Digression: an open letter to Rush Limbaugh

Dear Mr. Limbaugh,

You don’t know it, but you helped me today. I was at the gym–I hate the gym, Mr. Limbaugh–and I started surfing the channels on the dinky gym TV for a distraction. I landed on CNN, and watched Anderson Cooper replay the footage of you saying those words–the ones that have landed you in such trouble. And suddenly I had so much fast-moving rage coursing through my limbs that my workout was a breeze.

You said this about Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke’s decision to testify before Congress about the need for affordable birth control:

“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…If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Mr. Limbaugh, I have PCOS–the disease that helped land Sandra Fluke in your cross-hairs. During her testimony, she told the story of a friend who lost an ovary, and possibly her chance at having children, to PCOS. I have never had that experience, Mr. Limbaugh, and I am thankful every day that I have so far avoided it–because I have unfettered access to hormonal contraceptives.

Without birth control, I do not menstruate. Frustrated eggs become cysts on my ovaries; my endometrium swells with unspent blood. Without birth control, that unshed uterine lining might one day become cancerous, and begin consuming me from the inside; or, a cyst might grow large enough to burst, and I could go the way of Ms. Fluke’s friend. With birth control, I can keep my organs at least somewhat close to normal.

I was almost fourteen when I first started taking birth control. I was shy, nerdy, awkward, as virginal as they come. The night I started the pills, and many nights afterward, I quietly cried myself to sleep–because I thought taking birth control had somehow made me dirty. Just by accepting a drug into my body that was linked so closely with sex–even if it might save my life down the line–I had become a slut. And there was nothing I could do about it.

I didn’t get this from my family–as sex-positive and supportive as they come–nor from my doctor. It was in the air, all around me, the hushed whisper of birth control intertwined with sex, and sex intertwined with nasty rotten things. It took me a very long time to dig myself out of that hole, to stop shivering at the freakishness of me and realize that birth control was a medication like any other–a medication that, covered by insurance, has made an enormous difference to my health and well-being. And it took even longer for me to realize that I could have sex, and enjoy it, and begin exercising the sex-related benefits of birth control, without digging myself back into filth.

I did not start having sex when I started birth control, Mr. Limbaugh. I came to sex on my own terms, when I was ready, many years later. I rely on birth control to stave off cancer, ruptured cysts, physical pain, a uterus heavy with trapped blood. I also rely on it for peace of mind during sex. Neither of those things make me a slut, or a prostitute, or a pornographic plaything, Mr. Limbaugh. And you damn well know that.

You aren’t interested in whether women want the government to pay for their sex lives. You don’t even believe that’s what birth control advocates want. I don’t think you even knew the substance of Ms. Fluke’s testimony before you started calling her vile names. You are simply waving Sandra Fluke in front of you like a cardboard cutout. You are throwing stink bombs, Mr. Limbaugh, because that’s what gets you fed.

But think about this. You didn’t just criticize women who use birth control, or who want to have that choice: you attacked a woman who is supporting other women who want to use birth control, no matter the reason. According to your words, Mr. Limbaugh, any woman who has ever cared about another woman who uses hormonal contraceptives for any reason at all–or who wants to but can’t afford it–might as well start selling her body for sex.

By your logic, my mother is a prostitute, because she paid for my birth control until I could afford it on my own. My sister became a slut at age 10, because she didn’t stop loving me once I started taking birth control. My close friends and friendly acquaintances who supported me should have their intimate moments videotaped and put on the internet, for your titillation and their humiliation. All because I take birth control to keep me healthy.

I don’t think you actually believe this. I think you know what you said was despicable. But you don’t even have the common courtesy to own up to that.

You have apologized for the words you used, but not for the sentiment behind them. You have not said you are sorry for turning Sandra Fluke, or any other woman like her, into something vile and less-than-human. You have not apologized for using our worries, and our multifaceted medical and sexual needs, to make a crude and tasteless joke. You have apologized because your bosses told you to, and because the steady stream of advertising losses is becoming a national embarrassment. You don’t mean that “I’m sorry.” I know you don’t mean it.

So, Mr. Limbaugh, from the bottom of my hormone-tainted, semen-stained heart: fuck you. Fuck you for chewing on our humanity like it was the wet end of a cigar, and blowing contempt in our faces like so much smoke. Fuck you for validating everything I was afraid of when I cried myself to sleep.

Fuck you for making me waste so many words on you.

156 Comments

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156 responses to “Digression: an open letter to Rush Limbaugh

    • Maria G. Garcia

      Bravo! Well put. Bad words and all. XOXOXOXOX
      My sentiments exactly.

    • Brian Hadcock

      Well done, consider the source, he’s and asshole from start to finish. My contempt for him has no words strong enough.

      • Joliene

        I totally agree. He’s an asshole and no one should pay attention to him. He’s like a child who craves attention – even if he has to use bad behavior to get it.

    • Jen

      Spoken so truly couldn’t agree with you more. From one formally shy messed up hormone birth control user scared never been kissed 14 year old to another. Glad to see you too got passed the shy scared phase and can now speak out for those who are currently 14 and scared their fathers will find out what “medication” they are on and think they are having sex when they are really just using the medication they were prescribed. Sad how soo many people have to link birth control to sex when most of the time it has nothing to do with it.

    • This is so well said, even in a state of rage as I think many of us are in in the wake of such comments that aren’t unusual but in this case are merely more visible. Thank you for speaking up. Your words were not wasted, and they never will be.

  1. Veronika

    And again you got there before I did, and said it even better than I probably would have (and with less bad words, that’s for sure). I’ve shared this on my facebook wall because it deserves to be read more.

    Thank you.

  2. Angela

    I hope this embarrassment of a human gets his butt kicked and loses ALL his endorsers!

  3. Chrystal

    Well said…well put. Be well!

  4. Rachel

    Time for a new women’s movement. This piece makes me so happy, Zoe.

  5. Min

    Zoe, you are an incredible woman and person, and I am thankful to you for writing this and sharing with us. Brava.

    • Ah, thank you! I just had to get it out.

      • Its too bad you didn’t better inform yourself and not go on one little paragragh taken out of context. In an effort to make people pay attention Rush used a poor choice of words. But you don’t even have a clue to what he really thinks. Main stream media always just shows you what they want you to hear. You really need to dig a little deeper. If you want a socialist country, fine, I do not. I will take care of my own birth control without a Jesuit college being forced to compromise their religious beliefs and without the government being in control of it.
        Everyone reacts as if Rush wants to control our birth control and that is NOT what he said at all and he doesn’t want that at all.
        You seem to be a sweet person that writes well but like so many you are not truly informed. And if all you listen to is main stream media you never will be.

      • I appreciate your concern, but you missed the point of my post. I agree with you that Rush doesn’t want to control our birth control. That’s fine. But he has demeaned and insulted an entire group of women, just for the sake of getting listeners. He is denying the humanity of a real live flesh-and-blood person, because she is taking actions that go against the grain of his public persona. It’s theater, and it’s heartless.

        It’s not the “poor choice of words” that’s the problem. It’s the sentiment behind it, which he has not apologized for.

      • lisagems

        Also, Informed, his entire diatribe, and the “religious objections” you refer to, do NOT apply to the women who are taking this drug to treat an illness. PCOS is an illness. The treatment for it happens to be a drug that is also used as an oral contraceptive. By stating that they won’t pay for this medication, regardless of the reason it was prescribed, the school, the employer, the church, the whatever organization is objecting to offering this insurance benefit, is stating that they have a moral objection to treating an illness just because the treatment is also used for something else. It’s like saying they won’t cover your pain medication because some people use it to get high. So, who should determine who is receives this drug? A doctor. No one else.

        Also, the false outrage that taxpayers are “paying for her to have sex” is disingenuous, Taxpayers are not paying for employer insurance, school insurance. The employer/school and the insured are.

      • Layne St. Julien

        To informed — you are Misinformed if you believe that Rush’s ugliness was confined to “one little paragraph taken out of context.” It’s not just that he called that young woman a prostitute and a slut — it’s not just that two unfortunate words slipped out of his mouth during an otherwise reasonable broadcast. His other words painted her as a sexual glutton and a disgusting person, insatiable, wanton and greedy. He suggested she video herself having sex and put it up for him and the rest of America to see. He said she was a disgrace to her family. He continued this for three days. Regardless of what you think about the issue of churches and birth control, insurance, Obamacare, or pre-marital sex, whether you stand to the far right, in the middle, or on the far left, if you are a reasonable person you should stand opposed to what he said about her. He slimed her with his vileness and disgusting imagination, based entirely on the fact that she testified, competently, about a public policy issue in Washington.

      • Sophia

        “Informed”, he called her a slut and a prostitute 53 times, over three days. FIFTY-THREE. He demanded that the “videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we are getting for our money” TWICE. And he asked who paid for her condoms when she was in *junior high*. This was not a minor detail or a one-off slip of the tongue. This was a repulsively vicious and ignorant and above all, sustained attack from someone who either does not know or does not care the first thing about how birth control works.

  6. Cliffy

    Did anyone mention what a sicko he is for wanting to watch?

    • I don’t think he even really meant that. I think he was reaching for the most degrading and outrageous thing he could think of to say. Which, in a way, almost makes it worse.

  7. Thank you. As a woman with PCOS, I could not have said this any better.

  8. L.

    Ditto all of the above. It’s absolutely no one’s business, least of all Rush Limbaugh’s, whether women use contraception and for what purpose, just like it’s no one’s business whether one takes any medication (viagra, antidepressants, take your pick) linked with health issues our society considers taboo. I wonder what he’ll say when the male bcp comes on the market. Will all men, himself included, suddenly become male prostitutes?

  9. Morgan

    I am so outraged at his words, and moved to tears by yours. Thank-you.

  10. Diana munson

    well said. my sentiments exactly

  11. pam leach

    If the outrage over Mr. Ignoramus himself isn’t enough to get him the HELL off the airways….then there’s no hope whatsoever for our society… Imus’s infraction was not NEARLY as atrocious as THIS…and he was pretty much jacked off the air! BOYCOTT this ignorant ass (Limbaugh)!!!!!

    • Jim McIntire

      It is called the 1st Amendment. His right to bring up an important ideological difference between the Right and the social takers called the Left is protected by the 1st amendment just like yours. I don’t agree with him very often but I will defend his right to start this very important dialog. Did you miss the important point? Should the government pay for contraception? PERIOD Obviously it worked, the debate begins. There would be no hope for society if he was not able to elevate topics like this in his flamboyant way.

      You say that he needs to be kicked off the airways. On what premiss? Just because you disagree with him?

  12. Cree

    A friend posted your blog on Facebook and thank God she did. This is awesome and truly sums up so succintly the simultaneous outrage and pride I felt as a woman in the courage of this Ms. Fluke to stand up and remain strong. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story.

  13. Sandy

    Great post!! I’m sharing wherever I can!!

  14. Caz

    As long as health care covers a man’s visit to a doctor to get viagra of all frickin things, whackjobs like Rush should zip their loose lips. I have always ignored everything that ever came out of his mouth because he is just a bastion of hate .. especially if you a poor or a woman. WHY anyone on this earth listens to this asshat is beyond me!

    Well said, and I think you should totally mail this to his PR rep ;)

  15. carole

    thank you thank you thank you. take care of yourself

  16. buffyproject

    I want to give you and your 14 year old self a hug. The thought of how much unnecessary shame your little girl self experienced breaks my heart. There is so much wrong with what he said that no one article can cover all of the rebuttals. All the articles I’ve read refute him from different angles. For me, it’s still not enough. He needs to leave the airways. As a previous commenter said, Imus’ comments were vulgar and racist and he was yanked from the air. Rush’s are disgusting and dehumanizing. Conservatives love to talk about moral responsibility. It’s about time they took some.

    • 100 percent agreed. He should have been kicked off the radio long ago.

      • Bob

        So, if you disagree with a commentator, he shoudl be kicked off? What about someone from the left, who refers to Sara Palin as a Twat, to make his point?

      • That’s irrelevant. This is not a persecution contest. Just because someone on the left made a disgusting comment doesn’t make it right for someone on the right to do the same.

        That said, I think Bill Maher calling Sarah Palin a twat is just as abhorrent as Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut. He should have suffered consequences, just as Rush should.

  17. M.

    like this wonderful blogger, i too had PCOS, and from age 15 to 17, endured 8 hospitalizations and several surgeries, only to result in a full hysterectomy before my 18th birthday, throwing my body into instant menopause, and of course costing me the ability to have children, something i very much wanted for myself. had my doctors been hip to the miracle benefits birth control might have held for me, i might have been saved a great deal of physical and emotional trauma. in my mind, my teenage years were not so long ago. but in light of medical advancements, they were light-years ago. if there’s one other woman who doesn’t have to suffer as i did, that brings me relief. (that’s what i posted as a description when i shared your post via facebook this morning–thank you for your incredible words!!!)

    • Thank you so much for sharing. Stories like yours are why this farce needs to stop.

      • Rick

        I applaud ieatthepeach and M. for their stories of their personal medical situations. That’s what they are medical conditions. Those prescriptions are written for a medical condition and will be paid for by insurance. Your situation has no bearing on the case of Fluke and Limbaugh Just as Viagra is prescribed for a medical condition that also affects many women who become depressed, anxious self doubt when their partner cannot satisfy their emotional or physical desire. There are also other uses for Viagra it is not exclusively for erectile dysfunction even so erectile dysfunction is a medical problem where part of the body is not working correctly. Birth control has nothing to do with Viagra.

        Finally, my wife is a breast cancer survivor whose cancer was likely caused by hormones she had to take after a hysterectomy. The hormone progesterone was the culprit in her case. Soy is a natural progesterone and can cause a relapse for her so she avoids soy as much as possible. There are many people that believe soy prevents cancer. Well it can cause or feed a cancer as well in certain circumstances.

        Let’s not link birth control to medicines that try to bring someone back to original condition or mitigate other medical conditions. Both Fluke and Limbaugh are wrong in my opinion but for different reasons. Fluke is wrong for trying to obtain birth control at little or no cost to her personally as well as other women but at the expense of a Jesuit College whose beliefs are diametrically opposed to her personal goal. I have not heard of the college of denying any other prescriptions for legitimate medical conditions. Limbaugh is wrong because he uses language designed to get a rise from the public in order advance his career. There are much better ways to defend a position than to resort to name calling and inappropriate language to express your point. Yes even your language at the end of your article.. I think that message came through with out using very inappropriate language.

        There are a lot of people on both sides of this issue but few on the side of facts. It would be nice to see a discussion without it resorting to liberals and conservatives using variations of a story to try fit the mold of their party.

        Respectfully

        Rick

      • Thank you for sharing your wife’s story. It underscores an important aspect of this case: that hormones are not to be taken lightly. They have real consequences.

        I’m interested that you define my experiences as “a medical condition,” but then you say birth control has no bearing on medical issues. That’s a direct contradiction. The fact is, birth control is a medication, prescribed for the prevention of medical problems–including complications of pregnancy. There’s no way around it.

  18. So fantastic. Going on my Facebook page NOW. Giant hug from Los Angeles.

  19. A

    Wonderfully said. It’s the truth. Your views on sex really have nothing to do with birth control. That’s what these idiots don’t know! They are so small minded. It isn’t just for sex.

    I can’t understand why I have to pay for a grown man to get it up, which is essentially the same as having sex. Right? Rush, I am not paying for you.

    Seriously, rush, grow up.

  20. You make me SO proud to be a woman.
    That is all I can really say.
    You’ve said the rest.

  21. Not only was the “apology” not an apology, Rush *said* it was not an apology. http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/03/05/why_i_apologized_to_sandra_fluke

    He explicitly said that it was only the words he used, not the sentiment behind it. In fact he blamed his opponents for making him do even that much. His “apology” said he was simply an entertainer – then he apologized to his fans for that lie, saying that he *was* “trying to persuade people, change people’s minds.”

    This latter apology contradicts everything he didn’t quite say in the apology reported in the press. He did intend to attack Sandra Fluke, and all women in her position. He did intend to cast her in the role of demon. He is only sorry that the words he used caused an uproar.

    Thank you for the moving and important post, but please don’t believe that it was any less needed because Rush backed away. He didn’t, and he hasn’t.

    • That’s exactly why I’m so mad. He’s standing behind everything despicable that he said. It’s rubbing salt in the wound.

      • Peg Sheehy

        Very well said! Sorry that you had all that medical difficulty and even more sorry that this ridiculous man caused you more needless pain. He knows how to generate publicity but this time he has gone way too far!! Can’t we all stand together and demand that he be dismissed…..or does he part own the station? LET US JOIN FORCES TO GET THIS JACKASS OFF THE AIR…PERMANENTLY. Stay well……….and God bless

  22. buffyproject

    By the way – that is not my correct website address. If you can, please link it to buffyproject.wordpress.com. No intention to spam your site at all. I’m not sure why that old site came up – I’m sort of new to blogging. I write about giving women concrete (and sometimes funny) skills to navigate the world heart and body intact, and am using my adventures/misadventures as the “lab reports.” A friend pointed me to your amazing article, knowing I’d love it.

    • Oh no! Unfortunately, I don’t think I can change the URL that’s associated with your comment. But I’ve approved this comment, so everyone can see your actual blog address.

  23. Really touching post. People who have so little regard for women have no place being a mouthpiece for society. You’re correct in that he apologized for his words, but not the sentiment. It’s time that women band together and make sure this asshole knows it’s NOT okay to be publicly hateful and ignorant without some repercussions.

  24. e bass

    So well said. I salute you and would love to give you a hug on behalf of my daughters and me!

  25. It’s women like you — eloquent, strong, and outspoken — who will help eradicate idiotic thoughts about females and our rights like Rush’s. Keep writing — please!

  26. Masterful, thank you so much.

  27. melanie taylor

    You, my dear, have the last word. This is straight from your heart and so right on. You’re a smart, brave, strong woman and I am proud to share your story on my FB Page.

  28. This whole situation is so infuriating, and this “man” so despicable that at first I thought, “why waste any words on this monster?” but you brought attention to something that needs to be on everyone’s radar. If not themselves, everyone is connected in some way to someone who would benefit from better women’s health care and support of birth control. I just don’t understand why so many people are fighting it– why they’re reaching to the bottom of their bags for an excuse to prevent better care for women. It makes me sad, but I feel some sense of relief and am proud that there are other people out there like me and you, who see the necessity and simple logic in pushing this movement forward. Major props.

  29. morgansher

    Your letter makes me weep for the damage Limbaugh and his kind are doing to you and the rest of my sisters with his hate.

    • Judi

      Yet you laugh at Bill Mahr’s continuing degradation of women? But of course those are Republican women and they must be put down, not unlike rabid dogs! Your righteous indignation would be truly righteous, if you abhorred any demeaning of women, from any source. I am a conservative, Republican woman and I think Rush was disgusting, I congratulate the sponsors who dropped him and he deserves to be taken off the air. Do you feel the same about Bill Mahr? No cop out allowed because he is supposedly a comedian. Number one, he’s not funny and number two, I have seen him interviewed on MSNBC as a political pundit. You can’t have it both ways. Degradation of women undermines our society. If you are silent when it’s against women you don’t agree with, you are condoning it and giving permission to our young men to carry it on.

      • Walter Lipman

        Right on schedule, the trolls show up. Sarah Palin is a PUBLIC FIGURE, you moron, and Sandra Fluke was/is not. That’s the difference here–not that I agree with going after a woman who is a public figure in that manner, but by being so, she becomes fair game. You’re more a sufferer of Stockholm Syndrome than any of the epithets you characterize yourself with (Conservative, Republican), ma’am, and I hope you get the help that you so sorely need.

      • Judi

        Walter, (below) why do you descend into name calling. Are you incapable of discussing an issue with reasoned thinking instead of blind emotion? Sarah Palin’s daughter was not a public figure, yet David Letterman said “She got knocked up by Arod in the 7th inning stretch.” Lovely. And if Public Figure is your argument, the minute she testified before congress Ms. Fluke became one. I suggest the fact she got herself a publicist and has become a regular for some of the press is evidence she is embracing the notoriety.
        I would also suggest it is you that suffers from Stockholm Syndrome. You have stopped thinking for yourself and blindly accept the talking points of the left. Conservative, Republican and woman are not epithets. Your ignorance is displayed by calling them such. ‘Epithet: an abusive, insulting word or phrase.’ If you do believe them to be insulting, your irrationality is showing again; not to mention your complete lack in the belief of the freedom of speech, for the other side.

      • Walter Lipman

        Judi, you work in self-hate the way other artists use oils or watercolors. How you can possibly support the oxymoron known as RepubliKKKlan thought is thoroughly beyond me. Self-hate, stupid, and combinations of the two are among the things in life I can’t fix. Sorry!

      • Judi

        Thanks for proving my point.

  30. I love you so hard for this. You have expressed my sentiments so much more clearly than the angry flailing in my head! I plan to share this with every single person I know and will probably be posting a link to this on my blog very soon.

  31. Thank you for your very brave letter!

  32. Patrick Johnson

    Thank you. Well said!

  33. If we just stopped calling it “birth control” and started calling it “prescription hormones” would that make everyone feel better? Thank you for the context. The conversation isn’t about sex. It’s about making available what women need to live healthy lives.

  34. davexrobb

    outstanding! bravo, and thank you.

  35. I’m glad only one troll has landed here now that you’ve gone viral. I like that you went past just “he shouldn’t have said that,” and to the real issue — spewing vitriol to excite people and generate publicity.

  36. As someone who also suffers from PCOS, allow me to add my voice: Fuck you, Mr. Limbaugh.

    You see, my cysts go so big, and grew so freakishly, that they corkscrewed around my reproductive organs and strangled them to death. The agony of experiencing ORGAN DEATH actually woke me from a Morphine-induced sleep. I screamed so loud that children in the emergency ward began to cry. I wouldn’t wish that on any other human being. The feeling of your organs dying inside of you is hellish.

    I wouldn’t even wish it on Mr. Limbaugh.

    And if contraceptives weren’t so freighted with such negative connotations, then many, many people would be spared the agony I felt, because they wouldn’t be scared or ashamed of taking them.

    Also, here’s a thought, Mr. Limbaugh – would you rather pay for hormone therapy for women, or have the country saddled with over-crowded oncology wards, and a medical system overwhelmed by diabetics arising from complications with PCOS, and emergency abdominal surgeries? Think about it: many women use contraceptives as preventatives. It’s cheaper in the long run to pay for the contraceptives.

    Bravo on this post, my good woman. From your mouth (fingers?) to his ears, and then hopefully to his brain, and the brains of everyone else being dumb about this issue.

  37. Bravo and well put! I dearly hope that your wonderful post is the final straw that gets Limbaugh booted off the air for good.

  38. we’ve all read this and almost all of us ( i ill sare when i’m done) with everyone we know, either as an emial link or a shered link on FB ….

    beautifully thought out and well written letter
    thank you

  39. Reblogged this on Queer Landia and commented:
    Limbuagh is flushed, with eloquence.

  40. Heather

    I could NOT have said this better! thank YOU for taking the time & effort to take up for yourself, the women in your life & the rest of us women you dont know! :)

  41. I was all set to add your post to my blog today (actually posting on Thursday) until I got to your closing words. I appreciated your heartfelt honesty and adding a different perspective. But your closing f words reduced your post to a rant that I didn’t feel comfortable reposting. You may not care. And maybe you felt the f word added power to your post. Maybe for some. But for me it negated a lot of what you said and reminded me of Rush using his own words because he thought they would be provocative. Something to consider if you want to be published more broadly. But apart from this…thanks for sharing your heart. readingremy.com

    • Pam Hodges

      Telling someone to, ahem, take a hike, is different than defamation of character. It is expressing a great deal of anger with appropriately strong words and different than saying stuff just to get a rise or personally insulting and degrading someone aside from the issue under discussion. Sorry, but telling someone to jump in the lake, or go fly a kite, (she says, ferociously stomping her little feet and tossing her curls with glittering eyes- she’s so cute when she’s mad) – really doesn’t have the same impact.

    • Carla Burge

      I agree with you. Although our society as a whole seems to be de termined to reduce their verbal skills I would so much have liked to see the author maintain a professional manor and retain dignity. I am, however, whole heartedly behind her indignation and I abhor the fact that RL continues to be paid to be a rectal orifice. Performing fornication under the consent of the king really doesn’t seem like a punishment at all. In fact, I suspect he would enjoy it.

  42. Maggie C

    Rock on, sister friend! My older sister has PCOS and has had to take birth control since she was 16, when she started taking birth control she was a peer minister in our Catholic parish, an honors student, and a community servant for several causes. She is a good, moral, smart person with a conscience and common sense. Based on the fact that she takes birth control to take care of her reproductive organs he would call her a prostitute. He makes bold statements just to make a ruckus, he isn’t a stupid man, just an unintelligent one. To really stick it to him, rather than draw attention to his show, people should just stop listening to him and he will lose his weight in broadcasting.

  43. Scott B.

    Outstanding. I very much begrudge the oxygen this human sphincter uses up to spread his manure. My wife had to take birth control to control her cysts, and she maintained her virginity until we were married.I hope that if you ever meet that jerk, he apologizes profuseley and begs forgiveness. Then I hope you kick him in the nuts.

  44. Michele Yohanna

    I’m standing and applauding. God love you forever sweetie. You said it perfectly. And, Fuck you is just fine with me. The insurance companies pay for men to “get it up” with Viagra or any other penile problem men have..and they pay for vasectomies..why is it so far reaching for them to pay for a woman to protect herself, whether it be medical or her choice. He was caught with Viagra from someone else no less when he was travelling. I personally pray he never “gets it up” again..that is fair and just. Getting him off the air is the best way to stop him or any other person for making snide remarks when it comes to women and their choices.

  45. I have never read your blog before — this link was forwarded to me by a friend — but I can only say “Bravo.” You rock. I am now subscribing to your blog. Thank you for having the courage to stand up and say this!

  46. Where are the men calling Limbaugh a deranged pervert for using Viagra? ILLEGAL Viagra that he snuck in his luggage from a foreign country? Where are the people calling for his public humiliation when he was addicted to pain meds? But HE can turn on someone for wanting access to LEGAL prescription meds?

  47. misfit120

    From a man’s viewpoint…..BRAVO!!! I took him over the coals on my blog today too. : )

  48. Thank you for saying the words I didn’t have the ability to speak about.

    I didn’t know how to put my anger out in the words

    thank you for doing that for me

  49. Well, sorry, but there was just as much “theater” from the activist plant in front of congress. Why do you think she picked that college? For a purpose. And even though you are equally upset about what Bill Maher said, I doubt you wrote a blog about it. Enough said. Thanks for listening.

  50. --Greg

    Outstanding essay. Get used to seeing it reprinted constantly.

  51. Auberon Quin

    Brilliant.
    My only complaint is: What about the horse he rode in on?

  52. Extremely well written. You took the words out of my mouth and said it so much better than I could have. Thank you for standing up for those who can’t.

  53. Althea waites-Hayes

    What an excellent response to Rush Limbaugh’s tirade,and as a result,he is also losing sponsors for his show including AOL,Geico,and Allstate,to name a few. He should be removed from the airwaves PERMANENTLY,and should not be allowed to use radio as a forum for these outrageous attacks on women.
    The best thing to come out of this is that women are fighting back,and are refusing to remain silent. Limbaugh truly represents what the GOP thinks about women. They want to take us back to the dark ages,and their twisted agenda is only a preview of what would happen if they should occupy the White House. We cannot let this happen!

    • Enjoy golfing

      I completely agree that the words Rush used were beyond inappropriate. His punishment has been he loss of sponsors. Should he be taken off the air? I don’t think so. If he has to go, then so does Howard Stern, Bill Maher and Obama himself for the inappropriate comments towards women. How sad that either the right or the left take advantage of someone’s lousy choice of free speech. If oral contraception can be used to help some women to keep their bodies operating properly, then so be it. However on the flip side there are women who use oral contraception and abortion as a means of birth control. I can say from.personal.experience that this is a heinous thing in my book. An ex girlfriend had an abortion and needed me to take her to the clinic and bring her home afterwards as she would not feel up to driving. As she filled out he paperwork I read that she was.on her sixth or seventh abortion. This made me even sicker than i was. Yes I was somewhat complicit In the abortion in that It was my offspring she was getting rid of.

  54. Walter Lipman

    Well and nobly said. Brava!

  55. Excellently written, and keep up the good commentary. I also have to comment on your blog title. I adore T.S. Eliot…I assume you do too. I want to read your food writing now because of it. :)

  56. heachr

    Thank you for sharing. You nailed it!

  57. Zaaaa

    Zoe, you have such a way…you just, you SAID it. Tweeting this. So much respect.

  58. Very well said. Thank you!

  59. Thank you so much for this. It really means a lot to me. I don’t have time to keep up with the news like I should, but a friend of mine posted this on facebook and I shared it as well. I have PCOS and have been diagnosed since I was 15. If it wasn’t for affordable birth control, I am sure I would have lost an ovary by now (6 months at a time without periods…). Thank you for being brave (and coherent) enough to put into words what I am sure many women and men were feeling.

  60. You are so brave! I admire your courage and for taking a stand against pigs like Rush Limbaugh. It is amazing that he still has a job after all the horrible things he has said.
    Thank you for this essay.

  61. I don’t believe he was refering to women that take birth control for health issues non related to prevention of pregnancy. I don’t think anyone can really refute the value birth control serves in the treatment of other conditions. But it is also not up to the taxpayers to pay for someone’s birth control no matter the reason they take it. If your insurance covers it fine, if not there are low cost clinics where you can get a prescription filled. I believe he was refering to the women that take it for “recreational” purposes. In other words so they can have the benefit of random sex outside of marriage.

    • Walter Lipman

      See, Jeanne, you’ve outed yourself as a Limbaugh listener. Only a Limbaugh listener would harp on the “taxpayers paying for birth control”, when the issue was one of requiring HEALTH INSURERS THAT COVER INSTITUTIONS THAT DON’T LIKE ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES to pay. NOT THE TAXPAYERS! Truth be known, health insurers delight in paying for oral contraceptives, because (a) it’s cheaper than covering a childbirth and (b) in those cases where a woman takes oral contraceptives to combat PCOS, it’s the cheapest possible therapy.

      Frankly, ma’am, what the hell business is it of yours, mine, or Rush Limbaugh if a woman takes oral contraceptives for “recreational” purposes, as you put it? Get over it!

      So…stop listening to Limbaugh, and get your news from something that requires effort, say The New York Times. You’ll find that you will know a lot more spending 1 hour with the Times than 4 hours with Rushbo.

      • Maria G. Garcia

        It’s interesting that we are worried about whose money is being spent. Hmmm… I paid into medical insurance that I hardly used… i am pretty sure that some of that went to funding VIAGRA for some poor schmoe that couldn’t get it up. Now then, should I receive some sort of compensation for THAT? I mean, how much money do you think that insurance puts out to fund “recreational” sex?? It’s not as if Viagra is used for “Medical Purposes.” The commercials that I am subjected to every five minutes attest to that. And frankly, why else does ANYONE have sex, married or unmarried, if not for a bit of recreation? And why is it anyone’s business? Okay. Off my bully pulpit. :-)

      • Judi

        The New York Times? Really!?! Why not go straight to Media Matters.

    • June

      Also, not every woman taking birth control is having sex with random strangers outside of marriage (not that there’s anything wrong if she does). My husband and I do not want to have children, so we take steps to prevent that. Am I a slut for having recreational sex within my marriage? Finally, do you really think that it’s wise for a person who can’t afford birth control to take on the expense of raising a child?

      • Kathryn Rod

        June, thank you for posting your thoughts, I TOTALLY agree!
        I’m a little late coming across this but never with my period since my partner had a vasectomy! Sorry just had to make a funny.

  62. Emily

    I also struggle with PCOS, and had to start taking birth control at age 16. I had to have parts of my cervix scraped because I had developed cancer. I survived all this, but I had no knowledge of Rush’s comments. Fuck him! I would have no normal reproductive body if it wasn’t for the pills.

  63. Ellen Gershenbaum

    you had nothing to be ashamed of…you were a responsible girl who was taking care of a dangerous health problem at a young age, when so many adults don’t take care of their health when they know better. ignore this tealiban ignoramous. he’s not worthy of a ingle thought.

  64. maddie

    There aren’t words to tell you how much I respect and admire you for this—you’re a badass, and he’s a dickwagon. I wish I could hug you.

  65. What a passionate and articulate post. Thanks for taking the time to put it up. I hope it will be shared far and wide to help expose the cruel idiocy that is Rush. As Rachel Maddow has said, I don’t think he understands the birth control pill. His remarks lead me to think that he thinks women must take one each time they want to have sex; ergo, more sex, more pills. Since birth control pills have been widely available since the 60s, that leaves Rush with 50 years of being uninformed. What a guy!

    Thank you!

  66. Elaine

    Sweet mother of pearl. I want to be this woman’s bff.

  67. J

    Why is it okay for him to use Viagra but not for women to take birth control? Why does the burden fall on the woman NOT to get pregnant? And how does a man taking Viagra, who’s been married a whopping four times, not have any children? Certainly, there are many reasons a couple may not have children- but it’s suspicious to me that a man so adamantly against birth control has managed to live 60 years without ever reproducing? And I can’t imagine that this ultra-conservative would be willing to support an expansion of welfare programs for mothers unable to afford their children if they weren’t allowed to take birth control.

  68. taryn

    i love you! thank you for standing up for EVERY woman! <3.

  69. james barlow

    Not that this has any really bearing on what was said or how people feel about it I wanted to add my two cents on something. I am one of those men who, to quote Maria G. Garcia, “couldn’t get it up” and have a prescription for Viagara. My insurance did not pay anything for my prescription, which runs around $30 per pill. My primary physician, urologist, and pharmacist I go too all told me that they are not aware of a single insurance plan in this area that covers any part of the prescription. In fact most insurances, like mine, won’t even pay for the doctors visit to get the prescription. The entire cost from start to finish is coming right out of my pocket.

    Again, this doesn’t change what Rush said, but people really need to stop saying how wonderful we men have it with Viagara falling from the sky like a skittles commercial. Unless the drug is deemed medically necessary insurance won’t pay for it. There is no guy exception.

    • Thank you so much for bringing this up. I’m actually a little frustrated with how Viagra has gotten dragged into this, because it demeans the experiences of men like you. It’s a red herring, as far as I’m concerned.

    • C

      As a pharmacist, I have personally seen Viagra be covered by some insurances. Albeit, it’s a limited number of pills, but it is still something. So, there is a guy exception for some, but not all.

    • My husband’s experience has been the same as James….zero payments from insurance and I do resent the implication from many commenters that ‘men’ who take Viagra are getting their ‘jolly’s’ and SEX paid for ……..Seems there is a strong dislike for MEN who ‘can’t get it up’ and they repeat the same untruth that Viagra is a covered expense for MEN. Very happy that the writer of this blog called it as it is……….a Red Herring!

  70. I feel inadequate to reply with the same firm, straightforwardness that your post offered. I’m just a man and as one, will never know or fully understand the depth and scope of a woman’s menstrual cycle and its effect on a woman.
    But as a human, I try my best to offer compassion and comfort to anyone suffering. You post and the testimony of Ms. Fluke helped me, after 51 years, to hopefully better understand the needs of a woman, any women for that matter that needs preventive medical attention for reproductive concerns.
    I wish you peace, and comfort on your journey through this world.

    Michael

  71. Donna

    A LITTLE LONG WINDED BUT QUITE ACCURATLLY SENTIMENTED. I TOTALLY STAND BEHIND IT. RUSH “WIND”BAUGH IS ONLY INTERESTED IN HIS OWN SELF ADVANCEMENT AND MONITARY GAIN….BRAVO!

  72. Awesome, fabulous, powerful. Send it to the NY TImes and every other newspaper and magazine. Send it to Rolling Stone. Spread this world.

    I am so sick of patriarchy. I am the mother of 2 daughters, and am myself a child of the 60s and 70s, when there was so much hope for women. I am furious that my precious daughters are living in a country that is accepting of repression of women.

  73. Burnt Toast

    The real issue at hand isn’t whether we’re sluts because we take birth control; it’s that there’s this pervasive judgment assigned to us automatically.
    I’m astonished by the attitude of responders elsewhere: if women altered their behavior, then they wouldn’t have this “issue” at all. Furthermore, men also had the nerve to say that sex is a choice…and if women didn’t want to become pregnant, then they shouldn’t have any sex.
    I’m outraged that insurance companies are allowed to continue offering coverage to as many children as a woman can have, but birth control is still deemed a “life choice” prescription. I’m incensed that the public outcry is still shouting about how sharing the cost of birth control is somehow off-base and unfair…but childless couples are expected to share the cost of coverage for the opto-mom’s children and other women like her is perfectly okay. My solution is for insurance companies to offer the rider anonymously to their subscribers. The subscribers then pay for the rider themselves. The thought being that the rider will be cheaper than the cost of a yearly prescription of birth control pills.

  74. Terry

    Couldn’t have said it better myself…except I would have used ALL CAPS for the last part.

  75. This was posted on a friend’s facebook page. Thank you. I had PCOS (I say had because since having my son I have had NO symptoms of PCOS), I was given BCPs because I didn’t have regular periods, as you well know. I know people say “glucophage will do the same”. Sure, if you can take it in a strong enough dose. Of which I couldn’t. I couldn’t take over 500mg/day without vomiting all the time. So BCPs it was. When I got pregnant with my son I was on the pill. It was the ONLY time I ever conceived a child, and it will be the only time. I was 33 when he was born and I have had PCOS since I was 14. In the past 6 months I’ve had the opposite issue. It’s called unexplained excessive bleeding. No cysts on my ovaries, no polyps, no masses in my uterus. Just bleeding that lasts for over 45 days with less than 2 weeks between periods. You’ll never guess what the method of treating it is. BIRTH CONTROL PILLS. That’s right. I have 4 choices. Birth control pills, Mirena IUD (FDA approved for excessive bleeding), essure/tubal ligation + endometrial ablation, or total hysterectomy/oophectomy.

    I guess to men like Rush Limbaugh, we’re sluts because we bleed and could potentially get pregnant. I’ve had less partners than he’s had wives. And all the women in my church are sluts for caring about my reproductive health. The WOMEN of the congregation gathered around me for an anointing/healing prayer. My pastors WIFE came with me to same day surgery before I went back for my DNC/diagnostic hystescopy.

    And for everyone wanting to go on and on about tax payers paying FOR the birth control. It’s NOT taxpayer dollars. It’s getting the insurance company that I PAY INTO to cover it like any other prescription, instead of saying NO because it’s a fertility issue (PCOS) or because it’s only for preventing pregnancy. Trust me, I have the BEST contraceptive WITHOUT BCPs. Try bleeding and spotting every day. It’s not conducive to that “lovin’ feeling”.

    Thank you for posting this. I completely agree with you. We’re not sluts because we choose to protect ourselves and our future. Regardless of our reasons for taking BCPs. The insurance company isn’t a person. It doesn’t have a belief system. It doesn’t go to church. If the doctor and the patient feel that this is the BEST course of action, then the insurance company should take THAT as their cue. Not some sense of morality that it couldn’t possibly have. It’s a business. NOT a person.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s one of the many that needs to be heard.

      Interestingly enough, I take glucophage, and it has not affected my periods (or lack thereof) at all. That’s a story for another day, but it’s also one more reason to make sure women have options.

  76. I commend and thank you for sharing up with your story; I am certain that it is inspirational to many other women out there who would not have been able to communicate the sentiment so well. I must admit, though, that I cannot honestly believe that anyone really cares so much about what he has to say about anything; he literally broadcasts to everyone who’ll listen what a lower life form he truly is every time he opens his mouth on air. It’s nice to finally see him held publicly accountable for being an embarrassment to the entire human race, though.

  77. vickey mouse

    Thank you.

  78. Seamusmac

    I applaud you and your well thought out words. I lost my love, my light, my wife to cancer as a result of PCOS. Please print up multiple copies of this letter and send it to the network, the radio stations, the sponsors, and every other entity that is behind his show.

  79. Leah the Nosher

    Thank you. It is so good to remember I’m not alone. http://blogs.rj.org/rac/2012/03/08/this-is-not-about-food/

  80. Rebecca

    The “insured” ARE the taxpayers ladies! I am not that old. I recently had to use a natural form of a hormone we women make in order to treat endometriosis, despite being personally against most synthetic hormones (personally, I don’t answer for anyone else) I can see the medical purposes behind these particular products, but I am also wise enough to know their physiological composite. As a result, if I plan on being sexually active I cannot use them-because when I say I respect the sanctity of human life I must mean what I say under all circumstances. Even the inconvenient ones.
    I do not ask others to pay for my treatment, I paid out of pocket because my well known ins co would only pay for synthetic man made hormones. I was responsible for myself, not waiting on treatment until my ins co did what I wanted.
    I would never willingly SEEK out a particular institution, look for seemingly innocuous information I could then use for my activist beliefs, and then launch into spending my precious time denigrating said institution for not supporting my personal agenda.
    The fact is, Ms. Fluke and every other woman hereby represented is more than the sum of her reproductive organs. We are all more than the sum of our sexual predilections, more than the sum of our health issues. What we are failin to see, mainly because of Rush’s stupidity, is that Fluke wasn’t who she said-she wasn’t about what she pretended to be about-and most importantly, no woman has to attend or work for any organization that supports a premise she disagrees with! No one forced Fluke to attend Georgetown! But Fluke is trying to force Georgetown, a private entity, to abandon their privately held beliefs.
    I couldn’t care less about Rush’s stupid hangups! I am a well educated woman who does care deeply about Our Constitutional history and about truth in that. Ms.Fluke does not represent truth no matter what moronic Rush so ridiculously said. It bothers me that my fellow women are more rabid about Rush’s words than they are about stripping truth and privately held belief systems from individuals and organizations. Where is starts and where it ends are two different things, the precedent has now been set.

    • Just a question and no offense is meant, I am just really interested in your response.
      Do you mean to say that you would rather let companies, corporations and institutions dictate what parts of our health care they will cover and refuse the rest on moral grounds rather than let that choice of what is best for the overall health of the patient be left to the health care professionals and the individual person?

    • The law only requires that it is part of their healthcare insurance options.
      It does not require Catholics to take the pill, have an abortion, or use a vaginally inserted contraceptive.
      It only demands these options are available in the plan.

      I would argue that anyone who takes the time to testify before a government entity is an activist including the homeowner who speaks at the local township planning commission, the parent who speaks to the school board and the citizen who devotes their life to defending those who cannot speak for themselves. “Activist” is a badge that should be worn proudly as those are the folks that shaped and wrote our history.

      • Judi

        Are you that dense? The religious objection is in PROVIDING something that is against their moral conscientious.
        I don’t argue with your definition of activist. But is Ms. Fluke still an activist when she now has a publicist? And least we forget, she will, by the privilege of going to Georgetown, make $150,000 her first year. I think that “choice” was the only one she was thinking about when she enrolled.

  81. Well said!
    It is sad that in this day and age a woman’s choice to protect her body has become tainted by these vicious and inflammatory attacks by men who don’t know about and don’t care about women’s rights.
    If this debate was about a pill made for men that was not just birth control, but also helped to reduce the risk of testicular cancer no one would be calling the men who take it such vile names.
    The double standard in so many aspects of our lives in this country, most especially the validation of our human rights as women is ridiculous and offensive.

  82. KenB

    Just to play devil’s advocate here (not that Rush is a devil – he’s more of a sad waste of space), but Rush, in his oversimplifying, overgeneralizing, simpleton American way, was dull mindedly equating contraception with sex, and little more, since, as you yourself say, he was most likely ignorant of Fluke’s background or intention when he made his remarks. Thus, you’re essentially making a straw man argument, on the grounds that he never (apologies) ‘weighed’ in on nonsexual medical reasons for taking contraceptive medication.

    Your story is more than worth sharing on its own merits in any case, and I’m glad you wrote it.

    As a sidenote, the casual sexism/misogyny of men like him is no match for the casual speciesism/carnism that plagues Western nations. Beware the bigot within, ye who cast the first stone.

    • Thank you for this comment. You make a fair point. I’m aware that I focused exclusively on the trappings of what he said, rather than the intent behind it. That said, I don’t think it’s quite a straw man argument, because what upset me wasn’t the intent behind his words, but the de facto effect of them. Sandra Fluke’s testimony focused on birth control for nonsexual medical issues; by attacking her directly, he implied–intentionally or not–that it doesn’t matter what you use birth control for, you’re a slut either way. That’s what hit the nerve with me, because it’s a message I internalized for a very long time.

  83. Storm

    It seems to me that requiring your employees to unwillingly embrace your religious views as a condition of employment certainly impacts their freedom of religion. Since over 90% of Catholic women have used contraception anyway, the entire point is pointless.

  84. Maggie S.

    First, what Rush said was completely inappropriate and vile… deserves to be off the air. Having said that, I agree with Rebecca… Fluke is an activist, having advocated for the reproductive rights of women prior to this whole blow-up. She is not the victim she portrays herself to be. She is smart, articulate and took advantage REALLY fast of the political situation when it presented itself. Second, you can get birth control for $9.00 at Walmart… she can’t afford it? Georgetown Law? Give me a break! Sanctity of life is one of the strongest teachings of the Catholic faith and asking the church to provide contraception is against the teachings. How can people NOT see that this is attacking the Catholic’s religious freedom? It’s stomping all over their teachings. Here’s a question for you… how many insurances don’t cover dental or vision. Why didn’t Obama address this? It affects more people. Obama is brilliant… what better way to get the female vote? He’ll drop the whole thing as soon as he’s re-elected.

  85. Linda Hicks

    This reply has brought me so much joy. I was moved to tears while reading it. You should have a career in writing if you don’t already. Your parents should be so proud of you!!!

    BTW, Obama did address this issue. He spoke personally to Ms. Fluke.

    We need to start speaking up for ourselves and not let the political powers that be abuse their power.

  86. Michael

    I cannot applaud this post enough. I really can’t. I’m a male, and I don’t think taking birth control makes anyone, regardless of background or medical history, a slut.

  87. Carolyn Purcell

    This is what courage, solidarity, and being a gifted writer looks like!
    Thank you Zoe.

  88. Edward james

    WE need to contact sponsors of all of these jerks and let them know that we will boycott their products if they sponsor these hate mongers!

  89. Lisa

    Kudos! Could not have said it better myself!!!

  90. Veronika

    Whoa, I get busy for a few days, and come back to find 100+ comments on this blog post!

    Congratulations on going viral – you and your writing absolutely deserve it! Keep at it (as I am sure you will)!

  91. Sharyn

    Thank you for writing such a well thought out comment on the behaviour of a very terrible man. My daughter has the same condtion (PCOS and Insulin Resistance) and cannot bear children because of it. Yet here in Canada her medicine is paid for and her care in hospital is covered as is all Canadians.

    When I listen to all the horrible things that come out of that man’s mouth and the self-serving holier than thou attitude of the men running for President in America I thank the lord everyday that my grandparents came to Canada and not America. America talks about freedom, democracy and separation of Church and State, yet at the same time old white males are trying to impose their distorted values on everyone else.

    What I see is the same old hatred and distrust of women – in the minds of these self-righteous prigs women are incapable of making moral and intelligent decisions for themselves. I wonder how long American women will stand for this.

  92. Sharyn

    Forgot to mention that the Catholic Church ensured that missionaries working in dangerous areas/countries were provided with birth control while they were out-of-country.

    How many of those who preach claiming to know what Church does or does not approve of understands that there is no attack on the Church but there is an attack on women’s rights as individuals.

    If the Religious community pays for the insurance premiums along with the employees and then refuses to pay for something that they don’t think is acceptable this is where will this slippery road could lead:
    1) Refusal to pay for pain meds for cancer patients because it is wrong to get high
    2) Refusal to pay for Heart medication because the males who suffer from it ate the wrong foods or smoked.
    3) Refusal for all AIDS treatment because they do not approve of those are victims of this dread disease.

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