In the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke Controversy, America Mirrored Some Socially-Oppressed Countries

When an American woman gets called a "slut" for expressing her opinion, then in some ways America's freedom isn't really that different from some third world countries'. The Georgetown law school student Sandra Fluke was called a "slut" by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh after she testified at a special Democratic congressional hearing on contraceptives' coverage, held because conservatives wouldn’t allow Fluke to testify in the wider congressional hearing on the issue.

It seems that the American way isn't only attacked by outsiders but also attacked by retroactive thinking within America. The way some socially conservative Republicans deal with particular issues brings up similarities with some socially and religiously-oppressed parts of the world.

Limbaugh, who apologized for his behavior later on, said about Fluke that: "She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception." Fluke's opinion wasn't the only thing under attack here, her way of living was also being questioned, both things are, in fact, basic rights reserved to her as a U.S. citizen in the Constitution.

The similarities are uncanny between Fluke’s violation of rights and the same violations of rights many Egyptian women face when they undergo sexual harassment daily in Egypt. And, in the latter case, when Egyptian men are asked about it, most simply blame the women for not being dressed conservatively enough, denying women the basic right to walk in the streets in peace. In parallel, Fluke sought to defend her right and other women's right to have a safe and healthy sex life, and Limbaugh insulted her for leading what he believed was a non-conservative lifestyle.

Faith rights were violated as well in the same exact hearing Fluke was denied to testify on. The panel consisted of all-male religious leaders instead of those whose testimony really matters most: women. And even though the First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," it was the religious-inspired voice that was the loudest. If that is how it is going to be, then America might as well have the bible as their main source of legalization like some Middle Eastern countries have Islamic Sharia law as their main source of government.

Policy-making isn’t supposed to be made on religious beliefs. But still, some decisions that affect the immediate social life of the individual is still in a way based on religious beliefs. Take for example the issue of gay marriage; many who vote on the matter believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, a belief rooted in religious opinion. And even though it wouldn’t affect them personally they still vote against it and go all vocal about it.

There are odd similarities concerning issues which are both banned and condemned in societies that attack the American way of life, and in America itself. And here we thought it was a free country!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Dina Sadek

Former Cairo-based freelance journalist, currently Washington D.C.-based NGO worker.

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