Cheers and Jeers

US Aid Aims at Gender Equity; Limbaugh Flays Fluke

Saturday, March 3, 2012



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The United States Agency for International Development announced March 1 that it will be including gender-equity polices (which affect men and women) and female empowerment throughout all its activities. Efforts to improve such things as girls' and women's access to resources and to reduce gender violence, will be considered at the top agency level as well as in particular country strategies and projects.

USAID, which provides economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide, says that "if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent . . . which could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million."

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More News to Cheer This Week:

  • An amendment that would allow employers to opt out of health coverage that they objected to on religious grounds was defeated last week in the Senate, by a vote of 51-48, reported Politico March 1. TheWashington Post reported that three Democrats voted for the Blunt amendment and a lone Republican, Olympia Snowe, voted against it. The 51 to 48 vote to kill the amendment was largely along party lines. Sen. Snowe (R-Maine) has announced she will not run for re-election because of the ever-increasing pressure she faces as a pro-choice Republican.
  • On March 1, a coalition of more than 50 women's organizations under the banner of HERvotes announced what they say is an unprecedented effort to mobilize female voters for the 2012 elections. HERvotes stands for Health and Economic Rights. The group says it's determined to ensure that women have access to quality health care; to protect the gains women have made in education, the workplace, health care and basic individual rights and to continue moving forward an equality agenda.
  • An organization in Pakistan comprising men working to end violence against women will hold a national conference on March 8 on gender-sensitive news reporting, anticipating a proper code of ethics and its effective implementation, reported the Pakistan Daily Times March 1. The conference's objective is to engage journalists on gender issues through media-training programs, activism and dialogue.
  • Insurers and employers that do not comply with the Obama administration's contraception coverage rule could face federal fines of $100 per day per employee, according to the Congressional Research Service, Politicoreported Feb. 28. Individual beneficiaries may also be able to sue their health plans if they do not fulfill the requirement that all contraceptives be fully covered.
  • The wealth of women in the Gulf area is estimated at $385 billion, according to a report issued in Dubai, The Egypt Independent reported Feb. 27. The report, issued by Al Masah Capital Limited, an alternative asset management company, said women have been taking serious steps in work, education and economic and social development.
  • The Inclusion Initiative exceeded the 2011 goal of spending $70 million and ultimately spent about $97.7 million in fees to minority and women-owned law firms, the group announced in a press statement Feb. 27. The Inclusion Initiative was launched in 2010 by major companies with a demonstrated commitment to diversity in the legal profession, drawn from a wide cross-section of industries. The Inclusion Initiative set an aggregate goal of spending $118 million with minority and women owned law firms in 2012.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union and the Service Women's Action Network will appear in federal court Monday seeking records on military sexual trauma from the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, ACLU announced Feb. 27 in a press statement. Both organizations denounce the unwillingness of the government to provide data on incidents of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment in the military. It is estimated that over 19,000 service members are sexually assaulted each year, nearly double the rate of civilians, according to the press release.
  • Hundreds of top female journalists in Germany are demanding the introduction of a quota to ensure at least 30 percent of all executive positions across the German media industry are filled by women, The Guardian reported Feb. 27.
  • A group of women formed a new political action committee to recruit and support candidates to defeat elected officials who back the ultrasound and so-called personhood bills, The Washington Post reported Feb. 27. Women's Strike Force, which boasts several former elected officials, formed after Virginia's attempt to require women to undergo mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion.

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Ignorant, disgusting, offensive, and misogynistic are a few words that come to mind after listening to Rush Limbaugh’s comments regarding Georgetown Law Student, Sandra Fluke. I’m surely speaking for many others when I say that it is hard to find words which convey the level of outrage I felt when I heard what Limbaugh had to say. His choice of words illustrate how ignorant he truly is on the issue at hand.

Limbaugh summarized how he views mandated private health coverage for birth control, saying it is the same as if “somebody knocked on my door that I don't know and said, 'You know what? I'm out of money. I can't afford birth-control pills, and I'm supposed to have sex with three guys tonight.' "
This comparison is so ludicrous that it would almost be funny; that is, if Limbaugh’s show did not pull in millions of listeners, many of whom rely on his opinions to guide their own.
The most revolting statement made by Limbaugh was the compromise he suggested- aimed at Fluke but basically open ended to any woman who would be affected by the mandate:

"So, Ms. 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, and I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."

I can barely even believe that a statement as disgusting and degrading as this was allowed to be broadcast over air, disguised as legitimate political commentary. Additionally, I’d like to ask Limbuagh who exactly he was referring to when he says “we”. Does he mean all tax-payers? Perhaps all men? All Republican men? Is Rush Limbaugh grouping himself with a coalition of private health insurance companies and universities that I was unaware he is a part of?

The sheer amount of comments (50 personal attacks on Sandra over a 3 day period), and the level of their viciousness are also alarming to me, and I believe are indicative of an unhealthy and unusual personal issue Rush Limbaugh has against women. Thankfully, many public fugures (including Santorum, Romney, and McCain) have publicly denounced Limbaugh and his comments. However, I can’t help but feel that Limbaugh reveals an underlying current in Republican policies which do not place equal value on every citizen’s health care- male or female. One can only hope that his outrageous comments were the tipping point of many moderate, independent, or undecided voters, who will keep them in mind as the GOP continues its fight against women’s health care rights.