calling feminists “feminazis” almost from his time his show began many years ago.  He has ranted against gays and lesbians from the beginning.  His is a special kind of hatred, which, as he says, is cloaked in “entertainment.”  I will continue my “hatred” of Limbaugh, and will continue to have a bad opinion of those companies that advertise on his shows and those individuals who listen to him.

Eleanor Roosevelt Would Have Approved of Occupy Wall Street

From a blog written yesterday by Suzanne Kahn for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, I learned new things about one of my icons, Eleanor Roosevelt.  In addition to writing a syndicated newspaper column, she wrote a monthly advice column, “My Day,” for women’s magazines from 1941 until 1962.  These columns provided a wide range of advice for the women readers.  For example, in one column, she told them that their husbands should help them with their dishes because, “I think anything connected with the home is as much the husband’s work as the wife’s.”

It’s easy to see that she would have approved of the Occupy protests going on today.  In 1961, writing about the frustration individuals felt about not being able to do more to prevent nuclear war, she said that the best an individual could do was “register…with our government a firm protest.”  In 1962, again writing about the prevention of nuclear war, she was asked if she saw any value in women’s groups marching in front of the White House.  She answered that

The average person has a sense of frustration because he can think of no way to express to his government or to the world at large his desires for peaceful solutions to the difficulties that confront us. The demonstrations you mention are important if only because they dramatize the lack of more useful ways for people to show their devotion to the cause of peace.

Obama’s Cave-in on Emergency Contraception

You’ve probably seen the news today that the Obama administration has (again) caved-in to the right (including, of course, the churches) by overruling its own Food and Drug Administration’s decision that emergency contraceptives be available over-the-counter to anyone, including teenagers 16 years old and younger.  Thus, age restrictions will still be in place.  Here is what NOW has to say about it, including what it might mean to contraceptive coverage to women under the Affordable Care Act:

Emergency Contraception Betrayal:
Does President Obama Really Oppose Family Planning?

December 7, 2011

In a stunning betrayal of women, the Obama administration has sided with radical right politics in rejecting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to remove an age restriction on emergency contraception.

The experts on the FDA advisory committee resoundingly supported all available scientific and medical evidence, declaring Plan B One-Step to be safe and effective for all women over the counter, regardless of age.

Today, Plan B One-Step is available without prescription to women ages 17 and above. However, because of the age restriction, it is held behind the counter in pharmacies, and women are required to produce either proof of age or a doctor’s prescription to access the drug.

Two years ago, a district court found that the FDA’s earlier decision to limit access on the basis of age was motivated exclusively by politics. The court ordered the FDA to reconsider, and the FDA ultimately complied, recently deciding to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter to all women regardless of age.

It is an unusual and infuriating move for the Obama administration to overrule that decision, especially at a time when rumors are flying that the president is on the brink of caving in to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by expanding religiously affiliated employers’ ability to deny contraceptive coverage to women under the Affordable Care Act.

NOW calls on the president to stop playing politics with the lives of women and girls. During the Bush years, women’s reproductive health was under constant attack. We don’t need more of the same from the Obama administration.

Have Feminist Views of Beauty Pageants Changed?

The BBC has an articlewritten by Mary Beard, who is a writer and Professor of Classics at Cambridge and has been a feminist since the 60’s.   She writes about the 2011 Miss World beauty pageant recently held in London and how her views about it have changed since she was a “radical feminist teenager” in 1970.

From the 1971 Miss World Pageant (BBC)

She says that, at the 2011 pageant, a hundred or so feminist demonstrators turned up to object to what they saw as a “degrading human cattle market.”  But that was far different from the protests at the 1970 Miss World pageant, “when a group of ‘women’s libbers’ (as people used to call them then), swapped their dungarees for little frocks, infiltrated the ceremony, and managed to land some bags of flour very close to the compere Bob Hope, some wilting lettuces on the assembled reporters, and squirts of blue ink on the bouncers’ shirts.”  Beard says that the protestors slogan in 1970 was “We’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry.”

Beard watched the 2011 pageant on a streaming feed because it is no longer popular enough to be carried on live television.  She says that the pageant has “cleaned up its act” and mentions some of the improvements that cut down on the objectification of the women.  What I found most interesting was her comparison of the current version of the pageant that no longer draws enough viewers to put it on live TV, with the wildly popular TV show Britain’s Got Talent, where the Miss World pageant “isn’t, in other words, the licensed child abuse (or that’s what it looks like to me, at any rate) that we watch on Britain’s Got Talent, where there is no age limit at all – you could enter your toddler if you wanted to – and where to see a prematurely-sexualised 11-year-old reduced to tears, or a vulnerable middle-aged lady driven to despair, seems to have become part of the pleasure of the show.”

Beard found that “try as I might, I couldn’t any longer summon up much fury about the whole [pageant].”  She thinks that the demonstrators would think that she had “sold out on feminism,” but she disagrees and thinks that she is “as strong a feminist [now] as I was at 26.”  She believes that the reason for her change is that, as she sees changes in her own body, “the less I see my own body as a positive asset, the less I have wanted to interfere with what other women choose to do with theirs. If they want to parade in bikinis or shroud themselves in burkas, then so be it. I can see the pleasure in both.”

Beard correctly acknowledges that “how we present ourselves to the world is never a free choice,” but that how you “make those constraints work for you” is what really matters”:

To accuse them – as I used to do – of being the victims of social or commercial or religious control now seems to me to be a fairly cheap hit. How we present ourselves to the world is never a free choice. For both women and men dress is always the subject of social constraints.

The question is how you make those constraints work for you. Take women’s make-up for example. It can be the ultimate symbol of an oppressive culture that refuses to accept women’s faces as they really are; it can also be celebratory, joyous and fun.

So I’m not really sure that the Miss World competition – for all its slightly old-fashioned tackiness – is where we should be protesting.

I’m still not sure what I think about beauty pageants, even with the modifications that some of them have made.  But I certainly agree with Beard that there are many far-worse and far-more-encompassing examples of objectification of women than you will find at beauty pageants.

Herman Cain Says Having More Pizza Toppings Makes a Man More “Manly”

Add this to the ridiculous things Herman Cain has said.  In an interview in GQ, Cain says that “The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.”  Being a “manly” man, he is also against vegetables: “A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.”  Cain and his supporters (how much more of this can his alleged supporters take?) probably think he is being funny (I prefer thinking of him as a joke politician rather than a funny politician), but all that this shows is the way he feels about gender.  Does this kind of gender-stereotyping language give anyone a better feeling about Cain’s professions of innocence for the sexual harassment allegations?  Obviously not.  It again shows a base set of beliefs about the power of men over women.  For this and many other reasons, Cain should have disappeared from the national scene long before now.

Cain’s use of “manly” and “sissy” reminds me of a previous post I did on the use of the word “emasculate,” in which I argued that the usage should be eliminated.  Similarly, the tired gender-stereotyping words “manly” and “sissy” should also go away.

Am I Proud to be an American?

In late June, many weeks before Obama’s and the Democrats’ total capitulation to the lunatic Republican Party’s actions on the debt limit and budget (i.e., no taxes for the rich, just spending cuts that harm the middle and lower classes), I was driving my car when I saw a car in front of me with two bumper stickers.  My thinking about the stickers was very telling and leads me to wonder if I am proud to be an American.

The first sticker said “Proud to be an American.”  As stereotyping as it was, my immediate reaction was to think that the driver was a right-wing “Patriot,” the type of person who, contrary to the self-described title, thinks only of his or herself and how the country can be made to serve their specific classes of (usually) white males and reactionary females who think like the white males.  I am going to do some exaggerated, inordinate generalizations from here on out, but, in other words, I think of “Patriots” as people who care nothing about anyone other than people like themselves.  They care nothing about the United States itself and, thus, cannot even be true “patriots” whether or not that is even a good thing to be.  So, I had a deeply negative feeling about the driver of the car simply because he or she had a “Proud to be an American” bumper sticker.  In addition, I wondered if it even made any sense for someone to proclaim that she or he is proud to be an American.

But . . . then I read the second bumper sticker.  This one said: “Proud to be a Union Sheet Metal Worker.”  Seeing this, my impression of the driver changed completely.  I thought that this was something that a person could really feel proud about.  I now had a good feeling about the driver, even though I didn’t really know why.

After I got home,  I wondered about what definitions of “pride” the bumper stickers were meant to convey.  In dictionary.com, there are five meanings:

1. a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
2. the state or feeling of being proud.
3. a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.
4. pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself: civic pride.
5. something that causes a person or persons to be proud: His art collection was the pride of the family.

For the “Proud to be an American” sticker, my negative, stereotyping thoughts led me to generalize that a person espousing that sentiment has “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority” and “a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character.”  In other words, it is all about the person’s feelings of superiority over others.  It has nothing to do with whether the person has actually accomplished anything.

In contrast, the “Proud to be a Union Sheet Metal Worker” sticker led me to believe that a person espousing that sentiment has “pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself.”  In other words, that person takes pride in something actually accomplished.

Those generalized feelings can’t be right, can they?  A requirement for legitimate pride can’t really be that the source of the pride has to have been something actually accomplished, can it?  For instance, can a person have pride in one’s college?  I think the answer to that is clearly yes since there is personal accomplishment involved.  But what about rooting for the college’s sports teams or for some professional or national team?  Can a person have pride in those teams?  According to the definitions above, I guess that the part of number four about civic pride is the one that would apply, although it seems rather conclusory.  One can have civic pride, but why?  What is it about a team that “reflects credit upon oneself”?

I think the answer is that it is not pride that is involved when you live in a country or when you root for a team.  Rather, I think that it is simply “identity.”  In other words, a person can identify with a team or identify with a sports team.  By coincidence, just yesterday I read an article by Sherry Wolf in The Nation about sports teams and identity.  (The article is about how the sports world remains “fiercely hostile to open participation by LGBT athletes.”  It’s a very good read.)  This is what she said about sports teams and identity:

As American society evolved from agrarianism to industrialism, a huge influx of immigrants settled in growing cities.  Sports were consciously used to win them over to a fabricated national identity. . . . In an increasingly mechanized world where the ethos of competition came to dominate, the rules, teams and nationalism of sports became part of the new “American way.”

And, so, let’s leave “pride” for some actual accomplishment like pride in a daughter or son, pride in putting together an art collection, pride in playing the guitar, pride in a job, or pride in one’s beliefs.  Let’s not say that a person is proud to be an American or proud to be a fan of some sports team, just that she or he identifies with it.

How would this work for an American when traveling or living in a foreign country?  If someone asks where you are from, do you say “I’m from America and proud to be an American”?  I certainly hope not.  Isn’t it good enough to just say that you are from America and, if a discussion about the pros and cons ensues, talk about the things you like and the things you don’t like.

And how does this work for me?  I’m an American.  That’s good enough for me.  And there are currently a LOT of things I don’t like about America.