Does Limbaugh have the right to say these disgusting words? Yes, he does, because our Constitution guarantees free speech. But do you and I have the right to speak out against his vile attacks? You bet. That’s why I went to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and called on his advertisers to stop supporting his program. I even announced that I wouldn’t do business with or advertise on stations that broadcast Limbaugh until his show is removed from their line-up.

As the biggest bully on the playground, Limbaugh has long been immune from condemnation by conservatives. And though conservative politicians would not speak up to repudiate Limbaugh’s vicious words, Limbaugh got the message when advertisers began to withdraw their support. Ironically, his well-indoctrinated “Dittoheads,” programmed to follow him and used to his staunch refusal to back down, are angry with Limbaugh for apologizing, as lukewarm, incomplete and insincere as his “apology” may have been. But this incident showed the power that we have to fight against hate speech when we work together.  All of us who find Limbaugh’s repulsive anti-woman attacks disgusting and beyond the pale should speak with our voices and our money.  

The response to Limbaugh’s words gives me hope. The women’s movement of a half century ago that so advanced women’s reproductive rights and resources and opened the doors for women to enter the workforce is a long-distant memory for many and something that women under the age of 40 often take for granted. In a way, that’s a good thing because it means that women having rights to choose if and when to parent and if they will work outside the home is a given for the majority of women. It’s the norm. But it’s also true that what many see as pretty good is still not good enough. 

Women are paid, on average, about three-quarters of what men are paid for doing the same work. Some Members of Congress value the opinions of women so little that they didn’t even think it was worth inviting any women to testify about the issue of contraception during a recent hearing. And the forces that wish to overturn Roe v. Wade will never stop in their efforts to restrict a woman’s control over her body. In fact, they have become much more politically savvy in their attempts to chip away at the law.
Women do not generally vote as a bloc. 

But women should not vote against their own interests and it is my hope that the positive development that results from Limbaugh’s hateful attack against women is that women, young and old, as well as the men who love and respect the women in their lives, will open their eyes and realize that they have power--power on election day, power when they spend their hard-earned money and power to speak out for real equality. Women not only make up almost half our work force, they are the primary caretakers of our children and our aging parents. They deserve respect. It will be ironic, but oh so fitting, if Rush Limbaugh’s vitriolic anti-female rhetoric awakens women to exercise the power that they already have.