Thursday, March 8, 2012

Can we recognize Bill Maher as both a red herring AND a problem?

   For those of you who may be living under a rock for the last week, conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh has been under a lot of heat for sexist comments he has made. Well, now conservatives have been going after Bill Maher, who has a history of making sexist comments. Unfortunately, it sounds like some liberals have been defending Maher under the guise that Maher is a comedian. I can see this as being a valid excuse to an extent...that extent being to the point that comedians will often play off of stereotypes to make their jokes. The problem is that Maher way oversteps this boundary. One can tell from some of the things he's said that he is seriously sexist. I've embedded a video below if you'd like to judge for yourself. (Also on an interesting note, while the right is now attacking Maher, Maher actually suggested that liberals accept Limbaugh's notpology.

   There are two things I want to say to liberals. First, I'm sure you realize as much as I do that this attack on Maher is just a red herring to both distract away from Limbaugh's comments as well as a way to play the "They do it, too!" blame game. Call them out on it! But, second, you must admit that Maher is a sexist pig as well. Their game is to make us out to be hypocrites and it appears that some liberals are going to allow conservatives to win that point.

   I do, of course, realize the trap the conservatives have set up. It's a financial trap. Some conservatives want Obama's Super PAC to return money donated by Maher. My guess is in return they want liberals to ease off on Limbaugh, who has been losing advertisers. The solution, as I see it, is to say, "No, Obama's Super PAC does not have to reject/return Maher's money." There is no rule that a candidate has to vet his donors to make sure they don't do anything controversial. Same goes for the Republican candidates — if Limbaugh donates any money to them, they shouldn't have to reject/return any money just because Limbaugh is a slimeball.

   On a final note, I think the conservatives are also grasping for straws. I'm not sure what to do here except to just call them out on it. I am getting the impression that they are upset that liberals did not criticize Maher with such ferocity for attacks on Palin, others, as we are criticizing Limbaugh. There are three problems here. First and foremost, I don't think Maher is anywhere close to being a voice for liberals as Limbaugh is for conservatives. When Maher says something stupid, many liberals can honestly say, "Well, I don't listen to Maher anyway." I don't see how conservatives can say the same for Limbaugh...not that there aren't conservatives out there who don't care for Limbaugh. I'm sure there are plenty that don't listen to or care for the man. The point is there is an unequal level of popularity between the two. It does not then make sense for the outrage to be equal. Second, conservatives seem to be complaining not about Maher's misogynistic views in general, but specifically his attacks on conservative women. Come on, conservatives! If you want us to think you really care about women, then don't limit your complaint to Maher's treatment of your own. This shows that conservatives just don't get it. It reveals that they honestly think the issue with Limbaugh's comments is his use of the words "slut" and "prostitute." It's not. It's about treatment of women and, for some of us, the double-standards for men and women in regards to sexual health that men like Limbaugh hold. Third, and a much less significant point, the conservatives seem to be upset about Maher insulting women who are political figures (whether politicians or just political pundits). Sandra Fluke, who Limbaugh has criticized, is neither*. Now, this in no way excuses Maher for his behavior, but I don't see a political figure insulting other political figures quite as deserving of the same outrage as a political figure insulting someone who is not. Again, this is not excusing the behavior of political figures insulting one another. The overall point is that the Maher vs. Limbaugh comparisons are not on equal ground, so it is not fair for conservatives to be expecting equal treatment.
* One could claim that Sandra Fluke is an activist for women's rights, but I wouldn't put that in quite the same category. I mean, I consider myself to be somewhat of an activist (even if I'm pretty much limited to just voicing my thoughts on my blog right now).

   In the end, though, I am disappointed that some liberals are being hypocrites. Shame on them, but shame on conservatives for trying to spread the blame instead of dealing with their issues.

1 comment:

  1. There is a difference between using “slut” in the context that Limbaugh did and calling Sarah Palin a “cunt”.

    “Cunt” or “bitch” do not imply sexual behavior, unlike “slut” and “prostitute”. I wish we did away with gendered insults altogether, but “cunt/bitch” for women is equivalent to “asshole” for men. “Slut” implies promiscuity, and is only ever applied to women. There is no male equivalent (“man-whore”? I think that’s more of a compliment, really). The big problem with Limbaugh’s statements is not the words he used, but implying that the lady in question was a bad person because she must be having “so much sex”. It’s one thing to say that one doesn’t think that taxpayers/insurers should be paying for elective medication, and completely another to insult someone based on their presumed sexual activity. Even if she was gangbanging the entire football team at her school on a regular basis, it in no way affects the validity of her testimony. That’s the part that conservatives aren’t getting.
    Bill Maher can be very offensive but I do agree with a lot of his points, including in the video you posted.

    The part about the household commercials is completely right. Men are usually portrayed as inept imbeciles and women as smart and reasonable. I find that offensive to both men and women because the advertisers assume that women A) still do the majority of the housework and shopping and b) are dumb enough to fall for it.

    Regarding schools, mostly right again. Twice as many boys as girls are diagnosed with and medicated for ADHD, with the decrease in play time and physical activity being a contributor, which seems to affect boys more than girls.

    The rest is mostly babbling about how being single is better than married. It’s just a matter of personal preference.

    Here’s a piece he did on Bristol Palin, which might be a bit better for the comparison. Even here, though, I don’t see any inconsistency in how he is treating women vs. men. If you’re an asshole to everyone, you’re not sexist. You’re just an asshole.